“You want it darker? We kill the flame.”
The first two semi-finalists have been crowned in the New Japan Cup, and they have a tangled history with each other. Last year’s winner EVIL, and his former NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship partner Shingo Takagi. It was in last year’s tournament that EVIL abandoned Los Ingobernables de Japon, and his 6-Man Tag Title reign with Takagi, in the name of joining Bullet Club and winning not only the New Japan Cup, but the IWGP Double Gold Title. Now, the two will face off on March 20th to determine who will go on to the New Japan Cup Finals.
EVIL has had a blessed run in this year’s cup. The King of Darkness was given a bye in the first round by New Japan Management, as a reward for winning last year’s tournament. He then was able to somehow overpower Hawaiian strongman Jeff Cobb in the second round. The quarterfinals saw EVIL use literal darkness to get a win over Toru Yano, when the lights went out in Korakuen Hall and EVIL hit his eponymous finisher to pin the provisional KOPW2021 trophy holder.
Shingo Takagi’s run through this year’s tournament has been a true test of will. His first round win was an upset against none other than former-IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and two-time New Japan Cup Winner Kazuchika Okada. The injured Rainmaker did his best to rise to the occasion, but Takagi was simply better on that night in March. Then Takagi faced three-time New Japan Cup winner Hirooki Goto, the current record holder for most Cup wins in tournament history. Takagi asked no quarter, and no quarter did he give, crushing the powerful Goto’s hopes of a fourth tournament win in a thrilling match.
While the first and second rounds were tests against two of the winningest warriors in Cup history, Takagi’s quarterfinal match was a test of his cunning against the wily ways of Bullet Club. KENTA brought the same fire that he approached his matches with Juice Robinson & Minoru Suzuki. While there wasn’t the usual interference from the BC ranks, KENTA was more than willing to pull a hair or two in his hard-fought bout with Takagi, but Takagi proved that it’s going to take more than some dirty tactics to stop his quest to win the New Japan Cup.
March 20th could be a vindication for Shingo Takagi, and fans of New Japan in general. He can finally get a modicum of revenge against EVIL for the betrayal of last year’s cup. After a brutal, cold year, where darkness reigned and lemon trees blossomed, 2020 is a year many want to avenge in some way, and Shingo Takagi might get to do just that. Can The Dragon light a fire strong enough to defeat the dark or will The King of Darkness kill the flame and shut the light?
The New Japan Cup Semi-Finals will take place on March 20th at 4am ET on NJPWWorld.com.
New Japan Cup Quarterfinals: Night 1 Results
Available on NJPWWorld.com
- Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji & Gabriel Kidd by submission. (10:08)
Yuji Nagata submitted Gabriel Kidd via Nagata Lock II.
- Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) def. David Finlay, Toa Henare & Juice Robinson by pinfall. (10:46)
Bad Luck Fale pinned Toa Henare via Grenade.
- United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & SANADA)
Jeff Cobb pinned BUSHI via Tour of the Islands.
- New Japan Cup Quarterfinal Match: EVIL def. Toru Yano by pinfall via EVIL. (7:54)
- New Japan Cup Quarterfinal Match: Shingo Takagi def. KENTA by pinfall via Last of the Dragon. (23:47)
NEW JAPAN CUP 2021 Night 11 in picture:
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) March 17, 2021