[Please note: Night 5 starts the second round of the New Japan Cup, so if you do not wish to be spoiled on all the first round action, you can read them starting here instead.]
The last four nights of action from New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) have seen the first round of the annual tournament, the New Japan Cup, come to a close, as the field of 32 has been cut down to just 16. Tonight, on day 5, the first half of second round action begins, where in the main event, pre-tournament favourite, Kazuchika Okada, faces off with unlikely winner, and longtime veteran in Yuji Nagata, while in the semi-main, Toru Yano looks to get his hands (and his electric clippers) onto the hair of Hiromu Takahashi. Rounding out the first half of second round action, two hard hitters will go to war, as Togi Makabe faces Tomohiro Ishii and the Bullet Club’s Bone Soldier, Taiji Ishimori, faced a man who he has never defeated in one on one competition in over 14 years, the Suzuki-gun’s surly Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Yuji Nagata (New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match): I was 100 per cent behind Nagata in this match folling his showing against Suzuki, and Okada seemed to get a real kick out of playing the de feacto bad guy against the veteran. Nagata looked fantastic in this match, and Okada was as crisp as ever against someone he clearly respects, which made for a really good match
+ Toru Yano vs Hiromu Takahashi (New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match): this was not much of a wrestling match. But this was all comedy, as you might expect, and dammit it was funny, all the way up to a unique but welcome ending
+ Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match): oh baby, let’s slap some meat. This was an audio experience, featuring some of the hardest lariats I think I’ve ever seen. Both men were going as hard as you could imagine on each other, and I loved every second of it. This was like a slower, more dangerous SHO/Shino
+ Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Taiji Ishimori (New Japan Cup 2020 Second Round Match): I had a feeling this was going to be a low-key show stealer, and while it didn’t quite reach those heights, I still really liked this. I’m a big Ishimori fan, and Kanemaru is underrated in singles, so this battle of the former NOAH competitors was a great way to kick of the second round of the New Japan Cup
– Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, El Desperado & Zack Sabre Jr.): for whatever reason, this did nothing for me. DOUKI looked really good, and there was a fun little Sabre/Taichi preview kick-fight, but in the end I did not care for this
Should you watch this event: Even with a tame tag team filler, this was the best night of New Japan Cup action so far. Every tournament match was good or great, with Ishii/Makabe joining the list of bangers we’ve had so far, and Yano/Hiromubeing one of the best comedy matches I’ve seen in some time. It’s not too late to start watching the tournamnet, and this is as good a night as any.