New Japan CUPdate: March 17

Third of four quarter finals set

Six of the New Japan Cup’s elite eight are now final after two thrilling matches in Shizuoka on March 17. 

The main event of the evening saw Will Ospreay take on IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion SANADA. In early exchanges, Ospreay would have the early advantage as he came up with the wrist and arm; after hoisting SANADA over the ropes and then booting him to the floor, the Kingpin kept up the pressure as he brought Cold Skull arm first into the guardrail. 

Ospreay punished the arm and shoulder, but when SANADA was able to get free, the US champion slowed Ospreay with a basement dropkick, and then the Paradise Lock. As Ospreay was vicious in control, dropping Cold Skull back first on the apron, SANADA was high impact on the break, a springboard dropkick and rolling elbow finding their marks. 

Ospreay would connect with a Spanish Fly, and countered an O’Connor Roll attempt, but Os Cutter would not connect as each man was ahead of the other’s signature offense. With Ospreay rattled, SANADA would hook in Skull End, but the follow-up Moonsault only found Ospreay’s knees and led to the Hidden Blade. SANADA kicked out, but Ospreay was frenetic in response, burying repeated elbows to the back of Cold Skull’s head. SANADA would be unable to mount a defence, and referee called for a stoppage to put Ospreay through. 

Already awaiting   in the quarters was Zack Sabre Jr, after a win over Great-O-Khan in the semi main event. O-Khan was initially slow to engage, and teased bringing a chair into the ring, but instead met ZSJ on the mat, neither finding a clear upper hand as Sabre tried to work for an Achilles hold while O-Khan tried for a knee bar. Both would find the same hold on the other, rolling out to the floor still locked in; ZSJ would break first though and the Dominator took advantage, applying more pressure and then slamming the leg and ankle of his opposition into the guardrail. 

O-Khan kept on Sabre’s leg and had the Submission Master in a rare position of difficulty. With his leg badly bothering him, Sabre couldn’t stay in a Cobra Clutch for long, but was able to catch the United Empire member unawares with a swinging DDT. Sabre would find his feet and fire with trademark elbows, before roaring in defiance at O-Khan’s Mongolian Chops, all in a ploy to bait his foe into a heel hold. 

O-Khan would manage to escape the hold and find his feet, but trying to shoot in on Sabre would see him stuffed into a Clarky Cat attempt. a Crucifix Bomb would follow for ZSJ, but the Dominator was able to recover with a lariat. Going back down to the hurt leg of the Suzuki-Gun member, O-Khan applied a knee claw and the Eliminator on the knee; with the match in control, he tried for the Eliminator, but was countered into an arm bar. In trying to counter, O-Khan stood only for Sabre to shift his weight back to bring the arm straight, leading to the submission.