NJPW Announces Participants & Full Bracket For 2018 New Japan Cup; One Major Name Notably Absent

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NJPW has announced the participants and full brackets for the upcoming New Japan Cup, which kicks off on Friday, March 9th and runs through the finals on March 21st.

The New Japan Cup has run every year since 2005, with all but two winners going on to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Shinsuke Nakamura’s win in 2014 was the notable exception, as he instead challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental title. Unlike the annual G1 Climax, the New Japan Cup is a single elimination tournament featuring 16 of the roster’s best heavyweight wrestlers.

Despite speculation that Kazuchika Okada would attempt to compete in this year’s tournament, the current reigning champ will unfortunately not be a part of this year’s bracket. Typically the reigning heavyweight champions (which this year includes Okada, Hirooki Goto and Jay White) do not take part in the Cup. Another notable absence is Kenny Omega, who issued a statement claiming that he needed to focus on the fractured Bullet Club and preparing to fight his own friends.

Chuck Taylor, Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi will all be making their New Japan Cup debuts this year. This will be Toru Yano’s 13th consecutive Cup performance, and Hiroshi Tanahashi’s 9th overall.

Here are the first round matches:

  • Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi (3/9)
  • Michael Elgin vs. Tomohiro Ishii (3/9)
  • Bad Luck Fale vs. Lance Archer (3/10)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Taichi (3/10)
  • Yoshi-Hashi vs. Kota Ibushi (3/11)
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (3/11)
  • Toru Yano vs. Davey Boy Smith (3/12)
  • Chuck Taylor vs. Sanada (3/12)