New Japan Cup Semi-Finals 3/23

The penultimate night of The New Japan Cup is upon us. Both Semi-Final Matches take place tonight, in what surely will also set the stage for tomorrow’s finals.

Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima, & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b. Michael Elgin, Colt Cabana, Yoga Tsuji, & Yuya Uemera when Nagata submitted Tsuji with the Nagata Lock II – Uemera tried to Irish whip Nakanishi, and didn’t fare well. Tsuji assisted and tried a Suplex, which Nakanishi reversed on both. Tenzan tagged in, and he and Kojima worked over Uemera. Kojima hit the Machine Gun Chops, and FINALLY managed to land the elbow drop. The pin got broken and Elgin tagged in. He hit his own version of Machine Gun Chops. Tenzan and Cabana then went at it before Nagata finally got the tag. Tsuji tagged in and ran wild. He even managed to Slam Nakanishi and put Nagata in a Boston Crab. In the ensuing multiman brawl, Nagata put Tsuji in the Nagata lock II, and got the submission

BUSHI & Shingo Takagi of Los Ingobermables De Japon b. Shota Umino & Ren Narita when Takagi pinned Narita with a Noshigami – This was of course an expected win for the experienced team, but it really helped showcase how good the Young Lions have become. Takagi still didn’t Umino on the floor and hit a powerslam on Narita for a two count. BUSHI put Narita in a Boston crab, which Narita broke with the rope escape. Umino got the hot tag and ran wild for a bit, got cut off, and got double teamed again. Narita tagged back in, ducked a Pumping Bomber, and hit an elbow. The heels rebounded with a double team on Narita, which got reversed into a small package. Takagi responded with a Pumping Hammer and Noshigami for the pin.

Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Lance Archer) b. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, & Toa Henare when Archer pinned Henare with Blackout – Of course, the heels again attacked before the bell. Henare and Smith were left in the ring while everybody else fought in the floor. Archer disposed of Yano and joined his KES partner in working over Henare. Finally, Suzuki joined to continue the torment of Henare. Makabe eventually got the hot tag and ran wild for a bit. He and Suzuki traded forearms. Yano got the tag, and immediately removed the turnbuckle pad. Suzuki tagged in Archer, who Yano hilariously tried to beat in self defeating ways. A reverse atomic drop didn’t work because Archer was too tall. Henare tagged in and the next multiman brawl broke out. Henare battled out of a Killer Bomb, and hit a brainbuster for a two count. Archer rebounded with a Blackout for the win

After the match, Archer challenged Rocky Romero to a Cage match. Suzuki and Smith attacked Uemera at ringside. Then all the heels left in good spirits, since they were such dicks to everybody

Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (w/Taka Michinoku) of Suzuki-Gun b. NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay & Ryusuke Taguchi when Sabre submitted Taguchi – I’m not sure why Ospreay, a member of CHAOS, would be teaming with Taguchi, when all four men are eliminated from the tournament. Anyway, Taichi tried to lure Ospreay into an attack by Sabre, which Ospreay fended off. Taguchi tried to direct Ospreay using baseball play motions, which Ospreay couldn’t understand. This comically lead to the heels getting the jump on Taguchi, and working him over. Ospreay got the tag and ran wild briefly on Taichi, but then the two battled to a double down. Double tag out to Sabre and Taguchi, which went well for Taguchi until he tried for the Dodon. Sabre reversed that into an Ankle Lock, and got Taguchi to tap out

After the match, Sabre refused to let go of the hold. Ospreay tried to get Sabre off Taguchi, but got put in a submission by Taichi. Not to be left out of the fun, Taka took a Young Lion and put him in a submission as well. Because heels do that stuff.

Backstage, Ospreay laid the challenge down that if he beats Jeff Cobb at MSG, he wants Taichi on the next tour. If they are going to do an Ospreay/Sabre match, that’s OK. But considering both men have a similar style of being a smaller guy that works well against bigger opponents, I’m not sure facing each other is the best option for either. But from an in-ring standpoint, I’m sure it’ll be fine

IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito & EVIL of Los Ingobernables De Japon b. Kota Ibushi & Tomoaki Honma when EVIL submitted Honma with a Sasori-Gatame – Ibushi and Naito briefly locked up to start, but Naito simply spat at Ibushi and tagged out to Evil. Honma tagged in and took it to Evil, even hitting a Kokeshi. Naito tripped Honma from the outside, which lead to Honma getting worked over. After another Kokeshi, Honma tagged Ibushi back in. Naito and Ibushi went back and forth until Evil and Honma got the double tag. Honma hit his third Kokeshi (3 for 3!) but missed his fourth from the ropes. Evil turned this around to hit Darkness Falls. Evil signaled for Everything Is Evil, which Ibushi blocked. Naito ran in and hit a Destino on Ibushi. This effectively took Ibushi out of the match, leaving the two heels to finish off Honma. Evil got the submission with the Sasori-Gatame

IWGP US Champion Juice Robinson & CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, & Mikey Nicholls) b. Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Hikuleo, & Chase Owens w/Gedo & Jado) when Goto pinned Hikuleo with a GTR – This time, the babyfaces attacked before the bell. Juice and Owens were in the ring, which quickly ended with Owens tagging in White, who called for Hashi. When Juice obliged and tagged in Hashi, Owens cheapshotted Juice to the floor, and ran off. Back in the ring, CHAOS rallied and worked over White until Jado attacked with the Shinai on the floor. Hashi barely made the count into the ring, and found himself at the mercy of the heels. Nicholls eventually got the hot tag and delivered an impressive spinebuster on White, who managed to tag in Hikuleo. Nicholls took a pounding, then managed to tag out to Goto. Goto shone for a bit before the heels got the numbers advantage. Juice broke up a pin, and went after Owens. Goto used that opportunity to hit a GTR on Hikuleo and got the pin.

After the match, Fale attacked Nicholls and Juice from behind, laying them both out. Owens taunted Juice with the title, as White also proclaimed Owens will be taking the title tomorrow.

Backstage, Owens gave the title to Narita to give back to Juice. When he did Juice cut a promo that those six minutes will be the only time he has that belt.

Kazuchika Okada p. Tomohiro Ishii with a Rainmaker – There is no way I am going to do this match justice,. This was an AMAZING match! The two CHAOS teammates locked up, but in an interesting twist, Okada did not do the clean break. This lead to the two trading shoulderblocks, with Okada coming out on top. After Okada taunted Ishii with kicks, which sparked Ishii to spring to his feet and lay in strikes and chops. Okada responded with a DDT, and hit a plancha to the floor. This put the momentum back in Okada’s favor. As Okada laid strikes into Ishii in the corner, Ishii began to stand back up and no-sell the strikes. He then returned the favor and delivered several shots to Okada. The two went back and forth, escaping and reversing each other’s moves, until Okada landed a neckbreaker. When Okada landed an elbow, he signaled for the Rainmaker. Ishii shot up to fend him off, but Okada still landed a kick. A shotgun dropkick got a two count for Okada. Ishii responded with a powerbomb for his own two count. A sliding lariat got blocked with an Okada dropkick. The two battled for control of a tombstone piledriver, which Okada won. Ishii then blocked a Rainmaker with a headbutt at the 15 minute mark. A huge superplex by Ishii, but Okada kicked out. Okada also kicked out of the sliding lariat. Ishii tried a brainbuster, but Okada blocked it and hit another dropkick. Okada then used a backslide as a setup to a Rainmaker, and kept the wrist locked. Ishii no-sold a second Raiinmaker and hit a German Suplex. Ishii reversed another Rainmaker attempt into an armbreaker, but Okada used his height advantage to make the rope break. Ishii no-sold a third Okada Dropkick, but that got followed up with another Shotgun Dropkick. Ishii landed another lariat, but Okada kicked out at one. Another lariat got a two count. They’ve legit surprised at least twice now with near falls. Okada then hit his fourth dropkick. Ishii yet again avoiced the Rainmaker and went for another brainbuster. Okada turned that into a spinning Tombstone. One more Rainmaker was finally it for Ishii, and Okada got the pin. That was a pretty amazing match over the course of about 20 minutes

After the match, Okada tended to his teammate Ishii. The two shook hands. Ishii, in a rare show of respect, raised Okada’s arm.

SANADA s. Hiroshi Tanahashi with a Skull End – Kevin Kelly pointed out that two years ago, Sanada made it to the Quarter-Finals, and to the Semi-Finals is sets the stage for Sanada going to the Finals this year. The crowd seemed to be behind Sanada though, probably due to it being closer to Sanada’s home. Tanahashi and Sanada each tried to work the crowd. Tanahashi managed to ground Sanada early, with Sanada showing some signs of life on the floor. Tanahashi used Dragon Screws to set up a Cloverleaf, but Sanada made the rope break. Tanahashi hit a pair of Twist And Shout neckbreakers, but Sanada reversed the third into his own neckbreaker. Sanada hit a Dragon Suplex for a two count, then locked in a Skull End. He followed that up with a moonsault to Tanahashi’s back. He tried for a regular moonsault, but Tanahashi got the knees up. Another Skull End attempt got reversed into a Small Package. The two traded several reversals, pin attempts, and Skull End attempts. Tanahashi hit a pair of Slingblades for a near fall. Sanada reversed into another Skull End. Tanahashi writhed and squirmed, but eventually submitted

After the match, Sanada took the mic and cut a rare promo. He asked to turn down the lights and for the fans to light up their phones. This gave Sanada a bit of a Bray Wyatt type vibe

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