Yuji Nagata And Minoru Suzuki Deliver A Classic, Okada Prevails During Day 2 Of The New Japan Cup
Nagata & Suzuki Were Amazing
While not being the marquee match of Day 2 of the 2020 New Japan Cup, former NEVER Openweight and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Minoru Suzuki and former NEVER Openweight and 2x IWGP Heavyweight Champion (along with being the 2007 & 2011 New Japan Cup winner) Yuji Nagata had an incredible match in the headline position.
The history between Nagata and Suzuki is deep as stated by this outlet before tournament action, “…left bracket rekindles an old rivalry between Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki which led to six physical singles matches between the to from January 2011 – August 2013. Either could make a surprising run in the New Japan Cup, which commonly features a dark horse or two that make their way through the tournament.”
During their 2011 – 2013 rivalry, only managed to defeat Nagata twice during their six singles match, each victory coming during the New Japan Cup. However, Nagata hasn’t seen the same level of singles success that Suzuki has over the past several years.
However, their first singles match in nearly seven years was perhaps better than any of those during that six-match stretch. The match mostly revolved around strikes, neither of the NJPW Noge Dojo graduates relied much on their traditional wrestling background — aside from several moments throughout the twenty-minute and thirty-five-second match.
Going by fan reaction on Twitter, many didn’t feel Nagata had a chance to win and were shocked when he was able to pin Suzuki with his Backdrop hold.
This could likely lead to further contests between the two, who crafted an excellent war at the ages of 52 (Nagata) and 51 (Suzuki).
On September 23, 2018, Gedo turned on Kazuchika Okada and aligned himself with ‘Switchblade’ Jay White before the duo joined Bullet Club on October 8 of the same year.
Gedo and Okada would have their first singles match against one another on December 14, 2020, where Gedo faked an arm injury in an attempt to gain a mental advantage over his former pupil.
Gedo attempted the same stunt during the New Japan Cup but was able to put up a better fight against the 5x IWGP Heavyweight Champion this time around. Despite his underhanded tactics, he would fall Okada’s Cobra Clutch in fifteen minutes and thirty seconds.
Nagata and Okada will meet in the second round of the New Japan Cup on June 24th in only their second singles match against one another. They first met on August 12, 2015, during G1 Climax 25. Okada would win that match in eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds.
If Nagata can achieve another surprise victory, he will have officially resurrected his singles career, and could possibly find his way back into G1 competition — even after publicly retiring from the tournament after G1 Climax 27 in 2017. Due to possible travel restrictions, Nagata may need to compete in order to fill out the brackets regardless, unless drastic changes happen regarding COVID-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom.