Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay will face off tonight in this year's New Japan Cup finals.
Shingo vs. Ospreay is a rematch of the 2019 Best of the Super Juniors final, a match that Ospreay won. Both now classified as heavyweights, they will face off again for the right to challenge Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at the upcoming NJPW Sakura Genesis event.
In the semi-main, Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada will take on Jay White, Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens.
In the fourth match of the night, David Finlay, Juice Robinson and Toa Henare will face Tetsuya Naito, SANADA and BUSHI.
Before intermission, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI and SHO will tag against EVIL, KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi.
Satoshi Kojima and Tomoaki Honma will team up against The Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb of United Empire.
In the opener, Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd and Yuya Uemura will face Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. and DOUKI.
Our live coverage begins at 1 a.m. Eastern time.
The show began with a surprise appearance from YOH of Roppongi 3K. YOH has been out of action with a torn ACL. He announced that he will be back in the ring at Sakura Genesis on April 4 and wants to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag titles with SHO.
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI defeated Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd & Yuya Uemura (10:39)
This was a great opener.
The story of the match was the Young Lions frustrating the established Suzuki-gun veterans with their skill. The veterans gave the young guys a ton in this one.
Uemura and DOUKI began the match. Uemura had the upper hand with wrestling skill, so DOUKI turned this into a brawl around the ring. DOUKI used his pipe on Uemura on the floor.
Kidd and Sabre got tags and told a similar story. They had a mini-version of their tournament match from earlier this month, but I think this was way better. Kidd got cut off, then came back with strikes and dropkicks.
Tsuji and Taichi tagged in for the finish. Taichi was taking Tsuji lightly and Tsuji got a couple of great near falls as a result. Taichi teased tearing off his trousers, but Tsuji rolled him up instead.
Taichi avoided a Tsuji spear and hit an axe bomber and a backdrop suplex for the pin.
The Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb defeated Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma (8:58)
This was fine. They didn't get a lot of time, but that's okay.
Kojima busted out a flip senton in the shine. That was unexpected. Honma missed a kokeshi and was cut off. Kojima got a tag and hit an elbow drop off the top for a near fall.
Cobb and Honma got tags. Honma hit a kokeshi. He caught an interfering O-Khan and hit a combination bulldog DDT on both Cobb and O-Khan.
Cobb came back on Honma and hit a Tour of the Islands for the pin.
O-Khan cut his customary post-match promo, proclaiming the dominance of United Empire.
EVIL, KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo) defeated YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & SHO (9:24)
This was just to set up challengers for YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishi and Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Six-Man Tag titles. It wasn't much of a match.
Bullet Club attacked before the opening bell and went to work on Yano. Togo interfered and aided in the attack on Yano. Yano was able to expose a buckle in one of the neutral corners. Yano managed a tag to SHO, then SHO was cut off.
EVIL sent SHO into the security fence and the ring announcer took a bump. KENTA tagged in and repeatedly sent SHO into the exposed buckle. YH got a tag and some offense on KENTA. KENTA came back with a DDT on YH and tagged Yujiro.
Bullet Club worked on YH. Yujiro hit a basement dropkick for a two count, with SHO making the save. YH used a butterfly lock on Yujiro, but EVIL broke it up.
Togo took the referee. Yujiro hit YH with his cane, then hit Pimp Juice for the pin.
They played up on commentary that EVIL, KENTA and Yujiro had just beaten a third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag champs.
Bullet Club continued their assault after the match. Yano got whipped into the exposed turnbuckle. KENTA attacked YH with his own bo staff. KENTA left with the bo.
***** Intermission *****
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI defeated Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Toa Henare (10:10)
Major heel turn vibes coming from Henare here.
Finlay was selling the damage to his left ankle from last night's match. He wanted to start off with Naito, but Naito demanded that Juice start instead.
Juice overcame a sneak attack from BUSHI and got some early offense on Naito. Finlay tagged in and was in the plus position, but was quickly cut off after a dropkick to the bad ankle from Naito. Naito relentlessly mocked Juice throughout the match.
Finlay was able to come back after a blue thunder bomb. Juice tagged in for another exchange with Naito. Henare was standing on the floor watching instead of on the apron for much of this. Juice finally tagged out to Henare.
Henare did some power spots with SANADA, then hit a spin kick and a double spear to BUSHI and SANADA.
SANADA missed with a springboard dropkick. He went for Skull End, but Henare slid out. SANADA used an O'Connor roll for the flash pin on Henare.
After the match, Juice and Finlay walked to the back on their own, leaving Henare at ringside. Henare threw a fit and attacked the barricade in frustration at taking another loss.
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada defeated Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (11:31)
Good storytelling in this match as they continue to tease a rivalry between Ibushi and Okada even as they team together.
After an early surge of offense from Tanahashi, Bullet Club turned this into a brawl. Gedo interfered on the outside. Okada ended up the legal man and was cut off in the Bullet club half of the ring.
Fale knocked Ibushi off the apron. Okada fought for, then finally got a slam on Fale. White tagged in as Okada looked to make a tag. Okada hit a big boot and tagged Tana as Ibushi was still on the floor.
White blocked a slingblade. White and Tana did a series of standing switches, endiing with White hitting a DDT. White hit a blade buster for a two count.
Owens got a tag and Tana made a tag to Ibushi after hitting a slap. Ibushi hit a flying mid kick and a standing moonsault for a two count.
Everyone jumped in for a big move. Tanahashi hit slingblades on Fale and Owens and a dragon screw on White. Ibushi hit a v-trigger and a Kamigoye on Owens for the pin.
Okada stuck around only long enough to get his hand raised after the match. White had staredowns with both Tanahashi and Ibushi over their titles.
New Japan Cup final: Will Ospreay (w/Bea Priestley, The Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) defeated Shingo Takagi to win the 2021 New Japan Cup (30:06)
This was a gripping 30 minutes. They crafted a great mix of psychology and every move under the sun to put together a great match.
They traded strikes and tackles to begin. Ospreay kipped up off a Shingo tackle. Ospreay countered out of a Made in Japan attempt. Shingo blocked an Oscutter attempt.
The fight went to the floor. Shingo sent Ospreay into the barricade and worked on Ospreay's bad right arm. Ospreay has a broken nose as well, so Shingo raked the nose. Back inside, Shingo hit a tackle. Ospreay flipped out of a vertical suplex attempt and hit a cutter. Ospreay hit a handspring kick.
They went back to the floor. This time, Ospreay sent Shingo into the fence. Ospreay tore at the tape on Shingo's back and went after the injury. Ospreay hit a backdrop on the barricade. Shingo beat the count back inside.
Ospreay continued to go after Shingo's back with kicks, forearm strikes and stomps. Ospreay used a body scissors. Shingo avoided a charge into the corner, but Ospreay followed up right away with pip pip cheerio for a two count.
Shingo came back with strikes and a DDT. Ospreay avoided a sliding lariat. Shingo caught Ospreay off a handspring kick attempt and hit a pop-up death valley driver. Shingo sent Ospreay outside. Priestley acted as a human shield, which allowed Ospreay to post Shingo.
Ospreay set up a table on the outside. They did a series of table bump teases. Priestley moved the table out of the way. Ospreay again used Priestley as a shield to avoid a baseball slide. Shingo hit a snake eyes and a pop-up powerbomb for a two count.
Shingo used an STF. Ospreay forced a rope break. Shingo hit Noshigami for a two count. Ospreay came back with a lariat. Shingo blocked a running boot in the corner and teased a driver off the second rope. Ospreay blocked and hit a gamengiri.
Ospreay hit a top rope Spanish Fly for a near fall. Shingo blocked another Oscutter attempt. Ospreay slid out of a Noshigmai attempt. Shingo hit a lariat. They traded strikes. Shingo hit an unanswered series of strikes. Ospreay answered with a hook kick.
Ospreay did an amazing flip out of a pumping bomber attempt and hit an Oscutter. Shingo kicked out at two. They fought back to the outside. Ospreay hit an Oscutter off the post to the floor, which was insane.
Ospreay placed Shingo on the table. Ospreay hit a 450 splash off the top rope to the floor through the table. They teased a countout. Ibushi was at the commentary table. Shingo used an Ibushi towel to wipe his brow, then Ibushi encouraged Shingo to get back in. Shingo beat the count.
Ospreay hit an immediate springboard dropkick, then a shooting star press for a near fall. Ospreay went for a Stormbreaker. Shingo sprawled out. Ospreay hit some Kawada kicks. Shingo did a dead-eye stare and no-sold a series of kicks.
Shingo hit a series of strikes in the corner. Ospreay avoided a pumping bomber and hit London Falling. Shingo hit Made in Japan for a near fall. Shingo hit a lariat. Ospreay answered with a crucifix for a near fall. Shingo hit a poison rana.
Ospreay turned a pumping bomber attempt into a Spanish Fly for a near fall. Ospreay hit a high kick and two rolling elbows. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade and a Stormbreaker for the pin.
Ospreay cut a promo after the match. He said that everyone doubted him, but he told everyone he would win the New Japan Cup and he did.
Ospreay called Ibushi into the ring. Ospreay said he didn't care about the lineage of the Intercontinental or IWGP Heavyweight titles, but he cared about being number one. He said it pains him, but Ibushi is number one. He said he'll do anything it takes to take the IWGP World Heavyweight title from Ibushi.
Ospreay hit an Oscutter on Priestley to drive home the point that he'll do whatever it takes. The audience didn't know what to make of that. There was just stunned silence after the crowd had been very receptive to his promo.
Ospreay's comments continued backstage. He said he has a family and a 5-year relationship with Bea, but if he can do that to someone he loves, what the f*** is he going to do to Ibushi?
Ospreay said he's the leader of NJPW, not Ibushi. He said he fulfills his destiny at Sakura Genesis and becomes the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.