By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Sakura Genesis”
April 1, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan at Ryogoku Kokugikan
Broadcast live on New Japan World
The English broadcast was hosted by Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, and Rocky Romero…
1. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi. Kelly spoke about sticking with Daylight’s Savings Time rather than the idiotic change each year. God bless him for that. Kelly also emphasized that the Bucks were far from 100 percent just a week after their war with The Golden Lovers on the Strong Style Evolved show. He also played up Matt’s bad back, which he sold as the match went on. Owens performed Jewel Heist on Matt for a two count. Nick broke up Owens going for a package piledriver and superkicked him. The Bucks followed up with a double superkick. Matt applied a Sharpshooter. Nick leapt over the top rope and performed a facebuster while Matt maintained the hold. Nick took out Takahashi on the floor and Owens tapped out. After the match, the Bucks offered a handshake, and Owens and Takahashi accepted…
The Young Bucks beat Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi.
Powell’s POV: Happy Easter. Today was my last day to sleep in before the madness that is WrestleMania week begins, yet for some reason I woke up shortly after six. I had no intention of covering this show on Easter Sunday, but I woke up early for no good reason and so here we are. New Dot Net staffer Anish Vishwakoti will be by later today with his review of the event as well so be sure to check back. You can find his review of Friday’s NJPW event here. All of that said, this was a good opening match. This was not the usual Bucks style insanity and nor did it need to be in the opening slot and just a week after the SSE main event. It would have been nice if there had been a better explanation for why these Bullet Club teams met in the first place, though it’s possible it was covered on Being The Elite or elsewhere and I simply missed it.
2. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano vs. Takashi Iizuka and Taichi. Taichi gave the world the gift of song during his Easter Sunday entrance. Romero noted that he must have “one of those fancy wireless mics.” Kelly noted that this was a rematch of a match that took place two weeks ago. He noted that Ishii and Yano won by DQ, but they were left lying by Iizuka and Taichi. Late in the match, Iizuka pulled out the iron glove. Yano caught him in a backslide before he could use the weapon, but Taichi broke up the pin. Yano caught Iizuka with a low blow. Ishii ran the ropes and clotheslined Iizuka, who was rolled up by Yano for the win…
Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano defeated Takashi Iizuka and Taichi.
Powell’s POV: Fine for an undercard match considering who was involved, though I continue to wish NJPW would feature Ishii as strong in Japan as they have during their shows in the United States.
3. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Loa vs. Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, and Ryusuke Taguchi for the Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles. Elgin worked over Loa early on with his usual big man offense. Fale cut him off with a cheap shot and then ran him into the barricade at ringside. Elgin eventually made a hot tag to Makabe, who worked over Fale and had the crowd behind him. Fale eventually overpowered him and tagged in Taguchi, who hilariously missed ramming one of the Bullet Club members with his backside. He ended up connecting several times and caught Tonga with a nice kick and another backside ram for a two count. Taguchi directed traffic while Elgin and Makabe hit repeated clotheslines in the corner on Tonga. Fale and Loa recovered and took out Makabe and Elgin at ringside, then worked over Taguchi in the ring. He eventually came back with another backside ram and his partners returned and did the same move. Taguchi performed a 619 on Tonga, but then missed a springboard move. Tonga hit him with a cutter and pinned him…
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Loa defeated Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, and Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: I still couldn’t care less about the six-man tag titles, but this was a solid match that kept the crowd engaged.
4. Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay, and Juice Robinson vs. Jay White, Hirooki Goto, and Yoshi-Hashi. Late in the match, Finlay avoided White’s Bladerunner and hit him a Stunner instead. They rolled to ringside and the Robinson performed a Stunner on Goto. They both rolled to ringside, leaving Tanahashi and Hashi. Tanahashi performed a sling blade clothesline and followed up with a High Fly Flow (frogsplash) for the win…
Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay, and Juice Robinson defeated Jay White, Hirooki Goto, and Yoshi-Hashi.
Powell’s POV: A good match that gave Tanahashi a win coming off his recent loss to Zack Sabre Jr. in the New Japan Cup finals. It also gave Finlay some momentum heading into his eventual IWGP Intercontinental Title match with White, and the same for Robinson heading into his Never Openweight Championship match with Goto. Logical booking.
Romero left the broadcast table with the Roppongi 3k match coming up soon. Kelly noted that Romero would return later in the show…
5. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Evil vs. Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer. Kelly noted that Evil returned on Friday after missing time with a fractured orbital bone. There was a loud “Naito” chant before he made his entrance. He came out wearing a cool mask, which Callis put over. Suzuki and Killer Elite Squad attacked the LIJ trio to start the match. Suzuki worked over Naito, who responded by spitting in his face. Naito and Sanada took turns hitting running dropkicks on Suzuki, then Naito put his foot on Suzuki and posed, which drew more Naito chants.
Suzuki came back and worked over Naito with an arm and then a leg submission hold. Smith tagged in and went for a top rope leg drop, but Naito moved and tagged out shortly thereafter. Later, Suzuki applied a leg lock on Naito at ringside. In the ring, KES performed a double team move on Evil and had him pinned, but Sanada broke it up (the ref had to hesitate for him to get there). KES hit a Killer Bomb on Sanada. They went for the same move on Evil, who fought his way out of it once, but then ended up taking the move and being pinned by Archer…
Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer defeated Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Evil.
After the match, Naito took the mic and spoke in Japanese to Suzuki, presumably about the IWGP Intercontinental Championship given the way the camera zoomed it on it at one point. The crowd was responsive to Naito, who dropped the mic and laid down in the ring. Suzuki turned around and walked back to ringside and entered the ring. Suzuki picked up the mic and also spoke in Japanese while standing over Naito, who rolled onto his back and put his hands behind his head. Suzuki left the ring without more physicality, but he stopped to kick one of the young lions. Naito stood up, took the mic, and spoke more in Japanese. Suzuki got pissed about whatever he said and threw tables and chairs at ringside. He even slammed a chair down violently on the young lion he attacked earlier. The fans chanted for Naito again…
Powell’s POV: A good match that accomplished everything it needed to. My favorite mid-card moments on recent NJPW shows involve the exchanges between Naito and Suzuki in tag matches and this was no exception. Meanwhile, KES getting the win gives them a victory over the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions as they continue to build toward their eventual title match.
A video hyped the G1 Climax Tournament 28 events for July and August. “Be A Survivor” the narrator said at the end. Kelly said every event will be available on the New Japan World streaming service. He added that they are working on having English commentary for every G1 show and noted that he would definitely be there…
6. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3k (w/Rocky Romero) vs. Hiroumo Takahashi and Bushi in a three-way for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles. Callis questioned how many partners Romero burned through during his career. Kelly said he had a few. “That’s like saying I had a few wives,” Callis responded. Funny. Roppongi 3k attacked Takahashi and Bushi to start the match while Deperado and Kanemaru were making their entrance. They followed up with flip dives onto the tag champions.
Later, Romero was thrown inside the ring by Bushi. Takahashi put the boots to him while Callis laughed. Sho covered Romero and took boots from Takahashi. Callis called it a mistake and said that was Roppongi 3k’s chance to get rid of him. There was a ridiculous sunset flip into a double German Suplex spot. “What in the hell was that?” Callis asked. Takahashi got a believable near fall on Sho. He followed up with a Time Bomb and had the pin, but Kanemaru pulled the referee to ringside. Desperado hit Bushi with a tag title belt to knock him off the apron. He apparently hit Takahashi with a belt too, but they were showing a replay of Kanemaru pulling the referee from the ring. Desperado ended up pinning Sho while Kelly complained that he was not the legal man…
El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Roppongi 3k and Hiroumo Takahashi and Bushi in a three-way to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Good athleticism, but the match didn’t live up to my lofty expectations. The near fall with Kanemaru pulling the referee from the ring was well done with a big assist to the production staff. The camera shot they went with kept Kanemaru out of the picture and thus it was a surprise when the referee was suddenly pulled from the ring. I like the idea of keeping the tag titles on Desperado and Kanemaru. It feels like they need the straps more than the other teams do at this point and the fans didn’t seem to be all that invested in seeing either challenging team win the titles.
7. Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Callis noted that Scurll beating Ospreay was one of the certainties in life. Kelly recapped some of their recent history and said the numbers favor Scurll in their head-to-head matchups. He also noted that Ospreay was 0-4 against Kushida before he finally beat him. Romero returned to the broadcast table. There was a great early exchange with Ospreay and Scurll countering moves and neither man getting an advantage. Scurll begged off and called for a timeout. Scurll performed a nice huracanrana and then dropkicked Scurll to ringside. Ospreay ran the ropes and did a handspring into the ropes, but Scurll grabbed his hand and teased the finger break spot, but Ospreay avoided it. Ospreay performed what Callis described as a flying tiger drop. Kelly said it was another move stolen from Chico El Luchador. Funny.
Scurll came back with a kick from the apron. He eventually performed a bodyslam with Ospreay’s legs hitting the ropes. Ospreay sold neck pain. Scurll put him in a torture rack and then tossed him head first into the ropes, which led to a two count a short time later. Scurll slowed the pace while he was on offense. Ospreay came back with a cartwheel enzuigiri. Ospreay hit a running moonsault for a two count and held his neck in pain. A short time later, Ospreay caught Scurll with a kick and a nice suplex, but Scurll came back with a rolling DDT only to have Ospreay avoid his suplex and counter into a stunner. Later, Scurll performed a neckbreaker onto his knee and got a two count. Scurll turned Ospreay inside out with a lariat for another near fall.
A short time later, Scurll performed a Tombstone piledriver on the floor. Scurll held his neck and sold pain audibly. Scurll could have had the count-out win, but he rolled Ospreay back inside the ring and covered him for a two count. Scurll performed a neckbreaker for another two count. Scurll threw repeated punches to the back of Ospreay’s neck. Ospreay came back with a big punch. They traded punches in mid-ring. Scurll caught Ospreay with a kick to the knee, but Ospreay came back with an enzuigiri and then hit a nice sit-out powerbomb. Scurll caught Ospreay going for a springboard move. Ospreay sold it by landing with his neck on the apron. Ospreay caught Scurll with a kick on the apron. Scurll said, “F— you” and then blasted him with an enzuigiri on the apron.
Ospreay came back with a one man Spanish Fly from the apron to the floor. Ospreay’s head hit the apron on the way down. He came up with a big cut on his head. A doctor checked on Ospreay. The broadcast team noted that Ospreay crawled away from the doctor. Ospreay returned to the ring. Scurll raced back at 19. Ospreay performed a corkscrew shooting star press for a crazy near fall. Ospreay placed Scurll on the ropes and went for a shooting star press, but Scurll avoided it. Scurll kicked Ospreay and covered him for another good near fall. A short time later, Scurll applied the chicken wing, but Ospreay rolled onto him for a two count. Scurll rolled him up for a two count. Ospreay hit the OsCutter, but he sold his neck and didn’t make the cover. Scurll performed a Tombstone piledriver and covered Ospreay for another near fall.
Scurll performed the finger breaking spot and twice and then kicked Ospreay in the head. Scurll stomped on the back of Ospreay’s neck repeatedly. Callis called for the referee to stop the match. Scurll applied the chicken wing. Romero said he couldn’t believe Red Shoes was letting the match continue. Ospreay eventually reached the ropes. Scurll performed a unique neckbreaker and then went for another Tombstone, but Ospreay countered into a stunner. Ospreay followed up with an OsCutter from the second rope and got the pin…
Will Ospreay defeated Marty Scurll to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, Ospreay took the mic and addressed Kushida, who was on Japanese commentary. He said he beat Takahashi and Scurll and wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke that he beat Kushida. Ospreay challenged Kushida to a rematch. “Yes or no?” Ospreay asked. Kushida gave a thumbs up and then stood up and applauded. Ospreay continued to sell his injuries and stumbled toward Kushida on the floor. Kushida tried to check his cut, but Ospreay pulled his head away and held up the title, which Kushida pointed at. They exchanged tense looks and then Ospreay headed backstage…
Powell’s POV: A legit early match of the year contender just six days after the Bucks and Golden Lovers delivered a gem of their own. This was an amazing 30-minute match. They told an excellent story with Scurll focussing on the neck early and targeting it throughout the match. Scurll lived up to his nickname and came off as vicious and sadistic while remorselessly targeting Ospreay’s neck. Of course, Ospreay added his usual freakish athleticism, but he also sold the injury well by even crying out in pain at certain points. They have a ton of history and work so well together. Ospreay’s head hitting the mat on the one man Spanish Fly looked brutal and one can only hope that he didn’t do any major damage. He wrote on Twitter that he’s okay, but he added that he may end up missing the WrestleMania weekend shows, but nothing is official yet. As much as you hate to see anyone hurt, the injury actually added some drama to that point of the match in that both wrestlers being counted out or the referee or doctor stopping the match felt like legitimate possibilities. In fact, Ospreay’s top rope move that followed once they were back in the ring led to a strong near fall as well because it certainly wasn’t unrealistic to think that they would cut right to the finish.
8. “The Golden Lovers” Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi vs. Cody and Hangman Page. Cody and Page received some boos after they were introduced. The love fest for the Golden Lovers continues with the fans popping big for the duo. Kelly spoke about the Omega vs. Cody match that will headline the ROH Supercard of Honor event and noted that it would be held in front of the largest crowd to witness an ROH event. Omega and Cody started the match. They locked up with neither man getting an advantage. Cody turned and swung at Ibushi, who ducked on the apron. Cody ducked a swing by Omega and then rolled to ringside and went into the crowd briefly. Cody returned to the ring and tagged in Page. Omega tried to kick Cody, who rolled to the floor. Page got in Omega’s face and said, “Hell of a leader you are.” Omega got the better of the exchange and then he and Ibushi took turns chopping Cody. They set up for the Golden Trigger, but Page returned to break it up. A short time later, Cody threw a chair into the face of Omega at ringside.
Later, Cody disrupted Omega as he was going to the ropes for a move on Page, who then performed a neckbreaker. Cody checked in and worked over Omega. The heel duo was in control a little later. They set up a table at ringside and placed Omega on top of it. Cody went up top. “What are you doing here?” Cody asked. The Young Bucks were shown walking toward ringside. “Whose side are they on?” Romero asked while channeling the late Bobby Heenan. Cody went to ringside and offered them a handshake, but the Bucks walked away.
Back in the ring, Omega caught Cody with a spinning wheel kick. Cody came up bleeding, though it was unclear whether it was that move or something else. Cody ended up bleeding heavily from a cut by his left eye. Page ended up holding Omega in the corner, but he broke free and tagged in Ibushi, who performed a missile dropkick on Cody. The Golden Lovers performed their trio of moonsaults on Cody for a two count. Kelly recalled the misfire of that move at the SSE show. The fans chanted for the Golden Lovers. A short time later, Omega and Ibushi went up top for the Golden Shower (yes, really), but Page disrupted them. Cody sent Omega to ringside and hit a release vertical suplex on Ibushi for two.
Page had a nice run of offense. Cody checked in and DDT’d Ibushi, but Omega blasted him with a V Trigger. Cody cut off Omega with a powerslam. Moments later, Cody put his knees up when Ibushi went for a standing moonsault. Page performed a German suplex into a bridge for a nice near fall. Later, Omega put Cody on his shoulders and wanted to perform the One Winged Angel through the table that was set up at ringside earlier, but Cody avoided it. Ibushi jumped onto the ropes and wanted to German suplex Cody, but Page broke it up. Page and Cody teamed up for a Doomsday Device Dropkick on Ibushi that led to a two count. Cody caught Omega with a Disaster Kick, then Page blasted Omega with a kick that knocked him off the apron and through the table. Omega’s back had a small cut. Ibushi performed a double Pele kick and then performed a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Later, Cody and Ibushi jockeyed for position in the ring. Ibushi won that battle with a German suplex. Ibushi set up for a move, but Page reached in and grabbed his leg. Cody rolled up Ibushi and held his tights while scoring the pin…
Cody and Hangman Page defeated Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi.
After the match, Cody and Page worked over Ibushi. Cody wound up with a chair, but Omega took it away and chased the heels out of the ring. Kelly once again hyped the ROH Supercard of Honor and noted that it would nearly double the house for last year’s Supercard of Honor Event, which was headlined by the Young Bucks vs. The Hardys and took place one year ago today.
Powell’s POV: This was an entertaining match that had an incredibly tough act to follow both in terms what came before it on this show, and the SSE main event that featured the Lovers tearing down the house with the Young Bucks. This was a fun preview of the ROH Supercard of Honor main event and the Ibushi vs. Page match that will take place on the same show. With those matches coming up, it was perfectly logical to put heat on the heels by putting them over. There were a couple of near falls that would have been more exciting finishes, but I like that it was Cody cheating to get the win instead. Join me for live coverage of ROH Supercard of Honor on Saturday while John Moore covers the NXT Takeover: New Orleans special simultaneously. Man, that’s going to be a fun night of pro wrestling, not to mention all of the additional shows that will be held that same day in New Orleans.
A video package set up the main event… Ring entrances took place. Taka Michinoku delivered the usual pre-match hype mostly in Japanese for Sabre, who had his New Japan Cup trophy with him and wore two title belts. The Okada bucks flew during the entrance of Okada and Gedo. Kelly wrapped up the English broadcast…
9. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Taka Michinoku) for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Kelly noted that Okada tapped out only once in his career and it was to Shinsuke Nakamura. Kelly thanked a fan for pointing out on social media that Okada could break Tatsumi Fujinami’s record by successfully defending his title against seven foreigners. Callis asked who was fact checking the fans. Kelly said that was coming from a man “who doesn’t do one second of research or anything prior to these shows.” Funny.
Romero spoke about how Okada was his typical self earlier in the day, but then he seemed a little nervous about 45 minutes before showtime. The wrestlers worked a slow pace to start and the broadcast team put over the influence of Billy Robinson on Sabre and on strong style in general. Okada teased hitting Sabre when the ref called for a rope break. He taunted him by patting him on the chest and rubbing his head. Sabre grabbed his hand in a wristlock, but Okada came back with a submission hold of his own. Even Romero didn’t know what to call it, but assumed it came from his training at the Toryumon dojo.
Sabre applied a variety of holds on Okada. Kelly noted that most people see Sabre as the underdog in the match, but he and Romero put over his success in the New Japan Cup tournament while playing up his chances of winning. Sabre wrapped Okada’s leg between his own and then wrenched it with his legs. Okada sold the knee. Sabre lightly kicked his head in a taunting manner. Sabre ran the ropes and Okada went for a dropkick, but Sabre countered into an STF in a really cool sequence. Sabre hooked Okada in a hold and was just a hair late in hooking the leg before Okada reached the ropes with it. Okada came back, but Sabre caught him in an octopus hold in the ropes, but had to release the hold because they were in the ropes. Okada threw several forearms and then kicked Sabre off the apron to the floor.
Okada whipped Sabre into the guardrail and sent him into the front row. Okada got a running start and dove over the guardrail and onto Sabre with a cross body block. Okada stood on a chair and played to the receptive crowd. Back in the ring, Sabre hooked Okada in another move that focussed on the right arm. “The Rainmaker arm is gonna go snap,” Kelly said. Okada eventually got to the ropes. Sabre continued to focus on the arm by stomping on it and then wrenching it with his legs again. Sabre applied a guillotine. Okada countered out, but Sabre was able to counter right back into the hold and hooked the arm of Okada as well. Okada countered into a neckbreaker on his right knee.
The fans chanted for Okada, who went up top. Okada went for a top rope elbow, but Sabre was waiting and applied the cross arm breaker. They ended up rolling to the ropes so the hold was broken. They traded some forearms and then Okada delivered a running dropkick out of the corner. Okada went for a Rainmaker, but Sabre caught his arm and applied a double wrist lock and kicked his arm. Okada came back with a dropkick to the back and then another traditional dropkick. Okada performed a Tombstone and then posed briefly for the crowd. Sabre hooked his arm and applied another hold. Okada went for a Rainmaker, but Sabre countered into a pin for a good near fall. Sabre picked up another strong near fall and then blasted Okada with a kick.
Sabre went back to work with kicks to the arm of Okada. They traded kicks while sitting on the mat, then Sabre slapped his face then followed up with a slap to the top of the head. They got up and Okada hit him with a dropkick. Okada went for a Rainmaker, but Sabre countered into a flying armbar.. Okada escaped, but Sabre applied a triangle and hooked the arm. Kelly noted that it was similar to when Okada tapped to Nakamura. Okada acted like he was passing out. He came back to life and powered up Sabre and then blasted him with a Rainmaker clothesline. Okada hit him with the same move again. He went for a third, but Sabre countered into another submission hold. Okada countered into a Tombstone and hit another Rainmaker clothesline for the win…
Kazuchika Okada defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, Gedo spoke in Japanese and then handed the mic to Okada, who was immediately interrupted by Hiroshi Tanahashi walking to the ring. Tanahashi entered the ring and also spoke to Okada in Japanese. “As great as Okada is, he’ll never be loved like Tanahashi,” Callis said. Tanahashi played to the crowd on the ropes briefly and then left the ring. Okada picked up the mic and spoke in Japanese again.
Powell’s POV: An awesome main event with some terrific near falls for Sabre late in the match. The submission holds were good throughout the match, but those holds during the closing minutes were suspenseful despite how difficult it was to believe that Okada would actually tap out. The last two singles matches on this show were just fantastic. The main event was a different type of match than Ospreay vs. Scurll, but both were special in their own way. The main event won’t be for everyone, but that’s par for the course with Sabre matches. He’s great in my book. I love the way they built him up in the New Japan Cup by having him knock off most of the top names in the company. His submission style continues to stand out as unique and special. Sabre lost this match, but he has been established as a player in the company. The key now is how they follow up with him and I’m genuinely curious to see where he goes from here.
Perhaps English subtitles on a live broadcast is too much to ask for, but they really need a translator to provide a thorough recap of what is said in Japanese. Kelly told the obvious story of the post match angle, which is that Okada is one win away from breaking the record that he and Tanahashi hold for most IWGP Heavyweight Title defenses, and now Okada will have to go through Tanahashi in order to set the new record. Still, it would be a better experience for the English speaking viewers if they had a better idea of what was being said by the wrestlers.
Meanwhile, I just sort of shrugged my shoulders when they announced that Rocky Romero would be sitting in on commentary, but he really enhanced the call of the top matches with his knowledge of the moves that even Kelly didn’t have names for. Romero rightfully dominated the call in the main event while explaining the damage and intent of Sabre’s various holds. His call is similar to what you hear from UFC color commentators with a fighting backgrounds and similar to the Josh Barnett style on the AXS shows. As much as I typically dislike three-man booths, this could be an excellent one if Romero is serious about it and puts the work in. Romero’s style would feel pretty dry in a two-man booth, but it worked well with Callis providing the comedic and heelish commentary when the show needed it. Callis deserves credit for knowing when to lay out and let Romero do his thing. I would like to hear more from this trio.
If you don’t have time to watch the full show, then at least catch the two big singles matches, and ideally the last three matches of the show. The singles matches were excellent and the tag match in the middle was an effective setup for two ROH Supercard of Honor matches. Check back for Anish Vishwakoti’s review of this show later today and make Prowrestling.net your home for coverage throughout WrestleMania weekend.
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