New Japan Cup final set as Kazuchika Okada faces EVIL on July 11.
In a landmark broadcast event, a nationwide live audience on Friday night prime time was joined by fans all over the world watching on NJPW World for free to witness the semifinals of the New Japan Cup.
When the clock ticked over to a historic 8PM, it was EVIL and SANADA who hit the ring for the first live Friday prime time wrestling broadcast in 34 years. SANADA extended a hand to his tag team partner after the bell, and EVIL accepted, but instantly went for EVIL, SANADA escaping as tensions escalated.
While SANADA had the brief edge in the ring, it wasn’t long before EVIL took advantage on the floor, sending his opponent into the guardrail and even using his signature chair around the neck and into the ringpost. When SANADA found a weakness to exploit in EVIL’s knee, with dropkicks and a plancha connecting, EVIL went back to his black hearted offense, scoring with his referee assisted kick and his one man Magic Killer with the help from referee Asami.
EVIL pressed the advantage with a lariat rocking SANADA, and Darkness Falls leading to a two count. EVIL couldn’t hit the finishing blow however, as SANADA managed to find a Tiger Suplex and Skull End . both men looked for an end to the match, SANADA went up for a Shiranui into Skull End, but fell onto the top of his head. The referee would check on both men, and EVIL seemed to show a rare glimpse of empathy as he was slow to attack his partner, but SANADA would lock in Skull End with hooks before a Muto moonsault would only hit EVIL’s knees.
When the referee would get sandwiched between EVIL and SANADA, the empathy that seemed to exist in EVIL was quickly extinguished, the King of Darkness hitting SANADA low and swinging for the fences with chairs before again kicking SANADA below the beltline. EVIL struck center ring, and one half of the finals were set.
As Hiromu Takahashi made a dream come true of main eventing as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion on prime time TV, he vowed that ‘something incredible is about to happen’, setting expectations high as the two men circled before locking up in the middle.
The speed and strength difference between the two was seen early, as Okada powered Hiromu to the ropes on the lockup, before Takahashi used his space on a headscissor whip. Okada was able to catch Hiromu though, and after a Cobra Clutch attempt, took his opponent to the floor where he landed a vicious DDT.
Okada continued to dictate the pace at the five minute mark, shutting Takahashi down with a neckbreaker before a basement dropkick and a running blast to the chest finally sent Okada reeling. A dropkick off the apron followed, as did a Falcon Arrow for two, but Okada was able to score a huge flapjack to instantly take Hiromu off the pace.
As a Takahashi German Suplex reset the two men, Okada and Hiromu began to trade center ring, Okada’s heavyweight power showing even in the face of Takahashi’s resilience. It was that striking power that sent Hiromu tumbling over the top rope with a dropkick, and led to a DDT from guardrail to floor.
Hiromu found his footing, firing in a shotgun dropkick to Okada, and meeting the Rainmaker on the top rope. Takahashi used his acceleration to deliver his own dropkick to Okada over the ropes, and planted his opponent with a sunset flip powerbomb out to the floor. A Dynamite Plunger would follow, but Okada was able to respond with a Tombstone and then the Cobra Clutch.
Takahashi found his way out, and as Okada looked to put him away with another Tombstone first used his version of a Rainmaker, before a Time Bomb connected for a near two. Hiromu countered a Rainmaker into D before hitting another new maneuver as Okada couldn’t find an answer.
The answer did finally come though, at the 25 minute mark. Takahashi looked for an ambitious Time Bomb II, allowing for a corkscrew Tombstone, and when the Cobra Clutch didn’t force a submission, Okada retained wrist control, landing two Rainmakers before locking in the hold again. With Takahashi unable to respond to the referee’s directions, the match was called and Okada advanced to next week’s final opposite EVIL.
Our New Japan Cup final is now set for Osaka Jo Hall on July 11!