The second round of the New Japan Cup gets underway, with Okada vs. Nagata and Kanemaru vs. Ishimori among the featured matches.

We’ve only got Japanese commentary for those of us watching live. Kevin Kelly will be around to backfill with English commentary in the coming days. We’re inside an empty Korakuen Hall for this week’s shows.

I can only repeat what I’ve been saying at the start of my last few reviews. Believe. Support. Learn. Change. Love those who have fought for this change.

Quick Results
New Japan Cup – Second Round: Taiji Ishimori pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 9:00 (***¼)
New Japan Cup – Second Round: Tomohiro Ishii pinned Togi Makabe in 13:30 (***¾)
Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi pinned DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 14:00 (***)
New Japan Cup – Second Round: Hiromu Takahashi beat Toru Yano via count-out after tying him up and sending him away in an elevator in 8:50 (***)
New Japan Cup – Second Round: Kazuchika Okada submitted Yuji Nagata in 20:00 (***½)

New Japan Cup 2020 – Second Round: Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
You’ll be shocked to hear that the Suzuki-gun representative attacked before the bell, jumping Ishimori on the stage as they fought around ringside. After both men had been thrown into the crowd barriers, the bell rang, as we started with Ishimori taking control in the ring, scoring with a springboard seated senton.

Ishimori, who’s never beaten Kanemaru one-on-one, put the boots to Kanemaru, who responded with a low dropkick to cut him off. Working over the knee follows as Kanemaru drills Ishimori’s knee into the mat, before a Figure Four leg lock looked to force an early stoppage… but Ishimori’s able to get to the ropes as he forced the break. That doesn’t stop Kanemaru though, who hung on to the hold as he maintained focus on the knee, taking Ishimori outside as he went on to kick the knee into the guard rails. The count-out tease is for nought as Ishimori hobbles back inside, but again Kanemaru keeps stomping on the knee… only to get caught with a handspring enziguiri as Ishimori struck back.

Kanemaru ducks a PK and rolls up Ishimori before another Figure Four was countered with another roll-up. Ishimori’s going to almost Young Lion tactics here, before Kanemaru went to use the ref as a shield, distracting from a low blow. Ishimori’s back as he blocked Kanemaru’s whiskey mist by just covering the mouth… forcing him to swallow the drink lest he get pinned. He held on for a two-count before wretching so loudly that any whiskey distillery would blacklist him from sponsorship deals…

Ishimori tries to fight back, but he’s met with a DDT for a near-fall, before Kanemaru went up top for the Deep Impact… which got caught and turned into a tombstone gutbuster attempt. That too is blocked as Kanemaru went for a roll-up, only for the escaped to take him into almost a Yes Lock, which he blocks with a rake to the eyes. Eventually Ishimori lands the tombstone gutbuster for a near-fall, before a Bloody Cross broke the streak! He finally did it! At the thirteenth time of asking, Ishimori gets a win over Kanemaru and makes it into the quarter-finals! A little short, at under ten minutes, but pretty good for what they did. ***¼

New Japan Cup 2020 – Second Round: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe
Ah damnit, they found the overdub CD.

This started off hot with see-saw shoulder tackles that seemingly staggered Ishii more than you’d expect. They reset, with more shoulder-tackles until Ishii was knocked down, but he’s quickly back with chops as the pair looked to lay it in. Forearms. Chops… and eventually a scoop slam have Makabe on the mat.

Makabe resumes with forearms, only to get stung with more chops as the slugfest continued. Ishii’s whipped into the corner, but rebounds into a scoop slam, as Makabe looked to force his way back in. More forearms wake up Ishii, who slaps back… but those Makabe elbows end up just getting him a German suplex into the buckles. Ishii puts the boots to Makabe as he laid in the corner, forcing a break as the referee looked to give him some distance. Refusing, Ishii picks up Makabe in a front facelock before following up with a backdrop suplex for a two-count, before he found a second wind as the pair clattered into each other with clotheslines.

Somehow, Makabe’s able to knock down Ishii with his lariat, before a kneeling powerbomb almost ended things. More lariats follow as Ishii responds with his “beh-beh” quickfire elbows, before he’s lifted up top as a spider German suplex was teased… but instead Makabe hits a spider belly-to-belly! Ishii’s right back up to clobber him as Makabe looked for the King Kong knee drop, before Ishii struck back with a stalling superplex.

Makabe pops back up, but he’s dumped with a lariat for a two-count… then responded with a German suplex that almost got the win. He heads back up top for a King Kong knee drop, but Ishii rolls away… before we go back to the thunderous lariats. A headbutt drops Makabe, but the ref doesn’t stop things as Ishii instead measures up for lariat after lariat… and another headbutt too. Elbows from Ishii earn him some Mongolian-style chops as Makabe returned the lariats like-for-like, only to get caught with an overhead kick and another lariat for a near-fall. A sheer drop brainbuster’s next, and that is that. A fantastic match if you like your big lads knocking seven shades of you know what out of each other – with Makabe holding his own… but in the end, it’s back to the undercard tags for the time being for him. ***¾

Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Ryusuke Taguchi
You’ll not be shocked and appalled to learn that Suzuki-gun were jumped by their opponents at the bell. Ibushi and Tanahashi take Taichi and ZSJ outside and into the railings, we our second jump start of the night got us going.

Sabre and Tanahashi roll into the ring to start the second round match they’ll not have, with Tanahashi coming in early with a springboard crossbody, only to get attacked from behind by Taichi. He’s held as Sabre tortured Tanahashi’s knee with Dragon screws, while Taichi clocked Ibushi on the floor with the timekeeper’s hammer. Sabre stays on Tanahashi’s knee as bedlam reigned around Korakuen Hall. DOUKI got inspired too, as he worked over Tanahashi’s knee, stomping on it for good measure, before Tanahashi got taken outside as he meets the guardrails. Oh, and DOUKI’s pipe. Ibushi’s getting choked on as he and Taichi fought by the literal New Japan Cup, before Suzuki-gun returned to the ring to weigh in on Tanahashi some more.

They triple-team him some more in the corner, wrapping Tanahashi’s leg around the rope, before Taichi tagged in DOUKI merely so he could distract the referee from some choking. I mean, if it works… DOUKI takes it back to more orthodox stuff with a leg lace on Tanahashi, who tries to fight back against Sabre, only to get caught in a Cobra twist. It’s quickly countered out of, before Tanahashi caught an overhead kick to the arm and Dragon screwed Sabre into the mat.

Finally there’s a tag out as Ibushi comes in, alongside Taichi as the pair trade kicks, seeing who could give the other a dead leg first. Ibushi seems to give way first, before he blistered back in with a combination of kicks that leads to a standing moonsault for a near-fall. More back-and-forth led to Ibushi getting dumped on his head with a Saito suplex as we’re cheerfully announced at the ten minute mark.

Somehow Ibushi’s able to ‘rana out of a Last Ride as he went on to clock Taichi with a head kick. Taguchi tags in, but he runs into a rear spin kick before DOUKI came in. More kicks from DOUKI lead to an enziguiri and a lariat that almost puts away the former junior champion. Taguchi’s able to recover with a roll-up, but his hip attack lands on DOUKI’s knee… Tanahashi ran in with a Slingblade as Taguchi recovered and it DOUKI with a Bummer-ye for a near-fall.

Now comes the Parade of Moves as Ibushi plancha’s into Taichi on the outside, while Taguchi goes for a Dodon… but has to kick out of a roll-up. An enziguiri stops DOUKI seconds later, before the Dodon finally gets the win. A decent enough undercard tag, with the main focus weirdly being on Tanahashi’s knee – despite him already being out of the cup. Playing the long game, is it? ***

Of course they scrap afterwards, as the Young Lions had to save Tanahashi and Ibushi from a further beatdown.

— Is Hirai Kawato the Grand Master? I don’t know, but it’s time for a cleanse…

New Japan Cup 2020 – Second Round: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Toru Yano
Hiromu is still a little nervous, as he’s wearing a hard hat to the ring. I mean, that’ll at least reduce the amount of hair Yano can clip off… either that or he’s come straight from the building site, after working from morning to night. That’s living, alright? (points if you get the reference…)

At least Yano’s brought his hand sanitizer for everyone…

Hiromu wants the ref to check him for clippers… he doesn’t and of course Yano pulls them out at the bell. Hiromu scarpers, then goes under the ring to hide. Yano goes to pull him out, but Hiromu comes back the other side and grabs the clippers! Now we get going as Hiromu puts the boots to Yano before he teased going all Brutus Beefcake… but the clippers weren’t charged! Yano’s got a second pair, which is the weirdest swerve in recent memory, but the referee disarms him as we get going again. A dropkick takes down Yano, as does an elbow, before he just sidestepped a second dropkick. A running ‘rana takes down Yano, sending him to the outside, where those guard rails come into play.

The bleachers come in too as Yano gets thrown into them… but then Yano returns with a pair of scissors. Is this WCW in Blackburn? Back in the ring, Hiromu shoves Yano into the ropes, then rolled him up for a superkick for a near-fall, before more cat and mouse led to Hiromu trying his luck for a sunset bomb. Yano breaks it up by reaching into his trousers, but for once he’s got nothing.

Until he got over to the New Japan Cup, where he’d hidden more scissors. Oh, and some tape as well, as he proceeds to tie-up Hiromu’s leg to Yota Tsuji’s before he stared at the camera holding the scissors like a maniac. He manages to cut some of Hiromu’s hair, but Hiromu’s up as the three-legged race actually did quite well in chasing after Yano. Hiromu hog ties Yano, who’d not thrown away the tape, then threw him into a lift and sent it downstairs… giving him and Tsuji plenty of time to make it back to the ring to win via count-out. Absolutely. Fantastic. Nonsense. *** but so much more for the entertainment. Especially because he never untied himself from Tsuji…

New Japan Cup 2020 – Second Round: Yuji Nagata vs. Kazuchika Okada
…and now, for something completely different.

Okada beat Nagata in their only prior singles outing about give years ago, and we start with Nagata taking down Okada in a side headlock, holding on as Okada tried to elbow free, before they ended up in the ropes. It was Nagata who didn’t break cleanly, as he proceeded to kick Okada in the quad before dropping him with a big boot.

Okada has a breather on the outside, but runs back inside as Nagata worked the arm again, before he ran into a big boot as Okada pushed ahead. We’re back outside as Okada took Nagata into the railings, charging him in repeatedly as he looked to snatch the cheap count-out. Nagata beats the count and takes a neckbreaker as Okada’s count was so cocky… referee Red Shoes refused to count it. Nagata’s caught in the corner with elbows, but he fights back out with kicks before he rolled past Okada en route to a stalling enziguiri. An Exploder follows for a two-count, before a vertical suplex gets blocked, with Okada instead being sent into the ropes as he comes back with a back elbow. Another elbow traps Nagata in the corner ahead of a DDT for a near-fall, before Nagata put on the brakes to block a tombstone attempt.

An overhead belly-to-belly suplex surprises Okada off the ropes, which sparks a battle of elbow strikes as they resume. Okada seems to come out the worse for wear, until he dove in with a shotgun dropkick that took Nagata back towards the corner. That backfires for Okada as he was taken up top for an avalanche Exploder, with Nagata quickly making the cover for a two-count. More kicks keep Nagata ahead, but Okada slips out of a suplex and quickly replies with a dropkick to the back… before a second dropkick took Nagata down in the middle of the ring. A tombstone follows, but Okada took too long to follow up with a Cobra clutch and ends up getting taken down into a Nagata Lock! Okada holds on as he tries to reposition himself, eventually making the ropes… and he’s then forced to fight out of a Backdrop Hold.

Nagata tries again with an Exploder, but Okada elbows out and goes back to the Cobra clutch, which took Nagata down to his knees. Somehow, Nagata powered out and hit an Exploder to free himself. He holds onto the ropes to avoid an Okada dropkick as we go back to elbow strikes, with Nagata slapping his way ahead until he countered a discus Rainmaker with a backdrop driver. Okada barely kicks out from that, but he manages to recover back into a modified cobra clutch, bodyscissoring Nagata to keep him away from the ropes as the veteran ends up submitting. Going over twenty minutes, we’re still in the land of the long Okada matches – although I feel the focus here was more on Nagata trying for one last hurrah, rather than the “wrestler X struggles against a veteran” stuff we saw in the first round. ***½

We’ve got Ishii/Hiromu and Ishimori/Okada in the quarters from here… and we’ve a week off as we’re back next Wednesday with the remaining second round matches, featuring Ibushi vs. Taichi, SHO vs. SANADA, YOSHI-HASHI vs. BUSHI and EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto. Today was a huge leap up from yesterday’s card, with the left hand side of the bracket delivering again. This card offered something for everyone: Yano vs. Hiromu will likely be divisive, but it was exactly what I expected… and likely needed in what’s been a tough week to be a wrestling fan.