New Japan CUPdate: March 18

Final Four set for Sendai

Shizuoka saw the final two participants qualify for the New Japan Cup semifinals Saturday in Sendai, when David Finlay took on Jay White and Will Ospreay met SANADA. 

First were former Dojo comrades turned bitter enemies, Finlay and White. White’s typical mindgames were present at the opening bell as he evaded contact, before yanking the hair of his opponent and taking charge with strikes. A dropkick from Finlay however, and Jay was forced to bail from the ring. Finlay would send White into the guardrail, but was easily distracted by Gedo, allowing for the Switchblade to take full and firm control of proceedings.


Dropping Finlay over the guardrail, White created a weakness in the midsection of his opponent that he relentlessly pursued in ring. Needing to fire bac in a major way, Finlay would hit a flying forearm and plancha to the BULLET CLUB leader, before a flying European uppercut from the second rope followed. 

A lariat would again take White out to the floor, and though Gedo again tried to find an opening for his charge, this time it was Jay that caught the ringside steel with a reversal. When Gedo once again got involved, Juice Robinson would take out the trash and carry Jay’s manager to the back, but White would stay on top with a Bladebuster and a humiliating reminder of the two’s Dojo days with a Boston Crab that sent Finlay to the ropes. 

As the match wore on, the two men would charge at one another, Finlay catching White with a Blue Thunder bomb, but White responding with a Complete Shot into a heavy German suplex. Going back to the midsection of Finlay, White buried the knees into his former training partner, before dumping Finlay over the top rope, only to bring him back inside for an Uranage that drew two from the referee. 

A Kiwi Crusher was next, but Finlay still kicked out; a look of frustration etched on his face, White pulled his opponent to his feet and hurled him violently into the corner at the 15 minute mark. Digging deep, Finlay would respond with another Blue Thunder; unable to follow with a pin, Finlay instead went for the Acid Drop, but was countered with a hard shoulder first shove into the corner. 

The arrogant White drew Finlay into a strike exchange, but this time the IMPACT Tag Champion was a step ahead, catching Jay with an Irish Curse backbreaker, and a lariat that rocked his opponent. Connecting with Trash Panda, Finlay got a very near fall, the Shizuoka crowd beginning to believe an upset was in the books, as Finlay tried to go in for the kill. 

Finlay got two from a Granby Roll on White, and went for Prima Nocta, but was shoved away. As White looked for the kill with Bladerunner however, he was suddenly countered with a Prima Nocta and Acid Drop combination that saw the biggest upset of the tournament. 

 The main event saw SANADA and Will Ospreay battle for the final spot in the semifinals. With a hot start, Ospreay tried to take out SANADA at the jump; though Cold Skull evaded the Briton and made Ospreay flinch when he went for his injured nose, the United Empire leader soon took control. With a boot from the top rope sending SANADA to the outside, Ospreay dropped the LIJ member back first over the steel guardrail and targeted the lower back of his opponent with a hard slam and back breaker. 

While slowing his opponent to a standstill, Ospreay was as animated as ever with his offense, flying gracefully with a forearm to SANADA for two as the Shizuoka crowd tried to will Cold Skull back into the match. SANADA got there by grabbing at Ospreay’s broken nose, and following with dropkicks low and high before a Frankensteiner dumped the Commonwealth Kingpin to the mat. 

A handspring kick from Ospreay and control swung back to the United Empire leader, but the still pained Ospreay was bent on revenge. Deciding to repay his broken nose with one for SANADA, he went for a face wash on Cold Skull, but a response came in the form of a Paradise Lock variant that saw Ospreay’s nose dropkicked into the corner; a plancha following as the match passed ten minutes. 

Still in pain, Ospreay managed to counter a flying SANADA into a Stormbreaker attempt, but this too was reversed into a rope hung TKO from SANADA. As the defensive battle continued, Ospreay had the wherewithal to evade a SANADA moonsault, and followed with a Spanish Fly, before a hard powerbomb got a nearfall. 

SANADA showed his own will to win, a beautiful Tiger Suplex getting two before a trip upstairs, but Ospreay again prevented a moonsault. Pulling SANADA’s heel, Ospreay dumped SANADA face first to the mat and removed his elbow pad, looking for the Chelsea Grin elbow, but SANADA’s instincts proved just as honed as Ospreay’s. 

As each man tried to get the deciding blow, SANADA countered Ospreay into Skull End, with hooks firmly sunk in as the Briton faded. SANADA thought that he had enough time to finally hit the Moonsault, but only hit Ospreay’s knees; SANADA nearly got three from an O’Connor Roll instead, but when SANADA popped Ospreay up into a TKO attempt, a poison rana and OsCutter were the result. SANADA still kicked out, but the Chelsea Grin and Stormbreaker were too much.

Will Ospreay will now face David Finlay, and Shingo Takagi will take on EVIL in the New Japan Cup semifinals.