It’s time for the semi-final action in the New Japan Cup. Shingo Takagi beat Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, and KENTA to get to EVIL. EVIL got a first round bye before dropping Jeff Cobb & Toru Yano. On the other side, David Finlay beat Chase Owens, YOSHI-HASHI, and Jay White to match up with Will Ospreay. Ospreay took out Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Zack Sabre Jr. and SANADA to get here. Only two men will move to the finals tomorrow, so let’s get right into the action.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Kota Ibushi vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi)
You won’t find a stronger babyface trio than Tanahashi, Okada & Ibushi, and that is what White, KENTA and Takahashi face here in tonight’s final tag team encounter. However, Ibushi unifying and starting to remove the legacy of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a belt which Okada & Tanahashi defined for a modern era might bring some tension to this team. Okada showed this as he refused to pose with Tanahashi & Ibushi before the match.
Ibushi would start with White, and would be aggressive in his attack on the champion. White took a kick to the face, before driving Ibushi into the wrong corner. Okada got a tag by slapping the chest of Ibushi, and hit a slingshot senton onto White. Tanahashi tagged in, and White decided to instead attack Ibushi on the apron, but KENTA was able to help get this one under control.
Takahashi would start to show his value to this match by choking Tanahashi on the outside, before nature decided to interrupt this match. An Earthquake hit, and the match came to a stop until it was done. It was later judged to be a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered in Northeast Japan, but was felt all the way even in Tokyo. This was a major quake, and Japan is thankfully built around these.
This is a rare event, but everyone cleared the ring until it was safe. Once the quake stopped, we got a 15-20 minute safety check of the arena. Tanahashi took time to reassure the crowd everything was alright during the safety check. During the break, Gino told a story about when he got trapped in a bathroom as his entrance music hit. We need a podcast with Chris, Gino & Kevin. The building was deemed safe, and these six incredible performers got back to the match.
Jay White came back to ringside, and he had stolen all the title belts to pose with them as he returned. They’d get back to action with a wild brawl, White & Tanahashi picking the heat back up. White hit a neckbreaker, before Takahashi came in with some clubbing blows. KENTA would come in next to attack Tanahashi, applying a headlock. Tanahashi fired back up and hit a Dragon Screw, and tagged Okada.
Okada would hit some forearms on KENTA before hitting a DDT for a two count. KENTA would take a neckbreaker, but manage the DDT. Okada would be met with Takahashi, and they’d pick up their 2020 rivalry with Okada nailing a flapjack. He’d refuse to tag Ibushi in, before looking to apply the Money Clip. Takahashi pushed to the corner, and Ibushi tagged himself in.
Ibushi dropped Takahashi with some kicks before hitting a standing moonsault, and White slipped in to help beat down Ibushi. White hit the blade buster and Takahashi hit a sliding dropkick for a two count. Takahashi hit the Olympic slam, but Okada stopped him from hitting Pimp Juice with a big boot. Tanahashi dropped KENTA with a sling blade, and Okada saved Tanahashi from White. Ibushi shoved Okada away and dropped Takahashi with the Kamigoye for the win.
This was an all-star game of a match on paper, and while nature stepped in and interfered, it picked back up fast and ended up being a classic in it’s own right. It was not easy to bring this one back after a nearly half an hour stoppage, but these six did their absolute best. It wasn’t a five star classic, but these are the type of men NJPW needed for a situation like this. We also seen the start of a potential build to Okada vs. Ibushi in May at the Tokyo Dome. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
New Japan Cup 2021 Semi Final Match: David Finlay vs. Will Ospreay
No one expected David Finlay to make it to the semi-finals of the New Japan Cup, not even his opponent. After beating SANADA, Will Ospreay was shocked to hear that he doesn’t have to face Jay White, but rather Finlay. He pledged to end this Cinderella story of a run, but now that Finlay is moving, can he be stopped as he enters his biggest match of all time?
Finlay would get a single leg takedown, but Ospreay fought this off before ending up in a headlock. Ospreay pushed back to his feet, only to take a shoulder block, and was sent to the outside. Finlay waited in the ring for Ospreay, and nailed a dropkick and snap suplex for a one count. Ospreay broke the momentum again by going to the outside, Finlay making his way out this time.
Priestley would get in the way, allowing Ospreay to set up a piledriver but Finlay hit a back body drop. Back in the ring, Finlay applied a rear chinlock, before hitting some european uppercuts. Ospreay would send Finlay over the top rope, and hit him with a big boot to the floor. Finlay was driven into the barricade with a backdrop, before being set up on the apron and hit with a double stomp.
Ospreay threw Finlay around, before Finlay fought back with some strikes and had to be set into the rear chinlock in the middle of the ring. Finlay broke free and set up the spinning backdrop and planted him down, before hitting a back elbow strike. A plancha over the top rope kept the pressure on, before Finlay set up the diving uppercut in the ring. Ospreay hit Stundog Millionaire to counter the attempt at Trash Panda, before hitting the springboard forearm for a two count.
They’d trade blows in the middle of the ring, Finlay standing tall against Ospreay but couldn’t get the backbreaker. Ospreay would set up Chelsea Grin, but was driven into the corner. Finlay met Ospreay on the top rope to set up a superplex off the top rope.
This got a two count in the middle of the ring, before Finlay went for the Acid Drop. Ospreay countered and hit the facebuster in the middle of the ring. Stormbreaker was countered into a jackknife cover for a two count. Ospreay went for Stormbreaker again, and Finlay was able to counter into a roll up for two before hitting a backbreaker
Finlay was hit with the Spanish Fly, and Ospreay made another attempt at Stormbreaker before being countered. Trash Panda landed, and got a very close fall. Finlay went for Acid Drop, and was thrown to the floor and landed hard and awkwardly on his foot. A doctor would come check Finlay, as Red Shoes started his count.
Finlay made it back in at 19, officially a one legged man in an asskicking contest. Ospreay nailed a low missile dropkick and a powerbomb, before applying a Figure Four Leg Lock in the ring, and pulled the boot of Finlay off to take the extra support off. He’d yank down on the foot, and Robinson contemplated throwing in the towel before Finlay got the ropes.
Ospreay was vicious here, beating Finlay down with some strikes, and dodging a weak attempt at a cutter. Some Kawada style kicks hit the face of Finlay, who came back to his feet to be rocked with an elbow strike. A kick set up OsCutter, which Finlay countered into the Stunner.
This got a very close fall, but he’d counter Stormbreaker into a hurricanrana, and nail a huge lariat as a last ditch attempt to pull out some fighting spirit. Acid Drop was countered again into a powerbomb and Stormbreaker finally ended this.
This was hands down the best match David Finlay ever had, showing that he belongs in the conversation when it comes to big matches in NJPW. They told a great story as Finlay as the underdog, almost looking like if Opsreay got into a similar situation a few years back. After the fall to the outside, Finlay sold the ankle like death itself, and added a ton of drama to this match. This exceeded expectations in the best ways. Get Finlay a spot in the 2021 G1 over Yujiro Takahashi. Match Rating: 4.5/5 (**** 1/2)
New Japan Cup 2021 Semi Final Match: Shingo Takagi vs. EVIL
Last year EVIL turned his back on Los Ingobernables De Japon to join Bullet Club, and won the New Japan Cup in the process. This year, he has made it to the semi-finals where he now has to face the final ghost from his L.I.J past. We’ve seen EVIL face Naito, Takahashi & SANADA, but now he needs to overcome Shingo Takagi in singles action.
EVIL quickly slipped outside of the ring before coming back in to apply a headlock. Shingo broke free and they’d exchange forearms, before a double handed chop dropped EVIL. Togo got involved, but Shingo was unphased and kept in control with a shoulder tackle.
Shingo once again dealt with Togo, who got involved and pulled EVIL off the shoulders when he set up the Death Valley Driver. Togo ran around the ring, and allowed EVIL to hit the lariat. Shingo was thrown to the outside, and whipped into the barricade right by Miho Abe, knocking him over.
EVIL pulled chairs out from under the ring, before suplexing Shingo onto them. Shingo got back into the ring, only to get stomped, and have Togo help EVIL with a Cobra Twist. Red Shoes got in the face of Togo, but failed to kick him out for some reason. Shingo was thrown into an exposed turnbuckle and hit with a snap suplex, before EVIL set up the Fisherman Buster.
EVIL was hit with a back elbow and big lariat, before Shingo once again had to deal with Togo. A vertical suplex got a two count, but EVIL blocked Noshigami. EVIL fed the leg of Shingo to the referee after blocking the kick, before nailing the thrust kick and Fisherman Buster.
Shingo fought off the Scorpion Deathlock, and hit Noshigami, unable to make the pinfall. Instead, he set up the sliding lariat, and pulled EVIL up for Last Of The Dragon. EVIL attacking the eyes, and then pulling some hair let him set up and hit a backbreaker.
Shingo was tripped into the exposed steel, head first before being driven into the steel with a lariat. EVIL set him up on the top rope, taking him down with a superplex and applying the Scorpion Deathlock. Shingo fought to the ropes, and was able to break the hold.
EVIL went for the STO, but Shingo instead countered out and hit EVIL with it instead. Shingo threw a clubbing lariat, and EVIL came back with one of his own. Togo got on the apron to distract the referee, as EVIL grabbed a chair and broke it over the head of Shingo.
EVIL nailed a Pumping Bomber style lariat, and got a two count. Darkness Falls was next, but Shingo countered the STO again and hit Made in Japan. EVIL shoved Red Shoes in the way of the path of Pumping Bomber, before Shingo stopped.
This still led to EVIL shoving Shingo into Red Shoes, allowing Togo to come in again. Shingo tried to take him out, but EVIL hit a low blow and then Magic Killer with EVIL, but Shingo held on. EVIL went for another low blow, Shingo blocked and hit a headbutt. Pumping Bomber & Last Of The Dragon finally ended this one.
This was just the usual EVIL match, with more Dick Togo interferences than a match of this caliber deserved. While it made the eventual win of Shingo Takagi all the better, it made the match a chore to watch at many points. When EVIL & Shingo wrestled a normal match however, it was great. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
Who will win the New Japan Cup, Will Ospreay or Shingo Takagi? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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