Full card set for Semifinal Sunday
March 19 sees Semifinal Sunday in the New Japan Cup. The final will be determined tonight in Gunma after two stunning bouts at the top of tonight’s card.
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Main event: New Japan Cup Semifinal- SANADA vs Mark Davis
Mark Davis and SANADA reached the semifinal stage on a night of surprises March 17 in Korakuen. Davis’ presence in the quarterfinals was already unexpected, coming in the wake of Will Ospreay’s shoulder injury, but Dunkzilla had all of United Empire at his back in the face of the despicalble HOUSE OF TORTURE, and dropped EVIL with the Water Slide to take his place in the final four to the delight of the Tokyo crowd.
For SANADA, a win over Tetsuya Naito was not in itself unexpected, but his post match actions, departing LIJ for Just Five Guys was a shock to the fans in attendance and around the world. SANADA has been searching for new life to be breathed into his wrestling career, and with a fresh factional start and a new finishing move that has seen him past Naito, KENTA and Taichi, Cold Skull has to be a favourite to take the trophy. Yet Dunkzilla is not willing to let his Cinderella run end just yet, and might have one more surprise up his sleeve before the clock strikes midnight in Gunma.
7th Match: New Japan Cup Semifinal- David Finlay vs Tama Tonga
Singles record: 1-0 Finlay
The other semifinal tonight will see David Finlay face off against Tama Tonga. Three years ago, Finlay defeated Tama in their one and only singles match against one another, in another tournament semifinal; that of New Japan Cup USA in 2020. The more things stay the same though, the more they change, and these two could not be on any more opposite footing to where they were back on that summer night in an empty studio.
Rather a full and vocal crowd will be looking to cheer Hontai’s Tama Tonga against BULLET CLUB’s David Finlay. Trading places as they have though, Tama’s wins over first Aaron Henare and last night against Hirooki Goto have only seen the NEVER Openweight Champion grow in confidence, as perhaps the bigegst fan favourite in the final four. Finlay has his own confidence and ease in ring, his matches against Tomohiro Ishii, Great-O-Khan and Shota Umino showing the kind of latent brutality and sadism that is a Finlay family trait. Yet as Tonga has stated, he carries his own baggage into the ring tonight.
Tama advised Finlay that his actions and results in ring will ensure the rest of BULLET CLUB will fall into line with him. Up to now, the Rebel has certainly been able to draw a clear line between singles success and a little more difficulty in getting certain corners of the club on board with his position as de facto leader. Now Finlay will seek to command respect as he earns a spot in the finals- if he can turn away Tama’s seemingly irresistible momentum.
6th Match: CHAOS (Lio Rush & YOH) vs Los ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito)
The tour started for Lio Rush and Hiromu Takahashi with a tag battle for Rush and YOH against Hiromu and BUSHI. Their last preview tag before Tuesday’s big IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship bout will be another tag match for YOH and Lio, but this time with Tetsuya Naito teaming with the Time Bomb. The Super Jr. tag League winners were able to show their superiority against a junior heavyweight duo back at Anniversary, but can Lio get one last statement in on the junior champion before Tuesday when Hiromu has a heavyweight partner in his corner?
5th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs United Empire (Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan)
Pre-New Japan Cup, Shingo Takagi was one of the favourites to take the win and the trophy, but Aaron Henare would have other plans. An incredible first round victory saw the Ultimate Weapon take out the Dragon for arguably the most important win of his career, and one that saw him with his hand raised over the KOPW 2023 holder to boot. Now Takagi and Henare are face to face once more, and Henare is sure to press his case for another shot against Shingo- this time with the belt at stake.
4th Match: Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Kyle Fletcher)
As Mark Davis guns for a spot in the New Japan Cup final in our main event, Kyle Fletcher will be continuing to pursue Aussie Open’s tag team interests as well. After a win for Fletcher and Henare over YOSHI-HASHI and Honma last night in Hamamatsu, the Aussie Arrow looks for another victory, this time with Jeff Cobb.
3rd Match: Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita, El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (Dick Togo, SHO, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL)
HOUSE OF TORTURE thankfully didn’t make the final four of the tournament thanks to the efforts of Mark Davis and United Empire, but they’re still a part of the action in Gunma. EVIL’s crew will circle back to the Strong Style team that beat them for the NEVER Openweight 6 man tag team Championships last month, while Ren Narita will seek revenge for his first round exit at the hands of the King of Darkness.
2nd Match: Ryohei Oiwa, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii vs BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo, Chase Owens & KENTA)
Six man action will see BULLET CLUB go up against former IWGP Tag team Champions in Yano and Ishii, and Ryohei Oiwa. KENTA’s violent battles with Minoru Suzuki aside, the trio of ELP, Chase and KENTA seem to be a good deal more relaxed when David Finlay is otherwise occupied; will they be all business, or breathing easy in our second bout?
1st Match: Oskar Leube & Shota Umino vs TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Zack Sabre Jr.)
After Shota Umino’s stunning bout against Zack Sabre Jr. in the New Japan Cup round of 16, both Umino and Sabre alike will be disappointed that the Roughneck isn’t in the final four. After Umino’s elimination at the hands of David Finlay last night in Hamamatsu though, tonight the action kicks off with Shota back in the ring against the NJPW World TV Champion.