NJPW New Japan Cup 2018: Day 2
By Big Red Machine
From March 10, 2018
REN NARITA & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 4.25/10
Narita looked pretty good here. He got beaten up by Suzuki-Gun after the match.
DAVID FINLAY JR. & TETSUHIRO YAGI vs. YUJI NAGATA & SHOTA UMINO - 4.25/10
MICHAEL ELGIN & TOMOYUKI OKA vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) - 4.5/10
TOA HENARE & JUICE ROBINSON vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Takashi Iizuka) - 5.5/10
Suzuki-Gun jump their opponents before the match. The match was much better than I expected for a tag match featuring Iizuka.
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & Sanada) - 7/10
KOTA IBUSHI & BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Tonga Loa, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHUCK TAYLOR & CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, & Kazuchika Okada) (w/Gedo) - 6.25/10
So the kayfabe powers that be are now just considering Ibushi part of Bullet Club and booking them as a team? Ibushi teaming with Omega makes sense, but him teaming with Bullet Club without Omega there is silly. Ibushi seems unhappy with this arrangement, too, as he rejects their Too Sweet-ing, but is willing to work with them for the sake of the match so he shakes their hands instead.
They worked fine as a team. The guys did their stuff. It was fine.
NJPW CUP FIRST-ROUND MATCH:
Lance Archer vs. Bad Luck Fale - 5.75/10
They were on the outside forever without being counted out. This set up the count-out tease that no one ever buys because they do it all the time and no one ever gets counted out. They had a decent hoss fight, with Archer trying some Undertaker tribute stuff. Fale won, which I actually thought was a mistake. No member of Bullet Club making it out of the first round could be used to show that their internal issues are affecting them in the ring, while the big story of the tournament could be Tanahashi going through three Suzuki-Gun members to pick up the win (they have already made a big deal out of the fact that there are four Suzuki-Gun entrants). But instead Fale won, so we get to see him vs. Tanahashi yet again instead of the much more fresh Archer vs. Tanahashi singles match.
NJPW CUP FIRST-ROUND MATCH:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Taichi (w/Miho Abe & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 7/10
We start off with Cody-esque levels of stalling from Taichi. Eventually Miho Abe distracts Tanahashi and the referee to Taichi can hit Tanahashi in the back of the head with the microphone stand. Rather than try to pin Tanahashi right then and there, Taichi drags him out of the ring and into the crowd. He begins to CHOKE Tanahashi (illegal action #1) WITH A GUARDRAIL (illegal action #2)... and when the referee sees this he runs over to them and says the equivalent of "come on, guys. Take it back to the ring." Are you f*cking kidding me?
The ref walks back to the ring. Taichi then hits Tanahashi in the face with a chair, to which the referee responds by beginning to count them out. Anyone who claims that they like New Japan better than WWE for it's more sports-like presentation is not allowed to render anymore opinions until they explain to me what their explanation is for New Japan's referees clearly not giving a single sh*t about the rules. In WWE the refs are at least told to call everything like a shoot.
More stuff happened, including Tanahashi briefly taking over, but Taichi eventually got the advantage back and once again he dragged Tanahashi to the outside... and all of a sudden there are no count-outs again. This was done so that Taichi could go for a powerbomb onto the ramp but Tanahashi reversed it with a hurricanrana and we got a double-down on the outside. The referee ran out to check on them, then got back to the ring and all of a sudden there are count-outs again. How is it so f*cking hard for these people to get this basic sh*t right?!
Taichi worked over Tanahashi's head, including giving him a freakin' GANSO BOMB... and he doesn't even go for the pin! He wants to do a f*cking lariat instead. And, of course, Tanahashi ducks it. It's the same approach Tanahashi takes to the High Fly Flow. He wants it in the match but doesn't want it kicked out of, so the guy who hits this super-move inexplicably goes for something else after hitting it rather than going for the pin so that the other move can be reversed, thus preserving the super-move. Speaking of which...
Tanahashi won the sequence coming out of that Ganso Bomb and hit the High Fly Flow, but couldn't make the cover because his knee- which he hadn't sold all match and was never worked over all match, hurt him too much. They did more stuff after that with more cheating from Taichi, but Tanahashi eventually won with the High Fly Flow, which he always wins with, despite the fact that it targets the midsection while Tanahashi has always spends most of the match working over working his opponent's knee.
I'm not trying to say that this was a terrible match or anything. The work on Tanahashi's head and Tanahashi's selling thereof was quite good, and the nearfalls revolving around Taichi's cheating were believable (although after losing to first Naito and now Tanahashi despite this cheating, I doubt I'll buy them anymore against non-midcarders), but there was so much other stuff here that was infuriating that it would have been so easy to fix- or just plain not do- that it really hurt the match for me.
A very disappointing show from New Japan. The undercard was even more soulless than usual outside of the LIJ match and while the two top matches were at least different than usual, neither delivered to the level that it should have.