It was the start of the second round as NJPW came to Okayama. The crowd were loud and the matches delivered as first time meetings occurred in the undercard and the main event delivered what could be the best match of the tournament so far. The other features the underdog of the tournament, YOSHI-HASHI taking on the biggest upset winner, Chase Owens. Let’s get into it.
Taiji Ishimori, HIKULEO & Bad Luck Fale defeated Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura via Yes Lock on Uemura
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Togi Makabe defeated Yuji Nagata, Toa Henare & Manabu Nakanishi via King Kong Knee Drop on Nakanishi
Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi defeated Michael Elgin, Shota Umino & Ren Narita via Noshigami on Narita
EVIL & SANADA defeated Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr via Bridging O Connor
Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay & Hirooki Goto defeated Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer & TAKA Michinoku via GTR on TAKA
Colt Cabana, Ryusuke Taguchi & Mickey Nicholls defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano via Mickey Bomb on Yano
YOSHI-HASHI defeated Chase Owens via Karma
Chase Owens had all the confidence going into this one. He’d caused a massive upset in round one and barely anyone ever considers Yoshi Hashi a threat. Plus he also had a kendo stick-wielding Jado in his corner so how could he possibly lose? Well it turns out his greatest weapon would also be his undoing. Chase Owens dreams of victory flashed before his eyes as the kendo stick smashed him across the face and Yoshi Hashi finished him with Karma. What must’ve stung even more than the facial welt was that he’d had control for most of the match. He bullied Hashi for the greater part of ten minutes as he picked apart the shoulder of his opponent. Every time Hashi would try to come back he would be slapped down again through legal or illegal means.
Despite what first impressions may give, this was an incredibly enjoyable match. Yoshi-Hashi is a natural babyface that crowds will try to rally behind. Whenever he fires up the crowd tries to push him to be better and having a bullying opponent only aids that. Chase has also come a long way with his in-ring intensity and pacing as he relished mocking and breaking down his opponent. At one point he even threw Hashi into the ring apron from the ramp and called it “Yoshi-Hashi doing a Yoshi-Hashi” in reference to the horrific tumble he took trying to save Okada from White last year. He may not have won but Owens definitely made his case for his involvement in future tournaments and his capability as a heel.
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Taichi via Vertical Drop Brainbuster
If you’d have told me that Taichi vs Ishii would be the match of the tournament at the start of the night, I’d have probably questioned your judgement. Now after seeing it, I’d wholly agree. At first glance, it’s not difficult to think Ishii would put on the match of the tournament but against Taichi, a cult favourite, might be pushing it. Now it should be noted I love Taichi so this just makes me even happier to have seen it. Anyway onto the match. This started as the typical Taichi match, some stalling, some mocking and a whole lot of angering the opponent. However, Ishii wasn’t playing ball so the second he got his hands on Taichi he murdered him. He threw him back outside and rammed him into every bit of furniture he could until Taichi threw a chair into Ishii’s face. From there it was a Taichi proving match as he tried to keep Ishii down.
After the opening minutes, the match became much more serious. Taichi stepped up his game, unleashing Kawada influenced moves and stiffening up his strikes to try and match Ishii. The pair traded vicious kicks, strikes, chops, Axe Bombers and Lariats multiple times in an effort to put the other down. Ishii had a thing against Taichi’s throat as he put plenty of chops into it and Taichi tried to step up by not using his mic stand despite having the opportunity to. There was even some dastardly move thieving as Ishii tried to put away Taichi with his own Powerbomb. There were so many moments that were gasp-inducing and so many false finishes that made the edge of the seat the best place to view this match. In the end, Taichi just couldn’t keep the Stone Pitbull down though and ate the Vertical Drop Brainbuster to end his NJ Cup. He gave it his all but just couldn’t finish the job. He survived a Piledriver and so many other moves but in the end, the finisher finished it.
Just to reiterate, this is one of the best matches of the whole tournament. It had tension, drama and a manic crowd who could not decide which side to chant for. Taichi went from stalling punk to believable fighter over the course of the match making his loss all the more heartbreaking. Ishii is Ishii so a good match was guaranteed. Ishii nearly always brings out the best in his opponents and this was no exception. Taichi has a surprisingly varied move-set so it was nice to actually see him show it off.
So that’s the first set of round 2 matches out of the way. Both winners had to go through wars to get into the quarterfinals. So far it’s two Chaos stablemates set to face off with the potential for more Chaos members to get through. Tomorrow sees Will Ospreay tangle with the hulking Lance Archer and the newcomer Mickey Nicholls lock up with the leader of Chaos Kazuchika Okada. Hopefully it is just as enjoyable as today’s show. Plus following the undercard tag match, we need to see Elgin take on Takagi in a singles match. Can that happen please?
Quarter Final Matches
YOSHI-HASHI vs Tomohiro Ishii
(All images courtesy of njpw1972.com)