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    Saturday, June 13, 2020

    #CafePuro: New Japan Cup 2020 Predictions


    New Japan Pro-Wrestling is finally back in action! To celebrate the return of  NJPW, the company announced the resumption of the New Japan Cup and Dominion shows, which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many fans, including myself, thought that the events would be skipped over to make way for the G1.

    Image from the NJPW YouTube Channel

    The press conference was short, but sweet. Eight and a half minutes was more than enough to get me excited for New Japan's comeback. With the return of the NJ Cup, we have to give our predictions. That's right. It's bracketology time!

    Image from NJPW1972.com

    The New Japan Cup is a two-bracket, single elimination tournament that usually takes place in early March with the winner facing their champion of choice in April's Sakura Genesis event. Last year's winner, Kazuchika Okada, opted to face then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White at the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden which replaced Sakura Genesis for 2019.

    Many foreign wrestlers who were originally slated for the tournament can't get to Japan on time because of travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus. New Japan decided to hold the tournament with the available wrestlers in Japan including two foreign wrestlers Zack Sabre Jr., who resides in the country, and Gabriel Kidd, a Japan Dojo Young Lion.

    This year's New Japan Cup will start on June 15 and conclude on July 11 with the winner facing the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito at the Dominion event. 

    Here are our predictions for the 2020 New Japan Cup. (As much I want to do a full breakdown of the tournament that would lead to a very long article. I'll just highlight a few matches and give my prediction of who will win this year's tournament.)

    Left Bracket Highlights

    Toru Yano vs. Jado

    Winner: LOL. Yano wins

    Tomoaki Honma vs. Hiromu Takahashi

    Prior to the coronavirus cancelling everything, Hiromu Takahashi was supposed to take on Tetsuya Naito in New Japan's 47th Anniversary show. Hiromu's entry in the New Japan Cup might be his best chance at taking on the dual champ. I can see Hiromu defeating Honma easily and breezing to the left bracket final.

    Winner: Hiromu Takahashi

    Kazuchika Okada vs. Gedo

    This match was supposed to be a face-off between Okada and Jay White. Due to travel restrictions, Gedo will take Jay's place. We all know Gedo will find a way to be "hit by a car" again. I see this match as an easy win for the Rainmaker.

    Winner: Kazuchika Okada

    Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki

    Nagata and Suzuki have a rivalry that has spanned decades, and I don't see either man giving way to the other. Suzuki is a man on a mission after being snubbed in last year's G1 Climax. He will surely increase the intensity level in his match with Blue Justice. In the end, I think Suzuki will win with a Gotch Piledriver.

    Winner: Minoru Suzuki

    Right Bracket Highlights

    Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Taichi

    The story between these two competitors is simple—Tanahashi wants to show the world that he can still compete on top of the New Japan card. Taichi wants to prove to the world that he can finally hang with the heavyweights after spending years as a junior heavyweight. 

    Tanahashi doesn't need to win this match, but I'm sure he'll give it his all. Taichi will win this match and move on to the next round.

    Winner: Taichi

    Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

    I'm going to keep this prediction short, but sweet. Ibushi is going to break his neck on his own or ZSJ will do it for him. Zack Sabre Jr. will make Ibushi tap out. The match between the two is going to be all about speed vs. technique. I highly doubt that ZSJ will be able to keep up with a well-rested Kota Ibushi. After losing to Okada and Jay on consecutive nights at Wrestle Kingdom, I have a good feeling Ibushi will win to start his path to redemption.

    Winner: Kota Ibushi

    SHO vs. Shingo Takagi

    Takagi, the NEVER Openweight Champion, wants his belt to be the top belt in NJPW. Unlike the Heavyweight and Intercontinental belts, juniors don't have to move up a weight division to compete for the belt. This is where SHO comes in—SHO wants to prove to the heavyweight Shingo that the juniors are not pushovers in the company. I have a good feeling that SHO will score the upset and advance to the next round.

    Winner: SHO

    Jumping to Conclusions

    The unpredictability of the New Japan Cup is what makes it so exciting. Unlike the G1 Climax, wrestlers can't earn points and sneak their way into the final. When you're out of the cup, you're out of the tournament. I don't know how the next two rounds will go so I'll skip to the finals and tell you how I think the cup will conclude.

    Left Bracket Final: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada

    I have a good feeling that Hiromu will blaze his way through the competition and the same can be said for Okada. If Hiromu wants to show that he can hang with his LIJ brother in arms, he will have to go through NJPW's Final Boss in the form of Kazuchika Okada. This is the match I can see Hiromu scoring a major upset over the Rainmaker. 

    Okada doesn't need this win; he has already won the New Japan Cup twice. Hiromu will show the world that he can hang with the big boys and what a way to do that by scoring a victory of the top star of NJPW.

    Winner: Hiromu Takahashi

    Right Bracket Final:  EVIL vs. SANADA

    This year's tournament is SANADA's to lose. Every year we see SANADA in the New Japan Cup, he gets closer and closer to finally winning it. I can see SANADA defeating his own tag team partner before taking on another LIJ brother in Hiromu. 

    EVIL vs. SANADA is going to be a hard-hitting affair, but I don't see EVIL reaching the finals this year. The 2020 New Japan Cup is SANADA's to lose.

    Cup Final Prediction: Hiromu Takahashi vs. SANADA

    As much as I would love to see Hiromu finally face Naito, I can't see NJPW giving away their match to an Osaka-jō Hall that's only filled to 1/3 of its capacity. 

    Hiromu still has a long way to go before he can hang with the heavyweights. A match with SANADA will give us a taste of what he can do to keep up with his brothers in LIJ, but I don't think his efforts will be enough to take on Naito in Osaka. I can see him facing Naito one day, but not this time. SANADA has much more to prove at the moment.

    Every year in the New Japan Cup, he's gotten closer and closer to finally breaking through and winning the tournament. Last year, he lost to Okada and drifted back into the lower end of the card before finally scoring the ultimate upset on the Rainmaker in the G1 Climax. After all this waiting, I think SANADA will finally win the New Japan Cup.

    The 2020 New Japan Cup will be streaming on NJPWWorld.com from June 15 to July 11 and the winner will face Tetsuya Naito in Dominion in Osaka-jō Hall on July 12.

    Who do you think will win this year's New Japan Cup? Share your thoughts below!

    Images from NJPW

    *****

    Steven Maxwell Tan is a data encoder by day and blogger/podcaster by night for The Geeky Juans. When he's not watching classic matches on NJPW World, he's tweeting about the latest comics news on his Twitter @steviesaidyup.
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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: New Japan Cup 2020 Predictions Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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