This morning marked the conclusion of the first round of the New Japan Cup. The final two first-round matches were Yoshi-Hashi versus Kyle Fletcher and Shingo Takagi versus Aaron Henare.

Hashi and Fletcher began with some chain technical wrestling until Fletcher chopped the soul out of Hashi’s chest. He then booted Hashi off the apron to the outside and followed that by throwing him into the barricade making him fall into the crowd. Fletcher then went to get him and ended up running him into the other side of the barricade sending him into the crowd once again.

After a string of suplexes from Fletcher, Hashi began to rally with some strong forearms and a dropkick to Fletcher’s knee. Fletcher was then thrown to the outside and Hashi ran with a basement dropkick sending Fletcher flying into the barricade. He then returned the favour to Fletcher by repeatedly throwing him into the barricades.

Kyle Fletcher dives onto Yoshi-Hashi. Credit: NJPW

Hashi then dove from the top rope and hit Fletcher with a blockbuster for a two-count. Hashi then went back to the second rope, but Fletcher kicked him to the outside and he then dove through the ropes hitting Hashi with a suicide dive.

Fletcher followed that with a running boot into the corner and he then dropped Hashi with a brainbuster for a two-count of his own. Fletcher then spiked him with a driver and he wanted the finish, but Hashi blocked and hit him with a Canadian destroyer.

Both men then traded forearms and they were not holding anything back, they then traded lariats before Fletcher caught Hashi with a superkick. Fletcher landed a running enzigiri and then went for a superplex, but he was pushed off and Hashi hit dove from the second rope for another Canadian destroyer.

Yoshi-Hashi chopping Fletcher. Credit: NJPW

Hashi then turned Fletcher inside-out with a vicious lariat and then both men traded suplexes, Hashi got another lariat. These men had answers for everything and neither was willing to stay down. Fletcher found the answer when he hit a running enzigiri to the back of Hashi’s head and then the jumping tombstone to get the victory.

Fletcher has pinned one-half of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and goes on to face the other half of the champs in the second round, Hirooki Goto.

Now another member of the United Empire, Aaron Henare, was facing Shingo Takagi and Henare pinned Takagi just a few days ago in a tag match. These men wasted no time, starting the match by trading forearms and closed fists right from the jump. Takagi slowed down the match by sending Henare to the outside of the ring.

Takagi then whipped Henare into the barricade, but he no-sold it bouncing right off and running at Takagi with a lariat. He then threw him into the barricade himself and then began with a flurry of strikes into the mid-section of Takagi. Hennare then laid into the chest of Takagi with some knees and then hit a jumping senton.

Streets of Rage. Credit: NJPW

Henare then locked Takagi into quite a complicated submission, trapping the legs and arm while wrenching the neck. Takagi got to the ropes and then Henare began laying into him with some violent kicks, but Takagi was begging for more.

Takagi got so fired up that he hit Henare with a back elbow and then a big lariat. That was followed by a vertical suplex, repeated knees to the midsection and then a DDT. Takagi then took Henare to the top rope and landed a superplex to get a two-count.

Henare got back into the match with a side slam and then a springboard kick to the head of Takagi. That was followed by a Samoan drop and then a diving senton from the second rope. Henare then wanted Ultima, but Takagi was not allowing it to be locked in and these men then had a crazy exchange that ended with a PK that Takagi no sold hitting Henare with a lariat.

They then began to test each other, trading chops and kicks back and forth to see who would crumble first. Henare was getting fired up by the hits and he hit the big gut punch, a spinning roundhouse kick and then a rampage.

Henare then locked Takagi into the Ultima, but he let it go to set up Streets of Rage and that allowed Takagi to reverse. Takagi hit a GTR and then Made in Japan, but Henare somehow managed to kick out at two. Takagi then went for Last of the Dragon, but Henare slipped out and hit him with a running knee to the face followed by a PK.

United Empire. Credit: NJPW

Henare knocked Takagi out with a headbutt and then finally finished him off by connecting with Streets of Rage. Every member of the United Empire is in the second round of the cup and Henare moves on to face Tama Tonga in the second round.


TMDK (Zack Sabre Jr. and Kosei Fujita) vs. House of Torture (Sho and Yujiro Takahashi)

TMDK did not waste any time and attacked Sho and Fujita before the bell, but after an eye rake House of Torture took control. To close the match, Sho threw Fujita into the referee and low-blowed him, he then hit the cross-arm piledriver to get the dirty win.

Winners: House of Torture

Just 4 Guys (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Taichi) vs. House of Torture (Dick Togo and Evil)

House of Torture ran up the entranceway to attack Taichi and Kanemaru as soon as they came out of the curtains. But despite all of Togo and Evil’s cheating, it would be Kanemaru spitting Togo’s own liquor into his face and rolling him up for the win.

Winners: Just 4 Guys

Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita, El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Chase Owens, Kenta & David Finlay)

David Finlay and El Desperado. Credit: NJPW

All eight men in this match started squaring off prior to the bell and ELP would get control over Narita in the ring to queue the bell. The ELP drama from Wednesday carried into today’s show, as Finlay refused to tag ELP in. Taguchi then Finlay locked in an ankle lock, ELP charged the ring but instead of breaking up the hold told Taguchi to wrench even tighter. Luckily for Finlay, Kenta would break the hold and Finlay hit Taguchi with Trash Panda to get the win. After the match, ELP finally hit the too-sweet with the rest of Bullet Club and it seems as though he and Finlay are attempting to squash their issues.

Winners: Bullet Club

Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs. United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Mark Davis & Will Ospreay)

This match saw some innovation from Great-O-Khan, he choked out Yano with his braided hair. During the match, tempers began to flare between Ospreay and Davis, who will meet in the second round of the New Japan Cup. Cooler heads did end up prevailing and at the end, Cobb hit Honma with a Tour of the Islands to secure the win.

Winners: United Empire

Lio Rush, Yoh, Shota Umino & Tama Tonga vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada & Tetsuya Naito)

Shooter after his victory. Credit: NJPW

This was by far the most action-packed tag match of the show, as it was fast-paced throughout its entirety. Umino took advantage of Bushi and locked him in an STF to get the victory.

Winners: Lio Rush, Yoh, Shota Umino & Tama Tonga

Yoshi-Hashi vs. Kyle Fletcher — New Japan Cup Tournament Match

Winner: Kyle Fletcher

Shingo Takagi vs. Aaron Henare — New Japan Cup Tournament Match

Winner: Aaron Henare