In the year 2016 New Japan Pro Wrestling decided to bring back the legendary Super J-Cup tournament. I was legitimately crying when Taka Michinoku, Naomichi Marufuji and KUSHIDA came out and announced that the J-Cup was making a return. The lineup this year is pretty good but it is nowhere near the kind of line ups from 1994 and 1995. To be fair I don’t believe any Jr. tournament could ever match the 1994 Super J-Cup. In previous years the J-Cup was used to prove who the best junior is in Japan but this year they are using talent from CMLL and ROH. So I guess this is too prove who the best junior internationally is. When the show was announced to return Zero-1 was originally going to participate but for some unknown reason they are no longer involved and All Japan seemingly took their place. For New Japan fans you will be introduced to some of the best Jr heavyweights in Japan that aren’t in New Japan. Personally my favorite wrestler in the tournament is Kaientai Dojo representative Kaji Tomato. I guarantee 90% of people reading this won’t have a clue who that man is and will probably laugh at his name but just wait until he blows your mind away as he is one of the best overall performers in Japan currently. What I am going to do now is give information on every man in this tournament.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
Jushin “Thunder” Liger: The man that has participated in more Super J-Cup’s than everyone else in history is once again making another appearance. Thank god! When New Japan announced only three folk from New Japan will be in the J-Cup I got worried that Liger would get slighted, but oh yes, he is most certainly in. This makes me happy because Liger is easily one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and the most consistent wrestler ever. At 51 years old Liger isn’t slowing down and continues to put on high quality matches quite regularly. I expect Liger to make it all the way to the semi finals against KUSHIDA but ultimately lose. Jushin “Thunder” Liger is my second favorite guy in this tournament behind Kaji Tomato and I am quite sad we won’t get a Tomato vs. Liger match because the banter would be tremendous. Everyone reading knows who Liger is and you know what to expect, a dude who will always give his 100% and especially in a big spot like this he will more than likely over deliver.
Rysuke Taguchi: YES! I was over the moon when I saw Japanese Mr. Ass made the J-Cup. He competed in the 2009 J-Cup with solid performances but this year he is facing Daisuke Harada in the first round which should be a nice mix of styles. Taguchi does not suck, guys. I don’t want to hear that he sucks one more time because it will make me mad. Yes he doesn’t do anything great on the house shows but honestly do any of the NJPW guys give all their effort on the small shows? Look at Taguchi’s matches against KUSHIDA and Will Ospreay from this year’s BOSJ and then try and tell me he is a bad wrestler. I expect Taguchi to make it to the second round but lose to BUSHI and probably have a really great match. I am very happy about the three New Japan representatives as they all bring something different. Taguchi brings the comedic side plus great wrestling. KUSHIDA brings the great wrestling and Liger brings the nostalgia plus great wrestling!
KUSHIDA: Everyone should know this man of course as he is the current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion and has been since January. For once they made KUSHIDA have a strong reign as champion and not lose within his first few titles defenses. Being the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion in a tournament booked by NJPW means you are going to go far in said tournament. I have KUSHIDA as one of the finalists but I don’t see him winning in the end. If they did want to really make the IWGP Jr. Title seem like the pinnacle in Jr. championships then I could see KUSHIDA winning. Personally I see KUSHIDA losing in the finals to set up a title match down the line, but hey, anything can happen. KUSHIDA is currently doing his best to kill it down in Mexico with CMLL and Elite so when he comes back he may have picked up some new lucha libre tricks to use in this prestigious tournament.
Kenoh: Sadly because I don’t watch NOAH anymore I don’t get to see these three NOAH juniors all that much. NOAH has a tremendous junior division and that’s about it for NOAH to be honest. I am very happy about all the NOAH dudes in this tournament. Thank god we didn’t get someone like a Genba or a Captain NOAH, saying that though I would of love to see Jado in this tournament. Kenoh is so great, he looks like a bad ass motherfucker also with his slick blonde hair. Kenoh like most of NOAH’s good juniors didn’t train in the NOAH dojo, as he was actually trained by the likes of Great Sasuke and Jinsei Shinzaki at the Michinoku Pro dojo. He is a former GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with his partner Hajime Ohara and a former three time Tohuku Jr. Heavyweight Champion in Michinoku Pro. Watch out for Kenoh’s kicks!
Taiji Ishimori: This is the guy I am most familiar with out of the three guys representing NOAH. Just because he is very different to everyone else and has a unique look. He is a very short man but is jacked to the gills. Ishimori chooses to put away his opponents with his picture perfect 450 splash. NJPW fans may have seen Ishimori wrestle David Finlay in a good match at the Lions Gate debut show. Ishimori has been everywhere from All Japan to AAA most recently representing NOAH in the AAA Lucha World Cup. Ishimori is very quick and has a vast variety of offensive maneuvers. I obviously see Ishimori losing to KUSHIDA in the first round which should be a pretty good bout.
Daisuke Harada: Long time OSAKA Pro fans will know and love Mr. Harada. He has had one of the best Jr. tag teams with Atsushi Kotoge for almost 10 years now. It’s a shame Kotoge is missing out on the tournament but he is randomly working a G1 show for some reason. Harada is a veteran in the sport of pro wrestling. Debuting for Osaka Pro when he was just 19 in 2006, he is a former amateur wrestler and utilizes many suplexes in his arsenal. He likes to finish his opponents with his beautiful German suplex hold. Fun fact: He won an Osaka Pro tag tournament in 2008 with Zeus from All Japan. Harada being a former GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion has a lot to prove on the big stage of New Japan. He is facing Taguchi in the first round which I believe he will lose, but it will be a very interesting and fun bout.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru: Kanemaru making his first ever appearance in a Super J-Cup after 20 years of competing at a high level is really nice. Good on Mr. Kanemaru. I love Yoshinobu Kanemaru and even being almost 40 years old he still busts out a vast variety of offense. Kanemaru will look to finish his opponents with his spinning brain buster. He has held titles in NOAH, NJPW, WEW and AJPW in the past and he looks to add something he has never done before and that is to win the J-Cup to his ever growing list of accomplishments. He is the current GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion so that would make me think he is going far in the tournament but then I saw he is wrestling BUSHI in the first round which indicates he is losing in the first round. BUSHI vs. Kanemaru should be a match between two slimy heels looking to out sleaze one another. Let’s pray for no Suzuki-Gun interference.
Taichi: Holy fuck. As I was doing research on this man I realized that he is 36 years old? Jesus Christ the dude looks mid 20’s. It must be all that singing, good for the skin? That didn’t make sense and I apologize. Taichi is one of those dudes who have been everywhere. Originally trained by non other than Toshiaki Kawada believe it or not, so when you see Taichi being foolish just remember he survived training with Kawada so he can do what he pleases. Taichi is much like Taguchi in some peoples eyes, most of the time he is nothing great but in big occasions he pulls out great performances. I sort of miss Taichi in New Japan because I never watch NOAH which means I never get to see Taichi. In one of the odder matches of the tournament Taichi is facing All Japan’s Yuma Aoyagi in the first round. Aoyagi rarely wins so this is basically confirmed as a Taichi win which I have no problem about. Hopefully he will be facing Jushin Liger in the second round and more than likely will be losing. But I expect after the match El Desparado will come out and assault Liger leading to a mask vs. mask match between the two masked warriors. But yeah Taichi should be fun in this tournament.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
Yuma Aoyagi: Who would have ever thought in their wildest dreams that Yuma Aoyagi would be in the Super J-Cup?! I love the graps in 2016 just for randomness like this. When All Japan announced that they were sending a dude to the J-Cup I automatically though Atsushi Aoki because he is one of the guys in control of All Japan behind the scenes and probably the biggest name in their Jr. division. When Yuma Aoyagi was officially announced as competing in this J-Cup I almost lost my mind. I love this kid so much and has proven time and time again why he belongs with the big names in modern day puroresu. Aoyagi is Jun Akiyama’s favorite trainee in my opinion. He legit goes wherever Jun goes. Akiyama took Aoyagi to Dradition with him and in August he is taking him to WRESTLE-1. Akiyama much like myself sees Aoyagi becoming a big time star one day. I don’t think he will be a junior heavyweight forever though. I believe in the next few years he will gain the necessary weight to be a heavyweight in All Japan. Aoyagi’s offense is referred to as ‘young boy offense’ which is basic stuff but Yuma certainly pulls it all off to perfection. It may be basic but he executes all of his stuff so well. He has a beautiful missile dropkick and cross body. This first round match against Taichi is the biggest match in Yuma’s young career so expect him to bust out some things we have never seen him use before. A possible plancha? Who knows but all I know is that I am hyped for Aoyagi in the SUPER J-CUP! LET THAT SINK IN. YUMA AOYAGI IS IN THE J-CUP!
Eita: It’s a shame only one guy from Dragon Gate is allowed to compete in the J-Cup because you could easily put more than half of their roster in the J-Cup and I would have no problem with it. That being said I believe they picked their best possible option in Eita. Eita isn’t my favorite in Dragon Gate but if I was to choose a guy to represent Dragon Gate it would be Eita. Why you ask? Because CIMA when he was only 20 competed in the J-Cup in 2000 and went to the finals against Jushin “Thunder” Liger. CIMA lost that match but I am sure he learnt so much valuable lessons in pro wrestling. Eita is doing what CIMA did in 2000 basically. Eita is a young 23 year old kid who has been to Mexico and is now back in Japan proving why he belongs. That is exactly what CIMA did in 2000 and he made it to the finals. Whats crazy awesome is that Eita is facing Jushin “Thunder” Liger in the first round, CIMA faced Liger in the finals of the 2000 J-Cup. That is so awesome and I am sure they did that on purpose. I would recommend everyone check out the Eita vs. Jimmy Susumu match from King Of Gate this year, Eita showed all the fire in the world in that bout and that’s exactly what he is going to have to do against Liger.
Will Ospreay: I am sorry but when did CHAOS become a promotion? I get the fact that CHAOS isn’t the New Japan Seki-Gun but they are still contracted performers to New Japan. I don’t get why they had to label CHAOS as something different to New Japan but oh well. We are still getting William Ostrich in the J-Cup! Tremendous! I do like Ospreay a lot and in his big time matches he always delivers. Even on the smaller shows/matches he always kills himself taking brutal moves which I wish he would stop sometime soon because I want him walking in 10 years. I actually would of preferred Gedo in the J-Cup because of the nostalgia and Gedo is still one of the greatest workers in the world. Match quality wise Ospreay will deliver more but hey I love me a bit of Gedo tomfoolery. Ospreay faces the guy who I am about to talk about next in the first round … Titan.
Titan: Whoa! This is awesome! Some good brothers were letting us in on Titan being the CMLL representative but I honestly never believed it. I thought we would be getting Rey Cometa or Dragon Lee. But when Titan was officially announced I lost my shit because it’s so awesome. Titan is one of the more underappreciated guys in CMLL, he is constantly delivering with his killer tope’s and all of his flying is consistently on point. Watch out for his crazy ass rope walk moonsault plancha, one of the coolest dives in modern day wrestling. It’s hard to point out a match off the top of my head to watch of his but I am sure there are Titan highlights on YouTube. Even hit up one of the lucha dudes on Twitter (@luchablog, @robviper, @TKD_117) and ask them what to watch because they know much more than I. All I know is that his first round match up against Ospreay is going to be insane in all of the best ways.
Matt Sydal: This is really odd because Matt Sydal is more of a New Japan guy than a ROH guy. He isn’t even signed to a deal at ROH. I was expecting a Lio Rush or ACH because both are under contracts I believe but Sydal is still real good. Sydal is a great performer as everyone reading is well aware. Another one of the most consistent guys in ring over the past 10 years and will continue killing shit for years to come. Sydal will look to be the first ever American born wrestler to win the Super J-Cup. He is the first American in the Super J-Cup since 2000 when Christopher Daniels competed under the Curry Man gimmick. Hey I wish Curry Man was in this tournament! Imagine Curry Man being the ROH representative! That would be awesome but Sydal will be awesome all well. He faces the Tomato in the opening round which given enough time could be a fucking amazing match. Both guys are so slick and smooth but have different styles but I believe it will work to perfection. Sadly I do see Sydal pinning Tomato in the first round which would mean he would face Ospreay more than likely in the second round which I see him losing. Real cool seeing Sydal getting this opportunity and I get people being let down about Sydal being in the tournament but trust me his matches will most certainly deliver.
Ryukyu Dragon Pro Wrestling
Gurukun Mask: Bah Gawd the Ryukyu Dragon ace is in the J-Cup! What a time to be alive. This dude is the founder and owner of Ryukyu Dragon Pro that runs out of Osaka and Okinawa mainly Okinawa. We never get to see Ryukyu Dragon Pro but it is most certainly my #34 promotion of 2016 without a doubt solely because they legit run shows in caves and other obscure places. What you should know about Gurukun Mask is that he is really awesome and for a guy who turns 45 this year. He moves awfully well. I believe one match of his from this year has made tape and that was a multi man tag from BASARA where he and Kazuhiro Tamura tore it up. Gurukun Mask is a delightful edition to the Super J-Cup and deep down I really want him to win the entire thing even though his chances are very slim. He has won a plethora of titles in many Osaka based promotions and will continue to do so for many years. Gurukun is probably the least known worker in this tournament and that’s why I love him in the tournament so much because he is going to shock the audience. Also Gurukun Mask is competing in Korakuen Hall! Beautiful. He faces Kenoh in the opening round which is going to be so great I can already tell. I am pretty sure Kenoh is going to go over but you never know! I am the one dude hoping Gurukun makes it to the second round over Kenoh. All of wrestling Twitter will be cheering for Kenoh and I will be sitting in my chair cheering ‘Gu-Ru-Kun’ multiple times. #Gurukunforthewin.
BUSHI: WHY DID YOU GET MY HOPES UP AND THINK I WAS GETTING JIRO KUROSHIO OR KOJI KANEMOTO IN THE SUPER J-CUP!! WHY NOT JUST ANNOUNCE BUSHI AS APART OF LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON OR NEW JAPAN OR WHATEVER! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. When I saw BUSHI was the wildcard it made me very angry not because I hate BUSHI but just because BUSHI is a signed New Japan talent and not an outsider or a wildcard. It’s like Chaos, L.I.J and New Japan Seki-Gun are all three different promotions it’s weird as shit. But hey it’s okay because BUSHI is in his first ever J-Cup and I couldn’t be more happy for the guy. Coming back from injury earlier this year and joining LOS INGOBERNABLES was the best possible career move for the guy. I still do think his matches do get repetitive sometimes but that’s just the nature of the beast and in this stage he will most certainly deliver. I do see BUSHI knocking off Kanemaru in the first round and the knocking off Taguchi in the second round, then knocking off Ospreay in the semi’s than beating KUSHIDA in the finals of the J-Cup. Yeah you heard me I see BUSHI winning the J-Cup this year and then in September beating KUSHIDA for the IWGP Jr. Strap. That is very wild I know but hey! BUSHI is the wildcard.
Kaji Tomato: Oh yes baby I left the best for last. Imagine hating K-Dojo, K-Dojo is in my top 10 promotions of the year and that is no gimmick. K-Dojo is a legit great promotion and the man who is my K-Dojo MVP of the year somehow made his way into the J-Cup. Kaji fucking Tomato is going to be in the J-Cup. Kaji Tomato is going to have his entire entrance in front of a sold out Korakuen Hall. Kaji Tomato is going to dance with women in a New Japan ring whilst doing the Tomato dance. I love this so much and we all have to thank Taka Michinoku for making this possible. Taka Michinoku obviously runs and owns K-Dojo, he held qualifiers for the J-Cup and Tomato won but basically Taka hand picked Tomato. Taka thinks Tomato is the future of junior heavyweight wrestling and even has him going up against Tank Nagai for the Strongest K Championship very soon. Kaji Tomato unsuccessfully challenged Atsushi Aoki for the AJPW Jr. Title in a great match. Kaji Tomato and Shiori Asahi had a **** match back in January. Kaji Tomato obviously is not winning this tournament but if there is going to be one name people are going to be talking about after the tournament it will be Kaji Tomato. I can see wrestling Twitter now loosing their minds and falling in love with Kaji Tomato instantly. I can see folk saying where has this guy been and who is he. I laugh at those people because Kaji Tomato has been killing it in Kaientai Dojo the past few years consistently. Everyone is going to fall in love with Kaji Tomato, mark my words. He deserves the recognition so much, Tomato deserves all of this! He is a truly a special talent that doesn’t come along very often. Prepare to have your minds blown by the masterful style that I call Tomato style. Kaji Tomato please win this sir, just shoot on everyone and win because you deserve it brother.
Well I realize most of you all won’t read that, but thank you for clicking on this giant Super J-Cup preview. For those that did read all of that and cared about my 3500 words on the J-Cup I thank you very much. I love doing this so much and I had a blast doing this. Remember to keep checking back at this article when the J-Cup gets closer. Wrestling With Words will have complete coverage of the Super J-Cup. Puro in the Rough will also review both shows. Thank you for reading.