New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2020 Night 5
June 24, 2020
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

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New Japan Cup 2020 Preview & Predictions

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Voices of Wrestling New Japan Cup 2020 Staff Picks & Predictions

On paper, Night 5 is far and away the best of the New Japan Cup so far and it definitely delivered on a high level. With there being no shows for the next week, it was great to have this be the lasting impression until we get the second half of the second round.

New Japan Cup 2nd Round – Taiji Ishimori def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Just seconds into Taiji Ishimori’s entrance, we get Yoshinobu Kanemaru attacking him on the entrance ramp, asserting his dominance in this rivalry that dates back to Pro Wrestling NOAH. Kanemaru has never lost to Ishimori in singles competition at 11-0-1. In other companies, the canon wouldn’t carry away from a different promotion, but this is New Japan where everything matters.

After some fighting outside the ring, we get the first bell and Ishimori immediately tries to use his quickness to gain the advantage but gets grounded fast by Kanemaru going after the leg, which would become the story of the match. Kanemaru works over the leg for a while and then we get an attempt at the Suntory Surprise which Ishimori figures out right away and stops it by covering Kanemaru’s mouth. After Kanemaru has to swallow the whiskey and “chokes a bit” on it, they each fail at attempting their finisher. Ishimori gets him with the facebuster from the tombstone pile driver position and hits Bloody Cross to get the pin and beat Kanemaru for the first time in history. A really good opener, but it was hurt for me because Ishimori stopped selling the leg completely at the end of the match. It’s a minor gripe overall, but after selling it the whole match it was disappointing to see Ishimori not follow through. ***

New Japan Cup 2nd Round – Tomohiro Ishii def. Togi Makabe

This is the content I’m here for: two beefy men beating the piss out of each other like it’s a NEVER Openweight title match from 2016. It’s so nice to see Togi Makabe put forth the effort he has so far in this tournament. For myself at least, I forget about how good Makabe can be because he spends most of his time in-ring avoiding taking a bump. While I don’t blame him one bit, it doesn’t make for a compelling wrestling match when one competitor doesn’t bump.

This match lived up to the NEVER title matches these two used to have. Hard-hitting chops back and forth throughout and some fun spots, including a northern lights suplex from Makabe which I didn’t expect him to bring out. The second Ishii hit Makabe with a German suplex into the turnbuckle, I knew this was going to be a banger. They exchanged tope rope moves in which they both no sold which sounds stupid on paper but it ruled so much. It felt like they were trying to one-up each other when it came to toughness. At the end, Ishii hit a lariat at the end of a good exchange and got the vertical drop brainbuster for the win. A near 15-minute match that felt like 5 minutes, this is a match that you should go out of your way to see. Great stuff. ****

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Suzukigun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)

I really enjoy Tachi’s entrance. Hell, even my fiancee who doesn’t like wrestling knows who our lord and savior Taichi is. This was awesome though because the second Ibushi’s music hit, he shot out of a cannon and attacked his opponents before the bell like he had just joined Suzukigun. It was so different and unexpected, even though the night before Taichi and DOUKI attacked him after the match with his partner Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Once the in-ring action got going, Suzukigun immediately went after Tanahashi’s knee in a elongated sequence. Nothing super noteworthy outside of that, although Tanahashi hit an awesome looking reverse dragon screw on Zack Sabre Jr. Shortly after, Ibushi and Taichi got in there and had a great exchange that did its job perfectly, especially when Taichi dropped Ibushi on his head. Come on Kota, it’s a throwaway 6-man tag. I could not be more excited for Taichi and Ibushi. DOUKI and Taguchi tag in, having a really good segment and Taguchi hits the Dodon for the win. ***1/4

After the match Suzukigun attacked the champs and Taguchi providing even more heat for their presumptive IWGP Tag Team Title match for Dominion. ZSJ and Taichi stole the tag title belts only to have Taguchi take them back. When these teams finally get in the ring together after teasing this for what feels like an eternity, it’s going to be fun.

New Japan Cup 2nd Round – Hiromu Takahashi def. Toru Yano

The second Hiromu comes out for his entrance, he’s wearing a construction hard hat to protect his hair. At this moment, I know that I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this. I fully admit that Toru Yano’s comedy schtick isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy the hell out of it. I find him hilarious and he keeps things fresh while doing the same things.

Right when the bell sounds, Hiromu exits the ring and eventually goes underneath the ring. When he comes up, he has his own set of hair clippers. Unfortunately for him, they don’t work and Yano takes a pair out of his pants. He fails to use them and they wrestle for a short time. They go back out of the ring and brawl and Yano grabs a pair of scissors but Hiromu wrestles it away. They go back into the ring and then spill out of it. Once they get by the trophy, Yano finds another pair of scissors and a container littered with tape. Yota Tsuji makes the mistake of trying to wrestle the scissors away from Yano and gets rewarded with a punch and ends up taped to Hiromu like they are going to run a 3 legged race. I think Yano taped Kenny Omega to either Shota Umino or Ren Narita in the 2017 G1? It’s happened before I know that much. Yano finally gets a piece of Hiromu’s hair with the scissors. The pair of Tsuji and Hiromu get up and tape Yano’s eyes shut, throw him into the elevator and send him downstairs to the first floor. Hiromu and Tsuji hop over and get in the ring on the count of 18 and secures the win.

This is where I will lose some of you and that’s ok. For my personal tastes, this is a match of the year contender. Was there great in-ring action? Absolutely not. What this match did have was incredible entertainment, kept me massively engaged and I loved it. If you thought this was utter shit I totally get it, but this is the best comedy match I’ve seen since Toru Yano and Tetsuya Naito had my number 9 match of the year in the G1 last year. Another must-watch match from this show. ****1/2

New Japan Cut 2nd Round – Kazuchika Okada def. Yuji Nagata

When the brackets came out the second time around, this was a match that we had hoped to see. These two have only met once in singles competition (2013 G1 Climax) and as we have seen in every singles match that Yuji Nagata has had the past couple of years, he can still go at a high level. It’s one thing to have a banger with guys like Minoru Suzuki and Tomohiro Ishii, but if he has one with Okada, that could be a legit match of the year contender.

Early on, this started like most Okada matches. They lockup, exchange a bit, do the rope break spot, brawl a bit on the outside, and then Okada takes control getting Yuji Nagata in the corner and clubbing him with forearms. Nagata gets some offense with kicks and an exploder as they exchange back and forth for a while.

Okada gets control back and goes for an elbow drop off the top rope. Nagata jumps up and goes after the Rainmaker. Okada tries to beat him down multiple times, but Nagata fires up with fighting spirit twice and hits an avalanche exploder like its 2004. Nagata then starts hitting Okada with kicks right to the midsection and completely flips the momentum. Okada flips the tables with a tombstone piledriver only to have Nagata lock in the crippler crossface. Okada gets a rope break thankfully and Nagata spends the next minute trying to hit a variety of overhead suplexes just to have Okada fight it and get an exploder for his efforts.

This is where things really start to heat up. Nagata has Okada well scouted, holding onto the ropes when Okada attempted the dropkick and slapping the shit out of him for his efforts. Nagata his a backdrop suplex and Okada shortly after locks in the cobra clutch to secure the victory. With two seasoned veterans like these, having one go over with a submission makes total sense, as they are both crafty and it gives Okada even more credibility with a secondary finisher moving forward in this tournament, having beaten his first two opponents with it. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

This was far and away the best night so far with 3 four-star plus matches. Looking forward, we have a couple of really fun matchups to look forward to come July: Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi and Kazuchika Okada vs Taiji Ishimori. While I don’t expect either of the juniors to win, the matches will be really intriguing and we are likely getting Okada vs Ishii which is always great. We don’t have another show for a week, but having New Japan back in full swing is great for everyone.