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NJPW ‘New Japan Cup 2018’ 3.21.18 Results & Review

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Shota Umino def. Tetsuhiro Yagi @ 7:26 via Boston Crab – **
Taichi def. Tomoyuki Oka @ 7:06 via Tensho Jujihou – **
Fale, Yujiro & Tanga def. Makabe, Elgin & Henare @ 9:55 via Tanga Apeshit on Henare – *3/4
Killer Elite Squad def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano @ 12:59 via Killer Bomb on Yano – **1/4
Juice Robinson & David Finlay def. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI @ 10:25 via Juice Pulp Friction on Goto – *1/2
Naito, SANADA, Hiromu & BUSHI def. Suzuki, Iizuka, Kanemaru & Desperado @ 12:46 via SANADA Skull End on Iizuka – **
Kazuchika Okada & Chuckie T. def. Kota Ibushi & Chase Owens @ 11:53 via Okada Cobra Clutch on Owens – **

New Japan Cup Final Match
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 34:02 via Orienteering with Napalm Death – ****1/4

The Cup finals came down to the third ever meeting between Tanahashi and Sabre. Both have a win over the other, Sabre in last year’s G1 and Tanahashi at King of Pro-Wrestling. Tanahashi was unsure what to expect from Sabre in their first meeting and because of his unfamiliarity, suffered a loss. In their rematch he was able to weather the storm and find a way to overcome Sabre’s unique offense. This felt like it could have gone either way, Tanahashi tried to out wrestle Sabre on the mat by using his power to equalize Sabre’s opportunistic, catch as catch can, style. The strength advantage went to Tanahashi but Sabre’s elusiveness worked to his advantage by being able to evade a potentially match-ending High Fly Flow. Tanahashi is all heart, but his ego got the best of him. He attempted to pin Sabre via a European Clutch and that was his downfall, he played into Sabre’s trap. Sabre was able to kick out Tanahashi’s leg and work his way into trapping Tanahashi in Orienteering with Napalm Death. The Ace had no choice but to tap. This was a fantastic match and Tanahashi tapping was a fitting end to the Cup. Tanahashi’s cockiness lead to his downfall as Sabre was able to manipulate Tanahashi into wrestling his style.

Zack Sabre Jr. becomes the first ever British winner of the New Japan Cup. Post-match, Sabre is presented with the trophy and TAKA asks Sabre who he wants to challenge to which Sabre responds with “No question. Okada.”. TAKA calls out Okada and both he and Sabre stare each other down in the middle of the ring while their respective hype men, Gedo and TAKA make their cases for one another. Gedo says Sabre is definitely a submission master but Okada is on another level and TAKA counters that Sabre’s submissions are on another level. The show ends with Sabre complaining that the celebratory beer is warm.

The 2018 New Japan Cup was the Zack Sabre Jr. show. Throughout the tournament he scored wins over SANADA, Ibushi, Naito and Tanahashi and came out looking like a legitimate threat to Okada’s championship. The two will meet at an already sold out Sumo Hall in the main event of Sakura Genesis on April 1st.

Recommended Match
Zack Sabre Jr. vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

Robert McCauley hasn't miss an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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