Previously on NJPW: Tanahashi Zack Sabre Jr.’d Zack Sabre Jr. into a rage, Chase Owens Old School Southern Heeled Juice Robinson into a rage, the Chaos hierarchy was maintained with minimal rage involved.
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And now, the best and worst of the semifinal and final shows of the 2019 New Japan Cup from March 23-24 in Niigata.
A Real Mixed Bag: Loitering On The Undercard
I’m going to really hook you into this article by starting by talking about the least important stuff on these shows! The undercard tag matches started to feel directionless as the New Japan Cup wore on because fewer and fewer wrestlers in them had any real direction for this tour even as new title feuds began. They were just here to fill up time and fill up the card. There were some standout tag matches on these last two shows, but they stood out from a relatively weak field.
This hadn’t been the best tour for Dads-and-Young-Lions matches, but the eight-man on March 23 is an energetic opener that wins over the crowd. Afterward, we learn via Uemura’s professional jealousy that Ren Narita will probably be in Best of the Super Juniors this year!
And in both his match with Umino against Shingo Takagi and Bushi and his role – again pairing off with Takagi – in the L.I.J. vs. Hodgepodge Of Other Babyface Factions, Narita looks as ready for a big break, showing what’s now his signature mix of fighting spirit and creative counters. The Young Lions-on-junior-tag-contenders tag is overall the exact eight-minute match you’d want to see between these two teams too, featuring good work from the dojo boys but ultimately putting over Bushi and Takagi as a dominant team as we continue to watch for them to get their title shot. I bought into Takagi’s teaser that Roppongi 3K could show up on the last night to mess with them, but I guess we’ll have to wait until the Dontaku tour for anything like that.