NJPW New Japan Cup Finals Preview (3/20/17): Shibata vs Bad Luck Fale

New Japan Cup Finals Preview 3 20 17
Photo: NJPW

The NJPW New Japan Cup finals are upon us, and tomorrow, Katsuyori Shibata and Bad Luck Fale will compete to see who will win this year’s tournament.

Tomorrow’s show will be coming to us from Niigata’s Ao-re Nagaoka, and it will stream live on NJPW World beginning at 2:00 am EDT.

The New Japan Cup tournament is single elimination and will take place March 11th to March 20th. The winner of the tournament can challenge for whatever NJPW title he wants to challenge for: IWGP Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Intercontinental Championship, or NEVER Openweight Title. It is expected that the title match will take place during April’s Sakura Genesis.

New Japan Cup Finals Match Card

Hirai Kawato vs Tomoyuki Oka.

David Finlay, Tiger Mask, & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka, & El Desperado.

TenCozy vs Katsuya Kitamura & Yuji Nagata.

Gedo, Jado, & Hirooki Goto vs Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Minoru Suzuki.

Ryusuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & KUSHIDA vs Los Ingobernables de Japon.

YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, & Tomohiro Ishii vs Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, & Kenny Omega.

New Japan Cup Finals
Katsuyori Shibata vs Bad Luck Fale.

So, I’ll pull out my crystal ball and do a bit of predicting for tonight’s NJ Cup finals.

We all know that NJPW needs to have the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on Kenny Omega before they come here in July. Having an English speaking champion to lead the company on the initial steps into Western expansion only makes sense.

So, that being said, if Shibata wins tonight, I don’t see him challenging Okada. Shibata is one of the few legitimate contenders Okada can have down the road, and NJPW needs to actually do a slow build for that. If he wins tonight, I can see him challenging Naito. He beats Naito at Sakura Genesis, and this frees up our favorite bad boy to win this year’s G1 Climax. Then, Naito finally gets the WrestleKingdom main event he’s earned over the past few years.

If Fale wins, I can see him challenging Okada. But, since Fale has been rudderless for about a year or so (and focusing more on his school in New Zealand), I don’t see his challenge having a successful outcome at Genesis. He’d lose, which frees up Okada to have a match with say Ishii at Dontaku. Ishii wins, becomes an interim/transition champion, and loses the title to Omega at Dominion in June, setting up Omega leading the charge on the Western expansion.

Of course, all of my predictions for the New Japan Cup have been completely blown out of the water by Gedo’s booking, so for all I know, Shibata will will and challenge TenCozy for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, or Fale will win and kill Hiromu to take the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. Who knows….

You all can join me on Twitter as I live tweet the show, and as always, Top Rope Press will have full coverage of the PPV as soon as its in the books.