The New Japan Cup semifinals take place today in Osaka-Jo Hall.
IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada faces Tetsuya Naito in the show’s main event. The winner advances to tomorrow’s finals. The two last met in singles competition on February 20, with Okada defeating Naito.
In the other semifinal bout, Zack Sabre Jr. will take on Shingo Takagi. Shingo and Sabre split their two meetings last year, with Sabre defeating Shingo in the G1, and Shingo defeating Sabre to retain the IWGP World title in November at Power Struggle.
A series of tag matches rounds out the undercard:
- Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI vs. Will Ospreay & Aaron Henare
- YOSHI-HASHI & YOH vs. Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb
- Hirooki Goto, Tomoaki Honma & Tiger Mask vs. STRONGHEARTS (CIMA, T-Hawk & El Lindaman)
- El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku & DOUKI vs. House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO)
- Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Gedo, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo
Our live coverage begins at 3 a.m. Eastern time.
Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Gedo (Bullet Club) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Master Wato, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match opened with a brawl on the outside. Once things took to the ring, the babyface squad took control by isolating ELP with hip attacks. Fale hit the ring to help Bullet Club back into the match as the team worked to single out Wato.
The Bullet Club control came to an end after Loa tagged in the match. He took control, prompting Bullet Club to hit the ring again. Loa, with aid from Tama, fought through their former faction-mates. Gedo tried to turn things back around with a pair of brass knuckles. Jado, sensing an opportunity for revenge, jumped Gedo. After seeing Jado’s interference, the referee called for the bell, leaving Bullet Club with a win via disqualification.
Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Togi Makabe defeated Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun)
Suzuki and Ishii started the match with an intense back and forth. Suzuki locked in a deep choke against a corner pad, forcing a referee break. With Ishii nearly unconscious, the rest of Suzuki-Gun took turns beating Ishii down.
Ishii connected with a backdrop suplex to buy him a tag. Makabe took the match over before tagging in Yano, who almost immediately lost control. Kanemaru tried to spray Yano with a mouth of whiskey, but Yano landed a low blow; Kanemaru misted Taichi and Yano pinned Kanemaru to win the match.
SHO, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL (House of Torture) defeated DOUKI, Taka Michinoku & El Desperado (Suzuki-Gun)
This match opened with a brawl that didn’t take long to spill to the outside. HoT took control and worked to maintain it in the ring with underhanded tactics. DOUKI eventually scored a tag to Desperado, who helped Suzuki-Gun gain a footing for the first time.
After tagging in, SHO had some success in retaking control, but ultimately, Suzuki-Gun fought through. Just as things were looking quite good for the Suzuki-Gun trio, Taka let go of his facelock to swing at Dick Togo. EVIL responded to this opening by landing everything is evil and pinning Taka to close the match.
CIMA, T-Hawk & El Lindaman (#STRONGHEARTS) defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomoaki Honma & Tiger Mask
CIMA and Goto had a brief exchange to open the match before Lindaman and Tiger Mask tagged in. Lindaman took control after dodging a KoKeShi, tagging in T-Hawk. The STRONGHEARTS trio maintained this control by isolating Honma.
Goto led a strong rally once tagging in before tagging into Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask fought off all STRONGHEARTS, locking T-Hawk into a double armbar. Honma landed KoKeShi and Tiger Mask a tiger driver, almost bringing this match to an end.
CIMA and Lindaman hit the ring to help T-Hawk fight off their opponents. CIMA and Lindaman landed a dive to take out Goto and Honma, leaving T-Hawk alone to bring this match to an end with a night ride on Tiger Mask.
Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb (United Empire) defeated YOH & YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS)
YH and Cobb opened the match. Cobb tried out grappling YH, but some pro-wrestling style offence helped YH hold his own. Once YOH tagged into the match, things were not as favourable.
Cobb brutally tossed YOH across the ring and into the corner to establish a dominant lead. O-Khan continued this advance with slams, strikes, and holds that left YOH on the ground. It took a quick YOH dropkick and a double tag for things to turn around for the CHAOS duo.
YH landed a blockbuster for a two count Cobb; Cobb answered with a dropkick. O-Khan tagged in, landing some Mongolian chops that forced YH to tag out. YOH took control, scoring a couple of close pins. YOH then landed a superkick and DMV that forced Cobb to break up the pin.
A short scuffle followed the last break up, leading to O-Khan, Cobb, and YOH in the ring. With Cobb on guard, O-Khan dropped YOH with the eliminator and pinned him.
Will Ospreay & Aaron Henare (United Empire) defeated BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi (Los Ingobernables De Japon)
Before the match started, Ospreay grabbed a microphone and said the match was not happening. He said he wasn’t doing a tag match, as he didn’t tap to Zack Sabre Jr. Before he could leave the ring, Hiromu landed a big dropkick to jumpstart the match.
A scrap on the outside left UE in control. Both Ospreay and Henare connected with heavy offence on BUSHI. Once Hiromu tagged in, things turned around for a short time.
A double tag let BUSHI gain some offensive footing over Henare. Henare answered with a big slam, kick, and streets of rage, which led to the finish.
After the match, EVIL launched an assault on Hiromu. Dick Togo then choked Hirmou out and walked to the back.
New Japan Cup Semifinal: Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Shingo Takagi
This match had a lot of interesting elements. ZSJ’s branching approach to groundwork and Shingo’s high impact wrestling made for a special pairing. Good stuff.
This match opened with a prolonged standing sequence. Eventually, ZSJ sent Takagi to the floor after cranking his neck. ZSJ landed heavy strikes while continuing to focus Shingo’s neck, establishing a lead for the first time.
Shingo landed two jabs and a throw to escape ZSJ’s control. Shingo landed a falling elbow, which allowed ZSJ to retake the lead by taking Shingo’s arm. Another Shingo strike and DDT broke ZSJ’s lead once more, but again, ZSJ responded by taking control of Shingo’s arms.
A popup DVD provided Shingo with another break from ZSJ control. This time, Shingo landed a superplex before trying for made in Japan; ZSJ blocked, reversing into a close pin attempt. ZSJ landed a suplex for another near fall. As the pace picked up, Shingo answered with made in Japan, resulting in another near fall.
ZSJ blocked last of the dragon, leading to a back and forth strike exchange. Shingo won out, landing pumping bomber. Shingo looked to close, again trying for last of the dragon, and again, ZSJ reversed into a submission attempt. Shingo tried fighting through ZSJ’s follow-up submission attempts, climbing to the top and dropping to his back in an effort to break a deep choke; ZSJ held on. Eventually, ZSJ’s choke was enough, as Shingo was rendered unconscious.
ZSJ moves on to the finals.
New Japan Cup Semifinal: Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada
Compared to their last, this match felt a little stale. Then again, their previous match was New Japan’s best in over two years, at least for my money.
The match opened with a grappling exchange which saw both men trade advantage. Okada established an actual lead after a dropkick sent Naito to the floor. On the outside, Okada landed a colossal DDT to further this advantage.
Naito eventually started a rally with a dropkick to the knee. A dropkick to the back of the head opened Okada up to more Naito offence. Now on the outside, Naito used the environment to cement his control. Back in the ring, Naito continued to weave in offence.
Okada countered Naito’s corner combination into the money clip. After Naito escaped, Okada landed a dropkick to re-establish the hold. Okada then looked to close with rainmaker, but Naito reversed.
Naito landed a DDT, super rana, and a collection of elbows to retake control. Esperanza led into a surprise Destino for a near fall. Gloria set Naito up for a stardust press, but Okada avoided the stunning dive.
Okada hit a shotgun dropkick to retake his lead. He then landed a giant German suplex and dropkick while trying for a rainmaker. Naito continued to avoid the rainmaker, trying for some quick pins. It was Polvo de Estrella, one of Naito’s signature cradles, that brought this match to a sudden end.
After pinning the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Naito advances to face ZSJ in the final.