On December 12th, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presented the Super J Cup 2020 tournament. The one-night campaign would crown a new trophy winner the day after former three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Best of the Super Juniors 25 (BOSJ 25), and Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ) member “Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi won the BOSJ 27 trophy.
The final opening match to the single-elimination tournament saw Super J Cup 2019 winner and Bullet Club member El Phantasmo (ELP) take on Lio Rush, who was making his NJPW debut. ELP and Rush exchanged words on social media during the build-up to the match, creating a trophy finals atmosphere despite the match taking place in the first round.
ELP was likely considered a slight favorite, but Lio Rush did not back down from the challenge of ELP who showed some rust during points within the match, struggling with his balance. Rush came forward with his offense, giving the defending tournament winner more of a fight than he was expecting.
However, ELP would dive into underhanded tactics to give himself an advantage against his dynamic Junior Heavyweight opponent. Eventually, his tactics would result in him gaining the fall at the 15 minutes and 16 seconds mark with a Vertical Cradle after a Low Blow.
The victory means ELP would move on to face the injured “All Heart” Blake Christian in the semi-finals round. Despite the loss, Lio Rush was extremely impressive and is a heavy candidate to continue with NJPW in the long-term.
ELP with his victory made himself the clear favorite as the one-night campaign continued, however, the battle he went through against Rush put him in a difficult position going forward.
Due to the circumstances, it’s possible Lio Rush and ELP could meet again in the near future.