It’s time for more action from the 2021 New Japan Cup, with two more tournament matches on their way. We also have one more tag team match, which will preview Tomohiro Ishii vs.SANADA. Will Ospreay is in the main event with the legendary Hiroyoshi Tenzan, while Zack Sabre Jr. faces a potential bracket breaker in Gabriel Kidd.
CHAOS (SHO, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada) vs. L.I.J (BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Shingo Takagi)
Last night saw an absolute epic from Kazuchika Okada & Shingo Takagi, which saw Okada knocked out of another New Japan Cup early. Goto gets Shingo next, but first up is Ishii taking on SANADA. This match previews both of those matches, while getting Naito & Okada some extra ringtime.
Goto would look to start with Shingo, giving fans a taste of what’s to come on the 13th. They’d waste no time crashing into each other, Goto tagging out first, bringing SHO in. SHO is no stranger to Shingo, first meeting in last year’s tournament.
Shingo was soon met by all of CHAOS for some rapid blows, before taking the fight to Okada once again. BUSHI got a tag, choked Okada with his shirt, before Naito came in for some stomps. He’d work with BUSHI to hit a double dropkick, before tagging SANADA in. Okada hit the big boot and tagged Ishii in.
Ishii went right to work on SANADA, hitting a big shoulder tackle before BUSHI got involved. SHO came to his aid, but they had to take down Shingo & Naito as well. Ishii took the best strikes of SANADA and shrugged them off, fought off Skull End and looked for the brainbuster. SANADA slipped free and hit a low dropkick to get some space, which he used to set up a Swan Dive Dropkick.
Goto and Shingo got back in, traded heavy blows before Shingo was hit with Ushigoroshi. SHO tagged in and hit a spear, but Shingo came back with the sliding lariat and an attempt at Last of The Dragon. Goto & Okada saved SHO, and SHO set up Shock Arrow, but Shingo fought free and nail Pumping Bomber and Last Of The Dragon for the win.
CHAOS & L.I.J are stacked factions, and this match showed just how strong they are in terms of chemistry. There wasn’t a bad combo in this match, which was action packed from start to finish. Shingo/Goto & SANADA/Ishii are gonna be incredible. Match Rating: 3.5/5 (*** 1/2)
New Japan Cup Match: Gabriel Kidd vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Years ago, a rookie Gabriel Kidd was able to beat Zack Sabre Jr. Now they meet again, but in the New Japan Cup and with years of extra experience under their belts. ZSJ had won the New Japan Cup back in 2018, but Kidd might look to upset him tonight to finally break free of his Young Lion status in NJPW.
This one would start exactly as expected with some technical wrestling. That’s the style these two know and have mastered, and Kidd quickly grabbed a wrist lock and took ZSJ to the mat. ZSJ was able to get back up and force a rope break, looking a bit shocked that he was caught like that, but got Kidd with a double arm choke. Kidd turned it around, and maintained control until ZSJ slipped out for a wrist lock, only to end up in a headscissor.
ZSJ broke out and would end up in an ankle lock, quickly having to break free. Kidd was out wrestling him so far, and ZSJ had to pick the pace up. He’d go for a wrist lock and be slammed to the ground after Kidd countered. Kidd went for a dropkick and missed, allowing ZSJ to hit a quick neck snap. He’d finally have some control, and came in with some european uppercuts and boots to the face.
Kidd had his ankle bent around the bottom rope, and fired back with some strikes before having a double wrist lock applied around the rope. ZSJ applied a tight cravat in the middle of the ring, and fought like hell to keep that hold on. Kidd was eventually able to break free, and hit a running lariat before countering a pinfall attempt of ZSJ into a Boston Crab attempt.
He would have to opt for a single leg crab, and ZSJ quickly grabbed the ropes in a panic. More strikes were thrown by both sides, Zack falling after a hard forearm smash from Kidd. Kidd would beat ZSJ down into the corner with forearms, something common from his trainer Katsuyori Shibata. ZSJ slapped him across the face, and this just fired Kidd up, so he took him down into a deep armbar in the middle of the ring.
Kidd fought free, only to be kicked in the chest with a PK. Another PK rocked him, but he’d catch ZSJ with a dropkick and go for a German Suplex. ZSJ countered into an attempt at a guillotine choke, but ended up getting hit with a sheer drop brainbuster. The German Suplex would follow and get a two count.
Kidd countered a pinfall attempt from ZSJ into an attempt at his Butterfly Suplex, but ZSJ landed on his feet and applied the Cobra Twist. This was moved into a triangle choke, and Kidd had no choice but to tap out.
This was an absolute wrestling clinic, and met the hype that fans had for it. Kidd went nearly 20 minutes with ZSJ, matching him hold for hold before he got caught at the end. He’s more than ready to move to the next stage of his career, but not to the next round of the New Japan Cup. Match Rating: 4.25/5 (**** 1/4) ZSJ will go on to face the winner of our next match, Hiroyoshi Tenzan or Will Osprey.
New Japan Cup Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Will Ospreay
Tonight’s main event see’s Hiroyoshi Tenzan enter his eleventh New Japan Cup, while Will Ospreay only enters his second. Tenzan has been a steady target of Ospreay and his United Empire faction, so tonight isn’t just a New Japan Cup match, it’s also a grudge match.
This one started off with an exchange of forearms, before Tenzan ran Ospreay down and landed a series of Mongolion Chops. Ospreay got sent over the top rope, and Tenzan kept the brawl going on the floor. Tenzan was almost hit with a piledriver on the floor, hitting a back body drop to escape.
Ospreay got back to the ring first, and caught Tenzan with a neckbreaker on the way in. Back to the outside, Ospreay threw Tenzan into the barricade and bent his neck over the steel. Tenzan was set up on the apron, and Ospreay hit a knee drop to the back of the neck.
Ospreay threw strikes in the ring before another neckbreaker, getting a near fall before going to a chinlock. He moved into a cravat, but let it go and was met with a spinning wheel kick and some Mongolion Chops. Ospreay hit a springboard forearm and a brainbuster for a near fall.
Ospreay was cut out of the sky by Tenzan before being hit with a falling headbutt. Anaconda Vice was applied, Ospreay slipping to the ropes to break the hold. He’d avoid the tombstone, dump Tenzan to the mat and hit a rolling elbow. Tenzan avoided the Stormbreaker and hit a lariat and the Tombstone, getting a two count. Anaconda Buster failed to take down Ospreay, who came back with Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker for the win.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan is not an elite level worker anymore, but he did his best here tonight with Ospreay. Ospreay matched the slow pace of Tenzan throughout this match, working at half his normal speed. It was functionally fine, but could have run shorter and been better for it. Match Rating: 3.25/5 (*** 1/4)
Will Ospreay & ZSJ put on another instant classic in the second round?Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
SUBSCRIBE NOW: Get TheOvertimer’s Hottest Stories, Breaking News and Special Features in your email, CLICK HERE!