30-year-old English born “technical wizard” Zack Sabre Jr. picked up quite possibly the biggest victory of his career today in Tokyo, defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the finals of the 2018 New Japan Cup.
Sabre had arguably the most difficult path in this year’s single-elimination tournament, moving past Los Ingobernables leader Tetsuya Naito in the first round, the “Golden Star” Kota Ibushi in the second round, and “Cold Skull” Sanada in round three. With his victory over Tanahashi today he became the first English star to win the New Japan Cup and only the second foreigner in history to do so, after “Giant Bernard” Matt Bloom in 2006.
As has become tradition, the winner of the annual Cup earns the right to challenge for one of New Japan’s major singles championships. Sabre wasted no time in calling out IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, who responded alongside his manager Gedo to make the bout official. ZSJ will face the longest reigning champion in history on April 1st at Sakura Genesis.