Two quarter finals set as round two gets underway
The second round of the New Japan Cup got underway on June 24. Four hotly fought matches with a lot of personal history at stake saw Tomohiro Ishii, Hiromu Takahashi, Kazuchika Okada and Taiji Ishimori move onto the quarter finals on July 2 on NJPW World.
First on the night to move on was Taiji Ishimori. With a decade and a half of defeats to Yoshinobu Kanemaru in the record books, Ishimori fought with a lot to prove against the Suzuki-Gun member, and when Kanemaru attempted to jump Ishimori on his entrance, the Bone Soldier quickly countered and went to work with trademark swiftness. Ishimori’s ‘kanemaru allergy’ would manifest itself when the Heel Master went after his opponent’s knee however, drastically slowing Ishimori. Kanemaru went on the offense inside the ring and out of it, dominating until a handspring kick brought a little time.
When Ishimori started picking up steam, Kanemaru was smart enough to bring the referee into play, and to kick Ishimori low. A whiskey surprise seemed to be in Ishimori’s future, but Ishimori smothered the Suzuki-Gun member, forcing Kanemaru to take a triple shot straight. The subsequent slowed reflexes led to a missed Deep Impact, and a Cipher Utaki for Ishimori earning two. Bloody Cross followed for Ishimori’s first win over Kanemaru.
It didn’t take the most expert of pundits to tell you that Togi Makabe and Tomohiro Ishii would tear into one another right from the bell, and that’s exactly what happened, the sound of high speed collisions echoing around the fan-less venue. Classical wrestling moves were few and far between in the opening minutes, and although Makabe did get a near fall from a Northern Lights, it was nearly lights out when Ishii delivered a German Suplex into the corner.
Ishii stayed on brutal offensive, shoving the referee aside to continue landing blows and a backdrop for two, before Makabe blocked a shot to knock down the Stone Pitbull with a lariat. Makabe continued to fight back against Ishii, navigating him to the top rope and landing a massive Spider Northern Lights. Ishii would only fire up, delivering a super brainbuster off the top, and an adrenaline fuelled Makabe kept the hits firing back until missing a King Kong Knee.
Once more fully in control, Ishii landed lariats and headbutts in between taunting Makabe, but the Unchained Gorilla still didn’t fall until a Vertical Drop Brainbuster sealed the deal.
Hiromu Takahashi seemed less concerned with protecting his New Japan Cup campaign against Toru Yano than he was with protecting his hair, after Yano had promised a repeat of the shavings the Time Bomb had endured in 2011. Yano seemed to have a peace offering in the form of a box of curry, but hair clippers were hidden within, sending Hiromu into a traumatized fit.
That was the order of the day, as Takahashi fired the offense he could on Yano, who would bounce like a pinball around the venue, only to find scissors wherever he went to threaten Hiromu’s locks with. Eventually, Yano did make good on his promise and took a handful of Takahashi’s hair after taping the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion to Yota Tsuji who was on ringside duty.
Yet this was the aversion therapy Hiromu needed. Takahashi fired up and attacked Yano before using Yano’s own tape to hog tie the now less than sublime master thief and put him in an elevator to the basement, before running a three legged race to beat the ring-out count and win the match.
In a distinct change of pace, Yuji Nagata and Kazuchika Okada started with a feeling out process that had Nagata show his experience as Okada had to step out to the floor. When the Rainmaker came back in, Blue Justice went straight onto the offensive, but one pair of boots shot in from Okada was enough to put the control firmly in the younger man’s corner.
Nagata would get flurries of offense, with a kitchen sink and Exploder finding their mark, but Okada looked to have the match in his pocket; until, at least, a front suplex took the Rainmaker almost out of his boots at the ten minute mark. Feeling the momentum swing his way, Nagata unleashed some brutal forearm blows, and even as Okada looked to go upstairs to put Nagata away, he was joined at the top rope with an almighty top rope Exploder.
Okada would rally with a Tombstone, but rather than follow with a Rainmaker, Okada looked for a repeat of his Cobra Clutch finish with Gedo, creating an opening for Nagata to cinch in Nagata Lock II. Nagata continued to have a reversal for every one of Okada’s holds, going from a standing Cobra to a Wrist Clutch Exploder, and getting a very near two count from a back drop counter to the Rainmaker.
Nagata would attempt to take things home as he tried to get a decisive German Suplex on Okada, but this time it was the veteran getting outmaneuvered, Okada again securing the Cobra Clutch and this time getting the stoppage victory.
We now have two junior heavyweights against two heavyweights in the quarterfinals, as Kazuchika Okada will take on Taiji Ishimori, and Hiromu Takahashi faces Tomohiro Ishii on July 2!