New Japan Cup night 4 (March 10) Preview

Yamanashi sees the end of round one in New Japan Cup


March 8 will see the last matches of the first round in New Japan Cup 2023. The 24 man field will be slimmed down to 16, with two more matches hitting the ring. 

Watch ALL of New Japan Cup LIVE in English on NJPW World!

Main event: New Japan Cup 1st Round- Shingo Takagi vs Aaron Henare

Singles record: 1-0 Takagi

The main event of the evening will see the last spot claimed in the round of 16, when KOPW 2023 holder and home prefecture hero Shingo Takagi faces Ultimate Weapon Aaron Henare. Back in 2019, a singles bout for the Dragon opposite then hontai member Henare ended with Made In Japan, but motivated him to make strides. Though the pandemic would stall his momentum, by New Japan Cup 2021, Henare had resolved to join the United Empire, becoming a new man in the process. 

Though flashes of singles success would ensue for Henare, consistent victories required of New Japan Cup entrants over the intense two week span of the tournament have not. All the same, Henare has been on track against Takagi, having scored a pin in six man action in Ota early this week. A win here where it matters most, and Henare could be opening another major chapter in his career to come- or will it be the Dragon roaring to success?

6th Match: New Japan Cup 1st Round- YOSHI-HASHI vs Kyle Fletcher

Aussie Open, and Kyle Fletcher in particular, will have been licking their chops ever since the New Japan Cup bracket was first announced, and the Aussie Arrow’s excitement for this first round contest likely only intensified when YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada at Anniversary to retain the IWGP Tag team Championships. 

With YOSHI-HASHI his first round opposition, and Hirooki Goto awaiting having received a bye to the last 16, Fletcher has the chance to create both an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship opportunity should he win New Japan Cup, as well as an IWGP Tag title opportunity for he and Mark Davis. Though Japanese NJPW fans have yet to see Fletcher in singles action, his ability was proven against another CHAOS member and his original teacher in Robbie Eagles at TAMASHII IV in Melbourne last month. That said, YOSHI-HASHI, having won NEVER 6 and IWGP Tag titles, is now driven to capture singles trophies and gold, and will be a very difficult man to beat Friday. 

5th Match: Tama Tonga, Shota Umino, YOH & Lio Rush vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & BUSHI)

Eight man action will see Hiromu Takahashi and Lio Rush continue to clash en route to their Nagaoka IWGP Junior Heavyweight title match at the New Japan Cup finals. On opposite sides of the bracket, Shota Umino or Tama Tonga could well meet SANADA or Tetsuya Naito that night March 21, but before then, teammates tonight could be opponents later in the tournament. Can everyone stay on the same page this evening?

4th Match: Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Mark Davis & Great-O-Khan)

It’s fallout from round one and a preview of round two in our fourth match of the evening. After Mark Davis and Toru Yano met in the first round of the cup Wednesday in Fukushima, they meet again tonight, with Will Ospreay awaiting on Monday the 13th in Ehime. 

3rd Match: Ryusuke Taguchi, El Desperado, Ren Narita & Minoru Suzuki vs BULLET CLUB (David Finlay, KENTA, Chase Owens & El Phantasmo)

As NJPW, and even BULLET CLUB itself, still adjusts to David Finlay aligning himself with Gedo, eight man action sees the group go up against Ryusuke Taguchi and the members of Strong Style. While attention is certainly all over what Finlay has in store, eyes should also be on the STRONG Openweight Champion KENTA. The tour opener in Korakuen Hall on March 5 saw KENTA and Suzuki tear into one another, a collision that saw ‘the face of NJPW STRONG’ left with a swollen eyebrow. Will there be receipts in store for the King tonight?

2nd Match: Just Two Guys (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL & Dick Togo)

 From facing SANADA in a thrilling first round New Japan Cup match earlier this week, Taichi now takes on SANADA’s former partner EVIL. With the Holy Emperor enduring a cold streak since forming Just 4 Guys with Yoshinobu Kanemaru, DOUKI and TAKA Michinoku, Taichi could turn a corner tonight against the ever beleaguered H.O.T, something that would doubtless delight the Yamanashi crowd. 

1st Match: TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (Yujiro Takahashi & SHO)

Starting the evening, it’s TMDK facing HOUSE OF TORTURE in tag action. With Zack Sabre Jr. getting a bye into the second round as NJPW World TV Champion, this bout could have been a preview of  March 15 in Okayama, until Yujiro Tasted first round defeat at the hands of Shota Umino. With Sabre being much less than generous to Yujiro in his backstage comments recently, does Yujiro have any pride remaining to be angered tonight in our opener?