Wrestling Review: NJPW New Japan Cup (2020) (Day 3)

The New Japan Cup continues, as one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) best looks to win the tournament and earn a title match against the reigning dual IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito. Four more first round matches will take place on night 3, including Kota Ibushi versus Zack Sabre Jr., and one of my personal must-sees, a rematch from the Best of the Super Juniors between Shingo Takagi and SHO of Ropponki 3K. Hiroshi Tanahashi will also be in action against Taichi, and Ryusuke Taguchi looks to sneak past SANADA. An eight man tag team match will open the show, as three young lions team with Yuji Nagata against four of Suzuki-gun’s best.

+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Taichi (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): as far as a main event, this was fine, but much like on day 2, the main event was not the best match of the show. Tana did bust out a few moves I don’t I’ve seen him perform before (including a pretty wicked Umaga-esque spinning side slam). Taichi was the slimy jerk we all know and love, and the dichotomy between the two made this more fun than perhaps otherwise
+ Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): this was good, but not really great, and in large part that was due to the fact that neither of these guys should have gone out in the first round. Ibushi’s striking was great, Sabre’s technical wizardry was fun, and overall it went back and forward, but it didn’t grip me in the way Nagata/Suzuki or SHO/Shingo have thus far
+ SHO vs Shingo Takagi (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): I was ready to write this off early as the two were going hard as a motherfucker on each other in front of no crowd, but soon the announcer were losing their minds, the few extras at ringside were wide-eyed and marking out, and I found myself absolutely loving everything about it. This was every bit as good as their BOSJ war, and would have only been better in front of a live crowd

Ryusuke Taguchi vs SANADA (New Japan Cup 2020 First Round Match): holy smokes, I hated this. There was lots of attempts at comedy from both men, and all of it fell completely flat without a crowd. This wasn’t good
Yuji Nagata, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI): this was about everything you’d expect; the young lions got their asses handed to them, and one of the lions (I think it was Uemura) got a busted mouth from a MONSTROUS Suzuki forearm. Suzuki/Nagata continued their dad fight, and I loed every second of it, but the rest of this was nothing special

> This five matches over 2 to 2.5 hours is almost perfect. I think it would wear out its welcome with five main event bangers, but the way we are now it’s great

Should you watch this event: This show was equal parts great (SHO/Shingo) and fine (the rest), but between Tana/Taichi and Okada/Gedo the previous night, New Japan needs to learn to change up the order of the match card. There is no reason SHO/Shingo could not have been the main event, and I think the match would have been even better for it


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