The thrilling conclusion of the Super J-Cup, featuring two semifinal matches and the final, emanates from the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California with Kevin Kelly (mercifully) on commentary. Interestingly, NJPW World once again cuts out all the non-tournament matches so the video is only about an hour and sixteen minutes long. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Dragon Lee def. Carístico via pinfall @ 11:10 with a Desnucadora
This match definitely felt a little lackluster right from the opening bell, both guys seemingly going through the choreographed motions. Carístico once again shows off his *very* lackluster tope suicida—it really looks like he’s just terrified of breaking his neck every time. Carístico ripping at Lee’s mask is a little odd as he seems to be a pretty straightforward babyface but I’m not super familiar with his CMLL stuff so maybe he isn’t for all I know. Dragon Lee takes control and the match automatically gets night-and-day better—not great by any means but definitely better. Kevin Kelly points out that the match turned in Lee’s favor when Carístico tried to rip his mask, which I liked. Carístico challenges Lee to a chop battle and then the two trade some pretty decent looking offense. The crowd seems very unimpressed with this match and I can’t blame them. The pace is slow and boring and lacks any momentum and OH HEY IT’S OVER. Well, that was certainly a wrestling match.
El Phantasmo def. Will Ospreay via pinfall @ 11:25 with CR2
Will Ospreay, of COURSE, does not anticipate El-P’s pre-match attack because he is quite possibly the dumbest person in NJPW (I’m telling you, his stupidity is totally rubbing off on Robbie Eagles—but I digress). I like El-P wrapping Ospreay’s leg in the barricade and stomping it, though—definitely creative and looked gnarly and definitely a smart strategy to take the legs out of this Mexican jumping bean of a man. Ospreay sells it like a freaking compound fracture and then proceeds to start the match with a standing Spanish Fly and a Sasuke Special and a (sigh) “Pip Pip Cheerio.” Yeah that was hot fire but then why sell the leg like that? Maybe he was playing possum but knowing Will Ospreay as I do, it’s difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt. But in the interest of being positive, I suppose I will.
The match goes to the outside and there’s some good stuff here—loved Ospreay nerfing El-P’s stupid little strut on the barricade. El-P walks the freaking ropes into a BEAUTIFUL moonsault that hits Ospreay *perfectly* on the outside. Incredibly impressive. The back-and-forth that follows is great and really builds the energy beautifully—a *stark* contrast with the previous match—in spite of Ospreay’s ridiculous “sell” of the destroyer followed by a freaking stunner (Kevin Kelly: “You get hit with a destroyer, normally it’s lights out…” Me: *glares at Will Ospreay*).
Ospreay goes for the Hidden Blade but El-P moves and it hits the ref. El-P goes for the Nut Punch but Ospreay blocks it and *murders* El-P with kicks. Ospreay hits the Oscutter and is about to hit Stormbreaker when Taiji Ishimori runs in and nails Ospreay with the Bloody Cross which allows El-P to hit CR2 for the win. Very good match and the finish is once again consistent with the El-P character.
El Phantasmo def. Dragon Lee via pinfall @ 25:33 with CR2
Bullet Club comes out right at the top of the match but Red Shoes sends them right back. El-P takes advantage of the distraction, however, attacking Lee. Weird that Red Shoes is willing to count the fall there off of the distraction, especially when he refuses moments later for something less egregious. The pacing is a little lacking early on and it shows in the fairly lackluster crowd reaction. El-P starts messing around with Lee’s mask which brings the crowd back in but El-P keeps Lee grounded with a lot of submissions which quiets the crowd—he’s probably doing it on purpose but it seems like he’s overdoing it and the match is suffering a bit because of it. Even Dragon Lee’s hope spots don’t seem to have much on them. I’m starting to get a sense that when Dragon Lee isn’t doing something insane, he seems a bit disinterested, almost like he’s bored with regular wrestling that doesn’t require him nearly killing himself or someone else.
Fortunately, Lee turns things around with a head scissors from the apron to the floor followed by a couple stalling dropkicks and that really turns the match around and gets the crowd buzzing—which is followed by an UNREAL sequence where Dragon Lee goes for a handstand head scissors to the outside but gets caught and powerbombed through a table followed swiftly by El-P hitting a SICK double foot stomp from the top turnbuckle. Somehow El-P got busted open bad in that sequence and starts *gushing* blood. Lee BARELY gets back in the ring before the 20 count only to eat a big splash across his back but Lee just barely kicks out and NOW the crowd is going wild and chanting “this is awesome.”
El-P goes for CR2, Lee blocks, and El-P reverses into a Styles Clash (huge reaction from the crowd) for a two-count. El-P goes for a freaking One-Winged Angel (another huge reaction) (MAN this guy is an a**hole) but Lee reverses, hits a jumping knee followed by a ripcord jumping knee followed by a sit-out powerbomb and El-P *barely* kicks out. The crowd is on their feet and rumbling. Both men kinda no-sell each other’s destroyers which, again, I have feelings about but at least they sell them *eventually* which is better than nothing, if still problematic. The crowd eats it up, though, of course.
The two get up on their knees for a showdown. El-P slaps Lee across the face and Lee responds by tasting El-P’s freaking blood (DUDE) and slapping him back. El-P is incensed and headbutts Lee and Lee headbutts him back. The two rise to their feet for a strike battle, both men struggling and selling admirably. El-P does the nipple twist and spits in Lee’s face. Lee returns the favor but El-P ducks and the spit hits Red Shoes. El-P hits the Nut Punch off the distraction and rolls Lee up in a schoolboy but Lee kicks out at two. El-P gets Lee in a wristlock and walks the ropes but Lee catches him on the turnbuckle and hits a double foot stomp to the apron (not the world’s biggest fan of this move as it always requires the guy taking it to pull himself up into position for it but whatever, it still looked pretty dope). He rolls El-P back into the ring for another double stomp but El-P barely kicks out. Lee goes for another corner stomp but El-P takes his mask almost all the way off and pushes Red Shoes away so he can hit another Nut Punch followed by an INSANE spinning…TKO…neckbreaker thing(?!) from the corner/middle rope to set up CR2 for the win.
Wow. The last 2/3 of that match was as amazing as the first 1/3 was lackluster—and even that first 1/3 was at least purposeful. Not a perfect match by any means but definitely wildly entertaining. I always know a match is *really* good when I stop analyzing and just start writing it out move-for-move because, to me, that is a surefire indication that every move matters. After the match, El-P antagonizes the crowd and then calls out Ospreay only to have Ishimori sneak attack him. The pair are beating down Ospreay when Robbie Eagles emerges to even the score to a huge pop from the crowd. Ospreay grabs the mic and tears into Bullet Club, saying BC used to rely on talent but now they just rely on cheating and dirty tactics and excuse after excuse. Then he announces that he and Eagles want to challenge for the junior tag titles. El-P and Ishimori tease getting in the ring but slink to the back and the show ends with Ospreay and Eagles working the crowd.