New Japan CUPdate: March 12

 Goto, Tonga advance to quarterfinals

The second night of second round action hit Shiga on March 12, with two matches determining another quarterfinal to come on March 18.

Watch the replay now!

The evening’s first tournament matchup saw Aaron Henare take on NEVER Openweight Champion Tama Tonga. Tonga exploded out the blocks with a cross body, and followed with a plancha to the Ultimate Weapon, piling on the pressure on the floor. Yet Henare’s power would soon show through, and the United Empire member caught a flying Tama and brought him spine first into the ring post. 

Henare maintained control back inside, burying a Hiro Saito senton; an answer came with a solid lariat out the corner, but the Muay Thai training for Henare came in useful with some hard shots to the NEVER Champion. One in particular seemed to rock Tama, who was visible wobbled, but Henare’s sense of security was a false one, and a Tongan Twist saw the Guerrilla of Destiny create some valuable time. 

Tonga would fire up with forearm shots, baiting Henare into a swing which was ducked and punished with the SRC and Supreme Flow for two. Henare would have a Berseker Bomb waiting in response to the Gunstun though, and went down to the base of his foe, a heel hook driving Tama to the ropes. Henare was in charge, and with Tonga on the back foot, wanted a Rampage Tackle, but Tonga came over the top with a victory roll, and then a Dragon Screw. 

Villano followed for Tonga, who then landed a brainbuster and went again for Gunstun, still denied as Henare caught the NEVER champ with a Maori Drop. Time and again, Henare denied the Gunstun, getting a near two from a Rampage, before trying for Ultima; he was unable to lace the fingers on his full Nelson on the first try, but a second try had Tama tight. With his opponent fading fast, Henare went for Streets of Rage, but was countered in midair with a Gunstun. A second followed to put Tonga into the round of eight. 

The night’s main event saw Kyle Fletcher and Hirooki Goto collide, and at an explosive pace that saw the Australian bowled over the top rope to the floor in the opening seconds. A lariat followed up for Goto, but bringing Fletcher back inside proved a mistake that was punished with a massive boot turning the tables for the Aussie Arrow. As the match passed the five minute mark, it was Fletcher in full and firm control, a rocket of a right foot ringing off Goto’s chin to underscore the point. 

A lariat would see some offense for Goto, who surprised Fletcher with a plancha to the floor, but he couldn’t sustain the advantage, Fletcher sending the tag champion tumbling off the top to the floor. Goto would avoid a Fletcher tope, but a suplex would send him hard into the apron, and a Fletcher quebrada found the mark. An emphatic brainbuster would await Goto back inside, but the CHAOS member’s will to win kept him kicking out. 

Goto landed an Ushigoroshi against the run of the match, but a powerful lariat from Fletcher stopped the GTR. Burying his knee to the back of Goto’s head, Fletcher set for the Grimstone Piledriver; after a narrow escape and near three from a rollup, the move connected on the second try, but Goto still raised his shoulder before three. Needing something even more dramatic, Fletcher set for a superplex, but the Goto Revolution cut him off for an agonising two.  

The match felt near its conclusion in the same vein as it had continued, Fletcher getting the upper hand in a strike exchange, and shrugging off a mighty headbutt with a thrust kick and lariat. Pursuing Goto in the corner though, Fletcher would be met with a one man Shoto, Goto using the ropes for his tag partner; an Ushigoroshi and GTR followed as Goto advanced.