Sabre meets Tanahashi in New Japan Cup final
Dating back to 2005, the New Japan Cup is an annual, single-elimination tournament held in the first quarter of the year.
The winner is able to challenge for his choice of the IWGP Heavyweight, Intercontinental, or Never Openweight Championship in the main event of Sakura Genesis on April 1.
Three of the last five winners have gone on to win their chosen title, including Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Tetsuya Naito.
A former winner himself, Hiroshi Tanahashi – who last won the New Japan Cup in 2008 – overcame Taichi, New Zealand’s Bad Luck Fale, and Juice Robinson en route to tonight’s final.
Zack Sabre Jr tapped out Tetsuya Naito, defeated Kota Ibushi via referee stoppage, and submitted Sanada to earn his place in the main event.
All three of the titleholders awaiting the winner’s choice are also in action on tonight’s card.
IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada tags with Chuckie T against Chase Owens and Kota Ibushi.
Intercontinental Champion Minoru Suzuki (who won his title from Tanahashi at January’s New Beginning in Sapporo) heads an eight-man Suzuki-gun side against Los Ingobernables de Japon.
Never Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto represents Chaos with Yoshi-Hashi against David Finlay and Juice Robinson.
And, in a match of particular interest to Kiwis, Bad Luck Fale and Toa Henare clash on opposite sides of a six-man tag team match.
NJPW New Japan Cup airs live tonight, March 21, from 7pm NZDT on New Japan World.
NJPW New Japan Cup Card:
- New Japan Cup:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr
- Chase Owens & Kota Ibushi vs. Chuckie T & Kazuchika Okada
- Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada & Tetsuya Naito vs. El Desperado, Minori Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi
- Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
- Bad Luck Fale, Tanga Loa & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Michael Elgin, Toa Henare & Togi Makabe
- Taichi vs. Tomoyuki Oka
- Shota Umino vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi