Recommended matches --
All four matches are worth a look but just watch the last two if you're pressed for time.
- EVIL vs. SANADA
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Korakuen Hall was again the venue for today's show.
Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado defeated Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Gabriel Kidd (12:14)
The focus here was on Sabre and Taichi vs. Tanahashi and Ibushi, the tag title program. This was a solid opener.
Tanahashi and Taichi started off. Taichi choked Tana with a length of rope, a trick he also used last night against SANADA. The match broke down into a brawl. Suzuki and Nagata paired off, as did Tanahashi and Taichi and Sabre and Ibushi.
Taichi choked Tanahashi with a piece of security fence. When the match returned to the ring, Suzuki-gun began working over Tanahashi's right leg. Taichi brought the tag belts into the ring while Sabre and Suzuki tied Tanahashi up in holds.
Ibushi got a tag and had a nice exchange with Sabre. Ibushi went for a standing moonsault but Sabre caught him in a submission on the landing. Suzuki and Nagata tagged in and renewed their rivalry. Suzuki went for the Gotch-style piledriver but Nagata blocked and hit an exploder.
Kidd tagged in for an exchange with Suzuki. Kidd fought off a double team from Desperado and hit Suzuki with a dropkick. The match broke down. Ibushi hit a dive to Sabre.
Desperado and Kidd ended up the legal men. Desperado hit a straight right hand and used Pinche Loco to pin Kidd.
The post-match was intense. After the bell, Sabre put Ibushi in a triangle. Taichi and Tanahashi faced off on the outside. Nagata made the save for Ibushi. Ibushi went after Sabre and Taichi but was held back.
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & SHO defeated Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI (13:18)
SHO and Shingo looks to be the NEVER Openweight title program so they started off the match.
SHO and Shingo traded some power strikes. Ishii tagged in and cut Shingo off with some hard chops. Naito jumped in and hit a dropkick to Ishii's left knee to cut him off. Naito and BUSHI took turns working on Ishii while SHO and Shingo brawled on the floor.
Ishii came back with a powerslam on Naito and tagged Goto. Goto hit a backdrop suplex. Naito answered with a back elbow and a dropkick. BUSHI entered for a double team which allowed Naito to hit a one-legged dropkick.
Shingo and SHO tagged back in. Shingo missed a sliding lariat but blocked a spear. They traded vertical suplexes and lariats. Shingo hit a German. SHO responded with two rolling Germans. Shingo blocked a third. SHO hit a knee strike. Shingo hit a lariat.
BUSHI tagged in for an enzuigiri and a DDT. Ishii jumped in but BUSHI dispatched him. LIJ went 3-on-1 on SHO. BUSHI hit a backstabber. Goto made the save for SHO.
BUSHI went for an MX. SHO ducked it. Ishii and Naito jumped in. Ishii hit a brainbuster on Naito. Shingo hit a pumping bomber on SHO.
The finishing sequence saw SHO hit a power breaker on BUSHI for a two count, then use the Shock Arrow for the pin.
SHO hit Shingo with a spear after the match and stood over him with the NEVER Openweight title in hand.
A Way to the Grand Master video played. The Grand Master then debuted. This was the former Hirai Kawato, now using the name Master Wato. Wato has all blue gear and blue hair.
Wato came to the ring and cut a brief promo. He was then jumped from behind by DOUKI who left him laying with several shots with a pipe.
This was an underwhelming debut to say the least.
We then had an intermission before the two semifinal matches.
New Japan Cup semifinal match: EVIL defeated SANADA (20:14)
There have been better matches in this tournament but the storytelling here was off the charts great. EVIL has been showing a more ruthless side throughout the entire tournament and that peaked here with his brutal beating of his own tag partner.
SANADA offered a handshake at the opening bell. EVIL looked to accept it but then went for an STO. SANADA blocked and went for Skull End. EVIL slid out. EVIL hit a tackle. SANADA hit an arm drag and EVIL rolled outside to stall.
EVIL clotheslined SANADA to the floor and then posted his arm inside a chair. SANADA came back with a dropkick and a plancha. EVIL raked SANADA's eyes and used a ref-assisted mid kick. SANADA hit a back suplex.
EVIL hit a ref-assisted Magic Killer. They did a long double down before trading strikes at the ten minute mark. EVIL hit a misdirection lariat out of the corner and used Darkness Falls for a two count.
SANADA blocked Everything is EVIL. EVIL blocked Skull End. SANADA used a dragon suplex for a two count. SANADA used Skull End but EVIL slid out and hit a lariat for a near fall.
There was a scary spot at the 15 minute mark. SANADA tried to flip out of the corner for Skull End. It looked as though EVIL was supposed to block and hit a suplex but SANADA somehow got spiked on top of his head.
SANADA used an O'Connor roll to set up Skull end. SANADA gave up the hold and went for a top rope moonsault but EVIL got his knees up. EVIL shoved SANADA into the ref and the ref took a bump to the floor.
With the ref down, EVIL hit a low blow. He then brought two chairs into the ring. He placed one around SANADA's neck and hit it with the other. EVIL set up like he was going for the scorpion deathlock but hit another low blow instead.
EVIL revived the referee at the 20 minute mark. He then immediately hit Everything is EVIL and pinned SANADA.
There was another brief intermission before the main event.
New Japan Cup semifinal match: Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiromu Takahashi (27:00)
I expected a match of the year candidate. This was a match of the year candidate.
Okada broke cleanly after they locked up at the outset. Hiromu feigned doing the same before hitting a forearm strike and a flying headscissors. Okada locked on a head and arm choke but Hiromu forced a break.
They rolled outside where Okada hit a neckbreaker on the floor. Back inside, Okada hit a slingshot senton before covering for a one count. Hiromu came back with a lariat and a dropkick.
Okada rolled outside and Hiromu nailed him with a shotgun dropkick off the apron. Okada went flying through the security fence. Back inside, Hiromu hit a superkick and a falcon arrow for a near fall.
Okada hit a huge flapjack. He went for a top rope elbow but rolled through and landed on his feet. Hiromu hit a German. They traded strikes and Okada got the better of the exchange. Okada hit a Woo dropkick. He sat Hiromu on the top rope and hit another dropkick sending Hiromu crashing to the floor.
Okada whipped Hiromu into the barricade and then sent him over it with a big boot. Okada hit a draping DDT off the barricade. Okada hit a missile dropkick off the top for a two count. He hit a dropkick to the back before trying a standard dropkick and missing. Hiromu answered with a shotgun dropkick. This was an incredible sequence.
Hiromu sat Okada on the top rope and then sent him to the floor with a dropkick, a call back to the earlier spot where Okada did the same thing. Hiromu hit a sunset bomb off the apron. He followed up with a Dynamite Plunger for a near fall.
Hiromu went for Time Bomb. Okada blocked. Hiromu hit the ropes but ran right into an Okada dropkick. Okada hit a tombstone and locked in the cobra clutch. Hiromu grabbed Okada by the hair and hit a DVD into the buckle to break the hold.
Okada blocked Time Bomb. Okada hit a dropkick. Hiromu hit a lariat. Hiromu then hit a Rainmaker for a near fall. Hiromu hit Time Bomb but Okada kicked out at the last instant.
Hiromu ducked under a spinning Rainmaker and locked in a triangle. Okada broke it with a powerbomb. Hiromu used a cradle for a near fall and a wheelbarrow facebuster. Okada hit a dropkick but Hiromu no-sold it and hit a lariat.
Hiromu went for Time Bomb 2. Okada blocked and hit a spinning tombstone at the 25 minute mark. Okada went back to the cobra clutch. Hiromu slid out. Okada hit a Rainmaker and went back to the clutch. He gave up the hold and hit two more Rainmakers.
Okada then locked in the cobra clutch one final time. Hiromu passed out in the hold and the ref called for the stoppage finish.
Okada closed the show with a promo.