New Japan CUPdate: March 15

Quarterfinal lineup complete

New Japan Cup 2021 has found its elite eight, as the final round two matchups took place on march 15 in Korakuen Hall. 

First on the night to compete for a spot were David Finlay and YOSHI-HASHI. Facing off with the Headhunter for the first time in four years and eight months, Finlay was keen to show that he’s come a long way from the Young Lion days of back then. The new IMPACT Tag Team Champion took a firm hold of the Headhunter early, though it would be YOSHI-HASHI forcing a rope break, and bealing Finlay over the top rope on a hip toss reversal. 

Finlay would soon have an answer, landing a dropkick to his opponent, but YOSHI-HASHI retained an upper hand. Elevating Finlay to the apron, YOSHI-HASHI would duck under him off the ropes and pull Finlay face first into the ring’s steel framework. Stinging chops would help keep the CHAOS member in control, but a counter and side suplex would put Finlay back into the game. 

Finlay stayed on the move, landing a corkscrew elbow and a plancha, before a flying European uppercut from the second rope gave him two. The Irish Curse would move Finlay closer to victory, but as he created distance in the corner, YOSHI-HASHI would escape, and then pull his opponent back first over the top rope. 

As the match progressed, both men showed fire with a strike exchange before YOSHI-HASHI scored with a sitout powerbomb to get a two count. Staying on the offensive, YOSHI-HASHI locked in the same butterfly lock that had led submitted Finlay years ago; this time though Finlay would roll against the pressure and summoned up a Blue Thunder Bomb that nearly ended YOSHI-HASHI’s night. 

As both men struggled to their feet, Finlay looked for Prima Nocta, but was countered into a backcracker and a pair of knees from YOSHI-HASHI. The Headhunter wanted Karma only to have Finlay roll out; a Prima Nocta followed but only got two as YOSHI-HASHI barely rolled a shoulder. Finlay followed with Trash Panda, but still couldn’t get three; YOSHI-HASHI resisted the ensuing Acid Drop and scored with a massive lariat, unable to follow up but gaining much needed time and space. 

YOSHI-HASHI would fight hard for, and score with, a Dragon suplex and another lariat as the match passed the 15 minute threshold; Karma wouldn’t connect, but Kumagoroshi did, getting a very near fall from the referee. YOSHI-HASHI closed in on victory, but Finlay incredibly escaped Karma into the Prima Nocta, and scored with an Acid Drop to move to the quarterfinals. 

The main event of the evening saw Hiroshi Tanahashi meet Jay White. As has been the case through preliminary tags, both athletes exchanged in a pose off before the bell, White proving to have the better body, and asking for Tanahashi to lay down, before the Ace shot in and grabbed a firm headlock. 

White would force the veteran into the corner with elbow shots, but Tanahashi would have the faster reactions with a cross body that sent the Kiwi bailing to the floor. White would decide to change tactics in the mental game with the Ace, and charged into Yota Tsuji at ringside to throw Tanahashi off; the plan worked as the Ace met ringside steel, his lower back taking the bulk of the damage. 

With a target established, the Switchblade would maintain a consistent assault on the Ace, with a backbreaker and half crab that had Tanahashi grasping for the ropes. Keen to humiliate Tanahashi as he showed his physical superiority, White would put Tanahashi into an abdominal stretch and play air guitar on the belly of the Ace. But Tanahashi’s pride is not to be reckoned with, and a hip toss and flying forearm was the result. 

White would roll evade a flipping senton from Tanahashi, but the Ace would stay on top, with a ground Dragon screw stopping any escape from a second attempt at the move. Tanahashi would match white for pace on a series of standing switches, but the frustrated Switchblade would pull at his opponent’s hair and land a DDT to flip momentum back his way once more. 

Following Tanahashi into the corner, tanahashi would hit a lariat in the corner, and Bladebuster for two at the ten minute mark. When Tanahashi refused to go for the ride on an Uranage, stiff forearm shots were the result, and Tanahashi had the upper hand in the standup before being stopped with a Complete Shot and deadlift German from a White still in control. Tanahashi remained determined not to get hit with the uranage, but the persistent Switchblade would rattle off the hold; a follow up Kiwi Crusher though would be countered into Twist and Shout. 

A stunned White would roll to the apron, but as the Ace followed in, would pull a page from Tanahashi’s playbook. The Switchblade would hit a Dragon Screw over the ropes to his opponent, but Tanahashi would respond in kind, before absorbing blow after blow from his opponent to dropkick out White’s knee and secure the Texas Cloverleaf.   

Forced to the ropes, Jay would stand only to take a Slingblade from the Ace, who dealt a Dragon Screw to Gedo for good measure. Springing to the top rope, Tanahashi looked to end the match, but ring awareness from his opponent won out; White crotching Tanahashi before looking for Bladerunner. The move was countered with a Straightjacket German, but the Ace only got two as the crowd clapped on. 

Tanahashi would want a Dragon Suplex to follow, but Jay would work free, and dig his thumbs into both eyes before a roll up got two. Another Bladerunner attempt met a Dragon Screw, but White would hang on to a second attempt, hitting a Bladerunner from nowhere to end Tanahashi’s tournament. 

The quarter final lineup will now see EVIL take on Toru Yano, Shingo Takagi meet KENTA, Will Ospreay take on SANADA and Jay White face David Finlay.