New Japan Cup finals set-up future title matches, tease new arrival


TAICHI’s Twitter

New Japan Pro-Wrestling held the finals of their New Japan Cup tournament today (Mar. 21) in Niigata. There was a full show in addition to that match, of course, but the main event pitted hometown guy SANADA against David Finlay.

Both men recently joined new stables. Finlay signed on with the Bullet Club with a high-profile attack on the departing Jay White. SANADA jumped from the Los Ingobernables de Japon to join Just Four Five Guys, a leaderless group just formed a couple months ago at New Year Dash!! by former members of the disbanded Suzuki-Gun.

With both men seemingly getting a push, who would win the Cup — and the IWGP World Heavyweight title shot that comes with it?

Just a guy from Niigata.

The crowd made full use of their ability to cheer (Japanese crowds were “clap only” throughout the pandemic), which elevated a relatively straight-forward match. Finlay took and stayed in control thanks to attacks outside the ring like throwing SANADA into the barricade. He seemed poised to win it with his Trash Panda finisher until SANADA came back to get the better of a striking exchange. He eventually used a new modified DDT finisher to win the match, and the Cup.

As you can see in the second picture there, SANADA was then confronted by the champ, Kazuchika Okada. He chided SANADA about his past failures (0-4 in matches for New Japan’s top prize, with three of those losses coming against Okada), then left him to cut a promo for his neighbors and fans.

Today’s show also set-up a few future matches, including one for a prominent AEW star, and a Junior Heavyweight titlematch featuring a former WWE Cruiserweight champ. Here’s what happened:

Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & Taichi) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuto Nakashima via pinfall (Taichi on Nakashima)

Ryohei Oiwa & Shota Umino def. TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Zack Sabre Jr.) via pinfall (Umino on Fujita); afterwards Umino challenged ZSJ to a match for his TV title, and Sabre accepted.

BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, El Phantasmo & KENTA) def. Tama Tonga, Tomoaki Honma & Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall (El-P on Honma)

House Of Torture (Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi) def. El Desperado, Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi & Toru Yano; post-match EVIL’s crew unmasked Desperado, spray painted “HOT” on Narita’s chest, and generally delivered a pretty brutal beatdown.

• This tease aired:

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) def. United Empire (Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan) via pinfall (Naito rolled up O-Khan)

United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) def. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI); afterwards, Aussie Open (Fletcher & Davis) made it clear they want Bishamon (Goto and Yoshi-Hashi)’s tag titles. Cobb called out Kenny Omega.

Hiromu Takahashi def. Lio Rush via pinfall with Time Bomb 2 to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. ZSJ was out after the match to introduce the newest member of his new group, TMDK. Robbie Eagles is Takahashi’s next challenger.

SANADA def. David Finlay to win the 2023 New Japan Cup; had a staredown with Kazuchika Okada afterwards

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