The 2020 New Japan Cup – Day 6


Tonight, we cut the right side of the bracket from 8 to 4, as we finalize the elite 8 in the quarterfinals!

On tap this evening, our viewing includes:

Taichi vs Kota Ibushi
EVIL vs Hirooki Goto

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Previously, on the New Japan Cup – 

Day One:
Day Two:
Day Three:
Day Four:
Day Five:

What else could it be now but the BRACKET!!

Let’s do it to it.


I promise to try to take it easier on YOSHI this time out. No guarantees as to it actually working, but I’ll give it a shot. He poses on the buckles with his cane…..and BUSHI attacks from behind. BUSHI chokes away with his shirt, but YOSHI comes back with a shoulderblock and a beatdown in the corner. They exchange some strikes, then YOSHI hits a suplex for two, and here’s a chinlock. Urge to kill….rising. BUSHI comes back with a ‘rana, then off the top with a missile dropkick. YOSHI rolls out, tope by BUSHI to send him to the barricade!

Back in and BUSHI gets kicks and a DDT for two. YOSHI tries a comeback, but misses the dropkick in the ropes and BUSHI slingshots in with a dropkick. BUSHI with the hanging DDT to the apron (I love that move), swinging neckbreaker, 2 count. BUSHI comes off for the MX and YOSHI picks him out of the air with the LAZIEST lariat I may have ever seen. Seriously, this isn’t me hating on YOSHI, he just kind of turned around and waved his arm in the air. Slightly better lariat gets two for YOSHI. 

YOSHI puts on the Butterfly Lock and BUSHI hangs on for a long time, finally making the ropes. Look, the Butterfly Lock sucks but BUSHI was in that thing a long time for not tapping. Fisherman’s Buster attempt by YOSHI is countered into a backslide cradle for two from BUSHI. Rewind kick from BUSHI, but YOSHI escapes the Death Valley Driver and hits Karma for the pin. Fabulously mediocre. (YOSHI-HASHI over BUSHI, pinfall, 10:23)

THOUGHTS: **1/2. This sure was the glass of lukewarm tap water equivalent of a pro wrestling match right here. BUSHI took most of it, with YOSHI just hitting a few spots here and there. I have nothing more to say about it – this was literally an exactly average pro wrestling match. 

SHO vs SANADA – Round 2

Good wrestling sequence to start ends with a standoff. Test of strength is won by SANADA, but SHO counters into an armbar to force SANADA to the ropes. They run the ropes and SHO snaps SANADA’s arm on the top, then dropkicks him to the floor. Running kick from the apron to the arm, as SHO is being noticeably more cautious than he was against Shingo. SHO goes out to the floor and wraps SANADA’s arm against the post to further torture it. He goes back to the apron and SANADA responds with a dropkick to the back of SHO’s knees to establish HIS body part of choice. 

Back in and SANADA drops an elbow on the leg and cranks away at it. More punishment ensues, including an elbow by SANADA to the knee to block a big boot. SHO ducks a clothesline and hits a spear, but rolls away in pain right after and doesn’t cover. They slug it out, and SHO hits a pair of lariats and a suplex for two. SHO goes back to the arm, including a nifty rolling armbar, but comes off the ropes and SANADA dropkicks him in the knee. SANADA with a plancha to the outside. 

Back in and SHO avoids a leapfrog, turning it into two German suplexes and an armbar, then a triangle. SANADA powerbombs his way out. They slug it out and SHO wins it, blocking a ‘rana and hitting the double knees. SHO with a lariat that drops SANADA on his fool HEAD for two. Shock Arrow is countered with a backdrop, and SANADA gets a fireman’s carry into the Skull End. SHO fights for the escape, gets it with a small package for a close two, then slaps on the Hoverboard Lock! I LOVE THIS MAN. SANADA rolls through it finally into the Skull End, but can’t keep it on as SHO escapes with a German for two. They trade reversals as SANADA gets the Skull End again, SHO escapes one more time, but that’s all she wrote, as SHO runs into an elbow in the corner and SANADA gets the Skull End on the mat in the middle of the ring. Damn. (SANADA over SHO, submission, 14:44)

THOUGHTS: ***3/4. Fantastic finishing sequence here, with counters and reversals galore. I think that this match highlighted a lot of why I’m so cool on SANADA in general, and this is absolutely not a criticism as much as it is more of a personal preference. Looking at the Shingo match with SHO, I felt intensity from both guys and really got into the match as a result, but in this one, it felt more cool and cerebral underneath the face of it – SANADA gives off a vibe of a guy who simply goes out, does his job, and is kind of a cyborg about it. His match with Okada from last year (coincidentally my favorite match of his) is an exception to this, and as a result I was more invested in it. Here, SHO was going out of his mind selling the intensity of the moment, where SANADA just isn’t that type of wrestler. He’s much more subdued in his intensity when he’s out there, and it sort of blocks me from investing in him beyond a certain degree. 

I’d compare it to watching Stanley Kubrick’s films, in that I have immense respect for him as a director and shooter, especially when it comes to his influence on film, but I always feel very detached from his protagonists in general. That same feeling pervades SANADA’s matches for me, where I can see the technical good in what he’s doing and understand why it’s good, but my emotions are very cold towards him as a fan. 

SHO, on the other hand, is fucking awesome. Push him past the moon.

Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi) vs Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Yota Tsuji

Well, this should be great. Before you read the rest of this, you get 3 guesses as to who does the job and the first Tsuji don’t count. Yano wants to start with Hiromu, who would much rather start with Ishii. This is the first time in the recorded history of wrestling that someone would rather face Ishii than Yano, so mark this date down. Yano offers a hug, but Takahashi declines. Yano reaches into his trunks and Hiromu bails in terror (man, these matches are giving me some outstanding sentences), but it isn’t clippers…’s a ziploc bag with Hiromu’s hair that Yano cut off last night. TORU YANO IS ICE COLD, BAYBEE! Hiromu tags in Shingo and Yano tags is Tsuji. Cue the slaughter. 

Tsuji actually does pretty well for himself, even dropping Takagi with a shoulder. Shingo doesn’t take long to become unamused by this, and he drops Tsuji with a lariat. He elbows Tsuji into oblivion on the mat, and here comes Naito. Half-crab, but Tsuji makes the ropes. Back to Shingo, who continues the destruction and gets a suplex for two. Naito back with a camel clutch as Hiromu attacks Ishii on the apron. More beatings ensue until Tsuji buys some time with a dropkick, and it’s tags to Yano and Hiromu. 

Takahashi outquicks him for a bit, but gets knocked down with a shoulderblock. Chops in the corner by Ishii, but Hiromu stands up and then fires back, and then, in a great moment, Ishii starts to look for the no-sell, so Hiromu just KEEPS chopping him until he goes down. Tremendous. These two are gonna tear it up tomorrow. Seated dropkick by Takahashi. They slug it out and Ishii starts to win it, just getting in Hiromu’s face like “where is your God now, bitch?”, but Hiromu reverses the Brainbuster and I popped out of my chair. Clothesline attempt by Hiromu is ducked and Ishii hits a huge Saito suplex to put both guys down. 

Tag to Tsuji and he gets a suplex on Hiromu for two, then a clutch hold that Naito breaks up, and now here comes everyone as the match breaks down. Hiromu comes off the ropes and Tsuji almost breaks him in half with a spear, but Tsuji can’t get the Boston Crab on Hiromu. Cross-corner whip but Tsuji eats the buckle and LIJ triple-teams him for two. Superkick by Hiromu gets two. Boston Crab by Hiromu gets the submission. (LIJ over Tomohiro Ishii, Yota Tsuji, & Toru Yano, submission, 13:08)

THOUGHTS: ***1/4. Ishii is so good. He’s so good. So that middle sequence with Takahashi is such a minor thing, but it perfectly encapsulates why I like him so much as a worker, and that’s his timing. He looked like he was going to no-sell the Hiromu strikes to go for the strong style sequence, but then he sells like crazy to put Takahashi over to get heat for the match tomorrow. Not many wrestlers can time that as perfectly or in exactly the right portion of the match or for exactly the right amount of time as Ishii can. It’s all in trying to put Hiromu over while still giving off the idea that he’s the toughest mfer in the ring at any given time, and he just always succeeds at it. And the sequence is always different in length, placement, and intensity, so it’s not like he just has a formula – he tailors it to the opponent and the match in question. In short, I would like to have his children. Tsuji is also going to be something, and Hiromu getting the win sets up tomorrow for an epic showdown. I’m there, dudes.

Hiromu and Ishii have words after the match. 

Intermission. At this point, I kind of hope that whoever the Grandmaster is, he just brings a chessboard to the ring, sits down, and expects to play before he starts kicking people in the face or whatever. 

Kota Ibushi vs Taichi – Round 2

Taichi comes out with ZSJ, so Ibushi brings Tanahashi to watch his back. Smart man, Kota. Sabre distracts Ibushi to start, allowing Taichi to attack from behind. Not-so-smart man, Kota. We start with the bullshit right away, as Taichi tosses Ibushi and distracts the ref, allowing Sabre to go to work on him on the floor and time to ask myself this question – if the cost is him having to team with Taichi, do I REALLY want to see ZSJ win his first title in NJPW?

I mean, the answer is yes, but I still feel icky about it. 

Tanahashi runs ZSJ off (can we just watch THAT match again?), so Taichi sends Ibushi to the bleachers and the barricades. Choking with cables ensues (a Taichi classic), then back in for more choking and stomping. Ibushi gets sent out and Taichi takes the ref again, and ZSJ goes to work before Tana interrupts. Back in and Taichi continues choking and I just can’t with this guy. Ibushi hits a dropkick, then a kick and standing shooting star press for two. Taichi cuts him off with a nice-looking high kick, but his buzzsaw kick gets caught by Ibushi, so he rakes the eyes. 

They trade kicks, which Taichi can do, and it goes on for quite a long time. Finally, Ibushi wins that battle and Taichi crumples to the mat in pain and it is GLORIOUS. Taichi comes with a kick that drops Ibushi, Ibushi with a Pele, Taichi with a jumping kick and both guys are down. Saito suplex by Taichi drops Ibushi on his head (I mean, where else?) for two and the pants are off, but Ibushi avoids the superkick and nails Taichi with a lariat. Taichi escapes the Last Ride and goes for one of his own, but Ibushi goes over the top and hits a kick to the head, then a Golden Star powerbomb for two. 

ZSJ jumps on the apron to take the ref, allowing Taichi to block the Kamigoye with the Greco-Roman shot to the nuts, but the Gedo clutch only gets two. Ibushi charge misses and Taichi gets a Saito suplex again and I just don’t understand how Kota Ibushi avoids his neck getting snapped like a twig. It has to be made of rubber. Kota with a jumping knee, but Taichi avoids the Kamigoye again with a kick. Ibushi doesn’t let up and gets the Bastard Driver for two. I really feel like that move should be a finisher. He goes for the Kamigoye again, but Taichi pulls him into the referee and let the bullshit begin! 

Sabre runs in and takes out Tana, then puts Ibushi in a front facelock. He goes for the Zack Driver, but Tana returns and stops him with the Twist and Shout. Sling Blade and they head to the floor, Ibushi gets to his feet and goes over to Taichi….who has the Iron Fingers on and he wallops Kota with it. Black Mephisto finishes. (Taichi over Kota Ibushi, pinfall, 18:08)

THOUGHTS: He’s gonna win this thing, isn’t he? Taichi is going to win the New Japan Cup. Taichi. TAICHI. Fucking TAICHI is going to win this. The fucking poor man’s Larry Zbysko of New Japan with his dazzling array of chokes and eye rakes and ref distractions has somehow managed to find enough pictures of GEDO fucking a goat or something to the point where he’s going to Honky Tonk Man his way into a shot against Naito in a match that is almost ASSUREDLY going to SUCK NUTS, because I can’t think of two wrestlers whose tendencies are worse-suited for each other than those two. I can’t WAIT until they have a 5 minute STALLFEST on the outside until FUCKTARD Taichi rips off his pants in what will be his hardest work of the match before he takes the ref to do the CHEAPEST of pro wrestling heat and Naito tries to carry his bitch ass to something RESEMBLING a decent main event. Fuck this and fuck everyone who keeps telling me how much Taichi has improved, because he HASN’T, at least not anywhere CLOSE to being a main eventer in NEW FUCKING JAPAN PRO WRESTLING. I can’t even with this nonsense of him beating Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi. TANAHASHI AND IBUSHI. 2 guys who have probably SHIT better matches than Taichi will ever DREAM of having. 

(Deep breath) I feel better now. 

Match was fine. The kick battle in the middle was really good, and the selling was good on both sides. ***1/4

Post-match, Taichi gets the tag belts and holds them up, then leaves them in the ring near Kota’s corpse. 

Hirooki Goto vs EVIL – Round 2 

As Goto is making his entrance, EVIL comes down and stands at the foot of the ring stairs… they go at it before the bell rings on the floor. Goto gets the advantage and rolls into the ring, attacking EVIL immediately when the king of darkness rolls in. I think that Goto has his working boots on tonight. Goto goes to work on the arm of EVIL, but EVIL clotheslines him to the floor to buy a few minutes. Goto gets beat up on the floor and EVIL grabs a chair, shoves Red Shoes away, then wraps it around Goto’s neck and sends him to the post. Sigh. I’d dare NJPW to make their refs look weaker, but I’m not sure how that would be at all possible. 

Goto rolls back in at 18 and EVIL starts attempting to grind his elbow into Goto’s EYE, which, you know. OW. Neckbreaker by EVIL gets two. Brainbuster attempt, but Goto escapes and drops EVIL with a lariat. He kills EVIL in the corner with a clothesline, then a Saito suplex for two. Fireman’s carry by Goto, but EVIL escapes by yanking the hair. EVIL has been playing pretty heavy heel this entire match, honestly. He smashes Goto in the corner with a broncobuster for two. Crazy sequence where they run off the ropes in different directions and Goto gets the Ushigoroshi. 

They slug it out from their knees, then from their feet. Great battle over a suplex leads to Goto hitting an elbow and GTR for two. Goto fires kicks and they have an awesome sequence where they just throw simultaneous clotheslines at each other until both of them are staggered in separate corners. They charge each other and Goto’s lariat is the mightiest lariat, dropping EVIL for two. EVIL escapes a GTR attempt and nails Goto in the face, Fisherman’s Buster gets two for EVIL. Darkness Falls gets two. He goes for Everything is EVIL, but Goto escapes and they trade finisher attempts before Goto gets a headbutt. 

Big kick from Goto, GTW! 1, 2, NO! Goto says that’s it and goes for another GTR, but EVIL shoves him off right into Red Shoes. Jeez, two matches in a row, NJPW? You’re better than this. At least this match is pretty decent. EVIL clobbers Goto with a lariat, then STOMPS on his balls for two. That was a great ballshot. Goto has nothing left after the kickout, and EVIL hits Everything is EVIL to move on. (EVIL over Hirooki Goto, pinfall, 18:26)

THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Good, hard-hitting battle here with EVIL playing an out-and-out heel, which was interesting. We’ve got 3 members of LIJ still alive as we head towards the quarter-finals, and with Goto gone, you’d have to think that EVIL is the favorite over YOSHI to win his part of the bracket. I enjoyed this muchly. Both guys were stiffing each other good and the match was well-paced, with good shots and a cheating finish that didn’t hurt Goto at all. Good stuff. 

EVIL cuts a promo and we’re done. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A decent, but not blowaway, night of action here with solid matches up and down the card. With the matches being what they are, I’m holding out hope that they were just using Tacihi’s wins to set up the tag title match and not him winning the cup, and I’d think that we’re heading towards a CHAOS battle on one side and hopefully an LIJ battle on the other. 

Tonight we learned that our quarterfinal matches are:

SANADA vs Taichi (right side)
EVIL vs YOSHI-HASHI (right side)
Kazuchika Okada vs Taiji Ishimori (left side)
Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi (left side)

We’ll pick it up with the quarterfinals next!

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote, 

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter