wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s NJPW Super J Cup 2019 Primer & Preview

August 19, 2019 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Super J-Cup NJPW

Welcome back to column time with Larry, today we’re going to preview the NJPW Super J Cup 2019. It is a three-night event, taking place on August 22, 2019, August 24, 2019, and August 25, but will not air live (it will air on VOD on New Japan World). So today, we’ll get to know the field and I will preview the first round matches. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

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Will Ospreay: I think it’s safe to say that Will Ospreay comes into this tournament as the big dog, he’s the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, former NEVER Openweight Champion, and won the 2019 BOSJ. Oh, and he’s coming off of a great run in the G1 Climax Tournament. Ospreay is having an amazing 2019, and is a top contender for wrestler of the year. His BOSJ run was outstanding, averaging a 4.12 star rating over 10-matches, and also being the first to pin Shingo to win the tournament. He then backed that up with a outstanding G1 run, where he pulled a 4.08 average star rating over 9-matches, coming in second to Ishii for MVP, and oh yeah, he pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi clean as a sheet. Will is the favorite going into this without a doubt.

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The Amazing Red: The Amazing Red was an innovator of the early 2000s indie scene, putting in his time most notably with ROH & TNA, along with various indie groups. Red was a guy many felt was destined for more, and had it not been for injuries, he likely would have achieved even more notoriety. Red is a hero to many early 2000s indie fans, and later transitioned to trainer and local promoter, and had been set to retire. That was until Will Ospreay started heavily campaigning for a match with him and a spot in this tournament. If Red’s hanging it up, I can’t imagine a better match to go out with in 2019 than with Ospreay in a NJPW ring. I hate to use the phrase, but he deserves it.

Sho: Sho is one half of Roppongi 3k, a decorated junior tag team wrestler, and projected to be the standout of the team and future junior ace. He was the top man in the A Block in terms of match quality, delivering a 3.89 average over 9 matches but didn’t have the best win/loss record. His strengths are his overall power advantage mixed in with his grappling skills, which give many juniors problems. He has a tough draw in round one against Ishimori, a former junior champion, but also a chance to impress.

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Taiji Ishimori: Ishimori is a former junior champion and NOAH standout, who is also one half of the junior tag team champions. Ishimori is finally healthily coming off of a BOSJ run that banged him up, but had an overall good tournament, with a 3.14 star rating average over 9 matches. The Bullet Club member will be looking to get back on track as a singles competitor here and prove that he’s still a championship caliber performer.

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Clark Connors: Clark Connors was trained by Lance Storm and is currently an LA Dojo young lion, working under Shibata He’s coming off of an undercard run in the G1, where he impressed and improved and gets a big shot here to do more of that. Connors is here in the Ren Narita role, he’s going to lose and move on to work undercard tags, which is his role right now, learning and improving; it’s a big chance for him to do both. I love that he’s getting the chance, but was really hoping for a Mike Quackenbush appearance.

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TJP: TJP is 34, and called by many the youngest veteran in the business. He started training in 1998, worked various indies, NJPW, ROH, TNA, and eventually WWE, winning the cruiserweight classic. TJP is a gifted in ring performer, the perfect kind of guy to bring into the tournament, and would be a great addition to the current NJPW juniors, especially with Shingo heading to heavyweight, Takahashi still out, and Ospreay likely moving to heavyweight soon. I think that he gets a run in the tournament, which is likely an audition for him to get a regular job with NJPW.

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Robbie Eagles: Robbie Eagles is coming off of a strong BOSJ run, averaging a 3.42 star rating over 9 matches. He also just left Bullet Club following issues with Phantasmo, leading to him joining CHAOS. Eagles has been a strong and consistent performer for NJPW, but has a tough test in round one, facing former ally, Phantasmo, which will also serve as part of the build for his tag match at Royal Quest, where he tags with Ospreay against Phantasmo & Ishimori.

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El Phantasmo: Phantasmo was the teased mystery addition to the BOSJ and also joined Bullet Club, he had a good BOSJ run, averaging a 3.39 star rating over 9 matches. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go far here to follow up on his strong booking in the BOSJ, and also because he’s been positioned as a top junior.

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Ryusuke Taguchi: Taguchi is the real ass man of professional wrestling, and coming off of a good BOSJ run, averaging a 3.19 star rating over 9 matches, including a big in over Phantasmo. When Taguchi wants to go, he can go and big match GOOCH is a great thing. He’s always over and the crowds love him, which will be good for his opening match with Gresham.

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Jonathan Gresham: Gresham is a skilled grappler, and made his debut in the BOSJ this year with a strong run, averaging a 3.25 star rating over 9 matches. I absolutely love Gresham’s inclusion here as he’s a positive addition to any show he’s on. The more Gresham in NJPW the better, as he always delivers and brings a different and unique style to his matches.

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Yoh: Yoh is one half of Roppongi 3k, a decorated junior tag team wrestler, and coming off of a good BOSJ run with a 3.39 average star rating over 9 matches. While Sho gets the headlines as the potential future junior ace, Yoh had some great performances this year and started to get a bit more respect as a singles performer. Yoh doesn’t get the love in many circles, but he certainly has potential to be great, especially if/when 3k split and they feud over singles gold in the juniors division one day.

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Dragon Lee: Dragon Lee is a CMLL superstar, a former junior heavyweight champion, and put in a really good BOSJ tournament with a 3.75 star rating average over 8 matches. He also had an awesome match with Ospreay when he dropped the championship. The CMLL star is always a highlight of the cards he’s on, whether in CMLL, ROH, or NJPW and as a former champion, in a great addition to the field and a threat to go deep into the tournament.

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Caristico: Caristico is the former Mistico/Sin Cara, a man who looked hall of fame bound early in his career with a ton of quality matches, but more importantly, became a legit and big time draw in the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, he left CMLL and signed with WWE, and between injuries, poor booking, and WWE generally punishing him for being a success before coming to them, the run was a disaster and to many tarnished his career greatly. Once the WWE disaster was over, he did some time in AAA before returning to CMLL. Caristico is 36, but still has a lot of go left in him, and since he hasn’t done a lot with NJPW, is a fresh addition to the tournament.

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BUSHI: BUSHI is a NJPW mainstay, part of LIJ, and a former champion that can occasionally be heated up as a challenger of the month if need be. He had a good BOSJ run, making a late run with wins, and averaging a 3.08 star rating over 9 matches. BUSHI is always solid and reliable, and can occasionally be great under the right circumstances.

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Rocky Romero: When the BOSJ blocks were announced, there were obviously several takes on the field. Who is DOUKI? I feel bad for Flip. Shingo’s going to wreck fools. This is a huge chance for Narita. Why Rocky Romero, he’s an old manager? I never got this about Rocky. Yes, he is far from full time these days, but he’s only 36, could still go, and is hyped as one of the most successful juniors (as far as tag teams go) in NJPW history. Sure I can understand concerns during a grueling tournament, but the overall negative reaction I initially saw was surprising to me. I am a big fan of Romero, and while I didn’t expect him to win a lot, and he didn’t, he was a great addition to the tournament and one of the top 5 overall perfumers with a 3.5 average star rating and one of the tournaments best and most memorable moments when he beat Phantasmo in Korakuen Hall; I love his addition here.

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Soberano Jr.: Soberano Jr. is a 25-year-old CMLL star who has made some cameos in ROH & NJPW in the past. He’s the grandson of Soberano and son of Euforia. He’s been with CMLL since 2010. Soberano is a really dynamic highflier, but also a really inconsistent one. Pairing him with such a strong veteran in Romero in round one is a smart move.

 photo Super J Cup_zps6hwlwmev.jpgTHE FIRST ROUND MATCHES

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Will Ospreay vs. Amazing Red: It looked like Red was going to hang it up, but the campaigning from Ospreay and call from NJPW was enough to entice him into one last match. And if this is his last match, there is no one better to have it with than Ospreay. Ospreay is having an amazing 2019, respects Red and has desperately wanted to face him. Ospreay will go all out, he takes no nights off, and will give Red everything he has to ensure that they have a great match. I expect Ospreay to be really giving here, and hopefully, Red can still be enough Amazing Red to shine one last time; a potential banger here. WINNER: Will Ospreay

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Sho vs. Taiji Ishimori: This one should be a banger, Sho is always extra motivated working singles and Ishimori is not only great, but he’s finally healthy after getting roughed up in the BOSJ. In all honesty, you can make an argument for either man to win here, and I’d be fine with either man taking the win here. But the Roppogi 3k split seems a long way off, and while Ishimori is currently a junior tag team champion, he’s also still a viable top singles in the junior division, so with that in mind, I think Ishimori wins to make it out of the first round. WINNER: Taiji Ishimori

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Clark Connors vs. TJP: Connors is here to take the loss, but he’s looked really good lately and this is a great learning experience for him, TJP needs to deliver her as this booking feels like a NJPW audition, and if he’s working like we all know he can, he’d be a positive addition to the NJPW juniors division; TJP picks up the in here. WINNER: TJP

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Robbie Eagles vs. El Phantasmo: This is a battle of former allies, as Eagles finally had enough of Phantasmo’s bullshit, and left Bullet Club (a story that was built throughout the BOSJ), seeing the light and joining CHAOS and the man that got him into NJPW, Will Ospreay. Out of all the matches on this show, this is the one with the most personal issues heading in and due to that, should have a completely different tone than the other matches. The argument can be made for Eagles to win here. But I think that Phantasmo puts him in his pace for his betrayal, using some shady tactic and or help from Ishimori to advance. WINNER: El Phantasmo

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Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jonathan Gresham: The first thing I wonder here is how hard Gresham will go with the heel act that he’s been working in ROH. It makes sense for him to do so, because Taguchi is really popular and always over so the dynamic between them should play well with Gresham working as the heel. You all know the game here. Gresham will largely try to outwrestle Taguchi, while Taguchi will bring the fun, the games, and of course, the ass attacks. For me, Gresham winning is the play as he works really well wit Dragon Lee, who he should face in the next round. WINNER: Jonathan Gresham

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Yoh vs. Dragon Lee: This one has a ton of potential, Dragon Lee is amazing, and Yoh showed a lot in the BOSJ so that makes me really excited for this match. It will be a strict babyface vs. babyface match here, and will likely be fast paced. I think that Yoh gets in a lot here and looks good, but ultimately falls to Lee so that we can get to Lee vs. Gresham. WINNER: Dragon Lee

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Caristico vs. BUSHI: This feels like a smart match on paper as far as style goes. BUSHI is a good and consistent worker, but rarely wows me in singles matches. Caristico has been a ton of fun to watch as of late, and is a fresh name as he rarely works NJPW dates. BUSHI will bring his bag of tricks and mist, and should be a good heel foil for Caristico here, which should allow him to shine as the highflying babyface. It will be competitive, but I see Caristico picking up the win and going far in the tournament. WINNER: Caristico

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Rocky Romero vs. Soberano Jr.: As I mentioned previously, Soberano is a really dynamic highflier, but also a really inconsistent one so pairing him with such a strong veteran in Romero here is a really smart play in my opinion. Romero is a really reliable and consistent worker with the ability to still work high level matches when need be. I think the match will be designed to allow Soberano to shine, but I see Romero winning either by just being a really smart veteran or if need be, using some sneaky style to do so. WINNER: Rocky Romero


Left side of the bracket
* Round One: Will Ospreay defeats Amazing Red
* Round One: Taiji Ishimori defeats Sho
* Round One: TJP defeats Clark Connors
* Round One: El Phantasmo defeats Robbie Eagles
* Round Two: Will Ospreay defeats Taiji Ishimori
* Round Two: TJP defeats El Phantasmo
* Semifinals: Will Ospreay defeats TJP

Right side of the bracket:
* Round One: Jonathan Gresham defeats Ryusuke Taguchi
* Round One: Dragon Lee defeats Yoh
* Round One: Caristico defeats BUSHI
* Round One: Rocky Romero defeats Soberano Jr.
* Round Two: Dragon Lee defeats Jonathan Gresham
* Round Two: Caristico defeats Rocky Romero
* Semifinals: Caristico defeats Dragon Lee

* FINALS: Caristico defeats Will Ospreay to give us a fresh title challenger

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 44. On the show, the good brother, Jeremy Lambert, joins 411’s Larry Csonka and the guys will preview the 2019 WWE King of the Ring and the 2019 NJPW Super J-Cup events. The show is approximately 88-minutes long.

* Intro
* WWE King of the Ring 2019 Preview: 2:15
* NJPW Super J-Cup 2019 Preview: 39:45
* Random Thoughts (Tanahashi, Candice vs. Io, Ishii): 1:05:20

You can subscribe and listen to the 411 on Wrestling Podcast via the above player on Transistor, or on the following platforms:

* iTunes
* Spotify
* Stitcher
* Google Play

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.