SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN CUP – NIGHT 5
JUNE 24, 2020
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION IN JAPAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru – New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match
Kanemaru jumped Ishimori as he made his entrance, and peppered the Bullet Club jr. with kicks and punches. The referee started the match once Ishimori began to fight back outside. Back in the ring, Ishimori landed a sit out hip attack and took the advantage. However, before Ishimori could press that advantage further Kanemaru dropkicked Ishimori’s left knee and began to work on it.
In the center of the ring, Kanemaru locked in a figure four leglock to the agony of Ishimori. Ishimori eventually made the ropes, but Kanemaru put him outside of the ring and slammed on the injured appendage more. Back in the ring, Kanemaru attempted a second rope attack, but the smaller Ishimori caught him and attempted Cipher UTAKI, but Kanemaru reversed into a pinning attempt. Ishimori kicked out, and then as a counter to a move off the ropes hit Kanemaru with Cipher UTAKI, then followed with the Bloody Cross ddt for the win.
WINNER: Taiji Ishimori by pinfall (Bloody Cross) in 9:18 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: After the jokes Kanemaru and company in Suzuki gun had for how small and “weak” Ishimori was in night one, this win was a big pickup for the former IWGP Jr. champ. Ishimori, despite it being a heel-heel dynamic, played the underdog face that had to counter the bully heel. The finish sequence into the Bloody Cross was pretty smooth – and now Ishimori will face the winner of Makabe and Ishii.)
(2) Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii – New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match
As tradition dictated, both men began the match with whips off of the ropes and attempted to determine who was the toughest man to take punishment. Makabe won the first series of exchanges with a shoulder dead center in the ring. Both men back up, Makabe threw forearm shivers as Ishii threw chops, and Makabe hit the ground when Ishii hit him with a rebound powerslam off the ropes.
Makabe then took advantage of the match, mounted Ishii in the corner and threw hammer shots to the head and neck of the CHAOS member. Ishii wasn’t having that though – and grabbed Makabe and german suplexed him into one of the corner pads.
At this point the five minute mark was announced.
Ishii turned Makabe around to the consternation of the referee and hit forearms to the back of Makabe’s neck, and stopped only because the ref began to count for a DQ. Ishii then hit a backdrop and attempted a pin for a 2.5 count. Makabe started getting desperate, blocking every Ishii run in attack and hitting a lariat and some axe handle smashes. When Ishii got back up, the men again went to dueling moves – this time lariats simultaneously. After four, Makabe had the advantage, and thought he’d won the match with a powerbomb hold for a 2.9 count.
Ishii peppered the bigger Makabe with his double forearm special, but the blonde madman shrugged Ishii’s attack off, and then posted Ishii for a spider german suplex. Ishii fought out – and began to punch Makabe off the ropes. However, Makabe sat up and release belly-to-belly’d Ishii off the top rope. Ishii however didn’t stay down long, and before Makabe could hit a King Kong drop, Ishii hit a running lariat and a second rope superplex. Makabe this time got up on his own and ate a lariat for a near fall.
Makabe hit a german suplex, and went for the King Kong knee drop, but Ishii moved and left the big man on a wobbly leg. The two men went back to their strike exchange, until Ishii hit a series of vicious rising headbutts. Makabe tried to fight out of a lariat and headbutt combo pin attempt, but Ishii’s brain buster was too much and Ishii got the win.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii by pinfall (Brain Buster) in 13:28 (****)
(Fann’s Analysis: This match was what every Ishii-Makabe match is – a slugfest hossfight near murder that ends with Makabe looking up at the lights. I really liked – as always – their eternal need to reenact Peter vs. The Chicken with their strike exchanges mid match. Ishii has Ishimori up next and it’ll be interesting to see if the big little man can beat the big even littler man.)
(3) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryuske Taguchi vs. Suzuki Gun (ZSJ & Douki & Taichi) – Six-man tag team match
Ibushi didn’t wait for his own team to finish being introduced – and jumped the 3 members of Suzuki Gun during his solo entrance. Tanahashi and Taguchi ran out in their entrance outfits and stripped out of them as they joined the fight.
Eventually however, Tanahashi was isolated, with ZSJ & Taichi focused on his knee with team attacks and Sabre Jr. submissions. While this occurred, Taichi went outside to hit Ibushi away from the ref with chair shots. All three continued to beat on Tanahashi until he was able to hit a dragon screw on ZSJ and tag in Ibushi, while Sabre Jr. tagged in Taichi. The two day six opponents traded thigh kicks, with Ibushi surprisingly on the losing end, until the Golden Star used his stomach kick to chest kick combo with a standing moonsault for a near fall. With Taichi staggered, Ibushi ran in and ate a kick to the head. Taichi tried a second kick but Ibushi side stepped and kicked Taichi in the chest, bouncing him off the ropes. Taichi rebounded with a kick of his own and then hit a dangerous backdrop which left Ibushi in pain on the ground. Taichi attempted a powerbomb, but Ibushi rolled through for a hurricanrana and tagged in Taguchi.
Douki was quickly in as well and attempted a pin, but it was broken up by Tanahashi. The rest of Suzuki gun arrived to clear the ring and Douki tried to press his advantage, but a rebound off the ropes was countered by a Tanahashi sling blade out of nowhere to save his partner. The match descended into more chaos, where Taguchi hit his bum-a-ye and Dodon for the win.
Post match, while the faces celebrated, Suzuki gun attacked the three, and focused especially on the tag champs – ZSJ on Tanahashi and Taichi on his night 6 opponent Ibushi. Both men stood with the tag champs’ belts, until Taguchi stole them back which allowed Tanahashi and Ibushi to recover and chase off Suzuki gun.
WINNERS: Ryusuke Taguchi via pinfall (Dodon) in 13:55 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Taichi and his dangerous backdrop continue to be the story of the tournament. Douki and even ZSJ’s focus on Tanahashi paled in comparison to how strong Taichi is being presented and how vicious his kicks have become. Looking forward to the matchup tomorrow.)
(4) Toru Yano vs. Hiromu Takahashi – New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match
Hiromu entered the ring with a hard hat strapped to his head to prevent being shaved. Clearly shaken, he kept searching the ring area for Yano until the sublime master thief came out from the curtain.
As soon as the bell rang, Hiromu was justified in his fear, as Yano produced electric clippers which in turn led to the jr. heavy champ to run out of the ring. Hiromu hid under the ring and took a count to ten, and while Yano looked for him slipped into the ring and stole the clippers. His coif now safe, Hiromu entered the ring and had an 18 count for Yano, who was reluctant to enter the ropes with the tables turned. Yano eventually entered, and after Hiromu disposed of the clippers produced another pair. Hiromu sat in terror in the corner as the bigger man menaced him with clippers until Marty Asami removed the clippers and the wrestling actually began. Both men brawled outside after a Hiromu hurricanra, with exchanged whips into the barricades around the ring. Yano threatened the ring announcer to give him the bell hammer, but Hiromu fought him off. However, while the two brawled near the bleachers, Yano produced a pair of scissors he had hidden in the empty stands. With Hiromu panicked, Yano removed a ring pad and began to yell at Takahashi. Yano tried to whip Hiromu into the exposed buckle, but Hiromu stopped and the sequence ended with a sunset flip powerbomb attempt from the apron to the floor. Yano grabbed at his crotch to signify he had yet another pair of clippers, but laughed when he revealed it was a feint as Hiromu scampered. However, it wouldn’t be long before Yano produced another pair of scissors, and tied Hiromu to a young lion. With Hiromu down, Yano cut a strip of hair from Takahashi and raised it with pride.
Incensed, Hiromu chased down Yano, grabbed Yano’s tape and tied the master thief up with the tape, going so far as to blindfold Yano. Hiromu then threw Yano into a nearby elevator, and sent it to the bottom floor. Hiromu, with the young lion (Uemura I think) in tow and the announcers saying “ichi-nin” [one two] to encourage them) had a three legged race to beat the count out, and just made it in at 19 to give Hiromu the countout win.
WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi by countout in 9:17 (NR)
(Fann’s Analysis: The fact that New Japan gave a payoff to a near-eight year old young lion angle is just great. This match was made to be comedy, and by the time we got to the finish sequence I couldn’t stop laughing. If you don’t like when New Japan delves into humor you won’t like this, but if you can use a giggle I put this match up there as a great respite. Hiromu will face the winner of the main event.)
(5) Kazuchika Okada vs. Yuji Nagata – New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match
Main event time.
Okada and Nagata began with a simple exchange, with Nagata backed into the ropes for an Okada chest pat. The veteran was still in salty Blue Justice mode and instead kicked Okada before Okada could pat his chest. A series of Nagata kicks sent Okada outside of the ring to re-group.
When Okada returned to the ring, Nagata began to work on the left arm, to lessen the power of the Rainmaker lariat. Okada and Nagata would exchange dominant positions until a back elbow by Okada sent Nagata to the mat and gave an opening for Okada to keep Nagata off of his arm. This was short-lived, however as an Okada tombstone attempt was stopped, and then Okada received a rebound belly to belly from Nagata.
At the ten minute mark, both men were on their feet and traded forearms to the head, the younger Okada nose to nose with Nagata. One mighty forearm rocked Okada, who then received a chest kick from Nagata while bent over. But before Nagata could react, Okada blasted him with a shotgun dropkick and a reverse neckbreaker.
Backed into the corner, Okada tried to superplex Nagata – but Blue Justice transitioned it into a super exploder from the second rope. Okada screamed upon impact and forced himself to his feet, only to get kicked several times in the head and crumpled to the mat. Okada then reversed the push and hit his trademark dropkick and tombstone. But before Okada could try for a german suplex or the Rainmaker lariat, Nagata slipped in the Nagata Lock III. After Okada reached the ropes, he got to his feet and then slipped a cobra clutch onto Nagata. Nagata fought through and hit an exploder. When Okada got to his feet, both men traded kicks, forearms and slaps, until Nagata ducked a Rainmaker and hit a release back suplex.
Nagata tried for a second backdrop, but Okada slipped through and applied his cobra clutch hold. Nagata fought the hold, but eventually Okada pulled even harder and got the submission.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada by submission (Cobra Clutch Hold) in 20:14 (***1/2)
(Fann’s Analysis: Okada getting over the cobra clutch as a finishing hold in 2020 is just vintage Okada. He is the king of moderation and “less is more”. This match was really good – with both men fighting to prove they could hang in this fighting spirit battle. Nagata tried to keep up, but the former IWGP champ, G-1 winner and hero of the late 90s just didn’t have enough in the tank. I liked the roll through into the cobra clutch – it was a little clunky but it’s clear, similar to Pants Okada of a few years ago that the Rainmaker has a story he wants to tell with this finish as opposed to using his lariat. Up next for the CHAOS leader is Hiromu, which will be another junior vs. heavyweight matchup.)
Overall Thoughts (8.5): New Japan Cup Night 5 was a solid show from top to bottom. The story of the juniors doing so well in this year’s Cup is a great note, with this side of the bracket featuring next Ishii-Ishimori and Takahashi-Okada as well as the continued quest to get Taichi to that next tier in the New Japan hierarchy.
Strong recommendation for tonight – and I will admit that is because of the Ishii – Makabe match, Nagata – Okada and yes, Takahashi – Yano.
Contact Rich Fann at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.