Jay White vs. David Finlay
I’m wondering why we haven’t seen the newer young lions on these tours. I guess they’re holding them off for future Lion’s Gate shows or something. There is something of a feud here between these two as David beat Jay in their first outing, but hasn’t beaten him since. Your usual good match between these two. Jay comes off as clearly better than Finlay technically but David’s a bit more charismatic. David had Jay in the Boston Crab, tried to escape several times until getting the ropes. White rolled through a pin attempt and went for the Boston Crab and submitted Finlay. They were given a bit more time than they normally get on this tour and worked a really solid match.
Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Juice Robinson
Tiger Mask is still recognized as the NWA Jr. champion even though they really haven’t done anything with the title in months. Tiger Mask did a big suicide dive onto Liger on the outside. They worked the match together on occasion while most of it was Robinson and CNJ. Robinson got the submission win over Captain New Japan with what looked like a choke sleeper.
Tiger Mask then motioned he wanted a title match with Liger. Liger seemed fine with this. It made no sense given Robinson got the win, not to mention this feud has been done to death over the last two years so why do it again? It seems like these two are just destined to feud over this title forever for no reason, which is the worst kind of feud you can do.
Evil and Bushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi
Evil’s regular move on the outside is to grab a chair, put it on his opponent’s throat, and shove him into a ringpost. Didn’t that use to put a guy out of action for months back in the day? Ishii and Evil squared off as that seems to be a future ROH TV title program. Ishii laid out Evil but Bushi came in and sprayed him. Evil came back and pinned Ishii clean to win the match. Good while it lasted, but it was clear the intention of the match was to put Evil over as a title contender.
Evil grabbed the title after the match and made the throat cutting gesture to Ishii, making his intentions clear.
New Japan Cup Semifinals: Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano
Yano immediately ran to the ring the minute his music played and beat up Naito with a chair. He tried a flash pin but it didn’t work. They teased a lot of roll up finishes but on the last one Yano accidently bumped the referee. Naito low blowed him and rolled him up to advance to the finals. Really short, comedy style match.
New Japan Cup Semifinals: Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Elgin
There wasn’t much of a feeling out process as they immediately went for big moves. This turned out to be a really good match, nothing but action throughout. Elgin hit all of his trademark spots early was clearly the guy people liked in the match. Elgin drilled him with tons of high impact moves, suplexing him left and right, even dished out a tiger suplex, but Goto kicked out of everything. Goto came back with the neckbreaker. Elgin deadlifted Goto from the top rope to the floor with a falcon arrow and hit the buckle bomb, but Goto came back with a sleeper.Goto came back and surprised Elgin with a roll up to advance to the finals. Crowd didn’t like that one, but they protected Elgin as much as possible with the loss and made him look dominant.
Ryusuke Taguchi and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Fine match while it lasted. The focus here seemed to be on Shibata and Kojima. Taguchi was in for a time, doing his butt based offense on Tenzan. When their partners came in, Kojima immediately did his comeback, but Shibata came back and fired chops of his own in the corner. Taguchi came in for a hot tag and looked good for a bit but Kojima simply laid him out with one lariat for the win.
Kojima took the mic after the match, seemingly challenging for the NEVER title. Shibata responded by kicking him flush in the face. That's one way of responding to a challenge. Kojima came back and laid him out with a lariat and laid the belt over him. It’s on.
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kazuchika Okada and Kazushi Sakuraba
It’s a weird situation here has Nagata and Shibata seemed to be programed for the NEVER title, or at least it was hinted at on the last show, but it didn’t come into fruition. Fine match, nothing special, just something for Okada to do on this show. Nakanishi and Sakuraba did some grappling, believe it or not. It didn’t look all that bad considering Nakanishi didn’t have to run around or anything. Nagata & Nakanishi hit double clotheslines and did their usual tease finish of the armbar/torture rack, but again it didn’t work. It’d have more credibility if someone actually lost in that manner. Nakanishi countered the rainmaker but Okada came back with a dropkick, hit the rainmaker and pinned him.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma vs. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi
Good back and forth match. Not a whole ton to talk about, everyone just came in and did their thing. They made Fale look really strong here as they always protect him. Bullet Club used Fale as their heavy as he hit a whole bunch of high impact moves. Tanahashi wiped everyone on the outside out with a high fly flow. Honma hit his kokeshis and tried for the top rope finish but Tama Tonga came up and hit the gun stun off the top rope (that was really cool) then finished Honma with his waistlock DDT for the win.
Bullet Club laid everyone out after the match. Fale left Tanahashi lying with a grenade, so that’s probably another Invasion Attack match. Tonga took the mic and said he and his brother, the former Camacho under a new name (I believe it’s Tama Roa but could be wrong), would be the next champions.
New Japan Cup Finals: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto
Really good match, but live the constant buffering live, especially towards the latter part of the match, hurt it. It’s an issue that’s been cropping up all year and was at its worst during the main event on this morning's show. Crowd were hot for everything and was full of hot near falls. Of course, Bushi was on the outside and freely interfered the moment Goto was on the outside. The story here is that Goto had a long twelve minute match while Naito had a relatively easy match that ended in a few minutes. Goto hit a big superplex and followed with the knee neckbreaker.
Naito made a comeback and hit Gloria. Goto tried for the shouten kai but Naito countered. Goto headbutted him, hit a penalty kick then landed the shouten kai but Naito kicked out at two. Evil suddenly appeared as Bushi distracted the ref. Goto laid him out which allowed Naito to come back. They hit back and forth countered until Naito hit Destino and pinned him to win the New Japan Cup.
Naito made it clear after the match that he’s gunning for the IWGP title and Kazuchika Okada. Evil and Bushi brought back in Goto and they all put the boots to him until Okada made the save, clearing the ring. He extended his hand to Goto, but he got up on his own. Okada still wanted a handshake, and after teasing he wouldn’t, he finally did, so it seems Goto may have joined Chaos after teasing it for the last couple of months.
Goto left as Okada brought up how Naito has said he wouldn’t challenge at Invasion Attack, then requested he face him there. Naito entered the ring once Okada left and changed his mind, saying fine, since Okada wanted to face him so bad he’ll face him at Invasion Attack. He and the rest of Los Ingobernables de Japon posed as the streamers came down and the show finished.
Overall, a very good show with some pretty great matches. Everything had a purpose and there’s some interesting directions towards Invasion Attack. Okada/Naito has some real juice as a headliner and with matches like Ospreay/Kushida, Shibata/Kojima and Evil/Ishii it’s probably going to be one of the better cards of April.