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New Japan Cup 2020 - Night 8
July 3, 2020
From an empty Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Kevin Kelly is calling the action in English. If all goes according to plan, this will be the final New Japan event held without live fans in attendance.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, and El Desperado) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Gabriel Kidd, Yuji Nagata, and Kota Ibushi
Tanahashi is ready for Suzuki-gun's routine ambush, except it never comes. Instead, Taichi locks him into the ropes for ZSJ to attack from the apron. Ibushi helps Tanahash with a standing moonsault. Taichi then chokes Tanahashi with a rope while ZSJ interferes with a leg sweep. The match breaks down as the teams brawl all over the venue. Order is restored with Suzuki-gun working over Tanahashi's bad knee. Tanahashi breaks away from ZSJ with a neckbreaker and Ibushi gets the hot tag. Ibushi lights ZSJ up with stiff blows, but ZSJ counters a standing moonsault with a triangle submission. They exchange several counters until both going down after KO blows. Suzuki and Nagata tag in and go right to work stiffing each other. An exploder suplex leaves both gentlemen down. Kidd tags in and delivers a series of ineffective shots on Suzuki, who backs him into the corner for a mean slap. Kidd avoids a double team with dropkicks trades counters with Desperado, until locking in the Young Lion Boston Crab. Match breaks down again, and Tanahashi and Ibushi hit stereo dives. In the chaos, Desperado catches Kidd with the Pinche Loco to win at 12:13. Fun opener, with Suzuki-gun reembracing their nefarious ways, ***.
The brawl continues after the bell, though Ibushi is ultimately held back from giving Taichi the beating he deserves.
Tomohiro Ishii, SHO, and Hirooki Goto vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito, NEVER Champion Shingo Takagi, and BUSHI)
SHO is chasing Shingo for a NEVER title shot and aggressively locks up with the champ. SHO delivers a hard shoulder block. SHO tags in Ishii, even if he'd rather keep beating up Shingo himself. Ishii and Shingo seem almost giddy at the opportunity to trade forearms. Ishii builds steam with a shoulder block, but Naito runs in to dropkick his knees. The match breaks down, giving Shingo a chance to DDT SHO on the floor. Match continues with LIJ working over Ishii. Ishii takes exception to getting slapped and drops Naito on his head. Hot tag to Goto, who cleans house on LIJ. BUSHI interferes to sunset flip Goto down for Naito's drive-by boot. SHO returns and muscles Shingo into a vertical suplex. SHO and Shingo exchange forearms like old friends do. SHO delivers some rolling Germans but Shingo answers with hard lariats. BUSHI returns with a fast sequence on SHO, but Ishii breaks it up with his hard head. BUSHI dumps Ishii, and LIJ triple team SHO. Match breaks down yet again as everyone takes their turn hitting a stiff shot. Order is restored with SHO hitting BUSHI with a Last Ride Backstabber for 2. SHO stares at Shingo while finishing BUSHI with the Shock Arrow at 13:19. Very good TV main event style tag match. I actually think we take these multi-man tags New Japan puts on for granted, as they do so many things well in regards to advancing feuds and rivalries, and they get lost in the midcard shuffle, when if this exact sort of match headlined Raw, Dynamite, or Impact, they'd create a stir, ***½.
Winners: SHO, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooki Goto
SHO officially throws his name into the NEVER Championship race and avoids Shingo's cheap shot and drops the champion with a spear.
Master Wato video package. He shows off his martial arts prowess in the forest. He's coming to kick some ass in New Japan. Right now, in fact. He marches his blue hair to the ring and poses for our enjoyment, at least until getting ambushed by DOUKI with a lead pipe. Master Wato is left broken in a heap. This was certainly a novel debut.
New Japan Cup 2020 - Semifinals:
EVIL vs. Sanada
These tag team partners start with an uneasy handshake resulting in both guys trying to hit their finishers. They feel each other out until EVIL is forced to retreat. Sanada holds the ropes open for his friend, and his cheap shot is countered with a lariat to ringside. EVIL softens up Sanada's back with hard Irish whips into the rails. EVIL wraps a chair around Sanada's head and drives him throat-first into the ring post. Sanada absorbs some more neck punishment before hitting EVIL's knees with a dropkick. Leaping head scissors by Sanada sets up a slingshot crossbody to ringside. EVIL passes Sanada's boot to the ref and attacks the neck to regain control. Sanada blocks a fisherman buster and drapes EVIL for a spinning neckbreaker. EVIL incorporates the referee as a shield and involuntary assistant for a Magic Killer. Sanada wins a slugfest, but EVIL sprints in for Darkness Falls for 2. Sanada answers with a Tiger Suplex for 2. A series of counters results in Sanada botching an inverted DDT out of the corner and landing on his own forehead. Sanada saves face by locking in Skull End. EVIL blocks a moonsault with his knees. EVIL throws Sanada into the referee on purpose and hits a blind low blow. EVIL wraps Sanada's head in a chair yet again and breaks it apart with a wild chairshot. EVIL hits another blatant low blow and revives the referee. Everything is Evil finishes at 20:13! This worked as a vehicle to showcase just how fitting EVIL's ring name is, especially since his victim was none other than his own tag team partner, ***½.
New Japan Cup 2020 - Semifinals:
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Okada tries to “big league” with a pat on the chest, but Takahashi turns it around. Takahashi urgently hits a head scissors takedown. Okada slows it down with a Cobra Clutch, followed by a neckbreaker on the floor. Takahashi looks to be in trouble as he's selling his previously injured neck. He survives by kicking the ropes into Okada's throat and dropkicking him through the ropes. Shotgun dropkick off the apron by Takahashi! Okada answers with a high elevation flapjack. DDT by Okada gets 2, so he powerslams him into position for a top rope attack, but Takahashi bolts up for a German suplex! Okada wins a slugfest and shotgun dropkicks Takahashi into the buckles. Takahashi is in bad shape after getting dropkicked off the top rope, so Okada hits a draping DDT off the rail. Okada's deliberate missile dropkick gets a 2 count. How many times will I type “dropkick?” Many times, as Takahashi hits one of his own. Takahashi hits another shotgun dropkick to the top rope, but just when I'm starting to feel trolled, Takahashi connects with a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB OFF THE APRON! Takahashi follows with a Dynamite Plunger for only 2. Okada cuts him off with….um… a leaping kick… when he jumps...and drops down… Okada moves on to a Tombstone into a Cobra Clutch. Takahashi is in survival mode, absorbing a shotgun dropkick and stealing Rainmaker for 2. Timebomb connects, but OKADA KICKS OUT! Okada hits a powerbomb counter but Takahashi holds on to hit a wheelbarrow slam. Okada hits yet another dropkick but Takahashi's lariat gives them a breather. Tombstone by Okada sets up the Cobra Clutch, and I'm starting to wonder if my stream rewinded itself. Rainmaker by Okada and more Cobra Clutch goodness, followed by a Rainmaker, followed by the Cobra Clutch, and Takahashi passes out at 27:05. This didn't click with me, as the empty venue made this feel way more like the mechanical exchange of moves (so many dropkicks) and they seemed to run out of things to do before it was over, **¾.
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
Was really digging this brisk, no filler event until the main event misfired. Seeing as this is available for free on New Japan World, I can't really complain, but you can give this a pass if you're busy.
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