AXS TV and NJPW go all out to bring you a THREE EPISODE MARATHON to cover the entirety of Sakura Genesis! The biggest event of Spring features a star-studded line up, such as Will Ospreay VS Marty Scurll, The Golden Lovers VS Cody & Hangman Page, and Okada VS Zack Sabre Jr for THE IWGP Heavyweight Championship!
This review of Sakura Genesis 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.
- 8 PM EST, Part 1 – Six Man Tag: Suzuki-Gun’s Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad VS Los Ingobernables de Japon; Suzuki- Gun wins.
- Part 1 – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay VS Marty Scurll; Ospreay wins and retains the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
- 9 PM EST, Part 2 – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Triple Threat: Suzuki-Gun VS Roppongi 3K VS Los Ingobernables de Japon; Suzuki-Gun wins and retains the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.
- Part 2 – The Golden Lovers VS Bullet Club’s Cody & Hangman Page; Cody & Hangman win.
- 10 PM EST, Part 3 – IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku; Okada wins and retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the stage for Part 1!
The Aerial Assassin is a two-time champion, and has already reestablished himself by turning away Hiromu Takahashi, and even the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger. However, The Villain, Ospreay’s archnemesis, Marty Scurll, has come back for more. Ospreay finally overcame Scurll in a Fatal 4 Way that also involved Hiromu and Kushida at Wrestle Kingdom 12. But both Ospreay and Scurll know that when it’s 1v1, Scurll has Ospreay’s number. Can Ospreay finally “break the curse” and retain the title?
Six Man Tag: Suzuki-Gun’s Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad VS Los Ingobernables de Japon!
We jump into this match already in progress, as the Man with the Worst Personality in the World and his heavy hitters take on the Tranquilo One himself, and his IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
Sanada jumps over Lance Archer, then again, then dropkicks him down. Sanada keeps on Archer with a slingshot plancha! Suzuki coaches his men back up while the fans rally for Sanada. Sanada springboards and flies, but Davey Boy Smith Jr. catches him into a Northern Lights! Bridging cover, TWO, and Davey is frustrated. He drags Sanada up, prepares a powerbomb, but Sanada fights his way out. Sanada whips but Davey reverses, but Sanada tumbles to the apron, then springboards back in for the missile dropkick! Down goes Davey and fans applaud. Sanada and Davey crawl for their corners, and hot tags to Archer and EVIL.
EVIL sees Archer coming and dodges him to then give him a bulldog. EVIL adds on a big back senton, then fires up the fans as he runs in at Archer. Archer goes to boot but EVIL blocks that, only for Archer to duck his discus and run in for the side splash. Archer puts EVIL up top, then carries him out in reverse cruficix position, but Naito dropkicks his legs out. Suzuki rushes in and goes right at Naito! They go to the outside and Naito is whipped into the barriers. EVIL kicks Archer’s leg, then runs, but into a scrapbuster! Archer goes to tag but Naito gets back at Suzuki by putting him into barriers.
Sanada comes in to go after Archer, but Archer puts him in a corner. Archer runs in but misses, Sanada runs and hits the elbow, then EVIL hits the clothesline. Naito wants back in but Suzuki drags him back out. They brawl outside, and Suzuki goes after the leg with the Achilles lock. Meanwhile, EVIL hoists Archer up with Sanada, but Davey stops them from hitting Magic Killer by throwing Sanada with a German Suplex! EVIL kicks Davey, then runs, but into the lift. Archer returns to add the splash! Archer covers, Sanada breaks it! Naito breaks free of Suzuki but Suzuki still pursues. Davey brings Sanada up in the powerbomb, and Archer adds on, for the KILLER BOMB!!
But Sanada isn’t legal, it’s EVIL. They go after him while Naito fights to get back in the ring. EVIL fights KES off, handing Davey’s boot to Archer to then mule kick Davey. Archer grabs EVIL, EVIL breaks free but Archer spins him around, they give EVIL the Killer Bomb! Cover, Suzuki-Gun wins!
Winners: Suzuki-Gun (Suzuki & KES), Archer pinning
A big win for Suzuki-Gun over LIJ, but a bigger win for KES over the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Archer & Davey even raise the belts as if those already belong to them. Will this win give rise to new #1 contenders? And will those contenders prove to LIJ that #EverybodyDies?
“Hey you, the self-proclaimed ‘King of Pro Wrestling’.” Yes, he means Suzuki. Suzuki refers to the IWGP Intercontinental championship as his “treasure”. But it doesn’t look that way to Naito. To Naito, “the belt even seems like it wants to get away from you,” Suzuki. The belt shined brighter “when I used to throw it around.” The wannabe King of Pro-Wrestling just wants to be close to Naito. Naito understands, but why doesn’t Suzuki just express his feelings? “King! King! Please ascend to the ring, and let us hear your thoughts.”
Suzuki decides to take Naito up on that, and returns to the ring while Naito lounges on the mat. Suzuki picks up the mic to respond. “Oi, you little punk.” Who the hell does Naito think he’s talking to? This is THE Minoru Suzuki. The undisputed king of pro wrestling. “Sprawled out like that, the look suits you.” Naito relaxes even more, but Suzuki thinks “a liar and a con-man like you should be groveling on the ground.” Naito doesn’t sweat Suzuki’s threats. Suzuki tells all the “assholes gathered here at Ryogoku”, and especially Tetsuya Naito, that he and Suzuki-Gun are NUMBER ONE.
Suzuki goes to leave, kicking a Young Lion just because he can, but Naito picks the mic back up. “King! King!” Suzuki seems to be feeling rather irritable. At times like these, remember this phrase. You know the one. “Tranquilo! Chill out.” Now Suzuki is pissed! He throws chairs and a table at the ring, and at Young Lions. He then storms out, title in hand, but Naito is Tranquilo as ever. Will his disrespect of the “king” cost him some limbs?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay VS Marty Scurll!
Familiar foes from across the pond have both come to the Land of the Rising Sun. The Aerial Assassin has never defeated the Villain 1v1, especially when a title is on the line. Can Ospreay finally break that curse? Or will his second reign end already?
Scurll takes a moment to carefully bestow his umbrella to one of the Young Lions, then Red Shoes makes sure neither man has anything hidden on them. The bell rings and we begin. Ospreay and Scurll circle, fans dueling between them. They tie up, Scurll gets around to the waistlock but Ospreay gets the switch. Scurll rolls and spins to reverse and trip Ospreay, but Ospreay kicks out. The fans applaud the early stand-off while the two circle again. They tie up, Scurll has a facelock but Ospraedy slips out to a hammerlock takedown. Scurll stands, rolls and spins, then gets Ospreay in the wristlock. Ospreay uses the ropes to flip, then snapmares Scurll, but Scurll gets the wristlock back.
Scurll knows he’s in Ospreay’s head, but Ospreay reverses the hold. Scurll spins, brings Ospreay to the mat and double wristlock covers, but Ospreay bridges up. Ospreay catches Scurll’s body and pushes up and onto Scurll’s shoulders. Ospreay sunset flips but Scurll rolls through to grab the leg. Scurll goes for the ankle lock but Ospreay turns over to break free and bring Scurll to the mat with a headlock takeover. Scurll headscissors, but Ospreay pops out, and roles reverse, but Scurll pops out. It’s another stand-off and the fans love it. Ospreay and Scurll circle again, keeping an eye on the other. They tie up again, Scurll gets the headlock. Ospreay powers out but Scurll runs him over. Scurll flaps his wings and fans echo “Woop Woop!”, but then Scurll gestures “up yours!”
Scurll runs, but Ospreay lies flat, which Scurll knew he would. Scurll grabs him in a chicken wing roll that ends up in the chicken wing hold! Ospreay arm-drags out, then runs, springboards but misses. He keeps moving, handspring arm-drag then whip, but Scurll headscissors. Ospreay cartwheels through, then swings a kick, tries a moonsault, swings another kick, but Scurll evades them all to make it to a corner. Fans applaud, but Ospreay just glares a hole through Scurll. Scurll wants a time out? There’s no time-outs in wrestling. In that case, Scurll fires himself up and has the fans rallying while he circles with Ospreay.
They tie up, Scurll kicks low then clubs hard on Ospreay’s back. He chops Ospreay, then kicks him. Scurll mocks the fans, then whips Ospreay but Ospreay dodges to headscissors and dropkick Scurll down. Scurll ends up outside the ring, and fans fire up again. Ospreay builds speed, but Scurll sees through the feint, and trips Ospreay up during the handspring. He grabs the fingers, but Ospreay shoves him away. Scurll returns but Ospreay kicks him down, to then handspring for the Sasuke Special! Down goes Scurll, but that move took a bit out of Ospreay, too.
They both slowly stir, and Ospreay stands up first. Scurll scurries away but Ospreay catches up and chops him. Scurll still wants that time out but Ospreay kicks him in the leg. Ospreay puts Scurll in the ring, but Scurll grabs his nose. Scurll tweaks the nose, then turns Ospreay around for a draping neckbreaker! Ospreay tumbles down and out, then Scurll builds speed, to SUPERKICK from the apron! Fans “Woop Woop!” while Scurll flaps, and we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns and Scurll chops Ospreay against the barriers. Scurll clubs Ospreay, then throws him into barriers. Red Shoes says to bring this back into the ring. Scurll obeys, but then goes after Ospreay on the apron. They both enter the ring now, and stalks Ospreay. Scurll wrenches Ospreay’s neck, then brings him backwards for a neck-cracker. He stomps Ospreay, then brings him up for a scoop slam against the ropes. Ospreay is hurting from neck to legs now as he gets back on the apron. Scurll walks over, then drags Ospreay up and through the ropes. Scurll has Ospreay elevated, and hits the draping DDT. Cover, TWO, but Scurll keeps on Ospreay with a palm strike to the neck.
Scurll drags Ospreay up into the torture rack, bending his back with every jump. Ospreay endures, but Scurll tosses him at a corner for inverted snake eyes, then a DDT! Cover, TWO, and Scurll argues with Red Shoes. He keeps his cool, and stalks Ospreay to the ropes. Scurll stands Ospreay up in powerbomb position, but it’s just for a neck-jamming jump. He brings up the wincing Ospreay for powerbomb lift, but it’s for the Gory Special! Scurll bends Ospreay but Ospreay slips out and rocks Scurll with a forearm. Ospreay throws antoher forearm but Scurll pushes him to a corner. Scurll runs into Ospreay’s boot and Ospreay goes to the apron. Ospreay slingshots but Scurll catches him, into a rope slingshot guillotine!
Scurll grins while Red Shoes checks on Ospreay. Ospreay clutches his neck while Scurll walks over. Scurll stomps Ospreay, then grinds him into buckle pads. Scurll snapmares Ospreay into a chinklock and neckwrench. Ospreay tries to pry his way out, so Scurll takes those arms and makes a straitjacket stretch. Fans rally and Ospreay fights his way up, but Scurll bends him back again. Ospreay rolls through and reverses the straitjacket onto Scurll! Scurll backs Ospreay to a corner, then arm-drags out, but Ospreay uses that momentum to handspring. Scurll lets Ospreay roll off his back, but misses the clothesline, and Ospreay handsprings for the enziguri! Both men are down, and fans applaud.
Scurll gets to a corner while Ospreay drags himself up by ropes. Fans duel, “Ospreay!” “Woop Woop!” Ospreay runs in at Scurll in the corner, hits the running European Uppercut, then sweeps the legs. He runs again, but Scurll dodges. Scurll runs but into another enziguri. Ospreay runs, and hits the elevated 619! Scurll staggers but stays standing, Ospreay brings him down with a springboard clothesline! Ospreay adds the standing shining star, covers, TWO. Fans duel more as both men crawl. Ospreay stands in a corner, then climbs up, but Scurll stops him with a grip on the nose.
Scurll climbs up but Ospreay slips down and tucks Scurll in. Scurll sticks his feet out but Ospreay pushes them up, Cheeky Nandos SUPERKICK to German Suplex! Ospreay fires up, and takes aim at Scurll, but runs into the EuroUpper. Scurll runs, but Ospreay sets him back on the corner. Scurll avoids Cheek Nandos this time, and hits a tornado DDT to roll through, but Ospreay counters his suplex with a stunner! Both men are down again as fans rally. Fans duel again while Ospreay stands up. Ospreay walks over to Scurll and throws strikes. He calls for the cutter, but Scurll grabs his fingers! Scurll hushes the crowd, but Ospreay breaks free.
Ospreay runs to ropes, but fakes Scurll out! Scurll’s dropkick hits nothing, Ospreay jackknife covers, TWO as Scurll bridges. They spin around, and Scurll wants a backslide, but Ospreay resists. Scurll goes for the chicken wing, but Ospreay elbows his wawy out. Scurll still has Ospreay, for the pumphandle into brainbuster! Cover, TWO, and Scurll is shocked. Fans duel again while Scurll catches his breath. Scurll walks over and brings Ospreay up, for shoves and slaps. Ospreay ducks, Scurll denies the full nelson, but Ospreay hits the wrap-around heel kick. Ospreay runs, but into the roaring elbow. Scurll runs and clotheslines Ospreay upside-down! Cover, TWO, and Scurll is in disbelief while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Scurll and Ospreay brawl on their knees. Scurll clubs Ospreay’s neck and bounces him off the mat. He brings Ospreay up, turns him around, but Ospreay resists to backslide! TWO, and Ospreay sends Scurll to the apron. Scurll holds on and “skins the cat”, but into piledriver position! Scurll still pulls Ospreay to the outside with him, and gives Ospreay a Tombstone to the ground! Ospreay clutches his neck while Scurll checks his own knees. Red Shoes checks on Ospreay, but Ospreay wants to continue. The ring count begins, and reaches 14 before Scurll stands and puts Ospreay in. Cover, TWO, and Scurll is again shocked. Scurll keeps on Ospreay, with a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Scurll grows frustrated with Ospreay’s endurance.
Scurll kicks Ospreay’s shoulder, then clubs his neck. Ospreay is in pain but he also fires up. Ospreay hits back, rocking Scurll. Scurll gives a forearm, Ospreay gives one back. They go back and forth, hitting harder and harder, faster and faster! Scurll gets an edge but Ospreay boots him. Ospreay runs, but he falls for the feint! Scurll kicks out a leg, then runs, but into Ospreay’s flip-kick and enziguri! Ospreay runs, Scurll follows, but Ospreay catches him into a sit-out powerbomb! But Ospreay can’t cover, from the pain in his own body. Ospreay instead gets himself to a corner while Scurll sits up. Ospreay hits the Robinson Special! He isn’t done, he calls for the cutter. He runs, springboards, but Scurll dumps him down! Scurll rests in the ring while Ospreay is down on the ground.
Ospreay reaches the apron while fans rally. Scurll runs onto the apron, but Ospreay counters him with a boot! Ospreay drags Scurll up, and wants to suplex, but Scurll resists. Scurll enziguris Ospreay, and takes a moment to catch his breath. He stands up, lifts Ospreay, but Ospreay slips out and shoves Scurll away. Scurll runs back in, but Ospreay catches him into a SPANISH FLY!!
But Ospreay’s head hits the apron! The double edged Spanish Fly takes them both out. Red Shoes checks on them both, but especially Ospreay. Ospreay is bleeding from a sizable gash, but he doesn’t want anyone stopping this match. The 20 count reaches 11 before either man even stands up. It hits 15 as Ospreay gets in, but Scurll slumps back down! He springs up at 18, but Ospreay is ready with a corkscrew shooting star! Cover, TWO!! Ospreay roars with fury and rage as he stands up. He drags Scurll up, suplex onto the top rope, and rocks Scurll with a kick. Ospreay then goes to a corner, climbs up high, and goes for the Burning Star! But Scurll avoids it! Ospreay hits nothing, and Scurll takes aim from the corner, SUPERKICK to the back of the head! Cover, TWO!! We go to break while Scurll shakes his head.
NJPW on AXS returns, and Scurll sits up the bleeding and dazed Ospreay. Scurll glares at his rival, and gives him a slap. Scurll aims, kicks, but Ospreay blocks it! Ospreay roundhouses in return, but Scurll suplexes him into the chicken wing crossface! Ospreay rolls to a cover, TWO, to Scurll’s, TWO. Scurll swings but Ospreay dodges, and hits the OSCUTTER!!
But Ospreay can’t cover! Both men are down while Red Shoes checks on Ospreay. Between the neck and the blood, Ospreay is in a bad way. Fans rally, but Ospreay is still moving slow. Scurll gets at him first, and brings him up for a piledriver! Cover, TWO!? Scurll undoes his hair in frustration, and looms over Ospreay. Ospreay reaches up, but Scurll grabs that hand and the fingres, to SNAP them. Then the other hand SNAP, then mule kick. STOMP STOMP STOMP to the head!! Scurll will not stop, but neither does Red Shoes, out of respect for Ospreay’s wishes. Scurll brings Ospreay up, for the chicken wing, but Ospreay barely has the energy to even resist.
Ospreay reaches, but Scurll goes after that bad hand! Ospreay doesn’t tap, he just uses his legs for the ropebreak. Fans applaud his heart, and Scurll has no choice but to let go. Fans rally again, and Scurll racks his brain for ideas. He drags Ospreay up again but Ospreay holds the ropes. Scurll gets Ospreay to let go, and then gives him a neckbreaker driver! But he won’t stop there. Scurll picks Ospreay up, wants another Tombstone, but Ospreay fights out to stunner again! Ospreay runs in, Scurll alley-oops, but Ospreay lands on the corner to then jump for another Oscutter! Cover, Ospreay wins!!
Winner: Ospreay, by pinfall; still IWGP Jr. Heavweight Champion
Somehow, someway, the Aerial Assassin retains! Medics quickly attend to that head wound and neck, as well as Scurll’s own body. Ospreay finally did break the curse, the Villain no longer holds power over him. With this, will Ospreay truly become the best Junior in NJPW?
“Before I go see the doctor, I just want to quickly something” to Kushida. The Time Splitter is ringside on commentary, so he hears Ospreay. Ospreay beat Hiromu and Scurll 1v1, but he needs to prove his wins aren’t flukes. Ospreay wants Kushida one more time for the championship. “Yes or no?” Kushida thinks, and says yes! Ospreay’s championship offer has been accepted, will the Aerial Assassin be able to sweep his rivals 3-0? Or will Kushida take back the title?
Scurll is pissed by the idea that a Junior has to “upgrade” to the Heavyweights. Ospreay is the Jr. Champ, talking about gaining weight and moving up. Scurll is proud to be part of the Junior Heavyweight Division, the best division in the world. This match tonight proved that.
Ospreay himself says that he is literally giving his blood, his body and his passion to make the Jr. Heavyweight Championship prominent. That is why he challenged Kushida, who has four victories over him. Ospreay won once, but wants to prove he can do it again. The Aerial Assassin vows to prove he’s the best Junior in NJPW. And the doubters will see the lengths he goes to, to establish his title as THE title.
Kushida is sure he’s “the only guy suited for this battle.” He had to accept, seeing the look in Ospreay’s eyes. It is an honor for the champion to call him out, so he thanks Ospreay for that. But he apologizes for bringing this up, but he lost to the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada. That’s why Kushida can’t let Ospreay be champion forever. The Time Splitter and Aerial Assassin will meet for a sixth time! Can Ospreay repeat his victory? Or will Kushida turn the tide back towards him?
NJPW and AXS set the stage for Part 2!
It’s all about tag team action this time. The Golden Lovers reunited after The American Nightmare made it clear to the Cleaner that he wants to be the one true Bullet Club leader. Honor Rising saw Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi best the Allied Forces of Cody & Marty Scurll, then outlasted The Young Bucks in an extreme showdown at Strong Style Evolved. Cody refuses to admit defeat, or admit that Bullet Club is anything but “fine”. He turns to The Problem Solver, Adam Page, for another tag team show down with Omega & Ibushi.
But first, Suzuki-Gun’s IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemura, defend those titles in a triple threat tag against previous champions, Sho & Yo, as well as LIJ’s Hiromu & Bushi. It is a complete rematch from NJPW’s 46th Anniversary show, will it also be a repeat performance for the Rogue Luchador and Heel Master?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Triple Threat: Suzuki-Gun VS Roppongi 3K VS Los Ingobernables de Japon!
El Desperado & Kanemaru found a way to cheat all their opponents out of the titles at the 46th Anniversary Show, but now they’re all back to do it again. Will the shining RPG3K take those titles back? Or will LIJ grab their first junior tag titles?
The fight starts even before the bell as RPG3K rush LIJ, then dropkick Suzuki-Gun down. Sho & Yo run to DOUBLE FLY!
RPG3K return and take down LIJ again. They have control of the ring, then Sho fetches Desperado. He feeds him to Yo and the bell rings to finally start this match. Yo stomps away on Desperado, then Sho adds on. Desperado begs for some mercy, but no such luck. RPG3K double whip but Desperado reverses. He chops Sho but Yo comes back, and Sho helps Yo headscissor Desperado down. Sho runs Desperado over, then RPG3K double dropkick Kanemaru back out. Yo brings Desperado up, and RPG3K double suplex him down. Cover, Hiromu breaks it up, so Sho goes after him. Desperado rolls away, and Rocky Romero hops up to trash talk Hiromu. Hiromu breaks free of Sho & Yo to chase Rocky! Rocky gets away into the crowd, but Desperado goes after RPG3K again.
RPG3K club him down then whip again, but Bushi tags in. RPG3K double elbow Desperado down, but Bushi boots Sho. Yo covers but Desperado isn’t legal. Bushi uses his shirt to choke Yo, that isn’t legal either! Hiromu throws Desperado while Yo grabs ropes. The referee counts but Bushi holds on until 4. Bushi tags in Hiromu, and Hiromu goes after Yo with a stiff chop. Hiromu chops Yo into the LIJ corner, then tags in Bushi. Bushi gives chops of his own, then stalks Yo to another corner for more chops. Bushi snapmares and kicks Yo, then tags Hiromu back in. They keep the others out while chopping Yo. Hiromu whips Yo corner to corner, hits a corner clothesline, then rolls Yo out for the basement dropkick. Cover, TWO, but Hiromu stomps on Yo.
Tag to Bushi, and LIJ double whip Yo for a double hip toss into Tu Lo Sabes. Cover, TWO, but Bushi drags Yo into an STF. Desperado wipes out Hiromu, then enters the ring to kick Bushi. Bushi swings but misses, and Desperado puts Bushi in the Suzuki-Gun corner. Kanemaru tags in via Bushi, then Desperado throws Bushi out. Suzuki-Gun goes after Yo together with corner to corner whip. Kanemaru hits a back elbow, Desperado hits a clothesline. Desperado drops Yo with a back suplex, then Kanemaru adds a basement dropkick. Cover, TWO, but Kanemaru keeps on Yo with a camel clutch. Kanemaru drops it to boot Bushi down, then stomps Yo down. Kanemaru scoop slams Yo and we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Kanemaru toys with Yo. He brings Yo up, suplexes him down, cover, ONE. Kanemaru knocks Hiromu off the apron, then whips Yo, but Yo reverses into an enziguri! Kanemaru stomps Yo down, and brings him up in a half-surfboard, but Yo dropkicks him away. Yo tags to Sho, and Sho rallies on Kanemaru. Sho whips Kanemaru but Kanemaru reverses. Things speed up again, Sho dropkicks Kanemaru down. Sho sees Desperado coming, and gets him with a spinebuster! Sho takes aim from a corner, and runs at Kanemaru for a big corner clothesline. He gets a waistlock but Kanemaru fights with elbows. Kanemaru grinds Sho’s eyes, then runs, and fakes out the dropkick into a Boston Crab.
Bushi comes in, Kanemaru lets Sho go. Kanemaru ducks the enziguri but is hit with the heel kick. Hiromu uses Kanemaru to tag back in, and whips Sho, but Sho reverses, so Hiromu uses that for his dropkick on Kanemaru. Sho runs Hiromu over, but Bushi kicks Sho. Bushi puts Sho in a corner and whips him corner to corner, but Sho puts him on the apron. Sho sweeps the legs and runs side to side, to blast Bushi with a basement dropkick. Hiromu rushes Sho but Sho spears him down! Sho crawls to his corner and tags in Yo. Yo dropkicks Hiromu, and again, but Bushi comes back. LIJ whip Yo but Yo reverses and sends them into each other. Yo dragon screws Bushi, then whips Hiromu, but Hiromu reverses to a back elbow.
Yo staggers, but rewinds on the rebound to run Hiromu over with forearms. Fans rally for RPG3K as Yo brings Hiromu up. Yo suplexes but Hiromu slips out, to kick Yo and whip him. Sho tags in while Yo reverses, and RPG3K give Hiromu a drop toehold to dropkick. RPG3K bring Hiromu up and suplex him onto Sho’s shoulder. Yo runs, and they combine for the slam and cutter. Kanemaru slips in and breaks the cover. Kanemaru kicks Yo, but Yo dumps Kanemaru out. Yo slingshots for the plancha and takes Kanemaru out. Sho deadlifts Hiromu and gives him the German Suplex. Sho holds on but has to let go as Bushi runs in. Bushi gets caught but fights back, yet Sho still gives him a German Suplex.
Sho fires up as he grabs Hiromu again. Hiromu fights and gets free, but Sho rocks him back. Sho runs, but into Hiromu’s SUPERKICK. Bushi adds the enziguri, then returns to his corner. Rocky rallies for Sho, but Bushi grabs him and puts him in the ring. Hiromu stomps away on Rocky! Sho shields his manager, so he just takes stomps for him. Hiromu drags Sho up and gives him a forearm. Hiromu runs, but into double knees from Sho & Yo! Yo takes out Bushi, then Sho feeds Hiromu to Yo’s back elbow. Hiromu staggers into Sho’s backstabber, which feeds Yo’s dropkick.
RPG3K fire up, and fans follow, but Kanemaru and Desperado rush in! Yo SUPERKICKS the beer out of Kanemaru’s mouth while Sho standing switches with Desperado. Hiromu SUPERKICKS Yo, then latches on to Sho. Bushi flies in, for a Sunset DOUBLE GERMAN!
Fans love it as LIJ stand tall. Hiromu pops Kanemaru up into a powerbomb, and Bushi keeps Yo out. Bushi runs, and DIVES into Yo! Then Hiromu brings Sho up, fireman’s carry, for the Time Bomb slam!
Cover, TWO!? Hiromu is shocked, but also smiling. He brings Sho up again, and rams Sho into a corner with a Death Valley Driver. Hiromu fires up and brings Sho up one more time. He swings Sho for an even strong Time Bomb slam! Cover, but Kanemaru yanks the referee out of the ring and right into barriers. Desperado clobbers Bushi with a belt, then drags Sho up as Kanemaru puts the ref back in the ring. Desperado double underhooks, and swings out for Pinche Loco!
Cover, Suzuki-Gun wins!
Winners: Suzuki-Gun (Desperado & Kanemaru), Desperado pinning; still IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
More low down dirty tactics help Desperado & Kanemaru win. What will it take for these teams, or any team, to dethrone this devious duo?
The Golden Lovers VS Bullet Club’s Cody & Hangman Page!
Bullet Club is (not) fine, but you wouldn’t know it looking at these two teams. What started with a single Cross Rhodes to the Cleaner has escalated into a Bullet Club Civil War and a fight for leadership. Will Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi keep on a roll? Or will #TeamCody finally get on the board?
Fans already chant for “Golden Lovers!” before the bell, which annoys Cody. Cody sees Kenny and Ibushi throw their shirts to the crowd, so wants to do the same. However, instead of throwing his shirt to a fan, he just throws it to Hangman. The teams sort themselves out, and Omega dares Cody to start. Cody takes Omega up on that challenge, and the bell rings. Fans rally for Omega as he circles with Cody. They tie up and push each other around, then break. They circle again, but Cody sucker punches at Ibushi. Ibushi avoids it, but Cody has to avoid Kenny now. Cody goes all the way out into the crowd, which the fans boo and jeer.
Omega waits for Cody, and Hangman helps Cody return to ringside. Cody slips into the ring, but then tags out to Hangman. Omega is disappointed, but Hangman gets his attention with some trash talk. They approach each other, but Hangman kicks low, then clubs Omega in the back. Hangman throws a haymaker, Omega gives it back, so Hangman puts on a headlock. Omega powers out but Hangman runs him over. Hangman runs, Omega keeps pace, but Hangman chops him. Hangman whips and Cody gets a cheap shot in. Omega swings on Cody, then dumps Hangman out onto him! Omega slingshots and takes them both out! He puts Hangman back in the ring, then fires the fans up. Omega climbs up top, then flies for a crossbody.
Tag to Ibushi, and Cody rushes in, only to get chops and haymakers. The Golden Lovers grab an arm each, and Cody knows what that’s for. Cody resists, and Hangman comes in to clobber Ibushi and Omega. Hangman chops Ibushi, then whips him, but Ibushi reverses. Things speed up as both Golden Lovers leap over Hangman. Ibushi gets a roundhouse in, then Omega adds the leap frog bulldog. Hangman rolls out of the ring, and Cody is on the other end. Omega fires the fans up, and he and Ibushi take their places. They call for it, and run corner to corner, but Cody and Hangman see the Cross Slash coming and intercept! They drag the Golden Lovers down, to then back suplex, but Ibushi slips out of his to huricanrana Hangman down!
Meanwhile, Cody grabs himself a chair and waits for Omega. Omega runs over, and Cody throws the chair into his face! Hangman runs Ibushi over on his end, and then regroups with Cody while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and Cody stomps away on Ibushi. He swiftly kicks Ibushi in the face, then grinds a knee into his chest. Cody brings Ibushi up for a right hand, then stomps in a corner. Cody tags Hangman, and Hangman grinds his boot into Ibushi’s face. Ibushi crawls for his corner but Hangman blocks his path. Hangman haymakers Ibushi, then grinds a forearm into Ibushi’s face at the ropes. He uses the ropes to hotshot Ibushi and tweak the arm. Cover, but Red Shoes already sees it’s a ropebreak. Hangman tags in to Cody, and Cody drops the ax handle. Cody stomps Ibushi more, then goes after that arm. He even bites the fingers! Cody grimaces as he puts Ibushi in a headlock. Cody punches Ibushi out of the headlock, then tags Hangman back in. He holds Ibushi down for Hangman to stomp.
Hangman toys with Ibushi, but that only riles Ibushi up. Ibushi throws punches, Hangman throws in a knee. Hangman whips but Ibushi reverses, only for Hangman to catch him into a fireman’s carry. Ibushi fights his way out, shoves and dropkicks Hangman down. Ibushi hot tags Omega, and Omega rallies on Hangman. Cody climbs up and leaps, but Omega gets him with a body shot. Omega clobbers Hangman with a spinning double ax handle, then covers, TWO. Fans rally for Omega as he brings Hangman up to the fireman’s carry. “You Can’t Escape!” Rolling senton, but Cody intercepts Omega as he climbs. Hangman climbs up, and brings Omega down with a SUPER neckbreaker! Cover, TWO!
Hangman tags Cody, and Cody taunts fans before throwing hands. Cody punches Omega, then gives him a little kiss on the forehead before stomping in a mudhole. Omega fights back, but Cody keeps him grounded. Cody brings Omega up for an arm wrench, and a shoulder breaker. He brings Omega over and tags in Hangman, and Hangman kicks Omega in the ribs. Hangman deadlift pumphandles Omega for the Fall Away bridge. TWO, so Hangman tags back to Cody. Cody sits Omega up for stomps, then snapmares him for a kick. He puts Omega in a butterfly stretch, going after neck and shoulders. Omega reaches and flails, and gets the ropebreak.
Cody throws Omega out of the ring, then follows out to fetch a table from under the ring. Hangman helps, but Omega fights his way out. Omega tries to suplex but Cody blocks while going for his own suplex. Omega wins the suplex war and throws Cody down on the ground. He fires himself back up but Hangman is there, and he scoop slams Omega on the folded table! Then Ibushi comes in, only to get scoop slammed, too! Hangman looms over them both, then stands the table up. The dent Omega’s and Ibushi’s bodies made is visible as Hangman brings Omega back up. Hangman sets Omega up on the table while Cody climbs high. But it’s at this moment that The Young Bucks appear. They want to know what Cody’s thinking.
Cody argues with them, but Omega slips off the table in that time. Matt & Nick Jackson still talk with Cody, but refuse to shake his hand. Cody goes back to Omega, and puts him in the ring. He tags in, and goes after Omega with a kick. Omega hits back with haymakers and chops, then whips, but Cody reverses. Omega dodges but Hangman gets in a cheap shot now. Cody hits the dropping uppercut, then runs, but Ibushi gives a cheap shot. Omega drops Cody with a kick, that busts Cody open! Both men crawl for their corners, but Hangman just skips the tag to tag out Ibushi. Hangman powers Omega to his corner and gives chops and shoulders.
Cody stands up and runs but into boots. Omega fights out and over, tag to Ibushi! Ibushi springboards to missile dropkick Cody. He hits Hangman for good measure, then whips Cody corner to corner. Cody reverses but Ibushi gets him with a huricanrana. Ibushi kicks Cody in the chest, then catches his breath while Omega comes in. Omega carries Cody, “You Can’t Escape!” Senton, shooting star, and consecutive moonsaults! Double cover, TWO. Cody’s face is a crimson mask while Ibushi kicks Hangman back out. Fans chant for the Golden Lovers as they push Cody out of the ring. Omega and Ibushi take positions again, and this time hit Cross Slash!
Fans fire up with Omega & Ibushi while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns to Omega putting Cody in the ring. Ibushi joins them, and fires off a strike fest. Omega lifts Cody, and uses a powerbomb to feed Cody to Ibushi’s German Suplex! The Golden Lovers see Hangman come in and throw him back out, then return to Cody. Omega and Ibushi position Cody, and climb up together. They take aim together, but Hangman runs in again. Hangman gets kicks for his trouble, but he’s saved Cody. Cody gets clear of the double springboard missile dropkicks, then throws Omega out. Ibushi gets a waistlock but Cody elbows him away. Cody throws Ibushi with an X-Plex, then covers, TWO.
Fans rally for Ibushi, but Cody tags in Hangman. Hangman stalks Ibushi, and brings him up. Ibushi fights off Hangman and Cody, sending Cody out. He boots Hangman away, but Hangman catches Ibushi into a fireman’s carry. Omega returns, but Hangman sees him coming. Hangman kicks Omega and dumps Ibushi, to then use Omega for the dropsault! TWO, and Hangman grows frustrated. He drags Ibushi and signals the end. He lifts Ibushi up, but Ibushi fights back. Ibushi lifts Hangman up but Hangman slips out, and Cody comes in to give Ibushi a Hammerlock DDT! But Omega has Cody in his sights, and hits a V-Trigger! Hangman swings but misses, and Omega throws him with a snap dragon suplex! Omega fires up, and aims at Hangman, “BANG!” He runs but into the powerslam from Cody!
Ibushi kicks Cody, then standing moonsault, but onto knees! Hangman hurries to German Suplex Ibushi, with the bridge, TWO! Everyone is down from exhaustion, but Hangman gets up and tags Cody in. Cody goes over to a corner and climbs while Hangman brings Ibushi up. Omega stops Cody, but Cody pushes him away. Ibushi throws Hangman out then PELE kick to Cody! Omega sees the table, and grabs Cody. Omega brings Cody over in Electric Chair position, but Cody fights his way out of that. But then Ibushi hops up to try and German Suplex Cody! Cody holds on to Omega, and then Hangman grabs Ibushi. Cody dumps Omega and aims at Ibushi, for a springboard missile dropkick Doomsday! Cover, TWO!!
Cody glares through his own blood, then signals to Hangman. Cody hits Omega with the Beautiful Disaster, but Omega holds on. Hangman boots Omega down, to fall through the table!!
Omega is wrecked through the hard wood, and bleeds from a cut on his back. Hangman signals the end, slingshot, but Ibushi dodges Buck Shot to DOUBLE PELE! Ibushi goes after Cody, sit-out powerbomb! TWO!? Fans rally and Ibushi stands up. He drags Cody back up, holding both arms, but Cody dodges Kamigoye. Cody wants Cross Rhodes but Ibushi fights back with knees to the head. Cody grabs that leg and uses it to suplex Ibushi over, but Ibushi lands on his feet to German Suplex Cody down! Ibushi fires up, brings the knee pad down, and sits Cody up again. Hangman grabs that leg to anchor Ibushi, then Cody rolls Ibushi with tights held! Bullet Club steals the win!!
Winners: Bullet Club (Cody & Hangman), Cody pinning
The American Nightmare gets the better of Golden Lovers and finally gets a win in this Civil War. Ibushi goes for revenge, but Hangman clobbers him down. Hangman stomps away on Ibushi, then Cody drags Ibushi up while Omega can only watch. Bullet Club mugs Ibushi with haymakers, but that’s not enough for Cody. Cody brings in a chair! Omega manages to stop Cody before he strikes, then goes after Cody with that chair. He swings on Cody and Hangman but they both get away. Omega checks on his friend while Cody and Hangman retreat. The fans are on the Golden Lovers’ side, even after they lost. This Bullet Club Civil War is far from over. Which side will be left standing at the end?
The Golden Lovers have to sit down, their bodies are aching. Omega apologizes for not being much help at the end. He can’t believe the lost like that. “Everyone was counting on us to win.” Omega apologizes, but this won’t be the end for them. They’re back in sync, and will work harder to win next time.
As for Cody, he asks the room, “Do you know what being a wrestler is?” The definition is all kinds of screwed up. Some people thing it’s “bullshit chain-wrestling”, hold to hold. That’s not it. Wrestling is everything. Wrestling is bloody, like what Cody has on his face. Cody just gave his blood for Bullet Club. He designed new logos for the Bullet Club. “Why the Hell am I the bad guy in this narrative!?” Hangman agrees. The blood and sweat coming from Cody, “that’s leadership.” Cody is the leader, Kenny is a fool. Will Hangman’s words remain true the next time these forces collide?
And finally, NJPW and AXS set the stage for Part 3!
This main event match of Sakura Genesis 2018 is all about The Rainmaker defending his title against the 2018 New Japan Cup winner! Kazuchika Okada has reigned as champion for a historic 651 days, and has defended that title 10 times. With a win here, he would tie the record set by The Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi. However, Suzuki-Gun’s Technical Wizard won the cup by going through Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, Sanada, and Tanahashi himself, all with submission based victories.
With the right to challenge a top champion, Mr. ZSJ is going right for the very top! Will Okada move towards history with an 11th successful defense? Or will the Submission Master make his own by being only the second man ever to make Okada #JustTapOut?
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku!
As always, Taka Michinoku asks the crowd questions. “IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Kazuchika Okada VS Zack Sabre Jr. Who’s going to win?!” It’ll be the man who can get anyone anywhere with any lock. The man who used unlimited holds to defeat Naito, Ibushi, Sanada and Tanahashi, and take the New Japan Cup. The Man who will FORCE Okada to tap. When Zack catches you in a submission, #JustTapOut! He is the Submission Master, he is ZSJ, he WILL be IWGP Heavyweight Champion, he is Zack Sabre Jr! So then, Okada, “C’mon over here!” After some clean up of the Okada dollars, Red Shoes does his check while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns with a ring of the bell. Fans are already thunderous as ZSJ and Okada circle. They slowly approach, then back off. They tie up, and Okada brings ZSJ down, but ZSJ slips out and around. ZSJ goes for a number of facelocks, then rolls Okada around. ZSJ shifts to legs but Okada grabs at him, so ZSJ goes after the arm. He puts Okada on his back with a headlock, and traps an arm. Okada endures, and uses a headscissors to counters. ZSJ slips out easily and casually walks it off. Okada and ZSJ circle again while fans rally. They tie up, Okada drops to get the wristlock, but ZSJ grabs at the chin. ZSJ bends and brings Okada around but Okada gets the wristlock. ZSJ rolls and escapes, and they again circle. Okada keeps his guard up, but ZSJ still gets the headlock.
ZSJ shifts and traps on arm, then chinbars before going for the other arm. He has a modified abdominal stretch, then shifts to ghost pin, ONE but ZSJ keeps hold of Okada’s arms. ZSJ floats and rolls to another cover, TWO, and it’s a stand off. Okada and ZSJ reset and circle again while fans rally. They tie up, and push shoulder to shoulder. Okada bends ZSJ back with superior strength, but ZSJ bridges to avoid the cover. Okada sweeps the legs but ZSJ bridges again. Another sweep and another bridge, and ZSJ spins around to a wristlock. ZSJ wrenches the arm, but Okada rolls and trips ZSJ up. Okada goes after the leg with a shinlock, but ZSJ puts a facelock on Okada. Okada steps over on the toehold, but ZSJ hooks a leg around. ZSJ brings Okada around for an armbar, but Okada clasps hands.
ZSJ works to pry those hands apart, but Okada rolls him to a cover. ONE, and ZSJ lets go. They both spring up, and fans applaud this stand-off. The two circle again, tie up, and ZSJ brings Okada into a cravat. ZSJ wrenches the neck, but Okada reverses. ZSJ reverses back to the cravat, and brings Okada to his knees. Okada endures, goes to break free, but ZSJ sees it coming and manages to get the cravat back on. Okada arm-drags but ZSJ holds on, so Okada tries a scoop slam. ZSJ counters with a cravat takedown, but Okada gets back to his feet. They go against the ropes, so ZSJ has to let go. He doesn’t break clean as he digs elbows into Okada’s neck.
Okada ties ZSJ up in the ropes, and looks to chop ZSJ, but instead gives ZSJ a pat on the shoulder and head. ZSJ grabs that hand and makes Okada regret that. He goes to stomp the hammerlock but Okada gets clear. Okada drop toeholds ZSJ into a modified STF and surfboard combo!
ZSJ finds himself in a rare situation of being stuck in a submission. Okada shifts around, and goes from that hold to the Cloverleaf! ZSJ resists the turn over and grabs a leg. He gets a heel hook, and wrenches it deep. Okada endures as ZSJ twists and twists, but then rolls his way out the hold and to a waistlock. ZSJ stands up but Okada brings him back down. Okada loops himself around, and brings ZSJ into a trapped-leg calf killer! ZSJ endures the hold, and rolls back to chinbar Okada into the trapped-arm armlock. Okada rolls that around to a cover, TWO as ZSJ has to let go. ZSJ backs of but fans applaud while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns again as Okada and ZSJ catch their breaths. Okada and ZSJ circle again, getting pointers from their corner men. They tie up, forehead to forehead, and Okada gets wrist control. He brings ZSJ to his knees, but ZSJ stands up and rolls back to reverse the pressure. ZSJ brings Okada to his knees now, but Okada powers ZSJ over. Okada grabs a leg and wrenches the ankle, but ZSJ rolls and pries his way out to get a headlock. ZSJ gets the takeover but Okada counters with headscissors. ZSJ moves around and pops out to go after Okada’s ankle again. Okada endures the wrenching while fans rally. Okada works his way up and out but ZSJ catches him into a Bow ‘n’ Arrow stretch. ZSJ pulls back but Okada pops out to a cover, ONE, and Okada rocks ZSJ with a running European Uppercut!
Michinoku coaches ZSJ up but Okada is upon him. Okada whips but ZSJ comes back to catch him in an abdominal stretch. Okada hip tosses out, and brings ZSJ back up in a cobra clutch. ZSJ slips around to a hammerlock. Okada reverses to the cobra clutch, but ZSJ again counters to a top wristlock. Okada reverses but ZSJ reverses again, to the abdominal stretch. ZSJ has the cobra twist variant, then adds a chinbar, then a half straitjacket. Okada falls to his knees but also to the ropebreak. ZSJ lets him go, rather annoyed by this. ZSJ walks around, then toys with Okada, kicking his arm. He brings Okada up for a EuroUpper of his own, then another.
ZSJ brings Okada out and digs knuckles into the neck. He brings Okada down for a half crab, and leans way back before stomping the back of the leg. ZSJ walks around again while Okada clutches his leg. ZSJ comes back for the toehold, then goes after the other leg with a heel hook. Okada endures, but ZSJ shifts to a standing step-over, and uses his own legs to TWIST Okada’s! ZSJ casually walks around while Okada writhes in pain. ZSJ toys with Okada again, but Okada hits back with forearms and elbows. Okada stands and hits another elbow, but ZSJ hits back with another EuroUpper. ZSJ runs, and catches Okada’s dropkick into the STF! He bends Okada sideways with it, but Okada endures.
Okada crawls for ropes but ZSJ traps an arm. Gedo shouts for Okada, and Okada keeps trying, but ZSJ traps him into an inverted triangle hold! Okada keeps reaching, and ZSJ can’t get a leg into the hold before the ropebreak. ZSJ has to let go, and Gedo rallies the fans behind Okada. Okada stirs, but ZSJ toys with him again. Okada dares ZSJ to hit him, so ZSJ does, with a EuroUpper. ZSJ gives another, but Okada stays up. They both stand up, and ZSJ gives another EuroUpper, but Okada boots him back. Okada throws forearms, then a EuroUpper of his won, but ZSJ gives a EuroUpper back. ZSJ whips but Okada reverses, only to run into ZSJ’s back elbow. ZSJ runs out but into a flapjack! Both men are down while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns again as fans rally for Okada and ZSJ. Both men slowly sit up, with their corner men leading the charge. They stand, and Okada rallies on ZSJ. Okada whips, ZSJ reverses, but Okada blows past him. ZSJ dodges Okada, but runs into a boot! He goes down while Okada catches his breath. Okada takes aim from across the way, runs in for the back elbow, then kicks and hits a DDT. ZSJ goes to the apron, but Okada is on him. Okada thrusts a shoulder out but ZSJ catches him into a draping Octopus! Red Shoes calls for the break, and ZSJ lets go at 4. ZSJ drags Okada back up, but Okada rocks him with a forearm. Okada goes to suplex, but ZSJ counters with a wristlock. ZSJ makes Okada hit himself, but then Okada hits ZSJ with his free arm!
Okada boots ZSJ off the apron and down to the floor. Then he goes out to fetch ZSJ, and brings ZSJ around to whip him into barriers, then boot him over them. Okada has people clear out, and he FLIES over the barriers to bowl ZSJ over into chairs! Fans fire up for Okada while he stands over ZSJ. He drags ZSJ up as the ring count begins. They return at 9, and Okada stalks ZSJ at the ropes. He whips ZSJ, then picks him up for a spinebuster. Okada jackknifes and rolls through, but ZSJ uses that to get his Octopus! ZSJ brings Okada to the mat for another take on the triangle hold. Okada endures as ZSJ goes after the wrist and fingers. Okada crawls but ZSJ knows to get a leg this time. ZSJ puts one leg in a stretch muffler, while maintaining the figure four facelock.
Okada reaches blindly, and manages a ropebreak. ZSJ lets go, growing annoyed. Michinoku coaches him up and ZSJ stomps the hammerlock. ZSJ digs elbows and knuckles in here and there, then sits on the hammerlock, to then TWIST it. Gedo coaches Okada up, but ZSJ stands on that arm and then Okada’s face. ZSJ drags Okada up, and gives him a EuroUpper. ZSJ runs corner to corner, but Okada gets clear. Okada hoists ZSJ up but ZSJ kicks him away. ZSJ jumps, and grabs Okada in a guillotine! Okada powers his way out, but ZSJ just climbs around to a backpack sleeper hold. ZSJ climbs around again, and back to the guillotine, and adds the hammerlock. Okada powers out, and hits the reverse neckbreaker!
Both men fall but fans fire up. Okada stands and scoop slams ZSJ, but those arms slow him down as he goes to a corner. He climbs up, jumps, but ZSJ catches the elbow into an armbar! Okada rolls it but ZSJ rolls more, but Okada manages a ropebreak before ZSJ can finish the Disarmer. ZSJ is exasperated, but he does get up first. He kicks Okada, but Gedo and the fans rally. Okada hits back, but those arms are aching. ZSJ wants Okada to hit him more, then hits back. Okada hits ZSJ, then ZSJ hits Okada. ZSJ throws EuroUpper after EuroUpper, but Okada doesn’t flinch. Okada fires off forearms, then a boot, but ZSJ blocks that and retaliates with another EuroUpper. Okada staggers but comes back out with a blasting dropkick!
Both men are down again, but fans rally once more. Okada and ZSJ stir, and both Gedo and Michinoku coach up their man. Okada runs in but into a EuroUpper. ZSJ runs, but into the fireman’s carry. ZSJ slips out and goes for the Fujiwara, but Okada rolls, only for ZSJ to gives another EuroUpper. Zack tries another EuroUpper but Okada counters to a backslide. ZSJ slides off that, then blocks the Rainmaker into a kimura. Okada fights that but then ZSJ kicks the arm, and then a Pele. Okada still dropkicks ZSJ in the back, then whips ZSJ to dropkick him down from the front. Fans fire up, and Okada hits a Tombstone! Okada calls for the finish, but ZSJ grabs an arm! ZSJ brings Okada down into the hammerlock, then the other arm for the stretch! Okada endures, resists, and rolls out, to wring out.
ZSJ ducks the Rainmaker and flips Okada with the double wristlock, for the European Clutch! TWO!! And ZSJ is stunned! Okada gets the Tombstone position, but ZSJ slips out again. ZSJ uses a double leg takedown and underhook to roll Okada for another EuroClutch, TWO!! Penalty Kick! We go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns once more to thunderous fans. Michinoku coaches up ZSJ while Gedo coaches up Okada. ZSJ goes after Okada’s arm with headbutts, then gives Okada a forearm. Okada gives a forearm back, but ZSJ kicks that bad arm. Okada sits up, and now they both kick each other in the chest. They kick and kick, then ZSJ SLAPS Okada. ZSJ brings Okada up for a smack to the head, then runs, but Okada dropkicks him down! Okada drags ZSJ up, wristlock wring out, but ZSJ counters with an armbar takedown! ZSJ wants the Article 50 cross armbreaker, but Okada resists with clasped hands. Okada reaches but ZSJ gets extension. Okada tries to redo his hands but ZSJ reels him into a triangle hold. ZSJ binds Okada, but Okada endures.
Okada stands up, and deadlifts ZSJ, but the torture on that arm bring Okada back down. Red Shoes asks Okada how he feels, but Okada endures. Fans keep rallying while Okada fades, but Okada gets a second wind! Okada deadlifts ZSJ, but ZSJ lets go, only to take a lariat! Both men go down, and fans keep cheering. Okada sits up, still holding onto ZSJ’s wrist. He brings ZSJ up, for another lariat. Gedo is feeling it as Okada brings ZSJ up. Okada wrings him out, but ZSJ ducks and waistlock to the Octopus! ZSJ bends and stretches Okada all over, and wants both arms to complete his Hypernormalisation, but Okada resists! Okada pops out, flips ZSJ around, JUMPING Tombstone! But that’s not all, Okada wrings ZSJ out for THE Rainmaker!!
Cover, Okada wins!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by pinfall; still IWGP Heavyweight Champion
He has done it! Okada has tied Tanahashi’s record for defenses in a single reign! Okada has won his 11th title defense match, but it took so much out of him. Gedo and Michinoku both check on their man, with ice packs and medical attention. The challenger leaves the ring, and the champion has his hand raised.
“Oi, I have one thing to say.” Zack Sabre Jr CAN’T make the Rainmaker tap out. Wanna know why? “He’s on a whole ‘nother level!” That felt good to say. Okada has tied the record for defenses. There’s a new record in sight, but just one problem. He has no one to fight! Even though they have no chance of winning, Gedo wonders if there’s anyone who wants to stop Okada from setting a record. Is there? Fans want to see if there is, too. Fans suggest Tanahashi himself! Okada takes the mic to say he has three things to say, but then Tanahashi appears!
The Ace is here in person, and he steps into the ring. He takes the mic while fans chant “Go Ace!” Tanahashi tells Okada that he did a good job. And congratulations on tying the record for title defenses. “It’s taken me a long time, but I am finally back, face-to-face with you.” Tanahashi thanks the fans for their support. But you see, “you can search around the globe, and the next challenger…” Sorry, he messed up, let him start over. You could search around the world and not find a challenger, besides Tanahashi! The tables have turned, because this time, Tanahashi breaks Okada’s streak. The Ace lets the champ have the ring, and the match is made.
Okada speaks, “I wanna say three things.” First, Zack Sabre Jr’s holds really were on a different level. And facing ZSJ made him even stronger. Second, what’s Tanahashi been up to? He got hurt, came back, repeat, lose a title and be only runner-up in New Japan Cup. How lame. Okada won’t bother calling him Tanahashi, he’s OLD Tanahashi. Third, there’s actually a third. This win today ties Old Tanahashi’s record of consecutive defense victories, and he’s grateful for that. NOT. Because now he will beat Tanahashi to make it 12! Then 13, 14, 15, all the way to 100. Okada will be the 100-victories IWGP Champion. He knows he sounds hasty, but he vows that “as the greatest champion” of NJPW, Okada will make it rain. He defends titles, sets records, and makes it rain! The Rainmaker lets the golden streamers flow, will he truly be NJPW’s Mr. 100?
ZSJ admits Okada is really strong. Okada is the best, for now. But ZSJ vows to win the G-1 and then beat Okada, because he is the best wrestler in the world. He swears it.
Okada speaks on Tanahashi accepting the challenge, saying “It’s fine by me.” He hasn’t had a match with Tanahashi so far in this title run, so it makes sense to have it be them. They’re both tied at 11, not that the number is important. But if the number is what motivates Tanahashi, then Okada will accept. But who was it that stopped Tanahashi? Hint: the Rainmaker. So we already know how this ends. In order to see if he’s worthy of setting the record, Okada must get through the man that preceded him. Can Okada use The Ace as a stepping stone? Or will Tanahashi become a record eight time champion?
Three hours of NJPW in a row like that, a great move for AXS. This wasn’t every match on the Sakura Genesis card but it was all the best ones. We only saw part of that Six Man Tag, but it was really good and really builds onto this story of Suzuki-Gun VS LIJ. Killer Elite Squad is making a move for those IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles that EVIL & SANADA hold, and their match-up could go either way. Naito VS Suzuki is great just on story, given the clashing personalities. Ospreay VS Scurll, aka RIP Ospreay Part 1 given that Spanish Fly apron spot, was great. Great story for Ospreay to finally win, and he’s clearly working on getting through all his rivals and all the best Juniors 1v1 to boost the status of the division.
Part 2 having two full matches is great, we get everything that the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Triple Threat had, which still had Suzuki-Gun winning. If there was another talented Jr. Tag Team around, they could go up to Fatal 4, but there isn’t one so it’ll have to be about who gets Desperado & Kanemaru all to themselves. Golden Lovers VS Cody & Hangman was great, with plenty of story behind it and happening in the match itself. Familiarity between them all helped, and I was surprised that Cody-Hangman won, but not how. Cody gets meta, saying he doesn’t know why he’s the Heel in this, yet he does the Heel things, which just proves why he’s a genius Heel.
Part 3, just the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, is all you really need. Okada and ZSJ, with Michinoku and Gedo ringside, was amazing. The corner men do their part in adding story with their coaching and reactions. Okada surprisingly keeps pace with ZSJ in submission and technical wrestling, but as I had figured with New Japan Cup, the secret to Okada winning this was using his strength and strikes. The Rainmaker’s namesake is booked so strong, but Okada still used three of them anyway to be fair. ZSJ is still a star, and will still be a the top one day. Then setting up Okada VS Tanahashi, that’s going to be incredible, too, and quite possibly establish Okada as the best ever for NJPW.
My Score: 8.5/10 (part 1), 8.5/10 (part 2), 9/10 (part 3); overall: 9/10