The first-round of the largest New Japan Cup is in the books and we're rolling into round two like a Jushin Liger koppu kick.
Welcome to Fightful's New Japan Cup Update
16 men remain in the New Japan Cup including pre-tournament favorites Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. If you missed anything from the first-round, here's what you need to drop everything and watch to what you should avoid like a Taichi karaoke session:
Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito - Two great wrestlers had a great match. Color me shocked. It's going to be tough for anyone to top this bout, but if someone can do it...it's probably Kota Ibushi in the second round. This is the one match you have to watch from the first round as it's a perfect pro wrestling bout.
Zack Sabre Jr vs. EVIL - I'm an admitted huge fan of Zack Sabre Jr because of his smooth transitions and superior technique. He and EVIL delivered another fantastic bout in the first-round. ZSJ continued to dominate the NJ Cup and EVIL still can't figure out how to get on Zack Sabre Time. The match was not quite on the level of Ibushi vs. Naito (nothing is) but it's a different style match and just a step below.
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii - Do you like guys beating the hell out of each other? Well do I have the match for you. Ishii and Nagata did what everyone expected Ishii and Nagata to do. They hit each other with everything they had until one man finally fell.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin - Okada is Okada. He has great chemistry with nearly everyone and Elgin has proven he can raise his game to Okada's level. The match takes awhile to get going but once it picks up, it doesn't slow down.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shota Umino - Credit to Tanahashi, who gave Umino way more than he needed to. This could have been an easy night off for Tanahashi and no one would have batted an eye. But he went 15-minutes with the Young Lion and gave him plenty of shine. They told a great story and while there was no real fear that Tanahashi was going to lose, he's fantastic at getting you to buy in to him possibly being on his last leg.
Juice Robinson vs. Chase Owens - The biggest upset in the first round with Owens pinning the IWGP US Champion. Both guys worked hard and really made the most of the opportunity. A tad long, but that was the theme of the first night.
Toa Henare vs. Lance Archer - Pull the trigger on Henare, you cowards.
Bad Luck Fale vs. Will Ospreay - Ospreay can make anyone look good. Fale works to his strengths and Ospreay is always going to bump around for bigger guys. The ref bump stuff hurt the match but it's to become expected in Bullet Club matches. At least we won't get it every night like the G1.
Minoru Suzuki vs. Satoshi Kojima - I simply can't hate on a Suzuki match in fear that he google searches himself, sees everything bad anyone says about him, and they are never heard from again. GOOD MATCH, MINORU!
SANADA vs. Hirooki Goto - Poor Goto. He was part of the Point To Your Fucking Chest segment to close the 47th Anniversary Event....and then he loses in the first-round to SANADA. I'm not saying it was the wrong call because it wasn't But they couldn't throw Goto a bone and at least have him advance to the Sweet 16? Match was good, especially the closing stretch.
Mikey Nicholls vs. HIKULEO - Too short to mean anything but both guys worked hard. HIKULEO tried to make up for a lost year and Nicholls wanted to make a strong first impression.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Ryusuke Taguchi - More average than bad but we're on a pass/fail grading system. Get that "C's get degrees" level of thinking out of here.
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Manabu Nakanishi - Giving YOSHI-HASHI 13 minutes is a terrible idea.
Taichi vs. Tomoaki Honma - And following that up with 18 minutes of Taichi is an even worse idea.
Toru Yano vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr - Typical Yano match with a lot of clunkiness but at least it was short.
Togi Makabe vs. Colt Cabana - Another match that was too short to be anything worthwhile and the work wasn't even that good.
Second Round Preview
Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Chase Owens
Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay
Mikey Nichols vs. Kazuchika Okada
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi
Toru Yano vs. Colt Cabana
Minoru Suzuki vs. SANADA
We already know Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre is going to be awesome. As I said in my preview, this tournament is set up for Ibushi to run the gauntlet, taking the hardest path to Madison Square Garden. He beat the IWGP IC Champion in the first-round and his reward is the 2018 New Japan Cup winner in the second round. Unless something goes horribly wrong, these two will steal the show in round two.
Keep an eye on Okada vs. Nicholls. Nicholls is the newest member of CHAOS and this is a big spot for him to prove himself. I would assume that they will get good amount of time and Nicholls could really shine as a singles competitor if allowed. And if you have a bad match with Okada, that's pretty much the end of you. I also like Suzuki vs. SANADA as a sleeper match. SHOULD BE A GOOD MATCH, MINORU!
Otherwise, I'm not in love with the second round. I have no interest in Taichi, YOSHI-HASHI or Taguchi. YOSHI vs. Owens could end up being really bad if it goes over 15 minutes. Cabana vs. Yano will be fun but could get old quickly if it goes too long. Ospreay vs. Archer should be fine as Ospreay will work hard and Archer is a perfectly acceptable wrestler. I could see an upset in Ospreay vs. Archer just to give Ospreay a quick NEVER Openweight challenger -- Okada isn't lowering himself to NEVER status if he beats Ospreay in the next round -- but robbing fans of Okada vs. Ospreay in the quarterfinals would be a bigger crime than giving YOSHI and Taichi a combined 30 minutes.
Fightful will have full results from every night of the New Japan Cup following the conclusion of each event.