Spring is in the air as NJPW announced the participant list and brackets for their annual spring tournament, the New Japan Cup.

The New Japan Cup—which dates back to 2005—is a single-elimination, bracket-style tournament. This deviates from NJPW’s summer tournament, G1 Climax, which instead uses a round-robin block-style. However like the G1 Climax, the winner of the New Japan Cup receives a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, often at April’s Invasion Attack.

This year’s New Japan Cup kicks off March 11 with first-round matchups and concludes March 20 with the tournament finals.

New Japan Cup 2017 Participants (Previous Appearances)

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)
  • EVIL (2016)
  • Tomoaki Honma (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016)
  • Tanga Roa
  • Michael Elgin (2016)
  • Bad Luck Fale (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • Toru Yano (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
  • Tama Tonga (2013, 2016)
  • Katsuyori Shibata (2014, 2015)
  • Minoru Suzuki (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Juice Robinson
  • Yujiro Takahashi (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
  • Tomohiro Ishii (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016)
  • Kenny Omega
  • YOSHI-HASHI (2012, 2015, 2016)

Hiroshi Tanahashi is the only former winner among the 2017 participants. Tanahashi won the inaugural event in 2005 and followed up with a win in 2008.

Three-time winner Hirooki Goto takes a back seat this year as he currently holds the NEVER Openweight Championship while fellow CHAOS member, 2013 New Japan Cup winner and current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada joins him on the sidelines.

Absent as well is current IWGP Intercontinental Champion and last year’s tournament winner, Tetsuya Naito.

This will be Toru Yano’s 11th consecutive New Japan Cup appearance, a streak beginning with the second-ever tournament in 2006.

Yujiro Takahashi will make his seventh straight appearance.

Notable first-timers include Tanga Roa, Juice Robinson, SANADA and, of course, Bullet Club leader, Wrestle Kingdom main eventer Kenny Omega.

New Japan Cup 2017 Lineups

March 11, 2017
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium

  • Ryusuke Taguchi & Hirai Kawato vs. TAKA Michinoku & El Desperado
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask IV
  • Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA & David Finlay Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI
  • Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Jado & Gedo vs. Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Tomoaki Honma vs. Tanga Roa
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Toru Yano  vs. Tama Tonga
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Michael Elgin vs. Bad Luck Fale
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL

March 12, 2017
Hyogo BCOM Gymnasium 

  • David Finlay Jr. vs. Tomoyuki Oka
  • Yuji Nagata & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask IV
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI
  • Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Jado & Gedo vs. Takashi Iizuka, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Minoru Suzuki
  • New Japan Cup 1st Round: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega

March 13, 2017
Fukui Prefecture Industry Hall #1 Exhibition Hall

  • New Japan Cup Quarter Final: WINNER Tanahashi/EVIL vs. WINNER Honma/Roa

March 14, 2017
Shiga Prefectural Cultural Industry Interchange House

  • New Japan Cup Quarter Final: WINNER Elgin/Fale vs. WINNER Yano/Tonga

March 15, 2017
Nagano Matsumoto Tadashi Park Gymnasium

  • New Japan Cup Quarter Final: WINNER Shibata/Suzuki vs. WINNER Robinson/Takahashi

March 17, 2017
Saitama Tokorozawa Citizen Gymnasium Sub-Arena

  • New Japan Cup Quarter Final: WINNER Ishii/Omega vs. WINNER YOSHI-HASHI/SANADA

March 19, 2017
Shizuoka Act City Hamamatsu 

  • New Japan Cup Semifinal
  • New Japan Cup Semifinal

March 20, 2017
Niigata Aore Nagaoka

  • New Japan Cup Final

Featured First-Round Matches

The first round alone gives us a number of highly-publicized, potentially great matches including Katsuyori Shibata vs. Minoru Suzuki—a match not seen since the 2004 G1 Climax—as well as a legit first-time matchup between Tomohiro Ishii and Kenny Omega.

Other first-round matches of note:

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL
  • Michael Elgin vs. Bad Luck Fale

Pick-Em & Continued Coverage

In previous years, Voices of Wrestling has hosted a New Japan Cup pick’em contest and we’re currently discussing whether or not to resurrect it for the year.

If you would be interested in participating in a pick’em and would like us to bring it back, please tweet at us @VoicesWrestling or let it be known on our forums at Voicesofwrestling.com/forums.

Stick with Voices of Wrestling for continued coverage of New Japan Cup 2017 including show previews, tournament predictions, show reviews and more.