NJPW issued the following:
New Japan Cup 2021 Quarter Finals Preview
Final eight set as finals come into view
After an intense series of matchups, we have gone from 30 to just eight remaining competitors in the New Japan Cup. Four quarter finals will take place across two events in Korakuen Hall and Shizuoka this week:
Night TEN: March 16, Korakuen
EVIL vs Toru Yano
Singles record: 2-1 EVIL
Toru Yano will head into his quarter final with EVIL as the distinct underdog, but he’ll do so walking into the same venue where he beat the King of Darkness, even with Dick Togo at his side, during the G1 Climax last autumn. Fans will certainly be hoping for a repeat of that same upset; EVIL’s first victory of the tournament over Jeff Cobb was achieved with every possible shortcut available to him being taken. Steel chairs, exposed steel, downed referees, low blows and liberal interference from both Togo and Yujiro Takahashi certainly fast filled the BULLET CLUB EVIL Bingo card, but it was also achieved with speed and power that matched the seemingly indomitable by any regular means, Cobb.
Meanwhile Ehime Thursday saw Yano defeat Cobb’s teammate the Great-O-Khan with typical resourcefulness and wherewithal (if not courage) under pressure. Yano has already broken many a bracket to make it this far; what’s a few more?
Shingo Takagi vs KENTA
The lower left block of this year’s New Japan Cup has brought a parade of thrilling, hard hitting matchups, and this bout between KENTA and Shingo Takagi should be no exception. It’s certainly no secret that both opponents here enjoy having fun with backstage comments and social media posts, but as KENTA’s bout with Minoru Suzuki proved in Aichi this weekend, after KENTA’s had his fun, it’s all business. For Shingo, it’s all business as soon as the bell rings, and the key to this match for the BULLET CLUB member may be similar to how he worked the tactical advantage against Suzuki; hanging back and baiting Shingo in to make a mistake might be the goal here.
Takagi could pay for acting on animalistic instinct, and an elephant like long memory. These two men have only tied up twice before in their careers, in tag team battles once in World Tag League 2019, and once many years before in Dragon Gate. There a Go2Sleep from KENTA saw Takagi get concussed and in his own words ‘Go2Hospital’, a fact that has kept the Dragon angry ever since. If he can control the anger, we have a semifinalist on our hands. If he can’t, KENTA will take that spot in the final four.
Night ELEVEN: March 18, Shizuoka
Will Ospreay vs SANADA
Singles record: 1-0 Ospreay
Ospreay and SANADA face off on March 18 in Shizuoka for only the second time since they met during G1 Climax 29. That match went to Ospreay, and with the current track record of the Commonwealth Kingpin, many might have him as the favourite tonight, but one can’t ignore the Hyogo battle that has brought him to the quarter finals.
While both Ospreay and SANADA had tough competition in their second round matchups, Ospreay had perhaps the toughest matchup we’ll see all tournament. Against countryman Zack Sabre Jr., a stunning display saw Ospreay barely overcome his career rival with Stormbreaker, even as blood streamed from a face smashed into the canvas just moments before.
Ospreay will be grateful for the four nights in between singles matches here, but heading into Thursday, SANADA’s cool composure and conditioning edge might make him the smart choice. As Ospreay remains bent on telling the world however, he is on a level beyond; can he continue to prove that point to make the finals in Sendai?
David Finlay vs Jay White
Singles record: 10-1
Jay White has been confident enough in his ability to win New Japan Cup from the outset to rename the tournament the New Jaypan Cup from day one. Indeed, this tournament has been a lesson to all those that may have doubted the Switchblade; after the blip that was Wrestle Kingdom and Kota Ibushi, it is still definitively Jay’s era.
It certainly will be should White emerge victorious from Sunday’s Cup final; on the face of it at least his ticket to the semis is all but punched. David Finlay has been impressive in his own right thus far in the New Japan Cup, with a solid pair of wins and varied offense against Yujiro Takahashi and YOSHI-HASHI. Yet White is a cut above in terms of competition, and in terms of singles record.
On September 4, 2015 in Korakuen Hall, a pair of Young Lions called David Finlay and Jay White did battle with Finlay emerging on top. It would be the first of 11 matches to come between the two, and the last that Finlay would win.
On this 12th go around, Finlay may be more motivated than at any other point in his career. With freshly earned IMPACT World Tag Team gold, and a desire to make the world sit up and take notice of him as a singles and tag team player in 2021, Finlay will certainly be a threat. Enough to upset Jay White? We find out Thursday night.