I’m plunging ahead with these J-Cup reviews in the hope that someone still cares about this rather lost tournament. The Quarter Final took place in San Francisco and was filmed with a single static camera which is great for a show that features a shitload of dives… Oh well, shouldn’t complain.
Caristico defeated Soberano Jr in the Super J-Cup Quarter Final
Unsurprisingly, these two luchadors know each other rather well and started with some lovely lucha action. They were smooth as silk as they flew around the ring before eventually taking it in turns to dive to the outside. Thanks to the camera set-up, that gave us plenty of time to appreciate the ref as we didn’t have a clue what was going down on the floor. Thank God I don’t have to watch a Suzuki-gun match.
As the match went on, Caristico and Soberano got more physical, moving away from seamless high flying to strikes. It also slowed the action down as this settled into being just a match. Not bad, not good, but a solid display of wrestling that you’ll enjoy without ever getting too excited.
It was at its best when they were flying through the air, so it was fitting that Caristico got the win with a Spanish Fly. They only had eight minutes, so it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect your mind to be blown (unless you’ve never seen lucha before. If that’s the case, you’re in for a treat).
Verdict: Three Stars
El Phantasmo defeated TJP in the Super J-Cup Quarter Final
God, here’s a couple of guys who I would like to punch in the face (I would not do that, they could definitely beat me up).
Unsurprisingly, this match did not change my opinion. These two were leaning into their scumbaggery from the start, playing the cunts and seemingly spending as much time pissing about as they did wrestling. We got dabbing and spitting and a load of other stuff I didn’t care about.
And, like most Phantasmo matches, the frustration comes from the fact that when they were wrestling, they looked good. For all his many faults, TJP is an impressive talent while Phantasmo is good enough to be elevated by his opponent. They just didn’t seem particularly interested in showing that, choosing to focus on getting over the fact ELP is a wanker.
Phantasmo followed up his cheap victory on the first night by doing the same here, punching TJP in the balls and rolling him up. If you hadn’t guessed, I was not a huge fan of this one.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Dragon Lee defeated Ryusuke Taguchi in the Super J-Cup Quarter Final
Taguchi, Red Shoes and Dragon Lee played a bit of rugby before the match as we moved from the dickheads to the wholesome.
They then kicked things off with the usual light comedy from the Master of the Funky Weapon before Lee decided this was too serious a match for such nonsense and exploded into life. I was intrigued to see how much continuity there would be between these shows (especially with them not airing live) and Lee not selling the leg SHO attacked gave me an answer.
Lee might have moved away from the comedy, but Taguchi wasn’t quite as eager to do so. This never settled into a serious match with Old Ryusuke being a bit too silly for me to get gripped by it. It was a constant flurry of Hip Attacks and at one point he no-sold a German only to spend so long firing up that he started selling it again.
It wasn’t a bad match, these two are too good for that, but it left us with something that I never got invested in. I’m fine with Taguchi pissing around for a few minutes or doing it in meaningless mid-card matches, but when he does it for an entire quarter-final it tells me he doesn’t care, and if he doesn’t care, why should I?
Verdict: Three Stars
Will Ospreay defeateed SHO in the Super J-Cup Quarter Final
SHO and Ospreay went out and had an epic match on a show that felt perfectly suited to a frantic sprint. Maybe I’m being a grump, but according to the times on njpw1972.com, this went longer than the other three quarter-finals combined. Why?
Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was at its best when these two awesome wrestlers were exchanging moves, showing off that combination of athleticism and power to do incredible things. All the stalling and strikes exchanges between that were fine, but they felt like filler, keeping us away from what we wanted to see. It’s the Super J-Cup, wrestling like fucking Juniors.
My other major problem with the match wasn’t the fault of the wrestlers but the production. Ospreay and SHO spent some time outside the ring and thanks to the single-camera set-up, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. You had to guess based off the noises we could hear and the occasional glimpse we got of the wrestlers. By the time they got back in, I’d detached from the action, and it took them a bit to get me back.
Anyway, I’ll stop being a moany bastard now, and point out that this was still a fantastic match. SHO and Ospreay had stunning chemistry, working a nice combination of brute force and speed. Early on, SHO attacked Will’s arm while around the fifteen-minute mark Ospreay started heeling it up, disrespectfully kicking SHO in the head. That perfectly built to the moment where SHO no-sold Ospreay’s Kawada kicks and came back with some of his own, even stiffer and more violent than Will’s.
It left me feeling like SHO was the star of this match rather than Billy. He’s had a stunning year, and you’ve got to think that with Shingo (and presumably Will) moving to heavyweight, he’s in line to step up next to Hiromu and co as one of the top Juniors in the company. The guy can do it all and managed to get the American fans firmly behind him in this match.
Not that it helped him get the win. Eventually, Will hit a Standing Spanish Fly followed by a Hidden Blade and the Stormbreaker, and poor SHO’s great showing was for nothing. It might not have always sounded like it throughout this review, but that was a cracking match.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
The only match you need to go out of your way to see on this show is the main event as the others were very much just there. Still, it was a strong show, and I can’t imagine anyone who turned up went away feeling let down.
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