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New Japan: Super J Cup- December 13, 2020
From Ocean View Pavillion in Port Huemene, California. This is an empty studio setting with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov calling the action.
Clark Connors vs. Chris Bey
Connors goes right for the leg, sending Bey into the ropes. Connors scores a takedown and slaps the back of the head, Bey reverses into a wristlock and flips into a hammerlock. Connors dissects the chest with chops but Bey answers with an enziguri and dropkick. Double stomp to the back by Bey looks devastating. Bey becomes increasingly aggressive and hits a running uppercut and neckbreaker for 2. Connors counters with a POUNCE that launches Bey across the ring. Connors misses a spear but reverses Bey's springboard attempt into a release German. Bey counters into a sitout powerbomb for 2. Bey blocks the Boston Crab and finishes with his springboard cutter at 9:36. This was a solid opener that sets a nice tone for what's to come and hit all the notes it needed to, ***.
Winner: Chris Bey
TJP vs. ACH
They tentatively lock up, but quickly transition to a frenzied pace. TJP dropkicks ACH to the floor and hauls him back to the ring to hit a suplex for only 1. TJP eagerly looks for an octopus, but ACH blocks and nails a rana for 2. Gutbuster by ACH, but TJP slides through the legs and sts up onto ACH's shoulders for a head scissors takedown. Puma Lock by TJP, followed by a hammerlock back breaker. TJP is really showing off his moveset tonight. ACH sells a back injury but gets back into the fight. Springboard DDT by TJP gets 2. TJP misses a double stomp and ACH nails a German suplex for a close 2. They trade slugs and pinning predicaments, but TJP muscles out a dead lift suplex. They nearly botch a superplex, but ACH saves face with an avalanche gutbuster for 2. 450 Splash by ACH ends it at 9:52! Good match that establishes ACH's fighting spirit as well as a back injury that should come into play in the next round, ***.
Blake Christian vs. Rey Horus
Kelly does a good job setting the scene by discussing Blake's recent elbow injury and that Horus has not been active throughout the pandemic. They trade wristlocks until Horus spins around into a hammerlock. Blake arm drags out but Horus kicks the ropes for a sunset flip. They trade arm drags and reach a stalemate. Blake gains an advantage with a blatant trip and maneuvers into a standing moonsault for 2. Blake follows with a soaring plancha, and the lack of a live crowd going nuts kind of stings. Springboard arm drag by Horus sets up a leg lariat off the apron. Horus dives into a somersault senton to wipe Christian out. Horus' running kick to the face gets 2. Christian reverses a Brainbuster and rolls into a splash. Standing SSP by Christian only gets 2. Christian seems to have broken his own nose and is bleeding. Blake gets desperate but face plants into the buckles, allowing Horus to hit an overhead release buckle bomb. Horus applies a grapevine ankle lock. Blake escapes, but Horus surprises him with a leaping sunset flip bomb off the buckles. Blake surprises with a Spanish Fly, lands on his own head, and only gets a 2 count. Frog Splash by Christian finishes it at 11:50! Really good, hard hitting match, though Christian consistently seemed to do more damage to himself than his opponent, ***½.
Winner: Blake Christian
Lio Rush vs. El Phantasmo
Phantasmo is the defending J Cup Champion from 2019. Phantasmo keeps (intentionally) slipping off his feet to sell his ring rust, which delights Rush, who dropkicks the face. Rush follows with a springboard hurricanrana, but Phantasmo walks away from a dive setup. Phantasmo stalls for time and then challenges “little midget” Rush to a test of strength, but then cheap shots and repeatedly knees the hand. Phantasmo intentionally botches more high spots, but then catches Rush with a Styles Clash onto the floor. Rush avoids a countout but then suffers a brutal hard Irish whip. Phantasmo sets up a tree of woe, teases a running dropkick, but then stands on Rush' groin instead. Phantasmo takes control and manages to tightrope walk without slipping, but Rush counters into a poison rana anyway. Tope suicida by Rush, followed by an Asai moonsault! Rush blocks a low blow and kicks the chest and maintains his momentum with a Falcon Arrow. Phantasmo answers with an UFO. They slug it out. Phantasmo seems to turn his ankle hitting a kick, and Rush gets an inside cradle. Springboard stunner by Rush gets a great 2 count. Rush sells a hand injury and removes his tape, but Phantasmo blocks a Frog Splash and kicks him into the referee. Phantasmo punches the eyes and wins with a handful of tights at 15:16! BOO THIS MAN! In all seriousness, this was a terrific piece of business, and the first match tonight that embraced the empty studio setting and did things you can't do with a live crowd, like the intentional botching and theatrical trash talk, ***¾.
Winner: El Phantasmo
J.R. Kratos and Danny Limelight vs. Fred Rosser and Rocky Romero
Kratos is a big, bald, bruiser type. Rosser was previously Darren Young in WWE, but seems to have reinvented himself on the international scene. Kratos is gung ho to start and smashes Rosser into the corner. Rosser fights back with clotheslines and head butts. Limelight and Romero make tags and tear into each other with kicks. Limelights snaps the neck on the ropes and Kratos ambushes Romero with a lariat from the apron. This sets Romero up as the face in peril for a heat sequence. Rosser is forced to interfere and break up Limelight's rear naked choke. Romero spins Limelight with a desperation lariat, and Rosser charges in on a hot tag. Rosser back drops Kratos onto the ring frame! Split leg drop on Kratos gets 2 for Rosser. Limelights gets something resembling a hot tag but runs into Rosser's tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Romero tags in to continue beating up Limelight, and drapes him for a missile dropkick. Limelight answers with a Fisherman suplex for 2. Rosser knocks Kratos down, but Limelight enziguris him to the floor. Kratos saves Limelight from Sliced Bread and murders Romero with a wheelbarrow German suplex. Limelight gets the easy pinfall at 12:49. Despite not knowing the full backstory, this tag match did well to showcase the grudge between Romero and Limelight, and played to the participants' strengths, **¾.
Winners: J.R. Kratos and Danny Limelight
Chris Bey vs. ACH
They go straight into an athletic back and forth sequence until Bey scores a double stomp to the back. Bey mistimes a spin heel kick, but got enough of it to go on the offensive. ACH hits a big boot off the apron and follows with a quick dive. Bey comes right back with Code Red. Bey blocks a Tiger Driver, ACH is too slow setting up an avalanche DVD, so Bey reverses into a super rana. Bey springboards into a German suplex from ACH. Brainbuster by ACH gets 2. ACH follows with a 450 Splash to advance at 8:26. ACH picks up a decisive victory, but his back appears to be in excruciating pain, **½.
Blake Christian vs. El Phantasmo
I failed to mention earlier, but Phantasmo's music is being completely muted during his entrance. Kelly explained that Phantasmo recorded his own music, but won't let New Japan have the rights to it unless they're willing to pay him a high licensing fee. If I wasn't smitten with Phantasmo enough. Christian explodes at the bell with a shotgun dropkick and stomps Phantasmo into the corner. Phantasmo grabs a handful of Christian's broken nose! Christian hits a leg sweep to set up a makeshift 619, and follows with a moonsault to ringside. Blake hits a back handspring dive but his springboard 450 is off, so he goes for a leg submission instead. Phantasmo saves himself by shamelessly targeting the nose and face. Christian mounts a desperate comeback, hitting a rough Michinoku Driver for 2. DVD by Blake and standing SSP (landing on his own face) for a close 2. Phantasmo dodges a top rope attack and superkicks the face to win at 7:28. I'm convinced that Blake is a danger to himself and that Phantasmo is the best straight up heel in the biz, ***.
Winner: El Phantasmo
Bullet Club (KENTA and Hikuleo) vs. Kevin Knight and Ren Narita
Narita eagerly slugs it out against KENTA, but gets knocked down with a slap. KENTA kicks Narita into the BC corner. Hikuleo throws a sickening chop to the chest. Narita unloads with punches. Knight tags in and goes for a headlock while KENTA and Narita brawl on the floor. Hikuleo takes over Knight with a hard Irish whip. Bullet Club destroy poor Knight to get their heat. Eventually, Hikuleo misses a leg drop, allowing a hot tag to Narita. Hikuleo has an answer for everything Narita's got and forces a tag to KENTA, but Narita surprises with a string of offense, including a suplex for 2. KENTA throws a back hand slap, but Knight ambushes him with a shoulder tackle and big dropkick. Knight springs into a low shoulder block, but KENTA blocks the Boston Crab. Knight holds his own trading forearms with KENTA, but gets caught in a Crab. Narita helps with a flurry of punches to KENTA's face, but Hikuleo hits a chokeslam. KENTA reapplies the Crab to submit Knight at 10:04. Fun exhibition that gave Bullet Club a chance to look mean, **¼.
Winners: Bullet Club
Nice video package showcasing previous J Cup Champions. A pretty sweet golden jacket and trophy are up for grabs.
Super J Cup Finals:
ACH vs. El Phantasmo
Phantasmo ambushes ACH during his entrance! He considers a powerbomb through a table, but instead smashes the J Cup trophy over ACH's bandaged back! Phantasmo looks for a forfeit victory but ACH insists on performing. ACH muscles into a hurricanrana and dropkick. Phantasmo blocks a Penalty Kick and wrenches ACH back-first onto the apron. ACH avoids a countout, but Phantasmo chokes him with his bandages. Phantasmo sets up a tree of woe and showboats on his way to hitting a running dropkick. He teases a second dropkick but stands on ACH's groin instead. Phantasmo suplexes ACH onto the ramp, causing the floor lights to go bonkers. Phantasmo turns his attention to ACH's hand and tries to break his fingers. Phantasmo struts through a tightrope walk, but ACH counters and connects with a nasty Penalty Kick. Leaping cutter by ACH only gets 2. Phantasmo answers with a top rope enziguri and then a super rana! Frog splash by Phantasmo but ACH KICKS OUT! Styles Clash by Phantasmo gets another nearfall. ACH blocks One Winged Angel and hits a desperation Brainbuster for a great nearfall. ACH limps to the top rope and gets tripped up, but counters into a super gutbuster! Phantasmo blocks the 450 Splash and kicks ACH into the referee, allowing a LOW BLOW, but ACH KICKS OUT! Superkick by Phantasmo the CR2 finishes at 16:11. Great main event and fitting conclusion to the one night tourney. Phantasmo looks like a huge scumbag for taking liberties and shortcuts against the wounded yet fearless ACH, ****.
Winner and 2020 Super J Cup Champion: El Phantasmo
Phantasmo is awarded the broken trophy and golden jacket. He finishes smashing the trophy and slaps away the presenter to put the jacket on himself. Phantasmo hates the jacket too and throws it to the mat and spits on it. He punches his ticket for a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title at Wrestle Kingdom.
Final Thoughts: This was a really well done one night tourney with a loaded roster of some of the best and brightest rising indie and international stars. El Phantasmo is my new favorite wrestler, in case I wasn't clear earlier. Go check this out on New Japan World or on Fite.tv.
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