NEW JAPAN 49TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW RESULTS
MARCH 4, 2021
TOKYO, JAPAN AT NIPPON BUDOKAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
-The anniversary show, in a bit of a surprise move, also was the home of the first two New Japan Cup tournament matches. The bracket is full of first-round intrigue and bracket-buster potential. I joined Chris Samsa’s bracket challenge and while I killed it in the first round last year, I’m fully expecting to have a hard go of it this year.
(1) HIROOKI GOTO & TOMOAKI HONMA & MASTER WATO & GABRIEL KIDD vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Douki)
Suzuki-Gun jumped the faces during their intro and the bell sounded. Wato and Honma teamed up on Suzuki for a minute before Kidd tagged himself in and took some shots at Suzuki and slammed him. Sabre attacked from the apron and Kidd went out and threw forearms at him and Sabre crumbled to the floor. Everything broke down and all eight ended up outside brawling. Douki tagged in when everything got back into the ring and he clawed Kidd’s face in the Suzuki-Gun corner. Suzuki and Sabre stretched out Kidd’s legs from the outside. Taichi tagged in and threw some quick kicks to ground Kidd. Sabre tagged in for some dismissive kicks to rile Kidd and worked a cravat on the mat afterward. Snap mare by Sabre. Running PK missed and Kidd hit a dropkick to applause.
Taichi and Got tagged in. Goto controlled and dominated Douki when he interfered as well. Elbow drop got a two count for Goto. Goto wanted an ushigoroshi but Taichi slipped free and choked Goto for as long as was legal. Taichi threw knees at Goto’s head and Goto got up and took some shots at Taichi, but ran into a sort of butterfly lock. Douki tagged in and whipped Goto and hit a corner lariat. Running lariat didn’t ground Goto but a step-up enzuigiri did. Suzuki-Gun all got involved and Douki hit a double stomp for two. Douki Chokey! Honma interfered and hit a kokeshi on Douki to break it up. Inside, Douki wanted Daybreak on Goto, who caught him and blocked it. Master Wato made a save from some Douki offense and Goto hit an ushigoroshi and a GTR to finish.
WINNERS: Goto & Honma & Wato & Kidd at 10:27. (**)
(Wells’s Analysis: As intentionally messy as you’d expect from a Suzuki-Gun eight-man. Kidd’s segment was very strong; the guy just keeps getting better as he inches closer to graduating from Young Lionhood)
(2) HIROSHI TANAHASHI & JUICE ROBINSON & DAVID FINLAY & TOA HENARE & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL & KENTA & Jay White & Taiji Ishimori & Chase Owens) (w/Gedo)
Lots of pre-match posturing by both sides. Toa Henare wanted his first-round opponent, Jay White, to start. Henare powered White to a corner but White struck his way to the opposite corner. White ran for a bit and tagged Kenta. Robinson tagged in and he powered Kenta back to a rope, and Kenta reversed and hit a brief headlock. Robinson tried to shove him off but Kenta grabbed onto Robinson’s teased-out hair to hold on. Kicks from Kenta. Rights by Juice. Russian leg sweep by Robinson, followed by a senton for two. Robinson jawed at Jay White on the outside. Inside, all five faces charged the ring and stomped Kenta and it almost broke down.
Tanahashi was legal after the brief breakdown, and very shortly after, all five of Bullet Club stomped him in the same manner that the faces stomped Kenta. White tagged in and threw a couple of kicks and tagged Evil. Evil worked an abdominal stretch and the rest of Bullet Club yanked Tanahashi’s arm in a chain that went out of the ring to the floor. Evil took down Tana and covered for two. Owens tagged in and wrenched Tanahashi’s leg. Tag to Ishimori, who kicked a few times and kept Tanahashi in the Bullet Club corner. Ishimori missed a basement dropkick and Tanahashi hit him with a dragon screw. Tag to Finlay, who ran the ropes and hit an uppercut on Owens. Another from off the turnbuckle for two. Owens hit a running knee and tagged Evil.
Evil tried to do his spot with the ref but Finlay saw it coming and hit a neckbreaker. Taguchi tagged in and sent his team to go out after Bullet Club, and Evil immediately hit Everything is Evil to finish.
WINNERS: Bullet Club at 7:39. (**)
(Wells’s Analysis: Some decently fun spots, and Taguchi getting himself immediately pinned was a funny finish)
(3) CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & SHO) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi & SANADA & BUSHI)
First-round opponents Okada and Takagi opened. Collar and elbow. Okada took Takagi to the ropes for a clean break. Takagi quickly took shots at Okada but ran into a boot. Whip and a back elbow by Okada. Ishii tagged in and asked for his own first-round opponent, Sanada. Sanada and Ishii traded arm wringers. Both missed shots and reversed holds repeatedly. Rope run and Sanada hit a dropkick. Uppercut by Sanada. Sho ran in and took down Sanada with a forearm. Everyone got involved and took shots and got dumped one by one. The action got back to Sanada and Ishii and Sanada grounded Ishii and tagged Bushi. Bushi choked Ishii with his shirt and tagged Sanada. Back suplex by Sanada got a two count. Sanada nearly got Ishii in the Skull End and Ishii countered and nearly hit the brainbuster. Ishii ended up settling for a vertical suplex.
Okada and Takagi tagged in. Running back elbow by Okada. DDT by Okada got two. Takagi got to his feet and the two exchanged forearms. Takagi hit a stiff corner lariat and another in the opposite corner. Pumping bomber was blocked. Okada went for the Money Clip and it was blocked. Takagi hit a boot to create separation. Sho tagged in and threw kicks at Takagi. Rope run and a big shoulder block by Takagi. Bushi tagged in. Dropkick and a Bushiroonie. Dropkick and DDT by Bushi for two. It broke down and Takagi grounded Sho with a pumping bomber, then speared Sho. Sho recovered and hit a German suplex on Bushi. Rope run and a lariat by Sho. Shock Arrow finished.
WINNERS: Okada & Ishii & SHO at 9:13. (**1/2)
(Wells’s Analysis: Some compelling pairings for the Cup were given a good spotlight here)
After the match, Ishii and Sanada had a long staredown and threw some chops before they were separated.
-ANNOUNCEMENT: Two separate shows called “Wrestle Grand Slam” will take place in Yokohama Stadium on May 15th, and in the Tokyo Dome on May 29th. This is the first time they’ve been in Tokyo Dome outside of Wrestle Kingdom since 2005, and the first New Japan show ever at Yokohama Stadium.
-Cleaning and disinfecting.
(4) SATOSHI KOJIMA vs. JEFF COBB – New Japan Cup first round match
Waistlock exchange to start. Front chancery by Cobb and a rope break. Rope run and Kojima blocked Cobb, who barely moved. Two more attempts. A third took down Cobb, who got up and took Kojima down with one of his own. Cobb took Kojima to a corner and blocked him a couple of times, then ran for a splash and missed. Kojima threw machine gun chops. Irish whip and Kojima did his taunt and went up for an elbow, but Cobb caught him and drove him to the opposite corner. Lariat by Cobb. Cobb threw a headbutt and kicked at Kojima on the mat. Cobb picked up Kojima for a dropkick and covered for two.
Cobb threw some forearms and hit a back elbow. Standing moonsault for two by Cobb. Cobb backed referee Marty Asami to a corner in frustration. Cobb chopped Kojima in the corner and did some machine gun chops himself. Running forearm by Cobb. Cobb went up top and Kojima popped up and met him on the turnbuckle. Kojima set up a superplex and, after some shots to soften Cobb, hit it. Shining Wizard by Kojima. Cobb went to the outside. Kojima went for a cross-body and Cobb caught and slammed him to the floor. Cobb went to the apron and Kojima tripped him from behind and hit a DDT on the apron. Cobb crumbled to the floor. Back inside, Kojima hit an elbow drop from the second turnbuckle. A few forearms and a DDT from Kojima. Kojima wanted the Koji Cutter but Cobb fought it off and tossed Kojima aside. Cobb hit a running forearm in a corner and picked up Kojima for a powerslam into a turnbuckle pad. Kojima slipped out and hit a Koji Cutter.
Kojima hit a brainbuster. Cobb hit spin cycle and a gut-wrench suplex into a powerbomb for a two count. Cobb wanted Tour of the Islands but Kojima blocked and hit a lariat for two. Kojima ripped off his elbow pad and went for his running lariat, but Cobb hit a superkick and ran in for a lariat, but Kojima stuck out his arm to ground Cobb. Kojima ran the ropes but fell right into Tour of the Islands.
WINNER: Jeff Cobb at 11:49. (***1/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: Jeff Cobb now faces Evil in a second round all-heel match that doesn’t seem to lend well to Evil’s strengths as a despicable heel act, but I’ll be interested to see how it’s worked. Good stuff here with Kojima being presented as more of an equal than an underdog, and Cobb had to get creative at the end to finish him off)
(5) TETSUYA NAITO vs. THE GREAT O-KHAN – New Japan Cup first round match
By way of Chris Samsa’s stats, Kevin Kelly pointed out that Naito’s last singles victory was November 7th. Kelly also pointed out Naito’s unfortunate recent history in the tournament. Both made productions of removing their entrance gear and Naito mocked O-Khan’s formal stance.
O’Khan took Naito to a corner. Clean break. Rope run and Naito dumped O’Khan, then mocked his mannerisms again. O-Khan sarcastically laughed from the outside. Back inside, Naito took down O-Khan with a headlock, then threw some forearms. Naito ran the ropes and got caught in a submission and Naito scrambled to a rope to break. The two spilled outside and O-Khan yanked Naito’s hair and whipped him into a barricade. O-Khan stomped Naito and tossed him back into the ring for a one count.
Gut-wrench overhead suplex by O-Khan got a two count. O-Khan took some shots at Naito in the corner and sat on his head and posed. O-Khan wrenched Naito’s arms back. O-Khan taunted Naito, who ran the ropes for a single-leg dropkick. Running back elbow and a dropkick by Naito. Combinacion Cabron by Naito. Naito wanted a neckbreaker, blocked, but he hit it on the second attempt for two. Cravat by Naito and O-Khan got to the corner to break. Back to a cravat by Naito, but O-Khan broke and ran Naito to the ropes for a big boot. Both guys sold on the mat.
Mongolian chops by O-Khan. Rope run and O-Khan caught Naito. Naito went for sliced bread but O-Khan caught and planted him. O-Khan went outside and tied Naito’s legs around the post and kind of did a cloverleaf using the post. O-Khan got a chair and bashed it against Naito’s leg. O-Khan set up a chair out on the floor and did a kneebreaker to Naito on it in a nasty-looking spot. O-Khan went inside the ring and did his formal post as he stared out at Naito. Referee Red Shoes Unno started the count. Naito milked it to 19 and 99/100ths (or so). He entered the ring and O-Khan slammed him down for a near-fall.
O-Khan tied up Naito’s legs in a submission and Naito broke with a rope. Naito finally reversed a suplex with his own to get a breather after a long sequence of O-Khan in control. Naito took O-Khan to a corner and hit some back elbows. To another corner for some more back elbows. Diamond Dust by Naito for two. Naito wanted Gloria, but O-Khan fought it off. Naito went for it again and O-Khan broke and planted Naito on his face. Release suplex by O-Khan for two. O-Khan wanted The Eliminator and Naito fought it off. O-Khan wanted it again and Naito slipped out and hit a Destino out of nowhere but he couldn’t cover. Naito set him up for another and got caught in a fireman’s carry briefly. O-Khan hit a short lariat on Naito and worked Naito’s right leg for a submission. Naito rolled over but O-Khan kept Naito from the ropes. Naito writhed in agony and tried to grab Red Shoes to deal with the pain. Chris Charlton said the ref might have to call it for Naito’s safety. Soon after, that did indeed happen.
WINNER: The Great O-Khan at 20:21. (***3/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: I had O-Khan going deep but I got cold feet and I reversed course and had him lose here. Oh well! Strong match here with O-Khan dominating, but Naito is able to hit his impact moves out of relative nowhere to stay in it. In the end, O-Khan overpowered Naito and stunned and silenced the crowd. If it means destroying my chances in the bracket entirely, I’m on board with a very deep run by O-Khan to get his momentum going in the right direction. Naito, if he’s not going to win the tournament, may as well just give someone else the rub immediately and get back to the grind afterward)
(6) KOTA IBUSHI (c) vs. EL DESPERADO (w/Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) – IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match
For anyone uninitiated, the tradition is for the Heavyweight Champion to face the Junior Heavyweight Champion at the anniversary show. Last year the show was wiped out by the pandemic ahead of a juicy matchup between Tetsuya Naito and stablemate Hiromu Takahashi; this year Takahashi was likely tabbed for the match with Ibushi before his latest injury setback.
Mat reversals to start. Desperado grounded Ibushi briefly with a scissors and the two continued to reverse holds on the mat. Ibushi powered out of a waistlock and worked a brief wristlock, reversed by Desperado. Ibushi tripped Desperado and worked a headlock. Desperado dropped to the mat and the two worked some reversals again. Ibushi started with some strikes and asked for Desperado to do the same, so Desperado stomped his foot instead. Rope run and Ibushi sent Desperado to the floor. Ibushi went out and sent Desperado back inside and slammed him. Headlock by Ibushi into a headscissors. Cover for two. Desperado hit his feet and Ibushi asked for some shots and got them. Ibushi booted Desperado to the floor. Combo kicks by Ibushi. Desperado went for some shots again and Ibushi said “more please.” Shot exchange and Ibushi booted Desperado into a corner.
Irish whip by Desperado and a basement dropkick to the knee. Both guys sold on the mat. Numero Dos by Desperado but Ibushi reached the ropes to break. Desperado stomped Ibushi’s leg and ran the ropes right into a powerslam. Ibushi went up to the second buckle but Desperado dropkicked him to the floor. Tope suicida by Desperado. Guitarra de la Angel by Desperado got two. Desperado stomped Ibushi’s leg but Ibushi kicked up at him. Desperado dropped a knee on Ibushi’s lower leg. Ibushi again kicked up at Desperado to catch a breather. Running basement dropkick by Desperado missed as Ibushi jumped and stomped Desperado as a result.
Stiff kicks to the chest by Ibushi, who threw some arrogant Sabre-style kicks at Desperado, but Despy caught him in Number Dos out of nowhere and then dragged him from the ropes. Ibushi bounced himself to the ropes eventually. Desperado wanted Pinche Loco but Ibushi fought it off. Desperado charged Ibushi and yet again, he jumped to avoid trouble and was able to stomp Desperado, who sold it with some loud groans. Ibushi kicked derisively as Desperado. Chris Charlton said Desperado said “nice kicks” to Ibushi.
Stiff chest shots by Ibushi. Desperado showed up with fighting spirit and fought off the pain and threw some of his own. Flying splash by Desperado got two. Double underhook by Desperado, escaped. After some reversals, Ibushi hit a jumping knee and Desperado hit a right and both guys crumbled to the mat. Desperado wanted Pinche Loco but Ibushi avoided it and hit a short clothesline. Big sitout powerbomb by Ibushi got two. Ibushi wanted Kamigoye but Desperado trapped him for a two and seven-eighths count. Kamigoye was again reversed into Numero Dos. Red Shoes did a wonderful job of selling it like Ibushi might have to give up. Ibushi rolled free and trapped Desperado for a two count. Kamigoye got a two count. Ibushi removed his kneepad and hit another to finish as his Suzuki-Gun brethren begged him to kick out.
After the three, Ibushi showed Desperado some touching respect with a hand clasp to great applause.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi at 20:35. (****1/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: An absolute gem of a match in a situation where the match was likely never supposed to happen. It was the match of the night but the previous one gave it a run for its money despite being a completely different flavor. Ibushi continues to deliver against all opponents and Desperado yet again shows that the company was right to reward his years of hard work to get to the championship. Hiromu’s injury is terrible, but from lemons came lemonade as it is not certain that Desperado would’ve been in line for the championship otherwise)
-Ibushi did his mic time afterward and did the usual lines of anyone, anywhere, anytime. He said he wanted to defend against Hiroshi Tanahashi (who was on the Japanese announce team for the main event) among others.
FINAL THOUGHTS: (8.5)
This seemed a little straightforward for an anniversary show, but on the other hand, all three singles matches delivered to a pretty big degree. Really, this may have only been hurt by the inevitability of the heavyweight always beating the junior heavyweight. The Great O-Khan took his next step toward stardom tonight as well in a strong match with Tetsuya Naito, who is now back in full-on chase mode, which is where fans like him anyway. Thumbs up and I’ll be back with a recap a week from today and again for the final. Cheers.