The first NJPW tournament of the calendar year is here, and it’s the biggest of its kind to ever take place. With thirty-one tournament matches over twelve shows, here’s everything you need to know about the New Japan Cup 2019.
- Why you should watch
- Start times and dates for all shows
- Interesting matches
- How to watch
- Avoiding streaming issues
- Sampling free matches beforehand
- What to watch after the tournament
- List of recommended matches with NJPW World links and English commentary
- The New Japan Cup is a single elimination tournament involving heavyweight wrestlers that takes place every March.
- Traditionally, none of NJPW’s singles champions are permitted to compete in the tournament as the winner receives a shot against any heavyweight championship they desire.
- This year however, the winner will compete for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at G1 Supercard inside Madison Square Garden, which means the other heavyweight singles champions are eligible to compete in this year’s cup.
- New Japan Cup is usually a 16-man tourney, yet this year that has been doubled to a bracket of 32.
Why You Should Watch
- As this is the biggest New Japan Cup ever, there will be more matches to enjoy and more chances for MOTY candidates.
- Tournaments like this make for interesting matches we wouldn’t normally see between members of the same faction.
- The biggest stars of New Japan will be a part of this tournament, along with some debuting talents too.
- Mikey Nicholls, AKA Nick Miller of TM61/The Mighty from NXT, will be taking part in the tournament, and joining the New Japan roster full time as part of CHAOS. Given that this is his first major appearance since leaving NXT, Nicholls will be looking to make a big impact with his performance, and it will be interesting to see what he does with this opportunity.
- The cup will be Kota Ibushi’s first NJPW appearance in over two months after suffering a concussion at Wrestle Kingdom.
- The tournament has a history of surprising victories and shock eliminations.
- Zack Sabre Jr. will most likely call some of the entrants dickheads.
- In my opinion, when it comes to in-ring action, no promotion in the world can rival New Japan Pro Wrestling right now.
- NJPW has some of the best wrestlers in the world signed to its roster, and with fewer restrictions and more time for matches and builds than WWE, the quality of their matches is the best in the world. If you love professional wrestling, you owe it to yourself to at least attempt to watch this promotion once or twice.
Full Schedule with Live Start Times
Weekend shows are in red as they are the ones most people will be able to watch live – time is in 24 hour form, and all shows have English Commentary
March 8th – First Round: 1:30am (PT) 4:30am (ET) 9:30am (GMT)
- Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii
- Tomoaki Hona vs. Taichi
- Manabu Nakanishi vs. YOSHI-HASHI
- Juice Robison vs. Chase Owens
March 9th – First Round: 1:00am (PT) 4:00am (ET) 9:00am (GMT)
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
- Mikey Nicholls (AKA Nick Miller) vs. Hikuleo
- Will Ospreay vs. Bad Luck Fale
- Toa Henare vs. Lance Archer
March 10th – First Round: 11:00pm (PT) 2:00am (ET) 7:00am (GMT)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shota Umino
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Rysuke Taguchi
- Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito
- EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
March 11th – First Round: 3:00am (PT) 6:00am (ET) 10:00am (GMT)
- Togi Makabe vs. Colt Cabana
- Toru Yano vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
- Satoshi Kojima vs. Minoru Suzuki
- Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA
March 13th – Second Round: 3:00am (PT) 6:00am (ET) 10:00am (GMT)
March 14th – Second Round: 2:30am (PT) 5:30am (ET) 9:30am (GMT)
March 16th – Second Round: 2:30am (PT) 5:30am (ET) 9:30am (GMT)
March 17th – Second Round: 2:30am (PT) 5:30am (ET) 9:30am (GMT)
March 20th – Quarter Finals: 3:00am (PT) 6:00am (ET) 10:00am (GMT)
March 21st – Quarter Finals: 2:00am (PT) 5:00am (ET) 9:00am (GMT)
March 23rd – Semi Finals: 1:00am (PT) 4:00am (ET) 8:00am (GMT)
March 24th – Finals: 11:00pm (PT) 2:00am (ET) 6:00am (GMT)
Standout First Round Matches
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii – March 8th
If you like watching grown men slap each other in the face or chop each other in the chest really hard, you will absolutely love this. Expect several minute exchanges of strikes that will make you wince in pain whilst simultaneously entertain you. With Ishii’s knack for putting on fantastic performances during tournaments, here’s hoping he makes it to later rounds and puts on some five star classics.
Mikey Nicholls (AKA Nick Miller) vs. Hikuleo – March 9th
If you’re relatively new to NJPW, you probably have no idea who Hikuleo is. Well, he’s the younger, yet significantly bigger brother of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa. Standing at 6’8, and weighing around 280 pounds, this monster of a man debuted in New Japan in 2017. Although he had little experience, Hikuleo surpassed the young lion process (which you can learn about here) at the company’s dojo and immediately joined Bullet Club due to his family connections. After a lengthy injury, Hikuleo is making his return to New Japan, and his first appearance as a member of the revamped version of Bullet Club, in the New Japan Cup.
However, he does not have an easy foe to go up against. After asking for his release from NXT in December, Mikey Nicholls, formerly known as Nick Miller, makes his first major wrestling appearance of 2019 when he returns to New Japan for the first time in over four years. Expect Mikey to want to make a big impression and show everyone why he believes he was right to leave such a big opportunity. Hopefully, he will make it to the second round where he will likely face Kazuchika Okada, getting a major chance to show off what he is capable of against one of the best in the world.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shota Umino – March 10th
Coming off his lost to Jay White for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Tanahashi will be on a mission to win this tournament to get that title back. First up, he’s got a practically guaranteed victory against a very promising young lion, Shota Umino. What makes this interesting is getting to see what kind of performances Shota will put up against one of NJPW’s most legendary performers. Already it’s clear that he is full of potential, and now he’s getting the biggest opportunity of his rookie career to show what he can do.
Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – March 10th
The biggest news surrounding the New Japan Cup this year is arguably the return of Kota Ibushi. After suffering a concussion at Wrestle Kingdom, and questions surrounding his New Japan status due to the emergence of AEW, Kota Ibushi confirmed in February that he is staying loyal and exclusive to NJPW, and he will one again be competing in the New Japan Cup. In the very first round though, he’s got one hell of a task to overcome.
Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi, two former New Japan Cup winners, two of the most popular performers in the company, and one will be gone after just one match. No doubt this will be an absolutely fantastic, athletic, and exhilarating clash that may just steal the first round of the tournament, yet it will also massively alter the landscape of the rest of the tournament. We could easily be seeing the winner of this entire tournament in this match.
EVIL vs. ZSJ – March 10th
The returning tournament champion has a tough task in this first round match. EVIL has been a thorn in his side over the last few months, dating back to when Zack confessed his hatred of Halloween, and called the LIJ member a “pumpkin spiced latte”. He shocked the world with his out of nowhere New Japan Cup victory last year, but he may not even make it passed round one this time.
Togi Makabe vs. Colt Cabana – March 11th
Having only recently made his NJPW debut, veteran Colt Cabana will make his first appearance at a major New Japan event when he takes part in the largest New Japan Cup to date. And if he gets through, there’s a good chance he will face Toru Yano in the next round, which I think we can all agree will be the greatest match of 2019.
Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA – March 11th
The only three-time, and back-to-back winner of the New Japan Cup, Hirooki Goto, faces maybe the best athlete in New Japan today in the first round. Given how both men seem to have a talent for pulling out great matches during tournaments, this one should be a showstealer.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Minoru Suzuki – March 11th
Two men with a lot of history face off in the first round in what will be a very physical brawl. At one point, Suzuki actually took Kojima’s faction away from him, so whenever these two go at it, it’s bound to be personal.
How to Watch
- The only way to watch all of these shows is through the company’s streaming service – NJPW World. – CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD
- NJPW World can be accessed through an official app on Amazon Fire Sticks, as well as through on the Xbox One browser, laptops, phones and tablets with Chromecast support.
- Do not use the iOS/Android app. Just use your browser if watching on your phone or tablet.
- Not only does it work out at slightly cheaper than WWE Network every month, it offers regular live shows, as well as access to previous events from decades past, matches from select indie promotions such as Ring of Honor and RevPro, the full ALL IN show, and exclusive documentaries that follow the lives of both their Japanese and English speaking roster members.
- Please note that there is no free trial period available, so you will need to purchase the service in order to watch.
- Regardless of when you sign up, the billing date for NJPW World is the first day of every month for every user (so you could be charged 2 days in a row if you signed up on the last day of a month) – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON SIGNING UP, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
- Once you cancel your subscription, you immediately cannot use your account, even if you have weeks left until your next billing date – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON CANCELLING, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE END OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
- Live shows are available to watch in full usually within thirty minutes after they’ve been broadcast.
- IF YOU HAVE AXS TV - The channel will be showing a selection of matches from the tournament in the coming weeks following the events, so if you’re unsure of whether you want to subscribe or not, watching on AXS TV first could be a good way of testing the waters first.
- Personally I’d recommend watching on NJPW World in order to enjoy the excitement of the full show without having to wait or watching edited versions of matches (editing is bound to happen with longer matches).
How to Avoid Streaming Issues
- Although not many users experience these anymore, NJPW World has been known in the past for having some streaming issues
- Streaming issues are very uncommon these days
- BEST WAY TO AVOID ISSUES: NJPW World has two different servers for streaming – one for Fire TV and browsers, and one for mobile and tablet devices. The Fire TV and browser stream is the one that’s known to experience issues, so if you are having troubles, I would recommend switching to watching on a mobile or tablet device
What if I want to Sample Some NJPW Matches First for Free?
- Check out New Japan’s English language YouTube channel. They regularly upload past matches featuring full English commentary, including world title matches. They upload a new free match every Monday that has some sort of connection to an upcoming show.
- Also, they upload press conferences, interviews, promos and sometimes documentaries with English subtitles.
- If you have AXS TV, you can watch their New Japan highlight show every Friday night, however the shows aren’t covered until several weeks after they’ve aired live.
Where Do I Go From After New Japan Cup?
- The next major event after New japan Cup will be on April 6th – G1 Supercard inside Madison Square Garden. It will be a historic show with a passionate, sold out crowd where the winner of this tournament will face Jay White for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
- Several “Road To” shows will be taking place in April, leading up to Wrestling Dontaku in May.
- The Best of the Super Junior tournament takes place throughout May, leading up to NJPW’s second biggest show of the year, Dominion, in June.
Recommended Matches with Links and English Commentary (Unless Stated Otherwise)
- Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – New Japan Cup 2018 Finals
- Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii – New Japan Cup 2017 (Japanese Commentary)
- Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – New Japan Cup 2018
- Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii – New Japan Cup 2017 (Japanese Commentary)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White – Wrestle Kingdom 2019
- Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay – Wrestle Kingdom 2019
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom 2019
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho – Wrestle Kingdom 2019
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi – G1 Climax Finals 2018
- Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA – G1 Climax 2018
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada – G1 Climax 2018
- SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi – G1 Climax 2018
- Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax 2018
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