Show Date: 3/3/16
This is the first day of the 2016 New Japan Cup, the first major New Japan tournament of the year and a few matches on this card promise to rule.
Yujiro Takahashi (w/Cody Hall) vs. Toru Yano (New Japan Cup First Round)
This was a quick, nothing match with Yujiro attacking Yano before the bell and then gets outsmarted leading to the count out loss. At least it was short. Yano wins via Countout *
Michael Elgin vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (New Japan Cup First Round)
This was the real opener of the show, and oh boy did it deliver. Before this show Elgin announced that he had signed a contract with New Japan. We got lots of really cool, stiff exchanges between both men including some awesome power moves from Big Mike. An awesome match, with a great sense of escalation. Elgin pins Tenzan with an Elgin Bomb *** ¾
Tama Tonga vs. Togi Makabe (New Japan Cup First Round)
What a complete let down this was. I firmly believe that Tama deserves a big time singles push, but god damn do matches like this not help that cause. Some high energy from Tama to start, and then he slows right down for a completely boring heat segment. Makabe tried to bring some fire out of Tonga at times, but it didn’t come at all. Hopefully this was more about Makabe and not Tama because I still want to see him pushed. Tama pins Makabe ** ¾
Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomoaki Honma (New Japan Cup First Round)
What a fucking fight this was, somewhat must owe the other money because these dudes just beat the shit out of each other. We got some strong chops, a damn apron cutter, and Honma blocking the Cozy Lariat with his fucking head! What really helped make this match was the fact that every nearfall was believable because Honma can realistically lose to anyone. Match of the night so far, easily. Kojima pins Honma ****
KUSHIDA and Katsuyori Shibata vs. CHAOS (Kazushi Sakuraba and Kazuchika Okada w/Gedo)
Shibata also announced that he was signed with New Japan before this show. These guys all had some awesome little interactions with each other, including Shibata killing Sakuraba and teasing the potential of a match with Okada down the line. Very cool tag match to break up the show. Okada pins KUSHIDA with a Rainmaker *** ¼
After the match, Okada announces that there is a new member of CHAOS that will challenge for the IWGP Junior Championship and throws to a video of Will Ospreay. I am a big fan of Will and have high hopes for his run in this company.
Hirooki Goto vs. Yuji Nagata (New Japan Cup First Round)
Goto really needed to have a strong performance here after kind of sucking in his last title match. Luckily, Nagata was grumpy as fuck coming in and forced Goto to come up to his level. He just absolutely decimates Goto, who has to go for desperation school boys just to survive the beating old man Yuji was bringing to him. Goto pins Nagata *** ¼
Tetsuya Naito (w/BUSHI) vs. YOSHI-HASHI (New Japan Cup First Round)
This was another important match, this time for Tacos to show what he had and boy did he show some heart against Naito. Everything was really cleverly worked, as Naito matches normally are, with some super believable submissions from YOSHI. Another cool little match on this show. Naito pins YOSHI *** ½
EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan Cup First Round)
Ishii came out with the ROH TV title, and him being champion continues to be weird as fuck in the best way. These two men had an awesome knockdown, drag out fight. EVIL was in control for long sections, which worked really well thanks to Ishii’s elite selling. We also got some incredible nearfalls down the stretch with EVIL just refusing to stay down. Ishii pins EVIL ****
Bad Luck Fale (w/Tama Tonga) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan Cup First Round)
Tanahashi is one of the few guys that always has awesome little matches with Fale, he seems to really know how to play to his size. These guys told the perfect story of the giant Fale overpowering Tanahashi, who tried and failed to chop the big man down. Even the finish isn’t too shocking because Fale can believably beat or lose to anyone on the roster. Fale pins Tanahashi with a Bad Luck Fall *** ¼
A great show to open this tournament, we got two really good matches and only one match that I could argue was actively bad.