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NJPW New Japan Cup Final – 03.21.23

1 year ago
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NJPW New Japan Cup Final – 03.21.23

By: Sonal Lad

NJPW New Japan Cup Final Review

Like every year, New Japan recently started its annual New Japan Cup tournament. With 24 of the best wrestlers in the company, they were all fighting for a chance to challenge IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis. After a grueling tournament, here is everything that happened at this year’s New Japan Cup final.

DOUKI & TAICHI v Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuto Nakashima

Unsurprisingly, the show started with multi-man matches and began with Just 5 Guys’ TAICHI and DOUKI facing Hiroshi Tanahashi and young Lion Yuto Nakashima. While Yuto showed great promise, even Jr heavyweight DOUKI had an advantage throughout the match. It was only when Tanahashi was tagged in that the cheers got louder and the pace got faster.

There was even a moment where Tanahashi was teasing the Young Lion, not tagging him in when asked. Of course, Tanahashi allowed Nakashima to have his chance to showcase his skills. It wasn’t surprising when TAICHI pinned him to get the win, but it was a match that warmed the crowd up. Despite being first on the card, the crowds were loud and supportive.

Shota Umino & Ryohei Oiwa v Zack Sabre Jr & Kosei Fujita

After Shota Umino beat Zack Sabre Jr in the tournament, it cemented his shot at the NJPWWORLD TV title. Yet, after losing to David Finlay, ZSJ wants the former Young Lion to prove himself through their opening tag matches. With contrasting styles and images, the match showcased this and Shota’s desire to prove himself to his senior.

Along with this feud, the rivalry between Young Lions Fujita and Oiwa continued, showing their improvement but also how vital ZSJ has been for Fujita. After a fast-paced fight showcasing all the wrestlers’ skills, Shota pinned Fujita, which wasn’t surprising. The main focus was after the match and the interactions between ZSJ and Shota where the challenge was confirmed for the belt.

Credit: NJPW1972

Tama Tonga, Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma v El Phantasmo, KENTA & Chase Owens

While most of the matches had some title consequences, the match between members of Hontai and CHAOS versus Bullet Club was a showcase of New Japan’s talent. Like the other matches, it was a strong match with some of the best wrestlers in the company. Tomohiro Ishii and KENTA fought, with the Stone Pitbull probably having his sights set on the NJPW Strong title.

It wasn’t surprising that Honma was pinned in the end. Yet, as the match ended and El Phantasmo walked out, he made a comment about new Bullet Club leader David Finlay needing to win the tournament. It seems like the future storylines within the faction could relate to another “Civil War” between members.

Credit: NJPW1972

El Desperado, Ren Narita & Ryusuke Taguchi v EVIL, Yujiro & SHO

As the shortest match on the card, it’s not surprising that the match between Bullet Club’s House of Torture and Strong Style, with Ryusuke Taguchi, wasn’t the wrestling masterpiece New Japan fans wanted. With a jump start, the House of Torture got the advantage and with the help of SHO’s spanner, Taguchi was pinned in a matter of minutes.

It was the aftermath of the match that was the most important. House of Torture want to get their NEVER 6-man titles back and used this match as a message to the company. When the bout ended, the Bullet Club attacked Narita and Desperado. They took off Desperado’s mask and sprayed black paint on Narita’s body, a common House of Torture tactic.

Credit: NJPW1972

Aaron Henare & Great O-Khan v Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi

While Naito was a firm favorite in the tournament, his loss to SANADA has put him out of title contention. Yet, after beating KOPW champion Shingo Takagi, the multi-match between The Empire and Los Ingobernables de Japon was all about Aaron Henare. After a rocky few years, Henare found his wind in the tournament, picking up big wins.

It wasn’t surprising that Shingo and Henare started the match with heavy strikes in the middle of the ring. Despite Naito’s loss, he continued to have a “Tranquilo” attitude when facing The Empire, whether he was getting beaten up or finding ways to reverse his opponent’s strength. Yet, the match was all about Henare and Shingo who continued to showcase their strength and athleticism in the ring.

As Henare and Shingo fought on the outside, Naito and O-Khan were left to finish the match. Although Naito seemed weakened after tag team offense from The Empire and brutality from O-Khan, a roll-up was enough to secure Los Ingobernables de Japon the win.

Credit: NJPW1972

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI HASHI v Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis & Jeff Cobb

The final multi-man match of the event saw Aussie Open try to get momentum ahead of a possible IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team title match, especially after Kyle Fletcher pinned YOSHI HASHI. While Okada wasn’t in the tournament and Jeff Cobb was eliminated by EVIL, it was also their chance to show their skills.

It wasn’t just Aussie Open looking to make a statement. Jeff Cobb wants to challenge Kenny Omega for the US title and made his point, hitting his own version of the “V” Trigger. Even Okada wanted to make a point, despite not being involved heavily in this tour. It was a chance for both Okada and Cobb to gain momentum ahead of their future plans.

In the end, a Coriolis allowed Mark Davis to get the win. After YOSHI HASHI once again got pinned by Aussie Open, it cemented their title shot. While the match has been seen before, Bishamon versus Aussie Open will undoubtedly showcase the best of the NJPW tag division.

Credit: NJPW1972

Hiromu Takahashi (c) v Lio Rush – IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship

After YOH unsuccessful challenged Hiromu Takahashi for the IWHP Jr Heavyweight Championship, his new partner Lio Rush was the next opponent. Despite their lack of history, the passionate warm-up matches had fans excited for the match set for the New Japan Cup final.

While Hiromu is normally known for his speed and unexpected actions, Lio Rush dictated the start of the match at an even quicker speed. His controlled offense meant that even a dive outside the ring was with a purpose, and it wasn’t surprising that it led to a pin attempt very early on. It seemed to spur Hiromu on to be even more dangerous, hitting Lio into the metal guard rail near the announcer’s desk.

After a flurry of offense, it wasn’t surprising that Hiromu tried to slow the pace down to suit his style. Yet, the contrasting styles of the two wrestlers meant that the dynamic of the match changed so many times. While Hiromu had Lio in a submission one minute, the two would be speeding across the ring with high-risk moves.

The final moments saw both Hiromu and Lio rush fighting to end the match with their finishers. Each time a pin was done, it took effort to kick out. Lio even tried some tandem offense, using YOH’s “Direct Drive.” Yet, with one final Time Bomb II, Hiromu got the win. After an amazing match, fans were more shocked when Zack Sabre Jr announced Hiromu’s next opponent was TMDK’s newest member, Robbie Eagles.

Credit: NJPW1972

David Finlay v SANADA – New Japan Cup Final

While neither David Finlay nor SANADA has had many meetings or animosity in the past, the final for the New Japan Cup seemingly showcased their similarities. Both have recently moved to new factions and have spent their careers in the mid-card. They have never made it to the top of the company but succeeded in tag team action.

Considering both Finlay and SANADA’s athleticism, the match started quite slowly and seemed like a feeling-out process. It gradually picked up speed and the risk factor outside the ring, with Finlay using his father’s offense on the ground. While the increase in speed eventually helped Finlay, who showed new aggression, SANADA quickly found his pace again.

David Finlay continued this newfound aggression. Yet, although SANADA has moved away from Los Ingobernables de Japon, his “tranquilo” attitude was there. It allowed him to counter Finlay in the smoothest ways, whether it was an uppercut or transitioning into “Skull End.” Each wrestler showcased their best, and it was a match with so many layers.

In the end, after a flurry of adrenaline from both men, SANADA got the win with his new DDT finisher. While Finlay may be in Bullet Club, the match was clean, precise, and a perfect pace for the main event. After thanking his hometown for support, Okada came out to confront his “Nemesis.” While the two have met in the past, their upcoming meeting will be just as anticipated.

Credit: NJPW1972