This show is apart of the New Japan Cup Tournament Tour. It features the quarter final match ups, with the semis and finals to be held on 3.22. I'll be looking at that one a little further down the line. It's an interesting card:
1. Jushin Liger & Kazuchika Okada vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt
2. Super Strong Machine, Tiger Mask, Koji Kanemoto & Taichi Ishikari vs. Toru Yano, Black Tiger, Jado & Gedo
3. New Japan Cup Round 2: Milano Collection A.T. vs. Giant Bernard
4. New Japan Cup Round 2: Yutaka Yoshie vs. Tomohiro Ishii
5. New Japan Cup Round 2: Yuji Nagata vs. Takashi Iizuka
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi & Wataru Inoue vs. Togi Makabe, Val Venis & Karl Anderson
7. New Japan Cup Round 2: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto
Even the six-mans sound fun! Let's do it.
Jushin Liger & Kazuchika Okada vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt
It's mostly ground game with Liger playing pretzel maker. Okada is descent and does his part when it comes time for him to do a little mat wrestling. Liger throws in some heel touches, like pulling the bottom rope from a desperate Devitt trying to escape a Boston Crab. Taguchi isn't some one I go out of my way to watch but he does his stuff well and gets a nice crowd reaction. I thought this was going to be a throw away kind of match but it was okay for a ten minute opener. Okada came out of it looking pretty nice, despite taking the fall. I can see him being a bigger deal for the division down the road.
Super Strong Machine, Tiger Mask, Koji Kanemoto & Taichi Ishikari vs. Toru Yano, Black Tiger, Jado & Gedo
Pretty standard affair as pretty much everyone takes turns getting in on the action. The main story being the Black Tiger/Tiger Mask feud. Ishikari doesn't spend the whole match getting beat around which is surprising. Koji Kanemoto looks like he's in less pain than usual. He's got a little spring in his step that's nice to see. Finish comes with Black Tiger pushing the ref and kicking poor Ishikari and the junk, to set up his scoop tombstone for the win. At least Ishikari was cheated, I really expected him to just be the whipping boy. BT and TM throw some 'bows after the bell.
New Japan Cup Round 2: Milano Collection A.T. vs. Giant Bernard
Nicely booked match. Milano starts by trying to use his speed to evade the monster but eventually he gets caught. Bernard proceeds to beat Milano around for a few minutes until The Italian One finds an opening and makes a comeback working on Bernard's knees. There is a funny spot where Milano goes for a pin but Bernard kicks out by tossing him in the air. Milano lands on the ref, knocking the wind out of him. So Milano gets a funny idea, he tries to body slam Bernard but this of course fails with, Bernard looking confused that such a little person would attempt such a move on him. But then as the ref is getting up Milano grabs Bernard's leg and places it in between his own, making it appear as those Bernard kicked him in the junk. The ref begins to admonish Bernard and threaten a DQ. This leads to enough distraction for Milano to hit a couple of crescent kicks for only a near fall. Next they fall out side and battle it out as the ref counts. Milano pushes Bernard into the post and rushes into the ring. 14....15.... Bernard gets on the apron to step in but Milano kicks the rope, crotching Bernard and sending him back out of the ring. 16....17.... KARL ANDERSON hops in side and drops Milano with an RKO while the ref counts...18....19.....Bernard rolls inside beating the count. He then hits the Sumo Driver on a prone Milano for the three. Bernard advances. Just a fun finishing sequence to an okay 10 minute match. I certainly didn't believe Milano was going to win, but his little tricks during the count out made me second guess myself, and I love that.
New Japan Cup Round 2: Yutaka Yoshie vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Last year Yoshie was a machine, putting on some of the more entertaining performances of 2008. Tomohiro Ishii could be the Yoshie of 2009. Winner proceeds in the New Japan Cup.
The bring the heavyweight BEEF. I love it when two guys just try to out muscle each other. About half way through Ishii calls for a brainbuster and you think he's crazy. But he breaks one off on the Pink Pin Ball, and the crowd loves every bit of it. I love it when wrestler's get people excited for suplexes. Yoshie hits a monster Thesz Press later. It's the kind of move that could be a finisher for him, no doubt. Yoshie gets cocky and goes up top, but gets caught with a SUPERPLEX. Crowd is eating it up and chanting Ishii's name. LARIAT-O TIME. Ishii needs three to put the beast down but it's only good for a two count. Crowd is way into this. Yoshie comes back with his own hoss lariats, but the crowd is still rooting for Ishii. Yoshie dominates for a little bit, but Ishii shocks him with a GERMAN SUPLEX!!!! 1- 2- kick out! They're on their hands and knees and just headbutting each other. Back on their feet and Ishii is throwing some elbows. Yoshie responds with some back fists that bring Ishii to his knees. A nasty knee to the chest and Ishii is down at the corner..... Yoshie heading up top for a big hoss splash, and that's enough for the 3-Count. Bummer. Fun Beefy Match. Two heavyweights being heavy with a lively crowd makes this totally watchable. Check it out.
New Japan Cup Round 2: Yuji Nagata vs. Takashi Iizuka
Nagata looks ready to mess up some Iizuka. The match has a little crowd brawling early on that I didn't like. I don't mind crowd brawling precisely, but I don't like it when it's mostly one guy holding another guy by the back of the head and just walking with them somewhere just to ram there head into something. Which is exactly what happens here. Iizuka and Nagata take a stroll to the upper decks where Iizuka slams Yuji's head into the door up there and then he walks off. Like it was so important. Nagata juices some where after this. A lot of the match is kind of slow brawling with a lot of interference from Jado and Gedo, Iizuka's GBH buddies. This stuff is always lame to me. Unlike the Milano/Bernard match, the ref is never distracted at the right time, so when he does see something happening, he has to figure something out for him to go do instead of breaking up the interference. It's super annoying. Finish comes when Nagata nails a top rope Exploder for a two count. And then a brain buster for a two count. And then he locks on the Nagata Lock II. Iizuka tries to reach the ropes a couple of time but fails. Jado jumps on the apron while Gedo hits Nagata. Nagata just smacks him out of the ring and buts Jado. Iizuka picks up his metal glove and nails Yuji in the throat. The ref sees it and calls for the disqualification. Well, at least the ref called something for all the illegal shit going on. That stuff drives me mad. Yuji advances.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi & Wataru Inoue vs. Togi Makabe, Val Venis & Karl Anderson
I was looking forward to seeing this as I thought Val Venis was a great mid-card guy. Surprise, surprise, he's not tan, or buff anymore. It's not that feeling you had when you saw Piper wrestle with no shirt on a couple of years ago, but you get the point. Venis plays heel, but out of nowhere people start chanting his name. Those people then get drowned out by the Nakanishi fans. Venis is cracking me the hell up. He's got this bewildered look on his face, like he has no idea how he got here. After getting shoulder blocked by Nakanishi he backs in the corner, and asks "What the hell was that?!" He then runs over to Karl Anderson for a tag. Nice. Karl gets worked over a little bit and Val is calling for a time out but no dice. Inoue gets tagged in and things spill to the outside where folks start diving on to each other. Manabu shocks Val Venis with a plancha. I really want a singles match between the two now. Inoue gets to play whipping boy as he should. Tanahashi gets the hot tag and gets buck wild on every body. Hell, Karl Anderson gets in on some comedy and croches himself in the corner when Tanahashi moves. His voice even sounds like it went up in pitch. Cute. Manabu hits the ring and just randomly puts Karl in the Torture Rack for the submission. Odd finish that kind of came out of nowhere, but still a good match. Didn't over stay its welcome and was interesting throughout.
Omori shows up out of nowhere and offers a hand to Nakanishi which he accepts. Wonder where that's going?.....
New Japan Cup Round 2: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto
A little history: Goto and Nakamura have been together for a while now. At last year's G1 Climax, Goto and Nakamura were in the same block and it basically came down to the two of them in terms of which one got to go to the Finals. Goto won that match, an upset if you will, and went on to when the whole tournament. Now we're in the New Japan Cup and the two friend are once again on opposite sides of the ring, each hoping to move forward in the tournament.
Nakamura spends the first half working the arm in various ways. There's a neat moment where Goto grabs the ropes in order to stop a 3-Count and Nakamura grabs the arm and pulls him away from the ropes into a nice arm lock. Goto eventually makes his come back and they battle it out on the top rope, which eventually ends in Goto pulling Nakamura off the top with a neck breaker. And so now, Goto has something to work on. Nakamura does a great job selling backdrops as death on his fragile neck. Much better than Goto did with the arm. As a matter of fact, his arm is perfectly fine now. I'm not saying it should be in a sling, but a little shrug would be nice. There's a really nice rebound off the rope counter fest that ends in a Nakamura German Suplex. Goto responds with his own, and Nakamura pretty much lands on his neck. When they get up they start slapping the piss out of each other. Goto then punches Nak in the face. The ref pulls him back and Nakamura just shoves the ref to the side and punches Goto square in the jaw. AWESOME. Gloves are off, girlfriend. They start going for the big moves, each sneaking out of the others. Goto then lays Nakamura out with a surprise Lariat for a two count. Goto decides this is the best plan of action and gears up for a second. Good gawd when he connects it looks nasty as hell. 1-2-3. Goto wins in 19:00 with a big time LARIAT-O.
It's not PPV quality, but is a great appetizer for the main course, which would be the tournament finale. Not one match felt like a chore to watch, and I can't think of too many promotions that have that going for them.
- Yoshie/Ishii being MEN.
- Val Venis being bewildered.
- Nakamura being decapitated by Hirooki Goto.