Round one complete as Fletcher, Takagi advance
March 10 in Yamanashi, the first round of the New Japan Cup was complete as Shingo Takagi battled Aaron Henare, and Kyle Fletcher took on YOSHI-HASHI.
It was United Empire versus CHAOS in the first of the night’s two tournament matchups with Aussie Open’s Kyle Fletcher opposite YOSHI-HASHI of IWGP Tag Team Champions Bishamon. After an exchange of holds, Fletcher was first to gain an advantage with a stinging chop and knockdown to the Headhunter; YOSHI-HASHI would fire right back in kind, but a leg lariat sent him tumbling to the floor as the Aussie Arrow took over.
YOSHI-HASHI was sent with extreme force and velocity into the outside guardrails, and struggled to make it back into the ring, only getting dumped with a suplex once he did so. A basement dropkick would create some distance though, and YOSHI-HASHI started to create momentum before another low dropkick sent Fletcher to the outside where vengeance was waiting at the hands of the tag team champion.
Back inside, a top rope assault from YOSHI-HASHI was met by a Fletcher head kick, and a tope suicida followed for the Aussie Arrow. Pushing the advantage, a brutal brainbuster got a near two for Fletcher in ring, and a Michinoku Driver got him even closer to the three, but YOSHI-HASHI refused to lose. Landing an arm drag out of danger, the CHAOS member landed a Destroyer for his own near two, and pounded away with forearm shots, reacting to a hard forearm shiver with a stinging chop of his own before falling to a Fletcher lariat.
As Fletcher continued to be one step ahead of YOSHI-HASHI, a charging Headhunter was rocked with a massive superkick and then muscled to the top rope, but a superplex was stopped and answered by a top rope Destroyer and a lariat volley for a near YOSHI-HASHI fall. Both men traded heavy shots and suplexes before Kumagoroshi saw yet another nearfall. Karma was denied by Fletcher though, and a wild pair of running boots led the Aussie Arrow to wind and fire with a running knee and the Grimstone for three.
The main event would have KOPW 2023 holder and hometown hero Shingo Takagi facing Ultimate Weapon Aaron Henare. After a feeling out process in ring, Henare was first to dole some heavy shots, and Takagi responded in kind, a high speed shoulder tackle and lariat taking Henare all the way over the top to the floor. Showing maturity gained in the three years since his last match with Shingo though, Henare would bait the Dragon outside with him, where a crunching lariat on the floor was waiting. The Ultimate Weapon used the blow to take full and firm control back inside, as the home crowd got behind Shingo at the five minute mark.
Takagi took shot after shot from Henare, but stood long enough to bury his foe with a jab and the Ryukon lariat. Now the Dragon was building momentum, a DDT ringing Henare off the mat before the Ultimate Weapon was dropped hard with a superplex that got two. An attempt at Made In Japan was resisted though, and a Berserker Bomb scored for Henare, who rocked Shingo’s jaw with a head kick, followed by a Hiro Saito Senton.
As Henare primed for the Rampage tackle, Takagi absorbed the impact and resisted an attempt at the Ultima before dumping his foe with a Saito suplex. Henare rocked the Dragon with a brutal knee, the Dragon fired right back with a lariat, and now both men were trading deep into the bout and with damage mounting, Takagi finally stopping some Henare momentum with Noshigami.
As Shingo looked to close, Henare resisted Last of the Dragon before burying a liver shot to Shingo and landing the Rampage for a near two. After Shingo resisted before, a second try saw Henare lock in Ultima; as he released to try for Streets of Rage, Takagi hit the Great Takagi Revolution and Made In Japan but only got two. The match passing twenty minutes, Henare escaped another Last of the Dragon attempt and blasted the Dragon with a headbutt to the chin. Streets of Rage followed, and Henare scored the victory in a stunning upset.