Better late than never. Though delayed, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) will hold it’s annual tournament, the New Japan Cup, where the winner will receive a title match against the dual IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito. On this first night of action, four tournament matches and one eight man tag team match will take place, including two men who have returned from near-career ending injuries as Tomoaki Honma faces off with Hiromu Takahashi. In the other three tournament matches, Tomohiro Ishii will battle El Desperado, Toru Yano will contend with Jado, and young lion Yota Tsuji will look for the upset against Togi Makabe, and eight more competitors will face off in a four-versus-four tag team match.
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs El Desperado (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): two of MY BOYS slapping meat, especially as Despy looked to have packed on a couple of kilos since I last saw him. I am a massive sucker for Ishii’s punch-chop-punch-chop combo in the corner, but both these guys were laying in their shots (which I assume they had/wanted to do in front of no live crowd). This was the best tournament match for this show, so it made sense for this to be the main event
+ Tomoaki Honma vs Hiromu Takahashi (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): this was easily the best match Honma has had since his return, and another good showing for Hiromu, too. There was only one questionable move between two men with surgically repaired bodies, but overall this was really good, and it was made more interesting by the fact it is still technically a heavyweight versus a junior heavyweight
+ Togi Makabe vs Yota Tsuji (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): oh lord, Tsuji is BEEFY. Makabe is a strong guy, but Tsuji was given quite a few power spots of his own here. This was hardly a match of the year, but for a veteran versus young lion match, I liked it
– Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuya Uemura & Yuji Nagata): I don’t know if I had heard Suzuki-gun’s new group entrance song, but I liked it. This match was at its best when Nagata and Suzuki were slapping the piss out of each other, but overall it was fine. Yumura looked pretty good, and Ibushi is obviously great. This was relatively standard, but the inevitable Sabre/Taichi tag team is going to be great, especially if they go against Tanahashi/Ibushi
– Toru Yano vs Jado (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): this was essentially all comedy and Bullet Club shenanigans, and did very little for me. Jado had almost no chance from the beginning, and Yano is great to play spoiler, so wouldn’t it be poetic if the spoiler got spoiled?
> Instead of spitting water as he usually would, Yano had a spray bottle of (presumably) disinfectant. I laughed far more than I thought I would
Should you watch this event: At a very brisk under two hours, this show was a breeze to watch. I have missed New Japan Pro Wreslting so much over the past months, so take that into account, but this was a great to re-start the best wrestling on the planet.