7/3 NEW JAPAN CUP – NIGHT 8: Semi-final results for Okada vs. Takahashi and Evil vs. Sanada, plus Chaos vs. L.I.J., Eight-Man Tag Team Opener

By Rich Fann, PWTorch contributor


JULY 3, 2020

(1) Gabriel Kidd & Yuji Nagata & Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP Tag Champs) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & ZSJ & El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

The match started with Gabriel Kidd hell hell-bent on proving he wasn’t afraid of Suzuki-gun. The young lion even went so far as to get into Suzuki’s face and peppered mohawked leader with forearms. While the forearms did little damage, Suzuki’s face was that of shock, and then amusement when one return slap dropped the young lion.

El Desperado got the win for his team with Pinche Loco on Kidd, who at that point was just a dead man walking.

After the match, both teams continued fighting, with Sabre & Taichi focused on Tanahashi & Ibushi. The pair grabbed the IWGP Tag titles and ZSJ yelled at the champ “We’ll make those belts worth something!”, which then incensed Kota Ibushi as he booked it to the back to beat up the upstart challengers.

WINNERS: El Desperado by pinfall (Pinche Loco) at 12:15. (**)

(Fann’s Analysis: It’s clear that Nagata’s words have been quite prescient with regard to Suzuki Gun – both in terms of Suzuki not reacting well to their solo matchup ending in a loss as well as with regard to his challenge to the young lions to not allow Suzuki gun to bully them. Kidd, despite his failure to leave a mark on Suzuki himself still even in defeat, showed himself to not cower at the threat of the stable.)

(2) CHAOS (SHO & Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto) vs. L.I.J. (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)

SHO was the story of this match from start to finish. SHO asserted himself against every member of LIJ in solo battles, and pushed hard to make a point when in ring with Shingo that SHO saw himself as Takagi’s equal.

SHO then proved that he wasn’t just a flash in a pan, as he nailed Shock Arrow on BUSHI to get the win. The entire finishing sequence occurred while SHO maintained eye contact with Takagi.

After the match, SHO again declared his interest in the NEVER openweight title, but this time Shingo tried to clock the younger wrestler with said belt. SHO ducked and speared Shingo, then stood tall with the NEVER title before leaving.

WINNERS: SHO by pinfall (Shock Arrow) in 13:17 (**)

(Fann’s Analysis: A longer tag match whose purpose was to continue SHO’s rise both as a singles competitor company-wide and within CHAOS. Ishii and Goto did a great job of falling to the back and allowing the younger stable member to shine, while also being his heavies should he need the back-up. Shingo and SHO should be another banger when that happens again.)

A promo for the Grand Master aired during intermission/cleaning, however this time the “master” is revealed to be Master Wato, former young lion Hirai Kawato. Master Wato walked to the ring and looked to introduce himself to the television audience, but DOUKI appeared out of nowhere and attacked the debutant with DOUKI’s stick and left the returning Wato laid out.

(3) EVIL vs. SANADA – New Japan Cup 2020 Semi Final Match

After the bell and before the pair locked up, SANADA offered his hand to his usual tag partner and stable mate. EVIL, instead of shaking, attempted to hit EVIL, and SANADA countered into a Skull End. EVIL escaped and the pair backed away from each other.

EVIL bailed to the outside, and SANADA opened the ropes for his partner, only for EVIL to kick him in the chest and then tossed SANADA outside. EVIL tossed Marty Asami out of the way and wrapped a chair around SANADA’s head, then threw his partner into the corner and shattered the chair as a result of the collision.

Every time SANADA tried to gain an advantage, EVIL would take a shortcut to evil the odds. EVIL went so far as to use Marty Asami as part of a Magic Killer (unwillingly) on his partner to get more space. When both men returned to their feet, a forearm test of wills began, but that exchange ended with an EVIL cross up rope run lariat and Darkness Falls for a near fall. SANADA reversed into another Skull End, then transitioned into a tiger suplex hold for a 2.9 count. After EVIL kicked out, SANADA returned to the Skull End. But as SANADA attempted to re-apply the hold during a roll through, EVIL had the space to put SANADA down with a lariat.

SANADA and EVIL attempted Everything is EVIL, and then when SANADA tried his three-quarter facelock floatover into Skull End but EVIL blocked it.  SANADA instead used the ropes to assist and turned the move into a vicious shiranui. SANADA then locked in Skull End to set up for his Muto moonsault, but EVIL pulled the knees up in flight and crumpled SANADA on landing.

Now, both men stood in opposite corners, and when SANADA rushed in to attack EVIL, EVIL threw SANADA twice into referee Marty Asami. With Asami out of the ring, EVIL hit SANADA with a low blow and then went for a pair of chairs under the ring. EVIL set one chair on SANADA’s head and hit a 350 foot shot with the other as he connected with SANADA’s head and the first chair. EVIL then stomped SANADA in the groin for good measure and went to get Asami.

EVIL dropped his partner with Everything is EVIL for the pinfall.

WINNER: EVIL by pinfall (EVIL) at 20:13. (***1/2)

(Fann’s Analysis: EVIL is the first finalist of the evening and potentially first of an all-LIJ final, given 3/4 competitors in the semi final were members of the stable. EVIL’s “any means necessary” mantra for this tournament has been essential in his development, and SANADA – after falling short to Okada last year – needed to let his partner shine. My dear sons EVIL and SANADA need to hug it out after SANADA gets iced up, because it was clear SANADA was not ready for this level of, well, EVIL.)

A review of the path to the final was shown, with each of the brackets discussed.

Main event time.

(4) Kazuchika Okada vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi – New Japan Cup 2020 Semi Final Match

The junior vs. ace match kicked off with Hiromu screaming Okada’s name from opposite sides of the ring. Okada closed the space by slowly cornering Hiromu, until the pair locked up. Okada backed Hiromu up to the ropes and slowly patted the junior’s chest. Hiromu wouldn’t be outdone and similarly swapped roles with Okada – and patted the larger man’s chest. Takahashi then followed with a lariat and a hurricanrana. Takahashi attempted Time Bomb II, but Okada reversed into the cobra clutch – and only let go after Hiromu got a rope break.

Takahashi escaped to the outside, but Okada followed quickly and hit a vicious swinging neckbreaker onto the mat, a thud audible throughout the empty arena. Takahashi took a 14 count before he re-entered the ring, and was greeted by a scoop slam and a senton atomico from Okada for a 1.5 count. It was clear once Hiromu returned to the ring that Okada would be focused on the neck of the junior champion, as Okada delivered another merciless neckbreaker.

Okada thought a boot put down Hiromu, but the smaller man fought through the pain and instead hit an avalanche in the corner on the Rain maker and followed with a basement dropkick to settle down the match. A shotgun dropkick sent Okada to the outside, and another from the apron sent the bigger man into the air and through the entrance gate to the hardwood and television equipment.

As Red Shoes counted, Hiromu smiled maniacally as he observed his work. Takahashi left the ring and retrieved Okada to attempt a pinfall in ring, but Okada kicked out at two. Hiromu then attempted a suplex on the longer opponent only for Okada to fight out. Before Okada got a move in however, Hiromu hit a superkick and then a falcon arrow for a two count. With Okada dazed, Hiromu taunted the man and kicked lightly at his head.

Okada hit a flapjack as Hiromu rebounded off of the ropes, but didn’t capitalize because of accumulated damage to his ribs from this match and his prior Gedo run-ins. Okada went to the top rope and rolled through his attempt at a move, but Hiromu caught him with a snap german suplex on the mat. Back on their feet, Hiromu tried to go forearm for forearm with Okada and that went south quickly. Okada gave a shotgun dropkick receipt to Hiromu, then placed the smaller man on the top rope and dropped him to the floor. Back outside the ring, Okada whipped Hiromu into the gate and then followed quickly with a boot to Takahashi’s face over the gate. Okada then gave Hiromu a draping ddt from the gate and regrouped, as he returned both of them to the ring.

Okada climbed the ropes and waited for Hiromu, then hit a top rope drop kick that sent Hiromu flying across the ring and nearly into an Irish whip situation. Okada attempted another drop kick after an Irish whip and Hiromu held onto the ropes, then gave Okada another shotgun dropkick and a lariat in the corner. With Okada perched at the top rope, Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick that sent Okada tumbling to the floor. Hiromu then soared over the second rope and hit a sunset bomb to the floor on Okada.

In the ring, Hiromu tried for a pin to no avail, and as he rebounded off the ropes Okada hit a perfect dropkick. Again, because of the accumulated rib damage, Okada couldn’t take full advantage right away. However, Okada could put Hiromu into a tombstone piledriver, then right into the cobra clutch. Hiromu used Okada’s hair to escape, then picked up the bigger man and drove him into the corner pad.

Hiromu then sent this match into bananas mode with a reversal of a tombstone attempt into a Rainmaker (!!) and a Time Bomb for back to back 2.9 counts. Okada tried for his discus lariat, but Hiromu reversed first into a triangle hold, and then into a pinning predicament when Okada fought out.

Okada’s eyes at this point told the story, with the bigger man glass and on shaky legs. Okada screamed after he hit a sudden dropkick, but before he could press the offense Hiromu had already gotten up and lariated him back down. Hiromu went for Time Bomb II, but Okada reversed into a spinning tombstone piledriver. At the twenty five minute mark announcement, Okada slapped on the cobra clutch. Hiromu fought through the clutch, and Okada hit a discus Rainmaker on Takahashi, then re-applied the hold. Hiromu still wouldn’t tap, so Okada transitioned the cobra clutch into two back to back Rainmakers, and then went back to the cobra clutch and won via ref stoppage.

Post match, Okada praised Hiromu for representing the juniors well and pushing him to his limit, and challenged Hiromu to keep his dream of facing the heavyweight champion alive. Okada said that he would look forward to running through all of LIJ – Hiromu, EVIL and then Naito – to get his belt back.

WINNER: Okada by ref stoppage (Cobra Clutch) at 27:00. (****1/2)

(Fann’s Analysis: Hiromu had a magnificent showing with Okada here. Not only did the Time Bomb have the match within his grasp late, the accumulated damage Okada had taken in this tournament allowed for some great spots where you saw why he couldn’t fight back. Okada has now gone through a Juniors murderer’s row to get to the final, and faces a man that won’t take it easy on those injured ribs. In fact he might want to watch himself over the next few days, as EVIL could just show up at his home with a baseball bat. My man’s crazy right now.)

OVERALL THOUGHT (8.0): New Japan Cup Night 8 was short in matches, but in terms of match time you had a few longer matches and a 27 minute epic between Okada and Hiromu. For that match alone you’re getting a recommendation to watch this show.

The stage is now set for the finals of Okada vs. EVIL.

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

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

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