After a long three months, New Japan Pro Wrestling has returned with their first tournament of the year, The New Japan Cup. Much like WWE and AEW, these events will be run in an empty building with no fans in attendance. On top of that, like last year, this will be a 32-man field. If there is any downside, it’s that many of New Japan’s international talent will not be able to compete due to the ongoing pandemic.
Togi Makabe p. Yota Tsuji with a German Suplex – It was obvious to anybody that Makabe would win this match since Tsuji is still classified as a Young Lion. However, Tsuji is building the look and rep of a brawler much in Makabe’s style. This resulted in a fun match with Tsuji even reversing a suplex and hitting a spear for a near-fall. After escaping Tusji’s Boston Crab (the standard finisher of a Young Lion) Makabe used his own Crab before pinning him with a German Suplex.
Toru Yano p. Jado with a roll-up – Yano naturally did his trademark comedy, including trying to start a chant for himself in the empty arena. I don’t know much Japanese at all, but it looked like when Jado tried to start his own chant, Yano berated him for stupidly trying a dueling chant with nobody around. Jaso armed himself with his shinai, while Yano grabbed a turnbuckle pad. The two had a standoff before the referee convinced them to put down their weapons. Yano still managed to cheap shot Jado with the turnbuckle pad. While the referee tended to Jado, Yujiro Takahashi attacked from behind and whipped Tano into the guardrail. Jado then took control of the match when Yano made it back into the ring. Yano tried to make a comeback after escaping an Elevated DDT but was met with a turnbuckle shot by Jado. Gedo and Takahashi hit the ring to interfere. Yano managed to dodge them both, causing them to collide like The Three Stooges. Yano then rolled up Jado from behind to get the pin.
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, & Zack Sabre Jr.) b IWGP Tag Team Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata, & Yuya Uemera when Suzuki pinned Uemera with a Gotch Piledriver – Of course, the heels attacked before the bell. They got the heat on Tanahashi and focused on his knees. During the heat, Sabre and Taichi held the tag titles in a motion that they wanted a title shot. Ibushi got the hot tag and rallied for a bit before he too was cut off. Nagata and Suzuki got the double tag and went at it toe to toe. This lead to the babyfaces making their comeback and an exciting exchange of big moves. In the end, Kanemaru smacked Uemera from behind with his whiskey bottle, which allowed Suzuki to use the Rear Naked Choke. A Gotch Piledriver later, and it was all over.
After the match, ZSJ and Taichi taunted the tag champions while Suzuki and Nagata continued to brawl.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion p. Tomoaki Honma with a Time Bomb – Takahashi clearly was the heel out of the gate and controlled the first several minutes. Both men missed Kokeshi attempts. Takahashi tried the sunset flip to the floor but Honma escaped. Honma then climbed the ropes, apparently going for a top rope Kokeshi. Takahashi met him at the top and hit a Death Valley Driver on the apron for a near countout. Honma made it to the ring at 19, only to have Takahashi continue his assault. Honma made a comeback and finally hit a Kokeshi for a two-count. Takahashi dodged a top-rope Kokeshi and hit the Time Bomb to finally score the pin.
Tomohiro Ishii p. El Desperado with a Brainbuster – If anything, this is an interesting match because El Desperado has always been billed as a Junior Heavyweight, while Ishii competes in the Heavyweight and Openweight divisions. This is despite Desperado clearly being several inches taller. Anyway, Desperado grounded Ishii and used the ring post as a weapon against his legs. Desperado got the heat for a few minutes until Ishii made his comeback. He blocked a Stretch Muffler attempt and put Desperado in a Leg Grapevine. Now it was Ishii’s turn to work over Desperado’s leg. The two traded submissions and reversals before erupting into a series of strikes and counters. Then Desperado made the mistake of challenging Ishii to a battle of strikes. Ishii one this and scored a near fall after making a comeback. Desperado dodged a Brainbuster and hit a low blow outside of the reach of Red Shoes. Desperado got a near fall after slamming Ishii’s head into an exposed turnbuckle. Desperado went for the kill with a Pinche Loco but Ishii escaped. The two traded more near-falls with lariats, but in the end, Ishii finally hit a Brainbuster for the pinfall victory.
Day 2 picks up tomorrow!