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By Matthew Macklin on 2017-03-12 12:30:00

New Japan Cup First Round, March 12:

This show saw the second half of first round matches in the New Japan Cup take place.

Yuji Nagata & Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Tiger Mask IV & David Finlay.  Solid opener. It was a basic tag match with Nagata making Tiger submit to the Nagata Lock. He doesn't win with that move, so that was good to see.

Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale defeated Hiram Kawato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima.  Bullet Club jumped Kawato before the bell. There was a lot of focus on Loa here. He hit a great Blue Thunder Bomb and and it was Loa that picked up the win on Kawato after hitting a Rikishi Driver.

EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi.  These LIJ eight man tags are always just so much fun. It's non stop and everything I so crisp and fluid.  Lots of focus on EVIL here after his big win yesterday. We had a brief exchange between Takahashi and KUSHIDA ahead of their upcoming Jr title match. The finish saw EVIL pin Taguchi after an STO.

Toru Yano, Jado, Gedo, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto defeated El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru.  Gedo was worked over by the Suzuki Gun team until Okada got the hot tag. Goto got his turn with a hot tag and hit lots of his power moves.  The finish saw Yano low blow everyone in sight and roll up Desperado.

First Round:

Juice Robinson defeated Yujiro Takahashi.  Robinson was really laying in the heavy lumber in the early part of this match and completely outclassed a guy who is an NJPW veteran at this stage. Juice kicked out of some big moves including the Miami Shine. Juice got the win with the Pulp Friction. It was a decent match and great to see Juice continue his rise in NJPW.

SANADA defeated YOSHI-HASHI.  This was great! SANADA hit a TKO and locked in Skull End, which YOSHI battled out of. YOSHI missed a Swanton, but got the Butterfly Lock, and this time SANADA got to the ropes. YOSHI hit the Swanton for a near fall, and tried to follow up with Karma, but SANADA countered into Skull End again. YOSHI battled free until SANADA moonsaulted into the hold again and got the submission win. This was great stuff from two of NJPW's brightest young stars.

Katsuyori Shibata defeated Minoru Suzuki.  As you'd expect, this was a war. Taichi got involved early and attacked Shibata on the floor. This was physical and intense. They both applied submission holds until it turned into a heated exchange in the corner. There was a forearm battled that lasted for a good 90 seconds with neither going down. It turned into slaps and then boots. Suzuki put Shibata down with a sleeper and tried to turn it into a Piledriver, but Shibata blocked it. Shibata hit a stiff Death Valley Driver. He finished Suzuki with a hard slap that set up the PK. This is something you need to see.

Tomohiro Ishii defeated Kenny Omega.  Out of all the upsets so far in this tournament, this one topped them all! What a match this was. Another match of the year contender from Omega and a classic performance from Ishii.  This one built and built. Omega injured the neck of Ishii with a series of moves. A spike DDT, a dive to the floor, a German suplex, a gut wrench powerbomb and a knee. Ishii kicked out of it all and fired back by shrugging off Omega's strikes. Ishii hit several lariats and a frankensteiner! For every lariat Ishii hit, Omega hit as many V-Trigger knees. I lost count of both. Omega hit a beautiful snap Dragon suplex and Croats Wrath when Ishii fought out of the One Winged Angel. Ishii countered the move a second time, into a stunner, which was brilliant. Ishii scored the upset with his Brainbuster. After the match Omega went to get back into the ring, but decided against it and walked away in defeat.

This was a shocker. Where does Omega go from here? We know a split from Bullet Club could be soon, so maybe a fully fledged babyface turn. As for Ishii, he deserves to win this tournament. He still hasn't gotten his title shot after beating Okada in the G1. This might be his way of getting there.

This show is available now at

The quarter finals will be:

Yuji Nagata vs EVIL
Bad Luck Fale vs Toru Yano
Katsuyori Shibata vs Juice Robinson
Tomohiro Ishii vs SANADA

They take place between March 13th & 17th. Each will be uploaded on

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