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Kevin’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2020 Night Three Review

June 22, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2020 Night Three Review  

NJPW New Japan Cup Night Three

June 22nd, 2020

We’re back for the return of the tournament. There have been two standout matches (Ishii/Desperado and Suzuki/Nagata), some solid others, enjoyable tags, and whatever Gedo/Okada was. On paper, this is easily the strongest first round night with two potential bangers and a Tanahashi main event.

DOUKI, El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji, Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura

Interesting that they went with the tag to start the show instead of being the buffer in the middle of the card. Young Lions and New Japan Dad Yuji Nagata against Suzuki-Gun. You have to appreciate how polite Suzuki-Gun was, waiting until all four opponents had been introduced before jumping them. There was something familiar about this in a good way. It was everything you expected it to be and that was kind of comforting. The Young Lions provided the energy, Nagata was fun, Suzuki-Gun did dirty deeds, and they won after Desperado hit Pinche Loco on Tsuji in 10:33. Typical NJPW opener, baby! [**¾]

New Japan Cup First Round: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. SANADA

Another in our line of juniors against heavyweights. Did we get BIG MATCH TAGUCHI? Not exactly. It didn’t help that SANADA is an interesting case. He needs the right dance partner to deliver greatness. Put him in there with Sabre Jr. or Tanahashi and he usually looks great. Yet he can never quite get it together with an Okada or someone like that. He’s smooth as hell but lacks that something extra. That doesn’t bode well for him possibly leading this match. In fact, this was kind of the SANADA special. It was a perfectly good match that never sniffed being great or anything memorable. It got off to a slow start but did at least pick up down the stretch. SANADA survived the Ankle Lock and then used the European Clutch pin to win in 15:47. Not the most impressive way for him to win. It came across more like he barely escaped with a W. Maybe that’s part of the story they’re telling with him not having a title. [***]

New Japan Cup First Round: Shingo Takagi vs. SHO

Oh, baby. I gave their BOSJ match last year ****½ and it was the most excited I was for any match the company ran in 2019. Like their previous match, this absolutely ruled. SHO learned from that encounter and threw everything he had at Shingo again. However, you could buy that he had been training because he had just a little bit more this go around. He’d explode with dropkicks or pop up after taking offense and start throwing suplexes of his own. You got the sense that Shingo wasn’t quite ready for this onslaught. Of course, the NEVER Champion adjusted and threw his own bombs. That included Noshigami and Pumping Bombers but SHO kept getting up. He delivered his own vicious lariats as if he was the heavyweight and not the other way around. Throughout the match, he also kept going to an armbar that would stop Shingo at every turn. He applied it at the end and as Shingo neared the ropes, he found a way to transition it into Shock Arrow. That gave SHO the surprising 1-2-3 in 17:06. The best match since the pandemic began. Incredible action, hard-hitting strikes, and a story centered around SHO doing everything to score his biggest win ever. Outstanding. [****½]

New Japan Cup First Round: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

These two have now wrestled quite often in NJPW. That includes the G1 27 (****½), New Japan Cup 2018 (****½), G1 28 (****½), New Japan Cup 2019 (***¾), G1 29 (***¾), and Sengoku Lord (****¼). So yeah, they deliver. Interestingly, Sabre’s only wins over him came in the New Japan Cup. This match followed a similar script to their past ones. Sabre Jr. goading Ibushi in to get him to strike so that he could catch it and trap him in submissions. It would frustrate Ibushi and he’d have to power his way out each time. Sabre Jr. put the focus on the legs, which is ideal against a guy who is prepared to kick your head off. Ibushi didn’t sell the leg a ton. The finishing stretch with the counters and close calls was classic NJPW. I loved Sabre Jr. just getting DESTROYED by a knee strike that was followed by Kamigoye to give Ibushi the win in 15:15. Their worst match together but still one that was really good. They have a natural chemistry and their styles work well against one another. [***½]

New Japan Cup First Round: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Taichi

Their only previous meeting came in the tournament two years ago (***½). Taichi attacked before the bell because, Suzuki-Gun. Tanahashi sold this shit like death and was barely able to move at times. You must admire that level of commitment from the “Ace.” Taichi had DOUKI at ringside and you admire NJPW’s willingness to book a guy whose name is literally dookie. Anyway, he interfered to stack the odds against Tanahashi. That was the basis of the match. Taichi doing underhanded things and Tanahashi fighting back with his ultimate babyface fire and resiliency. Alas, Taichi came out on top after hitting Black Mephisto in 21:51. It was only shortly after he took off his pants, though, so maybe he should’ve done that first. A fine match that told a competent story but nothing more. [***]

The final score: review Good
The 411
The best show of the return so far. You get two solid tournament matches, a decent tag, a really good one in Ibushi/ZSJ, and then an absolute classic in Shingo/SHO. I’m dying for a tiebreaker between them. Again, the show flowed nicely and wans’t long, which is welcome.

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New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja