Another quick and easy two hours to watch, and that’s including intro, outro and a short intermission in the middle. One great thing about the current climate of wrestling is that shows have become much shorter. Positives!
Only one match on the show was worth carving out time to see – but regardless of individual match quality, NJPW has provided fans with fun, simple, straightforward rasslin since they’ve returned.
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 Rd of 32 – Gabriel Kidd vs. Taiji Ishimori
Pretty standard, average wrestling match. Gabriel Kidd has something, not quite sure how to define it but it’s there. It’s like a weird, wildman charisma coupled with a low-level Dean Malenko “man of 1000 holds thing”. Although being a Young Lion, it’s probably more like a “man of a dozen holds” thing.
I wish NJPW would let Young Lions show more in matches, especially if they aren’t going over (which they never do). This match was somewhat hurt by the fact that Taiji dominated the vast majority of it, and then won clean. Not bad, but not particularly good. My main takeway is that I want more Gabriel Kidd.
Taiji Ishimori wins via Submission with the Yes Lock (arm-trapped crossface) to advance in the 2020 NJPW Cup
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 Rd of 32 – Yoshinobu Kanemaru v. Yuya Uemura
Ton of fun. This was superior to the previous match for the simple fact that the Young Lion actually had a chance to win, and showed some real fire and good offense.
Ever since playing through Fire Pro Wrestling World’s Jr. Heavyweight Story Mode, I’ve developed a soft spot for Yuya (who features prominently as your custom character’s “rival”). That kid has a real future in NJPW.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru wins via pinfall with the Deep Impact (Diving DDT off the middle rope to standing opponent) to advance in the 2020 NJPW Cup
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 Rd of 32 – Minoru Suzuki v. Yugi Nagata
Oh my Goddddd, did I love this match. It started off as a classic Suzuki performance, with him trying to cheese a count-out victory with chair shots in classic WWF No Mercy fashion. He beat down Nagata decisively, was generally an absolute cocksucker and dick and piece of shit inside of his heart, and it looked like this match was going to be a over in short order as Suzuki tried to hit his cradle piledriver finisher.
But then, an amazing thing happened. Nagata fought it. And fought it. And eventually, fought out of it. And boy howdy, when Nagata escaped that Suzuki finish, this match was on. Two old, grumpy, surly men, two old rivals and Japanese legends just beating the absolute Christ out of each other and father time himself.
Easily the match of the tournament so far, and a candidate for the best straight-up wrestling match of the COVID era. It went over 20 minutes and felt about half that length, because it was so compelling the entire time.
Watch this wrestling match.
Yugi Nagata wins via pinfall with the Backdrop Hold to advance in the 2020 NJPW Cup
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 Rd of 32 – Gedo v. Kazuchika Okada
Boy, they really should have flipped the last two matches here. I understand Okada is the Golden Goose and he and Gedo have a long history, but this was pretty bad. Essentially a Toru Yano match, but one that was treated seriously. Gedo works over Okada’s midsection with a METAL SPOON (the NJPW commentators asking “Spoonuh!?” did make me laugh) until inevitably Okada comes back and mirks this old man for the victory.
One part of this that I did love: Gedo uses every possible trick he can think of, only to lose as soon as Okada gets a sustained flurry of offense. After controlling the match for over ten minutes (due to pure cheating), Gedo loses to a submission move that Okada never breaks out after taking like 5 moves. That was great.
Finish bumped this to the level of “medicore” but I could have done without the first thirteen minutes of Gedo doing an Abdullah the Butcher impression.
Kazuchika Okada wins by submission with a Hammerlock Cobra Clutch to advance in the 2020 NJPW Cup