New Japan Cup 2021: snap predictions
March 1, 2021
By: Lou Pickney
It's a field of 30 for this year's New Japan Cup, a single-elimination tournament where the winner challenges the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion (it feels weird to write that, yet it's true) in the main event of Sakura Genesis at Tokyo's Sumo Hall on April 4.
Here are my snap predictions and thoughts on the tournament.
2021 New Japan Cup
EVIL gets a bye
Satoshi Kojima vs. Jeff Cobb
Tetsuya Naito vs. The Great-O-Khan
Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale
You'd think EVIL vs. Cobb is the plan for the second round, particularly since Kojima pinned Cobb at Castle Attack. Different dynamic that the Kojima vs. Cobb match in Nashville last year with Cobb as the heel.
Be on upset alert for O-Khan vs. Naito for several reasons. O-Khan getting the post-excursion push, Naito still being very banged up, history of stars without big tournament plans sometimes getting knocked out early so future matches can be announced with more lead time, etc.
Yano vs. Fale could go either way, but Fale has been gone for so long that a win to start things off with a W. But it's Yano so you never know, and YTR losses don't carry the same weight.
Also, if Fale wins and then loses in round two or the quarterfinals, your next KOPW Provisional Title match is all set.
We're not likely going to see Cobb vs. O-Khan in a battle of stablemates in the quarterfinal round, though it is possible.
Lou's snap prediction: Cobb over Fale in the quarterfinals
Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi
Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi
Tomoaki Honma vs. Minoru Suzuki
Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
A bit trickier to project this quarter of the bracket, isn't it? There's a plausible path to the semifinals for everyone except Honma.
The best news of this is that Juice is healthy enough to go. Orbital bone injuries can be really tough sometimes.
This looks like vintage Gedo course-correction with Juice and KENTA, which makes me think KENTA wins since their first match was to be in a tournament that KENTA ultimately won.
Naito and Okada likely both wouldn't lose in the first round. I want Shingo to win the entire tournament, but what I want isn't necessarily what is going to happen.
Lou's snap prediction: Okada over KENTA in the quarterfinals
Will Ospreay vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gabriel Kidd
Yuji Nagata vs. Yota Tsuji
Sanada vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Ospreay, Sabre, and Nagata should all advance. Sanada vs. Ishii should be a great match.
I'm picking Ospreay to win the tournament outright, though if Sabre wins he could be destined for a long run.
Lou's snap prediction: Ospreay over Sanada in the quarterfinals
David Finlay vs. Chase Owens
Yoshi-Hashi vs. Yujiro Takahashi
Toa Henare vs. Jay White
Hiroshi Tanahashi gets a bye
Three Bullet Club wrestlers out of seven in this group. I have Cobb over EVIL on the other side and I doubt both first-round bye wrestlers will lose, which would mean Tanahashi over White in round two.
Lou's snap prediction: Tanahashi over Chase in the quarterfinals
Kazuchika Okada over Jeff Cobb
Will Ospreay over Hiroshi Tanahashi
2021 New Japan Cup Final
Will Ospreay over Kazuchika Okada to win
All hail King Ospreay of the United Empire! We'll see soon enough how my predictions will hold up, as the tournament begins on March 4, 2021.
See any mistakes, omissions, or needed corrections? Please let me know: @LouPickney