Friday, August 26, 2016
Last month, NJPW held the first round of the Super J-Cup, binging it back for the first time in years. Here, a lengthy card featured the next three rounds and talent from around Japan was on hand to compete. I wish we got more shine from other promotions (Dragon Gate, AJPW, etc.) but the rest of the tournament itself is NJPW and NOAH.
Five of the six men involved here got eliminated from the tournament on night one. I want to be as happy as Kaji Tomato one day. He’s just so much fun. As expected, this was very fast paced. BUSHI didn’t seem too pleased with his teammates, even tripping Tomato to tag himself in at one point. Gurukun Mask returned the favor by throwing him outside after a tag. BUSHI and Tomato got into a shoving match, leading to Eita taking Tomato out with a tope con hilo. BUSHI took Finlay inside and beat him with the leaping Codebreaker. I dug the story of BUSHI not wanting anything to do with his partners. Eita and Finlay looked really good and Tomato is just a blast.
Post-match, BUSHI spit mist at Tomato and ripped Gurukun Mask’s mask off.
Taichi got his absurdly long entrance. Look, if you’re gonna take forever in your entrance, at least have it be entertaining. Desperado came out and attacked Liger beforehand, giving Taichi the advantage. Even after the bell rings, Desperado gets involved and the referee kind of just watches. All three men ended up fighting in the crowd and Desperado literally held Liger down so Taichi could beat the count. Bad match, worse finish and shit booking. The referee looked like an incompetent fool. Also, this ruined any chance at Liger and KUSHIDA rematching their Wrestling Dontaku outing in the next round. Good going.
Maybe it was because of the previous match, but the crowd didn’t really seem to get into this one. Lots of empty seats too. I don’t think they ran the entire building since it holds about 12,000 and they drew just over 3,000. KUSHIDA didn’t work the arm too much, which seemed unlike him. Kenoh fired off some kicks and even countered a cross armbreaker attempt into an ankle lock. KUSHIDA kicked out of a dragon suplex and diving double stomp at one but the crowd barely registered it. He survived some kicks and won after turning the Hoverboard Lock into an armbar. Pretty good but I wanted a bit more. The crowd hurt this way more than it helped.
I’m still questioning why Taguchi not only made the BOTSJ finals but why he advanced in this tournament too. Taguchi is rough on a normal basis and, while I haven’t seen a ton of Kanemaru, he did not look motivated at all here. He did a DDT on the exposed floor outside and got little to no reaction. That was honestly the high point of this match. The rest of the way saw Kanemaru hold serve in boring fashion, while Taguchi used ass based offense to try and rally. After a low and spinning Brainbuster, Kanemaru advanced. Boring match that didn’t interest me at all.
Look Gedo and Jado, we’re not stupid. You can say these guys represent ROH and Chaos, but they’re just NJPW guys. Lots of flips and counters in a fast paced start in this one. It was interesting to see Sydal try and ground Ospreay. It’s not usually a strong part of his game but he tried several submissions to keep him down. That didn’t stop Will from flying around and hitting a sweet dive to the outside. They both busted out some big, impressive kicks at different points. Sydal scored on a reverse rana and won with the Shooting Sydal Press in what has to be considered a bit of an upset. This was good and the best thing so far, but they’re capable of better. So far, the second half of Ospreay’s 2016 hasn’t been anywhere near as quality as the first.
Titan went out in the first round, while Volador Jr. had a good showing in the BOTSJ earlier this year. The pace in this one was pretty fast for the most part. They were looking to get all of their shit in. Lots of triple team moves from the Guerrero team. They did one where they all picked up their opponents in one seemingly giant submission, which was interesting. The opposing team came back with dives outside that Volador capped with a big rana. They continued to have a spot heavy match, which was fine since it is what you expect from them. It went a little long for what they were doing to me though. Volador got the win for his guys with a super Spanish Fly. Good match. Volador felt like the star here.
Taichi chose to take a while for entrance again and then attack KUSHIDA during his. Even with that upper hand, Taichi spent a good chunk of the match bullshitting. He’d hide behind his lady friend, distract the referee and allow Desperado to get in a ton of work on KUSHIDA. He choked KUSHIDA with weapons and it was typical Suzuki-Gun stuff. KUSHIDA eventually turned the tide and somersaulted onto both Suzuki-Gun members. Taichi tapped to the Hoverboard Lock but Desperado was back up and distracting the referee. After all of that, it was a small package that got KUSHIDA the win, which is disappointing since he should have had a more definitive win. Too much bullshit for my taste. It’s just like when the Bullet Club interferes a ton and ruins stuff. I get that they’re heels but there’s a limit. The worst KUSHIDA match I’ve seen in quite some time. They beat him up after the bell too.
Continuing a trend of the night, something about this didn’t fully click with me. Kanemaru again didn’t seem to care much and came off as unmotivated once again. I’m not a big Sydal fan but bless him, he tried here. He did his best to put some spirit into the match and rally against Kanemaru’s dull offense. Sydal’s spark was fun and he went up for the Shooting Sydal Press, but Kanemaru got his knees up. Shortly after, Kanemaru hit a DDT and spinning Brainbuster to make it to the finals. Not a bad match, but nothing to write home about.
ACH and Taiji Ishimori recently won the Jr. Tag tournament in NOAH to earn this shot. More than anything else on the card, this was the match I was most excited about. Right off the bat, ACH and Ishimori were in control and hit dives outside. The fans seemed to appreciate the athleticism of ACH. The challengers busted out a sweet ace crusher tandem move but the pin was broken up. The teams traded stuff with neither gaining a clear advantage throughout. ACH may have been the star, wowing the fans several times. He was one of the few things they reacted to all night. I was surprised to see how well the challengers worked together since I don’t think they’ve teamed up often. They went for stereo 450 splashes but the champs got their knees up. There were several close calls until ACH ran into a brutal knee. With him out, the champions hit a flurry of offense on Ishimori, capped by tiger and German suplexes to retain. The best thing on the show. The NOAH juniors division is really good at times and this was one of them. ACH looked great, Ishimori was his usual impressive self and the champions are, hands down, the best Jr. tag not named reDRagon (or maybe even MCMG). A hotter crowd would have put this over the hump.
After the match, the Booking Disasters, Gedo and Jado, challenged Momo No Seishun to a GHC Jr. Tag Title match, which seemed to be accepted.
Stop me if you’ve seen this match before. I love the Machine Guns and I hate the Young Bucks. It was great to see Alex Shelley back in Japan. The Bucks wore tights that had tons of photos of Dave Meltzer’s face on them. Ever since they named a move after him, he’s had a non-stop wrestle boner for them. Expect this match to get at least 4.25 stars from him. Anyway, this was standard fare for these teams. They both went through the spots they’re known for. I’m not going to put too much effort into recapping this because it was exactly what you’d expect from them. It’s fine stuff but I’ve seen it too many times. They both had close calls, but an Indytaker on the outside and Meltzer Driver inside ended things. Others will rate this higher but I didn’t love it. It was good but not their best work together, which I don’t even that great.
Post-match, the Young Bucks stated that they were coming for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles. I’d normally be more upset, but the heavyweight titles mean as little as the junior ones at this point, so I don’t give a shit either way.
The IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion against the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion. NOAH vs. NJPW continues. Kanemaru had Suzuki-Gun with him, so KUSHIDA brought Taguchi and Liger. This got off to a good start, with Kanemaru actually looking interested in putting forth some effort. He worked over KUSHIDA and wore him down, playing off of the Suzuki-Gun beatdown earlier in the night. KUSHIDA began the comeback and nailed a somersault to the outside. He even busted out what I believe was a stardust press but TAKA pulled the referee out. It was time for Suzuki-Gun bullshit. The referee ejected everyone and as he was doing that, Taichi showed up through the crowd to attack KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA still rallied and eventually applied the Hoverboard Lock. Taichi tried to intervene again but Taguchi showed up to hit an ass attack. Seeing he had no more hope, Kanemaru tapped. Though I understood the idea behind all of the interference, I would have rather had a straight up finals in a tournament this prestigious. I didn’t watch the G1 Finals this year, but I’m pretty sure Omega didn’t win thanks to a ton of interference. Anyway, other than that, the match was good and the right guy went over. KUSHIDA is the ace of the juniors and this helps to solidify it, even though he didn’t have a great night of matches.
In a nice moment, Alex Shelley came out to congratulate his buddy and former partner as KUSHIDA celebrated.
Overall: This show was long and it felt even longer. The tournament matches ranged from shitty to pretty good and nothing stood out. The multi-man tags were both pretty good, while the two Jr. Tag Title matches were split. The Bucks/MCMG was more of the same, but the NOAH one ruled and was the match of the night. The Super J-Cup was not only strangely booked but it was a severe disappointment and was extremely underwhelming.