This year’s New Japan Cup was crucial for NJPW to set up the feuds and storylines that will shape the company for the coming months. There were indeed a lot of questions going into the finals, let’s see how NJPW chose to answer those:
Jay White defeated David Finlay Jr in 7:41 via submission:
Like Komatsu and Tanaka before them, White and Finlay are destined to fight again and again and again during those opening matches. Unlike Komatsu and Tanaka, there does seem to be a bit of a feud developing here, which is to the good. It clearly doesn’t sit too well with Finlay that White has beaten him several times during these past few months (while he only managed to score one victory) so we’ll see where this goes. White seems a bit more advanced than his counterpart when it comes to technical and athletic ability but Finlay has a fire about him that makes you wanna cheer for him. Regardless of the direction they choose this should be interesting. Good, solid match as always, White scored the win with a Boston Crab.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Juice Robinson defeated Tiger Mask IV and Captain New Japan in 8:12 via submission:
Decent tag match, but I must say the the good Captain’s antics are getting a bit tiresome after awhile. Fortunately, the other three were on point, with Tiger mask even nailing a suicide dive to the outside on Liger, just like old times. Robinson might get some sort of a push in the coming months since he was allowed to score the victory for his team with a Cobra Clutch on Captain New Japan. Post-match Tiger Mask IV (the reigning NWA Jr heavyweight Champion) challenged Liger to yet another match. Not sure about this, I get the nostalgia feel of the match, but, this particular match-up has become NJPW’s version of Orton vs Sheamus (only better). And why would the champion challenge someone he has beaten for the belt several times already? I guess Gedo is just as nostalgic for the good old time as the rest of us…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and BUSHI) defeated CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) in 8:17 via pinfall:
Good, entertaining tag match whose purpose (as expected) was to put EVIL over as a challenger for Ishii’s ROH TV Title. Wild brawl to start of the match and some good back and forth throughout, it all came down to Ishii vs EVIL and, just as it seemed the Stone Pitbull had the upper-hand, BUSHI intervened with the Green Mist, allowing EVIL hit the STF on Ishii. After the match EVIL grabbed the ROH TV Title and made his intention towards Ishii graphically clear with a throat cutting gesture. I totally approve of this, EVIL needs someone to halp him get to the next level and Ishii is absolutely perfect for that. Good stuff.
New Japan Cup Semi-Final 1 – Tetsuya Naito defeated Toru Yano in 2:32 via pinfall:
Comedy more than match, but comedy with a purpose. Yano’s intent was clearly to keep Naito out of the finals by any means necessary, so he attacked Naito from behind with a chair before the bell even rang. Hilariously, when Naito wanted to retaliate, Yano took refuge between the ropes, urging naito to respect the rules. More dirty tricks followed, including Yano’s trademark ref bump/low blow combination, but Naito was one step ahead and simply dragged the referee along with him, preventing the latter to do the three count. Naito then fired back with a low blow of his own and that was that. Post-match, the leader of Los Ingobernables destroyed one of the Young Lions just for the hell of it and then stared down Jay White with his best “what are you going to do about it” look. Naito is just awesome.
New japan Cup Semi-Final 2 – Hirooki Goto defeated Michael Elgin in 9:28 via pinfall:
Very good match with Elgin being presented as a dominant force, while Goto did everything had to bring out everything he got to stay in the game. Big moves right away with Elgin being mega-over with the crowd. Goto kept finding ways to kick out of some really close near-falls. As has been a theme during this tournament, Goto’s Road to redemption continued when he exploited a minor mistake by Elgin and caught him with a quick roll-up. Good job of continuing the Goto storyline while keeping Elgin strong, I have no doubt those two will clash again in the future.
TenKoji (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) defeated Katsuyori Shibata and Ryusuke Taguchi in 10:18 via pinfall:
Another good tag match, but the stars here were Kojima and Shibata has they set the crowd on fire whenever they battled. And battle they did with some very stiff offense. taguchi and Tenzan also got some ring-time of course, but they were clearly playing second fiddle. Towards the end, TenKoji dominated Shibata before the latter made the hot tag to Taguchi. Amusing moment here with Taguchi getting fired up for his final offense, but ending up being almost beheaded by a Kojima lariat. Post-match, Kojima challenged Shibata for the NEVER title, Shibata responded with a stiff kick to the head. In Shibata language, that means: “challenge accepted”. Kojima responded with a huge lariat. In Kojima language that means: “you’re dead”. See? Japanese isn’t that difficult after all… Seriously, that’s gonna be one hell of a match.
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Kazuchi Sakuraba) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi in 12:00 via pinfall:
Good match but nothing special as the sole purpose for this one was to give Okada something to do. Rather amusing segment between nakanishi and Sakuraba, with Nakanishi trying to follow Sakuraba’s mat-based work. To be fair, it actually looked rather good, I guess that as long as Nakanishi doesn’t have to run or move too rapidly he can still hang on. Typically good exchanges between Nagata and Okada also. The end came when Okada nailed Nakanishi with the Rainmaker.
Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale and Yushiro Takahashi) defeated GBH (Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe) and Hiroshi Tanahashi in 13:21 via pinfall:
Good back and forth match where everyone was allowed to do their thing (yes even Fale and Takahashi who both delivered decent performances here). Much was done to make Fale look as strong as possible (with many thanks too the face’s very effective selling). It seems they will indeed continue with the Tanahashi/Fale storyline here, which means those two will probably have a match at Invasion Attack. Well, I guess it’s a way to keep Tanahashi out of the title pictures for the time being. Tama Tonga was the star here as he nailed an impressive looking top rope gun stun on Honma before hitting the Veleno (waistlock DDT) for the win. Post-match, Tonga introduced the newest member of Bullet Club who indeed turned out to be his real-life brother Tevita Fifita (Camacho in WWE). The brothers then told GBH their days as tag team champions are coming to an end at Invasion Attack. I must say I’m licking this new team very much. There should be no chemistry problems between those two and both will be eager to make the most of this opportunity. They could very well become the breath of fresh air this division needs.
New japan Cup Final – Tetsuya Naito defeated Hirooki Goto in 20:17 via pinfall:
Excellent match with Goto hitting an insurmountable bump on his Road to Redemption. Much was made of the fact that Goto had to fight a much longer match than naito in the semi’s AND that he had to overcome not only Naito now but also interference from BUSHI and later EVIL. very good pacing with a lot of back and forth and some incredibly hot near-falls. Naito shined through here, if there was still any doubt left he is the hell that can carry NJPW’s main event scene in 2016, those doubts should be completely annihilated after this. Towards the end, Goto took care of EVIL to kick-start a red-hot finishing sequence which ended when Naito hit the Destino on Goto. Post-match Naito mocked Goto, saying he hadn’t changed at all and was still a loser before announcing he was going after Okada’s IWGP Heavyweigh Title but NOT at Invasion Attack, he would challenge the champion whenever the hell he felt like it. Pure gold. Los Ingobernables then attacked Goto again, until Okada made the save. Okada once more proposed a handshake to Goto who finally accepted, which means Goto is now at least allied with CHAOS, if not yet officially part of the group (the announcement will come later I’m sure). Okada then asked Naito if he was afraid to face him at Invasion Attack. Naito laughed and then said something along the lines of: “hey if you WANT to lose your title at Invasion Attack, that’s fine by me”. In other words, Okada vs Naito is on! Yes! great stuff on all levels.
Conclusion: Very entertaining show with match quality ranging from good to excellent and some very interesting developments towards Invasion Attack. Naito vs Okada of course, but also Shibata vs Kojima, GBH vs the Tonga brothers and, probably, EVIL vs Ishii and Tanahashi vs Fale. Add to that KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay and you get a very good-looking Invasion Attack card. Also, the Goto/CHAOS storyline is far from over, on the contrary, it’s only just beginning, so it will be interesting to see how Goto gets along with the various CHAOS members and what Shibata thinks about all of this. Really good time to be an NJPW fan.
Tags: bad Luck fale, David Finlay Jr, EVIL, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jay White, Jushin "Thinder" Liger, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Michael Elgin, New Japan Cup 2016, njpw, Satoshi Kojima, Tama Tonga, Tetsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Will Ospreay, Yoshi Hashi, Yuji Nagata, Yujiro TAkahashi