Hey there, puropals! No big, detailed New Japan Cup report here. There’s a million places you can go to read one of those. I just want to talk about a couple of few things I liked from the first round of the New Japan Cup.
All videos courtesy of SenorLARIATO, who is, as they say, the man!
Toru Yano: King of Pins
In one of the biggest surprises of the night, Toru Yano defeated former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and Ace of the world Hiroshi Tanahashi in under five minutes. Even more surprising is that my prediction from last week’s J-Shoot came true. Well, the first part anyway. I predicted Yano would defeat Tanahashi and go on to win the Cup. So far so good. While it was a surprise, upset win, it shouldn’t come as total shock. Yano does have a pretty good track record in tournaments. In last year’s G1 he defeated quite a few tope names. Still, defeating Tanahashi with relative ease (and some great Yano cheating) is a pretty big deal. It wasn’t just the win that I enjoyed. I loved Yano pinning prowess during this match. He turned almost every Tanahashi maneuver into a pin attempt. All that marathon running must be paying off.
Tetsuya Naito: King of Unnecessary Bumps
Tetsuya Naito took one heck of a beating from Anderson in one of the more enjoyable matches of the night. Naito’s selling made Anderson look like a monster. In fact, Naito sold almost too well at one point when he landed right on the back of his head after running dropkick from Anderson.
You can see Naito expertly getting his arms into position just in time to cushion the impact. But even so, how he did not break his neck I do not know.
Another great spot in this match, and one of my favourite moves of the night, was when Anderson countered a top rope frankensteiner into the world’s biggest powerbomb.
In the end, Naito won the match, but my lord did he take some punishment to do so.
Bad Luck Fall
Honestly, I barely paid attention to this match. Okada is great, and Fale is incrementally improving as the monster of New Japan, but I just had very little interest in seeing these two go at it again. I’m only including this match here because I love Bad Luck Fale’s finisher.
Honma of course lost his first round match against Togi Makabe because losing matches is what Honma is here to do. That doesn’t stop him from always putting on an excellent performance and getting some of the best crowd reactions of the night. My favourite Honma moment of the match was his successive running Kokeshis into Makabe, and his joy when he successfully hits the move.
In true Honma fashion, he also missed his fair share of Kokeshi attempts. The most interesting being a crazy running corner Kokeshi. I like that he’s always trying Kokeshi variations, whether they work out or not.
All The Way Ibushi
The last thing I’d like to mention is Ibushi’s win over Gallows. I was worried going into the Cup that we’d have another strong Bullet Club showing. Thinks to Naito and Ibushi (BUT NOT YOU, OKADA!), both Anderson and Gallows are out. With two of the favourites, Okada and Tanahashi also out, the next round of the Cup just got very interesting. I know I jokingly said on J-Shoot that Yano’s going all the way, I’m actually putting my hat in with Ibushi, who I actually really want to see win the Cup and get a IWGP Heavyweight title shot against AJ Styles. I am not one of those who say Ibushi needs a long, slow push. I wanted him to go over Nakamura at WK9. A New Japan Cup win and a title shot would be a great accomplishment for the former super jr. Also, I just want to see Styles vs Ibushi really bad.