Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura - 6/10
Good opener, great basics like usual. Tsuji won with a bit of a roll up.
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. The United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) - 6/10
No need to mention that the stuff with Honma was the weakest, but he was also the babyface in peril, and so it worked. Cobb pinned Honma with the Tour of the Islands. Cobb has been picking all the wins in the tag matches, he's likely to fall to EVIL, but he's definitely getting some good wins.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi & Toa Henare vs. BULLET CLUB (Dick Togo, EVIL, Jay White & KENTA) (w/Gedo) - 7/10
There was a lot to this match. White and Henare did more work together, and at least this time, Henare didn't look like a total geek. Taguchi did a lot of his comedy, but also paired up with pretty much everyone from BC, they even did some Taguchi vs White stuff that made me hope for a serious Taguchi vs White match one day. KENTA and Robinson paired up, and EVIL was mostly there for some heat spots.
Finish saw Tanahashi, surprisinly, use the High Fly Flow on Togo for the win. It's rare for Tana to pull off the HFF on a tag match like these.
Post-match - Henare attacked White until he got pulled away. Taguchi joined the beat up. White antagonizing lesser wrestlers is great, really brings out the fire in some of them.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) - 8/10
Another well packaged match. They're building Shingo vs Goto and SANADA vs Ishii, but they also had a lot of story to play with Okada vs SANADA, Naito vs Okada/Ishii, Shingo vs SHO/Okada, so we ended up getting a bunch of different pair ups in addition to the two being worked on. At the end, it was Shingo beating SHO for the win.
The Shingo vs Goto stuff was, as you'd expect, a lot of strong style, but the stuff with SANADA vs Ishii was more interesting, with the idea that SANADA can't stand with a striking Ishii, it's just not his game.
New Japan Cup 2021 First Round Match
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gabriel Kidd - 7.5/10
This was really good, but I felt it went to long, considering Kidd is a young lion. The match was a total Sabre match, with a lot of grappling, and building to Kidd having a striking based comeback, where Sabre tends to show his weakness. I think the fans played along and respected the match, but they didn't sound hot for it, I don't think anyone expected Kidd to win anyway. At the end, Sabre submitted Kidd.
This was definitely about 8 minutes longer than it needed to be. Sabre awaits the winner of Ospreay vs Tenzan.
New Japan Cup 2021 First Round Match
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (w/Master Wato) vs. Will Ospreay - 7/0
This match went about 13 minutes, and it also felt a bit longer than it needed to be, even as the main event. Given the constraints with Tenzan's limited abilities, this was a good match. Tenzan at this point can have decent matches when having a specific type of match, last year's YOSHI-HASHI match is the example, but going against someone like Ospreay was definitely a test. Ospreay just doesn't rely on submissions or striking, which are the two things that could be easy for Tenzan. Having said that, Ospreay worked circles around him, and the final product looked good, Ospreay gave a lot to him, Tenzan even kicked out of the Os Cutter. At the end, Ospreay got him up for the Stormbreaker and got the win.
Next round is ZSJ vs Ospreay, and Ospreay will most likely be the heel!!
Post-match - Ospreay cut his winner's promo, he put over Tenzan, saying he still had some fire in him. He said he'd win the entire Cup.
Ok show, but nothing special. Not often said about New Japan, but I think that the tag match to build a future match, was better than the featured matches at top. It was just a pair of weak pair ups, one with a young lion, and one with an old timer that doesn't move so well anymore. It's the first round of the Cup, we know this sometimes happens.