Still just 32 years of age, the Vancouver, British Columbia native who wrestles as El Phantasmo has become the latest person to win New Japan Pro Wrestling's Super J Cup. ELP is a 13-year veteran of the ring, but it wasn't until he recently joined Bullet Club that he emerged from the fringes to become a big-time player. A trainee of Scotty Mac and Aaron Idol, he turned heads over the course of three different nights of the tournament and shocked the NJPW fan base by winning the cup.
Phantasmo's career began as part of the Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling promotion, training alongside the likes of current WWE NXT superstar Kyle O'Reilly. He spent nearly a dozen years competing on the Canadian West Coast, leaving the country in 2017 to develop his craft in the United Kingdom. While there, he captured the RevPro Wrestling British Cruiserweight Championship after defeating ‘The Product' David Starr. After spending a couple of years competing as part of Revolution Pro Wrestling, he debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling on the first evening of the New Japan Cup 2019 tournament. It is worth noting that those two promotions have a close partnership, which facilitated him to joining NJPW. It was at that time that he was announced as the newest member of Bullet Club, and he attained immediate success when he defeated Will Ospreay as part of a tag team match.
The Super J Cup tournament was filled with international talent such as NJPW mainstays Sho, Yoh, Ryusuke Taguchi, Will Ospreay, BUSHI, Tajiri Ishimoiri, Rocky Romero and Robbie Eagles, NJPW Young Lion Clark Connors, Mexican superstars Soberano Jr, Caristico and Dragon Lee, Ring of Honor's Johnathan Gresham, independent legend Amazing Red and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins.
On August 25th, El Phantasmo didn't just catch fans off guard he absolutely stunned them with his defeat of Will Ospreay in the semifinals. This wasn't the first time he has been successful against the ‘Aerial Assassin,' as he also defeated him during the Best of the Super Juniors XXVI tournament. Prior to making it to the semifinals, he defeated former Bullet Club brethren Eagles, as well as Perkins.
In the finals, ELP faced off against Dragon Lee. In a match that went nearly a half an hour-long, he defeated his opponent, who has been prominent in NJPW's junior heavyweight ranks for several years and won the tournament. The win wasn't easy as it was a back and forth affair. This win has to certainly set Phantasmo up for an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match, especially since he also defeated the reigning champion in Ospreay.
When that will happen, remains to be seen, but if NJPW wants to capitalize on ELP's momentum it will likely be after Royal Quest. It is interesting to note that Ospreay and El Phantasmo will face each other again soon, as part of a tag team match when Ospreay and former Bullet Club member Robbie Eagles challenge ELP and his tag team partner Taiji Ishimori for the NJPW Junior Heavyweight tag team championships.
El Phantasmo's win didn't result in a joyful celebration. In the most dastardly of actions, he showed complete disrespect for the Super J Cup trophy that resulted in a kick followed by a challenge, said challenge being directed by Phantasmo to the soon to be retired Jushin ‘Thunder' Liger in his final match at Wrestle Kingdom. Full of confidence and bravado, he proceeded to challenge Ospreay for his title, and also referred to him as the ‘Autistic Assassin,' which, while an attempt to insult the champion is also a stab at those with special needs. His comments have generated traction and may bring exactly the attention ELP wants for himself. His win and rather despicable comments will certainly lead fans to not only want Ospreay to defeat him, but to pulverize the new Super J Cup 2019 winner.
This Super J Cup winner may have been met with mixed feelings from fans, but one thing is for certain: he took his win and showed that he is willing to spit on the legacy of the Super J Cup and the NJPW Junior Heavyweight legacy. He wasn't a favorite to win the tournament considering who he had in front of him in the earlier rounds. However, he got past them all and won. For him to defeat those four world class athletes, even if through underhanded means in a few cases, suggests that New Japan Pro Wrestling has put their support behind the Canadian. While it may be a stretch to infer that NJPW will find lightning in the Canadian bottle twice, after the previous success enjoyed by Phantasmo's countryman Kenny Omega, they must see a special quality in him that suggests he is a star in the making.
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