I’ve got a bit of involuntary free time on my hands at the moment, so I decided to cheer myself up by watching some Japanese Junior Heavyweight action from the 90’s. This is show is actually available for full up on YouTube, probably because WAR has now gone out of business and whoever owns the video library isn’t especially arsed about these sort of things. I won’t embed it here in case I get Scott or the Blog in bother, but if you just search “Super J Cup 1995” on YouTube then it should be pretty easy to find.
The J Cup brought together Junior Heavyweights from all over the world to compete in a single elimination tournament to win a snazzy gold jacket. It reminds me a bit of The Masters in golf in that regard actually. One cool thing about it is that it brought together wrestlers from different promotions, meaning that there are plenty of inter-promotional bouts on this one.
Junior Heavyweight wrestling was very much the “gateway drug” that got me in to Japanese wrestling in the first place, and I still have a lot of nostalgia for the J Cup tournaments of 94, 95 and 2000.
Anyway, less chatter from me, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on the 13th of December 1995
No one is calling the action, as the tape is commentary free, which is a shame as I love it when Japanese commentators go nuts at the big moves.
Wrestle Association R (Or WAR for short) are hosting this time. They were a company set up by Tenryu once the SWS went under. They hired an eclectic mix of wrestlers, from high flying guys like Ultimo Dragon to big blokes like The Warlord.
We open up with a collection of interviews from everyone. As usual, Jushin Liger has his special green mask on for the interviews.
We get a big disco lights show prior to the event starting, followed by all the wrestlers coming out for the mandatory photo in the ring. I love how whenever you see a company run a tournament like this they usually always ape that photo spot.
Super J Cup First Round
Damian (FMW) Vs Gran Naniwa (Michinoku Pro)
Damien would eventually show up in ECW and WCW in the United States. He’s doing an interesting gimmick here where he calls out the name of a popular wrestler and does a move you’d associate with them. Naniwa has a crab gimmick going on, which I never really understood but I always thought was fun. Naniwa would actually appear on nWo/WCW World Tour for the N64 under a different name.
Michinoku was a popular cult company in Japan during this time, kind of like an ROH or ECW level promotion. They were probably more popular than those two companies ever got during this timeframe though, mainly because New Japan would book quite a few of their guys and smaller wrestling groups generally got decent coverage in the wrestling mags, so most wrestling fans would know who they were.
I think one big reason why this manages to avoid the censors and stay up on YouTube is that they dub out all the music with generic stuff, which probably saved WAR a bunch of money back in the day and also likely means that there’s no licensed music to tip off the YouTube algorithms. They try and dub in crowd noise as well during the entrances, but you can tell it’s canned and it takes away from it quite a lot.
Damian teases walking away at first unless the fans chant for him, and they dutifully do, so Naniwa does the same thing as well in a funny bit. This is an enjoyable comedy match, as the crowd is very much into Damian’s wacky chameleon antics, and laugh even harder when Naniwa starts getting in on the act too by copying Great Sasuke. The actual action is good too, with Damian lifting Hakushi’s rope walk spot before following with a suicide dive.
Naniwa is not to be outdone though, and fights back inside the ring before sending Damian outside for a dive of his own from the top rope. Damian replies with the Misawa elbows back inside for two, before heading up for a Muta moonsault, but there’s no water in the pool. Naniwa pounces with a rana and that’s enough for the flash pin fall.
WINNER: GRAN NANIWA
Bit too short at just over six minutes, otherwise I might have gone higher. Still, it was a lot of fun and a good light hearted way to start the tournament.
There’s no interviews following this and it’s straight to the next match. I’m sure there’s a version with interviews as I remember Damian cutting one in tears due to his loss, which really made me feel sorry for him. There’s a bit post-match where he riffs on Onita and starts spitting water that they’ve also cut.
Super J Cup First Round
Masaaki Mochizuki (WAR) Vs Shinjiro Ohtani (New Japan)
Mochizuki was doing a lot of shoot style during this period, but he’d eventually end up Toryumon and Dragon Gate. Ohtani was already one of the division’s best wrestlers, combining slick submission wrestling with crisp high flying. He’d go on to have a great match with Eddie Guerrero at WCW Starrcade 1995, that is still spoken of today and actually made the “Best of Starrcade” DVD release.
This match is immediately more serious in comparison to the previous one, with Mochizuki coming straight out of the blocks with some stiff kicks and knees before battling with Ohtani over a leg lock. Both men beat the fudge out of one another with strikes, but Ohtani eventually gets the upper hand and focuses his attack on Mochizuki’s legs with kicks, stomps and submission holds.
Mochizuki is able to reply with a really nice German Suplex for a close near fall, and the crowd is totally in to all of this. It’s got enough pro-wrestling in it to not be a pure “shoot style” match, but it’s definitely going for a UWFi/BattlArts feel due to all the stiff hits and holds. Ohtani eventually breaks the immersion by getting a springboard dropkick to the leg and following with a leg submission hold to pick up the victory.
WINNER: SHINJIRO OHANTI
Just four minutes long sadly, but it was good whilst it lasted. I’ve always had a bit of an affinity for the shoot style, so I dug this and the crowd liked it too. Your own personal mileage may vary.
Ohtani is in a sporting mood following the bout and the two men shake hands.
Super J Cup First Round
Shoichi Funaki (PWFG) Vs Ultimo Dragon (WAR)
Wikipedia seems to think that Funaki was representing Michinoku Pro here, but I don’t think he had joined the promotion yet and was still working for Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi. He was doing much more of a shoot wrestling style here, rather than the more Lucha influenced style they were doing in Michinoku, which makes me think he hadn’t quite jumped yet or had only just jumped. Dragon was the top dog Junior Heavyweight wise in WAR, and currently had their Junior Heavyweight Title. Interestingly the music they dub over his usual theme here is the one the WWF would use for the No Way Out pay per view event in 1998.
This match is our first proper clash of styles, as Dragon is all about doing cool high flying and smooth technical wrestling, whilst Funaki is all about grabbing hold of his opponent in the hope of grinding out a submission victory. Dragon tries to fight fire with fire submission wise, but Funaki usually gets out of his attempts relatively easily before going back to his own. Funaki aggressively targets Dragon’s legs with multiple submission attempts, but Dragon is able to survive them and then botches a standing rana before getting a much nicer Quebrada for two.
These two really don’t have a lot of chemistry all told, but the match picks up a bit once they start doing bigger moves to build for the finish. Both men trade fisherman busters, with Dragon getting his in second, and then heading up for a rana off the top rope. Dragon follows with a moonsault to Funaki’s back and then goes to the La Magistral to pick up the three count.
WINNER: ULTIMO DRAGON
It wasn’t actively bad or anything, but it wasn’t overly good or exciting either. There just really wasn’t much chemistry between the two men, and it meant the match had a bit of a “paint by numbers” feel to it.
Dragon seems pretty unimpressed in his post-match promo.
Super J Cup First Round
Masayoshi Motegi (SPWF) Vs Gedo (WAR)
Motegi used to work for W*ING and apparently did some shots for ECW back when it was still known as Eastern Championship Wrestling. Sadly Gedo’s awesome “Sharp Dressed Man” knock off is cut from the tape, although his delightful red jumpsuit and ridiculous bleached blond hairdo is fully in place. Gedo got to the semi-finals in 1994, but is on home turf this time. He is better known of course for being Scott Keith’s most favourite Japanese wrestler of all-time. Indeed, I believe Scott has a big Gedo shrine in his house that he regularly tends to.
Motegi is sporting a black jumpsuit here, as well as a similar hairdo to Gedo, which I think he may have done deliberately to wind Gedo up for their match. He jumps Gedo right from the off, to audible boos from the crowd. Clearly they don’t like Gedo’s sartorial elegance being made light of in such a manner, and nor should they! Gedo wouldn’t look out of place in Paris or Milan with his impeccable dress sense.
Motegi mostly works over the arm back inside, before sending Gedo outside with a head scissors and then following with a vaulting body press. Motegi continues to insult the crowd back inside, before coming off the top with a nice missile dropkick for two. A brain buster follows, but Gedo is once again able to kick out, and the crowd is behind him to make the comeback. He dutifully does by getting a dropkick from the second rope, but misses a diving head butt, allowing Motegi to get triple German Suplexes for two.
Motegi heads up for his own head butt, but Gedo is able to move this time and counters a rana into a power bomb before applying a double underhook chicken wing styled submission hold for the victory as Saskatchewan goes wild!
Too much Motegi and not enough Gedo in this one. As with the previous match, it kind of felt by the numbers until the last minute or so when they kicked it up a notch. They are clearly presenting Gedo as the underdog Cinderella story here, and the home team WAR crowd seem all for it.
Gedo shoves away the camera on his way back to the lock room. No interviews with Mr. Gedo, he’s very busy right now!
Super J Cup First Round
El Samurai (New Japan) Vs Dos Caras (CMLL)
Samurai was always one of my favourite workers from this era on the New Japan side. He has a rather unremarkable physique and has sometimes been accused of laziness, but when he’s “on” he normally always has a good match. Caras might be better known to some of you as the father of Alberto Del Rio and the brother of Mil Mascaras.
This match is all about Caras showing off his wacky Lucha influenced submission holds, as he spends a majority of the match locking Samurai in them. The holds themselves all look good, but it sadly means we don’t get to see a lot of Samurai, as he spends a large chunk of the match just selling for Caras’, admittedly impressive, submission hold collection.
It’s a very good showcase for Caras that succeeds in making him look like a big deal, but I want my El Samurai goodness gosh darn it! Thankfully Samurai does eventually get some offence in the closing stages, spiking Caras with a vicious looking piledriver before following up with a powerbomb for two. The crowd is getting pretty into this now and is digging all the near falls.
The referee is actually counting in Spanish when Caras gets pinned in a nice touch. Samurai rana’s Caras down from the top rope for two before heading up top for a head butt. Caras dodges that however and comes off the top with a nice cross body block for the three count.
WINNER: DOS CARAS
Good Lucha style submission grappling here, just not enough Samurai for my liking. Caras looked like a huge star following this though, and the crowd was really in to all his stuff, so Samurai did his job at least.
In a funny bit you can briefly here a bit of Caras’ music when he walks from the back and it sounds like a love ballad of some kind that doesn’t really strike me as traditional entrance music.
Super J Cup First Round
Hanzo Nakajima (Michinoku Pro) Vs Lionheart (WAR)
I can’t actually find much information on Hanzo, but his entrance gear is not unlike something that Kage from the Virtua Fighter series would wear. It’s kind of a shame he takes it off really, as he kind of just looks like a guy dressed cosplaying as Nova from ECW when he does. Lionheart would be better known to you all as Le Champion Chris Jericho these days. He quickly flips off Hanzo, to show that he’s got some rad 90’s ‘tude going on.
Lionheart is pretty over with the crowd, as he delivers a nice hanging vertical suplex to start us out to a nice reaction. Nakajima seems like a mixture of high flying and submission wrestling, as was the fashion at the time. Nakajima is all moves and little personality, but the moves he does are cool, so he gets away with it. At one point he even does the Ultimo Dragon handstand in the corner spot, which you’d think he would have been told not to do seeing as this is Dragon’s home promotion and he’s actually in the tournament.
Lionheart sells and bumps around well for Nakajima, taking a bump to the outside so that Nakajima can deliver a suicide dive. Nakajima overshoots it a little though, and Lionheart only just catches him. Back inside the two men fight on the top rope, which allows Lionheart to dropkick Nakajima down to the floor before following with a dive of his own to Nakajima on the floor. We head into the finishing sequence inside, as Lionheart rolls through a Nakajima cross body before following up with a fisherman buster and a Lionsault for the three count.
Mostly all just hot moves with little else in between, but the moves looked good for the most part, so it was a fun little sprint and a nice contrast to the more ground based previous match.
Nakajima seems pretty sore following that and barely makes it to the back. It did sound like the fisherman buster took quite a lot out of him actually. Lionheart says that he’s coming for Wild Pegasus next. Tonight will be the night of the Lion!
We see prior to the following match that there’s someone in the crowd cosplaying as Jushin Liger
Super J Cup Quarter Final
Gran Naniwa (Michinoku Pro) Vs Jushin Liger (New Japan)
Naniwa actually has big crab claws for his entrance this time in a nice touch. Liger’s dubbed theme is actually quite good, as it keeps the Saturday morning cartoon feel that his normal theme has. Naniwa starts this one quick, by giving Liger a rana as he gets into the ring before throwing him outside for a dive. A missile dropkick follows back in, as the crowd is going nuts because they are surprised that comedy wrestler Naniwa would start this so hot.
Naniwa actually has Liger on the ropes, with a sit out power bomb getting a two count, before climbing up to the second rope for his crab walk elbow drop, only for Liger to dodge it. The crowd are genuinely disappointed that he missed it, but stop short of booing Liger for having the temerity to move. Liger eventually manages to counter a rana into a power bomb, before doing his own crab walk for a big pop.
Liger is now mightily annoyed at getting shown up in the early going, so quickly morphs into stern subtle heel Liger, as he throws Naniwa around and puts him into painful looking submission holds. Naniwa keeps coming though, as Liger has given him a tonne of offence in this one. It’s surprising to me as Liger got Hayabusa in his first match in J Cup 1994 and basically gobbled him up, but he’s giving Naniwa quite a lot here and it’s really added to the match as a result.
Naniwa sends Liger outside and follows with a cannonball off the apron, as he continues to give a good showing of himself. A top rope splash follows inside, but Liger manages to kick out, as he does following a top rope rana also. Another sit out power bomb comes next, but Liger once again kicks out, as Naniwa is just emptying his arsenal here in trying to put the established star away. Liger is able to block another power bomb and gets a pair of rolling kicks before going for a dive.
Naniwa tries to stop him, but Liger throws him down into the ring and then follows with a Randy Savage style elbow drop for two. Liger Bomb looks to end things, but Naniwa counters it into a roll up for a great near fall, before Liger ends it with a fisherman buster.
WINNER: JUSHIN LIGER
This was a great example of grumpy prime era Liger taking on the impetuous younger wrestler and making him look competitive before putting him away. Again, this was pretty much night and day from his match with Hayabusa in the first tournament, as he sold big time for Naniwa and gave him some good near falls until finally polishing him off. Sadly Naniwa passed away in 2010, on my birthday no less, at just 33. Yes, shockingly he was only 18 when this show happened, but man did he look good beyond his years. A really fun match and the first really good one of the tournament.
Naniwa is really upset post-match that he wasn’t able to win, but Liger shows respect and raises his hand to go back babyface with the crowd.
Super J Cup Quarter Final
Lionheart (WAR) Vs Wild Pegasus (New Japan)
Pegasus would likely be better known to you all as Chris Benoit. He was the previous winner, hence why he gets the bye to the Quarters. I’m not sure why Liger got the same treatment. I’m guessing because he’s awesome? Pegasus’ dubbed music sounds like something T-Rex would play. There’s a good story in Chris Jericho’s first book that he went to Benoit with a huge list of things he wanted to do in the match, and Benoit just replied that he liked to call it out in the ring. So they called it in the ring, which makes it all the more impressive to me.
Lionheart throws out a few F bombs in this one, and it quickly becomes the sort of match between the two that you’d expect, as they hit one another super hard and just leave it all in the ring. There’s some lovely chain wrestling in the early going, as they trade holds and also hit the odd big move occasionally as well. I’m sure Maffew could find some obvious calls in this one, but for the most part they hide it well, which is impressive considering there’s no commentary and the Japanese crowd is watching in its usual polite manner.
In an interesting moment, Wild Pegasus actually puts Lionheart in the old school Lion Tamer at one stage. Maybe that’s where Jericho got the idea from? Lionheart talking trash and dropping F bombs is great, as you can tell he’s having fun cutting loose here with someone who can understand him. It’s always incredible how vicious Benoit was in the ring. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at making a wrestling match look like a real fight, possibly because most of the time he was just kicking the crap out of people.
Lionheart manages to knock Pegasus out of the ring and follows with a Quebrada to the floor, almost landing right on his head in the process. Thankfully he survives that and then goes for a super back drop from the top rope, but Pegasus shifts his weight and lands on top. Pegasus absolutely DRILLS Lionheart with a big power bomb for two, before following up with a Dragon Suplex for another two. This match is really picking up pace now and the crowd are into it.
Pegasus heads up top for the diving head butt, but there’s no water in the pool and Lionheart covers him for two. Lionheart gets another near fall with a Tiger Driver, before going for a suplex. Pegasus lands on the apron however and suplexes Lionheart to the floor before following with a running dive. This match is getting wild! Pegasus goes for a power bomb back inside, but Lionheart slips out and gets a Tiger Suplex for two in a good near fall. Fans were buying that the upset was on the cards there.
Lionheart goes for the Lionsault, but Pegasus dodges it. Lionheart lands on his feet though and follows up with a rana for two. Lionsault hits on the second attempt, but Pegasus kicks out once again, leading to Lionheart arguing with the ref. We head up top, where Lionheart tries a superplex but Pegasus counters it into a modified side slam styled move from up there to pick up the three count.
WINNER: WILD PEGASUS
Match of the Night so far, as Lionheart was given some good near falls before Pegasus proved to be just a tad too much for him. Stiff action, exciting big moves and a responsive crowd make this an excellent outing.
Pegasus says he’s better than last year and that he will hold on to the J Cup.
Super J Cup Quarter Final
Shinjiro Ohtani (New Japan) Vs Ultimo Dragon (WAR)
Dragon has changed his ring gear here, from pink in the first match to green for this one. I remember this match being good, but there’s a certain spot in it that I’m not sure I will like as much now as I did in my youth. You’ll probably easily recognise it when it comes. Ohtani actually holds the ropes open for Dragon when he comes down to the ring, either as a sign of respect or as a way to get in his head.
This one is quick right from the off, as both men dodge the others’ kicks until Dragon sends Ohtani outside and goes for a dive. Ohtani manages to dodge the dive though and follows with two of his own, including the big no hands springboard dive that he always did so well. Not to be outdone, Dragon pops up from a body slam inside the ring and dropkicks Ohtani outside before following wth an Asai moonsault. What is it with masked guys no selling Ohtani’s offence in J Cups?
Things settle down into more of a technical battle once both men get inside, and it’s all done well, as both men know their way around a wristlock. Dragon eventually decides he’s had enough of wrestling and throws some kicks, which leads to Ohtani cranking in a leg lock in response in a nice “serves you right” moment.
What follows is one of the sillier things I’ve seen, as both men deliver multiple tombstone piledrivers to one another, only for the other guy to just pop up right away like they are fine and deliver their own piledriver right away. They just treated one of wrestling’s most devastating moves like it was an arm drag. I think even The Young Bucks would watch that and think “Dude, that’s a bit much”.
Things kick up a notch following that, as we start getting into the near falls and Ohtani starts busting out his awesome facial expressions to sell frustration at Dragon kicking out of his pin fall attempts. The crowd has been really into the match since the tombstone spot, so I guess it kind of worked, but it was so ludicrously stupid.
Ohtani actually kicks out of the La Magistral for a big pop, as Dragon pretty much beat everyone with that, before getting a springboard missile dropkick and a Dragon Suplex for a fantastic near fall. The crowd was buying it right there! Another looks to follow, but Dragon grabs the ropes to block it and then gets a big sit out power bomb for a two of his own.
The crowd is vocally behind Ohtani here, even though he’s taking on the home team guy, and they pop big when he kicks out of a Dragon fisherman buster. Both men go for spin kicks at the same time in a cute spot, which leads to a double down. Dragon recovers first and heads up for a Sky Twister Press, but he appears to miss it so he just goes to another La Magistral for the pin fall.
WINNER: ULTIMO DRAGON
The botched finish and crazy spot with the tombstones aside, this was a decent match. Not as good as I remember it being in my youth, but the crowd dug it and Ohtani got himself super over with the crowd before losing.
Both men share respectful slaps (It’s a Japan thing) post-match before clasping hands.
Super J Cup Quarter Final
Gedo (WAR) Vs Dos Caras (CMLL)
You’d think this one would be the ultimate styles clash, what with Gedo being more of a brawler and Caras being all about that there Lucha Libre. It’s actually not that bad though, as Gedo can sell and bump well, so in the early going he mostly gets stretched and thrown around by Caras, who keeps it simple and doesn’t really do anything overcomplicated. Gedo reminds me a bit of Spud/Drake Maverick actually, although Maverick is definitely better at the high flying aspect of the game.
Some of these submission holds that Caras does are really cool and actually quite hard to describe. I’ve not really seen a lot of his work, but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen here. Gedo actually decides to try and take Caras’ mask off, and almost succeeds until the ref intervenes. This angers Caras, and he sends Gedo outside before following with a vaulting body press. If he’s anything like his son then you might want to avoid getting him too annoyed Gedo.
Caras gets a power bomb back inside, but Gedo is able to kick out at two. Caras gets an awesome version of the double under hook back breaker, which gets him another two. That looked vicious and Gedo sold it perfectly. Tilt-A-Whirl back breaker leads to Caras getting a cross body from the top rope, but Gedo pulls off the mask whilst the cover is made so Caras breaks the pin to put it back on. They even have to blur out his face for a second on the video.
That’s a heck of a creative way to do a near fall I must say. Caras is of course furious over that and goes after Gedo in the corner, but as the ref moves in to break it up Gedo gets Caras with a low blow and then goes to the Gedo Clutch for the three count.
Decent match there, as they told a good story of Gedo being outmatched and having to use chicanery and ring smarts to find a way to win. Caras’ stuff looked good and Gedo sold it very well. I enjoyed it.
Caras is very annoyed following the match, as you’d imagine.
Super J Cup Semi Final
Jushin Liger (New Japan) Vs Ultimo Dragon (WAR)
Dragon has had another costume change here, going to white for this one. I’m always a sucker for people having a different set of gear for every round of the tournament. Both men do some patient mat wrestling to start us out, working holds and establishing that they are skilled technicians who have what it takes to win. The pace quickens and we eventually have a Central American stand-off following arm drags from both men. That was very slickly done; these guys know what they are doing.
Liger decides to kick Dragon in the leg following that, slotting back into the subtle heel role he had in the match with Naniwa, even busting out the Figure Four. This was not soon after Keiji Mutoh had managed to make Takada submit to a Figure Four at the Tokyo Dome, meaning the hold was back to being seen as a potential match ender, so the crowd pops when he manages to make it to the ropes to break the hold. Liger actually works a modified Indian Deathlock following that, but Dragon is able to counter it into a single leg crab hold before doing an Indian Deathlock of his own.
Liger gets out of that, but Dragon soon goes to his own Figure Four, sadly selling no effects of all the leg work that has just been done to him. I hate when that happens, as it just makes you feel like the entire first half of the match is meaningless and that it doesn’t matter until the near falls start. If you have a body part worked for a considerable time in the first half of the match then you should sell the effects of it when you get to the second half in my eyes. Dragon jumps and skips around like nothing even happened, including a couple of dives to the outside onto Liger.
Dragon gets a power bomb and a Tiger Suplex back inside, but Liger kicks out at two on both occasions. Liger catches a dropkick and catapults Dragon to the outside, before following with a cannonball off the apron. A big power bomb follows back inside, but Dragon is able to kick out at two. A brain buster comes next, but Dragon gets the shoulder up again, as the crowd is starting to get into this. Liger gets a tombstone piledriver, which Dragon actually sells it this time, before heading up with a diving head butt for two.
Liger sets Dragon up for a super fisherman buster, but Dragon fights him off and then gets the La Magistral back in the centre of the ring for two. Dragon goes for the moonsault next, but Liger dodges it and gets a sit out power bomb for two. The crowd are getting into these near falls quite a lot, and it’s hard to tell who will win. Dragon goes for another La Magistral, but Liger counters that into a pinning hold of his own and that’s enough for the win.
WINNER: JUSHIN LIGER
The leg work kind of being forgotten hurt this one a little bit for me, but the near falls in the closing section were very well done and I liked that Liger was the one who stopped Dragon by countering the one move everyone else had lost to.
Both men make nice and shake hands post-match.
Super J Cup Semi Final
Gedo (WAR) Vs Wild Pegasus (New Japan)
This is a rematch from the 1994 tournament, where Pegasus defeated Gedo to advance to the Final to take on Great Sasuke. I have to say that the dubbed in music for Gedo really doesn’t suit him. It needs to be wackier and less serious. Pegasus wastes no time brutalising Gedo with stiff strikes and throws, rag-dolling him all over the place and just basically introducing him to a world of hurt. As mentioned previously, Gedo bumps and sells great, so the beat down from Pegasus looks impressive as a result.
It’s like they said to Gedo “Right, we’re going to let you get to the latter stages of the tournament, but you have to take an absolute battering in the process”. Pretty much every match so far has been Gedo getting wellied. Gedo does manage to fight back and gets Pegasus in the submission hold he beat Motegi with earlier, but Pegasus manages to break out of so he can avoid submitting. Gedo manages to get a rana to send Pegasus outside and then follows with a dive to the floor, but Pegasus gets up first, so either Gedo missed or Pegasus turned it into a DDT or something on the way down.
Pegasus suplexes Gedo onto one of the tables at ringside and then brings him back inside for a rana from the top rope, which gets two. Wow, you didn’t see Benoit pull that one out often I don’t think. Pegasus goes to the triple German’s next, but Gedo kicks out and then manages to counter a tombstone piledriver to one of his own before heading up top. He goes for a splash from up there, but Pegasus gets the knees up to block it and then turns him inside out with a lariat for two. Great near fall there and some in the crowd are actively booing because they felt Pegasus won it.
Pegasus folds Gedo up with a power bomb next, but he manages to kick out once again, as he also does from a Dragon Suplex. Pegasus decides he’s had enough of this mother loving WAR guy in this Monday to Friday tournament and heads up for a head butt, but Gedo is able to dodge it. Gedo slips out of a brain buster and gets one of his own before heading up top for a diving head butt to pick up the improbable victory. Gedo is going to the Finals!
Both men were great in their respective roles there, as Pegasus brought his brutal hyper realism to the fore when clobbering Gedo and Gedo sold like a Champion before digging in and pulling out the upset.
Gedo has to be carried out by stablemates Jado and Fuyuki following that one, and boy you can believe it.
Special Singles Match
Psicosis Vs Rey Misterio Jr
This a non-tournament match featuring two guys who were tearing it up both in Mexico and ECW at the time. Around this time Psi Vs Rey was the match that everyone wanted to book, because they had incredible chemistry and were doing stuff that blew a lot of other people out of the water. Probably the biggest reason this feud worked so well was because Rey’s size meant that the lanky Psi could work the matches as an overbearing bully, which is not something he’d be able to do with most other people, so it gave the matches a cool dynamic.
Both of these guys are over pretty much from the off, as they do a fast paced Lucha style, full of counters and athleticism and the crowd is into it. Rey rana’s Psi to the floor in the early going and follows with a cool looking dive that gets an impressed “Oooowaaaa” from the crowd. They end up fighting on the apron, which sees Rey kick Psi to the floor before following with an incredible diving rana from the top rope down to the floor. Ultimo Dragon is out in Rey’s corner for this and he clasps his arm around Rey following that not unlike Krusty when he realises Bart has got “I didn’t do it” over.
More dives follow from both men, each one being more impressive than the next, with Psi getting a running suicide diving head butt and Rey getting a springboard forward rolling flipping senton. For Rey’s next trick, he gets a big Asai moonsault from the top rope all the way down to the floor, with Psi only just managing to catch him before they go through a nearby table. Psi replies with a beautiful guillotine leg drop from the top rope back inside, that makes me wonder how he didn’t break his arse, but Rey manages to kick out at two.
Psi misses a Sky Twister Press and that allows Rey to set him up top for an incredible rana where he runs and leaps off the ropes first. A standing rana follows and that’s enough for the three count.
WINNER: REY MISTERIO JR
This is one of the best sub ten minute matches I’ve ever seen, as they just went all out to show the crowd what they could do and what resulted was a breath-taking display of big moves that had the crowd going nuts.
Both men shake hands following that one, happy that they impressed yet another company’s fans with their high flying expertise.
Super J Cup Final
Jushin Liger (New Japan) Vs Gedo (WAR)
Gedo has switched to a bright puke yellow jumpsuit for this one. Well, it is a special occasion after-all! We actually get a handshake to start, as both men would appear to have their share of fans in the crowd. Liger works the arm to start, even busting out a Kimura of all things, but Gedo refuses to tap out. I’ve just noticed that the referee for this one is a much younger Red Shoes Uno. I guess he was a WAR guy before ending up in New Japan? He’d probably go on to ref his fair share of Liger Vs Gedo matches.
Liger’s arm work is vicious and looks great, but it will only truly mean something if Gedo continuously sells it throughout the bout. He basically has to at this stage, this has been going on for nearly five minutes and it’s been utterly gruesome (In a good way). Liger actually goes to a crossface chicken wing at one stage, but Gedo is able to fight his way to the ropes. This is a masterclass in how to make someone look sympathetic, as Liger has been just mercilessly targeting the appendage and Gedo has been selling it big time.
Liger procures the chicken wing once again, but Gedo manages to mule kick his way out of it this time and forearms Liger with his good arm to send him out of the ring before following with an Asai moonsault. Power bomb follows in the ring, as does a diving head butt, but Luger kicks out at two. Gedo has now sadly basically ignored all of the arm work, which is a massive shame, and goes to the double under hook submission move he used to beat Motegi. This would be a great opportunity for the arm to give out and Liger to be able to wriggle free, but sadly the arm work has essentially been forgotten now, so Liger drags himself to the ropes instead.
Liger sets Gedo up in the Shattered Dreams position, but gets a rolling kick to the face instead in a cool looking spot before sending Gedo outside and going for a dive. Gedo catches him with a dropkick on the way down however, and both men are out on the floor. Liger goes back to the arm back inside with an arm breaker, but a double clothesline sees leads to a double down. That arm breaker would have meant more if Gedo’s arm hadn’t magically just gotten better for the past few minutes.
Gedo goes all Yoshinari Ogawa with some desperation roll ups, but Liger is starting to tire of his insolence and splats him with a fisherman buster for two. Sit out power bomb follows, but Gedo manages to kick out once again. Liger heads up but misses a missile dropkick, which allows Gedo to get a brain buster and the Gedo Clutch for two. Great near fall there, as the crowd was buying it as a potential finish. Another Gedo brain buster attempt is countered into a DDT from Liger for two, as this one is heating up now.
Gedo heads up top, but Liger stops him and brain busters him down, which not surprisingly is enough for the three count. And I should say so good sir! So the WAR guy gets all the way to the end but eventually has to do the job for the New Japan guy, which they probably had to agree to so that they could get the New Japan office to let their guys take part I think.
WINNER: JUSHIN LIGER
This was good, but Gedo ignoring all the work to his arm took it down a notch for me. I could understand if Liger has just worked it for a little bit, but he spent five minutes just absolutely destroying the appendage over and over, only for Gedo to magically just act like it was fine all of a sudden. At least with someone like Kobashi, he’d still do things like lariats when his arm had been worked over but he’d crumple to the mat in pain after doing them and would make a big show of fighting through the pain in order to win.
Liger gets given his gold jacket and additional trophies are given out to the likes of Naniwa, Lionheart, Mochizuki and Ohtani for having good performances.
I think it’s fair to say that the 1994 J Cup tournament is generally stronger, thanks mainly to Great Sasuke completely stealing the show with three great matches, but there’s still some good stuff on this one too. Gedo making it all the way to the Final has been heavily criticised over the years, but I’ve never been as bothered by it because I think he worked well as an underdog pick and it was only fair to WAR that one of their guys got to advance to the latter stages seeing as they were hosting.
The standouts for me were Naniwa, Lionheart, Dos Caras and Ohtani, who all looked great in their respective matches, with Naniwa in particular putting in an incredible performance with Liger. Ultimo Dragon was probably the most disappointing performer for me, as his spotty selling really took down two matches that had potential to be great with Ohtani and Liger.
Liger was as good a choice as any to win it, as he had the credibility from being a great worker and was a legitimate big star. Guys like Naniwa, Ohtani and Lionheart all got a rub from wrestling good matches, so they didn’t really need to win the tournament, and Pegasus had won the previous one so him going out in the semi’s this time didn’t hurt him at all. I would have personally liked to see more of El Samurai than the scant six minutes we got, especially as about four of those six minutes were him getting turned into a human pretzel by Caras, meaning that we really didn’t get to see the best of him.
I’d certainly recommend this show, especially as you can watch it for free on YouTube. The tournament itself is fun to watch and the special bonus match between Psi and Rey is fantastic. The dubbed music isn’t great, but it’s a small price to pay for some good wrestling. I actually didn’t mind there being no commentary by the end either, as it gave you the feeling like you were actually in the arena and sometimes dubbing over commentary after the fact just doesn’t sound right.