Tetsuya Naito faces Zack Sabre Jr. to decide the winner of the 2022 New Japan Cup today in Osaka.
Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada on yesterday's show to advance to the finals, while Sabre defeated Shingo Takagi.
While not yet announced, the tournament winner will likely get a shot at Okada's IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on next month's Hyper Battle tour.
Today's undercard matches will likely hint at the key matches for Hyper Battle, as well as the Golden Fight Series tour, which culminates with Wrestling Dontaku at the Fukuoka Dome on May 1.
Today's full card:
- New Japan Cup finals: Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask vs. Tatsumi Fujinami, CIMA, T-Hawk & El Lindaman
- Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi vs. EVIL & Dick Togo
- Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare
- El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku vs. SHO & Yujiro Takahashi
- Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & YOH vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Jado, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Gedo, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo
- BUSHI vs Kosei Fujita
Our live coverage begins at 1 a.m. Eastern time.
BUSHI defeated Kosei Fujita
This was a good match to open the show. Simple wrestling, done well.
Fujita gained the upper hand early with a tackle that sent BUSHI to the ground. BUSHI wasn’t on the back foot for long, however, as he used some nonchalant striking to take control from the young lion. After forcing Fujita into the ropes with a single leg Boston crab, BUSHI let his lead slip as Fujita connected with a pair of quick dropkicks. A belly to belly into a Boston crab left Fujita on solid ground.
BUSHI caught Fujita a dropkick of his own to recement his control. BUSHI locked in a deep Boston crab to force the submission.
Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, El Phantasmo, Gedo & Taiji Ishimori (Bullet Club) defeated Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi, Jado
Not a bone in my body cares about this Bullet Club drama. Not to mention, the match wasn't good.
After a brief brawl to open the match, the babyface squad had a short in-ring stent of offence. Bullet Club wouldn’t let this last for long, as they used their numbers and disregard for rules to isolate Wato. This led to a Tama hot tag, where he ran through all of the opposition.
Jado tagged in to face Gedo. With help from GoD, Jado scored a near fall over his former partner. At some point, an outside brawl left Jado and Gedo without reinforcement and the referee preoccupied. Jado locked in the crossface of Jado, prompting Owens to break the hold with a knee. Owens then pulled Gedo over Jado for a guileful pin.
Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun) defeated Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOH (CHAOS)
I wouldn’t say this is worth seeking out or anything, but it had its moments.
This match opened with a brawl. Yano and Taichi, an upcoming KOPW match, found each other between the ropes. Taichi won in their exchange while the brawling cooled down, leaving Suzuki-gun free to isolate Yano.
Yano eventually tagged out, leading to a Suzuki / Ishii scrap. YOH and Kanemaru followed suit with a battle of their own. Eventually, Taichi and YOH were left alone in the ring. YOH scored a pair of near falls with a falcon arrow and schoolboy, while Taichi did the same with an axe bomber. Taichi hit YOH with a yokozuna elbow to bring this match to a close.
After the final bell, Taichi dropped Yano with another yokozuna elbow. He then taunted Yano with a sumo pose, teasing his KOPW stipulation, ‘sumo rules’.
Suzuki and Ishii continued to fight after the match’s end. These men battled for a stretch, both during and after Taichi’s theatrical exit. This seemingly was to set up an Ishii / Suzuki singles, perhaps at the upcoming Windy City Riot show.
SHO & Yujiro Takahashi (House of Torture) defeated El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku (Suzuki-gun)
Before the match could start, SHO stormed to the back. This was so he could jump Suzuki-gun before the match began. After beating Desperado and TAKA with a wrench, HoT stood tall.
After the opening bell, SHO locked TAKA in a submission and forced him to tap out.
Once the match was over, SHO removed Desperado’s mask and hit him with Shock Arrow.
Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay (United Empire) defeated Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto, & YOSHI-HASHI
This was not a good match, but it existed to further the Bishamon / United Empire title feud.
This match opened with a brawl. As things developed in the ring, Ospreay took control over GBH. The match continued with UE singling out Makabe for some time. Once the tag came, YH and Goto were able to overwhelm UE.
A second brawl broke out after UE broke up a pin following KoKeShi. Honma tried for a rocket KoKeShi, but Cobb caught him mid-flight. Honma managed to survive long enough to get in some more offence, but ultimately, Cobb ended the match with Tour of the Islands.
After the match, UE beat down their opponents further, allowing Cobb and O-Khan to stand tall with the IWGP tag titles in hand.
Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Dick Togo & EVIL (House Of Torture)
Hiromu launched an attack on the ramp before the match could start, but EVIL managed to withstand the assault by slamming Hiromu into the barricade and choking him with a cable.
In the ring, Hiromu landed a quick kick to tag out to Shingo. Shingo led an advance, surviving a whip into the exposed corner before dropping EVIL with a DDT and tagging back into Hiromu. This led to EVIL and Togo working together to retake their lead.
Togo tried using his cable, but the referee caught him. This distraction bought EVIL enough time to drop Shingo with a low blow. Hiromu was able to turn things back around, however, by whipping EVIL into the exposed corner. Hiromu then hit Togo with Everything is Evil and pinned him to close the match.
EVIL tried to jump Hiromu after the match, but he left with his tail between his legs. Hiromu then dared EVIL to challenge him to a match for the NEVER title.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask defeated CIMA, El Lindaman, T-Hawk, & Tatsumi Fujinami
I loved everything about this match. The STRONGHEARTS are consistently one of my favourite acts, both in New Japan and elsewhere. Fujinami delivered much more than should be expected. Okada was on and Tanahashi never misses. This was outstanding.
Fujinami started the match by calling out Okada. Okada and Fujinami had a short exchange before tagging out to CIMA and TM, respectively. TM and CIMA also had a brief scuffle before tagging to T-Hawk and Kojima.
Kojima and T-Hawk traded blows before Lindaman entered the fray. Kojima withstood the double team long enough, leading to a tag back into Fujinami. Fujinami, with aid from CIMA, began to work Kojima’s leg. CIMA and Lindaman continued to focus the leg after tagging in. The STRONGHEARTS dropped Kojima with a triple dropkick to further their lead.
A Koji cutter bought a hot tag into Tanahashi. Tanahashi took out the STRONGHEARTS before teasing an interaction with Fujinami; the tease came to fruition after a Lindaman dropkick. Tanahashi escaped a Fujinami choke to deliver a dragonscrew. Tanahashi then tagged to Okada, who immediately attempted a rainmaker; Fujinami ducked. Fujinami dropped Okada with a dragonscrew and tagged to T-Hawk.
Okada hit T-Hawk hard with heavy offence, but T-Hawk answered with a remarkable sequence and believable near fall on the IWGP World Heavyweight champion. This led to a skirmish between teams, occupying everyone long enough for Okada to drop T-Hawk with a rainmaker and win the match.
After the match, Fujinami shared the ring with his opponents, striking a pose to celebrate New Japan’s 50th year.
New Japan Cup Final: Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tetsuya Naito
What a match. This was easily the best match of the tournament and a frontrunner for New Japan match of the year. This was a brilliant match and a superb tournament from ZSJ.
The match opened with an impassioned wrestling sequence; it became evident that ZSJ’s focus would be on Naito’s leg. As the match developed, the groundwork moved to the floor while ZSJ started to build an early lead.
A swinging neckbreaker from Naito yielded a moment of reprieve. Combinación de Cabrón and a neckbreaker let Naito have his turn controlling ZSJ on the mat. Naito tried for Gloria and a swinging DDT, but ZSJ avoided the moves and reversed into a head crank.
ZSJ furthered his lead by tying Naito up in the ropes, contorting his arm. ZSJ tried following up with a fast sequence, but Naito caught him, connecting with a barrage of elbow strikes. A top rope rana from Naito let ZSJ slip back into control on the ground. Naito escaped by trying for a pin; this forced a stand up, allowing Naito to connect with a swinging DDT.
Naito dropped ZSJ with Esperanza. Naito in his follow-up was brought to the mat, initiating a swift succession of pin attempts. From his place of confidence, ZSJ locked in a choke that forced Naito into the ropes.
Naito reversed the Zack Driver twice, once into Valentía and once into a pseudo-Destino. Not only did ZSJ survive, he responded by hitting the Zack driver for a near fall. This was, in effect, a match reset at the twenty-minute mark.
Naito dropped ZSJ with a series of elbows, but a quick strike to Naito’s weekend leg let him slip back into control. Naito tried for a quick pin, ZSJ for a penalty kick, but neither man could close. After a second penalty kick, DDT, and Zack Driver ZSJ hooked the leg and pinned Naito to close the match and win the New Japan Cup.
After the match, ZSJ cut a promo saying he would soon be not just the best technical wrestler in the world but the best wrestler in the world and the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.