The opportunity to challenge for Tetsuya Naito’s IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships at Dominion is on the line as Kazuchika Okada and EVIL face off in the final of the New Japan Cup!
The remainder of the card sees the debut of Master Wato (returning young lion Hirai Kawato) and important tag matches ahead of the NEVER Openweight and IWGP Tag Team Championships being defended the following day at Dominion!
This year’s New Japan Cup has been run entirely without fans, but the final is far too important to not hear the roar of an audience. Thanks to NJPW’s health and safety efforts during the covid-19 crisis, there will be fans in attendance for the first time in more than 4 months! In line with social distancing procedures New Japan will only be using 1/3 capacity of the iconic Osaka-jō Hall, however it’s almost guaranteed that those fans lucky enough to get a ticket will emphatically make their voices heard.
This preview will cover the two standout matches on the card; Master Wato vs DOUKI and an in depth look at the main event of Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL!
New Japan Cup Final
Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL
Okada comes into this with history and statistics on his side. He holds a 3-1 record over EVIL, having only lost to him three years ago in G1 Climax 27. Since then EVIL has not been able to stop the downpour of the Rainmaker.
Okada’s strength in the New Japan Cup is unparalleled; he is in the final for a second consecutive year, having won the tournament in 2019; he has competed in 14 Cup matches over 3 tournaments (including this year) and only ever lost once, a first round defeat to Bad Luck Fale in 2015; he also won the tournament in 2013. As for EVIL, his previous best was making the semi-finals in 2017. Before even stepping in the ring he will be fighting an uphill battle, looking to overcome the past and earn the biggest landmark win of his career.
Their paths to the final have been distinctly different. Okada had to take down Gedo, Yuji Nagata, Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takahashi whereas EVIL found himself against Satoshi Kojima, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI and SANADA. When Okada found himself against junior heavyweights EVIL was clashing with heavyweights. EVIL will certainly be the fresher of the two men thanks to his brutal two minute victory over YOSHI-HASHI in the quarter-finals.
An internal story has been brewing with both men throughout the tournament. Okada has become reliant on winning his matches with the cobra clutch, electing to not use any form of the Rainmaker until his semi-final match with Hiromu, but even then he did not unleash the full version. He has found success with the cobra clutch but his dependency on it showed during his match with Hiromu, and if he is hell bent on winning with it again in the final then it could be his downfall.
In line with his name but not the man we have grown to know, EVIL has shockingly headed down a path of darkness. Starting with his second round victory against Goto, a win which came when EVIL stomped on Goto’s crotch. YOSHI-HASHI hobbled to the ring in the quarter-finals, having injured his knee the night prior but refusing to forgo the spot he had earned. Unfortunately for him a new black cloud hung over EVIL and he attacked YOSHI-HASHI’s knee with a chair before the match had even begun. Once the bell was rung, EVIL locked in an excruciating Scorpion Deathlock until the referee stopped the match. The semi-final saw EVIL going up against his Los Ingobernables de Japon comrade and tag team brother SANADA. On this night EVIL proved he is in this for himself, ensuring the referee was taken out so he could low blow SANADA and follow up with a chair assault to seal his place in the final. If EVIL is willing to villainously attack his closest ally then it raises concerns about what he will do to Okada.
This match will be a reminder of everything beloved about New Japan. Spirit will be clashing with spirit and the strong style that is ingrained in New Japan will be at the forefront. The cinderblock that is EVIL will seek to dominate in the strength department and end things with Everything Is Evil whereas Okada will aim to do as he always does and outclass his opponent. A win gives Okada the chance to reclaim his spot as the king of the King of Sports; for EVIL it’s far more personal. It’s EVIL’s opportunity to prove himself on an entirely different level and face Naito for only the second time in his career.
The grandest prize in New Japan Cup history awaits the winner; a shot at Tetsuya Naito and his IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships.
Master Wato vs DOUKI
Hoping to be the newest prodigy from the irrefutable Young Lion system, Hirai Kawato re-debuted as Master Wato on July 3rd, revealing himself as “The Grand Master” that had been teased since the New Japan Cup began. Appearing in a blue suit with blue hair, he told the world he had arrived to “get to the top of New Japan.”
Disaster immediately struck Wato in the menacing shape of Suzuki-Gun’s DOUKI and his steel pipe. Since emerging in New Japan during Best of Super Juniors 26 it has become apparent that DOUKI has a vendetta against the Young Lions, like Master Wato, that are afforded the golden ticket to have excursions in Mexico’s CMLL, given DOUKI’s own struggle for recognition on the Mexican independent scene. DOUKI personally ensured the “lame return” of Wato by attacking him during his return, and now Wato wants vengeance.
This match is vital for Master Wato. There has been a middling reaction to his return so far but he can prove the doubters wrong with what he can do in the ring. Although he competed as a Young Lion in NJPW throughout 2016 and 2017, this is not the same Kawato we watched build character in consistent defeat, this is a chance for reinvention as Master Wato. It is a crucial opportunity to showcase his education in lucha libre, to define his own character and wrestling style, to give us a glimpse at what we can expect for years to come.
Great Bash Heel (Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe) vs Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji
Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs Hirooki Goto & Gabriel Kidd
Master Wato vs DOUKI
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & BUSHI) vs BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado)
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi)
New Japan Cup Final: Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL
When: Saturday 11th July @ 5pm JST (9am BST, 4am EST, 1am PDT)
How to watch: Available on New Japan World for only 999¥ per month (roughly £7.50/$9.30)
Notes: Only Japanese commentary will be available for the live stream. English commentary will be added within a few days of the event finishing. Do not let this stop you watching live, the Japanese commentators’ passion transcends language barriers!