New Japan Cup Report: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. ZSJ, Sanada vs. Cabana

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The quarter-finals of the New Japan Cup concluded Thursday in Shizuoka with the tournament down to the final four.

In the first tournament match on the show, Sanada defeated Colt Cabana in 14:57 after submitting with the Skull End.

Excalibur was back on commentary alongside Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero. He was wearing a Brody Stevens shirt in honor of the late comedian and did so to support Cabana because Stevens urged people to “push and believe”.

Cabana avoided the Paradise Lock and then attempted it himself before being caught in the hold. Excalibur explained the influence of Animal Hamaguchi on the LIJ members while Colt Cabana and Juice Robinson display influences from Dusty Rhodes.

Cabana got a near fall after getting his knees up for a moonsault, he applied the Billy Goat’s Curse but when he attempted the Superman pin, it was blocked twice and that was his pathway to victory. Sanada locked on Skull End and submitted Cabana.

The crowd wasn’t as enthusiastic for this match and I don’t think they saw Cabana going further in the tournament.

In a rematch from last year’s final, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in 21:12 with the Japanese rolling leg clutch.

This was a terrific match.

Sabre worked on Tanahashi’s left arm in the beginning and Tanahashi tried to shut down Sabre’s submissions. Tanahashi went for a cloverleaf and it was turned into a triangle that Tanahashi escaped. The strategy of Tanahashi was to trick Sabre with one move and then execute another and did this with a suplex tease before hitting the sling blade.

Sabre used the European clutch, Tanahashi kicked and used his own version and that nearly cost him the match as Sabre broke out of it and almost applied Orienteering with Napalm Death, which is his unstoppable submission in the tournament he has never lost in.

Tanahashi got to his feet and surprised Sabre with a reverse sling blade and applied the Japanese rolling leg clutch, as a tribute to Tatsumi Fujinami, and won the match.

The story of Tanahashi winning matches with Fujinami’s famous moves as he attempts to go wrestle for the title at MSG has been great stuff and the announcers were on top of it with Rocky Romero explaining the significance of the finish.

The following semi-final matches take place Saturday:
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sanada