Wrestling Review: NJPW Super J-Cup (2020)

In a year full of twists and turns, but with no time to stop and Wrestle Kingdom upcoming, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents a smaller version of the legendary Super J-Cup tournament. Eight of the top junior heavyweights in the world will compete in one night of action, with the winner needing to win three matches in the span of just over two hours. The competitors are:

  • the returning and defending champion, El Phantasmo, representing the Bullet Club and NJPW;
  • Chris Bey, in his debut appearance, representing Impact Wrestling;
  • Blake Christian, a mainstay on New Japan Strong over the past few months, flying the flag of Game Changer Wrestling (GCW);
  • TJP, another Impact Wrestling star, who has also made appearance on New Japan Strong;
  • Lio Rush, the Man of the Hour, returning tot he wrestling world and representing Major League Wrestling (MLW);
  • Ring of Honour (ROH) star, Rey Horus, perhaps best known for his time on Lucha Underground, as Dragon Azteca Jr;
  • Clark Connors, the feisty up-and-coming young lion in NJPW’s LA Dojo; and
  • ACH, representing MLW, but well known by all fans of New Japan’s junior heavyweight division.

Also on the card, two huge tag team matches as members of MLW’s Team Filthy (Danny Limelight and JR Kratos) battle the resurgent Fred Rosser and NJPW mainstay Rocky Romero, while young lions Ren Nartia and newcomer Kevin Knight have the unenviable task of facing The Bullet Club’s KENTA and the gigantic Hikuleo.

+ NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Final: I really liked this. AS you’d expect, as the culmination of the tournament, this was the best wrestled match on the show and the winner certainly deserved it. With a Wrestle Kingdom match against the Best of the Super Juniors winner on the horizon, you can be sure we’re going to get something great
+ NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Semi Final Match #2: this was another really good match that had an easy to read story going into it. I’m a fan of both guys (hint hint) and I enjoyed the way this match went, even if the loser might be feeling it tomorrow
+ NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Semi Final Match #1: this was another really good match. Though somewhat harder to review without spoiling the competitors, both men were so smooth and fluid and the winner made for a good final
+ Lio Rush vs El Phantasmo (NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match): ELP is so god damn good at his role that I want him to win every title in every promotion for the rest of all time. It’s funny that I thought that the opening match felt short, because this one felt like it went forever. Frankly I’m surprised this wasn’t the final match of the tournament
+ Blake Christian vs Rey Horus (NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match): there is some weird hatred of Rey Horus in some wrestling circles, but I’ve never had any issues with him. Despite the fact Christian clearly had a broken nose from relatively early on, both men were good, with Christian being the standout. I’ve really liked Christian’s run through The Collective, but it was good to see Horus again in his first match in a while now
+ Clark Connors vs Chris Bey (NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match): I really like Connors, and Bey is BAE on Impact, including that recent six person match at Bound for Glory. It’s always a struggle when young lions are in these tournaments, because you just know that they don’t stand a chance; but some rules are made to be broken. I was ready to say this was too short, but looking at the time after the fact, it was probably about right. This was good

njpw_superjcup_2020_2

Ren Narita & Kevin Knight vs Bullet Club (KENTA & Hikuleo): we all love KENTA, but overall this was not very good. Hikuleo is big but still relatively new, and Nartia is great but still new, and Knight looks impressive, but he’s still new. Another time killer with a far too easy to predict finish
Team Filthy (Danny Limelight & JR Kratos) vs Fredd Rosser & Rocky Romero: I’ve had positive things to say about Kratos in a few Bloodsport events over the years, and of course Romero and Rosser are great, but frankly this was just filler. This show was all about the tournament, and both tag matches were just there to kill some time – and in this instance, too much time
TJP vs ACH (NJPW Super J-Cup 2020 Quarter Final Match): either a botch or a perfect fake-botch played into this match so well that I’m still not sure if it was planned. This battle of the acronyms was full of great athleticism but it sort of felt like nothing; without a crowd it was hard to really get into this

> I think every match on this would have been significantly better received if there were at least two dozen live crowd members. The silence was deafening
> it’s an interesting time for non-WWE wrestling. The Collective featured talent from all over AEW, GCW, MLW, ROH and Impact Wrestling, and all those names bar AEW were mentioned by name on this show. Impact Wrestling’s recent semi-partnership with AEW included, I can’t help but think there must be some big plans for wrestling as a whole on the horizon

Should you watch this event: Blake Christian, El Phantasmo and ACH were all fantastic on this show/in this tournament, and their matches each deserve your time. It’s an awkward way to do a tournament, especially with no live audience, but it’s sort of been an awkward kind of year. This was by no means a must see, but fi you find yourself with a spare two and a half hours or so (or less, by skipping the tags) you won’t regret it

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