NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru - 2.5/10
Kanemaru jumped Ishimori from behind on his way to the ring. The ref started to try to get them to get into the ring but they wouldn’t, so he just gave up and rang the bell. Isn’t the reason you didn’t ring the bell up until that point the idea that you have to have both competitors in the ring before the match can start? And if that’s not a thing, why not just ring the bell when you start fighting?
Once they made it into the ring, Kanemaru started working over Ishimori’s knee and things were going along well… until Ishimori just stopped selling his knee. This started when they were trying to set up a spot that led to Kanemaru clearly purposely grabbing the ref and using him as a human shield and the ref taking a bump that looked very weak and yet the referee stayed hunched over on the apron forever and just coincidentally happened to pop up when it was time for the dramatic pinfall after the various cheating happened, which made everything feel staged, and then they just went into their nearfalls, with Ishimori not selling his leg at all. Just have a f*cking match and sell. You already had Kanemaru jump Ishimori from behind to tell us who we’re supposed to be booing (although it’s heel vs. heel anyway, so that doesn’t even matter much). Stop doing sh*t that makes everything look like a work.
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe - 8.75/10
This ROCKED! It was one of the best hoss-fight big clubberin’ fighting spirit matches I’ve ever seen. THIS is what I want to see out of a match like that. They beat the sh*t out of each other and sold everything more and more, and they each did one- JUST ONE- big fighting spirit spot where they take a huge move and get back up, but instead of that stupid, stone-faced “look at how cool I am, not selling your move” crap, they expressed their resiliency verbally and facially while they were getting back up, like a real person would, not like a character in a video game who drank an invulnerability potion right before getting hit with the move.
There was one spot right after Ishii’s big fighting spirit spot where he charged at Makabe with a clothesline to stop him from coming off the top rope with the knee drop and he totally missed him and I thought the spot was that he swung, missed, and necked himself on the ropes, but then Makabe started selling it, too, and I had no idea what happened. Other than that, this was tremendous. Possibly my favorite match of this style that I’ve ever seen.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KOTA IBUSHI, & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi, DOUKI, & Zack Sabre Jr.) - 6/10
Ibushi ran out and jumped the bell on Suzuki-Gun. Didn’t see that one coming. It’s almost like after YEARS of Suzuki-Gun jumping the bell on everyone, someone has finally learned something!
The shine didn’t last long, however, as Taichi ran in illegally and clobbered Tanahashi from behind, then Zack gave Tanahashi two Dragon Screws while Taichi held him in place via full nelson. Zack started working over Tanahashi’s leg, and while the dangerous submission master was working over the legal babyface’s injured body part, the camera decided to follow Taichi hitting Kota with weapons on the outside, because must happen in every single f*cking Suzuki-Gun match, and G-d forbid we not do so.
Zack tags in DOUKI and now he’s working Tanahashi over, and there’s Taichi choking Ibushi to death with a cable… but where the f*ck is Taguchi? What happened to him? We can’t get a replay or something? Or at least give us a camera shot of him laid out on the floor?
Zack pitches Tanahashi to the outside his pals can work him over on the floor (because, again, this must happen in every single Suzuki-Gun match). We eventually got a count-out tease out of this with Tanahashi getting back in at seventeen… and Taichi stood there and let Tanahashi walked right by him instead of trying to stop him. Why? Doesn’t he want to win the match? And don’t give me any of that “they want the match to continue so they can hurt him more” bullsh*t because they could just keep attacking him after the match, too. You know… like they did to him just two days ago?
The heat progressed as usual. We got a comeback, we got Taichi almost killing Ibushi with a backdrop driver, and we got a better than expected bit between Taguchi and DOUKI towards the end.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Snore. Suzuki-Gun attack after the match but Tanahashi and Ibushi fight them off, so where’s the heat?
WAY TO THE GRAND MASTER VIDEO - We’ve got a new guy coming soon. He will “overcome” and “climb to great heights.” He’s either a Caucasian or a lighter-skinned Asian gentleman. He was practicing some martial arts in the woods. New Japan has a hell of a lot of talent on their roster, and even makes good use out of less-talented (or older) guys like Nagata, Makabe, YOSHI-HASHI, and Taichi when it decides to use them, but I just don’t know how much more talent they really have room for. Good on whoever this is for getting a payday, but unless we’re going to be showing some people the door, there really isn’t room for anyone new to come in and grow.
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Toru Yano vs. Hiromu Takahashi - -5/10
Hiromu is out here wearing a hardhat for some reason. The referee rang the bell while one competitor was wearing a hardhat, and the other was wielding electric hair clippers. Hiromu is now scared and won’t get into the ring. Eventually he goes and hides under it, so the referee starts to count him out. Instead of taking the count-out, Yano breaks the count and goes under the ring to look for Hiromu. Moron.
Wait… apparently this didn’t reset the count, even though that’s how the rules are supposed to work, because if the rules worked normally in this match, we wouldn’t have been able to do some comedy with Yano almost getting counted out when he didn’t realize Hiromu had slipped out the other side and gotten back in the ring. Actually, they easily could have done that if they just followed the rules and reset the count and had Yano looking under the ring for longer, but who needs logic if this prestigious #1 contendership tournament. Apparently hair clippers are good enough.
Why is this even happening? Is there some thing where Hiromu is afraid of getting a haircut? Why are they not just wrestling?
Oh. And Hiromu’s got the clippers now, somehow. Yano gets back into the ring and Hiromu grabs him in a headlock and he’s going to shave his head, but the battery is now dead. Good. So the stupidity will be over and we can start wrestling now, right? Nope. Apparently not. Yano has another pair and tries to use them on Hiromu but the referee takes them away.
Okay. NOW we can have some actual wrestling happen. Yay! Hiromu dominates. Yano winds up on the outside and Yano whips him into the barricade because this is New Japan and I guess if that doesn’t happen in every match, they’ll lose their TV deal or something. Yano reverses a whip into the barricade with one of his one, and then, for some unknown reason, he starts assaulting the timekeeper.
Dumbf*ck Yano cost himself so much time that Hiromu was able to recover, and he throws Yano into the empty bleachers. As I’m sure won’t surprise you, despite them having both been on the outside for almost a minute now, the referee has not started counting them out.
Yano produces a pair of scissors from Hammer Space and starts to threaten Hiromu with it. The referee now comes over to them, but doesn’t really do anything. Hiromu fights Yano off and gets this deadly weapon away from him. Then Hiromu goes back to the ring… and starts randomly selling? Yano goes back to the ring, too, but instead of capitalizing, he once again falls prey to his strange compulsion to remove the turnbuckle pad.
Some of the usual Stupid Yano Tricks follow, and then we’re back to the actual wrestling. Hiromu tries for a sunset flip powerbomb, but then lets go when he accidentally touches Yano’s dick… I think? I’m not really sure why he let go, but Yano immediately grabbed his won dick afterwards, so that’s what I assume the spot was supposed to be.
Hiromu manages to whip Yano into the stage… but now Yano somehow has scissors again. Why are there all of these pairs of scissors all over the place? And don’t tell me Yano has been hiding them in his trunks, because if that’s the case then the referee is so incompetent at checking a wrestler for weapons that he should be fired immediately.
Hiromu is scared and falls down. The referee comes over and tries to stop Yano from presumably stabbing Hiromu with the scissors but Yano shoves him away. That should be a DQ right there. Instead of stabbing Hiromu with the scissors, Yano goes behind the pedestal holding the trophy and gets a roll of athletic tape and attempts to tie Hiromu up. A young-boy tries to save Hiromu but gets taken down and then Yano tapes Hiromu’s leg to the young-boys. I’m sorry, but I can’t buy for one second that Hiromu has been this incapacitated by the pretty much zero damage he has taken this match. Since they’ve been on the outside this go-around, he has taken a total of one stomp. This dude once finished a match with a f*cking BROKEN NECK.
Yano picks the scissors up again and OH MY G-D HE’S RIGHT NEAR HIROMU’S FACE! WHY ISN’T ANYONE COMING TO STOP THIS?!
Yano takes the scissors and… cuts off a chunk of Hiromu’s hair. WHY?! For what purpose? Why is he doing this? Is there some sort of stipulation to this match that in addition to pinfall, submission, DQ, count-out, or referee stoppage, you can also win by cutting off some of the opponent’s hair?
Yano starts walking away, holding the hair up in triumph… and apparently Hiromu seems to have recovered substantially in the last few seconds, as he is now on his feet and dragging the young-boy he is tired to along with him over towards Yano. He hits Yano from behind… and there’s the referee to tell them to get back into the ring. WELL WHY DON’T YOU START TO F*CKING COUNT THEM OUT, YOU MORON?! You know… that thing you’re supposed to do in this situation? And that thing you did at the beginning of this very match and it worked?
They’re in a hallway now, and Hiromu knocks Yano down. He’s got some of the athletic tape and ties Yano’s hands together with it. He then blindfolds Yano with the tape and shoves him into an elevator. He sends the elevator up, and, of course, the moment they’ve finished doing the spot that they wanted to do be their finish, count-outs magically start applying again and Hiromu hops his way to the ring before the referee reaches twenty , and I’m now supposed to care that he “won” this “match” when they just spent 99% of it exposing to us that it’s all fake bullsh*t. The only reason that I didn’t rate this even lower was that it “only” went nine minutes (as compared to the much longer MITB or Stadium Stampede).
If you liked this but criticized the bullsh*t at Backlash with the Street Profits and Viking Raiders, you are a hypocrite. They are no different. They are both fake stupid bullsh*t. I don’t care that this didn’t have dream sequences or a musical track. Does that really make it any more fake that two guys deciding that instead of trying to win the match, they’re going to try to cut each other’s hair? Or a rule being completely ignored for minutes on end until they’ve done their big funny spot that required the rule to be ignored to set it up, and then it starts to be enforced again the moment their story needs it to be enforced?
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Yuji Nagata vs. Kazuchika Okada - 7.75/10
They lock up and exchange some strikes and then it’s to the outside and into the barricades! And, of course, while they’re on the outside, Red Shoes is making no effort to do his job properly and count them out. Oh. Wait. There it is. I guess he was making up for lost time by counting so quickly when he finally started.
Okada pins Nagata with the foot on the chest and Red Shoes goes down to count, but then stops himself, like he somehow didn’t realize that that was just a foot on the chest, even though Okada was f*cking STANDING UP. He tells Okada he won’t count, and Nagata eventually gets his shoulder up… after what I counted was at least four seconds, so regardless of what happens at the end of this match, it’s Okada should have been the actual winner. And, of course, we have to have Okada being a disrespectful punk heel to veteran for no f*cking reason other than to make the people at home cheer Nagata. If you’re worried about cheering for Nagata’s opponent instead of him, DON’T BOOK HIM AGAINST ANOTHER BABYFACE.
From there on this got pretty good, as the story started to develop into Okada working over the neck while Nagata did his Nagata stuff whenever he could get something in, just trying to survive against the much younger ace. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so, ending the interesting story that would have been a last hurrah Cinderella run for Nagata, because this Gedo booking and interesting is not part of his repertoire.
This was a VERY mixed bag of a show from New Japan, with the good being great but the bad being utter sh*t. Unfortunately, the bad far outweighed the good, even with the awesome hoss-fight that was Ishii vs. Makabe.<