Two matches to go for the A Block! Can Ibushi stay close enough to spoil Okada’s tournament?
Well there’s not really a lot to unpack here. If Ibushi loses, then it’s pretty much a lock that Okada wins the block. Yes there may be some weird tie breaker math, but this ain’t the Winona Ryder meme, keep your math in your head.
So does Okada lock up the block? Does Ibushi stay within shouting distance to make for a high stakes final day?
Anyone who has seen these in the past, know it’s most likely the latter. But there’s always room for firsts in wrestling.
So let’s find out!
- Toru Yano, Yota Tsuki & Yuya Uemura vs Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi: Kanemaru wins via Boston Crab @8:55 – ** 1/2
- YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: HASHI wins via Butterfly Lock @5:40 – **
- Jay White, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi vs Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Juice Robinson: Owens wins via Package Piledriver @9:30 – ** 3/4
- Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii & Ren Narita vs Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI: BUSHI wins via MX @8:50 – ***
- A Block: SANADA vs Lance Archer: SANADA wins via Japanese Leg Clutch @10:30 – *** 3/4
- A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Bad Luck Fale: Fale wins via Backslide @10:00 – * 1/2
- A Block: KENTA vs Will Ospreay: Ospreay wins via Stormbreaker @16:30 – *** 1/4
- A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr:: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @15:45 – ****
- A Block: EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @27:00 – *** 3/4
Toru Yano, Yota Tsuki & Yuya Uemura vs Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi – Yano getting the two Young Lions didn’t really bode well for our Sublime Master Thief. Taichi tortured poor Yano, strangling him with microphone chords and even wrapping him up like a burrito in the ring skirt. Basically the same kind of match with Suzuki-Gun destroying people, but it was definitely an alright opener.
YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino – A bit of striking and just general stepping up to one another, between Goto and Moxley. But honestly, nothing special. Moxley has kind of done the same thing in the tags, so it’s hard to really differentiate any real story telling. YOSHI wins via Butterfly Lock again, so they’re setting YOSHI up for something down the line.
Jay White, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi vs Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Juice Robinson – Jay and Juice have pretty good chemistry together in regard to, just getting across the mutual disdain. Jay treats Juice like a little brother and Juice is trying to prove himself to everyone. The story telling is good stuff, the match itself is fine, but Jay is very good at being a slimy heel. After the match, Jay cheap shots Rocky on commentary, so I’m curious if that’s a little breadcrumb for the future.
Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii & Ren Narita vs Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI – Naito sits down at commentary and starts conversing with Kevin Kelly in Spanish. Only thing of merit we get, aside from pleasantries, is Naito saying he’s a little tired. It was amusing, I can’t deny that. Shingo and Ishii kick off the match and play the two bulls trying to gore one another. Naito and Cobb have quite a few interactions as well, but it’s mostly Naito trying to pick apart Cobb and insinuate he’s fat like a sumo. Solid match, a lot of developments for tomorrow’s matches, good fun.
A Block: SANADA vs Lance Archer – Archer continues to look immensely impressive. SANADA fought from underneath this entire match, while Archer pulled off some interesting offense. Even though he falls in this match, Archer will most likely win his last match since people really seem to be loving him. Crowd support and supportive applause after all his matches, because they appreciate how hard he’s fighting.
A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Bad Luck Fale – Tanahashi tried to chop down the big man, but sadly the size and outside interference was just too much. Part of the story here is that Fale won by a wrestling maneuver for the second match in a row. So, I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean. Is Fale gonna incorporate more wrestling moves? Do any of us really care? My guess is no on both accounts.
A Block: KENTA vs Will Ospreay – Given who was involved, my expectations may have been a little too high. The match started off well enough with KENTA lighting up Ospreay with strikes and Ospreay’s resiliency shines through. However, they never really had great chemistry. KENTA slipped on a springboard move, KENTA stumbled during Ospreay’s spinning transition and just a few other hiccups hurt what could’ve been an epic dream match. KENTA has no shot at winning any longer, so I’m not really sure where he goes from here.
A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr – This match starts off very similarly to past bouts. Ibushi loves wrestling Sabre’s game for the early portion of the match before trying to go more into his high flying offense. Sabre tried to submit Ibushi with Orienteering with Napalm Death, similarly to how the 2018 New Japan Cup went, but Ibushi fought through it. Ibushi hits a Bom-ba-ye followed up by Kamigoye for the victory. Ibushi now holds his fate in his own hands.
A Block: EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada – So there was a lot riding on this match. An EVIL win would’ve most likely had him as the first challenger during the second half of the season, but a win from Okada sets up a Winner Takes All match with him an Ibushi. The match started slowly with a few fun bursts. EVIL chucking a chair at Okada before his Flying Crossbody on the outside, but it was really a slow, borderline boring match for 75% of it. The match finally kicked into second gear after EVIL hit Darkness Falls. A bunch of nice counter moves and avoiding finishers definitely helped this match feel better when all was said and done. Okada picking up the win does also bode interestingly, because the last few years haven’t been kind to champions that finally pick up a loss after strong starts.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Because of how the last two matches finished up, it made this night pivotal. Okada did have the strangle hold, but thanks to Ibushi maintaining only 2 losses, he’s stayed close enough for their match on the last day of A Block to be Winner Takes All.
KENTA’s slide brings up a lot of questions about his future and just general marketability within New Japan. It also can’t be overlooked that this is the first time, in a damn long time, that Tanahashi has nothing to gain on the last day of the G1.
This does slowly start building some tension for the post-G1 storylines. But now we just sit and wait to see if Ibushi pulls out a pretty grand upset.
Block A Standings:
- Kazuchika Okada: 7-1 (14 Points)
- Kota Ibushi: 6-2 (12 Points)
- KENTA: 4-4 (8 Points) – ELIMINATED
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4-4 (8 Points) – ELIMINATED
- EVIL: 4-4 (8 Points) – ELIMINATED
- SANADA: 4-4 (8 Points) – ELIMINATED
- Zack Sabre Jr: 3-5 (6 Points) – ELIMINATED
- Will Ospreay: 3-5 (6 Points) – ELIMINATED
- Bad Luck Fale: 3-5 (6 Points) – ELIMINATED
- Lance Archer: 2-6 (4 Points) – ELIMINATED
Mitchell’s NJPW Sakura Genesis Results & Report! (4/4/21)
Will Will Ospreay conquer NJPW?
Will Kota Ibushi stay NJPW’s first World Heavyweight Champion?
NJPW is entering a new era, where there is the ultimate IWGP World Heavyweight Champion! But will it be the Golden Star God or Commonwealth Kingpin that reigns supreme?
NOTE: NJPW no longer wants to feed AXS TV now that it is with Anthem and Impact Wrestling. But never fear, I will cover NJPW in the spirit of AXS in providing the most important matches of the show.
- Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS The United Empire & ???; The United Empire wins.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima VS Jay White & Bad Luck Fale; Tanahashi & Kojima win.
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemura VS Roppongi 3K; RPG3K wins and become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi VS Will Ospreay; Ospreay wins and becomes new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
PLAY BY PLAY
Hiromu Takahashi is here?!
The Ticking Timebomb is here and fans are excited to hear from him! “Everyone! Good evening~!” Hiromu also says good evening to us watching at home. Hiromu wants us all to know that while he’s not ready to return to action, he is here to be on commentary, especially as Los Ingobernables de Japon takes on the United Empire. But who is this new “X” wrestler? Is it you? You? Or is it… Hiromu himself? Well the answer is, TRANQUILO~! Relax! Hiromu is also running down the card, saying RPG3K returns to take on Desperado and Kanemaru. Will Yoh prove he’s progressed? Or is there something deeper going on here? If Yoh’s not ready, then Despy will still have both Junior Heavyweight titles!
And then there’s the main event, Ibushi VS Ospreay, for THE IWGP World Heavyweight Championship! The New Japan Cup Winner proved his resolve by shockingly attacking his own girlfriend! Hiromu knew all along Ospreay is not a human but “dirty stinking cat!” But as everyone knows, Ibushi is a very unique human. The Ultimate God VS Filthy Stinking Cat, what a main event! But if everyone’s ready, let’s get things started! NJPW Sakura Genesis 2021, LET’S GO!
Six Man Tag: Los Ingobernables de Japon VS The United Empire & ???
Hiromu hyped up this showdown of Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Shingo Takagi against Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, and yet another mystery partner! But just who is their newest recruit? Khan and Cobb make their entrances first, and Khan is given the mic. “Are you that intrigued about who is the next member of the United Empire? Well all you peasants are about to find out. You’re so easily kept in the palm of our hands.” So tranquilo, assenayo! Khan mocking LIJ there as he says they are about to see just who has joined the Empire! It is… THE HAMMERHEAD, TOA HENARE!?!
But he is also Toa no longer! He is AARON Henare, and he is abandoning Taguchi Japan and Team HenarACE to become the “Ultimate Weapon” in Will Ospreay’s arsenal! Will this moment be remembered as when Henare turns his career around and conquers NJPW?
The second LIJ gets in the ring, the Empire strikes! Khan is after Naito, Cobb is after Shingo, and Henare is after Sanada! The bell rings to get this on record as Henare keeps Sanada in the ring while the others go outside. Henare clubs Sanada, whips him corner to corner, but Sanada gets around the boot to dropkick a leg out, then dropkick Henare down! Henare flounders to ropes, Sanada tags Naito and LIJ mugs Henare. Naito throws hands, Sanada digs his boot in, and they double whip corner to corner. Sanada runs in but is thrown up and over! Henare elbows Naito then gives him Snake Eyes to the buckles!
Henare KICKS Naito down, sees Shingo coming and boots him to then CLOBBER him! Henare scowls and looms over Naito. Fans rally up as Henare drags Naito up by his hair. Henare gets in Naito’s face, snapmares him then KICKS him! Henare stomps then CHOPS Naito down, then drags him up. Henare dead lift suplexes Naito! Cover, TWO! Henare bumps Naito off buckles, tags Cobb in, and Cobb headbutts Naito in the back. Cobb presses Naito into the buckles, throws elbows, but Naito kicks back. Naito’s kick is blocked into a scoop and Cobb goes around the world before he RAMS Naito into buckles! Cobb scoops Naito, holds him with just one arm, then throws knees into Naito’s side!
Cobb pops Naito up to RAM into the corner, then dumps him down to tag in Khan. Khan stalks Naito, toys with him then stomps him on the head. The fans rally up for Naito as Khan drags Naito up. Khan smothers Naito in a standing neck wrench, but Naito grabs at the hair! Khan pats Naito on the face before he drops an elbow! Cover, TWO! Khan mocks Naito’s relaxed pose, but fans rally up. Khan clamps onto Naito’s head and makes him kiss his boot. Naito fights up and fires off haymakers! Khan knees low, and hits Mongolian Chops! Naito wobbles, Khan runs but into the shotgun boot! Fans rally up and both men crawl, hot tag to Takagi!
The Dragon rallies on the Empire, throwing Henare into Cobb! Takagi double lariats but neither Henare or Cobb budges! Henare and Cobb double kick and double whip, but Takagi gets around to send Henare into Cobb again! Henare kicks Takagi first but Takagi suplexes Henare! Khan boots but runs into an elbow, JAB and YUKON LARIAT! Fans fire up for Takagi and he fires up with “OI! OI! OI!” Khan flounders about, Takagi runs in at the corner, blocks the boot to clothesline! Takagi runs but into a BIG hip toss! Khan tags Cobb, Cobb drags Takagi up but Takagi fires forearms! Cobb forearms back, but Takagi hits back! They brawl with forearms and fans rally as they get faster and faster!
Takagi hits some boxing elbows, dares Cobb to do something, so Cobb JABS him! Takagi JABS back! Both men wobble a bit, Takagi gets moving, but Cobb elbows! JABS, but Takagi ducks the lariat! Cobb fights but Takagi uses the ropes and gets the SNAP SAIDO! Tag to Sanada, and he throws forearms on Cobb. Sanada whips, Cobb reverses but Sanada elbows back! Sanada Quebrada but Cobb gets under, and even blocks the rana! Sanada fights the bomb, gets around, but Cobb fights the dragon sleeper to a POP-UP POWERSLAM!? Both men are down and fans fire up! Henare tags in and he PENALTY KICKS Cold Skull down!
Henare digs his boots into Sanada at ropes but lets off as the ref counts. Henare drags Sanada up to throw heavy hands, then whips Sanada, only for Sanada to duck and dodge! Henare still scoops Sanada for a BLUE THUNDER BOMB! Cover, TWO!! Cobb runs to BLAST the LIJ corner, and Khan comes in. The Empire double whip Sanada corner to corner, then Khan clotheslines, Cobb back elbows, and they feed Sanada to Henare’s BOOT! Cover, Takagi breaks it! Cobb throws Takagi out but fans rally up, “SA-NA-DA!” Henare drags Sanada up, fisherman to the torture rack, but Sanada slips out to dragon sleeper! Khan gets in and BOOTS Sanada!
Naito elbows and whips but Khan reverses, only for Naito to reverse back. Khan denies the tornado DDT, Naito dodges but Khan hits the leaping forearms! Takagi is back, Khan kicks him but runs, only for Takagi to clothesline him! Takagi keeps going but Cobb scoops him for the ATHLETIC PLEX! Sanada dropkicks Cobb, Henare kicks and whips Sanda! Sanada tumbles up and out and springboards, into the TOUR OF THE ISLANDS! Henare tops this off with the fisherman to the torture rack, DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Cover, the United Empire wins!!
Winners: The United Empire, by pinfall
The Ultimate Weapon already pays off! And to show he is all in, he rains down more fists on Sanada! Takagi gets in to fight Henare and Cobb off, but they mug him and DOUBLE HEADBUTT! Khan throws Naito around on the outside, then puts him in the ring. Henare and Cobb stretch Naito out, and Khan gets a chair! Khan aims at Naito’s bad leg, and SMACKS away on it! Takagi gets up but Khan shoves him back down and stomps him! The Empire stands together, and mockingly asks where is the ref to raise their hand for victory! The ref does as told, and the Empire stands over the Ungovernable.
Khan tells that all the peasants shall bow down before the power of Cobb, Henare, Khan and The United Empire! Is this just the beginning of their world dominance?
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima VS Jay White & Bad Luck Fale!
Well, perhaps it makes even more sense as to why The Ace has a different partner tonight. No Hammerhead, no Golden Star, but can the COZY Aces be what trumps King Switch and his Rogue General? Or will White be rolling into a NEVER Openweight Championship match with the Once in a Century Talent?
White talks trash at Tanahashi the entire time Tanahashi does his entrance routine. Bullet Club Low Sweets, Tanahashi shows off the muscles but Gedo boos. White shows off his muscles and Gedo cheers. Fans cheer either way, enjoying the display of physical specimens. The teams sort out, fans rally for “Let’s Go, Ace!” already and White starts with Tanahashi. Fans fire up, White and Tanahashi circle, and they tie up. Tanahashi gets around, headlocks, grinds White down, but White fights up, only for Tanahashi to hold tight. White tries again but Tanahashi still holds tight. White pulls hair, the ref reprimands but now Tanahashi pulls hair!
The ref reprimands as both men pull hair but White puts Tanahashi in a corner. White knees low, stomps away, but then argues with the ref. White drags Tanahashi up to throw a forearm then whip corner to corner. Tanahashi elbows back and crossbodies! Fans fire up and Tanahashi air guitars. Tag to Kojima and he stomps away on White. Tanahashi and Kojima bring White up to double whip then double shoulder him down! Double dancing pecs wow the crowd, then Kojima DECKS Fale! Fans fire up as Kojima unleashes machine gun CHOPS on White! White endures extra rounds and then Kojima CHOPS! Kojima whips corner to corner, forearm smashes, and goes up top!
But Fale distracts the ref and Gedo anchors Kojima! White gets up and ROCKET LAUNCHES Kojima off the top! White DECKS Tanahashi then slides out to stomp him down! Fale drags Kojima out to RAM him into railing! White whips Tanahashi into railing! White goes into the ring, Fale is after Kojima again and puts him in. White drags Kojima up, bumps him off buckles, then CHOPS him! White does his best to machine gun CHOP! Then he just rakes Kojima’s eyes! The ref counts, White stops at 3, then hits a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Tag to Fale, they mug Kojima, and Fale CLUBS Kojima on the back. Fale DECKS Tanahashi, then stomps Kojima.
Fale drags Kojima up to scoop and SLAM him! Fale keeps Kojima at the ropes, White distracts the ref, and Fale stands on Kojima’s back! Gedo applauds as Fale gets away with it. Tag to White, they drag Kojima up, White DECKS Tanahashi again! Bullet Club mugs Kojima with the machine gun CHOPS! White runs, but into Kojima’s boot! Kojima elbows free and gets Fale for a DDT! Kojima reaches out but Tanahashi is still down! White keeps Kojima away with a fireman’s carry but Kojima fights free! Kojima swats White’s lariat away to then hit the COZY CUTTER! Both men are down, fans fire up, and Kojima crawls! Hot tag to Tanahashi! The Ace unleashes on White!
Tanahsahi also dropkicks Fale down, then dodges White to run and hit a flying forearm! Tanahashi scoops and slams White to a drop zone then hops up, for the sunset somersault! Cover, TWO! Tanahashi keeps his focus and fans rally again, “Let’s Go, Ace!” White stands, Tanahashi runs, but White avoids Slingblade to waistlock. Tanahashi switches, White switches back, again and again and again until White pulls hair! Tanahashi breaks free but White trips him to then GROUND DRAGON SCREW! Tanahashi writhes and rolls to a corner while fans rally up again. White gets up, runs in and uppercuts! White brings Tanahashi out for the BLADEBUSTER! Cover, TWO!
White is annoyed but he looms over Tanahashi. White stomps Tanahashi’s legs, left then right then back again, then ties the legs up! White wants to use the Cloverleaf like Tanahashi does! Tanahashi resists the turnover, drags White down and kicks him away! White storms back over but kicks into a DRAGON SCREW! Both men are down and fans fire up again! Tanahashi crawls for his corner but White hurries to DECK Kojima first! White tags Fale, Fale corner splashes Tanahashi then pushes him down to drop the elbow! Cover, TWO! Fale grows annoyed but he choke grips Tanahashi. Tanahashi breaks free, SHOTEIS, but runs into a LARIAT!
Fale drags Tanahashi up, reels him in but Kojima attacks from behind! White gets in and thrwos Kojima by his hair! White gets Tanahashi but Tanahashi denies Blade Runner to SLINGBLADE! But Fale choke grips, only for Tanahashi to pop free and TWIST ‘N’ SHOUT! Kojima powers up and takes off the armband! COZY LARIAT! Tanahashi goes up top, for a HIGH FLY FLOW!! Cover, Tanahashi & Kojima win!
Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima, by pinfall
White rushes in but Tanahashi trips him up! Tanahashi gets the legs, and gets White in the CLOVERLEAF! White flails and Gedo freaks out, and White TAPS! White taps out, Tanahashi lets him go, but this isn’t the end but the beginning! Will Tanahashi make sure White taps out again when the gold is on the prize?
Oh but wait! Tanahashi gets a mic to tell White something directly! “Jay! I accept your challenge! Because you tapped out to my Texas Clover Hold! AKA, J T O!” Tanahashi not only adds insult to injury, but he mocks White’s love of acronyms! Will he look to just add injury when they finally fight for the NEVER title?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemura VS Roppongi 3K!
Yoh has returned! And as such, he and Sho reunite as RPG3K and look to take these titles back! But will they be able to defeat Mr. Junior Heavyweight and the Heel Master?
The introductions are made, the Junior Tag belts are raised, and the teams sort out. Yoh starts against Desperado to show he’s truly back!
Fans rally as the two circle, then Yoh and Desperado approach. They feel out the grapple, Yoh shoots in to get a leg, but Desperado blocks the takedown. Desperado gets a waistlock, Yoh switches but Desperado turns around. Yoh slips through to wrench to a wristlock, but Desperado rolls and wrenches back. Desperado cranks the wristlock, but Yoh rolls and handsprings and cartwheels and handsprings more to wrench right back! Fans cheer the exchange as Yoh hammerlocks. Desperado drops to drop toehold and then get a headlock. Desperado grinds Yoh but fans rally up. Yoh fights up, pulls on the mask but Red Shoes reprimands.
Yoh throws body shots, powers out, then reels Desperado in to headlock back! Desperado tries to power out but Yoh holds tight! Yoh grinds Desperado down now, Desperado fights up, and Yoh hits a headlock takeover. Desperado headscissors and holds tight so that Yoh can’t kip up. Fans rally as Yoh endures, and Yoh moves around to headstand and pop free with a handspring! Fans cheer as Yoh’s leg is just fine. Yoh smirks at Desperado, but Desperado rakes eyes! Desperado whips, Yoh dodges and hits a forearm! Yoh DECKS Kanemaru, Sho gets in, and RPG3K double whip Desperado. They bypass him to then drop toehold and basement dropkick! Kanemaru gets in to get double dropkicks!
Fans fire up as RPG3K finally gets to do team moves! Yoh stomps Desperado, then drags him over. Tag to Sho, they dig their boots in and stomp away, but let off as Red Shoes counts. Sho stomps Desperado, but Desperado goes to scoop! Sho fights that off, CLUBS Desperado on the back, then throws forearms! Sho scoops and slams Desperado, then covers, ONE! Sho drags Desperado up, fans rally, and Sho bumps Desperado off buckles. Tag to Yoh and Yoh throws big forearms! Desperado flounders to a corner, Yoh throws a EuroUpper, then wrenches and whips. Desperado reverses, runs in but blocks Yoh’s boot. Desperado kicks the healed leg! Desperado then gets that leg for a DRAGON SCREW!
Kanemaru DECKS Sho while Desperado drags Yoh around by the bad leg! STRETCH MUFFLER! Desperado bends and thrashes Yoh, but Yoh fights up! Fans rally, Yoh reaches out, but Desperado gets the arm, NUMERO DOS! Sho throws Kanemaru into railing then gets in to stomp Desperado down! Red Shoes has Sho exit, and fans rally for Yoh as he crawls over with one good leg. Yoh tags Sho, Sho aims from a corner and runs to run Desperado over! Sho DECKS Kanemaru in return, then wrenches Desperado to kick, kick and KICK! Sho powers up and kicks but Desperado blocks! Desperado spins Sho to waistlock but Sho breaks free. Sho KICKS Desperado back down, covers, TWO!
Fans rally as Sho keeps his focus. Desperado slowly gets up, Sho wrenches to elbow breaker after elbow breaker! Sho runs, but Desperado uses the good arm to lift, only for Sho to fight off the spinebuster! Sho whips, Desperado reverses and Kanemaru trips Sho! Kanemaru drags Sho out and whips him into railing, then Desperado does the same to Yoh! Kanemaru hits a snap suplex to the floor! Sho writhes and rolls away while Desperado stands on Yoh’s bad leg! Desperado stomps Yoh’s leg, then talks trash before he stomps it again! Kanemaru whips Sho HARD into more railing! Red Shoes starts the ring count, Desperado goes in to take Kanemaru, but the count is now 10 of 20.
The count reaches 15, Sho drags himself up and in at 18! Kanemaru drags Sho back up, whips him and then hits a BIG back drop! Kanemaru goes out just to kick and stomp Yoh! Kanemaru returns to the ring and drags Sho up for a big suplex! Cover, TWO! Tag to Desperado, and Desperado steps on Sho as he walks over to taunt Yoh. Desperado stomps Sho, then stands on his hand! Red Shoes reprimands, Desperado steps away, but he drags Sho back up to whip. Sho reverses and kitchen sink knees Desperado down! Fans fire up as both men are down, but Kanemaru gets in to stomp Sho and BOOT Yoh! Desperado gets up and stomps away on Sho at the ropes.
Fans rally again, Desperado drags Sho around then gives him stomps. Desperado feeds Sho to Kanemaru’s boots, then tags Kanemaru in. Kanemaru stomps Sho, Desperado adds on, but Sho just gets angry! Suzuki-Gun slaps Sho around but Sho fires off forearms! Desperado rakes Sho’s eyes to stop him! Suzuki-Gun double whips Sho but Sho comes back to DOUBLE SPEAR! Fans are thunderous for Sho as he reaches for his corner. Sho crawls over, hot tag to Yoh! Yoh rallies on Suzuki-Gun with forearms and elbows! Kanemaru gets a waistlock but Yoh boots Desperado, elbows Kanemaru, throws Kanemaru into Desperado, then dropkicks them both down!
Fans fire up again as Yoh brings Kanemaru up. Yoh whips corner to corner, runs in corner to corner, and back elbows! Yoh turns Kanemaru for a neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Yoh keeps his focus and gets his bad leg moving again. Fans rally up, Yoh brings Kanemaru up, and Yoh brings him in for AOI- No! Kanemaru fights out of the modified fisherman, suplexes back, but Yoh slips out, only to jam his bad leg! Kanemaru dropkicks the leg out! Yoh writhes, gets to the ropes, and Red Shoes checks on him. Desperado gets in, drags Yoh up and gives him a SHIN BREAKER, to then set it up for Kanemaru’s SHOTGUN dropkick! Kanemaru steps through to the FIGURE FOUR!
Yoh endures the leg lock and Kanemaru puts as much pressure on it as he can! Fans rally, Sho gets in again and stomps Kanemaru! But Desperado drags Sho out to throw him into railing! Kanemaru still has Yoh caught, but Yoh flails and reaches! Yoh drags himself and Kanemaru over, but Kanemaru adds even more pressure! Yoh flails, hops around, and gets the ropebreak! Kanemaru lets go and fans fire up again! Kanemaru drags Yoh up, scoops and slams him into a drop zone, then goes up top, to MOONSAULT! Cover, TWO!! Yoh survives and fans fire up again! Kanemaru climbs up again but Sho RAMS Desperado into railing!
Kanemaru waits for Yoh, then leaps, DEEP IMPACT!! Cover, Sho breaks it in time! Desperado drags Sho back out and whips him into railing! Kanemaru gets Yoh’s leg to SMASH it against the mat! Kanemaru steps through but Yoh cradle counters, TWO! Kanemaru stomps Yoh, drags him up to suplex but Yoh fights free! Kanemaru kicks the leg, Yoh blocks but Kanemaru rakes eyes! Kanemaru boots, Yoh PELES! Desperado returns, runs in and SPEARS Yoh! Sho gets in, and GERMAN SUPLEXES Desperado! Sho runs but into a SPINEBUSTER! All four men are down and fans are thunderous! Kanemaru gets to a corner, aims at Yoh, but slides under Yoh’s boot counter attack!
Yoh superkicks but Kanemaru blocks it, then kicks the bad leg. Kanemaru clubs and kicks Yoh, Yoh staggers around, and Kanemaru runs, into a RPG3K DOUBLE KNEE! Sho gets Kanemaru up, coordinates with Yoh, BACKSTABBER to SHOTGUN BOOT! Fans fire up and Yoh stomps it! It’s been so long since we’ve seen this! RPG3K watches Kanemaru, but Desperado gets in! Desperado DECKS Yoh, but Sho throws hands! Sho and Desperado brawl, Sho gets boxing elbows but Desperado rakes eyes! Desperado whips but Sho reverses to redirect, Yoh gets back up, and they hit 3K!! But Desperado isn’t legal, they have to get Kanemaru! Fans fire up, Yoh whips Sho at Kanemaru to clothesline!
Sho sets up, Yoh uses him for the boost, YOH IN MOTION! Yoh feeds Kanemaru to Sho’s underhooks, and Yoh goes up top! But Kanemaru gets out and whips Sho into Yoh! Kanemaru throws Sho out while Yoh is down on the top rope! Fans rally, Kanemaru climbs up to join Yoh, and hits a SUPERPLEX! Kanemaru crawls to the cover, TWO!! Yoh still lives, as does RPG3K! Fans rally again as Kanemaru climbs back up. Kanemaru wants Yoh to get back up just so he can put him back down. Yoh stands, and SUPERKICKS Deep Impact away! Sho is in and he LARIATS Kanemaru! Sho shouts to Yoh that they can finish this!
Yoh climbs, Sho tucks Kanemaru in, STRONG X!!! Cover, Desperado breaks it in time!! Desperado saves Kanemaru then elbows Sho. Sho drags Desperado out with him and Yoh fires up! Fans fire up with Yoh as he drags Kanemaru back up and underhooks! DIRECT DRIVE with a twist!! Cover, RPG3K WINS!!
Winners: Roppongi 3K, by pinfall (NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions)
Yoh’s return is a return to glory for the team! Desperado’s time as Mr. Junior Heavyweight ends, will he and Kanemaru be able to climb back up for a rematch? As Yoh talks to Desperado, Desperado says he’s still THE IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, but then Yoh says he might change that, too! Will RPG3K look to be even more golden in the Spring?
Oh, now Yoh wants to talk! “If it wasn’t for all of you supporting me, I wouldn’t have been able to return to this ring.” You says as a new him and a new RPG3K, they have taken THEIR titles back! Next, Yoh wants to take THE IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Desperado!! He really does want to shine brighter! Will Yoh get his wish as the year starts to heat up?
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi VS Will Ospreay!
The Golden Star God combined the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental titles into one, and oddly enough, the only man who agreed with him is his opponent! But after the Commonwealth Kingpin cut ties with Bea Priestley with a cutter, he is clearly going down a dark path. Can Ibushi keep this title with him to continue the evolution of legacy? Or will Ospreay and the United Empire conquer NJPW?
The introductions are made, the newly minted world title belt is raised, and we see if NJPW walks in the light or turns to the darkside!
Fans rally already with “I-BU-SHI!” as he and Ospreay stare down. Both men let the moment sink in before they circle. They approach, feel out the grapple, and Ibushi goes for a leg only for Ospreay to get a waistlock. They go around, Ibushi shifts to drop toehold and then waistlock back. Ibushi floats, Ospreay rolls to facelock but Ibushi switches right back to the waistlock. Ibushi wants the half nelson but Ospreay resists. Ospreay uses a sprawl to break free and switch to a waistlock and slam! Ospreay wants the lateral press but Ibushi resists. They fight for control as Ospreay gets through a leg guard. Ospreay still wants the lateral but Ibushi slips out to a facelock!
Ospreay gets a ropebreak, Ibushi lets off with some pats on the back and the fans cheer the technical exchange. Ospreay and Ibushi reset as the United Empire, Henare included, watch ringside. Ibushi and Ospreay circle again, Ospreay rushes in but Ibushi stays up. They go around, Ibushi gets around to a waistlock and then floats to flip Ospreay. Ospreay kicks out before a cover, and fans cheer this exchange. Ibushi stays loose and fans rally up again. Ospreay also stays cool as he and Ibushi circle again. They feel out the grapple, Ospreay facelocks, goes for the arm, but Ibushi slips out the back to get a facelock. Ibushi goes to underhooks but Ospreay slips free.
Ibushi waistlocks again, but Ospreay gets an arm and wrenches to a hammerlock. Fans rally, Ibushi works on his escape, and reaches back to headlock. Ospreay endures the grind, powers up, but can’t power out as Ibushi holds tight! Fans cheer, Ospreay fights up, and pulls hair to get free! Ospreay headlocks now, Ibushi endures the grind, and Ibushi powers out only for Ospreay to run him over. Ibushi kips right up, and Ospreay SLAPS him! Ospreay headlocks, Ibushi powers out and things speed up, Ibushi RANAS Ospreay out of the ring! Fans fire up as Ibushi aims and PLANCHAS! Direct hit and Ibushi is right by his world title and Ospreay’s New Japan Cup trophy.
Ibushi brings Ospreay up and into the ring, follows him to a corner, and CLUBS him on the bad shoulder. Ibushi brings Ospreay up to club him again, then pats the bad shoulder. Ospreay throws a forearm so Ibushi fires one back! Ibushi dares Ospreay to get up, then he gets the bad arm. Ibushi elbows the shoulder and Ospreay hurries away to ropes. Ibushi KICKS Ospreay in the back, then whips him, only for Ospreay to hold ropes. Fans rally up, Ibushi tries again but still Ospreay holds ropes. Ibushi fires off strikes, whips but Ospreay reverses to lift and crotch Ibushi on the ropes! #DirtySupper(?)! Ospreay runs and BOOTS Ibushi off the ropes and to the floor!
Fans fire up as Ospreay clings like Spider-Man in the ropes. Ospreay goes out to get Ibushi, drags him up and whips him into railing! Ospreay then drags Ibushi up to RAM him into the railing, and bend him back against them! Red Shoes reprimands, Ospreay lets off, and Ospreay shrugs. Ibushi eggs Ospreay on and Ospreay kicks him down. Fans rally up and Ibushi fires off on Ospreay, to then whip Ospreay into railing! Ibushi gets up, kicks but Ospreay blocks it! Ospreay gets Ibushi up for a RAILING BACK SUPLEX! Ospreay gets in the ring, and wants a count out!? Red Shoes starts the count, Ibushi gets up and in at 10 of 20. Ospreay is after Ibushi and throws him back outside.
Ibushi is against railing as Ospreay throws forearm son him over and over! Ospreay drags Ibushi up and puts him on the apron, to CLUB away on his back! Ospreay climbs up for a GUILLOTINE KNEE DROP! Ibushi flops down and Ospreay glares at him as fans rally again. Ospreay goes back in and wants another ring count. The count begins, Ibushi is up at 5 and in at 8. Ospreay storms over as fans cheer and Ospreay stomps Ibushi down. Ospreay whips Ibushi corner to corner HARD and Ibushi bounces off buckles! Cover, TWO! Ospreay is annoyed but Ibushi kicks him from below. Ospreay eggs him on so Ibushi kicks again.
Ospreay CHOPS Ibushi while he’s down, then drags him back up for an elbow to the back! Ospreay drags Ibushi up, brings him around, and whips him to ropes to back elbow! Cover, ONE!! Fans rally but Ospreay wraps Ibushi up in a neck lock! Ospreay pushes up to add leverage, but Ibushi endures. Ibushi moves around, kicks his legs and gets the ropebreak! Ospreay turns over to twist Ibushi’s head, but lets off as Red Shoes counts 4. Fans still rally for Ibushi but Ospreay drags Ibushi up for a cravat neck wrench. Ibushi endures as Ospreay grinds him down, and fans rally with Ibushi. Ibushi throws body shots but Ospreay scoops and SLAMS him!
Ospreay runs to drop another knee, but misses as Ibushi moves! Ibushi KICKS the leg, Ospreay throws a forearm then runs, but into a dropkick! Both men are down and Ospreay is checking his healed nose. Fans fire up, Ospreay and Ibushi rise, and Ibushi fires off forearms. Ibushi whips, Ospreay reverses but Ibushi FLYING KICKS! Fans fire up as Ibushi builds power, and STANDING MOONSAULTS! Cover, TWO! Ibushi wags his finger, but Ospreay gets to a corner. Ibushi runs in but Ospreay dodges and comes back, only for Ibushi to roll him up, all the way to a DEADLIFT CROTCH SUPLEX! Bridging cover, TWO! Fans are thunderous as Ibushi and Ospreay rise.
Ospreay fires off forearms and a CHOP, but Ibushi KICKS! Ospreay sputters and leans against ropes, but Ibushi whips him to ropes. Ospreay handsprings to NEURALIZER! Both men are down again and fans rally back up! Ibushi goes to a corner, Ospreay runs in and uppercuts! Ospreay puts Ibushi up top backwards, then into the Tree of Woe for a KICK! Ospreay goes corner to corner to HESITATION DROPKICK! Ibushi is still in the Tree but he drags himself out of it. Fans rally, Ospreay aims from the apron and springboards, PIP PIP CHEERIO! Cover, TWO!! Ibushi narrowly escapes that one, but Ospreay keeps his focus.
Ospreay drags Ibushi up, turns him around to a dragon sleeper, but Ibushi fights free. Ospreay still ROCKS Ibushi with a right! Ibushi staggers, Ospreay dragon sleepers and inverted suplexes, but Ibushi KNEES free! Ospreay panics and checks his damaged nose! Ibushi just smirks. Red Shoes checks but Ospreay’s nose isn’t bleeding. Ibushi storms over, brings Ospreay up but Ospreay hits a HARD body shot with that forearm! Ospreay reels Ibushi in, but Ibushi slips out of the bomb lift, only for Ospreay to block the kick, elbow the leg and CHOP back! Ibushi swings into a full nelson but elbows free. Ibushi runs into an enziguri, but LARIATS outta nowhere!
Both men are down and fans fire up yet again! Ibushi slowly sits up while Ospreay starts to stir. Ibushi drags Ospreay up, reels him in, LAST RIDE! Cover, TWO!! Ospreay survives but Ibushi keeps his focus. Fans rally hard as ever for “I-BU-SHI!” and he gets the wrists. Ospreay resists so Ibushi stomps him. Ibushi sits Ospreay up but Ospreay HEADBUTTS low! Both men are down again, fans rally up once more, and the two glare at each other. Ibushi and Ospreay go forehead to forehead on the mat, then start throwing forearms. Ibushi eggs Ospreay on with a grin, but Ospreay forearms back! Ibushi shakes his head and ROCKS Ospreay with another!
Ospreay seethes as Ibushi eggs him on, and he gives a swift forearm. Ibushi stands up and leans into the forearm he gives Ospreay! Ospreay gets up now, and returns the forearm again. Ibushi forearms, Ospreay forearms, back and forth, faster and faster, and the fans are thunderous again! Ospreay ROCKS Ibushi, BOOTS him, then runs to BOOT again! Ibushi stays up so Ospreay gives him Kowata Kicks! Ibushi just stares at him! Has the switch flipped to Kowai Ibushi?! Ospreay slaps Ibushi around, then pie faces him. Ibushi just fires off, but Ospreay dodges to ROLLING ELBOW! Ospreay dragon sleepers, inverted suplex, SAVING GRACE! Cover, TWO!! Ospreay can’t believe that Ibushi is still in this!
Ospreay gets Ibushi to a drop zone, climbs the corner to the top rope, but Ibushi sits up. Ibushi anchors Ospreay’s feet, Ospreay rains down fists, but Ibushi hits a body shot of his own! Ibushi climbs up, brings Ospreay to the top but Ospreay fights back. Ospreay shoves Ibushi aside, Ibushi has a bit of a rough landing on the apron, but Ibushi gets back up to CHOP Ospreay! Ibushi then springboards but Ospreay denies the Super Steiner! Ibushi is stuck on the rope, Ospreay GUILLOTINE SHOOTING STARS!! Ospreay puts Ibushi back in the drop zone and goes back up, to SHOOTING STAR AGAIN!! Cover, TWO!?!? Ibushi survives and everyone is shocked!
Ospreay takes off the elbow pad! Ospreay stands Ibushi up, turns, but Ibushi clubs Ospreay away! Ospreay fireman’s carries but Ibushi fights that off. Ospreay CHOPS, whips, but Ibushi reverses. Ospreay handsprings, but Ibushi catches him! Ibushi steadies himself, gets Ospreay back up, but he can’t hold him! Ibushi’s back and legs are too tired, but fans fire up and rally for him! Ospreay rolls away, Ibushi crawls after, and hoists Ospreay to the top rope backwards. Ibushi climbs up behind Ospreay, Ospreay resists so Ibushi CLUBS away on his back! Ibushi stands Ospreay up for a SUPER POISON-RA-
OSPREAY LANDS ON HIS FEET?! Ospreay recreates the shocking moment from the last time these two fought! At this point, Ibushi is annoyed of Ospreay doing this to him. Ospreay dares Ibushi to bring it, and then fireman’s carries! But Ibushi pops out to POISON-RANA after all! Ospreay tumbles out of the ring and to the floor! Fans are thunderous as Red Shoes starts the ring count. The count reaches 10 of 20 before Ospreay sits up. The count reaches 15, Ospreay is on the apron and Ibushi ROUNDHOUSES him down! Ibushi drags Ospreay up in a waistlock, and DEADLIFT SUPER GERMANS!! Ospreay crumbles from the impact and Ibushi covers, TWO!!
Ibushi doesn’t let that bother him, he gets fired up as the fans rally again. Ibushi aims from a corner, calling upon the powers of Nakamura, but runs into a SPANISH FLY! Ospreay pulls that outta nowhere to save himself, and now he’s fired up! Ospreay calls his shot as Ibushi rises, and he springboards, but the cutter is denied! Ibushi goes to roundhouse, Ospreay dodges and OSCUTTERS on the return! Cover, TWO!!?! Ospreay is shocked but he still has another weapon to use! Ospreay drags Ibushi up, turns him, DREAM SMASHER ELBOW!! Ospreay isn’t done there, he drags Ibushi up to underhook and lift, to STORM-
NO! Ibushi slips out and spins Ospreay, STANDING KAMI-GOYE?! Then PROPER KAMI-GOYE!! Cover, TWO?!?!?! What?!?! HOW?!! Ospreay survives a double shot!? The fans are electric as Ibushi vows the next one will do it! But Ospreay cradle counters! TWO!!! Ospreay SUPERKICKS! Then he dodges the V-Trigger to HOOK KICK! Then from the corner, Ospreay runs to V-TRIGGER?!?! Ospreay just stole that from the Golden Lovers!! And then HIDDEN BLADE!!! Ospreay is as fired up as the fans as he underhooks to STORMBREAKER!!!! Cover, OSPREAY WINS!!!!
Winner: Will Ospreay, by pinfall (NEW IWGP World Heavyweight Champion)
No one can believe it but no one can contain their excitement, either! The banner Ibushi created, the legacy Ibushi evolved, and the era Ibushi created for NJPW is now all being carried on the shoulders of another!! The United Empire celebrates together, and Cobb even gets in Ibushi’s face while he’s down on the mat! Cobb stands Ibushi up, reels him in, and gives him a TOUR OF THE ISLANDS!! As if Ibushi isn’t suffering enough! And the Empire laughs at Ibushi’s pain.
Cobb makes Ibushi sit up again and makes sure he understands this is what Ibushi deserves. Cobb then helps Ospreay stand and Red Shoes places the title on Ospreay’s shoulder, and then Ospreay holds it high overhead. Ospreay is now Two Belts Kingpin as he adds his Rev-Pro British Heavyweight Championship, and then his NJCUP trophy! Ospreay is already shouting, “Who is the best wrestler in the world? Tell us now!” He even adds that NJPW’s “god” is DEAD! Do all of these prizes together truly make Ospreay the best in the world today?
Young Lions get Ibushi out of the ring carefully, and Ospreay gets impatient. Ospreay wants to give his celebration speech. “Bye-bye, god! Sayonara, mata-ne, good-bye, get out.” This is OSPREAY’S time now. Ibushi crawls as he laments his loss, and Khan even tells him to “get the hell out of here.” Ospreay says look at Ibushi! He can barely stand! Look at what Ospreay, a mere man, did to Ibushi, a “god!” Ospreay says he’s been listening to the doubters and the mockery all his life. “The little British boy can’t be a pro-wrestler.” He can’t be a big star in Japan! He can’t win the Best of the Super Juniors. Oh, but he did that twice!
“The British boy” can’t win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but he’s done that three times! And there was still laughter and doubting! “The British boy” can’t be IWGP World Heavyweight Champion? “Who is laughing now?!” Ospreay continues to say that five years to the day, he has been with NJPW, and debuted here in this very arena, Ryogoku! Ospreay’s done a lot of bad things, he’ll admit. He’s not the good guy. “But honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I want to take this time to apologize TO ABSOLUTELY NO ONE!” The United Empire does what they want, because they have the power!
But the story isn’t complete yet. “You should’ve killed me when you had the chance, because now I’m back for revenge for what happened at WrestleKingdom, OKADA!!” Ospreay calls out the Rainmaker!! And here comes Okada! Fans cheer as Okada walks to the ring to respond face-to-face. Okada drums on the mic to get the fans even more fired up, but wait! TAKAGI returns?! Takagi takes the mic from Okada and says he wants to say something real quick. And Ospreay, you shut up. “Oi, aren’t you getting a little too carried away?” Ospreay thinks he’s king now? And he wants revenge on Okada for Tokyo Dome? IDIOT, no one even remembers that!
Takagi says everyone DOES remember Takagi beating Okada in the FIRST round of the NJCUP! So if Okada deserves a title shot, then so does Takagi, the NJCUP runner-up! Heck, isn’t he even MORE deserving? Takagi then tells Ospreay in English that he will challenge Ospreay for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship! But don’t worry, Okada. After Takagi beats “this punk” Ospreay, he’ll make Okada his first defense! No complaints there, right? And that’s all Takagi has to say about that. Mic drop from the Dragon, but is he really going to jump the line? Will Okada have his turn on the mic now? Does he have to, since Takagi’s promising him a match anyway?
Okada isn’t sure if he should reach for the mic, but Takagi and Ospreay give him the space. Okada gets the mic, and hands it to Ospreay? Okada isn’t going to say anything, he wants Ospreay to respond! Ospreay snatches the mic back and says, “First, Shingo. Then I’m coming for you,” Okada. So there you have it! If Ospreay can sweep Takagi 3-0 in their careers, he’ll get his revenge on Okada. And even if Takagi avenges BOSJ and NJCUP, Okada will get his chance. Okada leaves without a word, satisfied with the order of things. Takagi then leaves, having gotten his own answer.
The United Empire stands tall, and Khan says, “Although we were rudely interrupted, here begins the Era of the Empire!” They offer amnesty for only tonight! Raise your hands high and hail the Kingpin, Will Ospreay! Fans do cheer, and Khan demands more and more! NJPW doesn’t need to know more than what is here in this ring. But Khan will explain it to you anyway. “This is the power of Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan and THE IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay! This is the power of THE UNITED EMPIRE!!” The confetti falls, as does the curtain on what could be just Act I of the United Empire’s epic! Will all of NJPW bow down to their might?
An amazing event! Great developments from top to bottom, and honestly, I thought Henare was going to join Bullet Club. But y’know what? Him joining the United Empire is even better for everyone because the Empire does need to grow in members and he is definitely a great choice. Their Six Man Tag with LIJ was really good and of course in Henare’s first match with the Empire, they win and he gets the credit. With four members, they can definitely grab up whatever titles they want as a team, from the NEVER Openweight Six Man to the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Teams.
Tanahashi & Kojima VS White & Fale was really good, and I like that Tanahashi & Kojima won. I honestly thought we were already getting Tanahashi VS White for the NEVER Openweight Championship, but having the challenge be officially accepted here was great. I was pleasantly surprised that RPG3K got their titles back already. I really expected them to lose to have a long road back, but perhaps this is a great way for them to start where they left off last year when Yoh got hurt and the titles were vacated. At the same time, Yoh wants the Junior Heavyweight singles title, so that’ll be an interesting dynamic, as well.
The IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in itself may look very odd, but that doesn’t really matter when this first defense of it was so outstanding! There were great story beats referencing the other times Ospreay and Ibushi have faced off, namely that “Ospreay lands on his feet out of a flip move,” which he’s not only done for that notorious memeable moment during Golden Lovers VS Ospreay & Tanahashi, but also their WK13 NEVER Openweight title match out of a Super German Suplex. Ospreay winning was an even bigger shock, but given the promo segment at the end, it makes sense. Ospreay is going to have epic rematches with his other storied rivals and really put some legitimacy to the title’s legacy.
My Score: 9.6/10
Andrew’s NJPW Sakura Genesis Results & Match Ratings: 4.4.2021
An awkward card for NJPW’s Sakura Genesis has left many people sour, a new World Title belt and some questionable booking decisions have hurt NJPW’s overall appeal. Does Sakura Genesis help to turn a corner? Has Ospreay sacrificed enough to overcome Ibushi?
An awkward card for NJPW’s Sakura Genesis has left many people sour, a new World Title belt and some questionable booking decisions have hurt NJPW’s overall appeal. Does Sakura Genesis help to turn a corner? Has Ospreay sacrificed enough to overcome Ibushi?
Beyond the main event, we get YOH’s return match as Roppongi 3k go for the Junior Titles, a new United Empire member and just…well a lot of tag matches. Let’s hope that some of the twists and surprises actually pay off tonight!
- Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, ZSJ & DOUKI) vs Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado): ZSJ wins via European Clutch @10:10 – ** ½
- Bullet Club (KENTA, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori & Dick Togo) vs CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada): Yano wins via Head & Leg Capture Roll-Up @11:37- ** ½
- The United Empire (Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare) vs LIJ (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito): Henare wins via Death Valley Driver @9:51 – ***
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White & Bad Luck Fale: Tanahashi wins via High Fly Flow @10:05 – ***
- IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles: Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH) vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c): YOH wins via Double Arm Brainbuster @20:48 – *** ¾ – TITLE CHANGE!!!
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay: Ospreay wins via Stormbreaker @30:13 –*** ¾ – TITLE CHANGE!!!
Hiromu Takahashi comes out to greet the crowd, give a tiny update and then mostly run down the matches on the card that he cares about. His flamboyant spaz way of delivering his topics is entertaining; he could be reading off a McDonald’s menu and I feel it would still be entertaining. Yes, it’s also great to hear Hiromu refer to Ospreay as a cat again, bringing that reference full circle is pretty great.
Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, ZSJ & DOUKI) vs Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado)
DOUKI and Jado started, DOUKI gets dropped outside and ganged up on. Jado takes a few shortcuts and works over the Junior in the mask, then Loa comes in and dominates. When Tama finally comes in he messes around a little too long allowing DOUKI to hit a Tornado DDT and tag in Taichi, who goes on a Iizuka style rampage. Greco Roman Throatholds for everyone!
Tama manages to slow Taichi’s choke strategy, then ZSJ and Loa come in. Loa runs over ZSJ and they have a fun interaction where Loa charges and ZSJ hits him with a European Uppercut, but Loa continues to push forward. This bulldozer moment was pretty cool, and then we get into a mass of humanity in the ring.
Tama tries to use the fingers, Taichi manages to get them back and drop Tama with them, but then Taichi gets laid out. Loa looks at the fingers like he wants a go with insanity, but ZSJ grabs him and hits the European Clutch to get the victory over Loa!
Looks like this sets up Dangerous Tekkers with a legitimate challenge again Guerrillas of Destiny. It’s also nice that the referee grabs the iron fingers and gives them to Chairman Sugabayashi. Dad just took the toys away from the kids. Tama and Taichi stop focusing on each other and start screaming at Sugabayashi and calling for him to comeback. It’s quite amusing and very anime.
Bullet Club (KENTA, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori & Dick Togo) vs CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada)
CHAOS continues their recent habit of starting the match in the aggressive heel fashion before the bell against Bullet Club. This leads to a bunch of tandem moves from Goto & HASHI, then we see the whole CHAOS crew come in and do the drum session on Dick Togo’s back, and take some fun at getting a few more shots in after the drum session.
Bullet Club regains a little control when everyone takes turns beating on HASHI and throwing him into an exposed corner. This allows for a little more interaction with HASHI and KENTA; continuing the Bo Staff love triangle. KENTA tries to introduce the weapon into the match, referee Kenta Sato stops things, HASHI grabs it while the ref and KENTA are jockeying, but he then just throws it out of the ring. This brings in Ishii and Yujiro, as well as most of the participants. CHAOS gets the better of all Bullet Club members and runs the locomotion attacks in the corner onto Yujiro.
The match continues to get crazy, back and forth, Togo has an opportunity to end the match against Yano after using the garrote, but Yano hits the Low Blow, then Low Blow’s EVIL, pulls out a blindfold to put over Dick Togo’s head as payback for the New Japan Cup shenanigans. So with the lights shut off, Yano hits an amateur roll-up and picks up the victory!
The NEVER 6 Man champs seem to approve the challenge, but Bullet Club takes a cheeky attack to snatch the Bo Staff back and KENTA runs off with it cradled in his arms.
The United Empire (Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare) vs LIJ (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
Henare being the surprise member is a little shocking, since most people thought it would be a Junior wrestler like Robbie Eagles to balance the faction, but Henare makes sense. Henare has been disillusioned for the last month or so, and when FinJuice didn’t really seem to care much about him, I guess that was when he broke.
This was a good match to show a new chapter in Henare’s career. O-Khan and Cobb looked great, set the pace for the group and the finish was really good. Henare dodged and countered SANADA’s attacks, SANADA got caught by Cobb, Cobb sends him on a Tour of the Islands, and then Henare hits a Death Valley Driver for emphasis, and picks up the pinfall.
After the match, the Empire dissects LIJ, and Henare’s new persona and the addition into the United Empire seems like it could be something.
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White & Bad Luck Fale
Two generations of Bullet Club members face two generations of New Japan legends. Fale is one of the original Club members, the Underboss, and Jay White is one of the newest additions; so there’s something almost poetic about the generational parallel.
Jay and Kojima had their moments back and forth where Jay was disrespecting the Machine Gun Chops and a few other moves. Tanahashi seems like he was trying to make a point to Jay before accepting, since part of the narrative was that Tanahashi was afraid to put the NEVER on the line.
All in all, this was a solid set up match, things end with Fale trying to hit the Grenade on Tanahashi, but can’t pull it off. Jay gets dumped out, Kojima hits the Cozy Lariat on Fale, and then a High Fly Flow and we see dad team pick up the win!
After the match, Tanahashi grabbed Jay and put him in the Texas Cloverleaf, forcing Jay to tap to try and get the break. Tanahashi grabs the mic, speaks in English, saying he’s going to accept the challenge because Jay showed weakness. Refers to his Texas Clover Hold as the JTO – Jay Tapped Out.
IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles: Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH) vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c)
RPG 3k have a new theme, and while I don’t like it at all, it’s not terrible. I just really prefer the Rocky Romero song.
This was a well-paced match which told a great story. YOH started the match, so Kanemaru and Despy took turns taking some shots at YOH’s surgically repaired knee. Every time there was a cheap shot or a clear out off the apron, they aimed for YOH’s knee. This was further exacerbated by Kanemaru’s constant attempts at the Figure Four, just to continue to rip and stretch that bad knee.
The near falls in this match actually made a lot of sense. Kanemaru hits Deep Impact, but SHO made the save, which allowed YOH to turn a Figure Four attempt into an Inside Cradle for 2. Then RPG 3k hit Strong X, which Despy comes in to make a save. But SHO grabs Despy and you hear Despy screaming at Kanemaru to fight back. But YOH hits a new move for his arsenal, and Roppongi 3k get the happy return win!
SHO did a great job helping YOH get over after his surgery while looking great, and Despy definitely looked to be on a different singles level than everyone, he was just a step short on helping Kanemaru retain. Well told story in the ring, just wish there was a normal build up to really enjoy the whole story telling aspect.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay
This match had some great viciousness early on. They traded blow for blow, and it was a great example of how similar and yet different their styles are. Ibushi tried to take more of a wrestling approach, where Ospreay relied more heavily on strikes. His Jumping Boot to send Ibushi flying, the Chelsea Grin, Rolling Elbows, all very well placed during the match. Hell, Ospreay even countered Ibushi’s Sole Butt by using the Rolling Elbow to dodge where the kick was going and catch him in the face. Though my favorite Ibushi move was when he hit the Chaos Theory, but used a Fisherman Suplex Hold instead of German. It was very cool and possibly an intentional Doug Williams reference.
Ibushi had a moment where it looked like we were going to get a bad botch when he jumped to the corner and lost a little balance before setting up for an assumed Frankensteiner or Spanish Fly. Ospreay pushed Ibushi off, hung him on the ropes, hit a gorgeous Shooting Star Press while Ibushi was draped. Then after Ibushi fell to the mat, another Shooting Star and that’s only a near fall. We got a call back when Ibushi did hit the Frakensteiner, but Ospreay flips through it and lands on his feet.
Ospreay goes for an Overhead Kick, and it looks like Ibushi was supposed to catch him for the Bastard Driver or Lawn Dart, but Ibushi couldn’t do it. Three separate attempts before they finally just gave up on the spot and Ibushi sold the back. If it wasn’t for the multiple attempts, it would’ve been more accepted as a sell, but that was a mess.
So in typical Ibushi fashion, a botch causes for some awkwardness in the match, Ibushi takes too long to slip out of the Stormbreaker and it looks weird. But thankfully, Ospreay ate two normal Kamigoyes, wouldn’t take the Exposed Kamigoye, hits a Flying Knee, the Hidden Blade and then Stormbreaker to win the match!
A great match really fell apart toward the end, mostly because of Ibushi. Surprising finish with Ibushi losing in the first official defense of the World title.
Ospreay calls out Okada wanting revenge from Wrestle Kingdom. But before Okada can speak, Shingo slides in and snatches the microphone. Shingo was the star of the verbal exchange mixing Japanese and English (very good English too). Shingo said since he beat Okada in the Cup he should be the first to challenge.
Shingo sweetens the pot by telling Okada that when he beats Ospreay for the title, Okada can get the first challenge. Okada accepts in his silence by handing the microphone to Ospreay for a decision. Ospreay tells Shingo “First Shingo! Then, Okada!” – and Okada seems more than okay with waiting a little bit longer.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Well okay, this was an odd show. Nothing was terrible, but 5 tag matches and 1 singles is not a card that really evokes intrigue or excitement. Was the generational build up tag interesting? Sure. Was the return of Roppongi 3k cool? Sure. Was the title match enough to make headlines? Yes.
I just don’t come out of this event more excited with New Japan. Ospreay has gotten better, which I’ve been very transparent with admitting. The fact that the next two big title matches will be some combination of Shingo Takagi/Kazuchika Okada/Will Ospreay is heavy potential for match of the year candidates. However the reality of the card is that without the Intercontinental separated, and a US champion off in the middle of nowhere, the upper mid card seems lacking and pathetic.
Plus let’s not overlook the fact that missteps and clumsy aspects of the main event really hurt the potential/excitement of the build. If the match was a banger, then it would’ve ended the show on a higher point where the triple showdown would’ve been very cool.
Either way, an alright show, last two matches are worth watching; just don’t go out of your way if you don’t want to.
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