For people who don’t follow New Japan, this will be a difficult, if not uninteresting, week for you. It’s always hard for television matches to hold a candle to Japanese tournament or big show matches. That being said, there is at least one match that cracked the crowded Top 5.
Before that that though, the grandpa showdown won the vote last week! Meaning, of course that, New Japan Cup Day 2: Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki, moves on to the monthly pool.
With the New Japan Cup raging on, we have an interesting Top 5. Since not only is it 6, because of ratings ties, but it’s technically a 5 way tie for second. So let’s see what matches we get to vote from!
Quick Top 5:
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Yuji Nagata vs Kazuchika Okada
Rating: **** 1/4
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 3: SHO vs Shingo Takagi
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Tomohiro Ishii vs Togi Makabe
- NXT: NXT North American Championship: Finn Balor vs Johnny Gargano vs Keith Lee (c)
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 4: EVIL vs Satoshi Kojima
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Toru Yano vs Hiromu Takahashi
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 3: Zack Sabre Jr vs Kota Ibushi
Rating: *** 3/4
- AEW Dynamite: FTR vs SCU
Rating: *** 1/2
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 4: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
Rating: *** 1/2
- WWE Raw: Raw Tag Team Championship: Street Profits (c) vs Viking Raiders
Rating: *** 1/2
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 3: Taichi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Rating: *** 1/2
- IMPACT!: Madman Fulton w/Ace Austin vs Eddie Edwards
Rating: *** 1/4
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 4: Yujiro Takahashi w/Jado vs Hirooki Goto
Rating: *** 1/4
- WWE SmackDown: Lucha House Party & New Day vs Miz & Morrison & Shinsuke & Cesaro
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Taiji Ishimori vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- NXT: Santos Escoar vs Jake Atlas
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 3: Ryusuke Taguchi vs SANADA
- IMPACT!: Taya Valkyrie w/John E. Bravo vs Susie
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 4: YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- WWE Raw: Women’s Tag Team Championship: The IIconics vs Sasha Banks & Bayley (c)
- NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: DOUKI, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr vs Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi
- IMPACT!: Chris Bey, Johnny Swinger & Rohit Raju vs Willie Mack, Cody Deaner & Cousin Jake
- NXT: Karrion Kross w/Scarlett vs Bronson Reed
2t. NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Toru Yano vs Hiromu Takahashi
How do you continue to build on Yano’s torment of Hiromu? Hiromu comes out in a hard hat, and tripping over his own feet, scared for his life. Yano goads him at multiple times, pulls out clippers to taunt him. Hiromu hides under the ring, when Yano goes to chase, Hiromu pops up and thinks he’s got the upper hand since he has the clippers. He throws away the helmet, Yano runs in for Hiromu to put the boots to him…only to find the clippers don’t work. Yano purposely started with busted clippers.
Yano produces more clippers and the chase is on. There’s so much scrambling and brawling, just great physical comedy that tells their story. Yano then produces scissors, is that safe? You can’t run with scissors, but can you wrestle with them? Long and short, we get a double call back. Yano grabs trainer’s tape, and Yota Tsuji. Tapes Yota to Yano, and clips a chunk of Hiromu’s hair. This is a double call back because not only did Yano tape Hiromu’s feet yesterday, but that’s also how he beat Jon Moxley in the G1; by taping him to Yota Tsuji.
With the familiar path taken, Yano revels in his victory, but surprisingly, Tsuji and Hiromu are up. They tackle down Yano. Hiromu tapes Yano’s hands and eyes while Tsuji calls for an elevator. The doors open, they throw in Yano, send it to the bottom floor and 3 Legged Man race into the ring.
Winner: Takahashi via Elevator Assisted Count Out
2t. NJPW NJ Cup Day 4: EVIL vs Satoshi Kojima
Kojima survives but Evil won’t let up. Evil fireman’s carries, DARKNESS FALLS!! Cover, TWO!?!? Kojima shocks Evil by surviving one of his best! Evil gets to his feet and slashes the throat. Evil drags Kojima up, spins him around, but Kojima denies him the STO. Evil kicks, spins but into a forearm! Kojima runs, but Evil swats the lariat away! Evil runs, into a SOUTHPAW LARIAT!! Cover, TWO!! Evil shocks Kojima now but Kojima gets back up. Kojima brings Evil into the suplex, for the BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! Kojima is beside himself as Evil lives. Kojima staggers up to his feet, powers up the arm, and runs, but Evil uses Red Shoes as a shield! Evil kicks low, lifts Kojima, and makes Red Shoes help him in the MAGIC KILLER!! Everyone is down, even Red Shoes!
Evil and Kojima stir while Red Shoes goes to a corner. Kojima gets up in a corner, Evil runs in, BIG corner clothesline! Evil hoists Kojima up top then climbs up to join him. They stand on the very top, for a SUPERPLEX!! Evil crawls to the cover, TWO!?!? Kojima still lives and Evil has no words! Evil takes off his elbow pad, runs, but into Kojima’s LARIAT!! Both men fall and commentary is losing its mind! Kojima crawls and rises, hurries to cover, TWO!!! Evil survives because of that delay! Kojima rises again and dares Evil to stand. Evil does stand, Kojima runs in, but Evil swats the lariat away! And again! Evil ducks one but gets the southpaw again! Kojima runs, into EVERYTHING IS EVIL!! Cover, EVIL WINS!!
Winner: EVIL via Everything is Evil
2t. NXT: NXT North American Championship: Finn Balor vs Johnny Gargano vs Keith Lee (c)
Keith fades again, drops to a knee, but Gargano SUPERKICKS them both!! Gargano goes to the apron, aims at Balor, ONE FINAL BEAT! Cover, but Keith breaks it! Gargano goes after Keith with forearms and elbows from all sides, but Keith clamps onto Gargano for a whip. Gargano tilt-o-whirls but Keith blocks the DDT! Keith powers back up, swings Gargano into Balor, but Gargano uses that to DDT Keith! But Keith rolls out of the ring! Gargano has no one to cover, but he DIVES to tope Keith into railing! Gargano hurries and DIVES to hit Balor, but Balor catches him! Balor throws knees on Gargano in the single underhook. Balor lifts Gargano, but Keith POUNCES Bloody Sunday apart!! All three men are down at the ramp and the crowd is losing its mind!
Winner: Keith Lee via Big Bang Catastrophe
2t. NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Tomohiro Ishii vs Togi Makabe
If we remember anything about their bouts for the NEVER championship, they were basically what established the title as the “tough guy” title for so many years. This match had numerous elements from the previous tilts, including immediately starting off with crashing into each other like bulls.
Any thoughts that Makabe might be losing a step, should be eliminated after this match. He pulled out most of his classic moves, 10 Count Punches, Northern Lights, Spider Suplex; but Ishii wasn’t going to be denied. Great lariat and strike exchanges, hard hits, everything rang true like their old title matches. Ishii ends the match with his signature Brainbuster, but it was a great back and forth with resiliency and big moves.
Winner: Ishii via Vertical Drop Brainbuster
2t. NJPW NJ Cup Day 3: SHO vs Shingo Takagi
This story has been building for a year since Shingo basically embarrassed SHO during their forays in the Junior division. Now as NEVER champion, SHO did show a renewed interest in the rivalry with Shingo before the quarantine, and this moves it along nicely.
SHO worked the right arm, to try and remove some power from Shingo’s moveset and take the sting out of the Pumping Bombers. Shingo still brought great intensity and fantastic power spots, but SHO had a resolve. After the Sunset Flip into Powerbreaker, it was looking like momentum shifted. Shingo had a few spots with Made in Japan and Pumping Bomber, but SHO kicked out at 2; the earlier damage to the arm proved fruitful.
Going back to the arm, SHO rolls off the Last of the Dragon, goes for a Kimura, but they Gator Roll into a Crossarmed Piledriver. SHO surprised himself, hits Shock Arrow and gets the upset! Now we should get SHO challenging for the NEVER at Dominion.
Winner: SHO via Shock Arrow
1. NJPW NJ Cup Day 5: Yuji Nagata vs Kazuchika Okada
Okada had a different aura about him in this match. He gave an actual clean break instead of his usually condescending pats, and seemed to have respect early on. But that quickly dwindled when he went for a cocky cover and we saw that evolutionary match style that Okada loves.
One thing that is special in all of Okada’s matches is how there’s always a portion tailored for his opponent. Meaning, he will purposefully wrestle in a way to their strengths, just to prove how good he is. This was no different since Nagata loves to strike, and outside of Shibata and Nakamura, Okada doesn’t usually go for a strike heavy layout.
We saw some great moves from both men, Nagata pulling out the Nagata Lock #2 and nearly executing the Exploder of Justice. Okada did drop the cockiness, and as Nagata fired up after strikes you could see the “Freaking really” look all over Okada’s face. It was just great action, showed that Nagata can still be a real challenger for any title, and helped Okada find new ways to lock in the Cobra Clutch.
Winner: Okada via Cobra Clutch
Well Nagata has really been the match based MVP so far in the Cup, but after his Okada match, his run is over. All of these matches were great fun to watch; for one reason or another. But if I’m voting, I’d give my vote to the North American Triple Threat. A little more overall significance in that match, and it carries a better storyline thread of: Who will be double champion? Unlike Okada/Nagata which is just: Who will face Taiji Ishimori?
So yes it was a New Japan heavy top end, but there was a lot more WWE in the Honorable Mentions than usual. So all in all, a solid week for wrestling.