After seven years off, New Japan crowned the latest Super J Cup winner on Sunday, with the winner having to go through three matches in one night.
#TLDR: A long show that saw New Japan place the junior heavyweights at centre stage, whilst simultaneously putting in motion moves to kill off their junior heavyweight tag team titles. The return of the Super J Cup finals wasn’t a bad show, but it was badly hurt by it’s length…
The Full Review: After the first round was held at Korakuen Hall a month ago, New Japan’s at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo as eight men look to stake their claim for supremacy. Unfortunately, the building was barely a quarter-full, which really hurt the atmosphere throughout.
Kaji Tomato, Gurukun Mask & BUSHI vs. Eita, Yuma Aoyagi & David Finlay
Finlay and Gurukun start us off, with a Finlay hammerlock, then a headlock, before Gurukun reverses into a wristlock, all whilst BUSHI watches on nonchalantly from a chair at ringside.
Some tags lead to Kaji Tomato and Eita, and Eita scores with a hiptoss before some satellite headscissors get an advantage for Tomato. BUSHI trips Tomato, but only so he can make the tag in against Aoyagi. A leapfrog and a dropkick takes down BUSHI, as the rest of Aoyagi’s team rushes the ring, leading to a triple dropkick on BUSHI.
BUSHI recovers and clears the apron, before slapping Tomato’s chest to tag him in. After tagging back in, BUSHI uses his shirt to choke Aoyagi, before Gurukun mask comes in to continue the attack. Aoyagi brings Eita back in after a flying forearm, and Eita’s first act is to try for a dive… but again BUSHI trips him up.
A series of dropkicks takes down Gurukun, but he rolls away from a moonsault, then scores a running senton splash for a near-fall. Eita lands a superkick, but takes a lariat, before we end up with Finlay squashing Tomato with a series of European uppercuts, finishing off with a diving uppercut for a near-fall. Tomato catches Finlay with an enziguiri, before something I can only describe as an abdominal stretch bomb got him a near-fall, because BUSHI ran in and broke up the pin by his own team-mate.
BUSHI and Tomato got into a shoving match, so Eita took them down with a dropkick before crashing into the commentary table with a tope con hilo. Gurukun Mask followed next, as Finlay and BUSHI return to the ring, as Finlay nearly takes the win with a roll-up. A suplex into a jawbreaker from BUSHI sets up Finlay for the MX, and that’s all. A very weird match – which could have done without the “team-mates didn’t get along” storyline. **¾
After the match, BUSHI sprayed the mist at Kaji Tomato as they were celebrating, before he tried to rip the mask off of Gurukun. O-kay…?
Super J Cup 2016 – Quarter Final: Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Taichi
Just like the first round, the best part of Taichi is his entrance. Unless you’re Milano Collection AT, who got kicked in the midsection after he took some photos of Taichi’s valet during the first round…Taichi’s valet gave Liger a lapdance in the corner, before Liger held the ropes open for her to leave the ring, like a gentleman.
Desperado attacked Liger before the bell as Taichi had the referee distracted, which somehow led to Taichi trying to unmask Liger. Finally the referee pulls him off Liger, and the bell rings as the match gets underway officially. Liger’s tossed to the floor, where Taichi tosses him into the ringpost, before Taichi’s valet slaps him. Depserado gets involved, and gets shoved into the ringpost before Liger tosses the Young Lions aside.
Liger takes Desperado into the ring and drops him with a powerbomb, before Taichi gets a tiltawhirl backbreaker for his efforts. After taking a lariat in the corner, Taichi rolls out of the ring, and is taken to the back of the arena by Liger, who grabs Desperado as well. That turns out to be his downfall, as Liger’s held on the floor by Desperado as Taichi runs back to the ring and takes the count-out win. This was absolutely rotten. -*
After the match, Liger returns to the ring and sends the heels packing by throwing a chair that bounced off the ramp and into Desperado’s shin. Taichi’s microphone stand went a similar way, but the heels survived…
Super J Cup 2016 – Quarter Final: Kenou vs. KUSHIDA
A tentative start from both men as KUSHIDA went to the mat to try and Muhammad Ali his way to victory with kicks from the bottom. KUSHIDA then grabbed a headlock for a spell before Kenou worked free and stood-off.
A flurry of kicks from Kenou was cut-off by a knee to the midsection from KUSHIDA, who then took a pump kick to the midsection. KUSHIDA drops Kenou with an inverted atomic drop, a low dropkick, then sweeps away the left arm, before immediately sinking in an armbar and an Indian deathlock-style hold onto the arm.
KUSHIDA took down Kenou in search of a the Hoverboard lock after a few more strikes, then mounted Kenou with some punches. An attempt at the Hoverboard lock sees KUSHIDA mount Kenou with some body scissors, but the hold’s blocked and turned almost a Falcon Arrow-like suplex. Kenou then fired back with some kicks and a double knee strike to the back of KUSHIDA for a near-fall.
KUSHIDA gets cut off with a Pele kick as he climbed the top rope, but he caught Kenou with a Hoverboard lock drop as the latter went for a superplex. After working back to their feet, Kenou rocked KUSHIDA with some kicks to the chest, which were returned in kind before KUSHIDA grabbed an arm and rolled into a cross armbreaker. Kenou quickly escaped with an ankle lock, before a snap Dragon suplex takes down the IWGP Jr Heavyweight champion, with a double stomp off the top rope getting him a two-count.
A PK gets Kenou a two-count, before KUSHIDA countered a cross-arm powerbomb (a bit like Cesaro’s old Ricola bomb) into another Hoverboard lock attempt. Once KUSHIDA finally grabbed the arm, he rolled Kenou into the middle of the ring and ended up getting the win via an armbar submission. ***¾
Super J Cup 2016 – Quarter Final: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Kanemaru’s the current GHC Junior Heavyweight champion, whilst Taguchi has stopped plugging his music CD, and is wearing a Brazilian-inspired New Japan shirt. The opening tie-up sees Taguchi take Kanemaru into the ropes, before he breaks free a la Nakamura. They trade blows, until Kanemaru dropkicks away a hip attack and tosses Taguchi to the floor. On the outside, Taguchi swings around the ringpost, before faking out a dive by wedging his rear end into the ropes… and he gets a kick there for his troubles.
Outside again, Taguchi’s dropped with a DDT on the floor, but manages to beat the count-out to roll into the ring. Kanemaru kicks Taguchi’s arse a few more times, before a scoop slam gets him a near-fall. A dropkick to Taguchi’s arse follows, before Kanemaru raked the eyes to prevent any hope of a comeback.
Taguchi gets caught in a camel clutch after being dragged into the middle of the ring, but he’s able to drag himself to the ropes for a break. Finally Taguchi connects with a hip attack, before he lands with three successive hip attacks as Kanemaru laid against the ropes. More hip attacks take down Kanemaru, as does a running knee strike which gets Taguchi a near-fall.
Kanemaru counters a Dodon facebuster into a DDT, before another back and forth ends with him taking yet another hip attack, then the Dodon facebuster for a near-fall. A second Dodon is blocked, and switched into a backslide which is just a cover for a mule kick by Kanemaru. Taguchi recovers with an enziguiri, before he sees a tiltawhirl slam turned into a reverse DDT, as Kanemaru comes close to the win with a leaping DDT off the top rope. Despite kicking out of that, Taguchi had no answer for a brainbuster as Kanemaru progressed to the semi-finals. I struggled to get into this match, mostly because this descended into Hip Attack Central by Taguchi really early on. ***
Super J Cup 2016 – Quarter Final: Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal
This gets flagged as a match between CHAOS and ROH, and we start with a wristlock from Ospreay that he keeps hold of despite Sydal’s attempts to flip free. Sydal finally counters into an armbar, and flips forward into a bridge to add some extra torque briefly. Ospreay uses the see-saw kip ups to get out of another wristlock, before grabbing a toe hold on Sydal.
A thirty-second sprint saw the pair run the ropes, avoid each others dives and flips, with Sydal’s headscissors not taking down Ospreay, who instead connected with a dropkick for a two-count. Ospreay went from that into an Octopus hold on Sydal, but then decided to just deck him with a forearm smash for the hell of it.
Sydal cut-off Ospreay with a spinning heel kick, then scored a near-fall with a sunset flip before tying him up for a submission attempt. Ospreay makes the ropes, before fighting free of Sydal with more forearms, only to get rolled up for a near-fall and get caught in a bridging Indian deathlock. After losing the hold, Sydal saw Ospreay reach for the ropes, but a leaping kick from Sydal took Ospreay down, who was able to get his knees up to block a standing moonsault attempt.
The pair exchanged kicks and strikes, with Ospreay reversing a brainbuster attempt, before a handspring into a roundhouse kick knocks Sydal back to the mat. An enziguiri in the corner dazes Sydal, before the Phenomenal Forearm sends him to the outside, and in prime position for a Sasuke special. Sydal thought he’d caught Ospreay, but Will slipped out and connected with a Cheeky Nando’s kick for a near-fall.
Sydal countered a Rainmaker into a reverse DDT, but Ospreay rolled him up quickly for a near-fall, only to see a suplex turned into a hurricanrana as Sydal spiked Will on his head. That got Matt a two-count, as he then dazed Ospreay with a roundhouse kick after blocking one of Will’s. Ospreay ducks a lariat, then drops into Sydal with a diving corkscrew kick, only for Sydal to catch him with a reverse ‘rana as he climbed the ropes, and then take a shooting star press. Matt Sydal eliminates this year’s Best of Super Junior winner, and goes on face Kanemaru in the semis! ***¾
Ultimo Guerrero, Gran Guerrero & Euforia vs. Caristico, Titan & Volador Jr.
We’ve got a six-man tag from CMLL here, and my word, New Japan World’s doing a bad job of dubbing over “We Will Rock You”. Caristico is the former original Sin Cara, whose star is still somewhat damaged after that WWE run…
Titan and Gran Guerrero started off, exchanging holds but neither man could get an advantage. A trip from Titan led to a facelock, but again it was reversed out of before Titan took down Gran with an armdrag. Caristico and Ultimo Guerrero came in next, and the former Sin Cara really wanted Ultimo to take off his mask (since he’d lost a mask match in 2014) – and eventually he did so.
The two play to the crowd, and I’m getting bored now. They finally grapple, with Caristico taking down Ultimo, before he’s flipped out of some headscissors. They work over a knuckle-lock, with Ultimo getting a near-fall on Caristico before they flip back up, and Ultimo takes a breather on the outside.
Volador and Euforia come in, and immediately the heels triple-team Volador, with a pop-up seated senton as Volador was draped across the ropes. Titan gets the same treatment, before all three of the technicos were lifted up in unison in what I can only describe as a weird take on an abdominal stretch. More triple teaming saw Caristico tied up, before he’s dropkicked into a corner, only to avoid a triple team as Titan and Volador clear the ring to set up for a triple tope tease.
Gran Guerrero and Titan swap some increasingly-stiff chops, before a back kick takes down Guerrero. Some hand-walking from Titan sets up for a long flying headscissors spot, before Volador flipped back out of a Code Red to land on his feet. We finally got our dives as Caristico and Titan landed with topes, whilst Volador flew into Gran Guerrero with a flying hurricanrana to the floor.
Gran Guerrero scored a near-fall with a facebuster off the top as Titan tried for a top rope ‘rana, before a spinning pumphandle driver got him a near-fall. Titan turned a top rope powerbomb into a rana, then it a springboard splash for another two-count. Caristico got a near-fall from a dropkick to Euforia, who then tagged in Ultimo Guerrero. A front superplex got Ultimo a two-count, but Caristico recovered with another top rope rana for a near-fall, before another ‘rana attempt ended in a top rope powerbomb.
Caristico got crotched on the top turnbuckle, then took a reverse superplex (yes, for a two-count). Ultimo nearly took a spill to the outside as the match entered it’s final sprint, with dives from Titan and Caristico, before an enziguiri in the corner from Volador set him up for a Spanish Fly on Gran Guerrero for the win. This really didn’t work with this audience – and after watching it back twice, it didn’t click with me either. I’ve always struggled with trios lucha, and this was no exception. **
During interval, they turned the house lights up. Yeah, that wasn’t a great idea, showing how many empty seats the darkness hid…
Super J Cup 2016 – Semi Final: Taichi vs. KUSHIDA
Taichi’s back out with Desperado, and he jumps KUSHIDA at the curtain, jabbing his microphone stand into him, then uses it to choke him in the aisle. KUSHIDA gets brought into the ring so the match can start, only to get choked with his own t-shirt.
Taichi hooks the nose of KUSHIDA, but runs into a low dropkick and a handspring dropkick from the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ. A few kicks send Taichi into the ropes, with a handspring elbow sending him to the outside, and KUSHIDA looks to follow him out with a dive, except Taichi used his valet as a human shield. Desperado puts some boots to KUSHIDA, as more distraction allows Taichi to drill KUSHIDA with a steel chair.
Taichi’s picked up the bell hammer and has it wedged in his butt crack, before more distractions from Desperado gives him a chance to clonk it over KUSHIDA’s head and then choke him with it. KUSHIDA makes a comeback with an enziguiri in the ropes, before dropkicking Taichi to the outside… and we know what this means… more shenangians.
Desperado tries to catch KUSHIDA, but he overcomes it, tosses a Taichi as he returned into the ring into Desperado on the outside, then lands a somersault plancha. Back inside, KUSHIDA lands another corner dropkick, before taking a roundhouse kick to the head, and Taichi rips off his pants for the hell of it. Another roundhouse gets him a two-count, before KUSHIDA managed to get the Hoverboard lock in, only for Desperado to cause another distraction as Taichi tapped furiously.
As KUSHIDA went after Desperado, Taichi grabbed another chair and smashed it across KUSHIDA’s head, then scored a near-fall with a roll-up. A Last Ride-style powerbomb with a jack-knife pin got Taichi another near-fall, before KUSHIDA got the win with a roll-up. That was horrific. Mostly junk, with very little redeeming qualities… and an unprotected chairshot to boot. I never need to see Taichi wrestle ever again… Who the hell rates him?! *
Super J Cup 2016 – Semi Final: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Matt Sydal
They exchanged armwringers early on, before Sydal rolled out of a standing moonsault attempt, then sent Kanemaru into the corner with some headscissors. A ‘rana gets him an early near-fall, but Kanemaru sent Sydal high into the sky with a back body drop, then tossed him to the floor.
No dives from Kanemaru here, as he just suplexes Sydal onto the mats, before he scores another back body drop inside the ring. Kanemaru goes for a Boston crab, then gets a two-count from a brainbuster. A spinning heel kick sees Sydal catch Kanemaru right in the year, but Kanemaru returned fire with forearms and uppercuts, before Sydal clocked him with a clothesline, then the flying double knee press for a near-fall.
Sydal crashes and burns with a shooting star press as Kanemaru got the knees up, but Sydal got up first and went for a superplex, only to be pushed down, with Kanemaru then blocking a leap up rana, before a flying DDT got him a two-count. Kanemaru turned Sydal inside out with a lariat, then hit a spinning brainbuster for the win. Not spectacular, but this wa a perfectly fine match – hurt again by the quiet crowd. ***
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: ACH & Tairji Ishimori vs. Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada (c)
The champions get some funky dubbed-in music, and we get some fun flippy stuff early as ACH clears the champions out of the ring, before landing a tope as Ishimori followed to the floor with a moonsault off the top rope.
Harada took a corner lariat, then a clothesline before ACH flipped up and scored a near-fall, before the challengers kicked away at Harada in the corner. ACH nailed Harada with a cutter as Ishimori held him up in a wheelbarrow, only for Kotoge to break it up. Harada takes some lariats in the corner, then drops ACH into the turnbuckle with an overhead belly-to-belly.
Kotoge tags in and innovatively avoids an Irish whip by sliding on his belly out of the ring, then superkicks Ishimori on the floor, before ACH takes a dropkick in the ring. He misses an avalanche, but recovers to catch ACH in the corner with a hanging headscissors.
Kotoge rolls back into the ring and drops ACH with a cutter, before climbing up top for a diving splash that gets him a near-fall. ACH Matrix’s out of a clothesline (a spot I’ve seen way too much this weekend), before both men end up downed following a flurry of strikes. Ishimori drops Harada with a springboard dropkick following an enziguiri, then lands a sloppy looking MX for a near-fall.
Harada and Ishimori tease tombstone piledrivers, before they elbow out, with Ishimori taking down the champion with a handspring corkscrew kick. Ishimori and ACH leather Harada with clotheslines, then diving low cross bodies into the corner, before returning to drop Kotoge with a wheelbarrow suplex.
ACH and Ishimori land a pair of 450 Splashes, but they’re both blocked and rolled up for a near-fall. The champions dropkick ACH off the apron, before Harada drops Ishimori with a torture rack into a facebuster for a near-fall. Harada followed up with a hiptoss into a knee strike on Ishimori, as a shoulder breaker spun out into another knee to the head gets another two-count for the defending champions.
ACH returns to the ring with a bunch of forearms, but takes a drop toe hold into a stiff knee from Harada, before Ishimoro takes an Unprettier from Kotogi, and a German suplex for the win. That was quite impressive – a slow start, but they built well and peaked at the right time. I’d not say no to seeing more of both of these teams… ***¾
Post-match, the champions challenged Gedo and Jado to a match… and after seeing those two in the G1 Climax finals, I do not want!
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
So… the Young Bucks had new gear, which just had to be seen to be believed.
— Great Power Max (@LuchaMax) August 21, 2016
This started out frenetically as you’d expect, with the Machine Guns scoring the first dive as Sabin took out the Young Bucks, before the Bucks returned the favour with a tope and a Sasuke special.
There’s plenty of double team moves from the Bucks, including a backbreaker/neckbreaker sequence, and a neckbreaker/slingshot senton spot as Shelley got worked on in the early stages. A roll-up nearly shocked Matt as he spent too much time playing to the crowd, before Nick took a Flatliner into the turnbuckles.
Shelley dumped the Bucks with a double-team DDT, before tagging out to Sabin, who took the Bucks down with a clothesline off the top, before countering some double teaming, and eventually dropping the Bucks with a DDT. More dives as Shelley hit a leaping knee off the apron, and Sabin a cannonball dive, but the Machine Guns slip up as Matt Jackson ducks an enziguiri as Shelley takes out Sabin.
A Nick Jackson springboard moonsault took out Shelley on the floor, before he leapt back in with a facebuster for a near-fall on Sabin, who then took a buckle bomb/enziguiri combo, then a running knee strike for a near-fall. Another running PK on the apron took out Shelley, before a springboard 450 over a rope hung Sabin got them a little closer to a win.
The Machine Guns came back briefly as Matt Jackson ended up getting caught in a Tree of Woe as Nick took an overhead belly-to-belly into him. Matt took a release German superplex from Sabin, then a big splash/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall. A combination of a Shiranui/Powerbomb off the top rope got the Machine Guns another two-count, and it wasn’t long before they went for a Doomsday Device, except with a dropkick… but Matt landed on his feet and the Young Bucks started a comeback.
A Finlay roll into a 450 Splash, then a moonsault forced Shelley to break up the pin, but the Young Bucks accidentally superkicked themselves, before pushing away a double Shiranui from Shelley. That led to them dropping Shelley with an Indytaker (tombstone spike piledriver) on the outside, before they weathered a storm from Chris Sabin, and finished him off with the move named after the man on the Young Bucks’ tights – the Meltzer Driver! A great tag match, helped in that the Young Bucks toned down their act and were a lot easier to watch here than they have been at other points… and I think this is the first time this year the IWGP Jr Heavyweight tag titles were successfully defended too! ****
Post-match, the Young Bucks challenged the Briscoes for the IWGP Heavyweight tag team titles – which kinda tips the hat that New Japan’s looking to kill off this set of titles. Well, when you’ve got a set of titles that have only been succesfully defended once all year, you can guess how shallow the tag team pool is right now.
Super J Cup 2016 – Final: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. KUSHIDA
Kanemaru’s out with Desperado and TAKA Michinoku (thank God, no Taichi), whilst KUSHIDA had Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Ryusuke Taguchi in his corner. This is actually a battle between New Japan and NOAH’s Junior Heavyweight champions… and yet again, the crowd were dead.
Kanemaru works a headlock early on, keeping KUSHIDA grounded. Kanemaru nearly snatches a win as he sits down on a roll-through attempt from KUSHIDA, and they trade a few near-falls back and forth. KUSHIDA kicks away at Kanemaru, but his handspring is caught and turned into a back suplex as KUSHIDA rolls to the floor… and into the path of an attempted beatdown from Desperado and Michinoku. Good job KUSHIDA brought back-up!
Kanemaru drops KUSHIDA with a DDT off the apron and to the floor, which led to a count-out tease as KUSHIDA slid back into the ring at the count of 17. Back inside, Kanemaru lands a hattrick of rolling DDTs just to kill that move off, as he got a two-count before going for a camel clutch on KUSHIDA.
KUSHIDA stays grounded with some headscissors from Kanemaru, but he manages to break via the ropes, then sends Kanemaru into the turnbuckles with a reverse STO. A handstand kick takes Kanemaru to the outside, and KUSHIDA follows with a somersault dive off the top turnbuckle.
KUSHIDA lands on his feet as he aborted a moonsault, before he catches Kanemaru in a cross armbreaker as he came off the top rope. A tiltawhirl slam from KUSHIDA gets countered twice, but he reverses it and turns a Kanemaru guillotine into a mounted Hoverboard lock, and then rolls back to trap him in the middle of the ring. Kanemaru undoes the hold and gets a small package for a near-fall, before a referee distraction allows him to mule kick KUSHIDA and fold him in half with a lariat.
Kanemaru misses a moonsault, then has to kick out at the last moment from a Tiger suplex, before a handspring elbow takes out Desperado then Kanemaru. KUSHIDA lands a corkscrew splash which would have won him the match, had Desperado not pulled the referee out. Fed up with this, Liger took Desperado and TAKA to the back, but that left everyone distracted as Taichi ran in to drop KUSHIDA with an Air Raid Crash.
A DDT off the top rope saw KUSHIDA kick out at two after referee Tiger Hattori returned to the ring. We got a twist on the slew of apron spots, as KUSHIDA took a slingshot brainbuster onto the apron, which just looked nasty, and KUSHIDA took another top rope DDT after rolling back into the ring.
KUSHIDA blocked a suplex, but took a big boot and a kick, before replying with a discus forearm. A PK to the arm of Kanemaru followed, before Kushida turned a tiltawhirl into a Hoverboard lock – via a springboard dropkick to Taichi. Taguchi ran around the ring to knock out Taichi with a hip attack, and that allowed KUSHIDA to roll through and force the submission.
I wasn’t enamoured by the continued run-ins – and yes, I know it’s part of the Suzuki-Gun stable in NOAH’s MO – but the run-ins and interference should have been used more sparingly throughout the show. A great match, but seemingly lost on this crowd by the end. ***¾
This was a weird show. Much like SummerSlam after it, this felt really, really long, and in spite of having several good matches, this just felt like a completely forgettable event.
You’d have thought that after seven years away, the Super J Cup would have felt special, but these finals were held in a building that was way too big, and in front of a crowd that seemingly had little appetite for it. Then again, if I had to sit through Taichi twice in as many hours, I’d have tuned out too…
On paper, when this was announced earlier in the year, this looked like a can’t miss event. Sadly, due to talent used and the booking of them, they found a way. Shame.