After a two-year hiatus, the seventh edition of the Super J-Cup is set to kick off on Thursday, August 22, at the Temple Theater in Tacoma, Washington. For the first time in the tournament’s history, the Super J-Cup will be held in the United States. The winner will be crowned at the end of a three-night run that spans all the way down the west coast.
This will be the third J-Cup in a row to be hosted by NJPW and will once again draws 16 participants against one another to decide who is the best junior heavyweight in the world. Competing alongside NJPW will be wrestlers from three of their partner promotions (CMLL, RevPro and ROH) as well as two freelancers.
The opening night will feature all eight first-round tournament matches accompanied by a special tag team appearance from the producer of the Super J-Cup, Jushin “Thunder” Liger. The show is set to be recorded but won’t make it to NJPW World until September.
Rocky Romero (NJPW) vs. Soberano Jr. (CMLL)
Coming off a Best of the Super Juniors run that forced fans to take notice, tag team specialist Rocky Romero finds himself in yet another singles tournament in 2019. With four NJPW tours under his belt, including one for the 2018 Super Junior Tag League, Soberano Jr. will want to make a name for himself at the expense of one of NJPW’s most beloved junior heavyweights of 2019.
TJP (Freelancer) vs. Clark Connors (NJPW)
As one of the premier prospects in Katsuyori Shibata’s run L.A. Dojo, Clark Connors made waves during this year’s G1 Climax, mostly testing himself against NJPW’s Tokyo-based young lion class. For his next challenge, Connors will meet with a man who was a part of the original L.A. Dojo, TJP. Making his return to NJPW after an eight year absence, TJP will have a chance to show a new crop of young lions how he was trained by the system nearly 20 years prior.
BUSHI (NJPW) vs. Carístico (CMLL)
Finding more success as a tag team wrestler as opposed to singles, BUSHI makes his second straight appearance in the Super J-Cup. He’ll want to have a better outing than 2016 which saw him eliminated in the first round to eventual finalist, Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Carístico comes into the tournament as one of the major players for CMLL. Expect him to come out and establish himself as such in the opening round.
Ryusuke Taguchi (NJPW) vs. Jonathan Gresham (ROH)
The man affectionately referred to as “The Coach,” Ryusuke Taguchi, takes on one of the coaches from Ring of Honor, Jonathan Gresham. Both of these men are classically-trained wrestlers who will look to show off their expertise on one another. They’ve had limited interactions, only having crossed paths in a six-man tag match at RevPro as well as this year’s Honor Rumble. These are two extremely versatile wrestlers who can adapt to any style they encounter.
Robbie Eagles (NJPW) vs. El Phantasmo (RevPro)
A bowl full of sour grapes came along with El Phantasmo when he joined the Bullet Club. Tensions grew when his idea on how to win conflicted with Robbie Eagles’ ideals, causing a fracture in the Bullet Club and leading to Eagles’ departure. There’s even more bad blood now that Eagles has aligned himself with CHAOS and plans to team with El Phantasmo’s nemesis, Will Ospreay, to take on the Bullet Club at Royal Quest. El Phantasmo will come in wanting to show what happens when you turn your back on the Bullet Club.
YOH (NJPW) vs. Dragon Lee (CMLL)
Having dropped the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Will Ospreay back in June, Dragon Lee will have a chance to get some semblance of revenge by defeating Ospreay’s CHAOS stablemate, YOH. As a tag team specialist, YOH has seen very little success as a singles wrestler but a win over a former junior champion would help his career trajectory immensely. There’s a chance Lee can get his revenge on Ospreay in the tournament final but a loss to YOH would both eliminate him and be seen as a major setback.
Taiji Ishimori (NJPW) vs. SHO (NJPW)
One of SHO’s goals in 2019 has been to establish himself as a threat in the singles division. He met Taiji Ishimori in a singles match during this year’s Best of the Super Juniors but came up short before subsequently losing his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to the team of Ishimori and El Phantasmo three weeks later. Ishimori has been a major hurdle for SHO this year but he’ll have another chance to accomplish his goal in the Super J-Cup. As a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Ishimori will be looking to get back into the title picture.
Will Ospreay (NJPW) vs. Amazing Red (Freelancer)
This all started when Will Ospreay called out Amazing Red for a match, pulling him out of retirement and finding his way into the Super J-Cup. Two of the most dynamic high-flyers of their respective eras, Amazing Red was a major influence on Ospreay’s career. They will close out the night with a dream match that’s sure to be one of the greatest spectacles of the year. Ospreay has had a 2019 to remember and he doesn’t look like he’ll be taking it easy anytime soon.