The 2021 edition of the New Japan Cup is over. After a thirty-minute battle, Will Ospreay picked up the victory in the finals, defeating Shingo Takagi and a great, back-and-forth match. This victory sets Ospreay up as the next challenger for Kota Ibushi who holds the IWGP World Heavyweight title. Ospreay’s time as the main heel in New Japan is here and even though that comes with questions and apprehensions – these two men can deliver from bell-to-bell.
Before even talking about what is next for Ospreay, it is imperative to make the recommendation to go back and watch him defeat Takagi. While all the momentum seemed to be in Takagi’s favor, it is understandable why the victory was booked for the Essex-native. New Japan continues to pump out classic matches, year after year and this one will be on the list for 2021 when the year is said and done.
The intensity displayed after the match saw Ibushi and Ospreay come face-to-face, with Ospreay declaring his determination to win that title. But what happened after that was odd to say the least.
“It’s my destiny to be the IWGP World Heavyweight champion, and I love this more than anything,” Ospreay said. “More than anyone.”
These were the last words that Bea Priestley heard as a member of The Empire before Ospreay planted her with a cutter, effectively kicking her out of the group. Ibushi went to step in but Jeff Cobb and Great O’Khan stood in his way. Was this moment needed as punctuation to his New Japan Cup victory? Probably not. Does this moment make him any more interesting of a challenge to Ibushi? Again, no – but this will undoubtedly become a part of the story before things come to an end. Instead, what this moment did do was create the space to remind the world of allegations against both Ospreay and Priestley, plus the continuing debate around the usage of women in New Japan.
Either way, Kota Ibushi versus Will Ospreay is set. Two former junior heavyweights, battling for the IWGP World Heavyweight title. Anticipation for this match should be high. Will Ospreay deliver as the big villain for Ibushi’s title run? Or will he be defeated and shuffled back down the roster like others? Regardless of that answer, enjoy what should be a strong match between two of the best in the industry.