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NJPW ‘New Japan Cup’ First Round Star Ratings

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Welcome to the debut of my star ratings here on FightBoothPW. As we all know, ratings are completely subjective. What you find entertaining may differ from what I like and vice versa. Knowing this, you should always take someone’s ratings with a grain of salt and mine are no exception. Something that stands out to me when I read other people’s ratings is the devaluation. What does a five star match mean if you have three or more in a single show?

That’s not my style.

The standard I go by is that if a match receives three stars or higher, I’m strongly recommending you check it out. Any title match or main event that goes under two and three-fourths is considered a failure of a match. You will see plenty of one star matches from me because how many matches do you really remember? If you’re like me, everything turns into a blur and it’s hard for something to stand out. The matches that do standout should be praised. Those that don’t should be criticized.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s look at the first round of the New Japan Cup. There were eight matches, three of which I strongly recommend checking out.

1. Michael Elgin vs Tomohiro Ishii – ***3/4
The classic 90s All Japan feel, even finished with a Burning Hammer. Elgin and Ishii threw bombs at each other, no sold a good portion and nearly died for wrestling. This was all sorts of fun and ranks inside my top ten New Japan matches this year.

2. Kota Ibushi vs YOSHI-HASHI – ***1/4
Ibushi brings out the best in his opponents. He’s always on point and so innovative that he pushes his opposition to do the same. The last month or so, Y-H has had three standout performances. He’s been pushed into going beyond what’s expected and has looked inspired.

3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Taichi – ***
Everyone held their breath when Taichi was announced as moving up into the heavyweight division. Rest assured, so far he’s been fun. Granted, he’s faced two of the world’s best, Tanahashi and Naito, but he’s put in the work as well. Also, you can never go wrong with watching a Tanahashi match.

4. SANADA vs Chuckie T. – **3/4
A match that didn’t impress me on paper. I didn’t really know what to expect but ended up pleasantly surprised. There was a powerbomb through a table on the outside and heart from Chuckie T. as he evaded several Skull End attempts. Considering the predictable circumstances, these two did really well.

5. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tetsuya Naito – **1/2
Disappointing considering its positioning. Once Ibushi won earlier in the night, there was no possibility of Naito winning here. Naito versus Ibushi is too big of a match for the second round of New Japan Cup. On top of that, this was a mat-based match where over half the twenty-three minutes was Naito selling. I was just watching Naito escape holds for twenty-plus minutes, knowing exactly what was going to be the outcome. Not very exciting to watch.

6. Juice Robinson vs Yujiro Takahashi – **1/2
In just three years, Juice has managed to become a heavy fan favorite just about everywhere New Japan travels. It’s hard to believe in Yujiro as any sort of threat anymore but he can still have strong performances like this one.

7. Bad Luck Fale vs Lance Archer – **
A chaotic, brawling, big mans match that saw Archer literally hurling young lions at Fale. Entertaining for who these guys are but not something I’ll remember by the end of the month let alone the year.

8. Toru Yano vs Davey Boy Smith Jr. – *
If I do end up remembering this one, it’ll be for the wrong reasons. Why they went thirteen minutes is beyond me. I can appreciate Yano’s presence but he’s much better suited in a tag. If he’s in a singles, make sure that it goes under five minutes.

Robert McCauley hasn't missed 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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