“Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness” -Zack Sabre Jr.’s name for his Double Wristlock Octopus Hold
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s spring spectacular was originally named Invasion Attack. At the first Invasion Attack event, in 2013, the main event saw Hiroshi Tanahashi lose the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to New Japan Cup Winner Kazuchika Okada. It was the first big chip in Tanahashi’s armor as The Ace of New Japan; the man that pulled them out of their MMA-inspired dark days, and into the colorful comic book world that has rejuvenated the 46 year old company. The Ace of New Japan has the potential to not only avenge his Invasion Attack loss, but also add another chapter to the greatest rivalry in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling on Wednesday as he heads to the finals of the New Japan Cup. Should he win, he can challenge any heavyweight champion to a match. Sakura Genesis, Tanahashi/Okada, it’s a tantalizing offer. A Wrestle Kingdom main event, headlining April’s supershow.
Tanahashi could also use a victory in the New Japan Cup to challenge Minoru Suzuki for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Suzuki won the belt back in January, when he twisted Tanahashi’s knee into sickening positions until the referee stopped the bout. Tanahashi has been hurting through this whole tournament, but the rejuvenating power of a tournament win in New Japan can revive even the most battle-weary wrestler. Revenge, redemption, resurrection, Tanahashi has many reasons to win this tournament. There’s one man in Tanahashi’s way on road to redemption, and that man hates the British Conservative Party.
British megastar Zack Sabre Jr. is having a banner tournament so far. He’s bested Okada’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 opponent, Tetsuya Naito, in the opening round of the tournament. The second round saw him give Kota Ibushi his first ever loss in the New Japan Cup tournament. The semi-finals saw him take down LIJ upstart, and Okada’s most recent Heavyweight Title challenger, SANADA. All of these victories have come via torturous submission holds, most of which have full-sentence names damning the Tories. He’s also Minoru Suzuki’s protege, holding the RevPro Tag Titles with the man that tore Tanahashi’s knee apart. Having already earned the respect of the rest of the Suzuki-gun stable, Sabre could use the New Japan Cup finals to prove to his mentor that Sabre was a worthy addition, and then do what even Suzuki hasn’t been able to do, win the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Sabre could also win the tournament and challenge Suzuki. The possibilities are endless.
Not since Kenny Omega’s G1 Climax victory in 2016 has New Japan been at such a precipice. Tanahashi, a living Japanese legend, that represents their creative resurgence, looking to prove that New Japan’s present has yet to become its past. Sabre, a fresh-faced Gaijin that’s never been more popular, looking to prove to his mentor that he’s as adept at hobbling The Ace. Will New Japan look to their roots, and give the cup to their stalwart Ace, or will Sabre stretch and pull New Japan into the future? Considering Sabre has a move that’s literally named after “The Inexorable March of Progress,” things don’t look good for The Ace. The New Japan Cup Finals are set to air at 2am EST on NJPWWorld.com.
New Japan Cup final set for March 21! Plus, Ibushi and Okada, Naito and Suzuki collide in tag action!#njpw #njcuphttps://t.co/A8b9IeEDay
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) March 20, 2018