EVIL overcame The Rainmaker to obtain the prestigious New Japan Cup on Saturday as he won the tournament in an extremely shocking fashion. Having proven himself to be the best of the 32 man New Japan Cup field, EVIL will once again main event the magnificent Osaka-jō Hall less than 24 hours later. The ultimate chance at glory is in reach as EVIL will challenge Tetsuya Naito for the double IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships!
Fans will be in attendance for only the second time since the Covid-19 pandemic. They will fill 1/3 of the capacity of the venue to ensure social distancing procedures are maintained.
The remainder of the card sees challengers getting their much sought after championship shots. SHO looks to slay the dragon Shingo Takagi and take his NEVER Openweight Championship gold and Suzuki-Gun’s Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. attempt to take the shine away from Golden☆Ace by winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
New Japan Cup is EVIL.
Bullet Club is EVIL.
Double Champion is EVIL?
IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship
Tetsuya Naito (C) vs EVIL
At Wrestle Kingdom 14, Tetsuya Naito became the first ever double champion in New Japan history. Having defended both titles against KENTA at The New Beginning in February, Naito will now attempt to make his second successful defense; this time against the winner of the New Japan Cup and his former Los Ingobernables de Japon brother EVIL.
EVIL battled his way to New Japan Cup glory by taking down Satoshi Kojima, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, SANADA and Kazuchika Okada to win the tournament. Along the way, a villainous side of EVIL began to rear its head, a head that knew winning was the priority at any cost. Nothing was off limits, not even when taking on his tag team partner and LIJ comrade SANADA in the semi-final. In the final he brought Okada crashing down to earth with a vicious Darkness Falls onto a pile of chairs. Crotch stomps, steel chairs and low blows are all holstered in the King of Darkness’ new arsenal.
The darker side of EVIL was fully unleashed in the final when the unthinkable happened; EVIL aligned himself with Bullet Club! Gedo and Yujiro Takahashi helped ensure EVIL’s monumental win over Kazuchika Okada, providing interference and attacking Okada behind Red Shoes’ back. Post match, EVIL called out Naito and when Naito offered his hand for the LIJ fist bump, EVIL responded with a Too Sweet and proceeded to assault the double champion. The night came to a close with EVIL standing triumphant over the fallen Naito, cementing his New Japan Cup legacy alongside his new Bullet Club comrades.
This will be Naito’s first singles match since February 9th and much like that night, he once again finds himself in the main event of Osaka-jō Hall defending his double championships. EVIL has chalked up more than 90 minutes in singles matches over the last few weeks, ensuring any ring rust that he may have had is oiled out. In comparison, Naito has been restricted exclusively to six man tag team matches, not once having to bear the weight of a singles match in more than five months. Naito may be the fresher man going into this match but EVIL has the tenacity that only comes when it’s do or die. Every match for EVIL was a must win, there was no room for errors on his quest to win the New Japan Cup.
The in-ring history between Naito and EVIL is limited to a single meeting, a match during G1 Climax 2016 which saw Naito pick up the win. History has always seen them on the same team, until Saturday when EVIL spat in the face of that history and LIJ camaraderie.
EVIL will look to continue on the path that earned him the New Japan Cup trophy, knowing full well that his fortune has now improved and the new tactics he has implemented are his best chance at dethroning Naito. Bullet Club are now in EVIL’s corner and they are ruthlessly willing to not play by the rules, a scenario that EVIL has employed throughout the Cup.
Prior to the final on Saturday this was a story of comrades going to battle, now it’s a story of treachery. EVIL is aiming for the king and will do all in his power to usurp the double crown.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Shingo Takagi (C) vs SHO
The first round of the New Japan Cup delivered SHO the opportunity he had been vying for; a singles meeting against Shingo. In one of the stand out matches of the tournament, SHO slayed the dragon and made clear his desire to challenge for the NEVER Openweight Championship.
Shingo has spent time looking past SHO, having beat him during Best of the Super Juniors 26 and then moving on to heavyweight shortly after, he left the conquered SHO in the junior heavyweight division. Since joining New Japan in October 2018 Shingo has been a frighteningly dominant beast. He went sent 7 months without being defeated and as of today has only lost 8 singles matches.
The previous encounters between these two warriors were immense. They blur the line between what a heavyweight and a junior heavyweight are. They can throw the meanest hitting lariats like the biggest heavyweight but with the rocket throttle speed of a junior. SHO and Shingo are perhaps the best opponents that can be put inside a New Japan ring today. The rivalry between them has the fiery potential to be a hallmark of NJPW for years to come.
Outside of the singles realm, both men have battled numerous times in tag team action, including three times with the IWPG Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on the line. In singles matches, this is the decider. Coming in with one win a piece, one man will earn the edge in their singles record. This will likely be the match of the night; either the dragon Shingo will be slayed or SHO and his shock arrow will be shut down.
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Golden☆Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi) (C) vs Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.)
Never ones to do things courteously, Taichi and ZSJ asserted themselves as challengers for the tag titles when Ibushi and Tanahashi were celebrating having just won them. The post-match attack from Dangerous Tekkers in February made their intentions abundantly clear, but before the match for the titles was made official, the four men were positioned against each other in the New Japan Cup. Through nefarious means, Taichi claimed victory against both Tanahashi and Ibushi in the Cup, reaffirming his desire to challenge for the titles.
This first time meeting between the two teams is just the beginning of many firsts. The recently formed Golden☆Ace team are in their first reign as tag champs and are looking to make their first successful defense. For Dangerous Tekkers this is their first time challenging for tag gold together and should they be victorious, it would be ZSJ’s first IWGP championship and Taichi’s first heavyweight championship.
Ibushi has made some bold claims since winning the titles, “Just consider the level both of us are at: Tanahashi’s said we can hold these belts forever and I agree with him.” He has ambitions of using tag matches to “broaden the scope of what wrestling is” and believes that there is nothing “wrong with having the tag titles headline at the Tokyo Dome.” Such daring statements will need to be backed up with a decisive defense at Dominion.
All four men have individual history with each other; ZSJ alone has met Tanahashi in singles matches 8 times and Ibushi 7 times over the last 3 years. The ingrained knowledge about how each competitor functions in the ring is vital but the difficulty for Golden☆Ace is the devious shenanigans that the two Suzuki-Gun men will attempt to exploit.
After an 8 man tag match on Saturday saw the competitors on opposite sides of the ring, Golden☆Ace debuted a new move to dispose of Taichi. It appeared to be an elevated double slingblade and it left Taichi floored and utterly helpless. If the champions can pull their new move out when defending their titles at Dominion, the belts will stay firmly around their waists.
To be confirmed
When: Sunday 12th July @ 3pm JST (7am BST, 2am EST, 11th July @ 11pm 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!