During the first round of the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Cup, one-half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Sho was finally able to defeat NEVER Openweight Champion Shingo Takagi. The New Japan Cup match was the 50th time the two have stood on the opposite side of the ring from one another.
Sho’s victory earned him the right to make the v2 challenge for the NEVER Openweight Championship at Dominion. The NJPW website describes how the bitter rivalry got to where it is today, “…Through clashes for the IWGP Junoir Tag Team Championships, SHO’s distaste for Takagi only continued to develop, until a brutal, hard-hitting bout to open last year’s Best of the Super Juniors saw the Roppongi 3K member narrowly defeated.”
“Takagi would liken himself to the ‘final boss’ of SHO’s videogame campaign, teasing that ‘one victory over me doesn’t mean you’ve beaten the game yet’,” the site would continue. Throughout his encounters with Shingo, Sho refused to relent from a power first approach, wanting to beat Takagi at the style he’s attempted to perfect over his decorated career.
Now that Sho was able to best Shingo, the will of Shingo will come under siege as the two meet at Dominion. While Takagi remains the favorite to retain his title, it’s unlikely he will have the same internal swagger against Sho as he did on previous occasions.
On the other hand, Sho is free of pressure as he now has empirical evidence that he is capable of besting Takagi while utilizing a power approach. Sho will also have Yoh in mind as he is currently out injured with a bad knee.
With momentum on his side, Sho has a great opportunity to become the second junior heavyweight (Will Ospreay is the other) to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.