Welcome back to Sports Obsessive’s coverage of the 2020 New Japan Cup! Night 5 of the tournament marked the start of the Round of 16 and expectations were high after a stellar first round. Everyone has something to gain from the tournament this year, with double champion Tetsuya Naito awaiting the winner at Dominion. Let’s take a look at how things played out!
If you’ve missed any part of our coverage, feel free to check them out below:
Taiji Ishimori vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (9:18)
Ishimori had a lot to prove heading into this match. Not only would a win take him one step closer to the finals of the tournament, but it would also break the losing streak he had against Kanemaru – someone he has never beaten in singles competition.
This was a decent opening match, with some great back and forth action. Kanemaru did some brilliant work on Ishimori’s knee, which affected some of the Bone Soldier’s offence. Sure, it wasn’t the same quality of their matches from years ago, but it was still a strong contest. There were points where it seemed that both men could win and the emphasis on Ishimori never beating Kanemaru made it seem like that result was a definite. Kanemaru again looked great. He’s done a great job at re-establishing himself as a threat in his own right, instead of simply being a member of the violent Suzuki-Gun.
Ishimori got the win in the end after hitting the Tombstone Facebreaker. Kanemaru wasn’t damaged too much in the loss – he still leads the series and is more of a multi-man wrestler than a singles wrestler in the New Japan landscape.
WINNER: TAIJI ISHIMORI
Tomohiro Ishii vs Togi Makabe (13:28)
We all know how good Tomohiro Ishii is at this point, but I can understand why people may be taken aback by how well Makabe fought in this match. After being mainly in undercard tag matches for the last year and a bit, a newer viewer may not have seen Makabe in a higher-profile singles match. But The Unchained Gorilla proved that he could still hang with the best, having a straight-up hoss fight with one of New Japan’s toughest.
The two veterans absolutely clattered one another for the best part of 15 minutes. Makabe got bombarded with headbutts. Ishii no-sold lariats. Neither man went down easily. It was a no-nonsense, hard-hitting war of a match.
Ishii eventually got the win with the Brainbuster, moving on to the quarter-finals. Makabe still looked incredible in defeat, proving why he’s a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion. That’s what a result should achieve.
This was one of the best matches of the tournament so far, in my opinion.
WINNER: TOMOHIRI ISHII
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi and Ryusuke Taguchi vs Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi and DOUKI (13:55)
This followed the typical 6-man tag match model. There’s chaos to begin with, there’s a ton of brawling on the outside and the most insignificant member of either team gets pinned in the end. That’s basically what happened in this match.
Kota Ibushi kicked things off by charging at Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr while Taguchi and Tanahashi made their entrance. He faces the former next week in the second round. The teams had a chaotic match, which featured some brilliant exchanges between Taichi and Ibushi.
Things came to an end with a fun closing sequence between Taguchi and DOUKI. The Funky Weapon hit Dodon to get the win for the babyface team.
This was a fun match that did everything it needed to do. We got the preview for Taichi vs Ibushi, and we got a continuation of the Dangerous Tekkers/Golden Aces feud. Nothing flashy, but decent nonetheless.
WINNERS – GOLDEN ACES + TAGUCHI
Hiromu Takahashi vs Toru Yano (9:17)
I was expecting shenanigans in this match, but maybe not to the extent we got. When we know how good Hiromu and Yano can be in a normal wrestling match, this match could be considered to be a tad underwhelming. We had Hiromu come out with protective gear on his head, we had Yano come out with scissors. After the preview tag matches last week, it was pretty clear as to where things were going.
The main narrative to the match was Hiromu being scared of Yano because “The Sublime Master Thief” shaved his head as a Young Lion (New Japan’s trainee system). So it wasn’t just out of place nonsense.
We eventually got to a brilliant finish which saw Hiromu get his leg tied to Yota Tsuji by Yano. This almost caused a double count-out, as the Junior Heavyweight Champion couldn’t get back into the ring.
Yano was put into the lift by Hiromu and sent down to the car park, causing the count-out. This was tons of fun.
Takahashi advances to face Tomohiro Ishii next week. What a match that’ll be.
WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi
Yuji Nagata vs Kazuchika Okada (20:14)
I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that Kazuchika Okada is one of the biggest wrestlers to struggle in the empty arena era of wrestling. His style of wrestling needs a crowd to work properly.
Despite this, he and Yuji Nagata had a really great match. Sure, it was always going to end only one way, but Nagata had some moments where he looked like he had the win in his reach. He was prepared for Okada’s offence – he made his younger opponent miss his signature dropkick and made moves to take advantage. He managed to hit the backdrop suplex and came heart-wrenchingly close to advancing to the next round.
Of course, New Japan’s golden goose got the win in the end and rightly so. But the match didn’t end in the usual way. There was no rainmaker. Instead, we got a Cobra Clutch-esque move, which adds an extra tool to Okada’s repertoire He moves onto the next round and will face Taiji Ishimori.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA
All in all, this was a good show that was highlighted by Ishii/Makabe and Nagata/Okada. Sure, it wasn’t as good as other nights, but it did everything it needed to while providing strong in-ring action. I can’t wait to see the rest of the tournament, especially after some of the shock results in the first round.
Stay with Sports Obsessive for all your New Japan Cup needs!