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NJPW ‘New Japan Cup’ Finals Preview & Predictions

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When the bracket for this year’s New Japan Cup was released, this was the match I predicted would be the finals. Going in, my thought process was that Tanahashi would run through multiple Suzuki-Gun members on his way to winning the Cup for the third time. Throughout the fourteen tournament matches I had only incorrectly predicted two, both in the first round and both changing my feelings on who will win. I had thought Lance Archer would beat Bad Luck Fale which would give Tanahashi another member of Suzuki-Gun to defeat in the second round. Since that didn’t happen, the story of Tanahashi’s vengeance on Suzuki-Gun doesn’t seem to be the story. What I also incorrectly predicted was YOSHI-HASHI defeating Kota Ibushi.

Many told me this was too bold of a prediction but my feeling was that since I had Tanahashi winning, Sabre shouldn’t beat Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and SANADA. A streak of wins that impressive shouldn’t lead to loss in the finals, even to Tanahashi. YOSHI-HASHI ended up losing to Ibushi and combined with Archer’s loss to Fale, this became Sabre’s tournament to win. Despite this being the exact finals I had envisioned, I have completely turned on what I believe will be the outcome. When comparing who both Tanahashi and Sabre had to beat in order to get to this point, it is clear who has the main focus. Sabre defeated both of Okada’s most recent challengers, along with a man who had never before lost a Cup match in Ibushi. On the other hand, Tanahashi beat Taichi, who was making his second ever heavyweight singles appearance; Fale, who he had beaten their last two meetings; and Juice, who no one would argue is at Tanahashi’s level at this point in his career. It is a wonder how two seemingly inconsequential matches can lead to a complete 180 shift on how I see this tournament playing out.

Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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