New Japan CUPdate: March 15

Quarterfinals now set after Okayama action 

Okayama saw the last matches in the New Japan Cup second round, as the quarterfinal field of eight was completed in Okayama. 

Watch the replay now!

The first tournament match of the night saw David Finlay taking on Great-O-Khan. The two traded bombs from the opening bell before a throat thrust from Finlay brought O-Khan to the floor. There the fight got progressively dirtier, Finlay piling damage on O-Khan until he was satisfied with the damage done. Bringing the Eliminator back inside, the Rebel continued a relentless, streetfighter’s assault, but it was O-Khan’s orthodox judo skills that gave him space. With a shoulder throw, O-Khan created an opportunity, time and distance, and was able to execute a gameplan that rattled Finlay as the match progressed. 

Back to a standup, both men again traded strikes before a pump kick from O-Khan brought Finlay to the canvas; still Finlay’s encyclopedic knowledge of filthy fighting paid off, and a clip of the knee would keep momentum in his corner. Cross faced strikes followed before a gutwrench into a DDT, and then an Irish Curse scored two. The Dominator was badly wobbled at the ten minute mark, but refused to fall to Finlay’s strikes, and committed to a double cross body collision before finding his feet, and the Sheep Killer, before Finlay. 

O-Khan torqued and tortured Finlay, before pulling him in for the Eliminator, only to be countered with Prima Nocta. As the match grew in intensity, Finlay wanted Trash Panda but tasted a TTD instead; a second Eliminator attempt failed though, and Finlay got Trash Panda at the second time of asking to advance. 

The main event of the evening saw Shota Umino take on Zack Sabre Jr. Umino would try to control Sabre’s wrist early, and did well to exchange holds with ZSJ; Sabre was expecting to work over Umino with a full Nelson, but the Shooter would persevere with counters, and then brought the submission master to the mat with a tackle and basement dropkick. Now visibly angered, Sabre would catch his foe in the ropes and stretched the Roughneck with a head and arm choke, before going to physical work outside the ring. 

Picking a clear target on the left arm of Umino, ZSJ set to agonising work, his holds punctuated by brutal European uppercuts and mocking kicks to the chest and shoulder. While his left arm was pained though, Shota’s right still worked, and a face first half slam was followed by a running elbow, and a Fisherman’s suplex that scored two. Wanting to show the fans and his opponent his technical smarts, Umino would follow with a cravate on ZSJ, but that proved to be a disastrous choice, punished with a brutal Fujiwara armbar as the Briton regained control.

Umino rolled to the apron, where Sabre wanted to bring the match to an end, but a sudden counter from the Roughneck instead brought ZSJ crashing down hard on his shoulder on the apron. Pursuing his veteran foe, Umino brought Sabre into the ring post and then the guardrail with aggressive intent before Dragon Screwing the arm and pursuing a double wristlock. As the match passed the 15 minute mark, ZSJ was forced to go to the ropes to get Umino off his back, but could not do so for long, a slingshot DDT scoring big as Umino closed in on victory. 

Shota wanted the Deathrider, but was countered by ZSJ down to the mat. Without use of his left arm, Sabre instead used his leg strength to grip Umino into a triangle; Umino stamped his way free with boots to Sabre’s head, but was met with a brutal dropkick to the back of the skull. Zack Driver would be denied as Umino scored with successive big offense, but the young man still couldn’t get Death Rider. A European Clutch would be countered by Umino, but an attempt by Umino at the same hold was denied with a brutal double armbar, Umino just barely making the ropes. 

As Shota pulled himself up, he would be met with a crushing mid kick; Umino fired up out of a penalty shot from Sabre though and roared in with a dropkick as Okayama got firmly behind Shota. Now both men were wobbled as they reset with elbow shots; Umino would bait Sabre into expecting Death Rider wand was met with an elevated hangman’s DDT instead, but still Sabre had an answer for his opposition as the match passed 25 minutes. The match impossible to read, Sabre seemed to have his answer with a massive overhand right, and looked to jump in with a flying Manji, but was countered into Death Rider for a sensational three count.