New Japan Cup Update: June 17

Contentious lower left block takes place tonight at four move past the first round

Watch all the New Japan Cup action on NJPW World!

New Japan Cup night one results and match photos!

The New Japan Cup got underway on June 16 with its opening four first round matchups seeing four men advance to the round of 16 while their opponents were taken out of the running. 

First, it was Togi Makabe booking his place in the second round after taking out a game Yota Tsuji. Tsuji exploded out the gates with a Spear to his Dojo master, and even managed to hoist the veteran up for a suplex at the five minute mark, but the hseer power of Makabe showed as he powered out of a Boston Crab attempt.

While Tsuji was able to lock in the hold later, Makabe would show the Young Lion how it was done, sitting down hard on the young man’s lower back with his own version of the hold. Tsuji would do all he could, including an intricate roll-up for two, but the moment his furious elbows slowed down, Makabe had the opening to land a German suplex for the win.

Yano took his spot next against Jado competing in his first New Japan Cup. Shenanigans were always going to be de rigeur in this match, and Yano was quickly teasing Jado into appealing to an invisible crowd before luring him into a turnbuckle pad shot. BULLET CLUB had number son their side however, and Yujiro Takahashi and Gedo would soon get involved. Outside interference almost led to a Green Killer victory that Yano just barely escaped from, and the Sublime Master Thief seemed unable to get out of the box. 

One should never discount Yano’s wiles however; the CHAOS member was able to land a pair of low blows to Jado and Gedo, shoving the latter into Yujiro and rolling up Jado to advance. 

Hiromu Takahashi advanced to the second round by defeating Tomoaki Honma. In a war of ‘two broken necks’ as Hiromu put it the night before, the neck was always going to be the center of offense. Honma was bound and determined throughout to hit Kokeshis, and when he was unable to land the move, he and Hiromu exchanged German Suplexes instead. 

As the match wore on, Honma found himself tapping into the crazed competitor that captured hearts and minds of NJPW fans worldwide. Honma withstood a fierce Death Valley Driver on the apron from  Takahashi and finally hit Rocket Kokeshis and the standing version in the ring. The top rope version of the move, and Kokeshi Otoshi remained elusive for Honma however, and eventually the younger champion was too much, as a Death Valley Driver into the corner was followed by Time Bomb. 

Last of the eight on the 16th to advance was Tomohiro Ishii. Desperado brought the fight to Ishii in the early going, showing his force, with a brutal open hand, and his smarts as he baited him into a sustained assault on the left knee. Ishii would eventually find enough to explode out of an exposed corner and send Desperado flying before testing his surgically repaired jaw with blows in the corner. 

Desperado was persistent however, and after shoving the referee into Ishii’s path, was able to wrangle the Stone Pitbull into Numero Dos, though by this point his own knee was troubling the masked man. After having to release the hold, Desperado was flung violently with a suplex and powerslam, from Ishii but showed his grit and determination as he kept popping back in the former NEVER Champion’s face. 

Desperado had the wherewithal to again distract the referee and land a low blow against the flow of the match for two; a subsequent blow to the turnbuckle opened the door to Guitarra Del Angel for a nail biting near fall, but a Vertical Drop Brainbuster would finally be enough to put the Suzuki-Gun member away.

Tonight sees the lower left block of eight get involved.

Kazuchika Okada (4th entry, 2nd consecutive) vs Gedo (New Japan Cup debut)

Singles record: 1-0 Okada (watch on NJPW World!)

One year ago, Kazuchika Okada went the distance in the New Japan Cup to win, and face (and beat) then IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White in Madison Square Garden. When the New Japan Cup brackets were first revealed for March 2020, Okada and White were set to face off in the very first round. With Jay White unable to enter Japan for this summer running of the cup, it leaves a lot of pressure on manager Gedo to overcome the Rainmaker. 

A one sided matchup certainly seems to be the order of the day, but never discount Gedo’s uncanny tactical wiles, nor his innate evilness. The one and only time the two faced off in the past, Gedo almost pulled the wool over fans eyes by claiming he had been in an accident, before applying mace to Okada’s eyes. Once upon a time these two men were like father and son, but Gedo traded love for money when aligning himself with Jay White in the autumn of 2018. It would feel amazing for Okada to lay hands on his former mentor, but the Rainmaker needs to be wary of any number of traps. 

Yuji Nagata (13th entry, 2nd consecutive, 2007, 2011 winner) vs Minoru Suzuki (6th entry, 2nd consecutive)

Singles record: 5-5

 One of the great rivalries of the 2000s is revived in the first round of the cup as Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki face off. Four G1 Climaxes, three Wrestle Kingdoms and two New Japan Cups have seen Blue Justice go head to head with the King, always with violent results.  This is the first match in our New japan Cup lineup that has been carried forth from its original February announcement, as these two are destined to go head to head after all.

The two tore into one another in tag action at Together Project Special and during night one of the cup. Now, can Nagata climb the top of a mountain he last crested nine years ago, or will Suzuki vanquish bitter memories of last year’s early exit by smashing through the first round?

Yuya Uemura (New Japan Cup debut) vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (New Japan Cup debut)

During the last few matches on the NJPW schedule before its hiatus, one of the most surprising sights was Yuya Uemura’s intense, and arguably foolish, pursuit of Minoru Suzuki. Determined to make a mark on the Suzuki Gun boss, Uemura charged at Suzuki in Korakuen and landed some impressive shots before beating all the way around Korakuen Hall. 

A big motivator for Uemura in this one will likely be the potential for a matchup with his Dojo master Nagata or Suzuki himself further down the line. It’s a huge mountain to climb to gett hat far however, as he first has to face one of the all time junior heavyweight greats. 

Yoshinobu Kanemaru’s junior heavyweight resume is indisputable. Kanemaru will go down in history as one of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s greatest ever GHC Junior Heavyweight Champions, but singles glory has proved elusive for Kanemaru as he has focused on tag team success in recent years. Could Kanemaru attain ultimate glory by going all the way in the cup?

Gabriel Kidd (New Japan Cup debut) vs Taiji Ishimori (New Japan Cup debut)

First singles meeting

Circumstances create an immense opportunity for 23 year old Gabriel Kidd in the New Japan Cup. After years in the British independent scene having started as a mere teen, Kidd had been hand chosen by Katsuyori Shibata to join NJPW’s LA Dojo. Coming to Japan for international study during the New Beginning tour, Kidd’s stay in the country was lengthened dramatically by the global Coronavirus pandemic, and now he finds himself in the biggest match of his young career.

While Kidd is more than familiar with his opponent’s tag partner El Phantasmo, this is the first singles meeting for the Briton and Taiji Ishimori. There is no doubting that this is an immense mountain to climb for a young wrestler with a mere 13 matches to his name in NJPW, but Gabe Kidd will be looking to do all he can to make a mark.