3. Minoru Suzuki vs. Yuji Nagata – June 17, 2020
While there isn’t an explicit storyline reason to include this match, you need to watch it because it will be awesome. Minoru Suzuki and Yuji Nagata have battled more times than they would probably like to count. Their first singles match together dates back to 2003 and since then they have battled in G1 Climaxes, the New Japan Cup, as well as THREE Wrestle Kingdom events. Needless to say, these men know each other well.
This will be their first singles match together since 2013 but you would be a fool to think they won’t be at their best. Suzuki and Nagata are two of the best in New Japan and as one of the few high-profile heavyweight vs. heavyweight matches of the first round, this will undoubtedly deliver.
2. Shingo Takagi vs. SHO – June 22, 2020
Those who watched last year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament know this match is a barnburner waiting to happen. Also, SHO and Shingo Takagi were about to start a program when the pandemic started. All things point to this being one of the highlights of the tournament.
Takagi and SHO had one of the best matches of last year’s BOSJ and now Takagi has moved up to the heavyweight division. He has seen some pretty immediate success, winning the NEVER Openweight Championship in February. With that added dynamic to their rematch, this will be different but likely equally as fantastic.
SHO wants a shot at Takagi’s title and has not been shy about it. If SHO is able to pull off an upset in the New Japan Cup, maybe a title shot will be in his future.
1. Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – June 22, 2020
If you want to talk about the match of the first round, here it is. It is virtually impossible for Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. to have a bad match together and you can rest assured that will not change in the New Japan Cup. Ibushi has not had a good start to his 2020. He finished in last in the Double Gold Dash at Wrestle Kingdom 14, losing to both Kazuchika Okada and Jay White. While he is one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, no one really cares about those belts.
In addition to having a fantastic match, Ibushi could use a win over Sabre to get his year on track. On the flip side, Sabre has had success in the New Japan Cup before. When he won the tournament in 2018, he had to defeat Ibushi to do it. If he hopes to lift the trophy in 2020, he will have to do it again.
What New Japan Cup match are you most looking forward to? Let us know on Twitter!