New Japan CUPdate USA: Week 1 【NJoA】

Four advance to semi finals on episode 2 of NJPW STRONG

The first week of LEC Presents New Japan Cup 2020 in the USA saw NJPW STRONG get off to an appropriate start on Friday August 7. After four intense matchups, KENTA, Jeff Cobb, David Finlay and Tama Tonga have all advanced to the semi-finals, and will face off next week, August 14 on STRONG. 

KENTA started a new era in NJPW by being the victor of the first ever match on NJPW STRONG. His opponent Karl Fredericks had spoken about his excitement at the opportunity to ‘at the very least, punch KENTA in the mouth’, and he did that out of the gate, following up with an impressive cross body. When Fredericks’ confidence started getting the better of him though, KENTA ensured that there would be no upset. 

With vicious kicks and brutal open hand blows to the head, Fredericks was no match for KENTA in the standup, who also dealt damage with a Green Killer. Fredericks was able to switch his gameplan up from striking, worrying the BULLET CLUB member with a spinebuster and half crab, but Go2Sleep would seal the deal and put KENTA through. 

Jeff Cobb got his ticket to the semi-finals at Tanga Loa’s expense. Loa showed his power and aggression out of the gate on Cobb, but with the Olympian having the edge of ring time during Lion’s Break Collision, it was clear Cobb’s conditioning would make the difference. A suplex party hit Friday night on STRONG, and a Tour of the Islands put the GoD member away. 

The classical approach that David Finlay and Chase Owens bring to the ring was certainly evidenced by their first round matchup, albeit with different mentalities. Owens made use of every inch of the ring, whether within the remit of the rules or outside of it as he worked over Finlay with rope assisted chokes and, in the words of the referee ‘unsanitary’ fish hooking throughout the match. When the Crown Jewel appeared to have the match under control however, Finlay was able to fire back. A Package Piledriver attempt was reversed, and shortly after a Prima Nocta struck to send ‘Big Match Debbie’ into the semi finals. 

Completing the bracket is Tama Tonga, who survived a tough test against Brody King in NJPW STRONG’s first main event. King’s sheer power was tough for Tonga to overcome, with heavy blows, a vicious flapjack and a punishing Exploder suplex into the corner. ‘The Good Bad Guy’ showed his immense wherewithal however, staying in motion and able to avoid King’s match ending offense. Getting past a pump kick to land a neckbreaker brought enough time to help Tonga recover, and even as Brody came back with a massive German Suplex, Tonga was able to counter a Gonso Bomb attempt with a Tongan twist and then a Gunstun to advance.  

KENTA now faces Jeff Cobb on week two of STRONG, while David Finlay will take on Tama Tonga. Who advances to the finals of the first ever New japan Cup USA? Find out next week on NJPW World!