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TastefulChain4

TastefulChain4's New Japan Cup 2019 Review

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I have already done this for Best Of The Super Juniors and G1 Climax last year so I thought since this will be my first ever New Japan Cup, why not bring the reviews back? I will try to stay updated as much as I can and I will most likely post my reviews in the weekends.

Day One: Round 1:

Manabu Nakanishi (NJPW) vs Yoshi-Hashi (Chaos): Awesome performance by Manabu Nakanishi in this match, I was genuinely terrified whenever he would attempt a high flying move (especially the top rope crossbody). Also great technical work by Yoshi-Hashi at the beginning of the match when he was working on Nakanishi's legs, but I was very surprised over Yoshi-Hashi's tap out win with the Butterfly Lock. At least he established himself in this year's tournament with a tough submission win.

Tomoaki Honma (NJPW) vs Taichi (Suzuki-Gun): I was surprised to see the match go fifteen minutes, while I expected Taichi to win, I certainly did not expect him to win the way he did in the previously mentioned match length. I have to say that the Dragon Sleeper Chickenwing (what I think it is) from Taichi looked vicious and it impresses me that he adds yet another finisher to his arsenal. I will also give Honma his deserved credit, throughout the match, I noticed that he is not necessarily the most comfortable around the ring (probably because of his injury) but I respect his traditional fighting spirit which means a lot in New Japan Pro Wrestling and it is another thing that I love about NJPW.

Juice Robinson (NJPW - IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion) vs Chase Owens (Bullet Club): I did not expect that result at all. As a big fan of Bullet Club I would've just made a wild prediction that Owens would've won the match because he is in Bullet Club even though realistically Juice Robinson would've won, but as Kevin Kelly said, we have the first upset of the tournament. As for the match itself, it generally wasn't anything special. I was more impressed with Owens' environmental destruction (most notably the sudden Russian Leg Sweep into the barricade) and know he will get to fish it out again to his Round 2 opponent. 🤘

Yuji Nagata (NJPW) vs Tomohiro Ishii (Chaos): This is what I call Strong Style and it was shown in the form of a war. The foundation of wrestlers like Nagata and Ishii lies within a combination of their striking abilities and their fighting spirit and when you put two of these wrestlers together it produces a truly hard-hitting war (if also given the time). I have to say that I was impressed with Nagata in this match because it seems like he can still go, while I like to see new blood in tournaments, he could've still been a part of G1 Climax judging by his performance in this match.

Day One presents itself as a solid start to this year's New Japan Cup, I was surprised to see that non of the Top Four of NJPW were main eventing the first night of the tournament (except for Jay White due to obvious reasons). And again, Chase Owens' win was a surprise for me even though I pegged him as a prediction to win (by heart). Finally, I was also surprised (theme of the evening) to see Mikey Nicholls (formerly known as Nick Miller in NXT) not only picked up by NJPW but also immediately placed in Chaos. Another faction addition which I cannot ignore is the potential arrival of El Phantasmo to New Japan and Bullet Club. I am excited to see how Nicholls will adjust to this opposite (to WWE) setting and see Phantasmo soon.

Match Of The Night: Yuji Nagata vs Tomohiro Ishii

Predictions: Yoshi-Hashi, Taichi, Chase Owens, Tomohiro Ishii

Predictions Score: 4/4

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Day Three: Round 1:

Hiroyoshi Tenzan (NJPW) vs Ryusuke Taguchi (Taguchi Japan - NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champion😞 Honestly, I thought the match was sluggish for the most part other than the bait by Taguchi to start the match, but once Taguchi got rolling the match starting picking up pace and so I started getting more into it. And of course, I'm not going to pretend as if Taguchi's won was not shocking at all and honestly (again 😂) he deserved it for the performance put into this match.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW) vs Shota Umino (New Japan Dojo): I can't say that I didn't expect it to be an easy win for The Ace, but I was looking out for how Shota Umino would deal with facing an eight time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and one of the "Big Four". For most of the match, Umino was being dominated however my two favourite parts of Umino's performance were when he showed his fighting spirit through some serious strikes to Tanahashi which is what I like when they train these Young Lions. And the very close pinfall, for a seriously short moment I thought a Young Lion had beat The Ace of New Japan. Overall, pretty good performance by Umino judging by the fact that he was facing one of the top wrestlers in the world.

Evil (Los Ingobernables de Japon) vs Zack Sabre Jr (Suzuki-Gun): New Japan did a great job hyping up this match as one of the biggest matches of Round 1. As usual, I was impressed with Sabre's technical "wizardry", but I was even more impressed with Evil's counters to Sabre's leverage pins, it reminded me of Sabre vs Sanada from last year's G1 Climax which was one of my favourite matches of the tournament.

Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon - IWGP Intercontinental Champion) vs Kota Ibushi (NJPW): What a match, and more specifically (my favourite spot), WHAT A TOMBSTONE! Just like the previous match between Evil and Sabre, this match succeeded in delivering the big fight for the big fight feel coming into the match. My prediction to win the whole tournament is Kota Ibushi and honestly, this was a very tough first round draw for him but I knew he could overcome it and hopefully overcome Zack Sabre Jr in the next round.

Unfortunately, I cannot watch Day Two however I did catch up to the results. Kazuchika Okada and Lance Archer's victories were expected (from me) although it seems like I missed a great match between Okada and Michael Elgin. I was also disappointed to see both Bad Luck Fale and Hikuleo get eliminated in the first round. Hikuleo's elimination was a bit justified as I'm sure NJPW want an initial big win to build Mikey Nicholls off of but I was expecting Fale to make it the farthest, I guess now we are relying on Chase Owens to bring the New Japan Cup to Bullet Club 😂. Also, much like everyone, I was very surprised to see Naito vs Ibushi for the first round. I had it as a Semi-Final or a Final but it might have been unnecessary for a first round match as there were other signature matches that were built off of recent rivalries such as Nagata vs Ishii and Evil vs Sabre, but I can't complain too much as my (realistic) pick Ibushi got the win.

Match Of The Night: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi 

Predictions: Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Zack Sabre Jr, Kota Ibushi

Predictions Score: 3/4

Total: 7/8

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Day Four: Round 1:

Toru Yano (Chaos - NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champion) vs Davey Boy Smith Jr (Suzuki-Gun): The start to the match was hilarious, with Yano clumsily running around the arena and Smith chasing him like some kind of pro runner 😂. As for the match itself, it was a typical Yano match although I noticed the attention to details in terms of Yano's reaction to this opponent which was fear and he played it well as a character and to victory.

Togi Makabe (NJPW - NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champion) vs Colt Cabana (ROH): Coming into this match, I was hoping that Makabe could bring out the seriousness in Cabana as I have never seen a Colt Cabana match before Honor Rising last month and I did not expect him to be like an American Toru Yano but I was impressed with how he kept up with Makabe and surprised at the victory (I though he was just filling a spot as he is the only non-NJPW wrestler in the tournament). Now, we are going to get the biggest "frenemies" match of 2019 so far 😂 between Cabana and his "long-time" nemesis & best friend Toru Yano in the second round.

Satoshi Kojima (NJPW) vs Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-Gun): I enjoyed hearing about the history between Kojima and Suzuki because my NJPW knowledge is a bit fuzzy if it's anything that's not Bullet Club or Chaos that is before 2014. As for the match itself, it reminded me that you cannot sleep on Suzuki because he always manages to do something that creates shockwaves during the match such as his signature strikes and the headshot with the chair outside the ring. I'm now just looking forward to Suzuki running through the competition.

Hirooki Goto (Chaos) vs Sanada (Los Ingobernables de Japon): This was a pretty good match however I wish they were given more time as I think this could've been the match of the tournament. As for the winner, I did not mind it as I think whoever wins here has a great chance at getting far in the New Japan Cup. Personally, I thought Goto was winning since he was one of the four that NJPW have been showing to win the tournament (the others are Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, & Kota Ibushi) but then Sanada was the only representative of LIJ left in the tournament so I guess it was between making Goto look more dominant or keep LIJ in the run for the cup.

Now that the first round is in the books, unfortunately, I couldn't find any stand out matches (in my opinion, also not taking Day Two into account) but I think that Goto vs Sanada easily had the potential to be the match to beat. I'm looking forward to see how Okada vs Mikey Nicholls pans out as well as Yano vs Cabana, and of course I'll be rooting for Chase Owens against Yoshi-Hashi while I'll also look forward to my realistic pick in Ibushi perhaps defeating the reigning New Japan Cup champion, Zack Sabre Jr.

Match Of The Night: Hirooki Goto vs Sanada

Predictions: Toru Yano, Togi Makabe, Minoru Suzuki, Hirooki Goto

Predictions Score: 2/4

Total: 9/12 

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Day Five: Round 2:

Yoshi-Hashi (Chaos) vs Chase Owens (Bullet Club): So Bullet Club is out of the New Japan Cup...but congratulations to Yoshi-Hashi. We have been waiting for Yoshi-Hashi to break out for a while now but more specifically over the past two years and now it seems like New Japan Cup 2019 will be his breakout event. As for the match, it was ok, I was more impressed with Owens as he brought out a couple of new moves such as the Tree Of Woe Stomp and the Sharpshooter but this was a match that could easily have gone either way in my opinion.

Tomohiro Ishii (Chaos) vs Taichi (Suzuki-Gun): Before anything else, a wrestler should never no sell a PILEDRIVER! (I'm looking at Taichi). Now onto the match, I thought this match was definitely the match of the tournament so far and this is what I like about NJPW, the fact that they give the wrestlers time to turn a match into a war which is what Ishii and Taichi did. Also, I think this was Taichi's best match in his one year as a Heavyweight. From the beginning where he used his knowledge of wrestling psychology to his advantage all the way to the last ten minutes where he flipped the switch and almost beat Ishii. I knew that Taichi had the potential to be a champion but for the first time I saw it during this match. Also, when I mean champion, I mean to be given a proper title reign rather than being a transitional champion.

While I'm disappointed that Bullet Club is out of this year's New Japan Cup already (I expected Chase Owens to at least get past Yoshi-Hashi), I'm interested to see where Yoshi-Hashi is headed in the tournament (or he could just get squashed by Ishii in the next round). If Ishii vs Taichi is a sign of the matches to come in the second round of the tournament then I cannot wait to see them.

Match Of The Night: Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi

Predictions: Chase Owens, Tomohiro Ishii

Predictions Score: 1/2

Total: 10/14

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Day Six: Round 2:

Will Ospreay (Chaos - NEVER Openweight Champion) vs Lance Archer (Suzuki-Gun): This match was really good and in my opinion a good representation of blending a high-flyer and a powerhouse in 2019. It still had the traditional "dominating monster" pace for the most part however some of the reversals done by Ospreay and Archer against each other's moves were creative but not anything too ridiculous. Nowadays, wrestling has become a sport of hybrids for the most part with giants performing Suicide Dives like it's nothing and high-flyers lifting Heavyweights like they are Super Cena, but I think that this match was put together very well and it made both of them look good going forward.

Kazuchika Okada (Chaos) vs Mikey Nicholls (Chaos): I don't know about everyone but it was pretty clear to me that Okada was winning this one, I was more interested to see how Nicholls was going to do in this match considering he is coming out of a tag team from a different company. Unfortunately, his former partner Shane Thorne has not been treated too well especially after being slapped with the nickname "The Worst" (why?), so I was hoping at least Nicholls would make more out of this fresh start and I have to say that he held up very well. The way he carries himself to me is what Nick Aldis' would've been in WWE's Ruthless Aggression Era and if he continues in this path then I could see him as a champion in no more than two years which is a pretty big deal in Chaos considering Okada & Tomohiro Ishii are the main-eventers, Hirooki Goto & Ospreay (who's transitioning to Heavyweight) are the mid-carders, and Yoshi-Hashi is pretty much the Heavyweight fall guy.

In case it has not been noticed, Chaos is fully occupying the Quarter-Finals with one half of the field being consisted of the same faction members. I am looking forward to Okada vs Ospreay II after they had their first match a little over a year ago at the Anniversary Event, NJPW logic would say that Ospreay is winning this one to get back the loss thus making the record 1-1, however if out of the four members of Chaos that I see advancing to the finals, I think Okada has the best chance. Now onto Bullet Club (the fanboy that I am 😂), I am glad they are still building Chase Owens especially over the win he got over Juice Robinson in the first round which is pretty much leading to Robinson vs Owens at G1 Supercard, looking at Bullet Club's Heavyweight members (excluding the champions), it leaves Owens, Bad Luck Fale, & Hikuleo in the mid-card scene and at this point Fale is just a veteran cornerstone of the faction, and Hikuleo is still too new for a title, so it makes sense to build Owens as the top mid-carder of the faction.

Match Of The Night: Will Ospreay vs Lance Archer

Predictions: Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada 

Predictions Score: 2/2

Total: 12/16

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Day Seven: Round 2:

Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW) vs Ryusuke Taguchi (Taguchi Japan - NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champion): Honestly, I expected more from this match. For some reason, two high-paced fan favourites were wrestling a match between two technical heels that like to get the upper hand on one another by any means necessary and showboat every chance they get. Tanahashi advances which was quite expected but I have to say that this was the weakest match of Round 2 so far (in my opinion). At least they fist bumped at the end.

Kota Ibushi (NJPW) vs Zack Sabre Jr (Suzuki-Gun): And Ibushi's out as well 🤦‍♂️. Like someone said in the YouTube comments section: "Forget March Madness, New Japan is out here breaking everyone's brackets." As for the match itself, it was a lot better than Tanahashi vs Taguchi due to the natural chemistry between Ibushi and Sabre but I wish they had more time to throw in more moves and maybe let Sabre do some more striking as I could kind of tell that 70% of the moves used in the match were submission reversals to Kota Ibushi's big moves.

So now that Bullet Club and my pick (Ibushi) are out of the tournament, I need a new pick and as much as I don't want to say it, the New Japan Cup will probably end up going to Tanahashi or Kazuchika Okada (I'm leaning more towards Okada). I would've been angrier at Ibushi losing if I haven't seen a YouTube comment reminding me that Ibushi pinned the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito which will probably be the Intercontinental Title match at G1 Supercard.

Match Of The Night: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr 

Predictions: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi

Predictions Score: 1/2

Total: 13/18

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Day Eight: Round 2:

Toru Yano (Chaos - NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champion) vs Colt Cabana (ROH): This was the greatest conclusion to the greatest rivalry of all time 😂 😂 😂. Seriously, this match was actually a bit better than what I initially expected, I knew that it was going to be full of funny spots but I like how Cabana has been portrayed as Yano's "kryptonite" by somehow neutralizing every Yano trick in the book. But the surprise element was Cabana's win (also with the Superman leverage pin), I honestly did not think he was getting past the first round and now he has beaten two-thirds of the Six-Man Tag Team Champions.

Sanada (Los Ingobernables de Japon) vs Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-Gun): In my opinion, this match wasn't a Match Of The Year candidate (pretty critical opinion) but I enjoyed it due to how competitive it was. From what I've noticed over the last year or so, most NJPW matches work the best when given time even if they are not Okada/Omega quality & style. This match is the most recent example, even though there wasn't anything new or flashy in this match, the back & forth and being given the time for both wrestlers to play with submission moves (to increase drama) and throw all of their best moves into the mix made this match one of the best in the tournament. Also, I'm pretty sure I saw Sanada tap out like five times in this match 😂.

Now that the second round is done, we're looking towards the Quarter-Finals with Chaos literally occupying half of the spots, Hiroshi Tanahashi's quest to get his ninth IWGP Heavyweight Title having to go through Suzuki-Gun's remaining member in the tournament: Zack Sabre Jr, and Colt Cabana's surprising rampage through NJPW's roster which could add LIJ's remaining member in the tournament: Sanada. I'm just gonna say it, New Japan's easiest & most obvious booking choice is have Kazuchika Okada run through Chaos, Tanahashi win his side of the bracket, and have them face each other for the first time since they formed their alliance to have a shot at taking the crown from the one who took everything from them. Another alternative is have Zack Sabre Jr win the tournament for the second time in a row thus re-establishing him as a main-eventer (this time permanently), or play the wild-card and have Sanada win the tournament and ignite the rivalry between LIJ and Bullet Club at Madison Square Garden with Tetsuya Naito eventually taking the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Jay White.

Match Of The Night: Sanada vs Minoru Suzuki

Predictions: Toru Yano, Sanada

Predictions Score: 1/2

Total: 14/20

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Day Nine: Quarter-Finals:

Tomohiro Ishii (Chaos) vs Yoshi-Hashi (Chaos): This is the Yoshi-Hashi that we need, full of intensity which is what his move-set is built for. The way the Yoshi-Hashi character is built is very similar to Kazuchika Okada (minus the manager at the start), high impact moves and unexpected occasional explosive speed. As for the match, I could see that Ishii was taking it a bit lightly with his Chaos stable-mate at the beginning of the match (but the strikes still looked quite painful), however after unleashing Yoshi-Hashi's "beast mode", he managed to get rolling, bring out the best in his opponent, and end it with the Brainbuster. Not a special match but it made Yoshi-Hashi look really good and Ishii managed to get the job done.

Kazuchika Okada (Chaos) vs Will Ospreay (Chaos - NEVER Openweight Champion): For the record, they faced each other twice before, first time in RevPro and then first time in NJPW at last year's Anniversary Event (I mention this because I wasn't fully aware of their RevPro encounter). This match was technically beautiful when it happened last year and was one of my favourite NJPW matches of 2018 so I had the highest expectations from this one out of all the matches that took place so far. I would say it delivered within the time they were given, especially with the ending sequence and the multiple OsCutter reversals but we could've had a Match Of The Year candidate if they were given more time and I can say that for sure.

So far, so good in the third round of the tournament and now that Ospreay is free at G1 Supercard, it will be interesting to see who challenges him because even though Okada beat him, faction teammates typically don't challenge each other for titles. Perhaps Bad Luck Fale due to the fact that Bullet Club are pretty much taking over New York during WrestleMania Week with Chase Owens challenging Juice Robinson, Guerrilas Of Destiny fighting The Briscoes in an inter-company, double title match, and of course the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White waiting in the main event to defend his title against the winner of the New Japan Cup.

Match Of The Night: Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay

Predictions: Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada 

Predictions Score: 2/2

Total: 16/22

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Day Ten: Quarter-Finals:

Colt Cabana (ROH) vs Sanada (Los Ingobernables de Japon): Great performance by Colt Cabana in this match as he surprised me with his ability to not only keep up but take control of the match using technical wrestling (for the record, I haven't watched any Colt Cabana matches before Honor Rising this year). This match was pretty good, if I were to choose a favourite part it would be the first five minutes where Cabana and Sanada traded wrist locks, head locks, and other holds to gain control. But I was impressed with Cabana in the tournament and like Kevin Kelly said, I wouldn't mind seeing him in the G1 Climax this year.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW) vs Zack Sabre Jr (Suzuki-Gun): You could tell that Tanahashi is not necessarily the type of wrestler to get technical but I could tell that he trained for this match as he managed to survive Sabre's technical onslaught. Honestly, ever since Zack Sabre Jr lost to Evil at the New Beginning In Sapporo/Osaka (forgot which one), he hasn't seemed like himself including his mannerisms, his slightly new look, and his matches; but he looked awesome in this match and reminded me why he is called the Technical Wizard.

Now that the quarter-finals are over, things are going pretty much as I expected. The Semi-Final matches are now set with Sanada vs Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada vs Tomohiro Ishii and it's becoming pretty clear that the Finals will be Okada vs Tanahashi. I understand that NJPW want to compete with WrestleMania by putting two of their Big Four in the main event of Madison Square Garden, however I always looked at G1 Climax as the "Battle Of The Titans" with the winner usually being one of the Big Four and the New Japan Cup as being a chance to build a main-event player like they did with Sabre last year, Katsoyuri Shibata in 2017, and others. In my opinion, Sanada or Tomohiro Ishii should get the chance to put on a great main event at G1 Supercard, but I see New Japan attempting to put the "Mega-Powers" against each other and then one of them fight Jay White for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to compete against WrestleMania's Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins or Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch.

Match Of The Night: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr

Predictions: Sanada, Hiroshi Tanahashi 

Predictions Score: 2/2

Total: 18/24

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Day Eleven: Semi-Finals:

Kazuchika Okada (Chaos) vs Tomohiro Ishii (Chaos): I see that this match was about trying new things, Okada (for some reason in this specific match 😂) decided to strike with Ishii while I was impressed at Ishii pulling out a beautiful Armbar. There was nothing overly special about the match other than the big fight feel that it possessed but I could tell that Okada turned up the heat which was cool to see.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW) vs Sanada (Los Ingobernables de Japon): I was shocked as I thought this would be the most predictable face vs face storyline played out in a tournament. I remember mentioning how NJPW should treat this tournament more like the New Japan Cup and not the G1 Climax and now I am fully behind Sanada to win the whole thing. As for the match, it was more technical (as the commentary team mentioned), it was easy to tell that Sanada was the quicker one (as the commentary team mentioned), and Tanahashi still did not (or could not) execute the High Fly Flow (as the commentary team mentioned 😂). As you can tell, there's nothing really for me to say on this match.

So the Finals are set: Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada and as I've already said, Sanada must win and I am picking him to win in order to keep the New Japan Cup's recent history the way it is and the way it should be. This is now Sanada's time to get revenge for his loss against Okada last year in one of Okada's last IWGP Heavyweight Championship defenses.

Match Of The Night: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Sanada

Predictions: Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi 

Predictions Score: 1/2

Total: 19/26

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