It is time for the true March Madness. It is time for the annual New Japan Cup 2021 tournament. The New Japan Cup tournament is back in its traditional March dates. This year a loaded field of 30 competitors will be facing out in single-elimination tournament action over the course of 17 grueling days. The New Japan Cup winner will get a title shot against Kota Ibushi and his newly created IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Let us look at the New Japan Cup 2021 First Round for the Left Side of the Bracket match-ups. These matches will occur on March 4, 5, and 6th. Let the New Japan Cup begin!
New Japan Cup 2021
EVIL- First Round Bye
Evil, the defending New Japan Cup Champion, gets the honor of one of the two first-round byes. It was just last year when Evil shocked the world and joined The Bullet Club. What can he do for an encore?
Evil has lost some major singles matches in recent months. He lost to Naito at Power Struggle. EVIL lost to Sanada at Wrestle Kingdom. He even lost to Okada at Castle Attack last Saturday night. Can he take advantage of the first-round bye and get another deep run in New Japan Cup?
Satoshi Kojima vs. Jeff Cobb
It is a tournament veteran versus a “rookie” in this first-round match-up. Jeff Cobb of the United Empire did make it to the semifinals of New Japan Cup USA in 2020. But this will be his first New Japan Cup in Japan itself. Can he put on a good show in his inaugural tournament run?
His opponent Satoshi Kojima is in his 8th New Japan Cup. Kojima just pinned the United Empire in a big tag team match at Castle Attack. Can he use that momentum to take down the very dangerous Cobb? Expect a hard-hitting first-round match here.
New Japan Cup 2021
Great-O-Khan vs. Tetsuya Naito
Naito is back in his New Japan Cup yet again. He is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Kota Ibushi at Castle Attack. Naito was desperate to prevent Ibushi from unifying the IWGP World and Intercontinental Championships. He failed in that attempt. Can he rebound in the New Japan Cup?
Great-O-Khan is also coming off disappointment. He has failed in two singles matches against Hiroshi Tanahashi in recent months. In his first New Japan Cup, can he overcome his recent disappointing losses? It will be a first-round match between two wrestlers desperate for a win.
Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano
The streak remains intact. Toru Yano, the current KOPW trophy holder, is in his 16th straight New Japan Cup. Yano will certainly stop at nothing to pull out a victory in any way he possibly can.
His opponent is Bad Luck Fale. Fale lost in a Fatal 4 Way match to Yano at Wrestle Kingdom. He saw Chase Owens lose to Yano at Castle Attack. Will the Rogue General be able to get his hands on Yano on Friday night? It will be fun to watch for sure.
New Japan Cup 2021
Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi
This is a tough match-up for sure. Goto is a three-time New Japan Cup winner. But it has been nine years since his last Cup. After a rough February where he lost a chance at the IWGP World Tag Team Championship, can he pull off a huge first-round victory in 2021?
Taichi had a great New Japan Cup performance in 2020. He defeated both Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi in a deep tournament run. After a disappointing start to 2021, can he get back on track against the dangerous Goto?
Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi
This could be a special first-round match-up. Kazuchika Okada, a former two-time Cup winner, has had a strong start to 2021. He defeated Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom in the Tokyo Dome. He took down his rival Evil at Castle Attack. This will be his chance to get back into the World title picture for the first time in over a year.
But he faces a really dangerous opponent in Shingo Takagi. Takagi lost the NEVER title in heartbreaking fashion recently to Hiroshi Tanahashi. Can he get on track against the “Rainmaker”? If he does, it will be one of the biggest upsets in recent New Japan Cup history.
Tomoaki Honma vs. Minoru Suzuki
It is the battle of the veterans in this hard-hitting first-round match-up. Honma hasn’t won a singles match in New Japan in five years. He has sure drawn a tough opponent to attempt to break this long losing streak.
Minoru Suzuki is coming off a first-round loss at last year’s New Japan Cup. He lost a brutal match against his old rival Yuji Nagata. He will be in a bad mood for sure. But to be fair, isn’t he always in a bad mood?
Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
Juice has been in out of action in Japan since December of 2020. He has returned recently in tag team action with David Finlay in Impact Wrestling in the United States. Can he get back on track in singles action in his first New Japan Cup in two years?
KENTA is certainly in a bad mood. After months of mind games with Jon Moxley, he lost his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship on a recent episode of NJPW Strong. Can KENTA refocus and make a run in his first New Japan Cup 2021?
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