Does NJPW know how to get fans talking or what? The wrestling community is buzzing, following the aftermath of the New Japan Cup 2020 Finals and the main event for NJPW Dominion 2020. Not only did we see the end of the four-week tournament, but we also saw the end of one of NJPW's longest alliances which led to EVIL defeating Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi has made the first challenge to EVIL. We also saw the return of Dick Togo. It was quite the newsworthy weekend for the biggest promotion in Japan.
After eight nights of empty arena shows, NJPW welcomed fans back to their events for the first time since the end of February. The Osaka-jo Hall was allowed 36% capacity at the 10,000 seat arena to watch the New Japan Cup finals and NJPW's traditional summer PPV.
Fans were asked to not chant or scream, as the company tries to set precautions with the country finally turning around after the pandemic. To even hear fans clapping during matches was a welcome sound to go with the good to excellent action that we witnessed throughout the night.
Both shows included a nice assortment of the available talent at NJPW's disposal. With stars such as Will Ospreay, KENTA and the Guerrillas of Destiny all unable to travel to Japan, the company put their best foot forward and delivered two nights of events which have caused quite the stir of emotions for both casual and hardcore fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling
The New Japan Cup Finals event featured several multi-man tag team matches which built to the next night's card. NJPW Dominion also featured an array of multi-man matches but was highlighted by three huge title matches to close the night. Each title match delivering different levels of excitement, action and development to the company as a whole.ww
Let's take a look at five observations from the New Japan Cup 2020 Finals and Dominion events this weekend.
#1 The development of the Young Lions
One of my favorite parts of watching New Japan Pro Wrestling has to be watching how each Young Lion develops from their introduction in NJPW to their re-debut as an actual character within the company. Since my time watching and following New Japan, I have seen Young Lions like Jay White, Juice Robinson, and Hiromu Takahashi, develop from rookies to full-fledged upper card stars in New Japan.
The NJ Cup Finals and Dominion both featured matches that focused on building and developing their latest crop of dojo boys. On the first night, Uemura and Tsuji both got to show their skills in a tag team match against Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. On night 2, Gabriel Kidd called out and got punked out by NJPW legend Yuji Nagata in a six-man tag team match.
The trainee that got the biggest spotlight was the returning Master Wato. The artist formerly known as Hirai Kawato got the big push in the lead up to this weekend with weeks of vignettes before his debut match facing DOUKI. The aforementioned Suzuki-gun member is my personal least favorite person on the NJPW roster, merely because he doesn't do much as a character or in the ring. This was a confusing choice for Wato's debut.
Although this was arguably the weakest of the matches featuring Young Lions on the NJ Cup Finals, Wato was able to show off his nice arsenal of kicks and athleticism in this contest. He also got to show more of his high flying skills on the NJPW Dominion card in a six-man tag team match where he teamed with Hiroshi Tenzan and fellow Young Lion, Uemura. We will have to see if he further develops now with this new Grandmaster character.