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New Japan Cup participants, first round matchups revealed

The participants for this year’s New Japan Cup tournament have been announced.

There will be 28 participants competing in the first round. The company has announced that NEVER Openweight champion Hiroshi Tanahashi and the winner of last year’s tournament, EVIL, will receive first round byes. The winner of the tournament on March 21 will then challenge Kota Ibushi for the new IWGP World Heavyweight title at Sakura Genesis on April 4 at Sumo Hall.

The first two matches of the tournament will take place at the 49th Anniversary Show on March 4. Satoshi Kojima will face Jeff Cobb, while Tetsuya Naito will face The Great-O-Khan.

The first round matches will take place on the following dates:

March 4th, New Japan 49th Anniversary Show at Budokan Hall:

  • Satoshi Kojima vs. Jeff Cobb
    • The winner will face EVIL on March 11
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. The Great-O-Khan

March 5th, Korakuen Hall:

  • Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale
  • Taichi vs. Hirooki Goto

March 6th, Ota City General Gymnasium, Tokyo:

  • Tomoaki Honma vs. Minoru Suzuki
  • Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi

March 7th, Yamanashi:

  • Gabriel Kidd vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Will Ospreay

March 9th, Okayama:

  • Yuji Nagata vs. Yota Tsuji
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA

March 10th, Kyoto:

  • David Finlay vs. Chase Owens
  • YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yujiro Takahashi
  • Toa Henare vs. Jay White
    • The winner will face Hiroshi Tanahashi on March 15th