IWGP United States Championship match: Juice Robinson (c) v Chase Owens
Juice came to the ring looking a lot more serious than usual. He dropped his jacket and hat, and ran to the ring to start the match immediately. Chase tried to slow him down but Juice was up and striking him with jabs. Chase jumped out of the ring and Juice went for him with a pescado but Chase got back in, Juice went in after him, but Chase rolled out again. Jado grabbed Juice’s leg and Juice went out of the ring after him, but ended up taking a superkick from Chase. Chase followed up by throwing Juice into the railings then rolling him back into the ring and, from the outside, stretched his back across the ring post. Chase started working on Juice’s ribs with kick to the ribs of Juice with kicks and knees, the hitting a jumping stomp on them. Chase whipped Juice into the turnbuckle, then hit his head of the opposite one, and pushed juice to the top. Juice fought out and knocked Chase down, but Chase came back with a leg sweep to knock Juice across the ropes, and hit a running knee to the ribs, then locked in bodyscissors. Chase continued with elbows to the ribs then running knees against the ropes. Chase hit boots to Juice’s face. Juice took them and got back up, Chase hit a running boot to Juice, then tried another but Juice grabbed his leg and hit him with an elbow to the face. They went into duelling elbows, Chase got in a striking combo to Juice, then went for a clothesline, but Juice booted him down. Juice was gaining momentum now, and hit a big chop to Chase, then bounced off the ropes but got hit with the kendo stick by Jado. This gave Chase the opportunity to drop Juice on the ropes and hit a big boot to knock him to the outside. Chase was back in control, he went to drop Juice on the barrier, but Juice reversed it into a snap suplex, ramming Chase into the barrier instead. Juice threw Chase into the barrier a few times then rammed his back into the ring post. He rolled Chase back in the ring and hit a backbreaker, then a senton to the back. He went for a second but Chase got his knees up into Juice’s back. Chase lifted juice and dropped him, then hit knees to his head and git him with Jewel Heist for 2. Chase kept on Juice, picking him up for a package piledriver but Juice reversed it into backdrop. Juice tripped chase into the turnbuckle, and hit a cannonball to his back. He then lifted Chase to the top, hit a superplex, kept hold of Chase and, hit a jackhammer for 2! He called for Pulp Friction, but Chase reversed it, Juice with a leg sweep, and then locked a Cloverleaf onto Chase. Jado distracted the referee so he didn’t see Chase tapping out! Chase pushed Juice off and into the referee, he kept after Juice but Juice hit him with a strike and then punches to Chase in the corner. Jado, taking advantage of the referee being out, came in with the kendo stick to Juice, he tried to strike him again, but Juice caught the stick and booted Jado, then hit him with jabs and finally the kendo stick. After assaulting Jado, he broke the kendo stick over his back to take it out of play. Juice went back after Chase, but Chase threw powder in his eyes and levelled him with a low blow, then brought the referee back in. He hit a double knee gut buster to Juice for the pin but Juice kicked out at 2.9! Chase went for the package piledriver but his back gave way. He tried again, Juice struggled out, Chase hit him with an elbow, but Juice came back with the Left Hand of God and a big powerbomb, he went for the pin but Jado pulled the referee out before he could count to 3. Fale then climbed in the ring and hit Juice with a huge spear, then went to work with stomps. Chase went to hit Juice with the US title belt but Juice avoided it, clotheslined Fale out of the ring, and hit the Left Hand of God to Chase, then to Jado, hit Pulp Friction on Chase, the referee was back in to count the pin and Juice Robinson was your winner!
Fale came back in for a post-match beat down, but Mikey Nicholls made the save for Juice. Look like Bullet Club isn’t done with Juice yet.
This was a great match showing us a more serious and intense Juice than we’re used to and it really worked. He was the babyface looking for revenge on the dastardly heel and he got his revenge against both Chase and Jado in this match. Chase’s targeting of Juice’s ribs and using classic heel tactics like the powder and low blows added a lot to the match because you don’t really see that sort of thing much in NJPW. Chase still looked good in defeat and I don’t think he’ll be returning to jobber status anytime soon, at least I hope not.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with the involvement of Fale and Nicholls, maybe a defence against Fale at MSG?
Winner by pinfall and still IWGP United States Champion – Juice Robinson
New Japan Cup Final: SANADA v Okada
It’s all come down to this, 32 men over 12 nights and now there’s only one match left to determine the winner of the New Japan Cup 2019.
Both men were all business for this one. We started with a lockup, back-switches, SANADA got a wristlock, Okada reversed, SANADA reversed again into a leglock, Okada went for an armbar, but SANADA got him back into the leglock. Okada got out with a wristlock to SANADA, SANDA switched it and went back to leglock, Okada grabbed his arm and pulled out into a wristlock, they went into a series of takedowns, then broke after neither could take the advantage.
The two circle each other, then clasped hands and Okada took SANADA down twisting his arm into a hammerlock, SANADA reversed out into a side headlock, Okada reversed into a headlock, but then SANADA with a take-down, he went for a bow and arrow, lock but Okada dropped on him for a pin, SANADA shoved him off, then went for his own pin but Okada pushed him off and they broke off again.
They clasped hands again, SANADA took down Okada and got him in a wristlock. Okada reversed it into a side headlock, really wrenching SANADA’s neck. SANADA punched Okada’s ribs and pushed him off. Okada hit a shoulder tackle, then they both tried hip tosses, then SANADA got Okada down and tied him up into the Paradise Lock! He hit a dropkick to release Okada from the hold, then threw him into the corner. Okada came back with a back elbow and then threw SANADA over the ropes and hit him with a pescado before throwing him back in the ring. Okada continued to control the match, throwing SANADA face first into turnbuckle, hitting him with back elbows, a kick to the gut, and a neckbreaker for a 1 count. Okada didn’t let up, he used a snapmare and a running dropkick, then hooked in a chinlock. SANADA tried to fight his way out but Okada kept the hold locked in. SANADA eventually punched his way out of the hold and ran at Okada but was caught in a sleeper and Okada went righ back to the chinlock. SANADA struggled up and got out using elbows. He ran at Okada gain, Okada tried a sleeper, SANADA escaped and hit a dropkick to Okada’s knee. SANADA was gaining momentum here with running forearms to Okada, then a back elbow, he went for a standing moonsault but Okada sat up, SANADA landed on his feet and quickly hit a dropkick. He picked Okada up, but Okada hit a forearm, SANADA leapfrogged Okada’s charge and knocked him out of the ring. SANADA went for pescado but Okada got back in the ring. SANADA dropped Okada back out and hit a rolling senton to him on the floor. He threw Okada back in the ring and pinned him for 2. He went for a side suplex, but Okada countered with elbows to the neck. Okada started running the ropes, avoiding clotheslines from SANADA and hitting with a running back elbow. He hit another back elbow to SANADA in the corner, then a DDT for a 2 count. SANADA went for a boot but got caught. We got some reversals, ending in a back falling neckbreaker by Okada for 2. He picked SANADA up and slammed him down before climbing to the top and hitting a diving elbow. Okada hit a Rainmaker pose, looking to end the match, he went for the Rainmaker but SANADA fought out. Okada threw SANADA over the ropes but he came back with a springboard missile dropkick to Okada. SANADA went at Okada and they started a series of dueling forearms. Okada got the advantage, but SANADA hit him with an uppercut. He picked Okada up, but Okada reversed into a waistlock. SANADA escaped and ran at Okada who caught him and placed him on the top turnbuckle then hit a high dropkick knocking SANADA to the floor.
Okada went out after him and threw SANADA into the barrier then followed up with a big boot, and a draping DDT from the barrier. Okada had a smile on his face and got back in the ring to allow for a count-out. SANADA got back in at 18. Okada ran up the turnbuckle and hit him with a shotgun dropkick for 2. He lifted him up for the tombstone, but SANADA reversed it into Skull End, Okada then reversed back to tombstone, and SANDA reversed that into his own tombstone and hit it on Okada! He followed up with a high backdrop for 2.
SANADA got Skull End in, but Okada tried to get to the ropes so SANADA transitioned to a tiger suplex for 2. He hit a back-breaker to Okada and went for a moonsault but Okada got his knees up to block it. Okada picked SANADA up and hit a weak looking Rainmaker, he maintained wrist control but missed the second attempt. SANADA charged at him but ended up eating a dropkick then a tombstone. Okada looked for Rainmaker, missed again, and SANADA got him into Skull End, he went to hook it in on the mat but Okada reversed it and went for the Rainmaker, SANADA countered and went for a Rainmaker but Okada countered that with Skull End! SANADA rolled through into Skull End, locked it in and spun Okada, then fully locked it in on the mat. Okada reversed it to a pin for 2 but SANADA got him back in Skull End, he dropped him and attempted a pin for 2. He tried for the moonsault again but Okada moved out of the way. SANADA charged Okada but got hit with a boot, he tried again, but Okada sidestepped. Okada charged at SANADA but got hit by an elbow. Okada hit SANADA with a shotgun dropkick. Okada tried for a spinning Rainmaker but SANADA countered with an elbow, then hit a TKO for 2. SANADA picked Okada up and hit a back-breaker. SANADA looked like he was heading for the corner but Okada grabbed his leg, SANADA stomped him to force him to let go, SANADA started for the corner again but Okada grabbed his foot, SANADA hit him with more stomps. SANADA climbed up the turnbuckle and Okada was up to grab onto him again. SANADA pushed him off and hit a standing moonsault transitioning into Skull End. Okada ran up the turnbuckle, flipping over SANADA and hit a jumping tombstone. He maintained wrist control. SANADA came back with boots to the face and tried for Skull End again but got a hit by a Rainmaker. Okada picked him back up and hit a full-force Rainmaker for the win!
That was an excellent match to end the tournament on. Okada once again showed he is the best wrestler in NJPW. He can put on a brilliant match with anyone and this was no exception. SANADA looked great too and belonged in the final. He’s a guy that improves with every match. I knew it was unlikely he would win the tournament because they needed one of NJPW’s biggest stars to headline with Jay White at the MSG show, but he is on the path to get to the top one day and I still think it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Winner by pinfall – Kazuchika Okada
This tournament turned out to be Okada’s final steps towards getting the chance to regain his glory. On the 6th of April, he’ll face Jay White for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and will be looking to vanquish the Switchblade and take his place at the top once again.