New Japan Cup semifinal full card; preview

Four become two Saturday night



After just over two of the most intense tournament weeks in wrestling, the New Japan Cup comes down to the final four Saturday night in Sendai. Who makes it to Sunday’s final, and who will win the cup and the right to challenge IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi? 

Watch semifinals and New Japan Cup finals this weekend with LIVE English commentary!


Main event: New Japan Cup semifinal- EVIL vs Shingo Takagi

A first time meeting in the semifinals of the New Japan Cup with a whole lot of history, as Shingo Takagi and EVIL collide. One year ago today, these men were two thirds of the NEVER Openweight six man tag team champions, but were also in the midst of a frosty silence within Los Ingobernables De Japon that lasted until 2020’s fateful New Japan Cup. 

The cup would end with EVIL aligned with BULLET CLUB, and vacating the NEVER 6-Man gold after defeating Tetsuya Naito for the double IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships. EVIL’s 2021 goal is to go back to back in the tournament, to defeat Kota Ibushi at Sakura Genesis, and erase the IWGP lineage completely, replacing it with a title in his own dark image. 

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In the opposite corner is a Takagi determined to make his first IWGP challenge in Ryogoku April 4 at Sakura Gensis and has shown his will and determination with three back to back, hard fought main events. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto and KENTA might be the toughest path to the semifinals that any of our final four have had, but Takagi will have to shrug off the damage he’s incurred over the last fortnight to tackle EVIL. 

With both competitors being evenly matches, with a similar hard hitting in ring style, and sharing the same initial journey to the pro ranks in Animal Hamaguchi’s famous Tokyo gym, this should be a bout to look forward to on paper. Yet never listed on paper is the X factor of Dick Togo, who lays in wait to stack the deck, as he did with a post match Magic Killer to Shingo Tuesday in Korakuen. Can Shingo overcome and book his place in Sunday’s final?

5th Match: New Japan Cup semifinal- David Finlay vs Will Ospreay

While many had Will Ospreay in the final four, of their own personal picks, you would be winning big if you had David Finlay in your office pool for the New Japan Cup. With a win some six years in the making in the quarterfinals against Jay White, Finlay booked his spot to Sendai and continued a Cinderella story through this year’s tournament. 

Finlay’s accomplishments as a team, rather than singles player all the way up to this tournament would certainly give the on paper advantage to Will Ospreay. Yet the underdog of the 2021 New Japan Cup could well have all the stars aligning for him to make the finals. When partner Juice Robinson took Gedo out of the equation in his semifinal match with Jay White, Finlay defeated the Switchblade, not against the run of the match, but with a definitive, center ring Acid Drop. A win over one wrestler ranked quite rightly among the best of the world could easily be followed by a win over another; especially considering Ospreay’s own path to Sendai.

In an incredibly intense bout against Zack Sabre Jr. In Hyogo, Ospreay barely squeezed out victory despite a badly broken nose, an injury that SANADA would exploit during his quarterfinal defeat. While that SANADA match certainly showed Ospreay is more than able to compete at a top flight level despite his injury, there is a clear, visible and painful target for Finlay to capitalize on in this semifinal, and if there were ever a day where David Finlay could beat Will Ospreay, it’s March 20, 2021. Will the fairytale have a happy ending? Or will the vicious kingpin make his way to the final?

 4th Match: Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi vs BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, KENTA & Jay White) 

Just 48 hours removed from his shocking exit in the New Japan Cup, Jay White will team with KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi in Sendai to take on Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi, the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion making his first appearance of the tour. 

While ordinarily, Ibushi, Okada and Tanahashi would make an unstoppable golden trio, much discontent is still circling over Ibushi’s history making title unification, and the seeds of discontent may be ripening in this bout. How will Ibushi be received by his teammates tonight, and indeed by the Sendai crowd? BULLET CLUB are always happy to leap on any form of dissent and take advantage; will that influence how this bout plays out? 


3rd Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) vs Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)

The third match of the evening will see Suzuki-Gun and LIJ resume their long standing factional feud. After Zack Sabre Jr fell to Will Ospreay in the second round of the New Japan Cup, he and Taichi redoubled their resolve to get back to the top of the tag team mountain. That may result in Dangerous Tekkers trying to show their prowess against Naito and SANADA tonight especially. Meanwhile, as El Desperado makes overtures to Taiji Ishimori to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, BUSHI and DOUKI want to show the world that they too could easily step up to contention. 


2nd Match: CHAOS (SHO, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano) vs BULLET CLUB (Jado, Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale)

Another junior heavyweight that could easily rise to the top of the contenders pile is SHO. Now that the New Japan Cup is concluding, SHO will certainly want to make a play to be included on the Sakura Genesis card in April at Ryogoku, and the road to Dontaku beyond. Meanwhile the heavyweight contenders in this bout seek to recover from their respective New Japan Cup exits, and KOPW2021 holder Yano will need to have eyes in the back of his head as nemeses Owens and Fale will be going for his neck (or his trophy). 


1st Match: Yuya Uemura & Juice Robinson vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan)

The night will kick off with Juice Robinson teaming with Young Lion Yuya Uemura against the United Empire’s Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan. Thursday night in Shizuoka was a mixed one for Robinson. Though ultimately the night ended on a high, as he took out the trash in the form of Gedo while partner David Finlay upset Jay White, he also tasted tag team defeat along with Toa Henare earlier in the evening. Henare would take great offense at Robinson immediately leaving to the back after his loss rather than supporting his partner. Will thoughts of Finlay in the semi final tonight mean Juice is similarly distracted in Sendai?