SPOILERS - New Japan Cup Updated Brackets - FINAL

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I’m 2-4 in the pool :joy:

Alas this is my first NJ Cup but is the tournament always this hard hitting? These are like G1 level matches I didn’t expect it to be so intense

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This probably won’t happen but I’m hoping for;

Tanahashi vs Robinson
Ibushi vs Taylor

Tanahashi vs Ibushi

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I really think WH Park is on to something with Sabre Jr winning the tournament, especially with how strongly he beat Naito. He’s setup to get some good wins along the way and I think he’d make a good challenger for Okada at the April show; saving Naito/Tanahashi/Ibushi (a bigger match vs Okada) for Dominion in June.


Yeah, they don’t like to goof around over there! That’s what’s great about all the NJPW big shows. They bring the intensity full force. Matches get time (of course the exception to both of those I just said is Toru Yano and he provides an awesome comedy contrast in these tournaments). Another great thing about these is the top dudes can go down to help the mid and lower guys elevate and to form stuff for the future.

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Certainly could happen! I do see the Tanahashi trying to stop Okada from the title defense number thing as being an angle they could use when booking this Cup. Has the WWE used number of title defenses in an angle before? Obviously they make a big deal about the total number of title reigns, but I can’t remember off hand the number of title defenses (like this will be with Okada) being a gigantic thing.

Makes sense! It’s great when a top dude like a Naito goes down to get a shine for his opponent, but sometimes in a tournament format ya gotta keep moving with the guy then. When I was trying to figure these brackets out beforehand I couldn’t get to anything that made sense for the future so I settled on Juice for the freshness, but Sabre probably makes more sense now.

Stat Postin’

  • Only 2 of this ‘Elite 8’ have won the New Japan Cup previously: Tanahashi (2) and Ibushi.

  • Toru Yano has now won his first round match 4 years in a row!

  • One guy has him beat however with winning his first round match 5 years in a row: Bad Luck Fale

  • Yano has been in this tournament 13 years in a row (all except the 1st)

  • 2018 was the 1st year that all 8 first round matches went double digit minutes.

Went 7/8 in the first round. That Elgin win really screwed me. Ishii was my pick to win it all. Pulling for ZSJ now.

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I spent awhile thinking about it (the brackets) and I was coming up empty. I just kept crossing guys off (Naito and Sanada just fought Okada). Ibushi seemed busy. Tanahashi might be crippled if he makes it far with his injuries (although the stopping the most title defense thing would at least be a story, but I can’t remember that story being used in the U.S.). I thought like you that would leave pretty much Ishii, but I just went with Juice. They seem to be pretty happy with him. I didn’t give ZSJ much hope as I’m a Naito mark, but it certainly could happen. I suppose that’s what makes this tournament exciting as big names go down all the time.

One thing I didn’t realize until today is that the winner gets their choice of champion. Now logically, who wouldn’t want to face Okada; but I could see Tanahashi winning and challenging Suzuki to try and get the IC belt back.

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Love Taka as the hype man for ZSJ! If I’m booking my own show, Yano is invited.

Out of this group of boys I see Sanada as being the highest priority, but that being said, I can’t call who will win in Tanahashi vs Sanada and I look forward to that match 'cause it’ll probably be great.

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Juice got some nice chants from the audience … would seem tough to do going against Tanahashi.

If Zack takes this thing, he will have ‘earned’ it as the Naito, Ibushi, Sanada, Tanahashi quartet would be highly ranked on the Smackdown Top 10.

Pretty sure I don’t want to buy a pretzel from Sabre Jr. as I’d have no idea what he’d twist it into …

ZSJ vs Sanada was amazing in my opinion. Unlike a lot of people, I am not high on Sanada, I think he’s incredibly overrated, but I thought he was great in this match. It told a great story and ZSJ looks like an absolute beast right now going into the finals. If he can tap out Tanahashi…I wouldnt count him out on taking the IWGP title. I know the odds are slim, but this tournament has done wonders for him.

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I know New Japan has several other tournament style bracket competitions throughout the year, but it’s cool that one of them coincides with the college basketball tournament. WWE should look into doing one of these around March Madness as the popularity of this basketball tournament is really ridiculous. Millions of people fill out their brackets every year (and many people that don’t follow basketball at all). Shocked that the E hasn’t tried to piggyback off the tremendous popularity of this tournament and this type of format really works well in a wrestling environment as we’ve seen from Japan.

I feel that this has been a better NJ Cup than the 2-3 i’ve seen prior. Agreed, same level of excitement as G1 at times. Shaping up to be a standout year for NJPW!

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Watching Juice VS Tanahashi, i was in legit edge of seat suspense hoping Robinson would pull off the impossible. But they told the story beautiful, and his time will clearly come. feel like in the midst of licking my bracket wounds, i’m going with the more safe bet of Tanahashi for the win now.

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Amazing edition of the NJ Cup, overwhelming me with so much good wrestling last week. Even the undercard has been incredibly solid. Hard to pick a favorite match, but may have to go with the predictable ZSJ vs Ibushi.

I love how there were so many credible options for winner too. Went with new blood like Juice Robinson, but now thinking Tanahashi will take it, and create an instantly buzzed-over match with Okada. One reason being ZSJ had Tana’s number in last year’s G1, and NJPW does have a bit of a tendency to have their roster trade wins over time. I don’t think the local audience would buy into ZSJ as a challenger all the way either, but regardless, I’d be glad to have it wrong and really looking forward to ZSJ future in New Japan.

Good thoughts. A few of mine:

  • I’m just digging Taka. Pretty much have his spiel down! While I think it’s cool for Nakamura or Asuka to say a few lines in English, it probably paints more of a picture to the audience when more words can be provided by a ‘hype man’. The audience may not buy ZSJ as a challenger to the IWJP belt, but submitting Naito, Ibushi, Sanada, and Tanahashi would sure go a long way!

  • The Tanahashi stopping the title defense number (or at least attempting to) would be a good story line, but I just can’t recall that being used in another promotion (off the top of my head). They still could use that though.

  • I absolutely love the contrast that Yano plays in these tournaments. The obligatory ‘forearm exchange’ every match can be a little tiring and can’t say I get jacked up over watching these ‘German suplexes landing on the neck at weird angles’. I enjoyed the sequence where Chuckie T had Yano in the Tree of Woe and then asked the ref ‘would it be OK if I punched him in the balls right now? oh, how about a 12 to 6 elbow to his junk? ok, I know you guys dig some head butts over here, may I offer one to his groin?’

  • I’d give Red Shoes a raise. Boy does he help build the tension. I like when he holds his hand out to a competitor in a submission hold and says ‘If the pain becomes too much, just give me a little tap on the mat and your pain will decrease’.

We’ll see what the Finals holds!

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