New Japan Cup Day 1 Marquee Saw El Desperado Stand Out
Tomohiro Ishii Was His Usual Self
The marquee of New Japan Cup Day 1 saw Suzuki-Gun junior heavyweight El Desperado face CHAOS heavyweight Tomohiro Ishii. Desperado has yet to win a singles championship during his career, while Ishii is a former 2x Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion, ROH Television Champion, and 5x NEVER Openweight Champion. On paper, Desperado was a long shot to even compete evenly with Ishii, despite his Lucha Libre inspired brawling tactics and respected toughness.
However, despite never fairing well in Best of the Super Junior tournaments, Desperado did not back down to Ishii, who is beloved for his straight forward brawling style. The twenty-minute and seventeen-second match saw Ishii put on the defensive, especially with Desperado’s focus over his leg.
While Desperado was at a weight disadvantage, he used his superior length to gain the leverage advantage over Ishii, almost causing him to submit to his Numer Dos, Stretch Muffler on two occasions. Ishii was also able to narrowly kick out of Guitarra de la Muerta during the latter stages of the match.
Ishii was seemingly caught off guard by how much fight Desperado was able to bring to the table, yet he did call on his unbreakable will to mount a comeback when he was in danger of losing the match. He would be able to defeat Desperado with a Sheer Drop Brainbuster and move on to the second round to face Togi Makabe on June 24th.
Desperado may not have been victorious, but his ability to go blow for blow, and maintain the advantage for the majority of the contest bodes well for the Suzuki-Gun member if Best of the Super Junior is held later during the year. Heavyweight competitors have not been able to maintain control over Ishii for as lengthy stretches as he was able to during the match.
The NEVER Openweight Championship also becomes a realistic target for Desperado after his performance against Ishii. Current champion Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ) member Shingo Takagi presents different challenges than Ishii, but Desperado could give Takagi problems if presented with a title opportunity in the future.