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New Japan Cup first round results: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL

The Big Takeaway --

EVIL, Yuji Nagata, Bad Luck Fale and Toru Yano all advanced to the next round of the New Japan Cup.

Non-Tourney Results --

- Desperado & Taka Michinoku defeated Hirwai Kawato and Ryusuke Taguchi when Desperado pinned Kawato with the guitarra de angel.

- Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Tiger Mask, Tamayuki Oka and Manabu Nakanishi when Kojima pinned Oka with a lariat.

- Kenny Omega and Yujiro Takahashi defeated YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii after Omega pinned YOSHI-HASHI with the One Winged Angel.

This was better than the other two matches and more lengthy. YOSHI-HASHI and Omega worked each other and have good chemistry with one another.

- SANADA, Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI defeated David Finlay, KUSHIDA and  Katsuyori Shibata when SANADA submitted David Finlay with the Skull End.

This was a good match and had some nice heat while it lasted.

- IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, Jado and Hirooki Goto defeated Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru when Okada pinned Taichi with the rainmaker in a solid bout.

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New Japan Cup Opening Round results --

- Yuji Nagata defeated Tanga Roa 

This didn’t have that much heat, and came off more like something on WWE Main Event than on a big New Japan show. There was no intensity. Roa missed a big splash. Nagata came back and they traded offense but the crowd still wasn’t getting into it. Nagata worked on Roa’s arm and eventually pinned him with the exploder after a few near fall attempts. To say this was plodding would be an understatement.

- Toru Yano defeated Tama Tonga

Yano stalled at the beginning, posing on the ropes and exiting the ring. Tonga stomped on him upon re-entry and worked on him. Tonga went for the gun stun after a few minutes, but Yano pushed him into the ref. He tried to follow that with a low blow but Tonga blocked it. He followed that with a headbutt, then Yano grabbed the ref. He pushed him into Tonga then low blowed him for the flash pin. It was your typical Yano match.

- Bad Luck Fale defeated Michael Elgin

Fale dominated early, working on Elgin’s back. Elgin tried to lift Fale for a powerbomb, but it didn’t work and neither did a German suplex attempt. Elgin finally landed one but Fale responded with a spear then the Grenade for the pinfall. This wasn't bad, but nothing to write home. Fale usually is booked strong in tournaments so this was no big surprise. 

- EVIL defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi

There was a lot of early back and forth work. Tanahashi dragon screwed EVIL’s leg and sent him to the outside. Tanahashi followed with the High Fly Flow, taking them both to the floor. EVIL shoved the referee to the ropes, crotching Tanahashi. 

EVIL grabbed a chair and smashed the back of Tanahashi. He blocked another attempt and hit EVIL with a steel chair shot of his own. Tanahashi smashed EVIL in the corner with forearms and when the referee tried to stop it, he got shoved down for his troubles. Tanahashi hit the Sling Blade and a High Fly Flow. From here, EVIL came back and did several great nearf alls that really got the crowd into the match.

EVIL locked in a sleeper until Tanahashi seemingly was asleep, but he still kicked out of a pinfall attempt. He tried the STO but Tanahashi fought him off and hit the slingblade. Tanahashi tried for the German suplex, but EVIL got a hold of the ref and shoved him to the corner. In the confusion, EVIL unleashed his new misting abilities, blinding Tanahashi as he fell to the STO was was pinned in a big upset.

Ths was very slow at first, but picked up and got very hot towards the end. EVIL cut a promo at the end, talking about Tanahashi and said everything was evil.

- Round 2 matches: EVIL vs. Yuji Nagata; Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano

Final Thoughts --

I wouldn’t call this a good show. The preliminary bouts were solid, but nothing outstanding. Most of the New Japan Cup matches just didn’t deliver, save for the main event which ended up being very good. I guess it’s the luck of the draw as the next day's tournament matches look way better on paper.