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Kevin’s NJPW Super J-Cup Night One Review

July 21, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW Super J-Cup Night One Review  

NJPW Super J-Cup 2016 Night One
July 20th, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

Unlike the annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament, the Super J-Cup features junior heavyweights from around the world and not just NJPW. It has only happened in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2009 before this year. Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit), Jushin Thunder Liger and Naomichi Marufuji won the previous entries. Representatives from NJPW, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Dragon Gate, AJPW, CMLL, K-Dojo, Ryukyu Dragon and ROH will participate. I wasn’t a fan of them giving spots to LIDJ and Chaos as if they were separate companies but it got BUSHI and Will Ospreay, which I’m not mad about. Also unlike the BOTSJ, this isn’t round robin and is done in the more traditional tournament format.

Super J-Cup First Round: Matt Sydal (ROH) def. Kaji Tomato (K-Dojo) in 7:56
I’ll admit this is my first look at a lot of guys and Tomato is one of them. He is pretty out there and dances with tomato pom-poms in his entrance. I wasn’t a fan of Sydal as the ROH representative since he wrestles for NJPW a lot. I would have rather had ACH in this spot. Sydal got in the typical offense we’ve come to expect from him. Since he was new, I was more interested in Tomato, who seems like a fair amount of fun. He hit a weak tiger suplex so I liked that he picked Sydal back up to nail a better looking one at one point. Tomato did one of the quickest small packages I’ve ever seen but only got two. Sydal won with the Shooting Sydal Press shortly after. A fun little opener, but nothing to write home about. Tomato was enjoyable and so incredibly fast that he made this a blast. ***

Super J-Cup First Round: Kenoh (NOAH) def. Gurukun Mask (Ryukyu Dragon) in 11:33
Gurukun seemed pretty over as there was a sign for him and more than a few of his masks in the crowd. I read that he’s in his 40’s but you wouldn’t have been able to tell here. There was a spring to his step as he did some impressive things. Kenoh had someone at ringside that got involved, making it clear that he was the heel in this. Despite his age, Gurukun nailed a great looking dive to the outside. Kenoh went after the leg following that, continually trying for an ankle lock. After an exchange of stiff kicks, Gurukun came close to winning with a moonsault. Kenoh would not be denied though, hitting a flurry of offense including a dragon suplex, penalty kick and then finally the Ragou to advance. An improvement on the opener, but I would have liked more leg selling from Gurukun. ***¼

Super J-Cup First Round: Taichi (Suzuki-Gun/NOAH) def. Yuma Aoyagi (AJPW) in 11:47
I’ve never seen Aoyagi but have seen Taichi before. Taichi got a long entrance featuring a half-dressed woman, microphone stand and coming out through the crowd. He also stopped to make sure the commentary team could take photos of them. Tons of stalling from Taichi before and after the match began. Not in the entertaining Tetsuya Naito way either. Honestly, I got the feeling that Taichi didn’t seem to care much, while Aoyagi looked motivated. I read that he’s pretty new so I’m sure he wanted to make an impact. Taichi busted out all of the cheap heel stuff, while Aoyagi did a good job fighting from behind and picking up some close flash pins. Taichi put him away with a last ride in a match that felt longer than it actually was and that was all Taichi’s fault. I’d like to see more of Aoyagi down the line.

Super J-Cup First Round: Jushin Thunder Liger (NJPW) def. Eita (Dragon Gate) in 9:13
Former two-time winner Jushin Thunder Liger got the biggest pop of the show so far. Eita looked to make an early statement, dropkicking Liger during his entrance and then diving out onto him. Eita cut his eye early and it honestly added a great visual to the match. Liger got in all of his trademark stuff including a Brainbuster outside and Romero special, while Eita hit a spectacular looking dropkick. Eita put Liger into a Fujiwara arm bar and then a Numero-Uno but Liger was able to escape both. He rallied with Shotei and won after a second Brainbuster. I really wish this got more time, especially when Taichi got almost twelve minutes. I was kind of sad that Eita lost because he impressed me the most of anybody on the card so far. To be fair, this is Liger’s tournament and, despite being 51, he can still flat out go. Liger was motivated and had a really strong match here. With more time, it would have probably reached another level. Liger shook Eita’s hand after the bell and the fans gave him a nice hand. Dude deserved it. ***½

Super J-Cup First Round: Will Ospreay (NJPW/Chaos) def. Titan (CMLL) in 9:14
I still don’t get why Chaos and Los Ingobernables be Japon have their own representatives like they aren’t just from NJPW. Will Ospreay kissed the hand of a fan at ringside, who blushed uncontrollably. Outside of watching Tomato be a blur earlier, this was probably the quickest paced match on the show. Both guys impressed with their speed and athleticism. Ospreay nailed a shooting star press off the apron, while Titan hit a big top rope moonsault to the outside. Kudos to Ospreay for using the Sasuke Special, since Sasuke was in the original Super J-Cup. He went into a big flurry that included a phoenix splash before advancing with the Oscutter. Fun match here but nothing special. It was an aerial display from two badass high flyers. After the match, Ospreay brought Titan his country’s flag (much smaller than his own flag cape) and they showed each other respect. ***

Super J-Cup First Round: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun/NOAH) def. BUSHI (LIDJ/NJPW) in 10:25
Both guys represented heel stables, making this an interesting matchup. Along with KUSHIDA, Kyle O’Reilly and Ospreay, I find BUSHI to be in the top tier of NJPW juniors, though his booking during the Best of the Super Juniors was way suspect. BUSHI attacked before the bell, but it backfired when he ran into a chair shot from Kanemaru. They fought into the crowd where we got suplexes and dives. It was certainly something different from the rest of the card. Unfortunately, that was where the match peaked. The stuff back in the ring never quite reached the interest level of the stuff outside of it. Despite BUSHI consistently giving top effort and being one of the most over guys in the tournament, he lost to a spinning Brainbuster. Disappointing result, but about what I expected from a performance standpoint. BUSHI deserves better. **¾

Super J-Cup First Round: Ryusuke Taguchi (NJPW) def. Daisuke Harada (NOAH) in 14:56
Oh man. Daisuke Harada, along with Atushi Kotoge and Taiji Ishimori, is one of my favorite guys in NOAH. Ryusuke Taguchi is among my least favorite guys in NJPW. During the BOTSJ, Taguchi was hit or miss, having some really good matches and some really Taguchi level matches. Here, I’d say he was in the middle. I love that Harada is a junior, but he’s a thick dude and he wrestles like one. He looked extremely motivated here. Taguchi went for ankle locks and ass based offense. Harada dropkicked him in the ass to stop it at one point. He also hit a double stomp on the apron, followed by a Death Valley driver on it leading to both men barely beating the count back in at nineteen. Once back inside, they traded ankle locks and Harada ended up kicking out of Dodon. That gave me hope but alas, he couldn’t kick out of Dodon Throne. Really solid match, though too much typical Taguchi at points. I just want Harada booked in NJPW more frequently. Dude is awesome. Not a fan of this result at all. Harada against anyone in the next round would be better. ***½

Super J-Cup First Round: KUSHIDA (NJPW) def. Taiji Ishimori (NOAH) in 16:25
I really wish Taiji Ishimori was booked against someone else. Dude deserved to advance. He and Harada are way more interesting than the likes of Taguchi and Taichi. KUSHIDA is the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion for those unaware and he has been for over seven months, making him the longest current reigning champion in NJPW. They started by grappling, which is a really underrated but very strong part of KUSHIDA’s game. It really felt like Ishimori brought his best for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion and KUSHIDA was his usual great self. I just have to say that KUSHIDA’s trademark somersault spot always scares me. I worry someone might not catch him correctly. He should never wrestle the Miz. Ishimori picked up a big near fall after a vicious lariat. He also had the best highlight with a sick moonsault powerslam off the top. Alas, NJPW sweeps their matches (outside of BUSHI) when KUSHIDA made Ishimori tap to the Hoverboard Lock. My favorite match of the night and further proof that NJPW needs more Ishimori. Hell, they need to swap out some of their guys for NOAH guys. KUSHIDA, O’Reilly, Fish, Ishimori, Kotoge, Harada, Ospreay, Ricochet, Kenoh and BUSHI sounds good to me. Really good back and forth from both guys. ***¾

The final score: review Average
The 411
Considering the history of this tournament and the hype surrounding it, I think the first night was a bit of a disappointment. Granted, only one match is something I’d call bad (Taichi/Aoyagi), but nothing really sticks out. You get some strong matches (KUSHIDA/Ishimori, Taguchi/Harada and Liger/Eita) though none ever reach great territory. Add in the booking decisions that I disliked (BUSHI and Harada not advancing and the NJPW dominance) and you’ve got a middle of the pack start for the tournament.

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NJPW, Super J Cup 2016, Kevin Pantoja