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Andrew’s Pro Wrestling NOAH Back to Destination 2021 Results & Match Ratings: 2.12.2021

NOAH’s first show back in Budokan in nearly a decade! Huge generational match ups! Can Keiji Mutoh make history? #noah_ghc

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After the death of Misawa, bad publicity with Yakuza implications and the poor visual of the Burning Exodus; NOAH lost a lot of momentum about a decade ago and it seems like last year helped to right the ship.

NOAH’s first show in Budokan in basically a decade, after Budokan was the home away from home for Golden Age NOAH. A few wrestlers are still around from that point, and this will be a fun combination of new school, old school and the middle generation.

Most people care about this because of the main event, Keiji Mutoh aka Great Muta vs Go Shiozaki for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Can Mutoh make history? Only Kensuke Sasaki and Yoshihiro Takayama have held the IWGP, GHC and Triple Crown championships. Will Mutoh become number 3?

Ratings:

  • Akitoshi Saito vs Kinya Okada: Saito wins via Death Sickle @5:10 – **
  • Atsushi Kotoge, Daiki Inaba & Yasutaka Yano vs Kai Fujimura, YO-HEY & Hajime Ohara: Kotoge wins via Revolutionary Moonsault @7:52 – ** ½
  • Shuhei Tanijuchi & Muhammad Yone vs Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki: Tanaka wins via Sliding D/Sliding Kick Combo @6:58 – ***
  • Sugiura-Gun ( Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin, NOSAWA Rongai & Kazunari Murakami) vs KONGO (Masa Kitamiya, Haoh, Nioh, Tadasuke, Manabu Soya & Katsuhiko Nakajima): Sugiura wins via Olympic Slam @10:58 – *** ¼
  • GHC Junior Tag Team Championship: Kotaro Suzuki & Hidaka Ikuto vs Stinger (HAYATA & Yoshinari Ogawa) (c): Ogawa retains via Headscissors Takdown Cradle @13:05 – *** ¾
  • GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs Seiki Yoshioka: Yoshioka wins via Crash Driver @10:58 – **** ¼TITLE CHANGE!!!
  • Jun Akiyama & Naomichi Marufuji vs Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura: Kiyomiya wins via Tiger Suplex Hold @18:12 – ****
  • GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Masakatsu Funaki: Kenoh retains via Dragon Suplex Hold @10:10 – *** ½
  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Go Shiozaki (c) vs Keiji Mutoh: Mutoh wins via Hurricanrana @29:32 – ****TITLE CHANGE!!!

 

Results:

Akitoshi Saito vs Kinya Okada

The usual veteran versus Young Boy match, so we all have ideas of how this will go. Saito being an original NOAH roster member is pretty special to be kicking off this return to Budokan. Kinya starts fast with strikes, slams and power moves; but the old veteran digs his heels in and starts making things difficult.

After failing on a Scoop Slam, Saito just gets merciless. Uranage, after Uranage, after Uranage, punctuated with a Claw Hold Slam, and then barking at the youngster to get back up. Kinya crawls to his feet just to eat an elbow and then fall to Death Scythe.

Atsushi Kotoge, Daiki Inaba & Yasutaka Yano vs Kai Fujimura, YO-HEY & Hajime Ohara

The fun dynamic here is really that Kotoge is the only one returning to Budokan, and there are two fairly young wrestlers involved here. We can also look into the fact that YO-HEY and Ohara are 2 thirds of the current version of Full Throttle, a group that Kotoge helped to start.

Just a lot of good fun, most of the heavy lifting was done by the youngsters Yano and Fujimura. Yano had a nice Crossbody Dive into the pile on the outside to help keep the opponents down while Kotoge dealt with Fujimura. Fujimura almost made a comeback before Kotoge put the brakes on that, rocked the youngster and then hit the old Revolutionary Moonsault for the victory.

Shuhei Tanijuchi & Muhammad Yone vs Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki

The first match involving two veteran teams, which only leans to the M’s Alliance members since they have a more established history of success. Yone and Taniguchi trade shots and tandem attempts pretty well for about the first 5 minutes. But as soon as Mochi and Tanaka get a little momentum, things start to fall apart for the Funky Duo.

Mochi hits Ikkakugeri on Yone, which gives Tanaka the Frog Splash opportunity, but Yone kicks out. After Tanaka drops Shuhei out of the ring following the Rolling D, Mochi calls the shot and we get a Sliding Kick/Sliding D combination that Yone can’t recover from.

Sugiura-Gun ( Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin, NOSAWA Rongai & Kazunari Murakami) vs KONGO (Masa Kitamiya, Haoh, Nioh, Tadasuke, Manabu Soya & Katsuhiko Nakajima)

This was gorgeous and chaotic how everyone paired off correctly and the moves had weight even during small bursts to further storylines. Soya and Fujita went at each other’s throats like two bulls and it was great to watch each have a moment of success, while Fujita still got the last word before the stereo tag outs.

We saw the Kongo Line of elbows from everyone, except Nakajima. Nakajima was off messing with Murakami. Kendo Kashin continues his inability to be useful, when he tries to get Sugiura to hold Kitamiya, but Kitamiya moves and we have some miscommunication. That continues when Nakajima does his corner pose chokes against Murakami, while Kashin tries to kick Nakajima off by doing a similar in the ropes move, but it appears to be helping Nakajima more than hurting.

Sugiura works a lot toward the end, taking on tandem strikes from Kitamiya and Nakajima, as they establish why they are the Heavyweight tag challengers, but as soon as Nioh got tagged in, you had to assume that wasn’t gonna work well. As The Agression work over Sugiura, Sakuraba shows up to choke out Nakajima, Sugiura takes out Kitamiya and then grabs Nioh in the Olympic Slam and grabs the win for Suigura-Gun.

GHC Junior Tag Team Championship: Kotaro Suzuki & Hidaka Ikuto vs Stinger (HAYATA & Yoshinari Ogawa) (c)

Kotaro and Ogawa start off with early trades of everything. They counter, they leg trip and pop up to face off, when one disrespects, the other returns in kind. You can tell this is a feud where they know each other very well and it’s just a clash of two alphas.

The fun part was how the partners complimented them. Hayata’s style is higher risk and a little flashier, but it’s not ridiculous, whereas Hidaka prefers a few cute tricks like his Rewind Waterwheel Kick he calls I’ll Be Back. Hayata made numerous saves during the match as Suzuki went through his laundry list of finishing moves. Funnel Blaster, Blue Destiny, Tiger Driver and Javelin were all hit, but Hayata found ways to get away from Hidaka to interrupt the pinfall.

Hayata runs out Hidaka, manages to distract Kotaro enough for Ogawa to regain his sense and go for a Headscissors Takedown that he turns into a cradle, and picks up the pinfall!

GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs Seiki Yoshioka

Lightning fast start, counters, attack ducks, rope runs, absorbing a few strikes and just coming back at others. Harada leads Yoshioka into the ropes, hits a Release German Suplex, hits the Release Belly to Belly into the corner, Henkei Knee Upper and even the Turn Over Knee, but only for a 2 count. After the legs started to slow on both, the haymakers flew. A match that went from jumping over leg sweeps and counter wrestling, turned into a war of attrition.

Yoshioka rocks Harada with a Thrust Kick and lands a Pumphandle Side Driver, but only for 2. Styles Clash set up, but instead of the Clash, he jumps and drives the opponent down onto their shoulders, CRASH DRIVER! We have a new Junior champion!

This was blistering pace of fun and excitement mixed with logical wrestling moves and felt important and not spotty. Damn good match.

Jun Akiyama & Naomichi Marufuji vs Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura

Akiyama started off for a while, since he wanted to size up both of these new generation members. NOAH was built around Akiyama, as a protégé of the Four Pillars and the unofficial fifth Heavenly King he is the remaining measuring stick to test the new generation out in the Giant Baba AJPW dojo style. And did he ever put them through their paces. Akiyama’s Sternness gimmick was back in full force as he challenged Inamura’s power and Kiyomiya’s spirit.

Inamura got the first feather in his cap when he was able to win the power struggle with Akiyama, but Kiyomiya wasn’t so lucky. Akiyama dismantled his arms and put him through the paces. Akiyama hinted towards the Exploder a few times, even hitting the normal version, never his signature Wristclutch variation. Marufuji on the other hand felt like he was the guiding hand to see what Akiyama felt. Marufuji’s moves were crisp, and he punished the younger wrestlers at time, but the tension and crowd got audibly excited when Akiyama mixed it up with any of them.

Kiyomiya managed to eat a True Tiger King, Hook Kick and even get out of the Perfect Key Lock before finding his second wind. Coming off the ropes, he connects with a Headbutt to Marufuji and NOAH’s Genius stayed rocked. A German Suplex set the stage and a Tiger Suplex Hold won the match.

After the match Akiyama had some words with both younger wrestlers, almost as if giving them his/Misawa’s/NOAH’s blessing to bring the ark back into a bright future. Really great match with a poignant moment afterwards.

GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Masakatsu Funaki

Kenoh is usually egotistical and dismisses his opponents but this was the first person he seemed to show respect to. Funaki showed off his wrestling prowess and the reason why he’s a former King of Pancrase. Single leg takedowns, shooting doubles, grabbing for limps and even going into Full Mount and slapping Kenoh around just to prove he has the superior ground game.

Funaki outwrestled Kenoh in every way possible. The match was nearly over when Funaki hits the Hybrid Blaster and sinks in a Rear Naked Choke, but it was too close to the ropes so Kenoh managed to grab out for dear life. Eventually standing back up, Funaki tried to strike the weakened champion into a position that he could take advantage of, but Kenoh got a small surge and unleashes a flurry of strikes and a Roundhouse Kick that landed with a hard thud. Funaki is groggy, tries to swing, Kenoh slips around the back and snaps off a Dragon Suplex Hold for the surprising victory!

GHC Heavyweight Champion: Go Shiozaki (c) vs Keiji Mutoh

The best champion of 2020, who finally had a title reign worthy of an Ace; versus the historic relic chasing history. Mutoh wants to be the third man to hold the IWGP, Triple Crown and GHC Heavyweight championships in his career, whereas Go; he wants to continue to prove himself as the spirit of NOAH in the spiritual home of NOAH.

There were great callbacks from both men in this match. Ironic callbacks when Shiozaki charges Mutoh on the ramp to land a move is cute. Mutoh went after Go’s legs to build off his victory from earlier this month. Shining Wizard stunned Shiizaki in the ropes, and then a Dragon Screw while he was hung up was clever. Mutoh lands an Emerald Flowsion for only two. The previous victories of a Figure Four from Mutoh and Moonsault from Shiozaki weren’t enough to win this match but build well.

Toward the end of the match things did get dicey, but it’s hard to call them botches. Mutoh failed on the first attempt to Emerald Flowsion, but he failed on the initial scoop, so he dropped him and sold exhausted. Shiozaki had a scary Avalanche Brainbuster, but aside from looking dangerous was completely fine. Also we can look at the moment Mutoh half his the backbreaker and looked like he was going to Moonsault, but didn’t pull the trigger. Again, hard to tell if that was him not feeling like he could pull it off, so he audibled, or if it was supposed to get the crowd excited to see a Mutoh Moonsault post knee surgery.

As Shiozaki looked to end things, connecting with a Lariat and then winding up for a Gowan Lariat, Mutoh jumped, Hurricanrana and flash pinfall! Shiozaki’s reign ends to a flash pin from a legend and Shiozaki is beside himself.

 

Overall Score: 8.75/10

This was a beautiful blend of new generation versus the old, and a fairly balanced mixture on who was victorious in the pivotal battles as well. Kenoh getting a surprise win when he was losing 90% of the fight was great, Kiyomiya and Inamura getting the nod from Akiyama, all the way up to Mutoh making history with a flash pin.

With Kaito Kiyomiya coming out after Mutoh’s victory, that makes complete sense. Mutoh’s victory over Kiyomiya last year is what gave him the idea to make a run at the GHC championship. Speaking of ideas, if Kiyomiya is the first challenger, and fails…it’s definitely possible to see Akiyama challenge Mutoh. Akiyama didn’t eat the pinfall in the special tag, looked great and I could see an angle for him to want to return the belt to real NOAH wrestlers and not a legend padding his resume.

Either way, this show was great action from top to bottom and historical on multiple levels. NOAH’s return to Budokan and Mutoh becoming the third man to hold the major Heavyweight titles in Japan.

 


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AEW Coverage

Mitchell’s AEW Dark Results & Report! (3/6/21)

A Dark Dozen before Revolution!

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AEW Dark 2

It’s a bonus Dark before AEW Revolution!

AEW Revolution is coming, but there is still some Dark to get through! Will the Murderhawk Monster be rolling into that Face of the Revolution Ladder match?

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • The Natural Nightmares VS Cezar Bononi & Peter Avalon; The Natural Nightmares win.
  • Chuck Taylor w/ Orange Cassidy VS JD Drake; wins.
  • Penta El Zero M VS Azriel; wins.
  • Jack Evans w/ Angelico VS Jake St. Patrick; wins.
  • Thunder Rosa VS Tesha Price; wins.
  • Tay Conti VS Leila Grey; wins.
  • The Sydal Brothers VS Chaos Project; win(s).
  • Ricky Starks & Brian Cage VS Angel Fashion & Fuego del Sol; win.
  • The Gunn Club VS M’Badu & D3; wins.
  • Bear Country VS Ryzin & Cameron Stewart; win(s).
  • Preston Vance & Alan Angels w/ The Dark Order VS Labron Kozone & Vary Morales; win.
  • Lance Archer w/ Jake the Snake VS John Skyler; wins.

PLAY BY PLAY

The Natural Nightmares VS Cezar Bononi & Peter Avalon!

Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall are ready for the Casino Tag Battle Royal, but so are the Brazilian V8 and “Pretty” Peter! Who builds some momentum before running into the Revolution?

The teams sort out, Bononi starts with Dustin, and they circle. Fans rally for Dustin but PPA tells them to shut up. Bononi and Dustin tie up and Bononi shoves Dustin to a corner. Dustin comes back to headlock but Bononi powers out. Dustin rams Bononi but Bononi stays up and shakes his head. Dustin runs again, he dodges Bononi’s clothesline to ROCK him with an uppercut! Dustin wrenches and puts Bononi in the corner, QT tags in and Dustin whips QT in to forearm smash! QT feeds Bononi to Dustin’s POWERSLAM! Fans fire up as QT ROCKS Bononi, whips him, but Bononi reverses. QT holds ropes, BOOTS Bononi, but Avalon gets a cheap shot in!

Bononi then stomps away on QT at the ropes! Tag to Avalon, they mug QT, and Avalon CHOPS! Avalon clubs QT to the other corner, wrenches and whips him corner to corner, and QT bounces off buckles. Avalon stomps QT but fans rally up. Bononi tags in, they mug QT again, but QT hits back! Bononi knees low and throws hard back elbows! Bononi dares QT to reach for Dustin, but QT throws body shots. Bononi throws elbows but QT handsprings for a NEURALIZER! Bononi staggers and Avalon tags in to drag QT from Dustin. QT boots Avalon away and hot tags to Dustin! Dustin dodges Avalon and rallies with clotheslines! Dustin whips and back drops Avalon!

Bononi gets in to kick low, then he whips Dustin. Dustin stops and uppercuts Bononi! Dustin CLOBBERS Bononi, and gets Avalon with a POWERSLAM! Dustin drags Avalon up but Bononi clubs him! QT gets in to ROCK Bononi with haymakers! Bononi knees low, throws QT out, but Dustin clotheslines Bononi out! Dustin dodges Avalon to hit a BULLDOG! Cover, Dustin & QT win!

Winners: The Natural Nightmares, by pinfall

The Natural is fired up because he and the Gift are ready for the Casino Tag Battle Royal! But will they win it and become contenders?

 

Chuck Taylor w/ Orange Cassidy VS JD Drake!

The Kentucky Gentleman and Freshly Squeezed will be in for a fight with the Superbad and Best Man! But first, can Chuck get through a scrap with Scrap Metal?

 

 

Penta El Zero M VS Azriel!

The third point of the Death Triangle is back! And though he’ll surely want revenge on Kenny Omega and his Biz Cliz, he’s going into the Face of the Revolution Ladder match! Will Cero Miedo strike fear into everyone with his Dark return?

 


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Coverage

Mitchell’s New Japan Cup Results & Report! (3/6/21)

New Japan Cup, day 2!

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NJPW New Japan Cup 2021

Will the Rainmaker redeem himself in the New Japan Cup?

Kazuchika Okada vows that it is time he returns to the top of NJPW! But this is only round ONE of the 2021 New Japan Cup! Can he make it to the end?

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.

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS The United Empire; The United Empire wins.
  • 2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Tomoaki Honma VS Minoru Suzuki; Suzuki wins and advances.
  • 2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Juice Robinson VS KENTA; Kenta wins and advances.
  • 2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Kazuchika Okada VS Shingo Takagi; Takagi wins and advances.

PLAY BY PLAY

Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS The United Empire!

Tetsuya Naito lost in the first round of the NJCUP, Bushi couldn’t win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but Sanada is still in the running! Will LIJ be a powerful obstacle in the way of Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay?

But as soon as LIJ gets in the ring, the Empire attacks! Cobb throws Bushi out while Ospreay goes after Sanada, and Khan keeps Naito in the ring to revisit their recent NJCUP match. The bell rings, Khan drags Naito around but fans rally up. Khan clamps onto Naito with a chinlock but also adds his claw into it! Sanada sends Ospreay into railing while Naito and Khan brawl with forearms! Khan ROCKS Naito then Mongolian Chops him at the ropes. Naito reverses the whip to atomic drop, Bushi dropkicks the legs out and Naito basement dropkicks! Fans cheer and Naito grabs Khan’s ponytail! Naito drags Khan around by it, fans rally up and Khan grabs the ropes.

The ref counts, Naito lets off but tags Sanada in. Sanada climbs up and drops ax handles on the ponytail! That still tweaks Khan’s head and fans fire up again. Sanada drags Khan up while Ospreay protests, and Sanada headlocks to punch Khan down. Sanada throws haymakers, brings Khan up for clubbing elbows, then tags in Bushi. Bushi clubs Khan, drags him up by the ponytail, and bumps him off buckles. Bushi CHOPS Khan, puts Khan’s leg on ropes and dropkicks the leg out! Cover, TWO! ans rally, Bushi drags Khan around and tags in Naito. Naito clubs Khan, drags him up and cravats for a standing neck wrench. Khan endures, reaches for the Empire, but Naito keeps him away.

Khan throws body shots but Naito throws an elbow, into a standing katagatami! Khan kicks a leg out and drags Naito down! Cobb and Ospreay attack Sanada and Bushi! They brawl on the outside, Naito gets a ropebreak but Khan holds on! Khan cranks on the hold, the ref reprimands and counts, and Khan lets go at 3. Brawling continues outside but Khan drags Naito around to stomp away on the leg! Naito clutches his knee and fans rally up, but Khan drags him up first. Khan tags Cobb in, the Empire mugs Naito, and Cobb gives Naito a headbutt! Naito ends up in a corner, Cobb whips him out to whip him back in hard! The Empire likes that and Cobb scoops Naito to carry him around.

Cobb taunts LIJ by holding Naito out to them, but then throws in knees! Cobb puts Naito in the Empire corner, tags in Ospreay, and then sets Naito up for Ospreay’s DRAPING DOUBLE STOMPS! Ospreay BOOTS Sanada, Cobb RAMS Naito back into the corner, and Ospreay digs his boot in. The ref reprimands and counts, Ospreay lets off to throw haymakers and more stomps! Ospreay digs his knee in, the ref reprimands and counts, but Ospreay lets off again. Ospreay snapmares and wraps Naito up in a chinlock. Ospreay grinds Naito down, fans rally up, and Naito endures. Khan keeps ropes away from Naito but the ref reprimands.

Ospreay drags Naito away, cranks on the chinlock then shifts to a facelock. Khan tags in, and Mongolian Chops Naito on the back! Khan drags Naito up for more Mongolian Chops! Khan mockingly asks what’s wrong and he eggs Naito on. Fans rally, Naito throws haymakers and forearms! Khan knees low, whips, but Naito reverses to tornado, only for Khan to block the DDT! Naito fights out of Khan’s grip, elbows him, then spins him for a neckbreaker! Both men are down and fans fire up! Naito sits up but Khan follows. They both go to their corners, hot tags to Sanada and Ospreay! Sanada rallies, whips but Ospreay reverses, only for Sanada to reverse back and RANA!

Sanada dropkicks Cobb away, then blocks Ospreay’s boot to trip him! Sanada ties Ospreay up in Paradise! Fans fire up as Sanada encourages them to get loud. Sanada runs in and dropkicks Ospreay out of Paradise! Cover, ONE!! Fans rally for “SA-NA-DA!” as he drags Ospreay up. Sanada fireman’s carries, Ospreay elbows free and waistlocks, but Sanada resists the lift. Sanada elbows free, runs in but Ospreay puts him up top! Ospreay tucks him in, for CHEEKY NANDOS! Ospreay hurries and tags in Cobb! Cobb runs corner to corner to LEAPING back elbow! Cobb scoops Sanada, pops him up into the suplex, holds him up, but Sanada reverses to snap suplex!

Fans fire up again as Cobb goes to a corner. Sanada crawls and hot tags Bushi! Bushi runs corner to corner but Cobb dodges. Cobb runs in, Bushi slips out and swing kick shim away! Bushi goes up, missile dropkick! Bushirooni! Cobb runs back at Bushi but into a basement dropkick to the legs! Bushi basement DDT’s and covers, TWO! Fans rally and Bushi brings Cobb up. Cobb throws forearms, whips Bushi to a corner, then runs in, but Bushi dodges! Naito rocket kicks and leg sweeps, COMBINACION CABRON! LIJ whips Cobb, Sanada elbows and snapmares, for a TRIPLE BASEMENT DROPKICK! Cover, TWO!

Naito dropkicks Khan down but Ospreay drags Sanada out. Bushi has Cobb, but no Fisherman Screw! Ospreay hits PIP PIP CHEERIO on Bushi! Sanada dropkicks Ospreay, but Khan BOOTS Sanada! Naito dropkicks Khan’s legs out, then dodges Cobb, only for Cobb to LARIAT him! Cobb goes back to Bushi as fans rally up. Bushi kicks, Cobb blocks then ducks the enziguri but not the mule kick! Bushi runs in, but the Code Break is blocked and popped to a GERMAN SUPLEX! Cobb drags Bushi up, reels him in and hits a TOUR OF THE ISLAND! Cover, the Empire wins!

Winners: The United Empire, by pinfall

The Hawaiian Hulk is building up power and momentum towards his NJCUP battle with Evil! The Dominator is also already in, and the newly deemed “Global Kingpin” Ospreay has his battle tomorrow, March 7th! Will the entire United Empire advance towards the finals?

 

2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Tomoaki Honma VS Minoru Suzuki!

These two have been warming up in tag matches and finally get to throw down 1v1! Will Everyone’s Kokeshi be able to knock the Meanest Man in the World out of the tournament? Or will Suzuki brutalize and leave him behind while going for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship?

The bell rings and fans rally up already. Suzuki and Honma stare down, but then Honma shoves and CHOPS! And CHOPS! Suzuki CHOPS, Honma CHOPS, it’s a CHOP fight! Fans rally as the CHOPS fly harder and faster! Neither man is backing down, but Honma does get the edge! Honma CHOPS and CHOPS then DOUBLE CHOPS! Suzuki eggs Honma on, Honma CHOPS and then scoops Suzuki to slam him! Honma fires up and runs, but Suzuki dodges the kokeshi! Honma gets mad and tries again, but again Suzuki dodges! Suzuki gives toying kicks to Honma and fans rally up. Suzuki throws knees and forearms and Honma goes to a corner.

Suzuki throws body shots, whips him corner to corner but Honma reverses. Honma runs in but Suzuki boots him. Suzuki slips to the apron, and catches Honma’s arm to a DRAPING ARMBAR! The ref counts, Suzuki lets go at 3 and then drags Honma out to join him. Suzuki whips Honma into railing! Suzuki slaps Honma then throws forearms and elbows! Suzuki puts Honma’s head through railings and pulls him back against the top bar! The ref reprimands and counts but Suzuki stops at 3. Fans rally but Suzuki puts Honma in a cravat! Suzuki grinds Honma down, the ref reprimands but Suzuki holds on until the ref counts. Suzuki stands Honma up and RAMS him into railing!

Suzuki digs his knuckles into Honma’s eyes! Commentary is really close to the action but Suzuki leaves Honma behind as the ring count climbs. The count is already 10 of 20 as the fans rally. It passes 15, Honma stands at 18 and gets in at 19.5! Suzuki drags Honma into a facelock, then shifts to a chinlock stretch! Suzuki digs a knee into Honma’s back as he pulls him back! Fans rally as Honma endures, and Honma fights, only for Suzuki to crank harder on the hold! Honma reaches with feet and gets the ropebreak! Suzuki lets go and eggs Honma on. Suzuki gives Honma more toying kicks but Honma rises as fans rally again.

Honma throws forearms but Suzuki laughs them off. Suzuki eggs Honma on then ROCKS him! Honma wobbles, Suzuki ROCKS him again! Honma wobbles and falls over! Suzuki runs to PENALTY KICK! Honma stays seated up!? Suzuki PENALTY KICKS again but Honma just gets stronger! Suzuki runs, Honma blocks the kick, elbows it, but swings into Suzuki’s grip! Honma spins through and gets Suzuki for a DDT! Fans rally up as both men slowly rise. Honma reels Suzuki in but Suzuki throws elbows, only for Honma to power through and hit the back suplex! Cover, TWO! Fans rally up and Honma CHOPS Suzuki to a corner!

Honma CHOPS more, and more, and then whips Suzuki corner to corner. Honma runs in to back elbow then hit a BULLDOG! Honma fires up to hit the KOKESHI! Fans fire up again as Honma dares Suzuki to get up. Suzuki rises, Honma runs, but Suzuki ducks the lariat to waistlock! Honma counters with a facelock, but Suzuki wrenches the arm! Suzuki ducks Honma’s haymaker, back hand, and fires off SLAPS! And kicks and clubbing elbows! Honma falls over again but Suzuki brings him back up. Suzuki reels Honma in as fans rally up, and that only angers Suzuki more. Suzuki Gotch holds but Honma resists the lift! Suzuki powers through but Honma flails his legs!

Honma powers up to back drop Suzuki over! Suzuki gets up and he looms over Honma. Suzuki gives more kicks but Honma eggs him on! Fans rally as Suzuki stomps but Honma growls. Suzuki fires off slapping palm strikes and big forearm shots but Honma just gets stronger! Honma ROCKS Suzuki with a right! Suzuki comes back to palm strike, but Honma POINT-BLANK KOKESHIS! Both men are down again and fans fire up! Honma rises, drags Suzuki up and throws more forearms! Honma has Suzuki in the corner but now Suzuki eggs Honma on. Suzuki leans into the forearms as Honma throws them, no guard at all! Honma headbutts!

But Suzuki roars, so Honma throws more forearms in the corner! The ref wants Honma to let off but Honma ROCKS Suzuki again! Honma clubs Suzuki at ropes, brings him up to the top rope backwards, then clubs him more. Honma climbs up behind Suzuki and fans rally up. Suzuki resists, throws elbows, then cravats Honma to grind him down! Fans still rally but Honma ends up tumbling to the apron! Suzuki adjusts, brings Honma up, but Honma RISING KOKESHIS! Suzuki falls, fans fire up and Honma climbs! Honma leaps for a FLYING KOKESHI! Cover, TWO! Suzuki survives but fans rally for Honma!

Honma drags Suzuki by a leg, and hooks him up with the step-over deathlock! Suzuki resists the crossface but Honma still tries. Honma gets an arm in it for a chicken wing STF! Suzuki endures, Honma shifts to a cover, TWO! Fans rally again as the two stand. Honma brings Suzuki around to scoop but Suzuki slips out to get the sleeper hold! Honma snapmares Suzuki away and throws a LARIAT! Suzuki stays up with pure anger, and he eggs Honma on! Honma runs and LARIATS, but again Suzuki stays up! Suzuki ROCKS Honma with a palm strike, Honma wobbles, but he powers up! Suzuki SMACKS him again, Honma staggers back, but he powers up to ROCK Suzuki in return!

Suzuki throws a forearm, Honma returns it, and again! Fans rally as these two pick up speed again! Suzuki laughs as things get faster, and he ROCKS Honma, to then ROCK him again! Honma wobbles around and staggers to a knee! Honma stands as fans rally, but Suzuki ROCKS him a third time! Honma wobbles and Suzuki seethes, but the two keep going! Forearm for forearm, Honma wobbles and stumbles about again but he comes back to palm strike. Suzuki ROCKS Honma, and again, and then palm strike! Suzuki gets Honma in the SLEEPER! Fans rally as Honma manages to stay standing! Honma turns red and Suzuki squeezes tighter!

The ref checks, the hand drops once! The hand drops twice, but Suzuki turns Honma around! Gotch hold, but Honma’s second wind helps him resist! Suzuki KNEES Honma, and reels him in, but Honma makes it a GANNOSUKE CLUTCH! Cover, TWO!! Honma runs into palm strikes and haymakers! GOTCH PILEDRIVER!! Cover, Suzuki wins!!

Winner: Minoru Suzuki, by pinfall (advances to the next round)

Honma gave it his all, but in the end, it wasn’t enough! Will Suzuki take the Cup and then the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship?

 

2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Juice Robinson VS KENTA!

The Flamboyant One and Fang Revived are back in Japan in time for the Cup! But who moves on towards the next round and faces Suzuki?

The bell rings and Juice has fans rally up. Juice and Kenta circle, tie up, and Juice uses leverage to power Kenta to ropes. The ref calls for the break but Kenta turns things around and pulls Juice’s hair! Kenta brings Juice into a headlock, Juice powers out but again Kenta pulls hair. Kenta grinds the headlock but Juice powers up to power out, only for Kenta to again get the hair. Kenta grinds Juice down and talks trash, but Juice throws body shots. Juice powers out but Kenta rams him with a shoulder. Juice stays up, Kenta eggs him on but then pulls Juice’s hair. Juice powers up to back suplex high and hard! Fans fire up as Juice drops the back senton! Cover, TWO!

Fans rally as Juice keeps cool. Juice drags Kenta up, JABS, CHOPS, and whips him to a corner. Juice wrenches, whips corner to corner, and then runs in to clothesline Kenta down! Fans fire up with Juice as he runs corner to corner again, but Kenta bails out before the cannonball. Kenta walks around the way, the ref keeps Juice in, but Kenta grabs the ring bell! Finlay tries to tell the ref as Juice storms over, but Kenta CRACKS Juice with the ring bell! Kenta gets in to drop knees on Juice’s head and then dig knuckles into the eye! The ref counts, Kenta lets off at 3 and Juice gets to ropes. Kenta goes after Juice to choke him and claw his eyes!

The ref counts, Kenta stops at 3, and Juice checks his eye. Kenta drags Juice up to throw him out of the ring, and then he pursues. Kenta drags Juice up and whips Juice hard into railing! Juice slumps down and Kenta digs his face into railing! The ref reprimands, Kenta stops and Juice crawls away. Fans rally up but Kenta traps Juice’s head in between the gate and railing! Kenta squeezes tight but stops as the ring count starts. Kenta drags Juice up at 7 of 20 and puts him in at 10. Kenta stomps Juice, throws haymakers, but Juice gets up! Kenta throws more haymakers then rakes at Juice’s eye! Juice gets to a corner, the ref reprimands and warns Kenta.

Fans cheer the ref while Kenta drags Juice up. Kenta headlocks and punches Juice, then scrapes Juice’s face on ropes! The ref counts and Kenta lets off. The ref checks Juice’s eye while Kenta makes up his mocking clap rhythm. Kenta boots Juice down then clamps on a facelock. Kenta grinds Juice down but fans rally up. Juice fights up, fights out, but Kenta claws Juice’s eyes! Kenta runs but Juice hits a SPINEBUSTER! Fans fire up as both men are down! Kenta gets to a corner, Juice rises and runs in, but Kenta boots him away! Juice fires up, runs back in and clotheslines! Juice whips Kenta corner to corner, runs in and clotheslines again!

Juice keeps moving to LEAPING LARIAT Kenta down! Fans fire up and Juice watches Kenta rise. Juice pumps up and fans clap along. Juice JABS, JABS, JABS, then powers up, but Kenta claws his eyes! Juice claws Kenta’s eyes in return! The ref reprimands, Juice headbutts Kenta to a corner! Juice runs in but Kenta boots him! Kenta hops up, reels Juice in and hits a tornado hotshot! Kenta climbs up while Juice staggers, and he hits a FLYING CLOTHESLINE! Cover, TWO! Kenta clamps onto Juice’s arm but Juice flails and gets the ropebreak! It’s not Game Over yet! Fans rally, Kenta drags Juice up and reels him into a waistlock.

Juice elbows free, runs, but Kenta BOOTS him! Kenta runs but into Juice’s boot! Juice fires up and runs, but Kenta sends him out! Kenta runs to BOOT Juice off and at the railing! Kenta goes out to fetch Juice and drags him up. Kenta goes to bump Juice off the timekeeper’s table but Juice blocks to bump Kenta! Juice powers up but Kenta dumps him up and over onto the timekeeper’s table! Fans rally but Kenta drags the table aside to get Juice up. Kenta rains down rights, the ref has him back off and Kenta goes back to ringside while Juice slowly rises. Kenta climbs the corner?! Juice hurries to stop him with a body shot and a headbutt! Juice has a target and he grabs Kenta!

Kenta rakes Juice’s eyes and clubs him down! Juice staggers away, Kenta goes to the apron and leaps, into Juice’s arms! Juice moves Kenta around, fireman’s carries, and DEATH VALLEY DRIVERS Kenta to the floor!! Fans fire up as both men slowly stir. The ring count begins again and reaches 10 of 20 before Juice puts Kenta in. Juice drags Kenta back up, reels him in, and lifts, for a RUNNING POWERBOMB! Cover, TWO! Kenta survives and but Finlay coaches Juice up. Juice fires up and brings Kenta up. Juice chicken wings and turns Kenta, but Kenta rolls Juice up! TWO, and Juice runs at Kenta, only to be put on the apron!

Kenta drags Juice through the ropes for a DRAPING DDT! Fans rally and Kenta rises first. Kenta goes to one corner, Juice is in the other. Kenta runs in to JUMPING BOOT! Kenta keeps moving, HESITATION DROPKICK! Kenta climbs up the corner while Juice is down, but Juice avoids the double stomps! LEG LARIAT! Both men are down, fans rally up again! Juice and Kenta stir, and Juice stands first! Juice drags Kenta but Kenta gets the arm! Juice rolls out of the hold but Kenta BOOTS him! Juice fires up, Kenta blocks the clothesline but Juice ducks the back hand! Juice fireman’s carries Kenta to the JUICE BOX! Cover, TWO!! Kenta survives and Juice is beside himself!

Fans rally up and Juice gets to his feet. Juice drags Kenta back up, reels him in and chicken wings, but Kenta slips through to fireman’s carry! Juice fights off to chicken wing and turn, but Kenta slips out again to fireman’s carry! GO TO- NO! Juice blocks and rolls Kenta up, TWO!! Juice powers up but Kenta blocks the left Hand to BACK HAND! Kenta fires off palm strikes over and over, but he swings into the chicken wing! Kenta elbows out, but the back hand is caught! Juice swings, Kenta ducks, but the RIGHT HAND O’ GOD hits! Juice drags Kenta up, chicken wings and turns, but Kenta slips out again! Kenta drags Juice down, hooks up the arm and gets the crossface! GAME OVER!!

Juice endures, moves around, but Kenta cranks way back! Juice taps, Kenta wins!!

Winner: Kenta, by submission (advances to the next round)

And it was indeed Game Over for the Flamboyant One! Will the Fang Revived sink his teeth into Suzuki next round?

 

2021 New Japan Cup Opening Round: Kazuchika Okada VS Shingo Takagi!

The Rainmaker said at Castle Attack that it’s about time he returns to the top of NJPW! But in his way is the Dragon! Will Takagi end Okada’s road back to redemption already? Or will Okada slay the dragon and head back for the gold?

The bell rings, and fans rally up already for “O-KA-DA!” “TA-KA-GI!” Okada gets the clap-clap-clap-stomp going already while he stays back in the corner. Takagi is patient, and he waits as Okada steps forward. They circle, feel out the grapple, but Okada backs off to focus. They tie up right away, Okada powers Takagi to ropes, and Red Shoes calls for the break. Okada lets off and fakes the chop to pat Takagi. Takagi ROCKS and CLUBS and CLUBS Okada back! Fans cheer as Takagi toys with Okada. Takagi brings Okada up, Okada fires off forearms and elbows! Okada reels Takagi into a headlock, but Takagi throws body shots. Takagi powers out, rams Okada but both men stay up!

Fans cheer as Okada runs, and he rams Takagi! Takagi stays up and eggs Okada on. Okada runs, rams Takagi, then drop toeholds on the rebound to elbow drop Takagi’s back! Okada is after Takagi at the ropes, brings him up and throws forearms. Takagi goes to a corner, Okada heads over and throws back elbows. Okada throws more elbows, then brings Takagi around for a neckbreaker! Cover, ONE! Okada keeps his cool, clamps onto Takagi with a chinlock, and digs his knee into Takagi’s back. Takagi fights up, gets a ropebreak with a foot, and Okada lets go quickly. Okada keeps close, brings Takagi up and elbows him again.

Okada snapmares and runs to then basement dropkick Takagi out of the ring! Fans fire up, Takagi gets annoyed and the ring count begins. Takagi takes his time, and gets back up on the apron at 9 of 20. Okada keeps his distance but then Takagi dares Okada to come out after him. Takagi continues to take his time, and the count restarts. Okada gets impatient, Takagi gets on the apron but draws Okada in to drag him out! Takagi bumps him off apron, and again, then whips Okada, only for Okada to reverse and send Takagi into railing! Okada reels Takagi in, puts him on the apron, but Takagi fights off to RAM Okada into railing! And then RAM him into the apron!

Takagi fireman’s carries to SNAKE EYES Okada off the apron, and then kick to DDT! Fans fire up and Takagi flexes as he looms over Okada. The ring count starts again, Takagi drags Okada up and puts him in the ring. Takagi slingshots to STOMP Okada! Takagi digs his knee into Okada, then stands on him, but steps off as Red Shoes counts. Takagi kicks at Okada, drags him up and throws forearms into the back! Takagi whips and KNEES Okada against ropes, then runs to run Okada over! Fans fire up with Takagi and they clap “TA-KA-GI!” “O-KA-DA!” again. Takagi drags Okada up, suplexes, and drives Okada down hard! Cover, TWO!

Takagi clamps onto Okada with a chinlock and grinds him down. Okada endures, fans rally up, but Takagi shifts. Okada fights up, throws body shots to fight free, but Takagi DOUBLE CHOPS him down! Takagi mockingly asks what’s wrong and eggs Okada on. Takagi brings Okada up, Okada throws forearms back! Takagi ROCKS Okada with one! Takagi brings Okada up, Gory Especial, but Okada fights it! Okada gets the arm for the MONEY CLIP! Takagi powers Okada to a corner and is free, then runs but into a BOOT! Both men are down and fans fire up again! Fans rally as Takagi and Okada stir. Okada stands first and fires off forearms.

Okada whips, Takagi reverses but Okada ducks and ELBOWS Takagi down! Okada fires up and the fans fire up, too! Okada whips Takagi to a corner, runs in and elbows him, then kicks to DDT! Cover, TWO! Okada keeps his focus while fans continue to rally. Takagi gets to ropes, then a corner, and Okada storms over. Okada hoists Takagi up top, but Takagi boots him away! Takagi runs but into an uppercut! Okada runs but into the elbow! JAB! LARIAT! Takagi fires up and the fans fire up, too! Takagi drags Okada up again, and reels him in for a LARIAT! Takagi is copying Okada’s style and LARIATS him down again!

Takagi scoops and slams Okada and goes to a corner, also formula Okada! For the FALLING ELBOW! Takagi keeps moving and mocks the Rainmaker pose, to then double gun flex! Takagi drags Okada up, wristlock ripcords but Okada stops the steal with a BOOT! Okada fires forearms, throws EuroUppers, but Takagi blindside LARIATS! Takagi runs, but into a FLAPJACK! Both men are down again and fans are thunderous now as the two stir! Okada sits up, Takagi follows and the two go forehead to forehead. Okada forearms, then again, but Takagi fires up to forearm back! Okada eggs Takagi on so Takagi hits again! They go back and forth, faster and faster and fans rally up!

Takagi gets the edge, ROCKS Okada, and brings him back around to whip. Okada reverses but Takagi holds ropes to avoid the dropkick! Okada avoids the sliding lariat, but Takagi gets Okada in a fireman’s carry! Okada slips off, Takagi elbows him away, blocks the boot and clotheslines! Takagi runs, Okada catches him for the MONEY CLIP! Takagi fights out, Okada goes to backslide, but Takagi counters to NOSHIGAMI! But Takagi can’t make the cover! Fans rally up, Takagi crawls over, and fires himself back up. Okada slowly rises, Takagi runs but into the dropkick! Okada gut wrenches to a TOMBSTONE! Okada gets the arm for MONEY CLIP!

Takagi endures and fans rally up again. Okada cranks on the hold but Takagi reaches with his legs, and gets the ropebreak! Okada lets go quickly and both men are down again. Fans rally up, Okada stands first, and he hobbles over to Takagi. Okada drags him up, scoops and slams him, then goes to the corner. Okada climbs slowly and Takagi hits him first! Takagi climbs up, clubs away on Okada’s back, then talks some smack as he drags Okada up. Okada resists but Takagi gets him up for the SUPERPLEX! The fans are thunderous again as both men writhe from that impact! Takagi rolls over towards Okada, sits Okada up, and hits a SLIDING LARIAT! Cover, TWO!

Fans cheer but Takagi grits his teeth. Takagi gets the fans rallying with “OI! OI! OI!” Takagi gets up, runs again, but Okada ducks the lariat to backslide! Takagi rolls through, Okada reels him in but Takagi avoids Rainmaker to pump handle! MADE IN JAPAN!! Cover, TWO?!? Okada survives and Takagi can’t believe it! Fans are thunderous as Takagi catches his breath. Takagi drags Okada back up, reels Okada in and pump handles again. Okada clubs free of that but Takagi POINT-BLANK LARIATS! Fans rally, Takagi kicks at Okada then drags him back up. Takagi gives Okada forearms from all sides, then ROCKS him!

Okada leans against ropes, Takagi whips but Okada reverses and dropkicks! Okada grabs at Takagi’s arm and gets the MONEY CLIP! Takagi endures, fights up, but Okada gut wrenches for the SPINNING TOMBSTONE! Back to MONEY CLIP! Takagi endures as Okada squeezes tight! Takagi fights up again, reaches out for ropes, but Okada drags him back to a back2backbreaker! And back to the MONEY CLIP! Takagi is turning red and is fading as Okada squeezes as tight as he can! Red Shoes checks on Takagi, the hand drops once. But Takagi gets a second wind now and he powers towards ropes, starts to fade again, but still gets a ropebreak! Okada lets go and fans are thunderous again!

Okada catches his own breath while he stands up. Okada grabs at Takagi but he resists. Takagi throws body shots but Okada stomps Takagi down. Takagi grits his teeth and rises, but Okada SHOTGUNS him! Takagi’s right up to LARIAT! Okada stays up!? Okada gets Takagi’s wrist, and reels him in for a LARIAT! Okada is going to show Takagi how it’s done as he brings Takagi up, but swings into a full nelson! Okada breaks free, catches Takagi for a spin but Takagi swats the discus! Takagi ripcords, PUMPING RAINMAKER!! Cover, TWO!!! Okada survives and the fans are electric! Takagi gets to a corner, fires himself up by smacking the padding, and then aims at Okada.

Okada rises as Takagi runs in, to PUMPING BOMBER! But Takagi isn’t done, he pump handle fireman’s carries, but Okada slips off! Okada ducks the back hand to back drop, and sit on Takagi! Cover, TWO!! Takagi stays close to Okada and brings him up, but Okada gut wrenches again! Takagi fights free, and hits a BACK SUPLEX BACKBREAKER! That was rough, even for Takagi! Fans rally up again, Takagi drags Okada up and runs, for MAX PUMPING BOMBER!!! Cover, TWO?!?!? Takagi can’t believe it but this is the Rainmaker fans have come to know! Takagi fires up and drags Okada back up to the pump handle fireman’s carry.

Okada fights free again, ripcords, but into the pump handle! LAST OF THE DRAGONS!!! Cover, Takagi wins!!!!!

Winner: Shingo Takagi, by pinfall (advances to the next round)

This is almost unbelievable! Okada called his shot at Castle Attack, but falls in the first round!! The Dragon slays Okada, and the Rainmaker’s return to the top stops already! What does this mean for the rest of Okada’s 2021? Takagi gets the mic to speak! “Ota Cityyy~!” It feels really good to have won. But seriously, that was a tough match! Takagi hopes everyone enjoyed the match, and Takagi tells Okada that he’s one tough opponent. But the winner here is Takagi.

Takagi can tell NJPW is entering a new era, and Kota Ibushi is the champion after the 49th Anniversary. Takagi thinks the world title is going to be pretty awesome. But in the NJCUP, Takagi vows to make this his time! Ibushi better be ready to defend that new belt against Takagi! Will the “Pumping Maker” be heading for the top now that he’s beaten one of the best in the world?


My Thoughts:

A great event, especially the NJCUP matches. The Empire keeps winning in solid Six Man Tags, and with Cobb finishing it off. Cobb is going to build momentum all week until he faces Evil on 3/11, that’s a given. Ospreay has momentum for his match, too, but it’d be a great twist if he lost to Tenzan after getting a big head. Honma VS Suzuki was really good, perhaps a touch better than Kenta VS Juice, but maybe it was just all the brawling and wobble selling. I figured Suzuki would win, and it makes sense for Kenta to win against Juice. Just something about pacing felt better in Honma VS Suzuki.

Okada VS Takagi is probably match of the week, and is so far leading the way as best match of the opening round. It’s going to be really hard to beat that, especially because Takagi won! I really thought there was going to be a moment for Okada to turn things around, but that’s huge for Takagi to win. Takagi also has a lot of guts for copying the Rainmaker formula, but I wonder if this is some kind of Okada seal of approval that Takagi won here. Takagi VS Goto is going to be another great match given their NEVER Openweight Championship matches in the past, but I would think Takagi keeps winning until the semifinals now. The Suzuki VS Kenta winner faces Takagi on 3/16, Takagi can totally beat Kenta but Suzuki is a harder choice. But if there’s a chance we could get Takagi VS EVIL, I hope NJPW gives us that.

My Score: 9.3/10


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