2019 New Japan Cup: Round Two
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2019 New Japan Cup: Second Round

March 13, 2019
By: Lou Pickney

We've reached the Round of 16 in the 2019 New Japan Cup. So far, so good with my VoW pick 'em. Thanks to a 14/16 Round One, I'm still in contention. Though there isn't much room for error, not with 630 entrants and an overwhelming number picking Kazuchika Okada to win, just as I did.

For what it's worth, I think Chase Owens will beat Yoshi-Hashi in the only Round Two matchup that I didn't project correctly.

Of the 630 VoW pick 'em entrants, only one went a perfect 16/16 in Round One. And that person predicted a Kota Ibushi tournament victory.

So I rewatched some of the top Round One NJ Cup matches yesterday, this time with Japanese commentary. Ibushi vs. Naito was tops of course. The Japanese play-by-play announcer shouting "tombstone!" when Naito hit Ibushi with the sit-out tombstone on the apron was great, though it really is crazy for either wrestler at this point in their respective careers to take such serious physical risks like they both did in that match.

On second viewing, and particularly being able to watch the match without playing beat the clock ahead of the start of my weekend, I liked Nagata vs. Ishii better than SANADA vs. Goto. And I'm a huge fan of SANADA, and I liked his match with Goto. But Nagata vs. Ishii is the kind of strong-style, hard-hitting, thrilling match that makes New Japan so much fun. And that's with Nagata at age 50 and Ishii at 43.

Night 5 of the 2019 New Japan Cup, live from the Zip Arena in Okayama, has an interesting card as Round Two of the tournament gets underway tonight/early tomorrow morning:

1. Juice Robinson & Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura vs. Bad Luck Fale & Hikuleo & Taiji Ishimori
2. Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Togi Makabe vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare
3. Michael Elgin & Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI & Shingo Takagi
4. EVIL & SANADA vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Minoru Suzuki
5. Kota Ibushi & Will Ospreay & Hirooki Goto vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Lance Archer & Taka Michinoku
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Mikey Nicholls & Colt Cabana
7. NJ Cup Second Round: Yoshi-Hashi vs. Chase Owens
8. NJ Cup Second Round: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi

Interesting opportunity for Ishii in the main event to join Will Ospreay and Jushin Liger as the only wrestlers to get a four-star or better singles match out of Taichi. They are in the main event spot and should have time. Ishii is 2-0 against Taichi all-time, most recently in February 2010.

I have concern that Taichi might used the Iron Finger From Hell to beat Ishii. The winners of the two Cup matches on this show will face in a quarterfinal match at Twin Messe Shizuoka, and keep in mind that building isn't exactly huge, to the point where Taichi (if he beats Ishii) vs. the Yoshi/Chase winner in the semi-main seems reasonable. And they will almost for sure have Okada on top, taking on the Archer vs. Ospreay winner.

There's a reason I've been so bullish on Archer. But, if I'm wrong, that just means we get another Okada vs. Ospreay match, absent a truly shocking Nicholls upset of Okada. But that would burn a match that could sell out Sumo Hall on a venue that I believe only holds about 1,800 max, whereas Okada vs. Archer would be something new (it would be their first singles match since 2014) on a show where that would be an acceptable main event.

If you've never seen it, here's a look at how Twin Messe Shizuoka looked during the 2015 G1 match between Karl Anderson and Shinsuke Nakamura:

As for tonight's show in Okayama, here's hoping that Elgin & Umino & Narita vs. Naito & BUSHI & Shingo match is given plenty of time. The match has a 20 minute time limit, and if they were ever to do a time limit draw in an undercard six-man tag (and when is that last time that happened in a NJPW six-man?), that might be a good spot to do it... or at least tease a time limit draw before the finish.

Also, a reminder: tickets go on sale for the Dallas G1 show later today. First-time ever for any G1 tournament matches to take place outside of Japan on that show.

See any mistakes, omissions, or needed corrections? Please let me know: @LouPickney

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