Hi everyone, and welcome back to NJPW reviews and to the belated New Japan Cup. There we were, back in February, looking forward to Hiromu Takahashi vs Tetsuya Naito at the Anniversary show, then the world caught fire. But now we’re here and tonight we begin the New Japan Cup and Hiromu has an opportunity to finally face Naito as he takes on former NJPW Champion, Tomoaki Honma.

Also, yesterday there was the Together Project Special which was just tag matches. I applaud them for taking the opportunity to try out their shooting style in an empty arena setting with some matches that don’t matter but that doesn’t mean I’m going to watch it.

New Japan Cup First Round Match: Yota Tsuji vs Togi Makabe

First off, when did Tsuji get so hot? Like I know we aren’t getting haircuts in lockdown like but man, his is looking good. And he’s making sure we don’t miss Jay White by wearing his facial hair better than him. Anyway, this was your standard dads and lads match, Makabe gave Tsuji just enough to make him look good but not so much that he ever seemed like there was a threat of an upset. Either way, solid fun and in a few years, Tsuji could be a very good prospect. Makabe hit a Bridging German Suplex for the pin

Winner: Togi Makabe

New Japan Cup First Round Match: Jado w/Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi vs Togi Makabe

I was worried about how Yano’s antics would work without a crowd to play off but luckily for all of us, Yano doesn’t need a crowd to be fucking delightful. The early proceedings when it was a competition between Yano’s turnbuckle pad and Jado’s kendo stick was fun including Jado doing a rather amusing extended sell of a turnbuckle smash. When Jado took control of the match, it became a bit more of a chore to watch as Jado does not seem to look comfortable leaning over to pick up his kendo stick let alone control a match. The finish as Yano managed to hit all three men in the dicks as the ref was distracted before applying a schoolboy pin was good fun. Oh, Yano, I’ve missed you more than almost anyone.

Winner: Toru Yano

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr)

Now you might have expected that at five matches I’d watch all five. I didn’t. Skipped this one. Suzuki pinned Uemura with a Gotch-Style Piledriver.

Winner: Suzuki-Gun

New Japan Cup First Round Match: Hiromu Takahashi vs Tomoaki Honma

When I said I’d missed Yano more than almost anyone, the almost was because of Hiromu. This battle of our pure, wholesome king with a fragile neck and a man who for legal reasons I won’t get into the allegations against him and an even more fragile neck seemed to be a competition of who could worry me more. Fair play to Honma, he has committed to just using his head as a weapon like.

The match started off somewhat slowly as I don’t think 2020 Honma, even with a good few months off, is really equipped for a nearly 20-minute match but he held his own including some lovely transitions into cravat holds as the two men worked over each other’s necks. Luckily, Takahashi, working his first singles match since another classic with Dragon Lee was back on top form.  Sure, this match dragged, especially without a crowd to propel it through the middle section but its ending stretch was nicely done with both men trading big moves looking for an opening. Ultimately Takahashi hit his Time Bomb modified emerald flowsion for the pin. While this wasn’t great, it was good enough and most importantly WE’RE GETTING YANO VS TAKAHASHI THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

Winner: Hiromu Takahashi

New Japan Cup First Round Match: El Desperado vs Tomohiro Ishii

Goddamn, I am glad we got this Ishii back. Too often we get ‘I am hard so have no need to try’ Ishii but here we got ‘I’ve not been able to do this for four months so I am going to actually sell’ Ishii. Desperado was stellar here, making a statement of having an openweight main event and looking every inch the equal of Ishii and looking very comfortable and inventive in control sections, knowing that he couldn’t compete in terms of upper-body mass so trying to take ut his legs to make anything difficult, let alone Ishii’s Brainbuster finish.

The great thing here is how open Ishii’s performance was, there wasn’t any no-selling to be found, this was a very respectful performance but even then, you get the feeling that the Desperado that broke his jaw fighting Jun Kasai just isn’t willing to let anyone not feel what he’s doing. Ultimately would I say it could have been trimmed a little? Yes. Do I say that for basically any match over 13 minutes? Almost all the time. Was it good shit, pal? The goodest shit I’ve seen in a long time. Ishii dropped Desperado with a Brainbuster for the pin

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii

A solid first night and a decent return for New Japan. The three-person commentary booth and lack of lighting the crowd areas helped cover for the lack of an audience, overall this was one of the most enjoyable shows of the lockdown era with a very good main event. Let’s see where they go from here.

All media courtesy of NJPW1972.com

Leave a Reply