It hasn’t even been a more than a few weeks since the G1 and NJPW are traveling across the world for another tour – this time for the Junior Heavyweights. The Super J-Cup is a long-standing New Japan tradition starting in 1994 with winners such as the creator Jushin Thunder Liger, Kushida and Naomichi Marufuji.
This year, the tournament is being held across three days in America (Seattle, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles) featuring some of the best talent from across the world! Here’s a little preview of the tournament and a look at the first set of match up’s we can expect from the tournament.
Sho v Taiji Ishimori
After the battle these two had this year in the Best of Super Jr tournament, with Taiji Ishimori narrowly managing to beat Roppongi 3k’s Sho, a rematch couldn’t come sooner during the Super J-Cup! Both guys are on the stronger, more hard-hitting spectrum of the Jr division and perfectly combine strength, power, and agility making them perfect opponents. There’s also some form of retribution wanted from Sho after he and tag partner lost their IWGP Jr Heavyweight titles to Ishimori and ELP and you can bet that Sho wants any chance to get another shot at the titles they’ve held 3 times.
People might expect this match to be hard-hitting, full of chops and strikes. However, don’t underestimate these body guys. They are as agile and quick as they come moving across that ring as if they were bolts of lightning. It’s definitely going to be one of the standout matches of the entire tournament and people are getting treated to it on the first night. Who gets the advantage? Well, it all depends on who gets the upper hand first and makes their opponent fight their style.
Will Ospreay v Amazing Red
The NJPW IWGP Jr Heavyweight champion Will Ospreay has been on a roll this year after participating in the New Japan Cup, winning the BOSJ and the Jr Heavyweight title and then participating in the G1 Climax. When it seems like Ospreay can’t do more, he surprises everyone and steps up his game even more. However, even though I will hold my hands up and say I hadn’t heard of his opponent, Amazing Red is a 20-year veteran and has influenced so many wrestlers.
Red’s wrestled across the world and is still one of the best and most innovative wrestlers around. This tournament is going to be great for the champ to show what he can do, but it’s also his to lose as there are a lot of wrestlers gunning for a shot at that title. So, will the pressure get to Ospreay and can Red capitalize and get a win during the Super J-Cup?
Clark Connors v TJP
A tournament like this is nothing without a breath of fresh talent and also some newcomers who are veterans in this industry for the Super J-Cup. NJPW fans, myself included, have been nothing but impressed during the G1 at the performance of NJPW LA Dojo Young Lion Clark Connors. Although on the smaller side compared to his fellow classmates, he has adapted to the ring style perfectly by being able to execute the basic moves perfectly and even getting wins over the Japanese Young Lions. He will be out to show the world just how good he is.
It’s also great to see TJP back in a New Japan ring. For anybody who doesn’t know, Perkins actually trained at the NJPW LA Dojo in LA alongside the likes of Rocky Romero and Daniel Bryan and had a few matches in the company in the early 2000s and in the 2011 BOSJ. Also, recently, as a member of the 205 Live roster, it’s easy to see TJP as one of the top Jr’s in the world combining speed, style, and innovation in his arsenal that mixes high flying and submission skills. Clark is going to have a tough time against a veteran of the game, but it will only make him better. However, it’s hard to imagine Connors being able to beat TJP.
Robbie Eagles v El Phantasmo
Former faction members turned enemies, this matchup is another of the most eagerly anticipated and the one with the most on the line. Robbie Eagles joined Bullet Club last October as Taiji Ishimori’s tag team partner for the Jr Tag League and made a huge impact on New Japan fans. Fast forward to May 2019 and the beloved El Phantasmo made his debut surprisingly joining the Bullet Club and having a change of attitude ready for the Best of Super Jr tournament that month. However, as both men put on amazing matches, tensions started to arise with ELP interfering in Eagles matches and even taking over as Ishimori’s partner to win the IWGP belts.
It all culminated in the NJPW Australia show where it all became too much for Eagles who turned on his BC brothers realizing that he would never be able to get the credit he deserved with an ego like ELP in the faction. Now, Eagles is out to show how good he actually is and why he’s one of the pioneers of the Australian wrestling scene whereas ELP is out to do what he does – show off and kick some ass. This is one of the levelest playing fields with both so talented in their style and it’s going to be submission v high flying in this match! It’s one not to miss!
Ryusuke Taguchi v Jonathan Gresham
This match includes two of my favorite wrestlers and yet, even though on the surface they seem so different, there are similarities between the two during the Super J-Cup. Head coach of NJPW Ryusuke Taguchi is a Jr veteran as current NEVER Openweight 6 man champ and former IWGP Jr Heavyweight and tag team champion. On the surface, Taguchi seems like that embarrassing dad that really just doesn’t get anything done and just wants to make a fool of himself. You’d be wrong. Once Taguchi steps into ‘Big Match Taguchi’ mode, there is no stopping the funky weapon who’s had some amazing and memorable matches in the past with the likes of Prince Devitt, Taiji Ishimori and so many more.
Even in his 40s, the coach continues to put on an amazing show for crowds. Jonathan Gresham really made an impact on New Japan fans in this year’s BOSJ tournament capturing the hearts of the crowds. With an amazing mix of high flying and a specialty in old school submission, catch for catch wrestling, he has to be one of the best in the world. His bouts against Zack Sabre Jr have to be some of my favorites. One thing you can’t deny about both of them is that they both like having a bit of fun in the ring. Whether it’s Taguchi’s hip attacks, dancing or entrance, and Gresham’s playful personality – it has crowds eating out of the palm of their hands and they’ll make magic together.
Yoh v Dragon Lee
Two of the best and probably most handsome athletes to fight in an NJPW ring, this is going to be a first-time match-up between Roppongi 3k’s Silver Standard Yoh and former IWGP Jr Champ, CMLL’s, Dragon Lee. Both men are insanely athletic and use their speed and agility to throw off their opponents to gain the upper hand. However, both men are very different in the way they use their offense. Dragon Lee utilizes this dangerous and fearless Lucha Libre style in a very traditional way, throwing caution to the win. He really has become a NJPW favorite and he is magnificent to watch in the ring.
Yoh, on the other hand, has recently changed up his style and it resembles more of the style used by the Ace of NJPW Hiroshi Tanahashi with Dragonscrews and Dragon suplexes. He has this charisma when he’s in the ring to make people fall in love with him. Both men have a heart of gold (or silver) and have some amazing single matchups in their careers and it’s going to be great to see them wrestle each other. It’s one of those matches that you probably won’t realize how much you needed until you’ve seen it.
Rocky Romero v Soberano Jr
This match might also be one where people might not be familiar with one of the competitors. Of course, Rocky Romero is a well-loved veteran of the trade and one of the most charismatic men in New Japan whether in the ring or more recently on commentary. However, after the success Rocky had in the BOSJ tournament, Romero is back in the ring and ready to show the world what he’s ready for. With his amazing high-flying ability (including one of the most beautiful hurricanrana’s I’ve ever seen) with the sneaky style made famous by the man himself.
Then we’ve got CMLL’s Soberano Jr who is an amazing highflier and a crowd favorite whenever the company comes to Japan. Just like his father Soberano, Jr is a wrestler full of heart and talent and has every quality we want in a wrestler. Although very new to the game compared to his competitors, you can’t count out this luchador. However, Rocky is a tough opponent!
Caristico v Bushi
The battle of the masked men, this will definitely be an interesting match up and one that maybe fans won’t really be looking forward too during the Super J-Cup. LIJ’s Bushi has always been so underrated in the Jr division in NJPW whether by other wrestlers or his own faction members, however, he’s a force to be reckoned with. A mix of amazing wrestling and sneaky style, he is the perfect wrestler being able to put on great shows with his wrestling skills but also knowing when to pull out that mist to get the advantage over his opponent.
Then, we’ve got Caristico and crowds might not be that aware of the CMLL wrestler unless you’ve seen a few of his matches in the Fantastica Mania tour in January. After this tournament, people will definitely know who Caristico is and how amazing he is with this traditional Lucha high flying skills that leave crowd’s in shock whenever he’s in the ring. Although NJPW fans might see Bushi winning, Caristico has over 20 years in the business so might have the edge over Bushi with only over a decade of experience.
It’s crazy to think how amazing this line up is and it’s going to be a perfect showcase of some of the best Jr’s in the world. No matter who wins each match, it’s going to make for some amazing showcases in the next rounds and will amaze the world.
The Super J-Cup show runs between the 22nd and 25th of August. However, it won’t be aired on NJPWWorld until September, but you can still keep up with the results on NJPW1972 and will be worth waiting for.