This is a standalone review of the 2017 New Japan Cup Final.
Bad Luck Fale beat Michael Elgin, Toru Yano, and EVIL to reach the finals. Katsuyori Shibata beat Minoru Suzuki, Juice Robinson, and Tomohiro Ishii to reach the finals.
Pre-match, in the most obscure ring announcer/Fale interaction yet, Fale ripped one of his sleeves off then proceeded to awkwardly and abruptly too sweet the camera.
New Japan Cup Finals: Bad Luck Fale vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Coming into the match I had suspicion as to how it would be worked. I’m glad they went with the most logical idea possible: Have Fale destroy Shibata, continue the monster tirade within the match, only for a comeback to occur, with obstacles along the way. To start out Shibata jumped Fale, with Fale tumbling over the top rope after a boot as physics attempted to calculate. Then came the good 10 minute stretch of Fale doing everything he could to tear into Shibata. We had nerve holds, barricades thrown onto him, tape ripped off the shoulder, etc. Shibata started a comeback but would continue to hit a brick wall, with top tier selling at that, an example being him trying to lift his neck up after being knocked down, but bouncing back to the mat in remaining in peril. We had tremendous near falls in the Grenade (Samoan Spike) and splash, as the crowd increasingly bought in to the fact that it was now or never for Shibata. A sleeper was locked in but wasn’t enough, as we were on the cusp of Shibata finally getting in his signature offense, it was fantastic to see the crowd so engaged. It’s right around then that the match became a big one in the moment, after feeling like an “ok first rounder”. Shibata DECIMATED Fale with kicks as he was struggling to lift himself up. Fale lifted Shibata up but Shibata transitioned into a sleeper again, getting Fale in position, clenching away with all his remaining power, then hitting a shotgun sounding penalty kick to win the New Japan Cup. The fans went apeshit upon the finish. If there’s one massive positive from the match and culmination as a whole, I got a little bit of the chills seeing the finish play out. It felt like a big moment for Shibata.
The match was built well with the last few minutes being great, but as a whole it was still lacking a tournament final feel at times. You couldn’t have structured the match much better though, with Fale being protected along the way. I enjoyed this for what it was, and the tournament as a whole. Post-match, Shibata chose Kazuchika Okada as his opponent. We are finally getting the money match. Happy days!
We’ll have an audio review of the Quarter, Semi, and Finals of the New Japan Cup out tonight.