NJPW Announces 32-Man Openweight Tournament Beginning Next Week; First Round Matches Revealed

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As previously reported, New Japan Pro-Wrestling will be returning to action with a mystery card on June 15, their first live event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In another major announcement, the previously cancelled 2020 New Japan Cup will be taking place across eight events between June 16 and July 3. These shows will take place with no fans in attendance, and will be broadcast live on NJPW World.

The tour will culminate in the New Japan Cup finals on July 11 at Osaka-Jo Hall, which will see the return of a live audience – an actual crowd of wrestling fans – for the first time since the New Japan Road tour in February.

In order to comply with current regulations and in the interest of public safety, attendance will be limited to 30% of the venue’s max capacity. That said, Osaka-Jo Hall can hold 16,000 and the 2019 Dominion event drew just shy of 12,000 fans, so it’s possible they could still sell upwards of 4-5,000 tickets.

This year’s tournament will be the most unique New Japan Cup in history. Due to restrictions on international travel limiting the potential roster, what is normally a heavyweight tournament will now be open to the junior heavyweight roster for the very first time.

No matter the weight of the performer, the winner will earn an opportunity to challenge Tetsuya Naito for both the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. That match will go down in the main event of Dominion on July 12, also taking place live at Osaka-Jo Hall.

The following is a complete list of first round tournament matches taking place at four events between June 16 and June 23.

June 16

  • Togi Makabe vs. Yota Tsuji
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. El Desperado
  • Toru Yano vs. Jado
  • Tomoaki Honma vs. Hiromu Takahashi

June 17

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Gedo
  • Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki
  • Yuya Uemura vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
  • Gabriel Kidd vs. Taiji Ishimori

June 22

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Taichi
  • Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Ryusuke Taguchi vs. SANADA
  • SHO vs. Shingo Takagi

June 23

  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. YOSHI-HASHI
  • YOSH vs. BUSHI
  • Satoshi Kojima vs. EVIL
  • Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi