The New Japan Cup is a 32-man single-elimination tournament with the winner taking on IWGP Heavyweight Champion, “Switchblade” Jay White, at Madison Square Garden next month. With the brackets finalized, this Friday we take a look at two stellar matchups.
The night starts with last year’s New Japan Cup winner, Zack Sabre Jr., as he takes on Los Ingobernables de Japon’s EVIL. Though Zack is undefeated in this tournament, the last encounter with EVIL had the British Heavyweight Champion staring up at the lights as the ref’s hand went down for the 3 count. Does ZSJ have it in him to go 5 for 5 or has the Prince of Darkness figured out a way to put Sabre’s light out?
In the main event the leader of LIJ and current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito, looks to make it a clean sweep for the group when he battles the “Golden Star,” Kota Ibushi, in what will be a fantastic match. Naito’s goal is to be the first ever dual champion in company history. What makes him dangerous in this first round match is how aggressive he has become since re-capturing the Intercontinental title at this past Wrestle Kingdom. This may very well be problematic for Ibushi as he is returning from injury and stepping into the ring with someone out for blood may have him staying another night in the hospital. To Ibushi’s credit, he is certainly no stranger to the Japanese strong style of wrestling, and some may argue that he welcomes it. The combination of his athleticism, strength, and speed are unmatched. To him, winning this tournament, and defeating Jay White in the “World’s Most Famous Arena” would be a dream come true and more importantly, solidify him as the best wrestler in the world.
First Round Coverage of the New Japan Cup 2019 starts THIS FRIDAY 8p/7c
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