NJPW New Japan Cup 2019: Day 4 (3/11/2019)- Takamatsu, Japan
YOSHI-HASHI, YUYA UEMURA, MICHAEL ELGIN, & JUICE ROBINSON vs. BULLET CLUB (bad Luck Fale, Hikuleo, Chase Owens, & Taiji Ishimori) (w/Jado)- 4/10
Chase jumped the bell on YOSHI-HASHI… and his partners all just calmly walked to the apron instead of helping their teammate who got jumped from behind. Bullet Club won, and YOSHI-HASHI also got beat up after the match.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN, MANABU NAKANISHI, REN NARITA, & YUJI NAGATA vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, & EVIL)- 6/10
LIJ jumped the bell on their opponents. I think they’re just plain heels now after seeing how they’ve behaved the past few nights. Also, Naito STABBED TENZAN SOME SORT OF SHARP OBJECT. Lots of heat on Tenzan with LIJ cheating a bunch, and good comeback by the babyfaces, and then a good final few minutes of action.
KOTA IBUSHI & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku)- 6.5/10
A very good tease for ZSJ vs. Kota.
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Lance Archer & Taichi)- 7/10
Another way better than usual undercard match from the nucleus of last night’s way better than usual undercard match. The babyfaces pick up the win but the heels attack then after the match and beat them down with various dirty tactics such as weapons and low blows.
MIKEY NICHOLLS, TOA HENARE, & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KAZUCHIKA OKADA, & SHOTA UMINO- 6/10
NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH: Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Toru Yano- -2.75/10
We started off with a chase through the crowd and then back into the ring, which was a nice change of pace from the usual “Suzuki-Gun jump the bell on their opponents” as a way to give us a fast start. We followed up on this interesting start by devolving into the usual stupid Suzuki-Gun crap, including fighting on the outside without being counted out and weapon shots right in front of the referee. At one point we got DBSJ wrapping Yano’s leg in the guardrail and the referee responding to this by applying a five-count as if the guardrail were the ropes, and Davey Boy inexplicably going along with this and breaking the hold at four.
Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are explaining to me that the referees are given a lot of leeway because “you want to have a clear winner.” These IS a clear winner: The guy whose opponent knowingly violated the rules and committed and act that he knew should result in his opponent being awarded the match by forfeit! The desirability of a “clear winner” is rooted in the idea that we are here to determine who the better competitor is on this night. The idea that the rules must be followed is inherent in the definition of being a competitor in a sport! If Michael Jordan and GSP are going to play a game of one-on-one basketball, and instead of going for the ball GSP shoots a single-leg on Michael and puts him in a hold and breaks his ankle (a blatantly illegal maneuver in a basketball game, obviously), then picks the ball up and dominates the game because he crippled MJ, are you really going to tell me that GSP is the “better competitor” at basketball?
Yano wound up getting up and not selling the knee that Davey worked over or the stomach Davey hit him with a chair in at all. The usual Yano sh*t happened, resulting in a roll-up finish where it looked like DBSJ easily could have kicked out but didn’t even bother to try. An utterly terrible performance by the wrestlers, referee, and announcers, and easily the worst match of 2019 so far.
NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH: Colt Cabana vs. Togi Makabe- 4.75/10
The match built up well, but wasn’t particularly exciting.
NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH: Satoshi Kojima vs. Minoru Suzuki- 2.75/10
They hit each other, then went outside for the usual Suzuki-Gun Crap™, to lead into the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys™. The babyface just barely beats the count, then collapses and is beaten down by the heel some more- mostly with strikes and stomps- until the comeback starts. I’ve seen this same f*cking match a million times in this company, and it’s a little frustrating that most of the Suzuki-Gun crew (other than Zack and on rare occasion some of the others) are content to go out there and do the exact same first half of the match for every match they do, and that most of their opponents (Okada being a notable exception) seem perfectly happy to just go along with this same dumb formula that pointlessly kills the credibility to the referees.
They proceeded to hit each other in the corner a bunch of times while the referee never once tried to stop this illegal action. Kojima got a big more or two in but Suzuki cut him off. Kojima’s “tired old man” selling was very good… and I really do think it was selling in this case rather than him actually being a tired old man, because he was able to kick into gear again when he needed to. Suzuki finally locked in the sleeper hold… and, like an idiot, let it go to try for the Gotch-style Piledriver, which wound up getting reversed. A guy who is supposed to be a shooter giving up any hold is stupid, but giving up a clearly effective choke to try for a Piledriver- the most pro wrestling of pro wrestling maneuvers- is just plain silly.
We got a couple of good minutes at the end, but then, on the finish, Suzuki ducked a lariat… and locked the sleeper hold in for a grand total of about one second before going for the Piledriver and hitting it for the win. Why did he apply the sleeper at all there? It’s like he thinks locking in a sleeper and then letting it go is part of hitting a Piledriver. It’s SOOOOO stupid!
NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH: Hirooki Goto vs. Sanada- 8.5/10
There was a lot of really great athletic move-countermove stuff here that worked really well, and the announcers did a good job of pushing this as the story of the match. Lots of good work on the head and neck from both guys and good build to their attempts at finishers combined with great intensity to give this an excellent “big match” feel. That being said… Sanada is a dumbf*ck for getting go of Skull End to go for his moonsault, and I eagerly await the day when this will come back to bite him in the ass.
A disappointing show from New Japan. The undercard was stronger than usual, but the first three of the four New Japan Cup matches were an awful stretch that the main event- awesome as it was- couldn’t make up for.
NJPW, PROGRESS, RevPro, CMLL, etc
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