New Japan Cup: Night 11
Its semi-final time already! We’re down to the final four and, while Okada v Tanahashi looks likely to be the final, all of them have the potential to win it all.
Match 1 Kazuchika Okada v Tomohiro Ishii
The last of the Chaos v Chaos matches of the tournament began with the two men trying to show their dominance by locking up and pushing each other. Okada got the upper hand, pushing Ishii into the ropes. Then, in a surprise move, actually striking him with an elbow rather doing the fakeout we’ve seen during Okada’s previous tournament matches. They started dueling elbows briefly then Okada caught Ishii with a side headlock. Ishii escaped and they charged each other, with Okada knocking Ishii down. Okada then went to work with elbows to Ishii’s neck, a snapmare, then it looked like he was going for a dropkick but taunted Ishii with boots to the head instead. The taunting worked and Ishii steamed back with multiple headbutts to Okada, but Okada answered with multiple elbows. Okada ran at Ishii but bounced off. Ishii came back with stiff forearms to Okada, Okada absorbed the barrage and threw Ishii to the outside. Ishii back with a quick powerslam to Okada on the floor and then threw him back in the ring. Ishii continued with hard chops to Okada in the corner, and taunted Okada with boots to the head. Okada got back up, absorbing more chops, then hitting Ishii with forearms before Ishii levelled him with a big chop. Ishii tried for a suplex, but Okada prevented the lift, countering with a DDT. Okada jumped back up, and started with back elbows to Ishii, Ishii reversed an Irish whip but Okada hit him with a back elbow. Ishii was knocked to the outside and Okada leapt out, hitting him with a pescado. Okada threw Ishii back in, hit a scoop slam and climbed to the top rope. Ishii was up before he could dive and hit a boot to Okada. Okada was back with an elbow in the corner, then more elbows to Ishii’s neck, Ishii spat at Okada! Ishii then absorbed stiff elbows from Okada, then walked right into them and hit a big elbow himself to rock Okada. Ishii then hit Okada with multiple elbows in the corner, and, not to be outdone, Okada walked into Ishii’s elbows. They went into dueling elbows, then Okada hit an uppercut, but Ishii came back with more elbows to Okada. Okada missed a dropkick, then dodged a sliding lariat, Okada hit an air raid crash neckbreaker. Okada then slammed Ishii climbed back up to the top and dropped an elbow on Ishii. Ishii got back up, but Okada took him back down with a knee then a flapjack. Okada went to the top again and hit Ishii with a shotgun dropkick for 2. Okada looked for a tombstone, but Ishii threw him to the corner, Okada ran at him but Ishii countered with a powerbomb for 2. Ishii hit a German suplex and a hard clothesline for 2. he went for a sliding lariat but Okada jumped up with a dropkick! Again, Okada tried a tombstone, but Ishii reversed, Okada reversed again but couldn’t lift Ishii. He finally managed to pick him up and hit the tombstone. Okada sensed the end and went for the Rainmaker clothesline but Ishii countered with a headbutt and a big clothesline.
Ishii charged with a big clothesline in the corner and lifted Okada to the top, he then hit an avalanche brainbuster for 2! He went straight back at Okada with a sliding lariat for a 2.9! Not letting up, Ishii went for a brainbuster but Okada countered with a knee, Ishii hit Okada with an elbow but Okada responded with a dropkick to Ishii. Okada went for a backslide but Ishii got back up, only to be met with a Rainmaker! Okada maintained wrist control, an hit another Rainmaker but Ishii absorbed the blow! Ishii went at Okada with headbutts, but Okada came back with a high angle German suplex to Ishii, then picked, looked for another Rainmaker but Ishii reversed it into an armbar. Okada got to the ropes. Ishii picked Okada up and started pulling on the arm to try to neutralise Okada’s finisher. Okada went for the Rainmaker but Ishii got him with a kick. Okada then hit a dropkick, Ishii was right back up, just in time to be hit with a shotgun dropkick. Okada charged at Ishii but was hit by a lariat for a 1 count, then another for 2.9. Ishii picked Okada up for the brainbuster, but Okada reversed, Ishii countered with a headbutt, but Okada came back with another dropkick. Okada tried for the Rainmaker, Ishii reversed and hit his own, then an elbow and a headbutt for good measure. Okada came back and hit a jumping tombstone, then finished Ishii with a Rainmaker for 3! Okada then bowed on the mat to show respect for Ishii’s efforts. He helped Ishii up, shook his hand and Ishii raised Okada’s arm.
After that war, Okada has firmly re-established himself as the leader of CHAOS and the only piece left for his redemption after his loss to Omega, and betrayal by Gedo and Jay White, is to get to MSG and take the Switchblade down to reclaim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Tonight, he got one step closer. However, I’m not sure how can get through the Final tomorrow with the beating he took from Ishii, who put on a hell of a performance and showed he deserves to be in the main event scene.
Winner by pinfall – Kazuchika Okada
Match 2 – SANADA v Hiroshi Tanahashi
Now we find out who Okada will face in tomorrow night’s Final.
The two men tried to rally the crowd, but they were firmly behind local boy SANADA.
We started with a lockup, Tanahashi pushed SANADA to the ropes, but SANADA turned him around then broke off. They went back to the lockup, Tanahashi got behind, then they switched multiple times. Tanahashi got caught with a wristlock, then reversed, SANADA got out but then locked in headscissor. SANADA escaped again and locked in a figure 4 variation, Tanahashi eventually reversed it into a side headlock, SANADA tried to power out so Tanahashi went for a snapmare but SANADA flipped out of it. Both men went for dropkicks and fell to the mat. Tanahashi went for a kick, but got caught, SANADA tried for a Paradise Lock, but Tanahashi reversed into a pin for 2. Tanahashi hooked in a leglock, then hit an elbow to the knee, went back to leglock trapping the leg. He broke it to land kicks to the hamstring, then another elbow to the knee and finally back to the leglock, trapping both legs. With the hold still locked on, he punched to SANADA head, SANADA tried coming back with chops to Tanahashi’s chest but he wouldn’t break it. SANADA finally pulled himself to the ropes for the break.
Tanahashi kept working on SANADA’s knee with some kicks. SANADA reversed an Irish whip, leapfrogged Tanahashi then landed a dropkick. Tanahashi was knocked out of the ring, and SANADA hit him with pescado then rolled him back in the ring. Tanahashi caught SANADA coming in and hit a Dragon Screw in the ropes. Tanahashi then took control with a scoop slam, he then went up to the second rope and hit a senton for 2. He tried for a Slingblade but SANADA hit a kick to the knee, but Tanahashi came back with another Dragon Screw to SANADA, who hit his own Dragon Screw to Tanahashi. Tanahahi reversed an Irish whip, but SANADA jumped over the ropes, then tried and missed a springboard, this allowed Tanahashi to hit an inverted dragon Screw, he tried to follow up with a cloverleaf but SANADA quickly got to the ropes. Tanahashi picked up SANADA, and went back to kicking his knee. SANADA tried a rana but he was caught and locked into cloverleaf. Tanahashi really put the pressure on by sitting right back. SANADA tried to pull him to the ropes but Tanahashi pulled back harder. SANADA eventually struggled to the ropes for the break. Tanahashi picked him up again but SANADA hit him with forearms then went for a kick but got caught, and Tanahashi hit a dropkick to his knee. They then hit loud and hard uppercuts to each other. SANADA got the upper hand with forearms to Tanahashi, but Tanahashi slapped SANADA hard and tried for a Dragon Suplex. SANADA broke out with elbows then flipped over Tanahashi to get him in Skull End. Tanahashi reversed it, then hit Twist and Shout twice, he went for a third but SANADA lifted him and hit a neckbreaker using the ropes. He picked Tanahashi back up and took him back to the mat with a tiger suplex for 2. He got Tanahashi in Skull End and dropped down to fully lock it in, Tanahashi was fading, SANADA broke the hold and hit Tanahashi’s back with a moonsault, he went for a second but Tanahashi got his knees up and rolled SANADA into an inside cradle for 2.5. Tanahashi charged but got hit with an elbow, SANADA went for Skull End but Tanahashi reversed him into an inside cradle for 2. Tanahashi then went for Slingblade but SANADA reversed it, Tanahashi reversed again, locking in his own Skull End, but he couldn’t keep it locked in s SANADA reversed it back into Skull End himself. Tanahashi rolled up SANADA but SANADA reversed it for 2. Tanahashi went for a Dragon Suplex but couldn’t lift SANADA. SANADA locked in Skull End, spun Tanahashi, but Tanahashi countered and dropped SANADA. He hit the Slingblade for 2, then picked up SANADA, tried for the Dragon Suplex again, but SANADA flipped out of it. SANADA went for an O’Connor roll, but he was blocked and Tanahashi went for the rolling clutch but SANADA reversed it into Skull End and fully locked it in. Tanahashi tried to fight out but just couldn’t find a way and has no choice but to submit!
The final will be Okada v SANADA!
This was another brilliant match, both of tonight’s tournament matches were the type of wrestling that got me hooked on NJPW, the psychology and stories they can tell in the ring are amazing.
In this one, the two men looked evenly matched and both struggled to get the upper hand. They both showed the toll the previous tournament matches had taken, especially with their selling of their knees. The match looked like it could have gone either way, but SANADA picking up the win over the Ace, who was a favourite in the tournament, is a great boost to his singles career and another step towards the main event of the MSG show.
Winner by submission – SANADA