Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, & El Desperado) vs HIroshi Tanahshi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata, & Gabriel Kidd - 7/10
This was the Zack Sabre show, dude decimated Tanahashi's leg and went toe-to-toe with Ibushi before having to tag out. This was all to build Tekkers vs Aces in a proper tag environment. Nagata and Suzuki had a go at each other, and at the end, Kidd had a nice little hope segment against Suzuki and Desperado, who won with Pinche Loco. Fun stuff, I'll never get tired of Suzuki and Sabre torturing people.
Post-match - Taichi and Tana had a face off and Sabre worked on Ibushi's leg some more.
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, & SHO) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, BUSHI) - 6/10
Another match focused 99% on building a match for Osaka, SHO and Shingo had two segments in this match. Ishii was cut off from his corner for a while, Goto felt irrelevant in this match, and BUSHI was there to give SHO the win with the Shock Arrow. Ok stuff, just nothing new.
Post-match - SHO challenged Shingo for the NEVER title and Speared him.
Master Wato Debut - We got a different version of the Grand Master video, this time showing the now former Hirai Kawato, in all of his geeky glory. He just looked weird in the video.
Wato them walked out, he looked so much better here, he gve me HUGE vibes of Yuma Aoyagi. He just said that Master Wato has come to NJPW. Then, Douki jumped him from behind and beat him up and Wato didn't do shit. Talk about a shitty debut, but it builds for a debut match next week.
New Japan Cup Semifinal Match
EVIL vs SANADA - 8.5/10
These two have a low key rivalry going all the way back to last year's New Japan Cup, when SANADA started to ascend, while EVIL became irrelevant in LIJ and stopped being a teammate, they had their heated match at the G1 where EVIL got his frustrations out and won the match. Things seemed ok from there on, but EVIL as still just the 3rd guy in the NEVER 6-Man champs, while SANADA was out there fighting for the British Heavyweight title and Naito was winning double titles and Hiromu and Shingo winning singles titles. Months later, EVIL came in to the New Japan Cup with a chip on his shoulder and a far more brutal zero-fucks-given approach to winning the Cup.
This match saw a SANADA that wanted to play it fair and let the best man win. EVIL came in ready to win it all no matter what, and that was SANADA's downfall. EVIL used chairs early on to gain advantage, but SANADA still persevered, EVIL went after SANADA's injured neck (after a really scary botched Slice Bread #2) with another chair spot, but SANADA kept coming, and so EVIL relied on low blowing SANADA twice to finally get the EIE in and win. EVIL is a piece of shit friend and everything still screams for SANADA to leave LIJ, and I do wonder if EVIL will become another thorn in SANADA, now that it's 0-2.
I really didn't see this coming. I played around the idea of Nagata beating Suzuki before the tournament started, but SANADA losing to EVIL again never really crossed my mind.
New Japan Cup Semifinal Match
Kazuchika Okada vs Hiromu Takahashi - 9/10
This saw less of a cocky Okada (compared to the previous matches), and just like he put over Hiromu in yesterday's promo, he really did treat Hiromu as someone he'd take seriously. Hiromu's whole thing was to put the Jr. Heavyweight division on top, even beating "the toughest heavyweight" in the process, so he now came in ready to go after Okada.
The match was kinda followed a similar plan to what both Okada and Hiromu had been doing in the sense that Okada was stronger first and Hiromu was worked on, then Hiromu made a comeback and gave Okada some trouble, and oh boy, was he in trouble, Hiromu got a TON of really great near falls, Okada kicked out of the Dynamite Plunger, a Rainmaker, the Time Bomb, and escaped the D. Around this point, I really thought that Hiromu could be winning the match, but then the Rainmaker woke up, he started locking the Anaconda Vice and hitting Tombstones and Rainmakers, and at the end, unceremoniously, Okada choked out Hiromu with the Vice.
My only gripe with this match was that Okada working over Hiromu felt really long to me, one of those when you remember there's no crowd to cheer Hiromu back, so I'd say, take away from 5 minutes and you'd have a classic in your hands.
Post-match - Hiromu cried his way to the back. Okada put Hiromu over, and said that EVIL is next, and then Naito.
It's a four match show and two of them were tag matches to build up the Osaka card, but it was great nonetheless. The last two matches were top level New Japan stuff, the latter would had been in the top matches of the year if not for the lack of crowds.
Finals are gonna be Okada vs EVIL, which I have to imagine are easy to call who wins here. I'm not exactly hyped to go back to Okada vs Naito so soon, especially because there is a big possibility that Okada wins the titles, but I just don't see EVIL vs Naito main eventing Osaka.