The 1st night of the New Japan Cup 2016, comes from the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo Japan. The show starts at 5am EST / 10am GMT and can be seen live on njpwworld.com
Let’s break down the matches.
The backstory for this match comes from Yano and Yujiro’s shared time in CHAOS. Yujiro betrayed Yano & CHAOS to join BULLET CLUB back in 2014.
H2H: Toru Yano 4-1 Yujiro Takahashi
This is not the most beautiful match on paper, and it probably won’t be in the ring either. Being the opener, this will probably be over before it even get started. The winner of this match goes on to face the winner of Honma vs. Kojima. So with the winner guaranteed to square off against a face, I’ll go with Yujiro to win this matchup.
Prediction: Yujiro Takahashi
There is no deeper backstory in this match. Michael Elgin just signed a full time contract with NJPW, and looks to show off his best to NJ management. Tenzan is looking for a last run at the top before he retires.
H2H: 1st Time Matchup
Seeing as Tenzan is relegated to being a nostalgia act, and Elgin just having signed a new contract, I’m not in doubt about the outcome of this match.
Prediction: Michael Elgin
The backstory here is simply that Togi Makabe is part of the faces of New Japan, who tries to fight of the evil Bullet Club. This is the first time Tama Tonga is in a major tournament, and he wants to grab this opportunity that he’s been wanting for years.
H2H: 1st Time Matchup
Tama Tonga challenging for the Tag Belts with an unknown partner at Invasion Attack does put this match up in the air. Tonga could really use this non-title win to gain some momentum. With that being said, Makabe is just too important for New Japan to lose in the opening round of the cup.
Prediction: Togi Makabe
Satoshi Kojima has been public about his disappointment with his current position on the NJPW roster. Kojima is seeking one more run at the top of the card, and he feels he still has what it takes to challenge for the top titles in New Japan. Tomoaki Honma has recently gotten a push and his first gold in his NJ career. He’s no longer the jobber that he once was, and he’s looking to gain some much needed singles success.
H2H: Satoshi Kojima 9-0 Tomoaki Honma
I don’t see any way Honma gets a run as a singles wrestler. I think he’ll continue to get booked as a jobber in singles matches. I see Kojima making a good run in this tournament, and he will go over here.
Prediction: Satoshi Kojima
This tag match is here, for Shibata & Okada to have something to do. They’re not in the tournament, as they hold the NEVER & Heavyweight titles. There is some backstory with Shibata & Sakuraba being in the ring together, as they have teamed up in the past before Sakuraba joined CHAOS.
With 2 heavyweights against one, I see Okada delivering a rainmaker on KUSHIDA for the win for his team.
Prediction: Okada & Sakuraba
As with Kojima, Nagata has also publicly stated his displeasure with his current position in New Japan. He too feels he got lots left in the tank, and is here to prove that he can still be a top contender. Goto is currently in a deep depression, after his 8th lost opportunity at the heavyweight championship. Will he even be motivated to go for a 9th? That’s the big question going into this match.
H2H: Yuji Nagata 4-4 Hirooki Goto
I could certainly see a case for both wrestlers advancing here. A Nagata nostalgia run would be great, and it would also fit Goto’s current storyline to go out in the first round. However I just don’t see Goto going out already, considering that he won a major match at Wrestle Kingdom and has to be kept somewhat relevant in order to get a new push. A 2nd round exit for Goto seems more likely in my mind.
Prediction: Hirooki Goto
These two came up to the main roster around the same time. But clearly one of these has had more success than the other.
H2H: Tetsuya Naito 2-0 YOSHI-HASHI
Honestly, is there any doubt of the outcome of this one?
Prediction: Tetsuya Naito
This should be a hossfight. Ishii has just won the ROH TV title. This is only EVIL’s second singles match in New Japan.
H2H: 1st Time Matchup
On one hand, it would seem weird to have the ROH TV Champion go out in the 1st round. I don’t think NJ would devalue ROH’s title that much. On the other hand, this is EVIL’s first real singles match, and he should probably win this one to establish himself. EVIL winning here could set him up as a #1 contender for the ROH TV title. But I do fear that EVIL is being positioned more as the geek of Los Ingobernables, who takes the falls in tag matches, so I’ll go with Ishii to win this one, and go on to face Naito in the 2nd round.
Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
This match seems to come about often these days. These two has had their share of battles in the last couple of years. Tanahashi has gotten the best out of Fale on all these occasions, and in the main event of the show, there’s no way they won’t deliver.
H2H: Hiroshi Tanahashi 1-2 Bad Luck Fale
If this hadn’t been the main event, then I would’ve definitely given this to Fale. But this being a main event, could mean that they plan on Tanahashi closing the show with a win (and a guitar solo). However the winner of this match will face Michael Elgin, and while a Tana/Elgin match would be fun, I think it’s more likely that we get Elgin establishing himself with a huge win over Fale in the 2nd round.
Prediction: Bad Luck Fale
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