It was only a few weeks ago New Japan Pro Wrestling announced they would be returning with empty arena shows. Though we are already witnessing the quarter-finals of the New Japan Cup 2020. On paper, it seemed Okada versus Ishimori had all the potential to be the standout match of the night. But could the ticking timebomb Takahashi versus the Stone Pitbull steal the show due to their pure fight, or would it be the main event SANADA versus TAICHI?

New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter-Final: Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi 

Takahashi faced the difficult challenge of going head to head with the Stone Pitbull. Takahashi went straight to crashing into Ishii, he tried to use Ishii strength and build against him. Though, this, of course, didn’t last long as Ishii turned the tides and focused on chopping the ticking timebomb’s chest. Takahashi kept fighting back, he tried to wear down Ishii as much as possible. While he was the smaller competitor Takahashi showed incredible fight and passion throughout this match. 

Takahashi showed so much passion and heart during this match-up, every tiny mistake Ishii made, Takahashi used to his advantage. We watched him learn Ishii’s limits first hand as he worked to expose them. After a successful Falcon Arrow Takahashi started to show some self-belief. The battle of strength continued, Ishii seemed to be dominating his opponent until Takahashi hit Ishii with a Time Bomb and advanced to the semi-finals. 

Takahashi and Ishii both put up an incredible fight. We watched them both push each other to whatever limits they could, learning what would and wouldn’t work. Hiromu Takahashi without a doubt impressed me during this match, you could see how much he wanted to push through to the semi-finals. Ishii as always is an insanely strong competitor who should never be taken lightly. 

Winner: Hiromu Takahashi 

New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter-Final: YOSHI-HASHI vs EVIL 

YOSHI-HASHI suffered a knee injury in his match-up against Bushi the night before. YOSHI-HASHI suffered from his bad injury as he struggled to walk. EVIL saw his opportunity going straight for the injured knee with a steel chair. After multiple hits, the bell rang. YOSHI-HASHI tried to get some hits in and fight against EVIL, but it only took one small hit to knock him off his feet once again.

YOSHI-HASHI put himself through immense pain during this match, until EVIL locked in a Scorpion Deathlock and YOSHI-HASHI just couldn’t hold on any longer. EVIL refused to let go and then continued his attack on YOSHI-HASHI’s knee until multiple staff members pulled him away. There isn’t much I can say about this match, it was clear from the first moments that YOSHI-HASHI was in immense pain and wouldn’t be able to go very long. 

Winner: EVIL

Yuya Uemura, SHO & Hirooki Goto Vs Bushi, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito 

Los Ingobernables de Japon looked for another win during tonight’s show, this challenge would fall into the hands of Bushi, Takagi and Naito. Bushi was the Los Ingobernables member who saw his opportunity to take the win. Bushi hit a Code Breaker out of nowhere on Uemura who just couldn’t find the strength to kick out. Good match, every competitor put their shift in, though some were highlighted more than others. I just wished the match would have gone a little longer. 

Winner: Bushi, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito 

New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter-Final: Kazuchika Okada vs Taiji Ishimori 

Ishimori tried to be prepared to compete against the bigger Okada, first going for the eyes before trying to knock Okada off his feet. Okada didn’t budge and now saw his chance to knock Ishimori down a peg. Sliding dropkick from Okada knocked Ishimori out of the ring and into the barrier. Even though Switchblade Jay White is not in Japan at the moment, Gedo did not want to lose an opportunity to mess with Okada, both mentally and physically. Coming to the ring with a metal wrench. Ishimori used his Bullet Club brother’s distraction to knock Okada out of the ring, leaving him to the mercy of Gedo and his wrench. 

Ishimori now used the injured ribs of Okada as a tool to try and gain an advantage. The Rainmaker wasn’t out yet though as he broke Ishimori’s side headlock and started to block the Bone soldier’s attacks. Gedo, of course, had to get involved once again as he distracted Okada which allowed Ishimori to hit his opponent with a rolling leg attack. Followed by a springboard moonsault. After Ishimori’s Bloody Cross was blocked, Okada had enough. He hit the Bone Solider which a reversed Bloody Cross, then a spinning tombstone before locking in the Cobra Clutch and advancing to the semi-finals. 

The story of Ishimori versus Okada was so similar to the earlier battle between Ishii and Takahashi. Ishimori was the much smaller competitor but refused to stop fighting. Though Ishimori went about it in a completely different way. While Takahashi used heart, Ishimori used Gedo’s help. A well-deserved victory from Okada and an incredible battle between the two. Great match, was a highlight of the show. 

Winner: Kazuchika Okada 

New Japan Cup 2020 Quarter-Final: SANADA Vs TAICHI 

Both competitors were wary at the start of this match, not wanting to meet in the middle of the squared circle. SANADA started to gain an advantage, which didn’t go down well with TAICHI, who grabbed a piece of rope and tried to choke SANADA out. TAICHI now in full complete control dragged his opponent out of the ring, he used whatever he could find to attack SANADA. Back in the ring, SANADA did his best to fight back. SANADA was finally able to gain some space as he hit a basement dropkick. TAICHI tried to escape his opponent but SANADA flew out of the ring after him, stalking his opponent wherever he went. 

They returned to the ring. SANADA tied TAICHI up in the ropes. SANADA did eventually free TAICHI as he slid across the ring and dropkicked him. TAICHI wasn’t too happy about being tied up as he repeatedly kicked his opponent in the head. They continued back and forth with one another, both trying to use their brutality for an advantage. SANADA was close to a win as he locked TAICHI into a Skull End. TAICHI tapped out but was saved by Kanemaru who appeared at ringside distracting Red Shoes. TAICHI used the distraction to control SANADA. After one last burst of fight, SANADA blocked TAICHI’s Gedo clutch and hit his opponent with an O’Conner Roll to advance. 

SANADA was well deserving of his advancement to the semi-finals after he won the match multiple times when Red Shoes was distracted by Kanemaru. TAICHI used every leeway in the rules to cause damage to SANADA, but his opponent just always had an answer. Another great match. 

Winner: SANADA 

New Japan Pro Wrestling put on a fantastic card for the quarter-finals of the New Japan Cup 2020. While EVIL vs YOSHI-HASHI could have gone longer, it just wasn’t possible with YOSHI-HASHI’s knee injury. Okada vs Ishimori was intense and brilliant. Though Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi was the highlight of the whole show. No one can dare deny Takahashi deserves his spot in the semi-finals when they put on such a battle. 

All images and videos courtesy of New Japan Pro Wrestling and TDE Wrestling