YUJI NAGATA, GABRIEL KIDD, HIROSHI TANAHASHI & KOTA IBUSHI vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Taichi, & Zack Sabre Jr.)- 5.75/10
Why even do this if you’re going to give us basically the same match at New Japan Cup Finals next week? It’s just a waste of time. Do this here and then do the actual title match at the big show! It’s not that hard! “What about Dominion?” Give another team a title shot! Preferably one you were giving some wins to on this tour, and that you can give a bigger win to at the New Japan Cup Finals.
Shockingly, the match doesn’t start with Suzuki-Gun jumping the bell on their opponents, but within a minute, there’s El Desperado grabbing the referee by the collar and yanking him around. If you touch a referee even by accident in Major League Baseball, you are automatically ejected from the game. In the NHL it’s an automatic suspension. In New Japan… you basically get rewarded for it because you are stopping him from seeing what you don’t want him to see, and you’re not penalized at all.
And now we’re on the outside and Suzuki-Gun are beating the babyfaces up as the referee just sands there and doesn’t count anyone out. Now they’re using weapons and the referee still doesn’t care. You know what? F*ck it. I’ve seen this match a million times before, New Japan’s booking structure ensures that the outcome doesn’t matter, and we’re getting basically the same match at the New Japan Cup Finals, so why am I wasting my time watching it?
I was that close to just not watching this match. It turns out it was a very enjoyable match, with Tanahashi playing babyface in peril and getting his leg worked over. Now please explain to me why we can’t do this match without spending the first few minutes having Suzuki-Gun do about eight things that should result in DQs but never do?
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Snore. Taichi and/or Zack attacked Tanahashi and/or Ibushi after the match. In this case it was Zack attacking Kota, but the point is that this is at least the fourth time this has happened this tour. If this was the go-home segment then I could excuse them doing it one more time, but it’s not, because they’re not doing the title match the New Japan Cup Final, so what was the point of this? Zack put a little hurting on the Kota but didn’t do anything major, so I’m sure he will be perfectly recovered in time for his next match, another pointless eight-man tag against pretty much this same team in five days, so what was accomplished here? This isn’t telling a story; it’s running in place.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, & BUSHI) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, HIrooki Goto, & Sho) - 6.5/10
Ishii was a decent babyface in peril. Sho got the win for his team, leading to the…
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Sho wants a title shot against Shingo. Shingo asks him which belt he wants a shot at, and Sho says he wants the NEVER Openweight Title. They had a tug of war over it. Shingo attacked Sho but Sho avoided his lariat and laid him out with a spear. Shingo totally had this coming. Don’t hold your belt out to someone if you don’t want him to grab at it.
MASTER WATO DEBUTS - Meh. It’s Hirai Kawato, back from his learning excursion in CMLL. He got jumped by DOUKI and got the sh*t beaten out of him. It’s not the best way to debut, but at least it leads toa first match with some modicum of heat behind it.
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SEMIFINAL MATCH:
Sanada vs. EVIL - 5.5/10
This was one of those matches where about 80% of what they did hit on some pet peeve or another of mine with New Japan. Less than three minutes in and we’re already going into the barricades and we’ve had EVIL try o hit his stablemate and tag team partner with a chair and shove the referee down when the referee tried to stop him.
Sanada tried to do a Dudley Dog or maybe some sort of Reverse Tornado DDT or something like that, but the important point is that he wound up falling right on the top of his head. It was terrifying, and gave me flashbacks to BJ Whitmer at Final Battle 2012.
Sanada would recover from this and lock in the Skull End. The referee picked up and dropped EVIL’s hand four times in a row, but this apparently wasn’t enough to call the match. Sanada, as I have documented many times, is the dumbest wrestler in history, and he proved that again but once again failing to learn from his past mistakes and giving up a perfectly effective submission hold to go for a moonsault, which his opponent reversed. Not even R-Truth does sh*t like that.
We got another ref bump, followed by a low blow from EVIL. He then got two chairs and did his dumbsh*t spot where he puts one chair around your neck, then hits the other chair with it so that it spins around your head, which wouldn’t hurt anywhere near as much nor take anywhere near as much time to set up as just hitting the opponent in the head with the first chair.
EVIL then stomped on Sanada’s nuts, got the referee, hit Everything Is EVIL and got the win. You might think that this is leading to LIJ turning on Sanada or EVIL turning on LIJ, but we’ve seen this thing happening many times before in tournaments with Bullet Club, Suzuki-Gun, and CHAOS, and it has never led to ANYTHING (other than the Bullet Club Civil War, which was, with hindsight, booked by people who are no longer in the company. Previous times that this has happened with Bullet Club haven’t led to sh*t).
NEW JAPAN CUP 2020 SEMIFINAL MATCH:
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiromu Takahashi - 8/10
This was an awesome match, but it was definitely hurt by the fact that I don’t think one single person anywhere in the world thought Hiromu had a chance of winning. The action was pretty good throughout, with Okada working the head and Hiromu just doing his high-risk Hiromu stuff. The only thing that really bugged me was how much time they spent on the outside without getting counted out.
Okada working over the head is a lot scarier when Hiromu is involved. He eventually got his new head/neck/targeting submission locked in… and then decided to take a page out of dumbf*ck Sanada’s book and gave up a perfectly good submission hold to go for something else. Unlike Sanada, Okada at least hit his move… and then went right back to the original submission hold and got Hiromu to pass out in it. That was kind of weird, but at least it worked and Okada didn’t wind up looking like an idiot.
This was a meh show from New Japan. The big matches were pretty darn disappointing given the expectations, and while the undercard was solid enough for what it was, it wasn’t anywhere near enough to make up for the top of the card failing to come through.