Expect a lot of surprises and amazing matches during the 2021 edition of the New Japan Cup.
It is tournament time once again in New Japan as the 2021 edition of the New Japan Cup is set to kick off on March 4. With the brackets announced there is a lot to look forward to from this event. Here are some thoughts on the favorites, dark horses, and potential matches to look out for this month.
Thanks to COVID-19, the 2020 edition of the New Japan Cup announced some first-timers that were unable to participate. Many of those individuals are involved with this event, including the likes of Jeff Cobb, KENTA, Jay White, Great-O-Khan, and David Finlay. Outside of these five, the rest of the group features others that have participated in as many prior events. Toru Yano leads the way with 15 total appearances.
A title shot against Kota Ibushi and his IWGP World Heavyweight title is on the line, with that match scheduled for Sakura Genesis 2021. On paper, the veterans may have an advantage in this format and that can help them enter the tournament as dark horses. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and Tetsuya Naito have all won the event in the past, but it may be too soon to go back to them as top challengers for Ibushi. Looking at the rest of the group, there does not seem to be another individual that jumps out as a favorite to come out with the New Japan Cup.
Dark Horse Picks
While these individuals may be listed as dark horses, do not be surprised if they come out of the entire tournament with a win. Shingo Takagi and Jeff Cobb would have to go through each other to get to the finals but after their battle at Wrestle Kingdom 15, who would not want to see that battle again. They would have to pull out some improbable upsets to get there, but that is the whole excitement about the tournament format. Will Ospreay is another name that could make it to the finals and get his hand raised in the end, setting up an intriguing match against Ibushi.
New Japan Pro Wrestling continues to do tournaments and each time they put together a compelling field and showcase. Even as COVID-19 continues to limit who is available, this year’s edition of the New Japan Cup shapes up to be a fun series yet again.