7/2 NEW JAPAN CUP – NIGHT 7: Iishi vs. Takahashi, Yoshi-Hashi vs. Evil, Okada vs. Ishimori, Sanada vs. Taichi, more

By Rich Fann, PWTorch contributor


JULY 2, 2020

(1) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiromu Takahashi – New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match

The evening’s juniors vs. heavyweights matchups kicked off with the two craziest punishment takers/dealers on the roster. At the bell, Hiromu attempted several shoulder charges to knock down the thicker Ishii. In response to each assault, one Ishii shoulder dropped Hiromu for every three attempted shots from the juniors champ. WIth that as a failure, Hiromu then absorbed and asked for shots to the chest. Both men’s chests reddened as the contest of wills continued.

Hiromu eventually fell again, which gave Ishii the opening to grab Hiromu’s hair and dare him in Japanese to get back up. Ishii then began to kick Hiromu in the back – first from a seated position, then as Takahashi writhed in pain from the first kick. Hiromu eventually got back into the fight with a hurricanrana and thought that he could then slam Ishii with a suplex, however Ishii lowered his hips and instead sent Hiromu for a ride. Before Ishii could beat on Hiromu further however, Takahashi exploded out of the corner with a shoulder charge that sent Ishii to the mat.

From this point in the match forward, Takahashi’s “I’ll take five to give you one” strategy had begun to pay dividends. Hiromu countered a powerbomb into a triangle choke, which Ishii eventually reversed into a one-armed powerbomb into the corner – but not before a lengthy period where Hiromu could recover. Ishii injured his back trying to lift Hiromu, which came into play the rest of the match.

Ishii hit a superplex that bounced Hiromu to the other side of the ring, but because of the aforementioned back injury, crawled and only got a 2.8 count. Ishii then lariated Hiromu into another country, but neither that nor a basement lariat could keep the smaller man down for a three count. Ishii hit another lariat that turned Hiromu inside out (and resulted in the junio’s head in a weird spot on the mat landing-wise) and that also could not keep The Time Bomb down.

In the final stage of the match both men threw the sink at each other, and Ishii’s crumpled form after a Hiromu headbutt and lariat combination was a sight. After several attempted brainbusters by Ishii, Hiromu hit one of his own and then TIME BOMB II for the upset pin.

WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi by pinfall (TIME BOMB II) at 19:12 (****1/2)

(Fann’s Analysis: When the pair went nose to nose earlier, it was wild to me that Hiromu was the taller of the two. This match was not only the best match to kick off these quarter finals, but the finishing sequence of Hiromu using the best Ishii attacks against him was wild. The announcers also mentioned the power of Time Bomb II felling Ospreay earlier in the year, and how this would be even more of an achievement. Up next for Hiromu is the winner of Okada – Ishimori.)

(2) YOSHI-HASHI vs. EVIL – New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match

Before YOSHI-HASHI could finish his top rope entrance EVIL had already wrecked the already-injured knee with a steel chair. EVIL went so far as to wrap a chair around the knee of YOSHI-HASHI and then baseball swing another chair onto the knee. YOSHI-HASHI, the master of “Get back up” threw off his jacket, called for the bell and fought on one leg.

EVIL slapped on a Scorpion Deathlock mid-ring, and to the screams of the battered and injured YOSHI-HASHI, the ref stopped the match.

EVIL held the hold until staff helped to pull him off, and then even after his announced victory, took boots to the knee of YOSHI-HASHI. The King of Darkness then stormed out of the ring, job done.

WINNER: EVIL by ref stoppage (Scorpion Deathlock) in 2:00 (NR)

(Fann’s Analysis: I will not complain on my show about YOSHI-HASHI for at least the next tour. The emotion of him fighting and fighting and fighting only for the ref to save his leg with the stoppage was – even in an empty arena environment, maybe because of said environment – super emotional and gripping. EVIL’s “any means necessary” run continues, and we are seeing the guy that debuted with LIJ all those years ago, not his spooky-but-nice counterpart of the past few years. A short match that told a long story.)

(3) Yuya Uemura & Hirooki Goto & SHO vs. L.I.J. (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) – Six-man tag team match

Tsuji’s role as Shingo’s beat down target was replaced by Uemura, but the bigger young lion had none of that and instead brought the offense in the match despite being the lowest on the food chain. SHO continued his establishment as a force, as he went toe-to-toe with Shingo as well, while Naito and Goto paired off.

Solid paint by numbers six man, with BUSHI in later on to ideally steal the win, only for Uemura (being coached/helped by SHO) to gain advantage for his squad. Takagi came in to help BUSHI as well, only to get lariated out of the ring by the fired up young lion. Uemura’s run would come to an end however, as BUSHI hit a Code Breaker out of nowhere for the win.

Post match, SHO and Shingo faced off, as SHO eyed Shingo’s belts. Shingo, not to be outdone, asked SHO which belt he wanted a shot at. When SHO indicated the NEVER Openweight title, Shingo laughed and turned his back on the younger wrestler.

WINNERS: BUSHI via pinfall (Code Breaker) in 9:34 (**)

(Fann’s Analysis: The match itself was uneventful, with the exception of the Uemura assault on his elders and SHO now wanting a piece of Shingo. The NEVER openweight title now has a bevy of contenders – no longer is it the Goto/Ishii shared battle belt.)

A promo for the Grand Master aired during intermission/cleaning.

(4) Kazuchika Okada vs. Taiji Ishimori – New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match

The height disparity was stark from the start of the match, with the taller Okada and the smaller Ishimori. Ishimori went for the Rainmaker’s eyes, but Okada recovered and used the opening part of the match to go back to his Toryumon roots with a taller high-flyer offense, as he smashed the smaller man with a senton atomico.

After a dropkick sent Ishimori to the floor, Okada was distracted by Gedo sneaking into the ringside with a wrench. With the ref distracted by Ishimori, Gedo attacked the ribs and arms of Okada with the wrench, then retreated to a second’s position outside.

Ishimori then found himself with the advantage and focused on the neck and arms of Okada, and even hit his sliding german onto the bigger Okada (awkwardly) – then returned to the ring to slap on a side headlock.

After Okada broke free and hit a few reverse elbows, Ishimori did his handspring kick to Okada’s head and followed with a penalty kick. Okada ducked the kick and tried a roll-up, which Ishimori reversed into a submission attempt. Okada’s length saved him, as he was able to get a rope break.

It was at this point Gedo re-introduced himself into the match, getting onto the apron to distract Okada near the top rope. While Okada bickered with Gedo on the apron Ishimori did a rolling leg attack which sent Okada to the floor. Ishimori then followed with a springboard moonsault to the outside onto the Rainmaker. Back in the ring, Ishimori slapped on a Yes Lock with Okada much further from the ropes. After Okada teased a tap out, his leg flailed for the bottom rope and hit it for a rope break.

Ishimori attempted Bloody Cross but was blocked, and his rebound off the rope was met with a perfect Okada dropkick. Okada went for a tombstone, but Ishimori reversed into a Cipher UTAKI for a 2.9 count. Okada reversed a Bloody Cross into a spinning tombstone and then his cobra clutch hold. Gedo tried to interfere, but Okada rebuffed him and re-applied the hold onto Ishimori. While Okada did so, Ishimori grabbed Marty Asami and sent him to the ground during the transition, which let Gedo get in to interfere. Okada rebuffed this and finally slapped on the cobra clutch in full on Ishimori for the tap out.

WINNER: Okada by submission (Cobra Clutch) in 16:52 (***)

(Fann’s Analysis: The height difference could have made this a weird match, but the presence of Gedo, as well as the counter-based offense that Ishimori used allowed it to be pretty good. Okada in the role as top dog isn’t new, but bullying a junior and being the base for Ishimori’s offense was a fun return to his early days wrestling outside of New Japan. Okada continued his build of his cobra clutch hold as a finisher that can rival his rainmaker lariat. At some point I look forward to the cobra clutch being transitioned into a hellacious rainmaker.)

(5) SANADA vs. TAICHI – New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match

Main event time. The battle of the best hair/outfit wrestlers outside of the celestial tier of Tanahashi would see the winner face EVIL in the semi finals. After the bell there was an extended period of both men stalking each other, as neither wanted to make the first mistake.

Eventually TAICHI had the upper hand and threw SANADA outside to work on the neck area. TAICHI used the ringside barriers as a fulcrum to crank SANADA’s neck, then choked the LIJ member with the bottom half as SANADA laid on the hardwood floor. Back in the ring TAICHI continued targeted attacks on the neck, but SANADA rolled through and hit a beautiful dropkick and got some space. SANADA followed with a basement dropkick that sent TAICHI to the outside with a limp. The Suzuki-gun crooner played possum and tried to show up SANADA with a paradise lock onto the bottom rope, but SANADA reversed and instead gave a thumbs up after he locked TAICHI up and dropkicked him.

TAICHI tried to get under SANADA’s skin, and kicked lightly at SANADA’s head until he stood up. Then TAICHI wailed on the thigh of SANADA with vicious leg kicks. SANADA in turn would follow with a forearm to the head, as both men tried to take their opponent to the ground. After both exchanged running head kicks, TAICHI went low with a reverse kick, then hit front high. With that, the pants were off and TAICHI went for the kill. However, SANADA was not ready to go down, and slipped on a Skull End submission. TAICHI escaped, and then hit a dangerous backdrop onto SANADA.

TAICHI was locked into a Skull End and tapped, however, Red Shoes was distracted by an emerged Kanemaru. While SANADA argued with the ref and Kanemaru, TAICHI slipped in with another dangerous backdrop. TAICHI then transitioned from his modified stretch plum into his own version of Skull End onto SANADA. SANADA escaped after playing possum himself and then frantically reached the rope.

TAICHI then hit a super kick, axe bomber and jumping high in succession to drop SANADA again. With blood in the water, TAICHI raised his fist and went for a Gary Albright backdrop hold for 2.9 count. Back on their feet, SANADA reversed into a TKO and then slapped on Skull End and spun TAICHI. Before SANADA could go for his Muto style moonsault Kanemaru again showed himself and gave an opening for TAICHI to kick SANADA low and try a Gedo clutch. SANADA blocked and ran TAICHI into Kanemaru on the apron, and slipped on an O’Conner Roll for the win.

WINNER: SANADA by pinfall at 22:50 (****)

(Fann’s Analysis: The lost sons of Kawada and Muto went in and did their senpai well in this main event. I was quite surprised my dear son SANADA got the win over TAICHI in this situation, but the story now can shift to the former IWGP tag champs and current LIJ stable-mates facing off for the right to make the finals. TAICHI acquitted himself well in this tournament and I hope they continue his momentum in the tours to come.)

FINAL THOUGHTS (8.0): New Japan Cup Night 7 featured an outstanding Jr. vs Heavy match (Ishii vs. Hiromu), a solid Jr. vs. Heavy match (Okada vs. Ishimori), a short but vicious EVIL vs. YOSHI-HASHI massacre and the aforementioned main event.

The stage is now set for the semi finals of Okada vs. Hiromu and EVIL vs. SANADA.

Contact Rich at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.

CATCH UP… 7/1 NEW JAPAN CUP – NIGHT 6: Yoshi-Hashi vs. Bushi, Sho vs. Sanada, Ibushi vs. Taichi, Goto vs. Evil

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