SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN SAKURA GENESIS PPV
APRIL 4, 2021
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD
English commentary: Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton.
The show started with Hiromu Takahashi. He said he wasn’t returning to action. He asked who the new member of the United Empire could be. He said maybe it was him. Takahashi said they would find out just a little bit who the new member of the United Empire was. Takahashi talked about the Jr. tag title match. He then turned his attention to Kota Ibushi defending the IWGP World Hvt. Championship against Will Ospreay. He asked the fans if they were ready to start and the fans applauded. Takahashi then announced the start of the show as the fans applauded.
Kelly said he and Gambino were at home and Charlton was doing commentary from the venue.
(1) SUZUKI-GUN (TAICHI & ZACK SABRE Jr. & DOUKI) vs. BULLET CLUB (TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA & JADO)
Tonga went for Taichi’s iron fingers late in the match. This allowed Sabre to roll him up from behind with the European Clutch for the win. This match was used to build up Sabre & Taichi as the next challengers to G.O.D. for the IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Titles.
WINNERS: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi & Douki at 10:10. (**½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a solid opener. The fans were into the action after Takahashi got them hyped up.)
After the match, NJPW chairman Sugabayashi took the iron fingers away from Taichi and went to the back with them.
(2) BULLET CLUB (YUJIRO TAKAHASHI & TAIJI ISHIMORI & KENTA & BAD LUCK FALE & EVIL & DICK TOGO) vs. CHAOS (TORU YANO & YOSHI-HASHI & TOMOHIRO ISHII & KAZUCHIKA OKADA & HIROOKI GOTO)
The main storyline here is that Kenta has stolen Yoshi-Hashi staff. I know, I know… don’t get too excited. Bullet Club beat down Chaos during the past week on the Road to Sakara Genesis events. Yano ended up hitting low blows on Togo and Evil. He then put a hood over Togo’s head and rolled him up for the win. This was revenge for Bullet Club turning out the lights earlier in the week to get the jump on Yano.
WINNERS: Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi Hashi & Tomohiro Ishii at 11:37. (**¼)
It looks like Chaos will defend the Never Openweight Six Man Tag Team Titles in the near future, as the champions faced off with Bullet Club after the match. Kevin Kelly mentioned they had a number of big shows coming up where the match could potentially take place.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was fine. A standard undercard tag.)
Next up, The United Empire was out first for their tag match. The announcers wondered who their mystery partner would be. Charlton said factions tend to reveal new members in this building. Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan came out first. Kelly wondered who X was. O-Khan got on the mic and cut a promo. He talked about the intrigue about who the next member of The United Empire Was. He said the fans were peasants in the palms of their hands. O-Khan said it’s time to introduce the new member of The United Empire.
A video with several X’s played. Charlton said he saw a face that looked familiar. He then said he thought the person had left the country. It was Toa Henare wearing a new ring robe and sunglasses. His new name is “The Ultimate Weapon” Aaron Henare.
LIJ were out next to face The United Empire.
(3) L.I.J. (SHINGO TAKAGI & SANADA & TETSUYA NAITO) vs. THE UNITED EMPIRE (JEFF COBB & GREAT-O-KHAN & AARON HENARE)
Henare looked much more aggressive once he tagged into the match after several minutes of action. This was a good match with both teams going back and forth. The crowd seemed to go cold late, despite Shingo breaking up a nearfall on Sanada. Kelly noted that Henare was also wearing black gloves. Cobb hit the Tour of the Islands on Sanada. Henare then hit a DVD on Sanada for the win. The DVD is called Street of Rage.
WINNERS: Aaron Henare & Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan at 9:51. (***½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a really nice introduction for Henare’s new character. He got a spotlight run of offense mid-match. His new look is great and The United Empire is a stacked stable right now. Henare’s character seems to be inspired by the Streets of Rage videogame series.)
After the match, The United Empire held down Naito and O-Khan went to town on his knee with a chair. They beat down all of L.I.J. and stood tall over them.
(4) BULLET CLUB (JAY WHITE & BAD LUCK FALE W/GEDO) vs. NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION HIROSHI TANAHASHI & SATOSHI KOJIMA
White’s chest got beat red from Kojima’s machine gun chops in the corner. Gedo ended up tripping Kojima up top to turn the tide for Bullet Club. Kojima got worked over, but Tanahashi got the tag and ran wild. He knocked Fale off the apron with a dropkick to the legs. He then went at it with White. Eventually both men traded counter after counter until White grabbed Tanahashi by the hair. He let go and hit a dragon screw on Tanahashi’s leg. The finish saw Kojima catch Fale with a big lariat. Tanahashi then hit the High Fly Flow for the win.
WINNERS: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima at 10:05. (***¼)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a good tag match. Tanahashi and Kojima worked really hard and delivered strong performances. The match was designed to further the ongoing feud between White and Tanahashi for the NEVER Openweight Championship.)
After the match, White tried to attack Tanahashi, but Tanahashi tripped him and applied the Cloverleaf Hold. White tapped out over and over. Tanahashi stood over White after the match and spoke in English. He said he would accept White’s challenge for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Tanahashi said that since he had tapped White out, they should have the match. Tanahashi said his Cloverleaf Hold would not be called the JTO (Jay Tap Out).
Sho and Yoh came out to a new theme and wore new entrance attire. The theme was much more melodic than their previous theme produced by Rocky Romero. Kelly mentioned that Sho & Yoh debuted in this venue and won the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions. Kelly mentioned that Sho & Yoh never lost the jr. tag titles due to Yoh’s injury.
(5) IWGP JR. HVT. TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS SUZUKI-GUN (IWGP JR. HVT. CHAMPION EL DESPERADO & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU) vs. ROPPONGI 3K (SHO & YOH)
The bell rang and the fans clapped in unison. Yoh controlled the action early until Desperado turned the tables and went after his surgically repaired knee. Desperado locked in Numero Dos and really cranked on the hold and Yoh sold it big. Sho ran in to break it up. You eventually tagged in Sho, but he got cut off and Desperado and Kanemaru took turns working him over. Every time Yoh came back to the apron or tried to get into the ring, he would get wiped out immediately by either Kanemaru or Desperado. The announcers said Sho would have to go at it himself with Yoh’s knee compromised. Yoh got the tag from Sho and he fended off Kanemaru and Desperado while favoring his knee. It wasn’t long until Yoh tried to hit a suplex, but Kanemaru flipped him over and he landed awkwardly on his knee. Kanemaru then chop blocked him down to the mat.
Kanemaru went to work on Yoh and applied a figure 4. Sho tried to break it up, but Desperado cut him off after Kanemaru refused to let go of the hold. Yoh finally began to struggle towards the ropes. He yelled in pain, but finally managed to lunch and grab the bottom rope and the fans applauded. Kanemaru hit Deep Impact, but Sho came out of nowhere to break up the pin! Desperado whipped Sho into the guardrail as Kanemaru went back to work on Yoh’s leg inside the ring. Yoh got a nearfall with a pinning combination. They went back and forth. Kanemaru raked Yoh’s eyes, but he fired back with a Pele kick variation. Desperado wiped him out with a HUGE spear. Yoh followed him right into the ring and they went back and forth. Desperado caught Sho with a spinebuster and all four men were down as the fans applauded. What an exchange!
Sho and Yoh ran wild once action resumed. They isolated Kanemaru, but Desperado eventually ran into the ring. They wiped him out with 3K, but he wasn’t the legal man. They turned their attention to Kanemaru and nailed him with a flurry of moves in the corner. Kanemaru countered Sho and shoved him into Yoh, who was headed up top for a tandem maneuver. Kanemaru hit a superplex and rolled over and put his arm on top of Yoh for a nearfall. Kanemaru set up on the turnbuckles for another Deep Impact, but Yoh nailed him with a kick to the ribs. Sho came back into the ring and turned him inside out with a clothesline. Yoh went up top and they connected with Strong X, but Desperado broke up the pin at the last second! Sho dragged Desperado to the floor. You lifted up Kanemaru and hit a double underhook brainbuster for the win!
Winners: Sho & Yoh to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions at 20:48. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a tremendous tag match with the returning Yoh selling his knee from the early stages of the match all the way to the finish. The match featured so many good nearfalls and close calls for Sho & Yoh in terms of them coming close to winning down the stretch only to have a pinfall broken up. The crowd really got into the match late and it was a guessing game as to who was going to come out on top. Given the big presentation of Sho and Yoh with new entrance music and new gear, it was a big moment for them to win this match.)
After the match, Desperado, who has been saying that Yoh needs to show more fire, got in Yoh’s face and pointed at the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title. Kelly said Desperado was telling Yoh it’s going to take his best to beat him for the title, so it looks like we have our next program set for the jr. hvt. title between Yoh and Desperado.
Yoh appeared emotional after winning the title. He got on the mic and thanked the fans for their support. He said finally in this ring he was able to come back. He said they are a brand new and reborn Roppongi 3K and the belts were with them where they belonged. He said next up, he wants to be a double champion and beat Desperado. This was a very strong segment for Roppongi 3K.
A video package played before the match that said Legacy and Evolution. It showed several of the past IWGP Hvt. and IWGP IC Champions. It concluded with Kota Ibushi raising the new IWGP World Hvt. Championship.
Will Ospreay was out first for the main event. He came out holding the New Japan Cup. IWGP World Hvt. Champion Kota Ibushi was out next.
(6) IWGP WORLD HVT. CHAMPION KOTA IBUSHI vs. BRITISH UNDISPUTED CHAMPION WILL OSPREAY
The other members of the United Kingdom were shown watching at ringside during the early stages of the match. Ibushi hit a slingshot splash to the floor during the early stages of the match. Ospreay fired back and crotched Ibushi on the top rope. He then knocked him to the floor. Ospreay countered Ibushi on the floor and drove him back first into the guardrail. Ospreay set up Ibushi on the apron and hit a big knee drop to Ibushi’s back. Ospreay hit some vicious chops to Ibushi’s neck as he was lying down on the mat.He also worked over Ibushi’s head and neck. Ibushi mounted a comeback, but Ospreay caught him with a kick off the ropes and both men were down.
Ospreay went to lift Ibushi, who kneed him right in his broken nose. Ibushi smiled as he regrouped. They went back and forth and Ospreay hit an enziguri, but Ibushi turned him inside out with a lariat and both men were down. Both men ended up trading blows on their knees. They got to their feet and continued to trade bombs. The pace picked up and the fans clapped as they traded blows. Ospreay hit some Kawada kicks on Ibushi and Ibushi’s face went blank. He tried to fire up, but Ospreay dropped him and hit a reverse Bloody Sunday for a two count.
They battled up top and Ospreay sent Ibushi down to the apron. Ibushi went for a springboard, but Ospreay shoved him stomach-first over the top rope. Ospreay then nailed him with a SSP! Ospreay went right back up top and hit another SSP for a nearfall. A short time Ibushi tried to lift up Ospreay, but his back gave out and both men were down as the fans fired up. Ibushi went for a poison hurricanrana off the top, but Ospreay landed on his feet. Ospreay glared at Ibushi and told him to bring it. Ibushi charged at Ospreay, who put him on his shoulders. Ibushi quickly countered and hit a poison rana. Ospreay rolled to the floor with Ibushi down inside the ring.
Ibushi went for his outside in German off the ropes and nailed it. Ospreay caught Ibushi a short time later with a one man spanish fly to counter a Boma Ye attempt. Ospreay set up for the Os-Cutter. The first attempt got blocked, but Ospreay went for it hitting the springboard on the other side of the ring and connected for a two count. Ospreay hit the Chelsea Kiss and connected. He went for a Stormbreaker, but Ibushi hit a standing Kamigoye and then a traditional Kamigoye for a tremendous nearfall!
The fans fired up and Ibushi took his knee pad down. Ospreay surprised IBushi with an inside cradle for a nearfall. Ospreay caught Ibushi with a pair of hook kicks and then a jumping knee to Ibushi’s head. Osprey hit the Hidden Blade and followed up with Stormbreaker for the win.
WINNER: Will Ospreay at 30:13 to become the new IWGP World Hvt. Champion. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a tremendous main event with Ospreay working over Ibushi’s back and midsection before targeting his head and neck area as well. It felt like Ibushi could never get on track in this match. Ospreay won the match clean, as the United Empire never got involved.
The second half of the match was really strong once the action picked up. The story here was Ibushi never got on track on offense and late in the match he nearly pulled it out with a pair of Kamigoye’s, but Ospreay kicked out. New Japan is clearly all in on the Ospreay push right now.)
Cobb hit Ibushi with a Tour of the Islands after the match. Kelly called Cobb a piece of garbage on commentary. Ospreay laughed and told Cobb to “get that piece of s–t out of here.” Kelly mentioned Cobb couldn’t get the job done against Ibushi during G1.
Ospreay was presented with the IWGP World Hvt. Championship. Ospreay yelled “God is dead.” Kelly said he wasn’t a fan of Ospreay’s blasphemy on Easter Sunday. Kelly said Ospreay doesn’t care about anyone outside of the people in the United Empire. Ibushi was still being helped out of the ring and Ospreay smiled at him and held up the title. Ospreay said, “When he wakes up, tell him man beats God!”
Ospreay got on the mic and asked that they get Ibushi away from the ringside area quicker. Ospreay said goodbye God. Ospreay said he’s heard all his life the British boy can’t be a wrestler, can’t be a big star in Japan, can’t win the BOSJ, can’t win the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship, and yet he still heard people laughing. He said people said the British boy can’t be IWGP World Hvt. Champion. He asked who was laughing now. He held up the title and the fans applauded. Osprey said its been five years since he debuted. He said he had done a lot of bad things because he’s not a good guy. He said he wanted to take the time to apologize to nobody. Ospreay said he does what he wants and the United Empire does what they want because they have the power.
Ospreay said the story is not complete. Ospreay said they should have killed him when they had the chance. He said he’s back for revenge for what happened at Wrestle Kingdom. He called out Kazuchika Okada. The fans applauded and got really loud as they waited for Okada to come out. Okada came out in street clothes. He got a mic and began tapping it. The fans began clapping to the beat of his tapping. Shingo Takagi suddenly got into the ring and grabbed the mic.
Takagi got on the mic and told Ospreay he’s getting ahead of himself. He said whether he’s the king or not, he would take him down a notch. He said he knows Ospreay wants revenge for losing to Okada at the Tokyo Dome. He said nobody remembers that. He said what they remember is that Okada lost to him in the first round of the New Japan Cup. He asked if that gave Okada the right to challenge for the title. Takagi said he should get a shot before Okada. He then spoke in English and said he was challenging Ospreay to the IWGP World Hvt. Title.
Takagi said he would beat Ospreay and then Okada would be first in line to face him for the title. Takagi said there should be no complaints about that. The fans clapped as Ospreay started at both men. Okada hesitated to grab the mic, so Ospreay backed away. Okada grabbed the mic and handed it to Ospreay without saying a word.
Ospreay said Shingo would get the first shot and then he would come for Okada. Ospreay glared at Shingo and then Okada. Okada left the ring smiling without saying a word. He made a x in front of his lips with his fingers like his lips were sealed.
Great-O-Khan got on the mic. He said it’s now The Empire’s time. He said everyone should bow down and pay tribute to the king. The fans applauded. He asked for more applause for the world hvt. Champion. O-Khan said they are the true power. Gold confetti then fell from the rafters. Kelly hammered home that this was a bitter disappointment for Kota Ibushi. He said Ospreay would not enjoy a moment’s rest, as he had Takagi and then Okada lined up as challengers.
Contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at SR_Torch.