4/2 NJPW “Road to Sakura Genesis” results: Vetter’s review of Shingo Takagi vs. Aaron Henare in an Ultimate Triad match for the KOPW Title, Kazuchika, Tomohiro Ishii, Tiger Mask, Yoh, and Master Wato vs. Sanada, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Douki

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Road to Sakura Genesis”
April 2, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed on New Japan World

The building is packed. This show has Japanese-only commentary.

1. Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe defeated Yuto Nakashima and Oskar Leube at 9:18. Yuto started and slapped Makabe in the face. Pretty standard match involving the Young Lions. Late in the match, both Young Lion applied Boston Crabs; just for once it would be nice if they could win! Makabe hit a top-rope kneedrop on Yuto’s face for the pin.

2. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi defeated “The Bullet Club” El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, and Gedo at 9:41. Ishimori and Hiromu started. ELP entered to face Naito, and they brawled to the floor. In the ring, the BC worked over Hiromu. Phantasmo glared at Naito and taunted him as he did his silly flips and rolls, then mocking Naito’s “tranquilo” pose. Naito finally made the hot tag at 6:00 and he hit a basement dropkick on ELP, and he tugged on Gedo’s beard.

Naito gave Gedo a drop-toe-hold with Gedo’s head hitting ELP in the crotch. Bushi entered and hit a top-rope missile dropkick on Gedo, then he dove through the ropes on Gedo at 8:00. ELP hit a Lionsault on Bushi. Phantasmo and Naito were again brawling on the floor. Bushi hit his second-rope Lungblower move to pin Gedo.

3. “House of Torture” EVIL, Sho, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo vs. Minoru Suzuki, Ren Narita, El Desperado, and Ryohei Oiwa ended in a double-count out at 9:04. I was confused as I saw Desperado walk to the ring with the House of Torture; it wasn’t him, it was Togo wearing his mask, which he removed when he got in the ring. Suzuki’s team came out second and they immediately charged at the HoT, and all eight brawled on the floor. Suzuki fought Kenta in Los Angeles maybe 48 or so hours earlier? Finally back in the ring, the HoT took turns working over Oiwa in their corner. Oiwa finally hit a dropkick on Togo at 6:00 and made the hot tag.

Minoru and Narita got in and worked together. Narita hit a gutwrench suplex on Togo, and he applied a Boston Crab. Everyone was again brawling in and out of the ring; the ref has lost control. EVIL hit some hard chops on Suzuki against the guardrail. The ref finally called for the bell, as we have a double count-out.

* Ren Narita spoke on the mic, glaring at EVIL. There is a re-match for the IWGP six-man tag titles the next day!

4. Great-O-Khan and “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher defeated Toru Yano and “Bishamon” Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto at 10:15. Yes, AO wrestled at the ROH Supercard of Honor on Friday in LA, so a quick turnaround for them, too. YH and Davis opened. Davis slammed Goto, and he hit his senton on Goto for a nearfall at 2:00. The heels worked over Goto in their corner, with Great-O-Khan hitting a gutwrench suplex for a nearfall at 4:30. Yoshi-Hashi made the hot tag and traded forearms with Davis.

Yoshi-Hashi hit his Headhunter flipping neckbreaker. Fletcher tagged in and hit some hard chops on Yoshi-Hashi. Yano tagged in at 8:00 and he immediately removed a corner pad. Of course, Yano wound up getting whipped into the exposed steel in the corner. Yoshi-Hashi hit a superkick on Fletcher, allowing Yano to get a rollup for a believable nearfall. AO hit simultaneous front-and-back clotheslines on Yano, then the Koryallis team flipping slam for the pin on Yano.

5. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr., Robbie Eagles, and Kosei Fujita defeated Boltin Oleg, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Shota Umino at 11:04. Boltin is bald and thick (reminds me of Lars Sullivan), and he opened against Fujita. Eagles and Taguchi squared off at 2:00; Eagles hasn’t changed his look at all since he joined TMDK a couple weeks ago, which is mildly disappointing. Eagles applied the Ron Miller Special leglock, but Taguchi reached the ropes. TMDK took turns working over Taguchi, with Sabre once again ‘teaching’ Fujita the proper way to hit moves.

Shota got in at 6:30 and he brawled with Eagles. Eagles hit a mid-ring Sliced Bread. Sabre got in and applied a mid-ring Octopus on Shota; these two will square off soon for Sabre’s TV title. They traded rollups. Shota hit a nice dropkick at 8:30. Oleg tagged back in, and he hit shoulder tackles, and he applied a belly-to-belly bearhug on Sabre. This guy is a beast. Oleg applied a Boston Crab; Sabre escaped and switched to a cross-armbreaker, and Oleg tapped out. Intriguing match.

6. “Just Five Guys” Sanada, Taichi, Douki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Taka Michinoku defeated Kazuchika Okada, Yoh, Master Wato, Tomohiro Ishii, and Tiger Mask at 13:06. Douki and Wato started. Tiger Mask entered and hit a backbreaker over his knee on Douki. On the floor, Kanemaru whipped Yoh into a guardrail. J5G began working over Yoh in their corner. Taichi applied a mid-ring Octopus submission hold at 5:00. Ishii made the hot tag and he brawled with Taichi, hitting a shoulder tackle that dropped Taichi.

Ishii hit some chops and a vertical suplex, but Taichi popped up and hit a clothesline, and they were both down at 8:00. Okada and Sanada entered, and Sanada immediately hit a pair of dropkicks, then a back suplex for a nearfall. Okada applied a Money Clip submission hold on the mat on Sanada; Taka made the save to break it up. Sanada applied the Skull End, but Okada quickly escaped. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Sanada.

Tiger Mask re-entered at 10:30 and hit a spin kick on Sanada; he set up for the Tiger Bomb, but Sanada blocked it. Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Bomb on Kanemaru, then a tombstone piledriver on Kanemaru. Douki dove through the ropes. Kanemaru hit a top-rope moonsault to pin Tiger Mask. Okada and Sanada glared at each other; they will fight for Okada’s title April 8.

* The rules of the “Ultimate Triad” match are each man must score a pinfall, a submission, and make an opponent stay down for a 10-count to win. So, you basically need to win three falls.

7. Shingo Takagi defeated Aaron Henare in an Ultimate Triad match to retain the KOPW Title at 38:03. Henare scored a pin over Shingo in a multi-man match, and he pinned Shingo in the first-round of the New Japan Cup to earn this title shot. They traded mat holds to begin, then they brawled to the floor at 4:00, with Shingo whipping Henare into the guardrail. They went up the bleachers and came back down and traded blows with chairs. They re-entered the ring at 7:30. Shingo applied a crossface on the mat, and he switched to a Fujiwara Armbar.

Henare hit a Samoan Drop at 12:00, and they were both down. Henare sold the pain in his left arm. Henare hit several knee lifts to the gut. They went back to the floor, where Henare slammed Shingo’s back into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Henare applied a submission hold around the head. Henare nailed a Blue Thunder Bomb at 15:30, and he went back to the submission hold around the neck. Shingo applied an armlock, twisting Henare’s right arm behind his head. They got up and traded open-hand slaps to the face at 22:30.

Henare hit some punches to the gut, then the Rampage football tackle at 24:00. Henare went for a second Rampage, but Shingo turned it into a DDT, and they were both down. They got up and traded punches. Shingo nailed a Pumping Bomber clothesline, and they were both down at 29:30. They traded a series of headbutts. Henare nailed a running penalty kick. Shingo got a backslide for a pin; both men have now scored the pins and the submissions needed to win. Henare tried to apply a full nelson, but Shingo fought free. Shingo hit the Made In Japan slam, and they were both down as we reached 35:00. They traded more clotheslines and forearms, and Henare hit another punch to the gut. They were both down. Shingo got to his feet; Henare couldn’t get up before the 10-count, so Shingo won.

Final Thoughts: There are only a handful of wrestlers who should be doing matches 30 minutes or longer, and I’m not convicinced Aaron Henare is one of them. The match was solid, but just needlessly long. And while Henare scored the prior victories in this feud, I fully expected Shingo to retain this title here. That said, New Japan has far too many title belts.

The good news is New Japan continues to move along feuds. Sabre-Umino and Okada-Sanada, Bishamon-Aussie Open, and the six-man title belt feud were all highlighted here.

I hate the “Just Five Guys” name and hope they come up with something better. I want to reiterate how Sanada’s new look really helped re-set his character; he has short, black hair.


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