The second-round of the New Japan Cup began on Wednesday with a card from Okayama with two tournament matches taking place.
In the first match, Yoshi-Hashi defeated Chase Owens in 14:10. At the start, Owens drove Yoshi-Hashi into the edge of the apron as a spoof on Yoshi-Hashi’s legitimate injury during a run-in last September. In the ring, Owens landed a double foot stomp from the top and applied the sharpshooter. Yoshi-Hashi fought back, he went for Karma and Owens grabbed the referee, who was distracted and allowed Jado to toss the kendo stick to Owens, who nailed Yoshi-Hashi. Owens landed a running knee for a near fall and then Yoshi-Hashi stopped the Jewel Heist, took out Jado with a baseball slide dropkick and finished Owens after applying the Butterfly Lock and later using Karma for the pin.
The strength of the match came in the final minutes with Yoshi-Hashi getting the audience behind him. Typically, Yoshi-Hashi struggles when it comes to fans engagement but once they believe he has a chance to win, they can get behind him in a strong way. This was a mild upset given Owens just beat the United States champion, but that’s Owens big win of the tournament and likely sets up a title match for April.
In the main event of the show, Tomohiro Ishii defeated Taichi in 22:57 after hitting the brainbuster. This was excellent and perhaps the best match of Taichi’s career. The other candidates would be the singles matches Taichi had with Tetsuya Naito in February 2018 and against Hiroshi Tanahashi at last year’s New Japan Cup.
Ishii attempted a Sliding D and Taichi used Red Shoes as a shield. Taichi grabbed the microphone stand, Ishii challenged him to use it and Taichi tossed the object aside. The match built from there with Taichi introducing a lot of new offensive maneuvers and withstanding all of Ishii’s offense with numerous kicks outs. Ishii blocked Black Mephisto and hit a piledriver, which Taichi popped up from. Taichi withstood several lariats, a head butt and connected with a low blow to Ishii and used the Gedo clutch for a huge near fall. After that climactic kick out, Ishii hit the Sliding D and brainbuster to win.
Ishii was excellent as you would expect for a big main event but Taichi looked great, too. This was a solid performance and he gained a lot in losing.
Ishii will meet Yoshi-Hashi in the third round of the tournament.
The New Japan Cup resumes Thursday with the following second-round matches:
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Mikey Nicholls
*Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer