Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, & TenCozy vs Tomoaki Honma, Yota Tsuji, Shota Umino, & Ren Narita - 4/10
Old timers vs young lions and a barely mobile old timer. When the kids were in there it was good, they seem to be building Nagata vs Shota or something. Tenzan submitted Tsuji with the Anaconda Vice. It was ok.
Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, & Mikey Nicholls vs Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, & Hikuelo) - 5.5/10
We're now officially building Owens vs Robinson for the US title. I liked the stuff between the two of them, even if it was short. Nicholls pinned Hikuleo with the Mikey Bomb for the win. I need someone to confirm to me if Nicholl's push is what was set for Berreta.
Post-match - Chase took out Juice with a superkick.
Killer Elite Squad vs Togi Makabe & Toa Henare - 5.5/10
Short match, seems like KES is being re-groomed to chase some titles later on. They won with the Killer Bomb on Henare. Makabe was barely in the match
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOH) - 6.5/10
The feud between Shingo and YOH continues. I'm gonna call it again, unless Hiromu comes back, this is our BOSJ finals. All pairings were good and I which I'd get singles between Shingo and Goto AND Naito and YOH one day. YOH got a huge nearfall with a backslide, but later lost to the Last of the Dragon. I take it Shingo just got their title shot pin here. Good stuff here.
Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & TAKA Michinoku) - 6.5/10
Similar match with SZKG working on EVIL until SANADA got the hot tag and did his thing with Suzuki. BUSHI pinned TAKA with a roll up counter to the Just Facelock.
Post-match - Suzuki and SANADA got into a pull apart.
CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii, & Toru Yano) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI) & Colt Cabana - 7/10
Ospreay vs Okada was great, it was a different Okada we've seen all Cup, must faster and intense. Ospreay actually also had a good match up against Cabana. Ishii vs YH was ok, YH sucks. Yano vs Ishii was ok, vs Cabana was good, I enjoy their comedy clash. Yano won with a school boy. If anything else from the undercard, watch Ospreay and Okada mix it up.
"Ace" Hiroshi Tanahashi vs "Funky Weapon" Ryusuke Taguchi - 7/10
Even though that Taguchi started the match with a bit of play with the Taguchi Japan fist bump, he came in with his big match boots and from early on, both men started working on each other's legs. The one interesting dynamic here is that Taguchi worked the heel side of the match, which is not something we've seen from him, maybe, at all. Later on, when Tanahashi started going for the Slingblades and Twist n Shouts, Taguchi started to use some of his upper body offense like Dodon.
The match in my opinion, was barely hitting second gear when it ended, and I hated that Tanahashi didn't think Taguchi was big enough to use the High Fly Flow and just won with a random Dragon Suplex. If the feud had been about working each other's legs, at least submit Taguchi to a Sharpshooter that is something he's been doing lately on the tournament. This left a lot to be desired and Tanahashi really rubbed me the wrong way.
Commentary did sell the use of the Dragon Suplex as it was invented by Tatsumi Fujinami in Madison Square Garden and apparently Tanahashi saw it as a kid and now wants to use it again main eventing at MSG. Good history lesson, I appreciate the explanation, but I know that Tanahashi doesn't like to use High Fly Flow out of big matches.
Post-match - Tanahashi gave Taguchi the Taguchi Japan fist bump now
"Golden Star" Kota Ibushi vs "Technical Wizard" Zack Sabre Jr. w/TAKA Michinoku - 9/10
Zack Sabre worked over Ibushi's legs, FINALLY using a properly applied knee bar which for some reason is not easy for wrestlers to do. Ibushi kept trying to turn the match into a striking one, but Sabre was always there to block and lock up again. Eventually, Sabre pissed off Ibushi enough that the mean streak came out, which is a style that forces Sabre to strike and do powermoves, but it's also chaotic enough that gives Sabre more openings, at which point the one thing that Ibushi still had over Sabre was his crazy strength that allowed him to get out of many submissions. The finish was great and it actually caught me completely by surprise when Sabre locked in a great looking leg submissions, forcing the second top contender to win, to tap out in the middle of the ring.
I didn't like it as much as their G1 Climax match from last year, but it was great nonetheless. I really really hope that Sabre submits Tanahashi and manages to get a long winning streak in the NJC.
Post-match - TAKA said that Sabre will win the Cup. Backstage, TAKA said that next is Tanahashi, who Sabre defeated last year. Sabre said that he is getting bored of winning all these matches. He said that he'll win the Cup, win the title at MSG, and that he'll defend it at Royal Quest, which suddenly makes A LOT OF SENSE. He also said he's going to change the name of that show because he doesn't believe in the monarchy.
As we've had all Cup, weak repetitive undercard with a better than usual bracket game. I'm still sour that Tanahashi won with a Dragon Suplex for some reason, but Sabre vs Ibushi was great and worth checking out.
Sabre vs Tanahashi is next on this bracket.