NJPW New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two 3/19/2011

Written by: Colin Rinehart

NJPW New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two 3/19/11
March 19th, 2011
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Attendnace: 6,500

Well I couldn’t find a copy of the second night of the opening round of this year’s New Japan Cup tournament, so I’m just going to go on and move ahead to the second round match-ups that took place a few weeks later on March 19th. Tonight we’ve got four second round match-ups in the New Japan Cup tournament as well as Prince Devitt defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title against recent New Japan signee KUSHIDA, as well as a six man tag pitting Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, and Ryusuke Taguchi up against Satoshi Kojima, TAKA Michinoku, and Taichi. The version of this show I’m watching doesn’t include the first two matches of the show, but in the first match King Fale & Tama Tonga defeated Tiger Mask IV & Hiromu Takahashi in 9:03 when Tonga used the Tongan Twist on Takahashi, and the team of Jushin Liger, Koji Kanemoto, and Wataru Inoue defeated the team of Takashi Iizuka, Jado, and Gedo in 8:58 when Inoue used the Spear of Justice on Jado. Onto the televised show!

Tetsuya Naito/Tomohiro Ishii/Yujiro Takahashi vs. Giant Bernard/Karl Anderson/Tomoaki Honma

Fun little six man tag here to kick us off, no kind of back-story here really as usual. Bernard and Anderson feel out Ishii and Takahashi early and Anderson gets the better of Ishii with a few arm-drags and a shoulder-block. Naito and Honma tag in and have a fun exchange after running the ropes a bit. Naito tosses Honma into the guardrail outside the ring and then brawls with him into the crowd. We get an awkward/funny moment on the way back to the ring as Naito pats Honma lovingly on the ass on their way back into the ring. Don’t fuck with Honma man, he’s got deathmatch scars that would make you queasy if you saw them in person. Crowd doesn’t seem much interested in things, but overall this went along fine and everyone provided a bit more spark then you’d expect from a match like this. The finish sees Takahashi pinning Anderson clean with a variation of Ron Simmon’s old Dominator powerbomb at 11:16. Like I said, a bit more spirited than you’d expect from this usual dead spot on the card, but nothing too memorable. **1/4

New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two Match
Toru Yano vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

This isn’t exactly a great technical looking match-up on paper, but the results wind up being entertaining enough. Tenzan will forever be over in this company because of his great run in the 90s and early 2000s, but he’s become a bit broken down at this point unfortunately. Lots of mild brawling in this one, and they wind up in the crowd in a matter of minutes. Back in the ring Tenzan actually looks a bit motivated for once and fires off some nice spinning heel kicks and an unsuccessful diving headbutt attempt. Crowd seems pretty lifeless, which is strange because these two usually have pretty good heat whenever they work. Yano hits a huge power bomb on Tenzan, but the veteran manages to still kick out and respond with a Samoan drop. Tenzan delivers a sort of tombstone piledriver and then locks in a keylock on Yano’s arms (looks similar to Punk’s Anaconda Vice actually). In the struggle of the submission the ref is knocked silly and doesn’t see Yano tapping. Yano gives Tenzan a low blow and then rolls him up for the cheap win at 11:09. Not bad considering Tenzan’s limitations at this point, but again, nothing that’s actually worth actively seeking out to watch. **

New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two Match
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Manabu Nakanishi

This should be an interesting clash of personalities. Nakamura hands out fist-bumps to half the crowd on his way to the ring, perhaps foreshadowing an eventual face turn in the works? Nakamura is all pissy to start with various big running knee strikes that send Nakanishi out to the floor quickly. Shinsuke launches Nakanishi into the rails and then drags him back inside before the 20 count for more continued knee strikes to the abdomen. Nakanishi catches Nakamura in the midst of another running knee and tosses him overhead like a ragdoll before clotheslining him out to the floor. He takes out Nakamura with a decent slingshot plancha over the ropes and then tosses him back inside for some more punishment. Nakanishi hits the lariat but Nakamura kicks out so he waffles him with a huge German suplex for another near fall. He lifts Nakamura up into a torture rack but Shinsuke manages to escape and slap a sleeper onto his opponent briefly. Nakanishi blocks another Boma Ye knee strike attempt with another huge German suplex, but Nakamura no sells it momentarily and knocks Nakanishi’s lights out with a kick before crumpling to the mat to sell the suplex. That kind of minor no-selling is perfectly fine in my book, because it’s logical that a short burst of adrenaline like that could lead you to get one more shot in before falling to the ground and really feeling the pain as the adrenaline wears off. They trade crazy stiff double-axe handles but Nakamura nails Nakanishi with the Boma Ye knee off the top rope and then hits another Boma Ye just for good measure to pick up the win at 8:49. Excellent little match here, it’s kind of crazy the amount of action they were able to pack into such a short amount of time. Nakamura continues to be a Golden God and Nakanishi is always down for a stiff brawl, so this was a lot of fun. ***

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match
Prince Devitt

KUSHIDA was one of the main guys Yoshihiro Tajiri’s SMASH promotion was using to get their company off the ground, and he was impressive enough that New Japan brought him in for several shows in 2010 before signing him to a more formal contract earlier this year, so look for him to be a big part of the junior division going forward. He’s a pretty talented young guy, but he looked a bit nervous here in his first big title match against Devitt, and was notably sloppy at a few different points. They do some solid hold and counter hold wrestling in the early stages, establishing Devitt as the more experienced of the two quickly. Devitt misses out on his first big dive attempt and winds up eating a pescado from KUSHIDA before getting tossed back inside. KUSHIDA stumbles a bit on a backflip counter attempt but still manages to plant the landing anyways. He climbs to the top rope but is met with a dropkick that sends him back to the floor again and the pace has notably picked up here as Devitt takes out KUSHIDA with one of his signature suicidal swan-dive somersault planchas to a great pop. They try for a suplex spot on the timekeeper’s table at ringside, but KUSHIDA winds up delivering a sloppy hurricanrana in mid-air over the guardrail instead! That looked incredibly impressive, even if he didn’t quite get all of the rotation that he wanted to on the headscissors. A Muta-esque moonsault gets KUSHIDA a close two count back in the ring and he’s getting frustrated now. KUSHIDA misses a lariat and eats a picture perfect pele kick from Devitt and the crowd is rallying behind their beloved Prince-o Devitt-o once again. KUSHIDA misses a corkscrew moonsault but still fires off some loud and stiff kicks before hitting a big double-stomp on Devitt off the top rope for another close near fall. Devitt responds with a towering super-back suplex from the top rope and then delivers a huge double-stomp of his own, but KUSHIDA manages to kick out this time as well, so Devitt nails him with the Bloody Sunday DDT to retain at 14:52. Even though KUSHIDA looked a bit nervous in the early-going, he was able to quickly rebound from any missteps and this wound up being a damn good match in it’s own right, if possibly a slight notch below some of Devitt’s recent title matches against the likes of Ibushi and Marufuji. I see good things in the future for KUSHIDA if he sticks around. ***1/2

Satoshi Kojima/TAKA Michinoku/Taichi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Hirooki Goto/Ryusuke Taguchi

I’m really starting to like this alliance of sorts that Kojima has found with TAKA and Taichi, these guys play the classic slimy low-life Japanese heel perfectly. The match itself isn’t stellar or anything, but it’s well worked by all means. A lot of great hold and counter-hold wrestling between Tanahashi and Kojima in the early going before the funky Taguchi hops in to do battle with TAKA. Nobody wears a shit-eating grin like TAKA Michinoku, I tell you what. Goto tags in next and does some fun powerhouse babyface stuff with the underrated Taichi. Within minutes they’re all brawling outside of the ring, with Taichi making the effort to wrap Goto up against the mat with the ring apron only to dropkick him out of it moments later. Goto plays the prideful face a bit too much for his own good here and it winds up costing him when he takes an extended beatdown instead of tagging out and then winds up inadvertently clotheslining his own partners later in the match when he does get back involved. Tanahashi misses the High Fly Flow on Kojima but manages to hit the Sling Blade and tag out to Taguchi. Taguchi hits 2 out of 3 rolling suplex attempts and then delivers a gourdbuster of sorts on TAKA as the match breaks down and tag rules go out the window. Goto accidentally lariats his own partners and then gets tossed out of the ring with Tanahashi, leaving Goto all alone and allowing Taichi and TAKA to deliver a double-team Michinoku Driver II to pick up the win at 13:54. Not as good as the six man Tanahashi was in on the last New Japan Cup show I reviewed, but still pretty entertaining for a totally meaningless throwaway match. **1/2

New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two Match
Togi Makabe vs. MVP

Crowd doesn’t seem as receptive to MVP here as they were in Korakuen, but MVP still looks good and motivated out there again. Makabe is always fun and this is alot of fun in the early going with both men letting their over-the-top personalities clash with a war of shoulder-blocks as MVP does his best to say as many Japanese words and sayings as he can to get over with the fans (including King Kong and Godzilla references). MVP launches Makabe into the guard rail a few times right in front of a mildly annoying fan that’s screaming Makabe’s name in another funny moment. MVP dominates most of the match, showing he can hang strong-style with Makabe for a bit until Makabe gets just pissed off enough to start really taking MVP seriously. MVP no sells a pair of German suplexes but eats a lariat anyways. MVP delivers a big Yakuza kick and then locks on a nasty crossface submission, but Makabe gets the rope break fairly quickly. He makes his usual fiery comeback and then delivers a German suplex from the top rope followed by a top-rope splash for the win at 10:41. Pretty solid stuff, but I would have liked to have seen these guys given more time. As it stands this is like the start of a fairly damn good match, but it feels like the ending is missing or something. MVP’s post-match interview/promo is pure gold again however. **1/2

New Japan Cup 2011 Round Two Match
Yuji Nagata vs. Masato Tanaka

I like to call this the feud that never dies, because it seems like these two have been wrestling each other in New Japan and Zero-1 in various different forms on and off again for years now with no end anywhere in sight. The matches are always top notch though, so no complaints here. Some great footwork early with each man missing with various spinning kick attempts. Tanaka’s selling is great from the start as Nagata really just lays in the stiff kicks and knee strikes to the abdomen with the fire that only he can bring. Tanaka fires off with a lariat outside the ring and then delivers a brainbuster right there on the mats to Nagata! He grabs a table and sets it up with half of it’s legs and then suplexes Nagata right through it for good measure. Remember Japanese tables are much smaller than your standard American ones, so it wasn’t actually as brutal as it sounds, but was still enough for Nagata to nearly get counted out for. They both go into full on pissed-off ungodly stiff mode and really start laying the kicks and strikes into one another now and the crowd’s getting into it. Nagata blocks a sunset flip powerbomb with stiff forearms and sweet sassy mallassey the sound of Nagata’s arm pounding against Tanaka’s flesh is just absolutely brutal. Nagata fires off a brainbuster for a two count. They fire off great lariat and Yakuza kick attempts at each other and Tanaka gets a near fall off of one. Diamond Dust from Tanaka followed by a running lariat only gets a two count, so Nagata responds with a top-rope exploder suplex for a near fall of his own. Tanaka absolutely nails Nagata in the back of the head with the Sliding D and then hits it once again again, but Nagata still manages to kick out! They go into another stiff striking exchange and then Nagata just waffles Tanaka with a towering back drop suplex of DOOM to pick up the win at 16:33. This was all kinds of awesome and yet another chapter in the excellent back catalog of matches these two have had against one another. They’ve had better, but this was fast-paced, hard-hitting and just ungodly stiff—AKA all of the things you love and look for from these guys. ***3/4

Bottom Line: This was a pretty solid show for a quick two hour shot of most of the day’s matches. There wasn’t much to check out on the undercard besides the Nakamura/Nakanishi match, but Devitt had another fun title defense against KUSHIDA and the main event was another great Tanaka/Nagata match, which is something I personally can never get enough of. Not really a great show that’s worth going out of your way for, but if you’ve got the time to kill it’s worth checking out before jumping into the final day of the New Japan cup the following day on the 20th. A very minor thumbs up basically.

Score: 6.5/10

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