The New Japan Cup’s second round begins!
NJPW keeps moving forward, and the Sweet Sixteen begins! Will the Ticking Timebomb keep ticking? Will Blue Justice shock the Rainmaker?
NOTE: NJPW no longer wants to feed AXS TV now that it is with Anthem and Impact Wrestling. But never fear, I will cover NJPW in the spirit of AXS in providing the most important matches of the show.
- Taiji Ishimori VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru; Ishimori wins and advances to the quarterfinals.
- Tomohiro Ishii VS Togi Makabe; Ishii wins and advances to the quarterfinals.
- Hiromu Takahashi VS Toru Yano; Hiromu wins and advances to the quarterfinals.
- Kazuchika Okada VS Yuji Nagata; wins and advances to the quarterfinals.
PLAY BY PLAY
Taiji Ishimori VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru!
Bullet Club’s Bone Soldier Reborn and Suzuki-Gun’s Heel Master are two nasty pieces of work, and now they collide to open the second round! Who proves to be nasty enough to make it into the quarterfinals?
But just as Taiji makes his entrance, Kanemaru attacks from behind! Kanemaru takes the lead in being nasty as he brings Taiji down and whips him into railing! The ref reprimands but Kanemaru keeps stomping away on Taiji at the railing. Kanemaru drags Taiji up to whip into more railing! Kanemaru hops up onto the railing, only for Taiji to get clear, kick him, and whip him all the way to the other railing! Taiji throws off his jacket and the bell rings to finally put this on the record. Taiji puts Kanemura in the ring, stomps Kanemaru around, then brings him up for a whip corner to corner. Kanemaru reverses, Taiji uses the tiger feint to turn around and slide under to then slip around and shoulder into Kanemaru. Taiji springboards for the seated senton! Kanemaru is down and Taiji fires up!
Taiji drags Kanemaru up to club him and stomp him back down. Kanemaru slowly gets up but Taiji throws haymakers. Taiji whips, Kanemaru reverses, but Taiji handsprings! Kanemaru catches the back elbow to back suplex, but Taiji slips out and runs, into the basement dropkick! Taiji clutches the knee while Kanemaru checks his neck. Kanemaru storms over to Taiji at the ropes and stands on the bad leg. The ref counts but Kanemaru lets off at 3. Kanemaru looms over Taiji and stomps him down again. Kanemaru SMASHES the knee on the mat! Taiji clutches the knee but Kanemaru drags him up and whips. Kanemaru dropkicks the leg out again and then goes after it with a standing toehold. Kanemaru steps through to get a Figure Four!
Taiji tries to fight it off but can’t, and now endures the hold as Kanemaru cranks on it. Taiji pries at the hold but Kanemaru stops that. Taiji turns and gets the ropebreak! Kanemaru undoes the hold with help from the ref, and he looms over Taiji again. Taiji hits back but Kanemaru stomps the knee. Kanemaru brings Taiji up for a SHIN BREAKER! Taiji writhes out of the ring and flounders to railing but Kanemaru pursues. Kanemaru drags Taiji up, has the leg and loops it ont the railing. Kanemaru BOOTS the knee and Taiji falls! The ref backs Kanemaru off to check on Taiji. Kanemaru talks smack as he goes back in the ring. The ref starts the ring count, and Taiji hobbles up at 6. Taiji gets in the ring at 10 of 20, but Kanemaru is already on him with stomps.
Taiji hits back with CHOPS but Kanemaru stomps the knee again. Kanemaru whips, Taiji manages the handspring and NEURALIZER! Both men go down but Taiji works to get the bad knee working. Taiji runs corner to corner, double knees! He snapmares Kanemaru and runs, but Kanemaru avoids the Penalty Kick to roll Taiji up! TWO, but Kanemaru wants the Figure Four! Taiji cradle counters, TWO! Kanemaru escapes the surprise but runs into a body shot! Taiji manages a gut wrench, but Kanemaru slips out. Taiji runs and Kanemaru uses the ref as a shield! Taiji still kicks Kanemaru first, then runs again, only to get the POP-UP ATOMIC LOW BLOW! The ref misses Kanemaru’s nastiest act yet!
Kanemaru gets to his feet and grabs his bottle of whiskey. He takes a big chug, aims at Taiji, but Taiji blocks the whiskey mist! Kanemaru sputters as Taiji smothers and covers, TWO! Kanemaru gasps and sputters as he had to forcibly swallow all that alcohol. Both men slowly rise, Taiji runs into a mule kick! Kanemaru scoops to a dragon sleeper, for the reverse DDT! Cover, TWO!! Taiji survives, Kanemaru goes up top, Taiji rises, and Kanemaru leaps! But Taiji catches him, pops him around, to Cipher- NO! Kanemaru sits on the cover, TWO!! Taiji denies Kanemaru’s tilt-o-whirl, then tilt-o-whirls himself, to go after the arm! Kanemaru resists the takedown, rakes eyes, and then gets space. Taiji still KNEES back, then gut wrenches, to CIPER UTAKI!! Cover, TWO!?! Kanemaru survives but Taiji fires up more. Taiji brings Kanemaru up, underhooks, BLOODY CROSS!! Cover, Taiji wins!!
Winner: Taiji Ishimori, by pinfall
Kanemaru may’ve been nasty but Taiji was tougher! The Bone Soldier moves on, will all of New Japan be reborn?
Tomohiro Ishii VS Togi Makabe!
What happens when a Stone Pitbull goes against an Uncaged Gorilla? We’re about to find out in a slug fest of heavy hitters! Who hits harder and who lasts longer to make it to the third round?
The bell rings and the two run right at each other! They collide shoulders, neither budges, so Ishii runs. Ishii rams Makabe, Makabe rebounds and rams back, but Ishii does the same. Makabe eggs Ishii on, rams him, but Ishii throws a forearm and runs again. They collide again, then both run, and collide! Collide! Collide! Ishii wobbles and Makabe bumps him, to then finally run him over! Makabe roars and brings Ishii up for big forearms. Ishii is in the corner, Makabe throws more forearms, but Ishii CHOPS back. Makabe doesn’t flinch! Makabe forearms, Ishii CHOPS, repeat. They go back and forth, pick up speed, and Makabe backs Ishii down to whip. Ishii reverses and hits a spinning powerslam!
Both men are down but Ishii sits up first. Ishii looms over Makabe and toys with him. Makabe gets up and throws forearms but now Ishii doesn’t budge. Makabe throws more, Ishii CHOPS back, and Makabe falls to his knees! Ishii takes a moment to finally wince, but he comes back to put Makabe in a corner. Ishii CHOPS again, and again, and again, even as Makabe sits down. Ishii toys with Makabe as he scuffs his head with his shoe. Makabe powers up and backs Ishii down with forearms. Makabe whips Ishii to a corner, Ishii comes running back, but into a belly2belly suplex! Ishii goes to the other corner and Makabe runs in to clothesline! Makabe climbs up and rains down right hands! Makabe gets all 10, then brings Ishii into a NORTHERN LIGHTS! Bridging cover, TWO!
Makabe is annoyed but he keeps on Ishii with a waistlock. Ishii resists the lift and elbows free, but Makabe throws forearms back. Ishii gets in Makabe’s face and Makabe throws more forearms. Ishii SLAPS Makabe, Makabe forearms back, and they go back and forth, fast and furious again! Ishii doubles down on the palm strikes but Makabe gets the edge with forearms! Ishii staggers back and Makabe falls to a knee, but Makabe gets up and runs in. Ishii catches him for a GERMAN SUPLEX into the buckles! The ref checks on Makabe as he clutches his head and neck, but Ishii stands on Makabe, to then drop a knee! And again! And again! Ishii finally backs off and the ref checks on Makabe again.
Makabe is dead weight as Ishii tries to bring him up. Ishii gets Makabe back in the corner to throw forearm after forearm into Makabe’s back and neck! The ref counts, tries to pull Ishii off, but Ishii keeps going! Ishii finally lets up and brings Makabe around. The ref has Ishii back away again to check on Makabe. Makabe revives but Ishii is on him with a cranking facelock! Makabe flails, but Ishii turns him for a SAIDO! Cover, TWO! Makabe survives despite all the damage done to his head and neck. Ishii dares him to stand, then runs, but Makabe blocks the lariat! Makabe runs but Ishii swats the lariat, only to get the SOUTHPAW! Both men are down from exhaustion, but Makabe rises to bring Ishii back up. Makabe throws big sledgehammer fists, then runs, but Ishii dodges. The two COLLIDE with clotheslines! And again! And again! They both fire up, go again, Makabe LARIATS Ishii down!
Makabe brings Ishii back up, SIT-OUT POWERBOMB! Cover, TWO!! Ishii survives and Makabe can’t believe it! Makabe brings Ishii back up, but Ishii breaks free. Makabe throws forearms again, then runs in to clothesline. Ishii stays up so Makabe uses the Polish hammers. Ishii fires off elbows from all sides! Makabe spins to LARIAT again! Again, both men are down! Makabe gets up first, brings Ishii around, and bumps him off buckles. Makabe hoists Ishii up to the top backwards, then climbs up behind him. Ishii holds on for dear life and elbows Makabe back. Ishii adjusts his position but Makabe throws more forearms. Ishii headbutts, Makabe falls into the Tree of Woe, but sits right up! SPIDER BELLY2BELLY SUPLEX! Ishii rises as Makabe sits up, and Ishii CLOBBERS Makabe on the top rope!
The ref checks on both men but they’re okay to continue. Ishii sits up and goes back to Makabe on the top rope. Ishii brings Makabe up but now Makabe holds on and resists. Ishii still powers Makabe up for a STALLING SUPERPLEX!! But Makabe crashes and rolls away, and stands up!? Makabe runs, into a LARIAT! Cover, TWO!! How did Makabe survive all of that?! Ishii doesn’t ask questions, he just sits Makabe up. Ishii runs, into Makabe’s haymakers! Makabe SNAP GERMANS! Bridging cover, TWO!! Ishii escapes but Makabe heads up top! Makabe leaps but the King Kong Knee only gets mat! Both men are down again, but Ishii slowly rises. Ishii dares Makabe to stand, then he runs. LARIAT, but Makabe stays up!
Makabe roars, clotheslines Ishii back, but Ishii stays up to headbutt! They collide with shoulders again, and Ishii HEADBUTTS! Makabe falls, eyes glazed over! The ref checks on Makabe and he responds, but Ishii wants him to stand. Makabe rises, Ishii runs, LARIAT! Makabe goes back down but Ishii wants him to stand up again. Makabe does, Ishii runs in, LARIAT! Makabe stays up this time and eggs Ishii on, to get a point-blank headbutt! Ishii brings Makabe back up, throws forearms again and again, but Makabe comes back with his Kong Chops! Makabe runs, LARIAT but Ishii stays up! Back hand, but Ishii ENZIGURIS! Ishii runs, LARIAT!! Cover, TWO!?! Ishii suplexes Makabe for the BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, Ishii wins!!
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii, by pinfall
The Pitbull sunk his teeth into the Gorilla and didn’t let go! Ishii is victorious again, and just leaves without even enjoying the celebration. Will he finally let himself celebrate when he takes the New Japan Cup?
Hiromu Takahashi VS Toru Yano!
The Ticking Timebomb likes to have fun, but will he be in the mood for the antics of the Clown Prince of NJPW? Will #YTR ruin the run of this LIJ member?
Hiromu makes his entrance wearing a hard hat, and then is very wary of Yano and his movie he’s trying to hock. Yano sprays his water bottle to make sure things are clean. Hiromu doesn’t trust that, either, and has the ref hurry with the check. The ref says the hard hat needs to come off and that Yano needs to put the bottle away. Yano gives up his spray bottle but Hiromu still doesn’t trust that. The bell rings, and Yano brings out an electric razor! Yano wants to shave Hiromu’s head! Now the hard hat makes sense… Hiromu gets away to the outside, and far away from the ring. The ref reprimands Yano and Hiromu slowly returns. Yano won’t give up the razor, so Hiromu goes under the ring! Yano drops the razor and goes looking for Hiromu. The ring count begins, passes 7 of 20 but then Hiromu appears out the other side!
Hiromu goes into the ring at 10 of 20, picks up the electric razor, and throws the hard hat away. The count reaches 15 and Yano gives up the search, to see Hiromu in the ring! Yano jumps in at 18 and Hiromu stomps him down! The ref still wants that razor to leave the ring, but Hiromu wants to shave Yano! Hiromu turns the razor on, but it doesn’t even work! Yano didn’t even charge the battery! It was all a bluff! Yano clobbers Hiromu, and brings out a second electric razor! Hiromu scrambles to a corner but Yano is after the hair! The ref takes the razor from Yano, and this one does work. But Hiromu kicks, whips and runs into the corner for a clothesline! Snapmare and basement dropkick! Hiromu keeps going, another whip, reels Yano into a forearm and puts him on the ropes. Hiromu kicks the ropes to jam Yano, then runs only to miss the dropkick!
Yano brings Hiromu up, but Hiromu throws forearms. Yano grabs the hair, Hiromu kicks and runs to huricanrana Yano down! Yano bails out of the ring and is down on the ground. Hiromu goes out to fetch Yano and whip him into railing! Hiromu trashes Yano’s things then brings Yano up and around for another whip. Yano reverses and sends Hiromu into railing! Yano wants the electric razor and is furious when the timekeeper refuses to give it over! Hiromu attacks Yano from behind and then brings him out to whip into the folded bleachers! But Yano has SCISSORS!! This could get dangerous! Hiromu holds Yano off, kicks the scissors out of his hand, then hurries to get back in the ring. Yano hurries back to the ring and goes back to his classic move of untying a buckle pad!
Hiromu and Yano talk trash from across the way, Hiromu runs corner to corner, but narrowly avoids hitting bare buckles! Yano doesn’t realize this until he runs and Hiromu follows to then shove him into ropes. Hiromu rolls Yano, Yano slips out but Hiromu mule kicks! Hiromu paces, looms over Yano, then brings him up. Hiromu CHOPS Yano, then whips him towards the bare buckles! Yano reverses but Hiromu slides under and out, only for Yano to pursue. They go around the corner, back into the ring, and Hiromu SUNSET FLIPS, but no powerbomb! Yano holds onto the ropes, reaches into his tights, and Hiromu panics! But it was a fake out! Yano didn’t have anything else! Hiromu kicks Yano back, then bumps him off the stage! Wait, Yano brings out ANOTHER pair of scissors?! When did he have time to hide all of these?!
The ref tries to take the scissors away but Yano pushes him away. Yano knocks Hiromu down, then brings out a med kit?! He wants to use the tape to tie Hiromu up! A Young Lion tries to stop Yano, but Yano knocks him down, and ties Hiromu’s leg to the Young Lion’s! It’s like a three legged race as Hiromu and the Young Lion try to get up. Yano brings the scissors over and starts CUTTING Hiromu’s hair!! Yano has a lock of the red-black hair from Hiromu! But Hiromu and the Young Lion get up, hobble over to Yano, and attack! Hiromu keeps on Yano and drags the Young Lion along! Hiromu uses the tape to tie Yano’s hands together! The ref reprimands all of this, but then Hiromu uses tape to blindfold Yano! And puts him inside the elevator! Yano is stuck as the elevator door closes! The ring count begins as Yano heads down!
Hiromu hurries, and the true three legged race begins! The count passes 10 but Hiromu has made it to ringside. He helps the Young Lion along as they get to the apron! They’re both in at 19! Yano is counted out, Hiromu wins!!
Winner: Hiromu Takahashi, by count-out
Perhaps the most unique victory in NJPW history! Hiromu raises the Young Lion’s hand in victory, because he quite literally couldn’t have done this without him. Hiromu gets his belt and hard hat back and brings the Young Lion along as he makes his exit. They even go up the steps to the stage together. Will Hiromu cut the tape before the third round begins?
Kazuchika Okada VS Yuji Nagata!
In the first round, The Rainmaker got revenge on the traitorous Gedo while Blue Justice shocked the Meanest Man in the World! Will Okada underestimate the grizzled old warrior? Or will Nagata be washed away by the rain?
The bell rings and the two circle. They stare down a moment, then tie up. Nagata waistlocks, wrenches and wristlocks, but Okada rolls to wrench back. Okada hammerlocks, Nagata reaches back to get the headlock and then throws Okada with the takeover. Okada endures as Nagata cranks on the hold, and fights his way up to his feet. Nagata keeps on that hold but Okada pries free, but not for long! Nagata gets the headlock back and grinds down even harder. Okada throws body shots then pries at the hold, but Nagata just powers him back into the headlock. Okada powers Nagata to ropes, Red Shoes calls for the break, and Okada uses the classic fake out. Okada pats Nagata on the shoulder, but Nagata kicks him back! Okada throws forearms, Nagata KICKS away on the leg!
Nagata kicks again but Okada blocks to elbow the knee. Okada runs, but Nagata BOOTS him down! Okada ducks the Penalty Kick and bails out of the ring. Okada catches his breath and Nagata dares him to get back in. Nagata even holds the ropes open for him. Okada still takes his time and the ring count starts. Okada waits until the count is past 10 of 20, but Nagata is still on him. Nagata has the double wristlock at the ropes, then wrenches through. Okada resists the shoulder breaker, even pulling on hair. Nagata instead yanks and elbows the arm, then runs, into a boot! Okada snapmares Nagata, runs and basement dropkicks Nagata down! Okada throws Nagata out then pursues, to RAM Blue Justice into the blue rails! Okada brings Nagata up to RAM him again!
Okada wrenches Nagata’s arm to whip him into railing. Okada walks around to catch his breath, then throws a European Uppercut to rock Nagata. The ring count begins again, Okada throws more EuroUppers, then RAMS Nagata into railing again! Okada leaves Nagata behind at 10, but Nagata crawls after. Nagata is at the apron at 15, but he has to catch his breath, and gets in at 18! Okada brings Nagata back up, for a neckbreaker! Okada stands with a cocky pin, but Red Shoes doesn’t approve. Nagata sits up in a huff, but Okada brings him up to bump off buckles. Okada throws big forearms but Nagata just eggs him on! Okada keeps throwing forearms, then back elbows! Nagata sits down while Okada paces.
Okada brings Nagata up again, wrenches and whips him corner to corner, but Nagata reverses. Nagata runs in, Okada boots, but Okada runs into Nagata’s kitchen sink knee! Okada is down but Nagata powres up. Nagata throws a KICK into Okada’s chest! And again! And again! Okada ends up in a corner, Nagata whips corner to corner and BOOTS! Okada blocks the exploder to whip Nagata away. Nagata rolls under Okada’s boot, fakes Okada out and dropkicks the knee! EXPLODER! Cover, TWO! Nagata keeps his focus as he brings Okada back up. Okada blocks the suplex, so Nagata knees low and whips. Okada avoids Nagata’s boot to then come back with the back elbow! Both men are down but stirring.
Okada stands but Nagata follows. Okada whips Nagata into a corner, hits a back elbow and the DDT! Cover, TWO! Okada keeps his cool as he looms over Nagata. Okada brings Nagata up but Nagata blocks the gut wrench! Okada clubs Nagata on the back, but Nagata gives forearm sback. Okada EuroUppers, runs, but Nagata hits an OVERHEAD suplex! Both men are down again but that means the old man is keeping pace with the young icon. Nagata gets up first and eggs Okada on! Nagata brings Okada up for forearms, but Okada comes back with forearms of his own. Nagata hits, Okada hits back, and they build speed! They brawl, neither backing down. Nagata hits harder, then gets forehead to forehead with Okada. Nagata eggs Okada on and the brawling begins again.
Okada eggs Nagata on and each man is just throwing forearms as hard as they can! Nagata ROCKS Okada but Okada stays up. Nagata KICKS Okada to a corner, Okada comes back with a shotgun dropkick! Both men are down again but Okada sits up first. Okada brings Nagata up, Alabama lifts, for the REVERSE NECKBREAKER! Cover, TWO! Nagata isn’t done just yet! Okada brings Nagata up, scoops and slams, and per his formula, heads for a corner. Okada climbs up top but Nagata pursues! Okada throws many forearms, but Nagata roars as he stands back up! Okada throws more forearms, but again Nagata returns! Okada throws another round, but Nagata still won’t fall! Nagata gives forearms back now, then brings Okada up, SUPER EXPLODER!! Cover, TWO!!
Okada survives and shakes his head. Okada roars as he and Nagata both stand. Nagata KICKS! Okada wobbles about! Nagata KICKS again! Okada still stays up, but Nagata KICKS again! Okada flops down but Nagata brings him back up! Nagata suplexes, Okada slips out, dropkick to the back! Okada brings Nagata up, whips and dropkicks again! But Okada isn’t done there, he brings Nagata up for the gut wrench, and TOMBSTONE! But Okada doesn’t cover?! Okada goes for Deep In Debt, his new arm triangle! But Nagata slips out and gets a CROSSFACE! Nagata cranks back on Okada’s head and neck, but Okada endures! Okada moves around but Nagata pulls harder on the hold! Okada is turning red, but he uses his legs to get around, and gets a ropebreak! Nagata lets Okada go to bring him back up.
Nagata goes for the back suplex but Okada holds on with a headlock. Nagata KNEES Okada, then gets a wrist clutch pump handle! Okada fights this suplex off, then goes for D-I-D! Nagata is #DeepInDebt now!! Blue Justice turns purple, but he refuses to give up! Nagata uses a second wind to pry at the hold, then gets Okada for an EXPLODER! Both men are down again but Nagata rises first! Nagata brings Okada up for forearms at the ropes. Nagata ROCKS Okada, whips him, but Okada reverses! Nagata denies the dropkick, but Okada blocks the Penalty Kick! Okada throws forearms but Nagata doesn’t back down. Nagata eggs Okada on, so Okada keeps throwing forearms. Nagata SLAPS Okada, then again! Okada ducks the third, spins Nagata, but the discus misses and Nagata SNAP SAIDOS! Cover, TWO!!
Nagata is furious but Okada was a historic IWGP Heavyweight Champion for a reason! Nagata brings Okada up, wants another saido, but Okada headlocks to resist. Nagata shifts to a waistlock but Okada holds ropes! Nagata enziguris! Okada staggers, but slips out of the saido to a roll, and DEEP IN DEBT! Nagata is caught and Okada drags him from ropes! Nagata endures, turns purple, starts to fade, and Okada clamps on even tighter! Nagata comes back with a third wind, but Okada keeps grinding him down! Nagata TAPS, Okada wins!!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by submission
Once again, the Rainmaker is victorious through that submission hold! Will Okada make sure the entire tournament owes him by putting them #DeepInDebt?
Okada takes the mic to address the viewers. He decides to do things differently, and have the usual backstage interview held here in the ring. Okada realizes he should perhaps take back some of the things he said about Nagata. After facing “grandpa” in the ring, Okada realizes Nagata’s actually a “cool old guy.” And of course, after being such a tough veteran, Okada is confident he will take the New Japan Cup again and get back the heavyweight title. Will Okada once again make it rain with another reign atop NJPW?
An incredible start to the second round, and all four matches were great. Well, obviously they were, it’s why I covered them all. Ishimori VS Kanemaru was a great example of Heel VS Heel that you wouldn’t see in most other promotions, but I do give credit that Kanemaru went extra Heel while Ishimori kept things clean. Ishimori wins as the younger, rising star, and as the only Bullet Club entrant left. The sad irony of Bullet Club being mostly non-Japanese wrestlers, it seems most live outside of Japan and therefore could not be part of this tournament because of travel restrictions. A shame as Jay White would’ve probably been on a good run in the tournament, too.
Makabe and Ishii had a great match as just two beefy guys hitting each other with everything they have. Either one would’ve made for a tough fight in the next round, and Hiromu will have to put up that tough fight next round. Hiromu and Yano had a hilarious match, with a lot of unique things not seen anywhere else. I’ve certainly never seen someone be put in an elevator, tied up and blindfolded, and lose by count-out, while the winner is in a three legged race situation with someone else. And naturally, the main event with Okada and Nagata was incredible, mostly because Nagata was still going just as hard as he was last time with Suzuki. But also naturally, Okada wins because he’s still in his prime. Okada might even be getting better because now he’s using a submission hold and not his finisher that we’ve seen for years. If Okada starts changing up his game now, while he’s still in his early 30’s, he could be doing this until he’s the “ojii-san.”
My Score: 9.2/10