New Japan iPPV report 3-15 Tokyo

New Japan Cup 2014 Day 1 Report

by Zach Dominello
Twitter: @TheKoalaMask

First Round Match: Shelton Benjamin vs. Yujiro Takahashi
My expectations are low going into this so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. I like Benjamin but I haven't seem him in a good match in NJPW for a while. Takahashi on the other hand bores me to tears.
Fairly even match early on Benjamin had the advantage after stopping a dive attempt with a superkick. Yujiro took control until Benjamin awkwardly reversed a piledriver attempt into a powerbomb for a two-count. Benjamin then immediately hit Paydirt for the win. Short match, just over 5 minutes. Nothing fancy, nothing memorable. In fact I've already forgotten about it.

First Round Match: Toru Yano vs. Suzuki Minoru
Minoru is due for a win over Yano. I can't see Yano advancing over Minoru.
Before the match, Minoru threatened a kick toward Yuji Nagata on commentary. There was no young guy holding the ropes for Minoru to kick. I feel cheapened.
Yano messed around with Minoru early on, conning Minoru to chase him around in and out of the ring. Minoru eventually outsmarted Yano and caught him on the outside with a slap to the face.
The ref tried to send Taichi to the back after attacking Yano with a chair on the outside. Taichi wouldn't leave though.
Yano's wrestling style is basically do anything you can to avoid getting hurt, which usually involves grabbing the ref whenever Minoru goes for his sleeper hold or finisher. It's equally entertaining and frustrating to watch. In the end, Yano's tactic backfired as Minoru hit a low blow while Yano was grabbing at the ref, causing the ref to miss the low blow. Minoru followed up the low blow with a really sloppy pin for the win.
OK match, more entertaining than the first at least. Pretty short again, only 8 minutes.
Besides the sloppy finish, Minoru looked good. His expressions are priceless - like when Yano made it to the ropes while Minoru had him in an armbar. The look Minoru gives him is like "just let me put you out of your misery."

Post match, Minoru attacked Yano's crotch with a chair, and also hit one the the young guys around the ring - that still doesn't make up for the lack of ring entrance kick though.

First Round Match: Katsuyori Shibata vs. "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson
Shibata immediately lays into Anderson with hard shots. Anderson finally gained control after a big running boot to Shibata. Tama Tonga got involved by throwing Shibata into the guardrails while Anderson distracted the ref. Shibata later got revenge by dropkicking Tonga off the apron.
Shibata hit a dropkick on Anderson in the corner. He went for a sleeper but Anderson reversed into a back drop. Anderson hit a big running powerbomb (well, he took two steps) for a near fall. After the powerbomb, he hit the Bernard Driver for another near fall.
The crowd was really rallying for Shibata. Shibata reversed an Ace Crusher into a sleeper. Anderson made it to the ropes so Shibata just German suplexed him and followed it with the penalty kick.
After a flurry of kicks, Shibata put Anderson away with the octopus hold just after the 9 minute mark.
Shibata looked really strong after this match - he's got to be the favourite to win the cup. I'd say he's definitely the crowd favourite.
Much better effort than the previous two matches.

First Round Match: Hirooki Goto vs. Doc Gallows
Let's see if Gallows can salvage a win for his tag team, or will both tag champs lose tonight?
Goto, much like Shibata, really laid into Gallows early on. Nice plancha by Goto. Gallows finally got some offense in after a big boot. Pretty boring offense by Gallows - just a bunch of strikes and elbow drops. Goto came back with a big lariat and an awesome spinning wheel kick to Gallows in the corner. Gallows landed the Gallows Pole for a near fall. Huge lariat by Gallows for another near fall. Gallows missed a splash and Goto pinned him with Goto Shiki maybe? A cross legged cradle I think. Haven't seen that one before - clever looking pin nonetheless, though Goto had a little trouble with Gallows' legs. Another quick match, just under 7 minutes. Good, but I enjoyed Shibata/Anderson a little more. Not a good night for the tag champs.
Gallows attacked one of the young guys after the match and also stole a fan's chair and threw it towards the ring. Pretty funny. Also not a good night for the young guys.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi and El Desperado vs. Kazuchika Okada and Jado & Gedo
So Ibushi and Desperado are buds now? That was a very quick feud - just one match!
Good little match. Everyone looked like they were just having fun. A lot of playing to the crowd at the start by both teams. Jado did his usual Flair impersonation. Each guy hit some of their signature moves, but only El Desperado was successful in hitting his finisher. Ibushi was worked over for a lot of the match. The end came when El Desperado hit the Guitarra de Angel on Gedo for the win at 11'38".
Fun match - they looked like they were just enjoying themselves, nothing too serious. Shibata and Anderson is still the best match of the night so far.
Before and after the match, Tanahashi and Okada compared their respective belts to each other. That could lead to something interesting.
Tanahashi played with El Desperado's guitar before leaving. El Desperado didn't look impressed.

First Round Match: Lance Archer vs. Prince Devitt
Devitt snuck into the ring and attacked Archer from behind with a chair before the match had officially started. Good tactic! I like that you can pretty much do whatever you feel before the bell rings. Archer came back by punching a chair in Devitt's face and then throwing him into Yuji Nagata on commentary. Poor Nagata.
Heaps of energy by Archer who used his size and power really well to control Devitt. Devitt relied on his quickness and cunning to stop Archer's offense.
Really fast paced match with a lot of great action. Devitt went for a double stomp off the top rope but Archer caught him and after a couple of reversals hit a big chokeslam. Devitt went for Bloody Sunday numerous times but Archer repeatedly powered out. Archer attempted a pretty crazy moonsault but came up empty. Devitt capitalized with the double stomp followed by Bloody Sunday for the win at 7'57".
New match of the night so far. Really good, quick action. Good storytelling by both guys.

First Round Match: Bad Luck Fale vs. Tougi Makabe
Quick start with both guys exchanging strikes. Makabe got the early advantage. They fought on the outside and nearly got counted out. To be honest, I wouldn't have minded a double count out finish in this case - I'm not too keen on seeing these guys in another match together.
Both guys used the chair on each other on the outside. Why is that not illegal?
Makabe hit a lariat with his chain wrapped around his arm. Why didn't that spot end the match? Chain lariat is finisher worthy, right?
Fale hit the choke lariat slam followed by the Bad Luck Fall to get the win at 9'36".
Not as bad of a match as I had expected. Pretty good action, and it didn't feel as slow as these guys sometimes can. Probably didn't need that much time though.

First round Match: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Man, every match these guys have together looks so painful. Right away they invite each other to hit hard chops and brutal headbutts.
Ishii hit an excellent stalling superplex from the middle rope. Nice tornado DDT off the ropes by Naito. These guys are excellent working together. Huge top rope hurricanrana by Naito. Ishii hit a big Last Ride for a near fall. Really high bridging German suplex by Naito for another near fall. Good sequence where Ishii no sold an enziguri, then Naito no sold a German suplex, but Ishii followed up with a big lariat - both guys go down.
Another big exchange of strikes followed by another huge lariat by Ishii for a near fall. Ishii went for a brainbuster but Naito reversed it into one of his own, followed by a bridging dragon suplex for a near fall. Naito quickly went for the Stardust press and landed it for the win at 12'55".
Another great encounter between these two. Naito finally earned a win back after losing in their two previous encounters. Great match, but I'm still giving Devitt/Archer match of the night because it felt a bit more of a fresh matchup, whereas these guys have faced each other quite a bit recently.

First Round Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Some good catch wrestling to start the match. Both guys were pretty even early on, that was until Davey Boy hit a big lariat on the ring apron. Davey Boy spent a lot of time abusing members of the crowd.
Nakamura came back with a big running knee from the apron. Davey Boy caught Nakamura with a powerslam for a near fall. Davey Boy counts along with the ref during every pin attempt. It's a bit annoying.
Davey Boy hit a middle rope superplex that looked to hurt him more than it did Nakamura.
Nakamura went for an armbar but couldn't lock it in, so he rolled out of it and hit two Boma Ye's for a near fall. Nakamura hit one more Boma Ye for the win at 14'59".
Not a very exciting match. Not bad, but it didn't feel like a main event.

Final Thoughts

Good show, not great. No duds, Devitt/Archer and Naito/Ishii were both very good. Main event felt a little flat.

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