Murder Grandpa vs. Yuji Nagata in the first round of the New Japan Cup? Don’t mind if I do…

Tuesday’s show was wrapped up in two hours, complete with a brief cleaning interval. That looks to be the pattern for these first round shows, and you’re not going to hear any complaints from me from that! 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.

Quick Results
New Japan Cup – First Round: Taiji Ishimori submitted Gabriel Kidd in 8:50 (**¾)
New Japan Cup – First Round: Yoshinobu Kanemaru pinned Yuya Uemura in 9:30 (***)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, SHO & YOH) pinned BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, EVIL & SANADA in 12:00 (***)
New Japan Cup – First Round: Yuji Nagata pinned Minoru Suzuki in 20:30 (****½)
New Japan Cup – First Round: Kazuchika Okada submitted Gedo in 15:00 (*¼)

New Japan Cup 2020 – First Round: Gabriel Kidd vs. Taiji Ishimori
The journey’s nowhere near over, but this is a hell of a milestone in Kidd’s fledgling New Japan career.

We get going with Kidd working over Ishimori’s wrist, before he took Ishimori to the mat for an armbar. There’s an early pin attempt too, before Kidd took Ishimori into the ropes, meeting him on the way back with a shoulder tackle. A Boston crab’s tried way too early as Ishimori got to the ropes, before he suckered Kidd to the outside.

Ishimori follows Kidd outside with a right hand, before hurling Kidd into the guard railings. That gets Ishimori a two-count back inside, before he busted out the back rakes. ELP would be proud. Kidd tries to fight back, but Ishimori snuffs it out quickly as he took Kidd into the corner for more back raking. Chops follow, as do a running double knee as Ishimori headed up top… and leapt into a dropkick from Kidd! Gabriel follows up with a charge into the corner, but he can’t get off a suplex as he instead caught Ishimori off the ropes with a scoop slam, then followed up with that suplex for a near-fall.

Ishimori catches out Kidd with a big boot as the Young Lion tried to build up momentum, then caught out Kidd with the wacky misdirection in the ropes… but a springboard ‘rana’s neatly caught and turned into a Boston crab as Kidd’s experience began to show. The Bone Soldier’s able to get to the ropes though, before he fought back with a back elbow and a handspring enziguiri, which gets a near-fall as the Yes Lock followed for the submission. Not the one-way destruction you’d expect, with Gabe putting on a good show, but in the end it was the Bone Soldier who won as predicted. **¾

New Japan Cup 2020 – First Round: Yuya Uemura vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
So the winner of this gets Ishimori in round two… and don’t forget in yesterday’s tag match, Kanemaru waffled Uemura with the bottle of whiskey to get his team the win.

Uemura jumped Ishimori before the bell, taking him outside and kept him there with a dropkick. Kanemaru looks to throw Uemura into the rails, but the Young Lion put the brakes on and returned to the ring as the bell finally rang. A side headlock from Uemura’s rolled to the mat as Kanemaru tries to sneak a win, but instead he just shoves off Uemura into the ropes before bailing to the outside. Uemura follows him outside, but this time can’t block as he’s thrown into the railings, and almost into the no-crowd, as Kanemaru hits the step-up slicing legdrop over the railings. That gives us a count-out tease, which Uemura comfortably beats, but Kanemaru stays on top of him with a simple cravat and some elbows. Grounded figure four headscissors keep Uemura in bother, as Kanemaru proceeded to place him in a Tree of Woe for some boot choking.

Referee Kenta Sato frees Uemura, who tried to return fire on Kanemaru… but he’s just taken down again for more stomping. An Irish whip bounced Uemura into the corner, where he stayed as a running front kick waited for him, before a reversed suplex gave the Young Lion some hope. A running back elbow keeps Uemura ahead, as did a dropkick, but he couldn’t make a cover in time… so instead he heads to the apron and measured Kanemaru for a springboard crossbody that almost got the win. Another suplex followed as Uemura looked for the win, before Kanemaru used the referee as a shield. The distraction works as an enziguiri and a big boot drops Uemura, before Kanemaru went for his whiskey… there’s no whiskey mist in the COVID era, but he’s disarmed as Uemura tried for some flash pins, getting ever closer as a sunset flip nearly did it… as did a rolling leg clutch… but Kanemaru kept kicking out at two!

From there, Kanemaru turned it back around with a dropkick, before a backdrop suplex and a scooping reverse DDT almost put Uemura away. Tellingly, Kanemaru needed to head up top for the Deep Impact DDT, planting Uemura on the way down to get the win. Fantastic effort from Uemura, and it’s telling that Ishimori felt he had to use his Big Move™ to get the job done here. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Non-tournament action here before the cleaning break, as we preview two of next week’s cup matches. I’m here for SHO vs. Shingo redux. Not to be left out, YOH’s got a new mask with a LED screen. That’s one-upping all of the fancy LED sunglasses on the scene…

Was that a yell of pain from YOSHI-HASHI?

YOH and BUSHI start us off, with BUSHI’s wristlock quickly escaped as YOH took him down in an armbar. That, too, is escaped as BUSHI went for the nose, before he ran into armdrags aplenty and a dropkick for good measure. Goto tags in to yank on BUSHI’s arm, before YOSHI-HASHI came in to take the other one, with the CHAOS pair wringing both of BUSHI’s arms ahead o a double shoulder tackle.

A kick from EVIL as YOSHI-HASHI hit the ropes sparked an influx from LIJ, who rush the ring and take the fight to the outside. It settles down quickly as BUSHI tagged in EVIL to wrench on YOSHI’s arm, before a back senton flattened YOSHI for a two-count. SANADA’s in to trap YOSHI-HASHI in an abdominal stretch, letting go so he can haul him up for a backbreaker that gets another two-count. Shingo’s in next, and of course he made a beeline for SHO, knocking him off the apron before a double clothesline took out Goto and YOSHI-HASHI in one go. A knee drop keeps YOSHI-HASHI down, but YOSHI-HASHI begins to fight back with elbows and chops before he caught Shingo unawares with a Head Hunter. That gave YOSHI-HASHI enough time to tag in SHO, who went after Shingo with clotheslines and shoulder tackles, before a spear took down the Dragon.

SHO looks for a suplex, and eventually hauls up Shingo to get a two-count. SHO keeps going, landing a leaping knee and a barrage of elbows before he responded to a snap German suplex with a clothesline. That singles match next week is going to be insane. Tags bring us back to BUSHI and YOH, who went at it with elbows until a snapmare and a low dropkick saw YOH push ahead.

A bridging head-and-arm suplex gets YOH a near-fall but BUSHI’s back in with a DDT. A rewind enziguiri and a regular enziguiri leaves both men down, before Goto tagged back in to focus on BUSHI once more. Goto gets close with a back elbow, prompting LIJ to flood the ring, allowing BUSHI to nearly nick the win with his swinging Fisherman suplex…

From the kick-out though, BUSHI heads up top for the MX, but Goto ducks it as a Parade of Moves breaks out. Superkicks, clotheslines and German suplexes here, as YOSHI-HASHI had to avoid a Magic Killer for good measure. In the end, things settle down as Goto dumps BUSHI with an ushigoroshi, before a standard GTR gets the win. A pretty fun midcard tag match, with the SHO/Shingo stuff leaping off the page as you’d expect. ***

— The suspected comeback video for Hirai Kawato airs once again before it’s cleaning time.

New Japan Cup 2020 – First Round: Minoru Suzuki vs. Yuji Nagata
Kaze ni Nare sure sounds weird in an empty room… these two have some history, to put it mildly, and this was one of the matches I circled when the original New Japan Cup brackets got released. Thankfully, it was only delayed, not changed.

Erm, did Suzuki shave “ass” into the back of his hair?

There’s no jump start, but the pair went at it like hammer and tongs at the bell, trading elbows like they were going out of style. Suzuki laughs it off before he cracks Nagata with a CLONKING elbow… and got one back in return as they continued to go for the head. Nagata chains the elbows together as he had Suzuki stagger backwards, but Minoru laughs again and… CLONK. CLONK. CLONK. Nagata’s down to his knees, but gets back up to issue receipts… and got more back with interest. So. Many. Elbows, and I’m loving it! The first three minutes pass and all we’ve had are the damn things, with Suzuki putting more and more into his shots, stopping to put his hands behind his back to give Nagata a free shot, before they finally switch it up with palm strikes.

SLAP. SLAP. Minoru’s getting a cracking sound out of Nagata with every strike, as I get flashbacks to Ikeda/Ishikawa from wXw Ambition three months ago. Both guys are on jelly legs, but power back up as we pass the five minute mark with nothing but elbows and slaps. It’s strangely engrossing, before Suzuki finally tripped Nagata and applied a knee bar that forced Yuji to roll to the ropes for a break. Nagata rolls outside, where he’s taken into the railings as Suzuki finds a chair… and gets disarmed by referee Marty Asami. Not to worry, Suzuki just gets a bucket from under the ring and smashes it over Nagata. I’m dying here. A bottle’s smashed against him next, before Suzuki found another chair, which the referee tries to remove, only for Asami to get thrown into the railings.

Suzuki finally has luck with a chair, smashing the seat out of it as he whacked Nagata on the floor, before he tied up Nagata in the guard rails to tease a count-out. It’s beaten, but Nagata looks like he’s spent… even more so when Suzuki drilled him with a knee. More elbows trap Nagata in the corner, as a palm strike drops him to the mat… but Suzuki isn’t done yet, as he drags him towards the ring post. Nagata finally blocks something as he caught a Suzuki kick, and came in with one of his own as he proceeds to PK through Suzuki. Who sits up and tries to laugh it off. More kicks follow from Nagata, but Suzuki won’t lay down… so he’s taken to the corner for a running boot, before he caught Nagata with a simple headlock.

Nagata gets free and works the arm again, jamming it over his shoulder as he looked to soften up Suzuki. A second arm breaker’s stopped as Suzuki countered with a rear naked choke, squeezing the life out of Nagata before he got a two-count from a cover. Suzuki reapplies the choke, then spun Nagata for a Gotch piledriver… but it’s a struggle as Nagata deadweights himself, before he countered out with a back body drop.

Suzuki goes back to those GODDAMN elbows, but Nagata fires back in kind as he gets a bloodied lip. More elbows continue this delight, as do palm strikes, before a headbutt saw Nagata fall to the mat. Incredibly, they get back up for more elbows as we sail past the twenty minute mark, before Nagata surprised Suzuki with an Exploder. Suzuki tries to follow back with a rear naked choke, but Nagata slips out and quickly puts him away with the Backdrop Hold. Fan. Bloody. Tastic. Keep it short, keep it snug. Those have been the maxims of the “no fans” era of wrestling, and while this wasn’t short, it was delightfully snug. Those first five minutes were a living example of how to get a LOT from very little. Perhaps an upset, but a MUST-SEE match. ****½

New Japan Cup 2020 – First Round: Gedo vs. Kazuchika Okada
How the hell do you follow that? Oh, with Gedo feigning a broken arm. I swear he did this in 2018 ahead of the first match. He still wants the match to happen though…

Gedo’s sling looks suspiciously-loaded, as I have flashbacks to Doink in 1993. Of course, it was loaded – he had some kind of spray that Okada instantly disarms him of. Now Gedo wants to lay down and end this quickly… but of course, he was going to sneak Okada with a roll-up. Kazu’s smart to that, and stomps him instead, then pulls out Gedo’s brass knuckles. Gedo’s got a spanner though, which he low blows Okada with, before heading outside for some more shots as referee Red Shoes Unno is now apparently unable to see. Playing as Jay White, Gedo charges Okada between the ring apron and guard rails, before he dismantled the timekeeper’s table. Which he proceeded to use on Okada as the pace remained low.

A count-out tease comes to nought as Okada beats the count… and gets thrown right back outside as Gedo takes him back into the rails. Gedo gets a chair from under the ring, and uses it on Okada as none of this is apparently a DQ. Red Shoes is being very lenient today, eh? Back inside, Gedo continues to put the boots to Okada, who finally fought back as he decks Gedo with a big boot. Okada keeps going with an elbow into the corner, then a DDT for a near-fall, before he went up top… only for Gedo to bail as he expected the Rainmaker elbow. Gedo cheapshots Okada with the timekeeper’s hammer, which still isn’t enough for a DQ. Back inside, Gedo avoids a dropkick as he proceeds to punt away on Okada, getting a near-fall out of it, before he tied up Okada on the mat.

Okada eventually gets to the ropes to break the Tequila Sunrise, before there’s more shenanigans. Gedo grabs the ref to block a tombstone, then pulls out more brass knuckles from the corner of the ring. New Japan need someone new to put these rings together. Gedo KO’s Okada with a punch, before he almost put away Okada with the Gedo clutch. I mean, that would have been the shitarse way to win…

Gedo looks for a Blade Runner, but Okada slips out and goes for a dropkick, which whiffs, as Jado walks out. In Adidas gear, rather than his LA Park knock-off stuff. Gedo’s got the brass knuckles again as the ref’s distracted, but Okada ducks the punch and comes back in with dropkicks. Jado’s knocked down too, as Okada then pulls up Gedo for a tombstone and a cobra clutch to end this one. As a match, the story here was fine – Gedo knowing Okada inside out, and using his cheating to try and overcome him… but this didn’t need to be the main event. Especially because that slot necessitated it to go long. Still, it was better than Jado/Yano… *¼

In the second round, we’ll have Ishimori vs. Kanemaru – a match steeped in history, particularly since Ishimori has never beaten Kanemaru one-on-one. Nagata vs. Okada will be the other second round match – which has only ever happened once before – and I’m pretty sure we’re done with the bad matches now.

New Japan’s off for the next few days, returning on Monday with a stacked line-up that features Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi, and Taichi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi as the IWGP tag title feud splinters into the New Japan Cup! Massively boosted by the Suzuki/Nagata match – an outing you all need to go out of your way to see – this was a fun show. It’s really been a banner year for the over-50s in Japanese wrestling laying it into each other… and with an undercard that more than held its own. Perhaps turn off the main event if you don’t want to see Gedo’s smoke and mirrors though?