Here’s a rundown of this morning’s Super J-Cup, held live at Korakuen Hall:
Matt Sydal (ROH) defeated Kaji Tomato (Kaientai Dojo)
Tomato’s gimmick is, in fact, coming to the ring with tomato pom-poms that turn into plush tomatoes.
He showed some nice offense early. Sydal took control but Tomato came back with some good offense, including a really great cradle near fall. Sydal laid him out with a Meteora (that Tomato kicked out of in another good near fall) and pinned him with the shooting star press to advance.
Sydal wanted to shake hands after but Tomato refused, instead giving him his tomato plush. Sydal appreciated it, but gave it back.
Kenoh (Pro Wrestling NOAH) defeated Gurukun Mask (Ryukyu Dragon Pro Wrestling)
Crisp offense to start. Kenoh was the heel and took control of the match. He stands out and has good presence. Gurukun Mask came back with a crossbody to the floor but Kenoh came back with some on point offense.
Gurukun Mask escaped early from an ankle lock attempt but withstood punishment for a good while after a second one was applied. Kenoh’s kicks came off as particularly vicious. In fact, it looked pretty silly when Gurukun Mask tried to counteract them with his own and didn’t even come close to sounding effective.
Gurukun Mask hit Kenoh with a Celtic Cross and a top rope moonsault for a good near fall. Kenoh was able to hit a snap dragon suplex and a penalty kick for a great near fall. Kenoh finished it off with the Ragou (dominator position into a powerbomb) for the win. Turned into a really good match towards the end.
Taichi (Suzuki-Gun) defeated Yuma Aoyagi (All Japan)
Taichi had an elaborate entrance where a woman in a mask similar to his danced around the crowd until he emerged. Milano Collection AT, doing commentary, was very interested in this couple and took photos.
Taichi stalled forever, refusing to take his outfit off, Desperado came in to cause mischief, etc. Aoyagi was distracted by Desperado and Taichi smashed a chair into his back.
As a gimmick/sidekick Taichi is good, but as a wrestler he’s just there, and they had a match with tons of interference and stalling for the first half. Not good.
Aoyagi took both out with a crossbody to the floor. It picked up towards the end as Aoyagi was good in his underdog babyface role. Taichi pinned him with a superkick. First half was really lame, but got better as the match progressed. Taichi got the win with a second superkick and a Last Ride powerbomb.
Jushin Thunder Liger (New Japan) defeated Eita (Dragon Gate)
Eita picked this show right out of the doldrums by laying out Liger with a huge senton to the floor. I think he busted his eye in the process.
Liger made a comeback and hit a powerbomb, then got him in the surfboard. Eita escaped with quick, agile offense. He stretched Liger with a double underhook submission for a while before Liger got his feet on the ropes.
Liger came back with a Shotei then pinned him with the brainbuster. Didn’t seem like the right finish at all as I’m not sure why Liger needs a win over Eita, but then remember who is hosting this. Still a very good sprint of a match.
Will Ospreay (Chaos) defeated Titan (CMLL)
This started off really great. Ospreay is trained in lucha so he fit in really well with Titan’s style and they had some great back and forth before Ospreay hit a shooting star press to the floor.
Titan came back with a huge springboard moonsault, laying out Ospreay. Ospreay went for an atomic drop, but Titan countered with a dragon screw in a cool spot. Ospreay came back with a flurry of great offense including a forearm, standing shooting star press, and a Phoenix splash from the middle rope for a near fall.
Ospreay hit a kick and a springboard cutter for the win. Very good.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun) defeated Bushi (Los Ingobernables de Japon)
This got wild as Bushi jumped Kanemaru and they brawled around the arena, going into the crowd. Bushi laid him out with a DDT and hit an amazing crossbody off a stairwell to the floor.
It’s funny because both are heels, and even though Bushi took a lot of this match, Kanemaru was the total heel and spent most of the match being worked on, though he did come back one or two times.
Bushi went to distract the referee, then went to mist Kanemaru, but he low blowed him and finished him with a brainbuster. It was kind of a weird match given the layout but Bushi looked great.
Ryusuke Taguchi (New Japan) defeated Daisuke Harada (Pro Wrestling NOAH)
Taguchi was in control, doing his comedy routine and working on Harada’s ankle. They had a pretty good match, full of good back and forth action. Harada laid out Taguchi at one point with a crazy looking Death Valley Driver.
They rolled around and traded ankle locks with one another in some great submission spots. Harada kicked out a Dodon, but didn’t kick out of a second.
Kushida (New Japan) defeated Taiji Ishimori (Pro Wrestling NOAH)
This started out slow but started to build up as time went on. They really laid it in, which got the crowd into the match big time behind Kushida. Ishimori went to the top rope but Kushida grabbed his arm. Ishimori fought back and hit what can be best described as a reverse Green Bay plunge then missed a 450 splash.
Kushida tried going for the Hoverboard Lock but Ishimori kept blocking. Kushida finally got it in, and after fighting it for a while, Ishimori tapped. Another good match.
The 8/21 tournament matches therefore are:
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Taichi
Kushida vs. Kenoh
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal
Final Thoughts: This was a weird show. There were no outright terrible matches on this card, and actually top to bottom, if you just look at workrate, this was a really solid show. But the booking just came off as super flat.
You’re looking at a second round where five out of eight guys are wrestling regularly for New Japan, and beyond that Taichi was a regular for years and has had plenty of matches with Liger, who I am already surprised enough beat Eita pretty clean in the middle.
You can also mention the other two outsiders are NOAH guys, but at least that kind of creates a fresh dynamic in some ways for the second round.
I expected a far more interesting, diverse second round is what I guess it boils down to. Not exactly the reaction I expected myself having upon the return of the Super J-Cup, but I guess in the end it’s New Japan’s tournament in more ways than one, isn’t it?