The third round of the New Japan Cup began on Wednesday with two quarter-final matches involving members of the CHAOS faction.
In the first tournament match, Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yoshi-Hashi in 20:25 to advance to the semi-finals. The match was designed to get the audience behind the idea that Yoshi-Hashi could win the match and take his career to the next level while living up the potential others have seen in him. They did a successful job in peaking the match to numerous near falls the audience bit on for Yoshi-Hashi.
Yoshi-Hashi countered a brainbuster with an inside cradle to begin a series of false finishes. Yoshi-Hashi stood up to Ishii who challenged him to fight back with an extended forearm exchange that Yoshi-Hashi got the better of. Yoshi-Hashi popped up after absorbing a DDT but then fell to a headbutt and brainbuster by Ishii.
It was a very good match and on par with some of Yoshi-Hashi’s stronger efforts in past G1 tournament when he’s been able to shine with the right opponent.
In the main event of the show, Kazuchika Okada pinned Will Ospreay at 20:09 and was a terrific match.
Kevin Kelly and Excalibur were on the English commentary and Excalibur was tremendous breaking down the injury that sidelined Ospreay late last year explaining it was a muscle tear underneath the ribs and what he’s recovered from. Ospreay did favor the ribs to continue that elements of his matches since the return. There was one sequence where Ospreay hit consecutive shooting star presses off the top onto Okada’s back that contradicted that injury.
Okada did the Rainmaker pose mid-way through and was met with a roundhouse kick. Each had the other’s key moves scouted. Okada avoided the Storm Breaker and Ospreay stopped Heavy Rain with a cutter. Ospreay caught Okada with a near fall and it was the second-best near fall of the tournament behind Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shota Umino because of the timing.
Okada stopped an OsCutter with a dropkick in mid-air that looked excellent, hit the tombstone and then Ospreay blocked the Rainmaker, Okada responded with a spinning tombstone and hit the Rainmaker and Ospreay was defeated.
The match was outstanding, even watching it with the understanding it’s the quarter-finals and these two probably know down the road they will get to have a killer main event on a major stage.
Okada will take on Ishii on Saturday’s card in the semi-finals.
The quarter-finals continue Thursday with Hiroshi Tanahashi facing Zack Sabre Jr. and Sanada facing off with Colt Cabana.