New Japan Cup Lineup Features AEW's Jack Perry, Zack Sabre Jr, More

With NJPW's New Beginning and Fantastica Mania tours in the rear-view mirror, fans eagerly await the first major tournament of the company's calendar: the New Japan Cup. Over the years, the straight knockout tournament has been won by the likes of WWE's Shinsuke Nakamura, AEW's Will Ospreay, and the current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Tetsuya Naito, Now, NJPW has revealed that 28 participants in the 2024 bracket who have their sights set on Naito's crown at Sakura Genesis.


The most surprising entry is arguably AEW's Jack Perry. The former FTW Champion hasn't wrestled since the All In event at Wembley Stadium due to his backstage altercation with CM Punk. Perry appearanced at NJPW's Battle in the Valley event in January, where he attacked Shota Umino. Therefore, it's only fitting that Perry and Umino have been drawn against each other in the tournament's first round, with that match taking place at NJPW's 52nd Anniversary event on March 6.

With all the departures of foreign talent in recent weeks, Zack Sabre Jr. will be looking to make 2024 his year to finally become the overseas ace of New Japan that he feels he has been for many years. He is one of four wrestlers who have received byes into the tournament's second round as he won the New Japan Cup as recently as 2022. The other wrestlers joining him in the second round are three more previous winners of the tournament: Hirooki Goto, who won in 2012; EVIL, who won in 2020; and SANADA, who won last year's cup and went on to become the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.


What do the New Japan Cup first round matches look like?

With Goto, EVIL, SANADA, and Sabre Jr. already in the second round, 24 wrestlers will compete for 12 spots in the second round. As previously mentioned, Jack Perry's match with Shota Umino will take place on March 6, as will two other bouts between Toru Yano and Yujiro Takahashi, and KENTA and YOSHI-HASHI. However, that show will be headlined by a special singles match between IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Tetsuya Naito and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion SHO.


From there, the first round will see three matches on each card. Fans in Korakuen Hall on March 7 will witness the former IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion David Finlay go one-on-one with the newly proclaimed heavyweight TJP. Meanwhile, Tomohiro Ishii will take on IWGP Tag Team Champion Chase Owens, and the current KOPW 2024 Provisional Champion Great-O-Khan will face off with Tanga Loa.

On March 8, fans in Kofu will see Yuya Uemura try to bounce back from having his hair cut off in Sapporo as he faces Shingo Takagi. They will also see Gabe Kidd face United Empire's Callum Newman in a match that sees two men making their New Japan Cup debuts, and there will also be a debut performance in the tournament for young lion Boltin Oleg as he faces Hikuleo.


The first round matches conclude on March 10 in Amagasaki, where Yota Tsuji will face Jeff Cobb, Taichi will face Ren Narita, and IWGP Tag Team Champion El Phantasmo goes one-on-one with TMDK's Mikey Nicholls. The tournament will conclude on March 20 in Nagaoka, with the winner moving on to Ryogoku Sumo Hall in Tokyo for the Sakura Genesis event on April 6 to challenge Naito for his title.