Into the Vault: The 1994 Super J Cup
I love a wrestling tournament, especially a single-elimination one. They’re easy to sit through and depending on the participants, you get a fun one-night tournament. Well, it’s fun if the majority of the matches are good. Let’s check out one of the highly respected tournaments in old school wrestling: the 1994 Super J Cup.
Some might say “Even the FMW guys showed out on this.” While it didn’t touch New Japan’s 90s junior heavyweight division—very few junior divisions did—FMW’s juniors weren’t slouches at all.
There was a sense of importance to this show and everyone showed up and most showed out. The reason none of the matches were particularly bad is that there was at least one person who would put in the work in each bout. You had no broomsticks in these matches. A couple of unknowns, sure but you didn’t have a few lemons in here.
The most unknown person in this tournament would probably be Masayoshi Motegi who also wrestled as Chabinger. Another lost wrestler is El Samurai. That’s only because he was gone from New Japan sometime before the boom started. If you followed puroresu in the late 90s and early 00s, you were somewhat familiar with El Samurai.
Everyone else on this card was either already established or went on to greater things.
Normally, I’d give you a selection of matches you could skip over but the 1994 Super J Cup had decent-at-minimum matches. First, the last match of the opening rounds: Jushin Liger against Hayabusa. This could’ve been a bit longer because this is a main event-quality bout. For the time given, these two really delivered a nice junior sprint bout.
If anything, the seeding could’ve been done differently so that these two met up later.
Once we get into the quarter-finals, we have all solid matches. The standout bouts were Wild Pegasus vs. Black Tiger and The Great Sasuke vs. El Samurai. Dope matches that use the time given very well. Matches go from a feeling-out period into these sprints at the end. This has always been my favorite booking and pacing of Japanese matches.
The semi-finals had The Great Sasuke squaring off against Jushin Liger. Awesome match and my favorite from the entire show. An interesting story from the semi-finals is Gedo taking on Wild Pegasus. This show and the 1995 Super J Cup would be big in the making of the legend that is Gedo.
My runner-up bout is the finals between Pegasus and Sasuke. Worth the watch for sure but the action in Sasuke-Liger was just…whew. The finals are a very close contender for the best match of the show.
Verdict on the 1994 Super J Cup
Dope show all-around! There are some gems on this card even in the extremely short bouts that you might skip over. This is the 1995 Super J Cup are great references for seeing the early years of some former WWE main eventers but also the OGs of junior wrestling in Japan. Especially if you’re not up for sitting through tour TV from this period.
This is a strongly recommended show.