New Japan Pro Wrestling announced its return last night and with it comes the reintroduction of the New Japan Cup. The tournament had been scheduled for March before the pandemic took over. Now, we get a chance to see who will challenge Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
The tournament bracket is different considering a number of New Japan’s stars are unable to make it to Japan. With this updated bracket, we can now take a look at the five first-round matches you need to watch.
5. YOH vs. BUSHI – June 23, 2020
The first entry on this list is YOH vs. BUSHI. While this may seem like an unassuming match, these two have more history than you may be aware of. YOH comes across as a very kind and boyish character as part of Roppongi 3K, but when he was a Young Lion he was misguided.
He had attempted to be a partner to BUSHI years ago. This was before Los Ingobernables de Japon had a second junior heavyweight and sometimes BUSHI would need a partner. YOH tried to step up while he was training. This was a mistake. BUSHI is as vile as they come in New Japan and did not take to this spry youngster.
It has been a sore spot for YOH ever since and it has led to more emotional matches when they have clashed. Now, these two will face off once again on June 23.
4. Kazuchika Okada vs. Gedo – June 17, 2020
If you want to talk about a volatile history, this is the match of the first round. Most people know that Gedo was the manager of Kazuchika Okada for almost seven years. Together they were a pretty unstoppable team with Okada winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship four times under Gedo’s tutelage. Good things couldn’t last, however, as Gedo dropped Okada for Jay White in 2018.
Since their split, Okada and Gedo have only had one singles match. That came prior to Wrestle Kingdom 13 over a year ago. Now, Okada has a chance to put this old rivalry to bed for good on June 17. Gedo may have the help of Bullet Club but this is a match that could get out of hand in a hurry.