New Japan Pro Wrestling
NEW JAPAN CUP 2019
Day 2 – 3/9/19
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on commentary.
First Round Match
LANCE ARCHER vs TOA HENARE
We get a face off to start and then Archer throws a boot right to Henare’s chest. I sometimes forget how big Archer is. But that doesnt matter as Henare gets Archer on his shoulders and drops him with a GREAT powerbomb out of the corner for 2, Archer heads outside and Henare then follows up with a cannonball off the apron and sends Archer over the barricade. Henare keeps on Archer at ringside, which all things considered is an impressive step up for Henare. Archer is rolled back in and Henare looks for a suplex, Archer blocks, Henare looks for a Samoan but Archer gets a counter on the apron and drops Henare with a boot.
Archer pulls the barricade closer to the ring, grabs Henare’s legs and swings him under the bottom rope and into the barricade hard, then whips him into the rail again. Suplex by Archer on the floor connects and the ref now begins the count as Archer rolls back in. Henare back in in time, but Archer levels him with a big lariat. Non-chalant cover by Archer but only 2, and the Archer intimidates the ref. Archer lines Henare up and measures him and then just runs right through him with a shoulder tackle for 2.
Mount by Archer and he just digs into Henare, then does the Taker Rope Walk one full rope length… then another full rope length!… before coming off the top to put down Henare again. Henare fires back, Archer keeps stunning Henare with stiff shots, but Henare answers back with a running lariat and both are down. Shots traded, Henare gets the best and looks for a Samoan again, Archer blocks but Henare gets it the next time and covers for 2. Henare crushes Archer in the corner and climbs to the top, looks for the shoulder tackle but Archer slugs him mid-flight.
Archer looks for a suplex but the crowd is taunting him and he gets distracted telling them to shut up, which allows Henare to get a suplex of his own for 2! Nice spot. Henare blocks a full nelson but eats a POUNCE, and Archer follows with a hammerlock-ripcord uranage (hm!) For 2. BIG chokeslam from Archer, covers but Henare is still alive at 2! Archer hoists Henare out of the corner but Henare counters Blackout, goes for a headbutt but eats a forearm, Henare fires back and looks for the uranage, Archer counters but eats the headbutt. Henare fires up but Archer’s lariat turns Henare INSIDE OUT! Blackout is attempted again, Archer lands it and covers for the 3 count and the WIN.
Lance Archer defeats Toa Henare by pinfall after Blackout to advance
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
This was a really good match to kick off the night’s tournament action. Henare is showing massive improvement every single time he gets in the ring, and it showed well here opposite a young but still VERY taveled and experienced performer in Archer. Henare is getting more and more dropped in and its really great to see, as I think he will be one of the better next-gen heavy hitters a la an Ishii or younger Makabe. Archer also came off looking strong here, still playing the nut-ball but in a more focused and sharp way that in some ways slowed him down a little more my taste, but he was still extremely present and hit his shots hard. I’m glad to see him advance here, not sure how long he will be in the tournament but its a reminder of why I like him and KES.
First Round Match
HIKULEO (w/ Jado) vs MIKEY NICHOLLS
VERY interested to see Mikey here going solo after such a history with TMDK/TM-61. He looks GREAT. They start fast with Hikuleo showing the power advantage. Mikey keeps coming and gets the arm, Hikuleo fights him off and absorbs some chops, they trade shots and Jado almost gets a shot in but it allows Hikuleo to hit a tackle and put Mikey outside. Hikuleo intimidates the ref as Jado gets shots in with the kendo stick. Hikuleo follows outside and drives Mikey hard into the ringpost. The ref counts and Mikey makes it in right at 19 as Hikuleo keeps the pressure on. Cover but only a 1 count.
Big chops traded again and Hikuleo lands a hard backbreaker, picks Mikey right back up and lands a nice sideslam for 2. Camel clutch by Hikuleo and he keeps Mikey grounded. Mikey fires back and looks for a suplex but Hikuleo gets Mikey over instead. Mikey gets a corner clothesline and another one, looks for a suplex again but still cant lift the HUGE Hikuleo, but takes him down instead with a nice step-forward lariat. Mikey looks for the Mikey Bomb, Hikuleo escapes but eats another lariat, Mikey right on him and finally gets the suplex! Covers but only 2.
Moonsault from Mikey misses, Hikuleo follows up and hits a running boot, big leg drop and a cover but only gets 2. Hikuleo looks for the Headliner, Mikey reverses but Hikuleo uses the ref to allow Jado to get a cane shot, looks for the Headliner but Mikey reverses it again and drops Hikuleo but the camera missed the move. They trade in the center again, Mikey gets a DVD and a sliding lariat, covers but only 2. Mikey Bomb connects, cover by Mikey and thats the 3 count and the WIN.
Mikey Nicholls defeats Hikuleo by pinfall after a Mikey Bomb
JAY’S RATING: 2.9 out of 5
That was another very good match but didnt quite make it to where the previous one did, for a couple of reasons I think. First, Hikuleo is SUPER promising, but still green. He’s shown great improvement coming back from the injury so clearly he’s kept working, but he’s still not quite grounded and it could be felt. Nicholls looks good, but also a bit generic. He’s clearly got the experience and knows how to work, but beyond him being labeled as “Mad”, I dont see what makes him stand out as a singles performer yet. I felt similarly with Jay White at the beginning, as they had him do to brutal KO thing that then evolved into the Champ we see today, and I can see the seeds of Mikey’s “madness” (in that he doesnt care about size, strength, anything, he’s coming at you!), but its not fully organic yet. I’m excited by the potential here more than the match itself, but I’ll take it.
First Round Match
BAD LUCK FALE (w/ Jado) vs WILL OSPREAY
The bell rings and Will fires off a shotgun dropkick right away, Fale shoves him off but Ospreay keeps coming. Fale uses his power advantage but Will rocks him and uses speed to stay ahead until Jado grabs his leg. Wlll evades a kendo stick shot but Fale is able to knock will to ringside where Jado keeps on him until the ref smells something fishy. Fale goes to ringside and drives Will into the ringpost, and whips Will into the barricade. The ref starts the count and Will beats it but Fale steps on him as he rolls back inside.
Fale keeps the pressure on Will who tries to fire back but Fale is just too big and strong, and ground Will to slow down the pace. Will keeps fighting up but Fale puts him into the corner hard and then stands on his back. Big slam by Fale is followed by a nerve hold, keeping the pace slow. Will is able to fire back with the handspring enziguri, Fale heads to the corner and Will lays in shots, hits a running Euro and follows it with a hesitation dropkick. Pip Pip Cheerio connects and Fale is down, cover but only 2.
Will with kicks to a kneeling Fale, Fale counters and looks for Grenade but Will gets a great head kick but then gets PLOWED through with a tackle. Fale crushes Will in the corner and follows with the big splash for 2. Grenade called for again, Will flips out and hits an enziguri, looks for the Os-Cutter but Fale pulls the ref in the path and the ref gets wiped out by Will. Another Os-Cutter attempt but Jado gets a cane shot in as Will hit the ropes, and Fale takes advantage as Jado gets in the ring with the kendo stick. Will counters, catches Jado and gets a shot in of his own, and then wails on Fale with the cane!
Robinson Special by Will connects, and he calls for the Os-Cutter again, but Fale catches and drills Will with a GREAT big-man spear and then hits Grenade! Fale covers, but Will kicks out at 2! Bad Luck Fall is set up but Will gets a rana to take Fale over and is able to steal the 3 count and the WIN from the big man to advance!
Will Ospreay defeats Bad Luck Fale by pinfall after a Hurricanrana pin to advance
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
This was an enjoyable match that played the size story well. Fale has been growing on me lately, showing some new focus as he gains ever more experience, and that spear was awesome. Will going over here was a great upset decision, and suggests that someone somewhere at NJPW sees the future heavyweight potential of Will, which I’m glad to see. Love him going over here for that reason, getting to the 2nd round at minimum. Will is becoming a better and better in-ring storyteller, and I think his potential is, to be frank, limitless. Fale played the foil to such a performer well here. Good work all around.
First Round Match
MICHAEL ELGIN vs KAZUCHIKA OKADA
We get the bell and a slow start to the match. Elgin shows the power advantage to begin. Okada tries to go behind but they break in the ropes, but Elgin follows with a forearm shot to rock Okada. Nice tense sell from Okada. They meet with a tackle and neither move. Second tackle, Elgin gets rocked, they run the ropes and Elgin hoists Okada who gets out of it, they trade some evasions and Elgin floors Okada with a back elbow, then lands a great snap suplex for 1. Big chops from Elgin, Okada catches him with an elbow but Elgin follows with a diving dropkick that sends Okada to ringside, looks to dive but Okada moves, but Elgin is able to counter Okada into a Russian legsweep into the apron.
Elgin puts Okada back inside and works over the shoulder. Neckbreaker by Elgin, cover but only 2. Slam by Elgin, he looks for a splash over the top rope but Okada counters and gets a rollup for 2, snapmares Elgin and gets the running single-leg dropkick. Neckbreaker by Okada, cover but only 1. Okada works over Elgin in the corner, Elgin fires back and Okada asks for more, which Elgin delivers. Tope atomico by Okada connects, late cover by Okada gets 2. Okada grounds Elgin, Elgin hoists Okada and puts him into the corner, Okada comes back but Elgin just THROWS him overhead, eats a boot but follows with a nice powerslam off the ropes to Okada.
Elgin in control, takes Okada over with a nice belly to belly, Okada gets behind but Elgin turns it into a bridging Northern Lights for 2. Corner lariats to Okada by Elgin, he looks for a suplex but Okada gets behind, they trade holds and Elgin gets a rollup for 2. They run the ropes and Okada gets Elgin down with an elbow. Running corner elbow and DDT combo connects, cover by Okada but only 2. Okada chants. The flying elbow by Okada sort of connects but Elgin sort of catches his momentum and turns Okada over for a Crossface, but Okada is able to get the ropes for the break.
Elgin looks for a powerbomb, Okada counters so Elgin hits short lariats from front and back, hits the ropes but Okada gets a flapjack on the return. Glancing boot by Okada, chop by Elgin and Okada collapses. Elgin with another hard chop, and another one drops Okada stiff. Bomb attempt by Elgin again, Okada blocks again and gets the Air Raid Neckbreaker, covers but only 2. Slam by Okada who climbs and hits the diving elbow and calls for Rainmaker. Elgin fights out of it, Okada keeps the wrist but Elgin gets an enziguri, a German suplex combo and a release dragon suplex, then a Tiger Bomb and covers but only gets 2.
Elgin looks for the bomb aand gets Okada out but Okada fights back again, looks for the dropkick with Elgin on the top but Elgin counters, and floors Okada with a great series of kicks. Elgin sits Okada up top, looks for a top rope superplex, Okada fights out and goes for a Sunset Bomb, Elgin holds on so Okada gets a dropkick to the back and a buckle bomb, then follows with an Elgin Bomb and covers, but only gets 2! Okada looks for Rainmaker but Elgin hits a big lariat and they both go down, but Elgin keep wrist control!
Elgin looks for Burning Hammer, Okada lands on his feet but Elgin looks for the Crossface, Okada with a rollup for 2, Elgin evades Okada but then eats a jumping dropkick. Rainmaker attempt by Okada is reversed into a folding bomb by Elgin for 2, but Elgin flips Okada over and immediately applies the Crossface. Okada chants. Elgin wrenches back hard but Okada makes it to the ropes. Buckle Bomb connects but Okada counters the Elgin Bomb, they evade big moves and Elgin looks for a German, Okada fights out but eats a GREAT backfist! Elgin takes the elbow pad off, looks for the lariat but Okada gets the tombstone piledriver and finally connects with Rainmaker, cover by Okada and thats the 3 count and the WIN!
Kazuchika Okada defeats Michael Elgin by pinfall after the Rainmaker to advance
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a very good main event, just like Day 1, which is an exciting foot to start on overall. Elgin looked GREAT here, and I’m sorry he took the loss as I think he’s one of the most incredible workers anytime he walks into an arena ANYWHERE, and is so grounded in his POV while still always finding some way to surprise me with how he uses his talents. But I also understand Okada going over here, as his prominent story is definitely one of the threads I am watching closely in this tournament. But outside of all of that this was also just a really really great match between two really really great performers, and both pulled out a lot of great stuff for this one. Great way to end Day 2.
After the match, Okada offers the hand, and Elgin hesitates but when the crowd chants for it he finally concedes and shakes the hand.
This was a strong 2nd day of action, with really solid work across all 4 matches in one way or the other. Liking seeing how Hikuleo is developing, Archer/Henare was fun, I’m needing some more from Mikey Nicholls, Okada going over makes sense and Ospreay showed again why he’s one of the future of this industry. I’m also actually really digging the 32-person model, simply from the perspective of there still being an energy underneath these early tournament matches but I get to see a much more drawn out whittling down, with tension ratcheting up each step of the way but extra slowly, which is how I like my dramatic builds. Very excited for Day 3.