The second-round of the New Japan Cup concluded Sunday with a card from Korakuen Hall featuring Sanada vs. Minoru Suzuki and Colt Cabana vs. Toru Yano.
In the first tournament match, Cabana defeated Yano in 7:48 after a struggle for the turnbuckle padding led to Cabana capitalizing and pinning Yano with the Superman cover.
It started with Cabana insisting there was no joking around in this match, Yano disagreed but then relented and offered Cabana curry as a gift. Each tried to outsmart the other leading to rollups that were unsuccessful. Cabana found a roll of tape inside Yano’s tights and Red Shoes found another roll when he inspected him. It set up a spot where Cabana taped the turnbuckle padding to the corner and frustrated Yano when he went to remove it. Yano got another corner padding and they battled over the padding, leading to Yano swinging and it bounced off the top rope into his head. Cabana dove onto Yano with the Superman pin to win. Cabana sold the big as a massive surprise and the audience cheered him.
While it was comedy-based, it was done by two of the best at it and I never thought this was too silly for a serious tournament. Obviously, this is a palette cleanser compared to the main event on this show, but the audience loved it and sets up Cabana working a more traditional style in the next round.
In the main event, Sanada pinned Minoru Suzuki in 28:45 to advance to the third round. This was excellent and felt like a major step forward for Sanada as a singles star.
Suzuki attacked Sanada’s right knee throughout the match and focused on it with chair shots, knee bars and limiting Sanada’s ability to rely on the moonsault. The crowd was going insane for Sanada when he was locked in Suzuki’s submissions and felt like a major babyface to the crowd. They had a great sequence where Suzuki ducked, applied the rear-naked choke and Sanada countered to the Skull End and Suzuki countered that back to the choke on the mat. Sanada attempted a moonsault and landed on his feet, re-injuring the knee.
Sanada executed a backflip off the turnbuckle to re-apply the Skull End. Suzuki was stuck in the move, he tried everything to break free, including attacking the ankles but could not get out. Sanada released it and went for a cover for two, then to the top, Suzuki could not move out of the way and Sanada hit the moonsault for the win.
The main event was tremendous and among the top 5-6 matches of the tournament. Sanada felt like a top star in this match.
The third-round matches take place Wednesday and Thursday with the semi-finals next Saturday and the final on Sunday, March 24th. Below are the third-round matches:
*Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yoshi-Hashi (Wednesday)
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay (Wednesday)
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Thursday)
*Sanada vs. Colt Cabana (Thursday)