New Japan’s Super J Cup returned this year for the first time since 2016. As the name implies, it is a tournament of Junior Heavyweight wrestlers from around the world. For whatever reason, the tournament did not come to New Japan World until this past week.
Soberano Jr. p. Rocky Romero with a Tornillo – This was my first time seeing Soberano. I don’t know if there is truly a Soberano Sr., but what I saw was good. Romero played to the crowd early on, but made it clear that he was the heel by cheap-shotting Soberano after a handshake. Soberano dodged a Sliced Bread and hit a Tornillo (Corkscrew Moonsault) to get the surprise pin.
TJP s. Clark Connors with an STF – TJP was booed heavily, likely because of his WWE history. Connors, a hometown talent, definitely had the crowd support. Connors got the shine early on until he missed a dropkick. TJP controlled the next few minutes, hitting a superplex and brainbuster combo for a two-count. Connors hit a spear and followed up with a Boston Crab. TJP reversed into an STF and got the submission.
After the match, TJP offered an LA Dojo shirt to Connors, who accepted. The two shook hands in a show of respect.
Calistico p. BUSHI with a Spanish Fly – After hearing Calistico’s obviously piped in music, I realized that was probably why there was the delay in getting this show up. BUSHI attacked before the bell and dominated the opening minutes. Calistico made a comeback and hit an awkward looking dive to the floor. Bushi escaped a spinning takedown, and the two traded chops in the middle of the ring. Bushi hit a DDT on the apron followed by a neckbreaker for a near fall. Calistico blocked an MX with a superkick and hit a Spanish Fly for the pin.
Ryusuke Taguchi p. Jonathan Gresham with a roll-up – Both men were babyfaces, but that didn’t stop Taguchi from faking out Gresham by feigning exhaustion after running the ropes. Gresham gained control and grounded Taguchi with holds. Taguchi made his comeback and used a Rolling Leg Split that only succeeded in dizzying both men. After they regained composure, both men exchanged roll-ups, which Taguchi won with a reversal.
Both men shook hands after the match to the cheers of the crowd.
El Phantasmo p. Robbie Eagles with a Low Blow – Eagles was of course a short-lived Bullet Club member who defected to CHAOS during the recent Australia tour. Eagles got the shine in the opening minutes, knocking Phantasmo from pillar to post. The two exchanged dueling strikes, which eventually led to Eagles no-selling Phantasmo’s chops. The two battled atop the turnbuckles where Phantasmo used a top rope hurricanrana followed by a moonsault, but Eagles kicked out. Eagles made his comeback, but fell to a low blow behind the referee. Phantasmo then rolled Eagles up to steal the win.
Dragon Lee p. Yoh with Desnucadora – Again, both men played babyface. The match began slow with takedowns and holds, but soon shifted gears with Yoh hitting a somersault dive to the floor. Once he gained control, Yoh slowed down and worked over Lee’s leg. At the ten-minute mark, Lee briefly tried a comeback only for Yoh to reverse a PK into a half crab. The two erupted into an exciting exchange of suplexes and superkicks. Then the two battled on the top turnbuckle where Lee hit a double-stomp. Yoh tried for a Calf Crusher, but Lee made the rope break. By this time, Yoh was clearly showing frustration. Lee made a comeback in the last few minutes and got the pin with Desnucadora.
Lee helped Yoh to his feet and the two showed their respect after a great match.
Sho p. Taiji Ishimori with a Shock Arrow – The match went back and forth, with neither man getting any sustained momentum. The moves just got bigger and higher risk. Ishimori blocked a Shock Arrow and put Sho in the Yeslock. Sho made the rope break. At the fifteen-minute mark, Ishimori went for the Bloody Cross. Sho escaped and hit a double knee to the back. Sho went for the win with the Shock Arrow and hit it, getting a little bit of revenge for his loss at Best Of Super Juniors.
Will Ospreay p. Amazing Red with Stormbreaker – This was a dream match for Ospreay and was presented as such. The crowd cheered both men early on, but then Ospreay decked Red with a forearm to take the heel role. Red ran wild a bit until the fight spilled to the floor and into the crowd. Once the match got back in the ring, Ospreay was in control. Red had some flurries of offense, but for the most part Ospreay had the upper hand. Red hit an amazing top rope dive to the floor. He tried to follow up with one in the ring, but Ospreay caught him midair and reversed into a suplex. The two battled on the ring apron for the obligatory big match apron bump. This turned out to be an Oscutter on the apron. Red made it back in the ring at 19 and got immediately hit with a dropkick for a near fall. Ospreay hit a Shooting Star and another Oscutter, but still couldn’t get the pin. Red managed to reverse a Stormbreaker into Code Red for another near fall. Even an Infrared coudn’t get the pin, as Ospreay got his feet on the ropes. Ospreay countered a clothesline with a powerslam, and then did an Oscutter/Stormbreaker combo to finally score the pin.
After the match Ospreay cut a promo about a 14 year-old’s dream coming true. He put over Red and the Junior Heavyweights. He said Red can still do this even though he’s been away for years.
Caristico p. Soberano Jr. with a Spanish Fly – Both men are CMLL Luchadores, so they likely were very familiar with each other. The two went back and forth with Caristico hit a flip dive to the floor. Lots of high flying and reversals. In the end, Soberano tried for the Tornillo. However Caristico met him at the top and reversed into a Spanish Fly to get the pin.
El Phantasmo p. TJP after a Low Blow – The two tried several moves off the bat, countering and reversing to a standstill. Eventually Phantasmo got the upper hand with a cheap shot and controlled the match for the next several minutes. TJP responded to chops by flipping the bird. Phantasmo got a near fall with a top rope splash. ELP hit a top rope hurricanrana and a swanton, but missed a moonsault. TJP capitalized by clamping on a leg grapevine. Phantasmo managed to shove the referee into TJP to break the hold, then hit a low blow to steal the pin.
Dragon Lee p. Ryusuke Taguchi with a running knee – Taguchi did his usual runing the ropes wear down spot, but Dragon Lee didn’t fall for it and dropkicked him to the floor. Lee followed up with a dive and got control of the match. After Lee mocked Taguchi with Hip Attacks, Taguchi made his comeback and hit Hip Attacks of his own. The two traded dueling strikes that escalated into Hip Attacks and Suplexes. Taguchi got the Ankle Lock in place, but missed a Dodon attempt. Lee countered and hit a Dragon Knee. After hitting a Powerbomb for another near fall, Lee followed up with a running knee to get the pin.
Will Ospreay p. Sho with Stormbreaker – Neither got the upper hand in takedowns or agility, so they resorted to tests of strength and armbars. The match spilled to the floor. By the time the match got in the ring, Ospreay was in control of the match. Sho dodged an Oscutter for a double down. The two exchanged dueling strikes in the ring t the 20-minute mark. Sho countered with a German Suplex for a two-count. Ospreay escaped a Powerbreaker and hit a moonsault for his own near-fall. Sho began firing up and fought back with Kawada-like kicks. Ospreay hit a powerbomb, but Sho kicked out. Sho also kicked out of an Oscutter. Ospreay positioned Sho on the top rope and hit an Electric Chair-liked move for another near-fall. Finally, Sho erupted with a lariat that decked Ospreay. Ospreay got caught up in the ropes which allowed Sho to land several strikes. The two zipped back and forth, with Sho hitting another lariat. A Powerbreaker by Sho got a two-count. Sho motioned for the Shock Arrow. Ospreay escaped and hit a lariat of his own at the 30-minute park for a near fall. Before Sho could rebound, Ospreay used the Stormbreaker to finally get the three-count.
Dragon Lee p. Caristico with a Desnucadora – Another battle of luchadores who know each other well, so it began with a lot of action right out of the gate. After a few aerial moves, the two traded strikes in the middle of the ring. Lee kicked out of a Canadian Destroyer and hit a Penatly Kick. Lee then finished off Caristico with a Desnucadora.
El Phantasmo p. Will Ospreay with a CR2 – Phantasmo jumped Ospreay before the bell and pummeled him on the floor. Phantasmo gloated as Ospreay slowly made his way into the ring. The referee called for the bell to start, and Phantasmo immediately charged. Ospreay sprang to life and hit a powerslam for a quick two-count. Ospreay got the shine as he knocked the heel all around the outside of the ring. Phantasmo managed to cut Ospreay off by shoving him to the floor from the top rope. He then hit a top rope moonsault to the outside onto Ospreay. When the match got back in the ring, Ospreay hit a flipping kick for a double down and started his comeback. Phantasmo hit a Canadian Destroyer. Somehow, Ospreay managed to stay standing. Phantasmo lifted Ospreay on his shoulders, but before he could hit a move Ospreay countered into a Stunner. Ospreay tried for a Hidden Blade, which Phantasmo escaped by getting the referee in the way. While the referee was down, Ospreay hit an Oscutter. Taiji Ishimori ran in and hit Ospreay with a Bloddy Cross. Phantasmo followed up with a CR2 while Ishimori revived the referee to count the pin.
El Phantasmo Dragon Lee -, Jay White, Gedo, and Ishimori came to ringside. However, Red Shoes ejected them from ringside. That actually worked into Phantasmo’s benefit as he hit an Airplane Spin during the commotion. Lee still kicked out. Phantasmo dominated Lee for the next few minutes before Lee knocked Phantasmo to the floor. Now it was Lee’s turn to take the match to the floor. ELP reversed a whip to the post and sent Lee crashing into it. Back in the ring, Phantasmo continued to stalk Lee and repeatedly tried to unmask him. Lee made his comeback and hit a dive to the floor. ELP tossed Ospreay over the barricade in onto the announcer’s table. He then climbed to the top and hit an amazing double footstomp over the railing. Lee still managed to get in the ring at the last second. Immediately Phantasmo hit a top rope splash. Lee kicked out of that and a Styles Clash. Lee came to life and hit a Canadian Destroyer (I’ve lost count of how many there has been in this tournament. Phantasmo hit one of his own Destroyer off the second rope, resulting in a double down. You read that correctly, both men hit Canadian Destroyers and neither even made a cover afterward. The two slowly got to their feet while trading strikes at the 20-minute mark. Phantasmo pinched Lee’s nipples, (I can’t believe I just wrote that). Lee spat at Phantasmo, who ducked it so Lee wound up spitting on Red Shoes. While Red Shoes rubbed his eyes, Phantasmo it a low blow. Unlike the previous matches, this did not get the pin. Lee hit a footstomp off the top and collapsed on the floor. Both men recovered and made it back in the ring at the count of 19. Lee hit another footstomp for a two-count. Lee put Phantasmo in the Tree Of Woe. Lee looked to be going for another footsomp but Phantasmo escaped by trying to unmask him again. Red Shoes tried to intervene and got shoved down for his efforts. Phantasmo then hit an inverted Death Valley Driver. Lee managed to kick out, so Phantasmo finished him off with a CR2..
After the match, Jyushin Thunder Liger got in the ring to present Phantasmo with a trophy and the gold jacket prize. Phantasmo kicked the trophy out of the ring and demanded Liger still put the jacket on him. Liger dropped the jacketand left the ring. Phantasmo cut a promo bragging about his victory and hurled insults at Liger. He challenged Liger to get back in the ring and face him. Liger teased getting in the ring before flipping him off. As Liger made his way to the back, Phantasmo continued to berate the audience and called out Ospreay. Ishimori jumped Ospreay from behind on the floor. The heels rolled Ospreay into the ring and hit him with the trophy. Robbie Eagles ran in to make the save, and the two babyfaces fought back, sending the heels to the floor. Ospreay took the mic and accepted the challenge for a Junior Heavyweight title match and countered with his own challenge for the IWGP Juior Tag Titles.