[Please note: there are full spoilers for the entire first three rounds of action from the New Japan Cup. Head here if you want to start my reviews from the beginning.]
Both semifinal matches of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament, the New Japan Cup, are live and in living colour on day 8. In the main event, for the first time ever, former record breaking champion, Kazuchika Okada faces off with the unpredictable and (perhaps literally) death-defying mad man of Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ), Hiromu Takahashi. In the other semi-final match, two of LIJ’s heavyweights will meet for only the third time, looking to break their 1-1 tie, when EVIL competes against SANADA. Members of CHAOS, Suzuki-gun and the remaining members of Los Ingobernables de Japon will also be in action.
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Hiromu Takahashi (New Japan Cup 2020 Semifinal Match): god almighty this was one of the best matches of the tournament no doubt, and both guys looked phenomenal. Hiromu obviously had the most to prove of anyone in this tournament after getting this far, and the match managed to make that as clear as you could imagine. This was gatekeeper, de facto bad guy Okada at his absolute best and I loved it. Hiromu is absolutely the MVP of the tournament so far and I expect this to be a very big year for him
+ EVIL vs SANADA (New Japan Cup 2020 Semifinal Match): this was really good for the first 75%, but a terrifying accident nearly turned this around in a horrible direction. Some confusion gave way to a fun ending stretch, but I can’t help but think one of these guys is horribly injured right now. I really hope I am just being played like a fiddle
+ CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & SHO) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI): man, Shingo versus any of the CHAOS boys is a 5 star match, and Ishii’s chop battle, SHO’s power exchange were worth this match themselves. BUSHI in particular looked really off his game, and was solely responsible for at least three awkward pauses or total whifs that I noticed. Overall it was fine, but those BUSHI botches do stand out
+ Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado & Zack Sabre, Jr.) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata & Gabriel Kidd): this was really good at times, with Gabriel Kidd looking particularly great in the ring with Suzuki and Desperado. We then got the continuation of DAD FIGHTS 2020 as Nagata/Suzuki layed into each other. Sabre and Taichi had a few good tag set ups with Ibushi and Tanahashi, and overall this was a lot of fun
– the identity of the much teased Grand Master was revealed… and the segment sucked. I trust NJPW in general, but this was a swing and a miss
Should you watch this event: All four matches were good to great, and the Grand Master reveal was so bad someone might find it good. Both tournament matches were great for different reasons, and the finals in just over a week should be great.