Originally published at New Japan Cup 2021: Takagi vs. EVIL, Ospreay vs. Finlay, final is set
The final of the New Japan Cup is set after Saturday’s two semi-final matches in Sendai.
The show was affected by the earthquake that hit Sendai in the middle of the event causing a halt to the action. The show resumed with two semi-final matches taking place.
Will Ospreay and David Finlay had the task of coming out after the break and attempting to get the audience into their match when clearly, their thoughts were probably elsewhere.
Chris Charlton did a great job outlining the motivation for David Finlay bringing up how he didn’t get a spot in last year’s G1 Climax, and when Juice Robinson was injured it was Satoshi Kojima getting the shot against KENTA this past January at Wrestle Kingdom.
The match was going fine and you could see the two were having a very good match but it escalated once Finlay attempted the Prima Nocta (Acid Drop) and was dumped on his ankle on the floor. Finlay sold it like the ankle was broken making for a dramatic return at the count of nineteen after Ospreay demanded the match be called off.
From this point forward, it may have been the best performance of Finlay’s career selling his ankle and becoming a fantastic underdog babyface and Ospreay was just as great as the cocky heel.
Ospreay used a figure-four and removed Finlay’s boot to wrench on the ankle. Finlay got the rope and used all his power to stagger to his feet. Ospreay went for an OsCutter that was countered in mid-air with a reverse neck breaker and perfectly timed. Finlay’s leg gave out attempting another Prima Nocta and was hoisted for the Storm Breaker but countered with a huracanrana and hooked the legs for a great near-fall.
Finlay tried the Prima Nocta again, Ospreay countered and nearly lost Finlay but made a fantastic recovery, hit a snap powerbomb, and followed with the Storm Breaker to win.
Both men were fantastic in the match, but it was a match about making Finlay and he was as good as I have ever seen him in this one. Ospreay is hitting on all cylinders in this role. This match was great and they had an incredibly tall task of coming out when many fans were likely rattled from the earthquake.
In the main event of the show, Shingo Takagi pinned EVIL and overcoming the interference of Dick Togo.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton explained how Togo would be making small paydays on the independents without EVIL and while he helps EVIL, the fanbase hates all the interference and is hurting New Japan’s business. I found that hilarious.
EVIL hit a snap suplex onto chairs on the floor and used the Sasori-gatame inside the ring.
Togo distracted Red Shoes allowing EVIL to hit Takagi with a chair shot to the head and hit Darkness Falls but couldn’t use Everything is Evil as Takagi fired back with Made in Japan.
EVIL shoved Takagi into Red Shoes allowing Togo to return. Takagi overcame a low blow and Magic Killer, fighting off both and winning with the Pumping Bomber and Last of the Dragon.
I wouldn’t categorize this as one of Takagi’s better matches of the tournament, which have been stellar matches and would put it behind all the previous ones against Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, and KENTA. At best, this match was sufficient and fine for the main event but certainly recommend Ospreay and Finlay over this one.
Takagi cut a promo thanking the fans for sticking around after the earthquake before being confronted by Ospreay ahead of Sunday’s final. Ospreay attacked but was sent to the floor with a lariat as Takagi proclaimed he will win on Sunday.
It will be a rematch of the Best of the Super Juniors final from 2019 where Takagi and Ospreay had a match-of-the-year contender, and some people’s pick for the best match that year. The bar is very high and no doubt these two will be able to hit those expectations with both having outstanding matches this tournament.
The final card of the New Japan Cup streams late tonight at 1 am ET from Sendai.
Here are the results from Saturday’s card in front of 1,230 at the Xebio Arena in Sendai:
*Jeff Cobb & The Great O-Khan over Juice Robinson & Yuya Uemura in 8:44
*Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & SHO over Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Jado in 7:58
*Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI over Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI in 11:19
*Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada over Jay White, KENTA & Yujiro in 10:26
*New Japan Cup Semi-Final: Will Ospreay over David Finlay in 21:04
*New Japan Cup Semi-Final: Shingo Takagi over EVIL in 22:43