48 Man New Japan Cup Bracket Revealed!

16 first round matches to begin March 2

The 48 man field has been revealed for New Japan Cup, which gets underway March 2 in the Nippon Budokan. The biggest field in tournament history will see 16 first round matchups with 16 random seedings awaiting victors in the second round, all the way through to the finals on March 26 and 27 in Osaka Jo Hall.

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6th entry, 4th consecutive. 2013, 2019 winner. IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

When news broke that singles champions would be allowed into the New Japan Cup lineup, Kazuchika Okada was not going to pass up his opportunity to further set the standard in NJPW. Immediately foregoing any talk of a bye before it even started, Okada requested to face El Desperado in the very first round, and in so doing, perhaps erase painful memories of his last two entries. After a 2019 victory, 2020 would see him fall at the final hurdle to EVIL, while in 2021 he was handed a first round exit thanks to the efforts of eventual finalist Shingo Takagi. Will he go all the way through six rounds in 2022?


2nd entry, first in two years. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion

In the first openweight New Japan Cup since 2020, El Desperado will be proud to fly the flag of junior heavyweight wrestling, but will have the toughest of tasks ahead of him in the first round. Should Desperado do the unthinkable and advance to the second round, it would propel the Suzuki-Gun member to the stratosphere in and of itself; and everything in pro-wrestling can change in three seconds flat. 


1st entry, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag team Champion

Freshly crowned junior tag team champion Master Wato has the opportunity of a lifetime in this year’s New Japan Cup. Drawing a first round bye, Wato knows that he will either face the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion or the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion in round two. Having debuted at the end of the 2020 New Japan Cup, could this year see him complete his ascent to master status?


17th entry, 17th consecutive, KOPW 2022 trophy holder

The ironman of the New Japan Cup, Toru Yano makes his 17th consecutive entry, having been in every tournament since its second running. Having braved the wilds of a Dog Cage Match against Minoru Suzuki at New Year’s Golden Series, could the King of Pro-Wrestling holder have a Cinderella run in the tournament?


5th entry, 5th consecutive

Taichi has become known for some hard fought and impressive performances in New Japan Cups past, including a 2020 run that garnered him wins over both Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi. Could this be the year he goes the distance?


12th entry, 4th consecutive

Drawing a bye to the round of 32, Hiroyoshi Tenzan will want to improve on last year’s first round exit at the hands of eventual winner Will Ospreay. Now recovered from a nagging knee injury, will Tenzan have the legs for this grueling tournament?


15th entry, 4th consecutive. 2007, 2011 winner 

Two time Cup winner Nagata is celebrating his 30th career anniversary on the same year as NJPW celebrates 50 years. With a a long legacy and a glittering career in the books, Blue Justice is not anywhere near hanging up the boots yet, and will be looking to go deep in this year’s tournament. 


14th entry, 4th consecutive. 2009, 2010, 2012 winner. IWGP Tag Team Champion

With three wins over a four year span one decade ago, Hirooki Goto would have the title of Mr. March put upon him, but now wants to return to the forefront and win the biggest tournament of the spring one more time. Buoyed with tag team success alongside YOSHI-HASHI, will he have enough to claim singles glory once more?


1st entry

Dick Togo is sure to be one of the biggest outsiders in New Japan Cup history. The luck of the draw has seen him through to the second round, but can the Spoiler spoil a few brackets, perhaps with a little help from his HOUSE OF TORTURE friends?


1st entry

One of the biggest surprises of 2022 for NJPW thus far has been the appearance of CIMA during January 4’s New Japan Ranbo. Outlasting the competition, he would make the final four and compete in the next night’s KOPW 2022 four way. With a big enough statement made for himself an don behalf of stable #STRONGHEARTS and host promotion GLEAT, CIMA will want to make significant in roads into his first New Japan Cup.


1st entry

30 year veteran TAKA Michinoku enters his first New Japan Cup in 2022. The devious and resourceful Suzuki-Gun member always has a trick up his sleeve, but can he last in a tough single elimination tournament?


2nd entry, 1st in two years

After wrestling in 2020’s openweight tournament, Yoshinobu Kanemaru hits the 2022 field. With the luck of the draw on his side, the Heel Master will either wrestle TAKA Michinoku or CIMA in what is guaranteed to be a classic either way, but can he last the distance and go deep into the tournament?

Tetsuya Naito

10th entry, 2nd consecutive, 2016 winner

Tetsuya Naito is driven by a singular goal in 2022; to become IWGP World Heavywweight Champion in order to main event in the Tokyo Dome on January 4 2023. While his original plan to defeat Kazuchika Okada for the title at new Year’s Golden Series was foiled by the Rainmaker, his next chance is right here in the New Japan Cup. Six years after he secured victory in the tournament, can Naito do it again?

Yujiro Takahashi

12th entry, 3rd consecutive. NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Champion

With G1 wins over the likes of Jeff Cobb or Kota Ibushi over the years, you can never completely discount Yujiro Takahashi in a tournament setting; especially if he has HOUSE OF TORTURE backing. Now in his 12th tournament, the Tokyo Pimp will be looking to go all the way to the finale in Osaka.


2nd entry, 1st in two years

Gedo makes his second entry in the New Japan Cup in 2022, taking the spot of his Switchblade charge as Jay White competes in the US. Jay’s actions in America of late have certainly raised a lot of eyebrows, not least as they relate to two of our other entrants in the tournament. Is Gedo still masterminding King Switch from afar? And will more become clear in the BULLET CLUB scene over the course of the tournament?

Togi Makabe

14th entry, 1st in two years 

Making his first entry into the tournament in two years, Togi Makabe, turning 50 in the same year that NJPW does the same, will be swinging for the fences in the New Japan Cup. In his best physical form in a long time, the Unchained Gorilla will be going all out to try and put together a streakof victories in the face of a difficult drawing.

Jeff Cobb

2nd entry, 2nd consecutive

Jeff Cobb made his New Japan Cup debut in 2021,and would easily have made at least the semi final were it not for the effort of what would become HOUSE OF TORTURE. Later in the G1 though, Cobb would put together an unprecedented eight match streak; in a tournament where the winner will have to put together at most six wins in a row, we know the Imperial Unit can do it. Will he?

Satoshi Kojima

9th entry, 4th consecutive

With a gutsy performance against Great-O-Khan over the weekend in Sapporo, Satoshi Kojima proved that the will to win and desire to survive and hit hard still burns bright within the veteran. His road to a potential final is hard indeed, but don’t count Kojima out when he gets rolling from the second round. 

Tomoaki Honma

10th entry, 4th consecutive

Tomoaki Honma had his own gutsy performance against Great-O-Khan before the New Japan Cup this weekend.  One year removed from a very hard fought first round exit against Minoru Suzuki, could Kokeshi make the world happy this year?


9th entry 8th consecutive. IWGP Tag Team Champion

Having undergone a transformation ever since earning his first championship in 2020, YOSHI-HASHI went from being able to beat anyone on any given night to having the potential to beat several over a series of nights. Could the Headhunter make his way to an unlikely final spot?

Kosei Fujita

1st entry

Over the last several years, New Japan Cup has opened the door of opportunity to Young Lions. This year Kosei Fujita has won a bye to the second round. His chances of going deeper are very low indeed, but they do exist, and that’s what makes the elimination tournament so thrilling. 

Kota Ibushi

5th entry, 1st in two years. 2015 winner

Returning from a shoulder injury in the finals of the G1 Climax, Kota Ibushi makes his return and tries to take the fastest route back to the top by outlasting the 48 man field. Will the Golden Star be able to rise once more?


2nd entry, 2nd consecutive

Great-O-Khan has prepared and focused himself for this New Japan Cup by wrestling more singles matches over the last month and a half than anyone, and with the exception of a Tokyo Dome loss to SANADA, has won every single one. Now in the highest pressure scenario, he will look to make sure the world knows that he is more than just immense potential, but an immense success.

Taiji Ishimori

2nd entry, 1st in two years

Taiji Ishimori’s first New japan Cup entry saw him to an understated career highlight when he broke a long standing duck against Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Now, after enduring some frustration teaming with El Phantasmo in recent weeks as ELP tries to get past a mental block, he will look to show excactly what the Bone Soldier can do on his own.

Ryohei Oiwa

1st entry

The second of three Young Lion entrants, the hunger and star potential of Oiwa is palpable. Can he put together a lasting impression in the cup?

Zack Sabre Jr.

5th entry, 5th consecutive, 2018 winner

Back after a period of reflection through new year’s Golden Series, Zack Sabre Jr. looks for a repeat of 2018. ZSJ started the G1 in 2021 with a string of high profile submissions, and that’s exactly what the Briton will be looking to do as he shoots for the six straight wins needed to score his second cup.


1st entry

Making his first entry in the New Japan Cup, DOUKI has made huge strides in NJPW over the last three years. Can he make some more by moving past his second round seeding?

Yuto Nakashima

1st entry

The returning Yuto Nakashima will be digging on his combat sports experience to try and scrap his way to a potential second round. Though the odds are very much against him, he’ll be fighting with a chip on his shoulder and much to prove on his return.

Aaron Henare

3rd entry, 2nd consecutive

2021’s New Japan Cup proved transformative for Aaron Henare. A first round exit at the hands of Jay White would see him undergo a period of soul searching, and he would come out the other end with a new attitude as part of the United Empire. Now the Ultimate Weapon could truly make the world see his potential with a strong outing in this cup.


6th entry, 6th consecutive. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion

Cold Skull SANADA heads into this tournament finally as a singles champion after six years of trying. That means that there is a target on his back, with every match not just being single elimination from the tournament, but also potentially creating a future contender. A world of possibilities is opening up for SANADA, but do they include the NJC trophy?


2nd entry, 1st in two years

The Jet Black Deathmask becomes a dark horse for tournament contention. Always a consistent force in league tournaments like Best of the Super Jr., BUSHI doesn’t always have the explosiveness needed to pick up a streak of successes. But there is no doubt that he can pull of some big results, and could shock the world.

Will Ospreay

3rd entry, 2nd consecutive. 2021 winner

After Will Ospreay’s ascent to superstardom in 2021 saw him win the New Japan Cup and then capture the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in one fell swoop, it would be foolish to bet against the Briton in the 2022 tournament. With a hard to beat lineup presented by the United Empire in the Cup, Ospreay may be the hardest to beat of all, as he remains driven to finally score a clean win, and the world title, from Kazuchika Okada.

El Phantasmo

1st entry

Does crisis breed opportunity for El Phantasmo? Bereft of his Sudden Death loaded boot, and with a sea change occuring in BULLET CLUB, the opportunity is there for ELP to seize the means of production in this tournament. Don’t count the Headbanga out, as a strong run could lead to the biggest opportunities of his career.

Tomohiro Ishii

14th entry, 7th consecutive

After a series of wars with HOUSE OF TORTURE, Tomohiro Ishii will be glad to refocus on the spirit of competition in the Cup. Can he go the distance?

Shingo Takagi

3rd entry 3rd consecutive

The 2021 runner up, Shingo Takagi only has eyes on going one better in 2022 and winning the whole tournament. His run with the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship was inarguably one of the brightest lights in 2021, and Shingo wants badly to get back in the title hunt. 

Tanga Loa

2nd entry, 1st in 5 years

After an impressive debut run in last year’s G1 Climax, Tanga Loa could be one to watch in this year’s NJC, with a lot of potential as a singles performer to match his tag expertise. Yet with Jay White’s betrayal at IMPACT’s No Surrender still fresh, there are a lot of questions to be answered for Tanga Loa, and without a singular focus, victory may be hard to attain.

Chase Owens

3rd entry 2nd consecutive

Long the ‘glue guy’ of BULLET CLUB, Chase Owens heads into the New Japan Cup with the group potentially now splitting apart at the seams. Will this be the chance for Owens to take the ball and run with it?


2nd entry, 1st in two years

BULLET CLUB uncertainty also circles around Jado, especially as it relates to his tag team proteges Guerrillas of Destiny. What attitude will Massive Heater bring to the tournament?

Tiger Mask

1st entry

Having gained a new lease on life and his career with an impressive reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion alongside Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask will have to resolve his championship-less status with a motivated performance in the New Japan Cup. How far will the veteran go in his debut tournament?

Ryusuke Taguchi

3rd entry, 1st in two years IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion

Ryusuke Taguchi has been in openweight New Japan Cups of years past, but now has the added confidence of being the 69th IWGP Junior Tag champion. Could he ride that wave to surprise success?


6th entry, 4th consecutive NEVER Openweight Champion, NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Champion

Winning the 2020 tournament, and coming near to back to back cup victories, EVIL is determined to go the distance this year. If HOUSE OF TORTURE’s trademark tactics come into play, NJPW could be faced with a dual NEVER and IWGP Champion in its future.

Tama Tonga

4th entry, 1st in five years

Winning a bye into the second round, Tama Tonga will have more time to refocus on the task at hand after the brutal betrayal of Switchblade Jay White over in the US. But can he turn that energy and hatred into results?

Hiromu Takahashi

2nd entry, 1st in two years

Hiromu Takahashi’s first New Japan Cup saw him reach the semifinal, and to live a dream of battling a heavyweight in Kazuchika Okada on prime time television in the process. This year, he will be driven to go at least one step further, and cement his legacy in the junior division.


2nd entry, 1st in two years, NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Champion

SHO’s sadistic nature and litany of cheap tactics brought him an early win streak in Best of the Super Jr. last year. Will his opponents know what’s coming in the New Japan Cup? Or might the Murder Machine produce some new tricks?

Minoru Suzuki

8th entry, 4th consecutive

Never discount the King, especially with a second round bye, and especially as he still fumes after his KOPW Dog Cage Match humiliation. Is anyone safe?