The most unique New Japan Cup tournament in history has nearly reached its conclusion, with two massive semifinal round matches set to take place Friday in Tokyo.
With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting international travel, the Cup was opened to junior heavyweight wrestlers for the first time ever, in order to help fill out the 32-man bracket.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, arguably the standout of the tournament thus far, has managed to survive time and time again. Most recently, he actually pinned the “Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii to advance to the semifinals.
The ticking “Timebomb” of Los Ingobernables de Japon will now face the greatest challenge of his entire career, as he steps into the ring with “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada in a first-time battle between two once-in-a-general level talents.
On the other side of the bracket, LIJ will face its toughest internal test to date, as EVIL and SANADA are set to collide one-on-one. Not only are these two in the same faction, and not only are they two-time IWGP Tag Team Champions, and not only are they tied 1-1 in singles matches thanks to two prior G1 bouts… but according to the Cagematch database, this is their 400th time sharing the ring together.
Of course, the winners of these two blockbuster matches will go on to face each other for the right to hoist the New Japan Cup trophy. The ultimate winner will go on to Dominion to battle Tetsuya Naito – interestingly enough, the LIJ leader – for both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
Stream the semifinals live on NJPW World this Friday at 6AM ET. The live broadcast will only be available with Japanese commentary, however English commentary has generally been made available within 48 hours of each show.