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NJPW 2020 NJ Cup


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5 hours ago, Archibald said:

I'm not sure if you can book yourself into the corner over the span of two days so I'd say that this was deliberate decision.

Either way, results are... interesting.

I didn't say it wasn't deliberate. I'm saying that's the only way you can keep a guy strong you just turned 24 hours before. Well, that is unless you do a bullshit DQ finish and New Japan doesn't do many of those.

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Matches his first run with the IWGP hw, one defense then lose the title.

Edited by D.Z
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1 minute ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

I didn't say it wasn't deliberate. I'm saying that's the only way you can keep a guy strong you just turned 24 hours before. Well, that is unless you do a bullshit DQ finish and New Japan doesn't do many of those.

Yet. With how they've been trending, who knows what the rest of the year will look like. If ever there were a time to test the waters, now would be it!

Edited by Jiji
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So far, the foreign contingent of Bullet Club has tweeted or retweeted congrats to EVIL. But there probably will be tension there soon enough. The stable’s founding ethos was that foreigners needed to band together because the company would always be biased against them. And now the booker has a native dojo boy on top, as the stable’s de facto leader and champion. That’s quite the change. (I mean, Devitt and White were trained in the dojo too, but still.)

It is also interesting how every non-Bushi member of LIJ seems like a possible choice to unseat EVIL, now. I’d still bank on Naito getting the belt/s back in time for full houses, but I’m not sure. In the meantime, can we get Hiromu vs Togo?

Edited by Beech27
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Gedo does love to do proxy booking to preserve his long-term narrative arc, but the pandemic has screwed with the roster so badly, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if he had to do a page-one rewrite of the rest of the year, and I wouldn’t assume this was Jay White’s spot, even though the original bracket seemed set up for a Jay/Sanada final.  They ran Jay/Naito 3 times from August to January; I feel like the meat was off the bone with that feud for the time being.

There had been reporting of plans for EVIL to break away from LIJ at some point in 2020 since last year.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the pre-Covid booking was something like Naito running through LIJ (Hiromu at the anniversary show, Sanada at Sakura Genesis) and then EVIL challenging at Dontaku and turning heel to get the job done.

Then again...

If you look at the original NJ Cup brackets, they were set up to pretty much play out the exact same way.  I think most people probably saw KENTA coming out of EVIL’s bracket originally, but he may have been primed to be upset by Karl Fredricks in the 1st round, who was allegedly in for a (relatively) big push prior to the pandemic, which would pave the way for the semis and final to play out exactly the same and give us Naito/EVIL at Sakura, anyway.

In that scenario, Jay going out in the first round plays directly into Gedo recruiting EVIL to stop Okada and really lays the groundwork for the dissension angle we’ve been talking about.  (Because what is the Bullet Club without dissension?)

I think I just convinced myself this was the plan all along.

Edited by EVA
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When original NJ Cup shows were announced Okada/White was happening in Aichi, Okada's hometown. So while Jay going over felt obvious I always had that small doubt if Gedo would really have Okada lose in his hometown. So in that regard idea of Gedo recruiting Evil to stop Okada sounds plausible.

Fredricks rolling up KENTA also sounds plausible since we now know that it was supposed to be his first post-YL match. It  would have elevated him instantly and likely rekindled KENTA/Shibata speculations.

Only thing that doesn't really work for me is MSG show, would they have really ran it with Evil as double champion? Doesn't sound "smart", but then, NJPW has shown to care very little about what USA fans actually want in their shows.

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I don't know.  In theory,  the US belt is supposed to be what the IC belt originally was.  The IC belt just blew up when Tanahashi and Nakamura feuded over it.  Part of the Unification was the "too many belts" theory and the thought that the World and IC were on the same level.  The two belts make for a neat Double Crown deal sort of like the classic Triple Crown from the AJPW Glory Days, but then again, they're still numbering the individual reigns.

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I realize that cheating and interference and ref bumps have been common in New Japan at least since the Bullet Club formed in 2003, but I'm really getting sick of it. I thought maybe the Dominion title match would be the last straw. But then they went and brought in Dick Togo. Just when I thought I was out...

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How much money do we need to throw ar NJPW and NJWorld to make sure they got the license to use "Entre dos tierres"?

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If they book Hiromu vs Dick Togo, I'm restarting my NJ World subscription.

 

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I really wish I spoke Japanese because I really want, while Shinpei and Milano were all "Is that really BUSHI?" that Makabe deadpanned "well, maybe this dude ATE BUSHI..."

 

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To me, it feels a bit like when they put the WWE Championship on JBL. You've got a guy with midcarder-for-life level charisma, talent, look, gimmick... and you make him champ because you need someone and he's a heavyweight and a loyal company man. (Also, if you search "JBL" or "EVIL" on Google, you'll get a lot of results unrelated to pro wrestling).

For me, the big question is: can Hiromu be the Eddie to EVIL's JBL? That is, can he give the big lug one legitimately great match that we can all point to (down the road) as evidence  that this booking decision was not a huge mistake? 

Edited by gordi
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8 minutes ago, gordi said:

 

For me, the big question is: can Hiromu be the Eddie to EVIL's JBL? 

If there's ANYONE on that roster than can fill that role, it is, in fact, Hiromu Takahashi.

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56 minutes ago, gordi said:

To me, it feels a bit like when they put the WWE Championship on JBL. You've got a guy with midcarder-for-life level charisma, talent, look, gimmick... and you make him champ because you need someone and he's a heavyweight and a loyal company man. (Also, if you search "JBL" or "EVIL" on Google, you'll get a lot of results unrelated to pro wrestling).

This is kind of bad take seeing that EVIL has been built up as a main eventer for a couple of years now.

 

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There’s a moment when Hiromu is shrieking over a particularly jangly bit of EVIL’s new symphonic metal theme that sounds like someone found a lost Windir or Slaughtersun track, and that’s an incredibly specific confluence of my niche interest, and might go some way in explaining why, this evening, I’m pretty entertained by this whole angle.

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30 minutes ago, Eivion said:

This is kind of bad take seeing that EVIL has been built up as a main eventer for a couple of years now.

They had him beat Okada in that once in a lifetime G1 match in the midst of Okada's legendary title reign and he's spent the better part of the time between then and now in NJPW's go nowhere tag division. I have never seen main event superstar in EVIL other than that one match and I really looked hard for it after that (legitimately one of my favourite matches from NJPW the past decade and the 2017 G1 Climax is probably the one wrestling tournament I'd take with me to a deserted island hypothetical). He's solid and when he's on and has a good opponent (hard not to in NJPW) he can be elevated to great things but... I am kinda with Gordi on this one, despite my liking his silly aesthetic. SANADA mails in a lot of his performances, so I get why you don't go with him... But of all the people to elevate, EVIL...

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Not the end of the world and I'm guessing either Naito or SANADA beat him at KOPW but damn... If anything signifies that golden age of NJPW that blossomed in 2011/12 is over, I feel like it's this. They have the pieces to start a new phase and I'm probably being overly dramatic and it's something I've been kind of harping on since Omega left but this feels a long way from 2017. NJPW is still the best by some margin for pure in-ring content but I've got little emotional investment in any of it at this stage. Just give me Ishii having great matches, Taichi Taichi'ing (now with 100% more Jumbo), Desperado being the unsung hero, and Hiromu as the best overall package on the roster and I'll gladly keep watching. Was it a three year contract Ibushi signed at the start of last year? 😒

I do like Evil's little sign-off, particularly when he throws extra stank on the "EVERYTHING". The "subeto wa" whispered afterwards is also cool. Low key sad I won't hear the women and kids shout "IIIIBIRUUU" anymore though.

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I would much rather this all lead to a Hiromu over Evil victory with a long reign for Hiromu than anything else right now (short of an Ishii title win). Again, I just don't think Kota or Jay White should hold the belts anytime soon, maybe ever for Kota. We've seen them fight all the other top guys too many times for it to set up any interesting new matchups and frankly all those 30 minute title matches with lots of finishers feel really interchangeable after so many variations. It's one of the reasons Minoru Suzuki IWGP title matches always tend to attract such rave reviews, they always break with the Okada-era formula. Ditto every time Ishii or lately Moxley get in there and really tear it up.

Watching Naito/Jay, Okada/Kota and Naito/Okada at WK in January really hit home for me how overexposed we are to Okada and Naito, despite all their great talent, and how much guys like Kota and Jay (and SANADA) feel like second-rate, blander versions of Okada, Naito and Tanahashi when you've already seen so many of these kinds of matches. AJPW somehow found a way to make Misawa, Kobashi and Kawada singles matches feel so stagnant that by the time it was overdue to pass the torch guys like Akiyama and Omori just felt like "more of the same but lesser"----Takayama and eventually Morishima, Marufuji and KENTA ended up being the real x-factor guys who could get fresh matches out of Misawa and Kobashi in NOAH. I think the same logic applies here, and maybe they can learn from NOAH's mistakes and not hold back on guys like Evil and Hiromu while they wait for another guy in the Tanahashi/Okada/Omega/Ibushi/White/Ospreay/SANADA style. 

As for the argument that Evil winning feels like a midcarder getting the title, my first thought is: he already had an absolute classic "new star" moment when he pinned Okada clean in the G1 a couple years back. They unfortunately couldn't top their G1 match when they did a title match a month or so later, and Evil's ascension stagnated since then, but he's still been protected and if anything has just been left out of the title picture to focus on tags rather than jobbed out or made to look weak. My second thought is that if it feels like a midcarder has the belt, that's totally a good thing at this stage. Again I cite the example of late 90s AJPW/early 2000s NOAH and how bad they shit the bed by not breaking from a proven formula of only pushing Misawa-style clean cut heavyweight aces. Jay White may have an unconventional style because of his heel gimmick but his actual work feels an awful lot like Naito or SANADA in terms of his flashy moveset and go-for-broke finishing sequences. As much as I'd love to see Okada take on Kento Miyahara in a one-off dream match, I think if NJPW was going to steal someone from AJPW they'd be better off taking a big hoss like Suwama (someone whom doesn't resemble ANYONE on the current NJPW roster, except for maybe Ishii) or a smug shooter guy like Jake Lee. At this point I think I'm just reiterating the same point by way of fourteen different examples so I'll stop. But the cynicism towards Evil's win is disappointing. 

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10 minutes ago, Jiji said:

They had him beat Okada in that once in a lifetime G1 match in the midst of Okada's legendary title reign and he's spent the better part of the time between then and now in NJPW's go nowhere tag division. I have never seen main event superstar in EVIL other than that one match and I really looked hard for it after that (legitimately one of my favourite matches from NJPW the past decade and the 2017 G1 Climax is probably the one wrestling tournament I'd take with me to a deserted island hypothetical). He's solid and when he's on and has a good opponent (hard not to in NJPW) he can be elevated to great things but... I am kinda with Gordi on this one, despite my liking his silly aesthetic. SANADA mails in a lot of his performances, so I get why you don't go with him... But of all the people to elevate, EVIL...

 

Not saying its wrong if you don't personally see something in EVIL. What I am saying is that even if its on a lower tier he has been built as a main eventer unlike JBL in 2004 where he randomly went from a mid carder to feuding for the world title.

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I do see a lot of parallels between late '90s AJPW and NJPW the last year or two for sure, Belgian Waffle. They definitely need to break the mold but I don't know about EVIL being the right guy to do it. He doesn't have an overly unique style and a lot of spots that differentiate him are infuriating and will only get worse with BC fuckery (my God, just once I want Red Shoes to do the spinning Tiger Mask leg sweep out of that stupid ref hold the leg spot). He's not Takayama, he's not Morishima, and definitely not KENTA or Marufuji. He's more Akitoshi Saito (harsh... maybe?). I would love it if some of their main events said fuck the formula and went for an old fashioned '90s NJPW wild brawl with blood and quick strike offense. Or had a flash pinfall on somebody established (NOT JUN AKIYAMA IN HIS TIME TO BECOME ESTABLISHED - I hated that booking.so.much.) out of the blue to indicate the champion was caught unaware due to complacency in both their style and position. There is definitely an element of cookie cutter in NJPW's top guys and the NJPW Style as a whole, EVIL is something new in appearance and presentation but I don't know about stylistically. SANADA's grace and technique in favour of head drops is honestly a bigger departure from Naito/Ibushi/White/Okada. Honestly, everybody feels stale right now with few exceptions (Taichi, but even then he and Zack and damn near all of Suzuki gun have been having the same matches since their return though Taichi has at least shown something more as he's been slowly elevated up the card. Ishii will never not be awesome, Hiromu, and Shingo are a few that come to mind. Sho is more of the same just in a smaller package.). 

If this ends with Hiromu beating EVIL instead of being a first challenger for EVIL to beat and get his title run going with a win over somebody the fans adore I will never question Gedo's booking of the main event scene again (I reserve the right to bitch about his booking of the midcard, junior division, NEVER bullshit, and tag teams though). They also could use a full time big mean foreigner main event title threat that hasn't really been a thing since the likes of Scott Norton. Suzuki has kind of filled that role and Fale has served as a nise monster star when needed.

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I think they're going to try to get EVIL in there against workrate guys. Hiromu makes sense, having a defense against SANADA seems like the whole point, running EVIL/Ishii might not be the most dramatic thing but it's a guaranteed good match. Tanahashi works those fundamental face/heel matchups really well. He'll get a defense or three under his belt and I'd imagine at least two of them will be good. Doubt he'll have the belt in January if they can run a real Dome show, though.

There's so much moaning about interference, "shenanigans", how tired the Bullet Club have become. The problem that nobody ever seems to talk about is how horrible NJPW ref bumps are, how long the amount of time downed referees take, how the march to the ring by the heel stablemate and interference spots take all the time that they want to. It harshly contrasts with the hard-hitting "realism" of NJPW offense and takes the crowd out of the match 80% of the time. Having heel stables, having interference, having Dick Togo garrote somebody, these aren't things that are inherently bad - Christ, they're the kind of drama that gives the artform meaning beyond being a simulated sport. It's just always looked like shit when compared to any western fed. It's been like this since at least Devitt.

Edited by John E. Dynamite
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Any word what the capacity rules for an outdoor event could look like? Is it kind of like a city park where you can still have a bunch of people as long as they stay six feet apart? Would be very hard to regulate seating but I'm wondering if you could do general admission like a concert stage and have 6 x 6 partitioned blocks for people to stand in. It could never work in USA or Canada due to general crowd unruliness but given the more chilled out atmosphere of the Japanese crowd I wonder if by going outdoors they could get a bigger crowd and still maintain distance. 

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