2000 Super J-Cup Tournament: A Breakdown and Review
In a stroke of luck, someone has uploaded the 2000 edition of the Super J-Cup tournament onto YouTube. So, being something I had never seen before, I had to jump to watch it, thus adding another addition to my previous J-Cup review lineup! What did I think of the 3rd Stage, (hosted by Michinoku Pro Wrestling)? Read on to find out!
I haven’t seen one shred of this show prior to my review. As a matter of fact, after doing some casual research on the tournament, I only discovered this 2000 edition existed kind of by accident before. Of course, after reviewing both 1994 and 1995’s events, I had to find out SOME way to watch and review this one. Oddly enough, days after wanting to get it done, I found that someone had just recently uploaded the full show across two parts. So, I wasted no time in sitting down and digging into this (totally blind). Enjoy!
The 2000 Super J-Cup, promoted as Super J-Cup: 3rd Stage, saw a different host for the second time in a row. 2000’s host for the highly anticipated tournament was waning promotion, Michinoku Pro Wrestling. The venue was also changed, a first in the event’s history. Instead of packing the famed Ryōgoku Sumo Hall for both nights, the smaller Sendai City Gymnasium would set the scene for night one on April 1st, 2000. The second night of the show wouldn’t take place until April 9th, 2000, with only half the attendance capacity being filled in the Sumo Hall. In an attempt to bring back the spirit of the era of the super juniors and to revitalize their prominence, Michinoku Pro Wrestling’s Great Sasuke convinced his friend, tournament creator, and former winner, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, to participate. Along with Liger, a few American-based wrestlers joined a mixed bracket of Japanese talent to flesh out the first round. Bringing together talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, Toryumon, Battlarts, Big Japan Pro Wrestling, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, Wrestle Dream Factory, and Empresa Mexicana de la Lucha Libre, Sasuke and his Michinoku Pro promised fans another chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime display of talent in two historic nights of action!
(NOTE: ALL MATCHES ARE RATED OUT OF 5 STARS.)
Ricky Marvin Vs. CIMA – Knowing what I now about CIMA at this time automatically made me assume that he was the odds-on favorite to win this whole tournament. We started out with some chain wrestling, CIMA being the aggressor. His stuff was lightning-quick here. A nice springboard hurricanrana sent CIMA to the outside, with Marvin following that up with an awesome springboard corkscrew plancha off the top rope to the floor! Plenty of near falls for both men followed this, highlight reel worthy offense being shown off by both men. CIMA was able to put Ricky Marvin away with a perfect Mad Splash for the three-count. What a hell of a way to open this tournament!
Sasuke the Great Vs. Ricky Fuji – I’ve always had a soft spot for some Ricky Fuji, especially being an FMW guy. I didn’t know Sasuke the Great existed and only assumed he was part of some Michinoku Pro storyline at the time. Big boos for him. Sasuke jumped Fuji to start the match, with action spilling to the floor quick. A nice Asai Moonsault from the second rope to the floor by Sasuke. Once back in the ring, Fuji took over and was stringing together some offense, even going so far as to pull Sasuke out of a pin to continue the punishment. This led to Sasuke the Great losing his temper and attacking the referee, getting promptly disqualified. A lame follow-up to the first match, no question. This tournament means nothing to Sasuke the Great, apparently. I guess time has to be cut somewhere, plenty of show to go!
Naoki Sano Vs. Judo Suwa – Naoki Sano I am familiar with due to his stint and start in New Japan. No idea about Suwa, though. Sano hit a nice tiltawhirl backbreaker on Suwa early in the match. The pace was a little slower here compared to the first two matches, which was okay because these guys were making their stuff hit solid, including some more suplexes and grapples. A nice release German suplex put Suwa on his back again, allowing Sano to hit a knee drop off the top rope. Judo got in a sweet swinging neckbreaker in, along with a dangerous looking overhead throw that almost landed Sano on his head! A Tiger Suplex from Naoki Sano gained him advancement to the next round over Judo Suwa here.
Katsumi Usuda Vs. Men’s Teioh – Men’s Teioh is part of the infamous Kaientai faction in Michinoku Pro, a mischievous heel team. I am familiar with his work. With Usuda on the other hand, I have no experience. These guys went the technical route to start things off, keeping ground offense at the forefront of their attacks. Usuda wrenched in a tight armlock at one point, forcing Teioh to the ropes. Teioh retaliated with wrapping Usuda’s legs around the post and then applying an inverted figure-four leglock around it on the outside. The two men then traded a few heavy strikes and near falls that got the crowd going. Then, seemingly out f nowhere, Men’s Teioh hit his signature Teioh Lock II pinning combo to catch Usuda in a three-count! A solid little match here, more grounded in competition.
Onryo Vs. Curry Man – I was excited for this one, as I think most North American fans are familiar with Curry Man , in one way or another. Onryo jumped Curry Man from jump and things were on and running, with a super hurricanrana from the top and a springboard senton over the top to the floor knocking Curry Man for a loop early on! Curry Man would regain control with some grapples and some high-risk moves of his own. His Y2C!! half-shirt cracks me up. We even got treated to the BME for a two-count. The Spicy Drop only got him a two count as well, and then Onryo rallied back with a flurry and even a patented Onryo Clutch to advance! Pretty shocking upset victory here, especially considering Onryo didn’t do much apart from the opening spots. I would’ve liked to see Curry Man continue on…
Gran Hamada Vs. Shinya Makabe – In my mind, Gran Hamada seems a little long in the tooth by this point, but hey, never say never. Shinya Makabe would eventually become better known as Makabe Togi in New Japan Pro Wrestling. So, needless to say, I expected him to manhandle Hamada in this one. Togi worked over Hamada’s legs to set a slower pace here than many of the matches we’ve seen already. This was to be expected here, as they are two of the ‘beefier’ juniors in the tournament. The punishment continued with a single-leg Boston crab and then a modified bow-and-arrow stretch from Makabe. Hamada hung in there, reversing a few holds and breaking others via the bottom rope. Some heavy strikes rained down on Hamada until he was able to gain some momentum with a cutter off the top rope. Taking advantage of a downed Makabe, he applied a cross armbar and forced Jushin Liger’s youngboy to tap out! This one felt more like a heavyweight bout and was pretty one-sided for the most part.
The Great Sasuke Vs. Kaz Hayashi – Sasuke is arguably one of my favorite Japanese wrestlers of all time and Kaz Hayashi had a job where the big boys played at this time, so I had some expectations going into this one. A handshake started this pone, which was a nice change. Sasuke then lit Hayashi up with strikes until he found himself trapped in a crossface. Matches like this one were part of the unique pairings I was looking forward to. Kaz Hayashi hit some stiff grapples including a staggering snap powerbomb for a near fall. Great Sasuke dropkicked Kaz out of midair, sending him doubled-over and bailing to the floor. Back in the ring, Kaz found his footing and again locked Great Sasuke in a crossface. More back and forth offense ensued with Sasuke nailing a crucifix powerbomb for a three-count over his WCW-based opponent. These guys worked great together and were motivated to put on a good match. Perhaps in a higher profile match with some more time to spare, we could’ve gotten a classic!
Tiger Mask IV Vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger – Anytime these two are pitted against one another, you’re bound for a good match. There’a a reason you put these guys on last for the first night of the tournament. A stalemate quickly turned into the fast feet of Tiger Mask sending Liger to the floor with Tiger Mask then hitting a diving senton onto him from the top rope to the outside. Back in the ring, Liger chose to slow things down with a deep chinlock and a a nice powerbomb. By this time, there were a lot of empty seats seen from the ring in the second seating level of the arena, which sucked. Action in the ring heated up when Liger hit a punt kick on Tiger Mask and began slapping him around. , the crowd booed in displeasure. The crowd rallied behind Tiger Mask, seeing hi hit a Tiger Suplex for a near fall. A devastating cross armbar sent Liger flailing for the bottom rope, almost needing to tap out. A Liger Bomb and brainbuster weren’t enough to keep Tiger Mask down! After hitting two Shotei palm strikes, Liger was finally able to pin hi opponent to advance to the next round. Not their best meeting by any means, but a great match nonetheless. This one just eked out the first match of the night as the best match of night one. The remaining crowd was also easily the most invested in this one, much to no surprise given the star power.
SPECIAL ATTRACTION SINGLES MATCH
Abismo Negro Vs. El Oriental – This match was disappointingly presented as clipped, but it looked like it was awesome. I am familiar with Abismo Negro’s legacy in Mexico, but have only seen a match or two of his. So, I was excited to be treated to this special singles match. No such luck for me here…
(NO RATING AVAILABLE, CLIPPED MATCH)
Onryo Vs. CIMA – CIMA had the unorthodox Onryo next and before the bell rang, Onryo wiped him out with a diving springboard senton from the inside to the floor! Onryo stayed in control, almost catching CIMA in a backslide pin! The Onryo Clutch nearly ended this one similarly to his first round matchup as he wasted no time with CIMA here. After throwing Onryo off the top rope avalanche-style, CIMA was able to stick another nice Mad Splash from the top to get the pin. Onryo had a much better showing with CIMA here, but I was glad my pick for the tournament was advancing on!
Gran Hamada Vs. Ricky Fuji – After a solid match for Hamada during his first outing of the tournament, I was hoping Ricky would only build on that momentum with Hamada here. The crowd was pulling for him for the before the lockup, too! In response, he belted out a springboard plancha to Fuji on the floor that looked great. After that, Hamada slowed the pace down back in the ring, sticking with some holds to wear Ricky down. Fuji then took over with some holds of his own, a knee bar giving Hamada the most trouble. At this point, I noticed Ultimo Dragon was suited up at an officials table watching on, which made sense given the Toryumon presence in the tournament. Ricky Fuji hit a twisting tombstone piledriver for a near fall. Gran Hamada fought Fuji at every pass, including a HUGE turning DDT off the top rope that put his younger opponent away. Big win here for Gran Hamada who took a good beating and kept coming back for more!
The Great Sasuke Vs. Naoki Sano – I was ready for this Great Sasuke / Naoki Sano clash here, given the upped stakes for a shot to advance. After some sparring back and forth, Sano nailed Sasuke with a suicide dive that pinned Sasuke up against a ringside table, looking nasty! A Sasuke Special was busted out in retaliation, this time taking both men out on the outside. Back in the ring, Sasuke landed a solid springboard moonsault for a near fall, followed up by a Tombstone piledriver. Next, Sasuke went to the top, was stopped, and german suplexed off instead! A savate kick to the head sent Sasuke to the mat where he was unable to get to his feet to break the referee’s ten-count. A TKO finish was a cool twist finish here, and I was surprised to see Sano defeat Sasuke and advance. One of my favorite matches of the tournament for sure!
Men’s Teioh Vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger – I had more high hopes for this one, as I like both men and both have had good matches in round one. Men Teioh started with a side headlock that quickly turned into a collection of shoulder blocks. He nearly caught Liger in the same Teioh Lock II that won him his first round match. Another figure-four around the ringpost was applied, more signature Men’s Teioh! I was surprised to see Liger at the brunt of the punishment here, given his stature over Teioh. A rolling elbow also put Liger down for a near fall. A frustrated Jushin Liger slapped Teioh around to the boo’s of the crowd, but was brainbustered for his deeds. Liger fired up and hit a running Shotei palm strike and brainbuster of his own to put Teioh away and advance on! A decent match with a pretty predictable outcome…
SPECIAL ATTRACTION TAG TEAM MATCH
Tiger Mask IV, Minoru Tanaka, Masaaki Mochizuki, Shinya Makabe, and Ricky Marvin Vs. Kendo Kashin, El Samurai, Judo Suwa, Super Boy, and Chabinger – This special feature match was seemingly just to get these guys on for Night 2 of the Super J-Cup and to serve as a break from the tournament matches. I was up for some fun! After entrances, Ricky Marvin was on for a hurricanrana from the apron to start things in chaos. El Samurai was tagged in to go up against Shinya Makabe, Makabe hit three german suplexes and then it was Tiger Mask IV in next. Samurai hit a reverse DDT and suicide dive on Tiger Mask and this is when I realized tag format was not being kept here. Guys would come in and other guys would leave the ring in the midst of battle or after a spot, Mexican-style. Kendo Kashin and Ricky Marvin went at it, Marvin landing a missile dropkick and a twisting senton onto Kendo on the outside! In ring, Super Boy hit a big moonsault on Tiger Mask for a near fall. A german suplex and spinning kick put Super Boy down for a three-count. Thus, giving Tiger Mask IV and his team the victory here. This match wasn’t presented in full (maybe missing a few clipped minutes of the beginning), but there was enough meat on the bone to get the idea. This was your typical multiman match filled with quick, dynamic spots for each man.
ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING SINGLES MATCH FOR THE WWWA SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Chaparita Asari Vs. Hiromi Yagi – I was interested in seeing this one, as I have very little knowledge of either woman’s work. I know the 90’s were on fire for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, so I’m sure these two planned to get in all they could for new sets of eyes in the Michinoku Pro Wrestling crowd. A tossed away handshake started this one off, a slap in the face was delivered instead. Yagi was the aggressor, flying off the top rope to the floor with a crossbody onto the champion. Picture-perfect german suplex into a bridging pin for Yagi for a near fall. A body scissors submission kept Asari reeling. More mat-based submissions were traded and broken by both competitors. A springboard Asai moonsault to the floor finally dampened Yagi, followed up by a missile dropkick off the top by the time she made it back into the ring. Desperate to put the champion away, Yagi kept looking for a cross armbreaker submission, but the crafty Asari kept finding her way to the ropes. A beautiful Sky Twister Press won Chaparita Asari the match, thus successfully defending her championship. There were some really nicely delivered moves here and these two women delivered some of the cleanest high-risk moves we’ve seen during the entire event.
Naoki Sano Vs. CIMA – Going into the semifinals, I was hyped for this next one. CIMA has been my pick all tournament and Naoki Sano has had an awesome showing himself thus far. CIMA did some spitting and threw his towel at Sano, establishing some extra heat right from jump. He went to work on Sano’s leg, hitting a low running dropkick and landing some kicks on it while Sano was was in the corner. Sano was then set up in a tree-of-woe, ending up on the receiving end of a running dropkick to the face! CIMA shouted insults and was all over Sano. A big missile dropkick off the top found its mark on CIMA and Sano was finally able to gain some momentum. He slapped on a double-leg crab with ideal ring positioning. A bow-and-arrow stretch as well as a Romero Special made brief appearances, complements of Naoki Sano. An electric chair drop into the corner stopped Sano’s roll, as both men attempted to recover. A Mad Splash finally put Sano away moving CIMA to the finals.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger Vs. Gran Hamada – Gran Hamada put the boots to Jushin “Thunder” Liger early on in this one. The battle continued when a clothesline sent Liger spilling to the floor. Hamada worked over Liger’s arm and shoulder, basing his offense on ground submissions to deal damage. Hamada even landed an impressive super hurricanrana for a near fall on Liger! Jushin Liger finally reversed the flow when he caught his opponent with a pop-up powerbomb and a HUGE running Shotei palm strike on him in the corner. Yet, not even a brainbuster off the top could put Gran Hamada away! A cutter off the top almost ended the tournament for Liger, but the J-Cup veteran fought on. Tension built as both men were spent at this point in the match. A Liger Bomb and brainbuster was delivered, still no pin victory for Jushin Liger! Gran Hamada’s fighting spirit was off the charts here! After fighting Liger all the way, Hamada was eventually put down with a defiant Shotei palm strike for a three-count. Thus, moving Liger into the finals to meet CIMA. Great match for both men, another favorite.
CIMA Vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger – Here we are! The Super J-Cup 2000 finals, pitting Jushin “Thunder” Lier against the heelish CIMA! A staredown allowed the crowd to get worked up behind their respective favorites. Some ground submission chains got us going, neither man willing to give up an inch of momentum to their opponent. Liger worked over an arm before transitioning into a deep Camel Clutch. The work then switched to CIMA’s back, as Liger laid in some forearms and a modified surfboard stretch. CIMA pulled at the mask of Liger, but had no luck tearing it off. Liger used his patented Romero Special into a necklock before switching into a sleeper hold. This is the most trouble we’ve seen CIMA in all tournament! A superkick caught Liger off-guard and almost cost him the tournament with a near fall for CIMA. CIMA continued by hitting a sweet Hilo over the ropes to the floor onto Liger. Once back in the ring, Jushin Liger delivered a Shotei palm strike, but got nailed with an Iconoclasm out of the corner. A running Liger Bomb and stalling brainbuster wasn’t enough to keep CIMA down. Instead, CIMA rallied and landed a high Mad Splash for only a near fall himself! After trading a few more moves back and forth, CIMA fell victim to two back-to-back brainbusters. After the match, Liger offered a hand to CIMA, patting him on the back for his efforts and leaving the ring as the winner of the 20000 Super J-Cup!
FINAL THOUGHTS AND OVERALL OPINION:
So, my feelings are conflicted for this year’s tournament. To me, these felt more like simple exhibition matches, rather than a prestigious set of matches to crown the next big star of the junior heavyweight wrestling world ranks. In hindsight, I believe this was just a marketing ploy developed by Michinoku Pro to create a buzz around their faltering product. And on the other hand? I still had fun watching this show. I was disappointed with the lack of stars compared to the previous two editions of the Super J-Cup, but the scene had really changed in the five years in between. Much to no surprise of my own, Liger and CIMA were standouts. Gran Hamada has a great tournament for himself, kudos to the veteran for hanging with some tough competition! I still suggest you give this year’s Super J-Cup a watch. If you only watch one match from this event, I suggest the either the The Great Sasuke/Naoki Sano match or the finals with CIMA/Jushin Liger. Both are solid and represent some past and then-present clashes of talent. On the whole, unfortunately, I think this edition of the tournament suffered from a split venue audience, too many days in between nights, and the lack of enthusiasm for a fading host promotion.
Austin Skinner View All
I'm a twenty-seven year old lover of the professional wrestling of yesteryear, writer extraordinaire, and bigtime James Bond film/novel enthusiast... Welcome to the party, my dear.
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