The 2019 New Japan Cup semifinal round and the first of two nights at Aore Nagaoka. The winners of these two tournament matches will meet in tomorrow’s final. First up we have Chaos brothers colliding as Kazuchika Okada faces off with Tomohiro Ishii and the main event sees the hometown boy SANADA square off against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Let’s get started!
New Japan Cup Semifinal Match
Kazuchika Okada def. Tomohiro Ishii @ 21:10 via Rainmaker – *****
The chaos brothers stare each other down before the lock up. Okada pushes Ishii to the ropes and doesn’t give a clean break. They trade forearms, Okada lands a boot to the gut but his shoulder tackles don’t bring Ishii down. Back elbows take Ishii to the mat, Okada fakes out the low dropkick and gives boots to the back of Ishii’s head instead. They trade more forearms, Ishii puts Okada down with a shoulder tackles and returns the boots to the back of the head. Okada dumps Ishii out, Ishii catches him in a powerslam on the outside and sends Okada back in the ring.
Big chops in the corner from Ishii. On multiple occasions Okada tries to go to the mat but Ishii picks him back up for more chops. He stands on Okada’s face and slaps the back of his head, looks for a lariat but Okada ducks and hits a DDT. Three back elbows take Ishii down, Ishii bails and Okada follows out with a plancha. He sends Ishii back in but Ishii avoids the top rope elbow so Okada decides to lay in forearms. Ishii begins leaning into the strikes before delivering ones of his own. Okada leans into Ishii’s as well and sends Ishii into the ropes but Ishii holds on to avoid the dropkick. Ishii sets up for the sliding lariat, Okada ducks, hits a reverse neckbreaker, an elbow off the top and Rainmaker pose.
Ishii looks to catch Okada while in the pose but Okada gets him first and lands a flapjack followed by a top rope dropkick. Ishii turns the reverse neckbreaker into a powerbomb, ducks a forearm into a German followed by a running lariat. They battle for a tombstone, Okada connects, looks for Rainmaker, Ishii headbutts chest and hits a wrist-clutch lariat of his own. He drops Okada off the top with a superplex and follows with a sliding lariat. Okada knees free of the brainbuster, backslides into position for a lariat, keeps wrist-control, Ishii headbutts, Okada keeps wrist-control and lands a German.
Okada comes running in but is countered by an Ishii judo throw directly into a cross-armbreaker. Okada gets to the ropes, looks for a discuss Rainmaker, Ishii ducks but takes a John Woo. Ishii again catches Okada running in, this time with a lariat, followed by another, looks for a brainbuster but Okada escapes. Okada sets up for Rainmaker, Ishii headbutts free but takes the dropkick. Ishii ducks the Rainmaker, hits a wrist-clutch lariat, gets caught in a spinning tombstone and is finished with the Rainmaker. He helps Ishii up after the match and Ishii raises Okada’s arm.
New Japan Cup Semifinal Match
SANADA def. Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 24:12 via Skull End – ****
The hometown crowd cheer for SANADA and jeer Tanahashi. SANADA takes Tana to the ropes, gives a clean break and the two trade waist locks and wrist locks. A takedown from SANADA is turned into headscissors from Tana but SANADA transitions to a reverse figure four. Tana pulls the hair to gain an advantage, pulls SANADA into a headlock, they trade lariats, each ducking and mirroring each other with dropkicks. SANADA catches a boot and looks for Paradise Lock but Tana cradles and drops an elbow on SANADA’s knee.
Tanahashi applies the Indian Death Lock and refuses to allow SANADA’s chops to break the hold. SANADA gets to the ropes, lands the double leap frog dropkick followed by a plancha. He sends Tana in but on his way in, Tana catches SANADA with a dragon screw into the ropes. The crowd boos but it doesn’t stop Tana. He hits the senton off the second, SANADA fires a low dropkick to the knee and both trade dragon screws. Tana avoids a springboard dropkick, drives SANADA’s knee into the mat with a dragon screw and looks for the Texas Cloverhold but SANADA finds the ropes.
SANADA looks to turn a running forearm into a hurricanrana but Tana stops the momentum and transitions into the Texas Cloverhold. He reaches the ropes, they trade uppercuts, forearms from SANADA, a slap from Tana and a Tana slam turned to Skull End. Tana transitions to two Twist & Shouts, SANADA pulls the third into a rope-assisted Magic Killer and a bridging Tiger Suplex before applying the Skull End. SANADA lets go of the hold, lands a top rope moonsault to the back, looks to do it to Tana’s chest but Tana gets the knees up and cradles.
Tanahashi turns another Skull End into a cradle, looks for a Dragon Suplex but SANADA counters into a spinning Skull End. Final Cut and Slingblade by Tana, SANADA flips through a Dragon Suplex, looks for an O’Connor Roll but Tana blocks. SANADA blocks Tana’s Japanese Leg Clutch and traps Tana in Skull End for the win to the cheers of the home crowd. SANADA goes to leave without a word but the fans call him back. He tells them to turn on their camera light and shuts off the arena lights. Niigata is his favorite, he’ll see them tomorrow and that’s how we go off air.
A perfect match between Okada and Ishii. It’s cliché to say a match felt only half of its actual time but it’s absolutely true here. SANADA did the same double leap frog dropkick immediately after knee work just like he did in the Suzuki match. Spots like that take me out of his matches but the hometown atmosphere was cool and helped me forget about some of the lazy spots. Both matches hit and are well worth taking the time to watch but in typical Ishii fashion, he outshined the main event. The feel-good ending for SANADA sent everyone home happy so there’s very little to complain about.
Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
Okada vs Ishii
SANADA vs Tanahashi
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