New Japan Super J Cup 4/16/94
review by PdW2kX
Round 1: Dean Malenko vs. Gedo
Both men start off with a little chain segment and some clubbing moves- punches, forearms, double axe handles, and the occasional stiff chop. Dean gets in a Jackhammer for 2½, but Gedo responds with a lariat and a diving body press, both of which also get 2½. Gedo manages to nail Dean with a surprise, rather impactful powerslam that gets the win at 8:04.
Analysis: Unspectacular, but still a very solid, entertaining match up. The match was a bit flawed with its lack of proper build, but there was enough to make the finish somewhat credible. Both men did indeed put on a strong opening performance that was, overall, a good attention-getter. ***
Round 1: Shinjiro Ohtani vs. Super Delfin
Otani breaks down Delfin's leg for most of the match, with Delfin getting the occasional burst of energy which leads to some good segments. Both men take turns trying to drop each other on their heads, and Otani delivers a good crowd bump with a springboard dive. Delfin is able to hit a big Tornado DDT, then locks in the Delfin Clutch at 8:09 for the semi-surprise victory.
Analysis: A good match where Otani shined and Delfin kinda glimmered. Most of the match was all Otani, though Delfin got in enough quality offense to make it a good come-from-behind type of win. Both seemed to have good chemistry with one another, and mixed well despite apparent differences, creating an all-around solid and nicely entertaining encounter. ***¼
Round 1: Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero) vs. TAKA Michinoku
Eddie (R.I.P.) begins with a 'lil mat wrestling, some throws, and his signature springboard somersault senton. TAKA gets the match to an even stalemate with a few submissions, only to get manhandled by a vicious lariat. TAKA lets some of his cockiness shine through, hits some good offense, but after attempting a standing hurricanrana for the second time in a row, Eddie reverses it into a sickening powerbomb for 2¼, followed by a semi-Frog Splash for 2½. Michinoku responds with a powerbomb of his own and then a moonsault, both of which fail to put Black Tiger away. After a big brainbuster by Eddie still won't put TAKA down, Eddie hits a huge Tornado DDT that TAKA sells wonderfully, as if he's been legitimately knocked out, and Eddie wins at 6:48.
Analysis: In a pattern that would hold for a few matches after it, this one felt a lot longer than it was, which was a very good thing. It's almost remarkable how they managed to get through so much in so little time- some sequences were big highlights, the pace was fast and great, and both men exuded a lot of energy. Another standout performance by two standup stars. ***¼
Round 1: El Samurai vs. Masayoshi Motegi
Motegi starts with a nice, very crisp dive through the ropes. He then does a spot where he was supposed to jump onto the second rope, from the second rope to the top rope in the middle of the ring, and then a dive into Samurai. He ends up tripping on the ropes and falling on his ass. Ouch. Some major points were lost on this segment, and I feel embarrassed just watching. Samurai saves the match by drilling Motegi onto his cranium repeatedly, and eventually wins with the Samurai (Over Shoulder) Bomb at 7:12.
Analysis: Motegi was really, really sloppy, which hurt the match quite a lot. Samurai felt a bit bland, which only hurt the match a little. That said, they crafted exactly that type of match: sloppy and a bit bland. Very by-the-numbers, and the only true standouts were because of Motegi's errors. Still, it wasn't terrible, but that's the end of me believing that J Cup '94 was nothing but good matches. **
Round 1: Negro Casas vs. Ricky Fuji
Both men chain wrestle, then hit a few highspots, then trade some basic offense like a big suplex by Fuji and an Avalanche Senton by Casas. Fuji hits two lariats, a few stiff kicks, and a Tiger Driver for the win at 5:49.
Analysis: Unlike the few "short but felt long" quality matches before and after it, this one was akin to "short match that felt even shorter". It felt like I blinked and it was over, which might've been a good thing, since this match was slightly sloppy and usually boring. Sad to say, but it just never held my interest. **
Round 1: Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Hayabusa
In one of the moments most famously associated with J Cup '94, Hayabusa hits a flying somersault senton to the outside with his coat still on. 'Busa follows up with some high-flying offense, but is quickly taken to the mat by Liger and served up some brutality, like a big powerbomb and a lariat. 'Busa rebounds with some spinning kicks, but badly overshoots a Shooting Star Press. After kicking out of the Liger Bomb, Hayabusa is put away with a big Fisherman Brainbuster at 10:40.
Analysis: Very nice…at times. Liger was at his usual God-like level of talent, and Hayabusa showed incredible potential. Then again, at times, Hayabusa looked greener than a forest. Both meshed very well, but at times, nothing, not even Liger, could cover the young Eiji Eizaki's inexperience. Then again, most of the time Liger could, and Hayabusa was usually solid. ***
Round 2: Gedo vs. Super Delfin
Both men get in some basic combo wrestling, and then begin stiffing each other. Delfin begins acting slightly heelish, so Gedo just stiffs him even harder. Both men score a couple close pins, but when Delfin hits a big Tornado DDT and begins applying the Delfin Clutch, Gedo counters into a rollup for the win at 8:20.
Analysis: Another quality match with a nice finishing segment. The match told a good, unique story of two vastly different wrestlers changing and adapting to Round 2. Delfin became slightly heelish, with some under-handed tactics, much more arrogance, and a more colorful costume than he wore in his previous match, Gedo took careful note and brought in some stiffness and took advantage of Delfin's slightly cocky attitude. Simply put, it was another solid match by two performers that're growing on me. ***
Round 2: Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero) vs. Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit)
Both men start out with chain wrestling, and then Eddie gains the lead with some nasty moves like a standing double stomp and a sick backdrop. Benoit responds with a huge Bridging German Suplex that gets 2½ and a holding powerbomb that gets 2½ yet again. Eddie hits a big Avalanche Hurricanrana and then a brainbuster, but is defeated when Chris reverses an Avalanche Splash into a pinning powerslam at 9:36.
Analysis: Another solid match, just a bit underwhelming. Both men had loads of raw talent and used it throughout most of their match, but at times they didn't. The flash and flare was there, everything else, not so much. Still, it was another above-average match that benefited a bit from nostalgia, and will no doubt be looked at as very good, if not maybe bit over-rated. ***
Round 2: El Samurai vs. Great Sasuke
Samurai spends most of the opening working down Sasuke's leg, even going as far as to latch on a Ground Octopus Hold. Sasuke hits an insane cartwheel moonsault to the outside, but not to be outdone, Samurai soon thereafter hits a somersault senton to the outside and, back in-ring, a huge German Suplex for 2¾. In a big moment, Sasuke hits a desperation hurricanrana counter move for 2½, and then kicks out of the Samurai Bomb at 2¾. Samurai gets agitated at Sasuke kicking out of his finisher, so tries to out-show Sasuke with a standing hurricanrana, only for Sasuke to roll through and pick up the surprise win at 11:42. Post-match, both men shake hands.
Analysis: Frantic, crazy, emotional as hell, the match had everything needed for greatness. The crowd ended up very behind the match, as did I. Everything, from the ground submissions to the highspots, was intricately and very well placed. The finish was grandiose, as well, and the match itself was just a wonderful, exciting, high octane thrill-a-minute joyride. ***½
Round 2: Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Ricky Fuji
Both men strike up some feeler moves, and when Fuji hits a splash to the outside, Liger responds with a sick powerbomb on the outside. Liger follows that display of brutality with another, and soon hits a sick double stomp off the top rope onto Fuji, again to the outside. Liger gets in some pin attempts, but Fuji is able to reverse a Superplex into a Crossbody (though not without Liger landing forcibly on Fuji's arm) for 2½. Liger ends up the victor after springing off the top rope and nailing Fuji mid-ring with a big holding hurricanrana at 7:50. Post-match, both men shake and hug.
Analysis: Good, just felt really short for some reason. Both were very good, but the match stalled at times and could've greatly benefited from a bit more build. Still, Fuji played a great type of "notice me" guy, while Liger was his charismatic self with a slight "hey, I can do crazy **** too" flare. The match was a good encounter, with a very nice ending, but nothing too extraordinary. ***¼
Semi-Final: Chris Benoit vs. Gedo
Both men get some big offense in early on, with a lariat by Chris, a Piledriver by Gedo, and a stiff slap exchange by both being the highlights. After a big moonsault to the outside by Gedo, Chris Benoit gets in a powerbomb for 2, but gets the 3 count at 6:35 after scoring another powerbomb and following it up with a diving headbutt.
Analysis: Decent, but it shared the common crux of the few bad matches on the card by being too short with too much stalling. I don't think it's fatigue, but I won't necessarily rule it out, at least for Gedo. Still, the match was passable, even near good- it underwhelmed, but got the job done. Not a lot of chemistry between the two, but decent build and good wrestling. It'll do. **¾
Semi-Final: Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Great Sasuke
Liger starts out by focusing on Sasuke's back and head, doing just that with a Tombstone Piledriver and several submissions. After hitting a very good backdrop, Liger seems to be in complete control. Sasuke hits an Asia Moonsault, mainly out of desperation, and follows it up with a somersault senton to the outside that sends Liger right into the crowd. Sasuke follows that up with a sick Black Tiger Bomb that folds Liger right up over his own neck, but only puts him down for a 2½ count. Liger dishes out some big moves to wear Sasuke down, including an Avalanche Hurricanrana and the Liger Bomb, but nearly eats it when Sasuke rolls into a pin. Jushin, flustered, nails a nasty Release German Suplex and a Fisherman Buster, both of which get only 2¾. Liger is dunked onto his head with a standing hurricanrana, allowing Sasuke to triumph at 18:30. Both men shake each other's hands post-match.
Analysis: Another smorgasbord of awesome, with sick spots, great flow and psychology, immensely emotional story, and crazy high-flying maneuvers. In short, the quintessential juniors match. Sasuke shined, while Liger complimented his two good matches with an even better one. Sasuke was just a great character to get behind despite the odds being stacked against him, and while a character like that usually needs a strong heel to really pull you in, Liger was able to do it just fine by being himself and only getting angry when he realized that not only could Sasuke beat him, but that Sasuke could take some of his best offense. That said, I enjoyed the match virtually nonstop. ***½
Final: Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) vs. Great Sasuke
Benoit takes an early lead, even after Sasuke teases a dive to the outside. Both men go back-and-forth with neither coming out with the clear advantage, at least until Sasuke is grounded with a lariat and Chris follows it up with a Bridging German Suplex that gets 2. Pegasus hits a huge Dragon Suplex, then a diving headbutt, and finally a holding powerbomb, all of which get 2½. Benoit follows it up with another Bridging German Suplex that gets 2¾ this time, but is soon overshadowed by Sasuke hitting an in-****ing-sane cartwheel 180° somersault plancha above the ropes and all the way into Benoit. Sasuke then hits some very close nearfalls, but a Fisherman Suplex and Moonsault still only get 2½. In the end, Benoit finally wins at 20:10 with a huge Avalanche Gutwrench Suplex that shook the entire ring. Post-match, both men shake hands, everyone else involved in the tournament comes out to congratulate Benoit, and Chris is handed the trophy he rightfully earned.
Analysis: A superb way to end the tournament. Everything was just all kinds of off-the-charts awesome. Benoit really deserved this victory, and both gave everything they had and plenty more. I simply ate up every last detail, and every last detail was excellent. The nostalgia factor was kicking high, too, I admit. Simply a great match. ***½
Final Thoughts: So, does the famed Super J Cup '94 live up to its hype? Does anything really ever? The answer is both yes and no, to both questions. Thing is, the J Cup features some barely passable matches, but they're so few that they're likely to be completely overshadowed by the sheer number of quality wrestling matches. They're there, though. Yet, the J Cup lives up to the hype of being perhaps the single greatest and most important Junior Heavyweight tournament of all time. Simply put, the tournament not only helped Junior Heavyweight wrestling to an immense degree, it also helped every last person in it. No matter how unknown they were going in, everyone involved in the tournament left a star, with Sasuke being the shining example, who left a superstar. The greatest thing about it is that they all ended up deserving their newly-acquired fame, or with people like Liger, their still-massive popularity. The scene of all the wrestlers in the ring, congratulating each other and holding Benoit on their shoulders, then raising all their hands in a giant circle while the crowd went wild, is something I won't soon forget.
So believe the hype! The Super J Cup '94 is one of the single greatest all-Junior Heavyweight events of all time, with fantastic wrestling only being the tip of the iceberg, earning it a very welcomed spot in my collection and a supremely deserved ***½.
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