Following the events from today’s New Japan Cup show, both semi-final matches have been set for this year’s tournament.
The two final quarter-final matches which took place today were SANADA facing Toru Yano, and Zack Sabre Jr. going up against Kota Ibushi.
Toru Yano vs. SANADA
This match immediately spilled to the floor where both competitors tried to get their opponent counted out. SANADA attempted to wrap Yano in a Paradise Lock on the outside but was thwarted at the last second. As a result, SANADA was almost counted out of the ring.
Once the match got back to the inside, Yano was up to his usual tricks. Low blows, unprotected turnbuckles, and grabbing the hair on pin attempts were all utilized. Yano got a near-fall after a low-blow but SANADA kicked Yano low after getting out of the pin. Following that, SANADA locked in the Skull End and Yano tapped almost immediately.
Following the match, SANADA locked Yano, the referee, and a young lion in the Paradise Lock and then left.
Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This match started with ZSJ locking Ibushi in all sorts of submission holds and continued that way throughout its duration.
Ibushi would fight back with suplexes, kicks, and various striking combinations but ZSJ always found a way to get the match back into a submission grappling contest. Ibushi attempted to land his new knee-to-face finish but each time ZSJ had a counter into either a pinning combination or submission.
Eventually, ZSJ had Ibushi locked up in such a knot that Red Shoes called for the bell and stopped the match.
Zack Sabre Jr has now defeated 2 of the 3 last winners of this tournament in Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi. Even if Zack Sabre Jr doesn’t win or advance to the finals, he has already done enough to raise his stock in NJPW considerably in this tournament.
Upcoming Tournament Matches
- March 16th – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Juice Robinson (Semi-Final A)
- March 18th – Zack Sabre Jr. vs SANADA (Semi-Final B)
- March 21st – Semi-Final A Winner vs Semi-Final B Winner (Finals)