After two solid years of casual searching, I have come across 1995’s Super J Cup Tournament in it’s entirety. As I was eager to view the spiritual successor of the legendary J Cup from the previous year, I wrote this review after one full watch through. So let’s get into it!
I’ve being chomping at the bit to do this review, as finding this particular tournament in its entirety is rather difficult. So, with that said, I’m going in with pretty high hopes and expect the same entertainment and competition as the 1994 tournament delivered, or as close to it. Watching this DVD back reminds me of just how much of a spectacle this tournament was. Seeing the opening ceremony, pre-event interviews and early fans gathering in the lobby and merchandise booths is great! In a way it, dream matches were being presented once again, pitting American, Mexican, and Japanese stars against one another. Do I expect magic to strike twice? As far as making a historical impact goes, not really. You don’t hear much about the 1995 tournament… Though one must keep in mind that a relatively smaller promotion, (compared to NJPW who held the event the year before) WAR, presented this J Cup. Regardless of mainstream exposure, there are some great performers billed…
The 1995 Super J Cup Tournament was the second of it’s kind, following the classic 1994 tournament. However, unlike the previous year, this year’s event was held by Wrestling Association R (or Wrestling and Romance / WAR) instead of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Held on December 13, 1995 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan, this tournament would once again collect top junior talents from various promotions such as, NJPW, CMLL, AAA, WAR, and ECW. Unlike the first year though, this year did not do as much for as many wrestlers as it had the first time around. Nonetheless, it was a very progressive wrestling event that is surly worth noting. So, now that you’ve been briefed, lets begin with the first round!
(NOTE: ALL MATCHES ARE RATED OUT OF 5 STARS.)
Damien 666 Vs. Gran Naniwa- Though I am familiar with both names, I’ve never actually seen either perform personally. So going into this one, I have no favorites (which is cool). Both seem very over-the-top character wise. The match started off slow, with a lot of showboating from both parties. This is the first comedy-based Japanese competition I’ve ever seen! There were still some high spots but, this is totally not what I was expecting to open this tournament. It was kind of refreshing, oddly enough. Gran Naniwa picks up the pin with a Hurricanrana-pinning combination. Nothing fancy, but simply lighthearted entertainment. Rating: Gran Naniwa advances to the quarterfinal round.
Shinjiro Otani Vs. Masaaki Mochizuki- I have never heard of Mochizuki and am vaguely familiar with Otani’s work and wrestling ability. So, this was virtually another match I wasn’t really knowing what to expect with. Mochizuki exploded with offense as soon as the bell rang, wasting no time. There are some really hard-hitting impacting moves soon after performed by both men, changing the tone drastically from the opening contest. A fast-paced, typical shoot-puroresu match ensues. A quick, surprising submission ends the match with Masaaki Mochizuki tapping out to a leglock. Rating: Shinjiro Otani advances to the quarterfinal round.
Shoichi Funaki Vs. Ultimo Dragon- Yes, it is that Funaki! Up until now, I have never seen him perform in Japan, so I’m pretty excited to see some of his (hopefully) serious skill. With Ultimo Dragon there to further enhance the changes of this match being really good, I went in with high hopes. As expected, moves were fast, very crisp, and cleanly performed. A few one-uppsmanship spots made this match that much better, really helping to show off both talents. A lot of good mat-based, chain wrestling with submissions thrown in here and there. Dragon picked up the win with a moonsault to the back followed by a small package. Now this was a Super J Cup worthy match! Rating: Ultimo Dragon advances to the quarterfinal round.
Gedo Vs. Masayoshi Motegi- I enjoy Gedo and expect him to do rather well. Once again, I find myself only being vaguely familiar with a competitor, this time being Masayoshi Motegi. Either way, both men seem pretty similar in build and style, so I’m interested to see who comes out victorious. These bigger super juniors moved rather well! One thing is for sure, these two men have quite a bit of strength due to some of the moves they’ve been able to pull off. Rare high spots highlighted with tricky submissions made this match that much better. At this point, the crowd is firmly tuned into the event, and recognizes the familiarly fiery competition the Super J Cup produces. Gedo caught Motegi in a reverse full-nelson to get the victory. Rating: Gedo advances to the quarterfinal round.
Dos Caras Vs. El Samurai- Well, Dos Caras is pretty much a Mexican legend and El Samurai usually delivers pretty well so I was interested to see how this one would go.With more experience with such an event, one would expect El Samurai to come out on top. Both men show each other mutual respect throughout the match up. Dos Caras is able to pull off some transitions and submissions I’ve never seen before, which is saying something! There is some good mat-based wrestling done by both parties. The ending came with a diving plancha off the top, compliments of Dos Caras who picked up the pin. This was another really solid match! Rating: Dos Caras advances to the quarterfinal round.
Lionheart Vs. Hanzo Nakajima- Seeing Lionheart (Chris Jericho) make his Super J Cup debut is awesome. I really wish he would have been able to compete in last year’s event as well, as his style meshes with others so very well. This Hanzo Nakajima seems like he is going to give Lionheart a run for his money though as both of these young bulls lock horns. Awesome fast-paced opening. Lionheart stays in pretty firm control until Nakajima began to fight back hard mid-match. Lionheart stays on the outside for a fourteen count. After being broken down early on, the competition caught up with Nakajima and Lionheart was able to get the victory after hitting a Lionsault. Rating: Lionheart advances to the quarterfinal round.
Jushin Liger Vs. Gran Naniwa- After receiving a bye in the first round, I looked forward to a fresh Jushin Liger. From his first outing, I learned that Naniwa is a bit of a character. I also know Liger can be a bit of a character himself. With that knowledge I wondered which way these two would take this Quarterfinal match. Naniwa didn’t wait for the bell, as he ambushed Liger during his entrance into the ring. Needless to say, I’m glad the all-business route was taken! Naniwa scored near-falls over Liger early on, yet Liger mounted an impressive comeback. I love when Liger mocks his opponent by using their taunt of moves sarcastically. Liger continued the pain with wrenching in a few good submission holds. The action would spill outside, resulting in Liger receiving a rolling senton off the apron followed by a gutwrench sitout powerbomb inside the ring for a near fall. Liger would have a short burst of firing back however. He was able to get the pin over Naniwa after a snap-brainbuster. Solid outing by both men. Rating: Jushin Liger advances to the semifinal round.
Lionheart Vs. Wild Pegasus- Benoit against Jericho. Two young guys with very bright futures clashing very early on in their careers together. This one should be good and I look forward to these two putting on a really good match. The beginning is feirce, with both men displaying feelings as if they actually despised each other. Lionheart even yells across the ring to Pegasus, “Come on, mother******!” Hard slaps are exchanged back and forth. Lionheart sticks an extra long stalling suplex on Wild Pegasus. Pegasus would retaliate with applying the Liontamer on Lionheart himself. It truly is awesome to see these two square-off in this puroresu element. High-impact moves followed by close calls had the crowd eating out of the performers hands. Good stuff. Wild Pegasus was able to finish Lionheart off with a tombstone piledriver from the second rope (not a perfect one but, cool nonetheless). Rating: Wild Pegasus advances to the semifinal match.
Shinjiro Otani Vs. Ultimo Dragon- These two guys have very contrasting styles and had pretty decent first round matches so I expected to see a possible show-stealer. Ultimo Dragon is about finesse and speed, whereas Otani is about mat-based deliberate wrestling. A well-planned beginning set this match up quite impressively well. The action quickly spilled to the outside where Otani took out all the stops and performed some basic aerials off the apron and top rope. Otani’s control was derailed when he received an Asai moonsault on the outside. Otani would go on to fight back with a few calculated holds applied on Dragon. There were many near falls. Ultimo Dragon hit a corkscrew moonsault to finish Otani. Best match of the event thus far. Rating: Ultimo Dragon advances to the semifinal round.
Gedo Vs. Dos Caras- The battle of the powerhouse super juniors! Gedo had a great first round match as did Dos Caras. I look forward to seeing how these two will do together. After a few crisp holds to open this one up, you can tell things are going to get interesting. Dos Caras again begins to pull from what seems like an infinite arsenal of unique transitions and holds. Gedo fights through by getting to the bottom ropes several times. At one point, Gedo nearly unmasked Dos Caras! Behind the ref’s back, Gedo low-blowed Caras, hit a huge DDT and got the pin over the Mexican luchador. Great match, Gedo’s confidence throughout the event has been strong and he has put on some good matches as a result! Rating: Gedo advances to the semifinal round.
Jushin Liger Vs. Ultimo Dragon- Whenever these two get together, magic happens. Their chemistry is (in my opinion) unparalleled in Japan past or present. I had probably the highest hopes for this match, as I know what kind of quality matches are capable of being made. If I had to watch two wrestlers wrestle each other in their prime for the rest of my days, these men would be high in the running. It is the Super J Cup, and I expected nothing short of an absolutely awesome match. The match started off with crisp chain mat wrestling resulting in several stalemates. Holds were flawlessly applied by both men and pure wrestling skill was showcased. As the match continued, both men began to take more risks. Truly watching two masters of their craft create. A few minor slip-ups are the only things that kept this match from a five star rating. The finish came when Liger reversed Dragon into a crucifix pin. Awesome match as expected but, I would have liked to see Dragon go to the finals as he performed in what I thought where the best matches of the tournament thus far. Rating: Jushin Liger advances to the final round.
Gedo Vs. Wild Pegasus- This one had a lot to follow up to. Gedo has been very impressive thus far and I hope his momentum continues against the defending J Cup Champion, Wild Pegasus. These two could have the potential to have one of the best matches of the whole event. The match started out strong as Pegasus aggressively pursued his opponent. Pegasus continued to harshly work down Gedo, not letting up on what he recognized as a serious potential threat to his advancement. Gedo then began to rely on his submissions to slow Pegasus down offensively. The pace quicked when Gedo was able to knock Pegasus to ringside. The momentum would shift however, when Pegasus would go on to suplex Gedo onto a ringside table. Back in the ring, Wild Pegasus would clothesline Gedo out of nearly out of his shirt. Gedo would gain a huge, well-earned win when he hit Pegasus with a brainbuster followed by a diving headbutt from the top rope. Great to see Gedo go on to the finals as he has performed superbly. Rating: Gedo advances to the final round.
SPECIAL ATTRACTION MATCH
Rey Mysterio Jr. Vs. Psicosis– The positioning for this one is a bit odd, I thought. Either way, these two guys will go on to put some great matches together with each other down the line in ECW and WCW, so this must have been a very important night for the two of them. They would now be exposed to an audience they may never have been exposed to before. I’m excited for the change of pace and a break from the tournament bracket. Psicosis looks enormous compared to Rey and it is kind of funny seeing Rey do a backbreaker to him. For being so young, these guys are pulling off some really cool moves. I’m not sure if anybody flies better than Rey Mysterio. These risk takers deserve a lot of credit. The crowd was continuously wowed by both men Lucha Libre style. After showing off great athletic ability, Mysterio Jr. picked up the victory following a head-scissors takedown. This match was an awesome peak into what guys like Rey and Psicosis can do. Rating:
Jushin Liger Vs. Gedo- After a great tournament, filled with great wrestling talent, the Finals of the event were almost bittersweet. As this Super J Cup tournament came to it’s end, it only left two men in it’s wake. Gedo had battled and been in great matches and Jushin Liger had been in pretty good matches himself. It was anybody’s match for the winning and I was personally hoping for Gedo, as he had been the event’s MVP in my book. I would have really liked to see Gedo take on Ultimo Dragon in the finals as both men had been in the top rank matches. Nonetheless, I was excited to see what Liger and Gedo would do. Liger started in control, keeping Gedo on the mat. Liger would mercilessly work on Gedo’s left arm and shoulder for some time, repeatedly kneeing and snapping at it. Just as he beat Dos Caras, Gedo would resort to low blowing Liger behind the official’s back to buy himself some time. Many near falls were counted. The finishing maneuver would be a top rope brainbuster, keeping Gedo down for the three count. Rating: Jushin Liger wins the 1995 Super J Cup tournament.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND OVERALL OPINION:
Better than the first tournament? I don’t think so. Just as good? Maybe. The whole thing is worth watching through at least once and if given the chance to do so, I highly suggest it to any fan of the first event. Even if you’ve never watched a Japanese wrestling event, I still suggest you give it a try. The is no Japanese commentating and the matches themselves are worth it. If you only watch one match from this event, I suggest the either the Shinjiro Otani/Ultimo Dragon match or the Ultimo Dragon/Jushin Liger match, they are both just ridiculously good matches. The lack of suck names as The Great Sasuke and Super Delfin were made up by such names as Lionheart and Dos Caras this time around. The talent was there and the matches were pretty good. Unfortunately I think this tournament suffers from the sequel stigma. Either way you look at this event, the bracket was great and matches lived up to expectations.