New Japan Cupdate: March 20
The semifinals of the New Japan Cup hit Sendai’s Xebio Arena on March 20. As a significant earthquake rattled nerves, it was Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi that had the rock solid will required to make it to the tournament final.
After a 20 minute delay hit a preceding six man tag, Ospreay was out to face David Finlay in the night’s first semifinal. The aggressive Ospreay was first to break from mat wrestling to strike at Finlay, but the underdog Finlay had the upper hand, a dropkick sending Ospreay to the floor where he read a powerbomb attempt to back body drop the Briton onto the ringside mats.
Back inside though, Ospreay would balance his foe across the top rope, and a boot sent Finlay to the floor. There, a slam would have Finlay’s back crashing into the guardrail and put Ospreay firmly in charge. Kept center ring and held down by Ospreay, Finlay had to use the Commonwealth Kingpin’s momentum against him to get back into match. That he did with a Blue Thunder slam and plancha, before catching a handspring elbow with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two.
Ospreay countered a Trash Panda attempt however, hitting a cutter and going upstairs with a flying forearm. A Reverse Bloody Sunday got Ospreay a two count at the 10 minute mark, but he would pay the price for going to the top rope, a superplex dealing heavy damage. Ospreay resisted an Acid Drop attempt, but couldn’t hit Stormbreaker, Finlay nearly getting three from a series of roll ups. Trash Panda gave Finlay another nearfall, but a second Acid Drop attempt ended in disaster.
Ospreay would muscle Finlay all the way out to the floor, where a hard landing appeared to seriously injure his foot. With incredible will to win, Finlay clawed his way back to the ring, but Ospreay kept piling on the pressure, untying Finlay’s boot to cause further pain with a Figure Four. Time and again, Ospreay looked to finish Finlay for good, but time and again he was met with resistance. An OsCutter was incredibly intercepted in midair with Prima Nocta, but Finlay couldn’t summon up the Acid Drop, with his tournament ending thanks to a Stormbreaker.
Last to the ring on a wild and unprecedented night were Shingo Takagi and EVIL. Dick Togo was in EVIL’s corner as ever, though it seemed as if he would only take a watching brief as both traded snug strikes. When Takagi went on the run however, Togo couldn’t resist tugging at the Dragon’s heels. With a hard lariat, EVIL took over, and ring announcer Makoto Abe took his traditional spill to the concrete as the advantage was pressed. A suplex onto a stack of chairs outside followed, and with Togo completing a daisy chain on an abdominal stretch, it was EVIL playing the hits in Sendai.
Shingo fought back however, with his own trademark violence before a Fisherman’s suplex cut him off. EVIL couldn’t lock Shingo in the Darkness Scorpion however, instead a Noshigami from Takagi swinging the momentum to the Dragon’s corner before a handful of hair led to an EVIL backbreaker. A drop toe hold into a Togo exposed steel turnbuckle did further damage, before a suplex led directly to the Darkness Scorpion on the second attempt.
EVIL couldn’t rattle off the finishing blow however, Shingo Takagi landing his own version of EVIL, and throwing harder and harder shots to his former LIJ running buddy. As if on cue, Togo would distract the referee however, and a hard steel chair shot from EVIL was the result. Darkness Falls followed for two, but Takagi wouldn’t stay down, Made In Japan connecting for two as the crowd willed him on.
Again EVIL would reach into his bag of dirty tricks. Shoving Takagi into the referee opened the door for EVIL and Dick Togo to connect with Magic Killer on Shingo, but Takagi resisted Togo’s Spoiler’s Choke, and levelled EVIL’s pareja. With the match down to a one on one encounter, EVIL and Takagi again exchanged violent collisions, but Shingo emerged with the upper hand. A Last of the Dragon later and Shingo vs Will Ospreay was set for Sunday.