NJPW Sakura Genesis 2017 Review

 

 

Formerly known as Invasion Attack, the big April show for April 2017 had a change of name but still delivered in a big way. The main event pit the current IWGP World Champion Kazuchika Okada against Katsuyori Shibata in a much-anticipated matchup between two men kept relatively apart. Five titles on the line amongst some multi-men tags made for a really good nine match card plus a bonus dark match that saw David Finlay, Jushin Liger and Manabu Nakanishi defeat a team of young lions in a six man tag.

MATCH RESULTS

Bullet Club (Hangman Page, Tama Tonga, Tonga Roa & Yujiro Takahashi) defeated Tiger Mask, Tiger Mask W, Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata.

Roppongi Vice & Yoshi Hashi defeated Suzuki Gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Taka Michinoku)

Suzuki Gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) retained the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships defeating Jedo & Gedo

Bad Luck Fale & Kenny Omega defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Ricochet & ryusuke Taguchi) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi, Evil, Sanada & Tetsuya Naito)

War Machine defeated Tencozy to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions

Hirooki Goto retained the NEVER Openweight Championship defeating Zack Sabre Jr

Hiromu Takahashi defeated Kushida to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

Kazuchika Okada defended and retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship defeating Katsuyori Shibata in 38:09

THE MATCHES

BULLET CLUB (YUJIRO TAKAHASHI, CHASE OWENS, TAMA TONGA & TONGA ROA v TIGER MASK, TIGER MASK W, TOGI MAKABE & YUJI NAGATA

Takahashi took to using his cane early in the match and would give the Bullet Club the advantage they needed as they tagged frequently to pound and keep poor Nagata in their corner. Nagata finally took Tonga Roa for an exploder and tagged in Makabe who stood toe to toe with Roa strength wise as neither would go from one another’s strikes. As Tiger W hit a big moonsault onto the unsuspecting Takahashi ringside, an opportunity for Owens to grab the leg of Tiger Mask then push him into the ‘Gun Stun’ from Tama Tonga gave the Bullet Club the win. Decent opener on the main show.

SUZUKI GUN (MINORU SUZUKI, TAKA MICHANOKU & EL DESPERSDO) v ROPPONGI VICE & YOSHI HASHI

Suzuki Gun’s intentions were obvious has they attacked their opponents during their entrance and proceeded to use the railings on poor Yoshi Hashi. Roppongi Vice took control in the ring as they beat on El Desperado who took an excellent northern lights suplex from Baretta that barely saw him kick out. Suzuki took control and faced an elbow exchange with Hashi that Suzuki did not take kindly too as he overpowered his opponent, however Yoshi Hashi was resilient and after taking a lot of punishment managed to grab the win for his team after hitting ‘Karma’ on Taka Michanoku. More shenanigans from Suzuki Gun who continued to play dirty post match including attacking a group of young Lions with ringside chairs.

IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP

TAICHI & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU(c) v GEDO & JEDO

Something told me to take a bathroom break during this match and I should have taken notice of my instincts! More Suzuki Gun shenanigans as Taichi took to using the bell hammer after he & Kanemaru had suffered a crossface respectively from the challengers. El Desperado joined the cause ejecting the referee into the railings and attacking Jedo until Roppongi Vice came to the aid of the Chaos pairing. Kanemaru DDT on Jedo finally saw the match end as Suzuki Gun retained in a match where the only highlight was Miho Abe.

BAD LUCK FALE & KENNY OMEGA v TOMOHIRO ISHII & YANO TORU

There are two sides to Kenny Omega, and tonight we were treated to the comedic side. Actually Omega and Yano worked well as they treated us to a battle of the released turnbuckle pads as they exchanged strikes with foreign objects. The match did get serious when Ishii and Omega squared off with Ishii ignoring the pain from hitting the exposed turnbuckle. Omega finished off Ishii nailing the one winged angel to pick up the win in an enjoyable tag match. Commentary put over the fact that nobody kicks out of the Omega finisher yet again enforcing what a dangerous move this is, putting over the fact that when used, Nobody can kick out.  

HIROSHI TANAHASHI, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, JUICE ROBINSON & RICOCHET v EVIL, BUSHI, SANADA & TETSUYA NAITO

Interesting to see the Juice Robinson push continue as he gets his biggest pin to date, an excellent eight man tag match that saw LIJ countering their offence in numbers as the newly formed Taguchi Japan responded with their own moves including the crowd responding vocally when Ricochet let rip showing his athleticism and the flying ability we all know adhere to that just excites the viewer. The continuing development and rise of Juice Robinson was evident in the final stretch of the match as Naito took a lot of offence from the youngster before succumbing to ‘pulp friction’ and eating the pin. I get a lot of people would not have expected Naito to take the pin, however, this sets up an Intercontinental title shot for Robinson who declared his interest in the Championship post match.

IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

TENCOZY(c) v WAR MACHINE

Following the injury to Honma, Tencozy replaced the Great Bash Heel and took the tag titles from Yano and Ishii, transitional champions? More than likely as War Machine, who have dominated the tag ranks on recent tours of New Japan earned themselves a shot at the titles that desperately need a team to take the belts and make them worth fighting for and breathe new life into the IWGP tag team division. To be honest, I always felt a title change was going to happen, War Machine are incredibly agile for their size and dominated the match as they worked Kojima, who himself as always received the chants from the crowd. Kojima took a lot of offence from Hanson & Rowe but did manage to hit a cutter on Hanson for a near fall but the end was near as War Machine hit Kojima with a pop up power slam, with Hanson flying through the second rope to take out Tenzan. Although Kojima kicked out of a pin attempt, and hit Rowe with a strong Lariat, he would soon feel the force of a Rowe German suplex that set up ‘Fallout’ and a title change. Love War Machine and they completely deserved their big moment and the titles.

NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

HIROOKI GOTO(c) v ZACK SABRE JR

Sabre took to working the arm as soon as he could gain an advantage as this match took a methodical pace more suited to Sabre Jr. Goto at times struggled to cope with Sabre’s way of working as he tried in vain to hit moves on his challenger only for Sabre to wriggle his way out and lock Goto into another hold. Whether you enjoy the grappling of Sabre or not, this match was intriguing to see just how Sabre would find a way of defeating Goto. Unfortunately Suzuki Gun had to poke their nose into the match which seem to give Goto an edge and be more costly to Sabre as his momentum seem to have been interrupted and somehow, looking exhausted, the nearly man for so long, Goto hit the GTR on Sabre Jr to make a successful title defence. Goto and Suzuki fought post match and Suzuki’s interference was not completely to help Sabre Jr, but set up a title match for himself!

IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

HIROMU TAKAHASHI(c) v KUSHIDA

This was New Japan booking at its best, Kushida with a flying somersault over the ropes taking out Takehashi whilst he was still enjoying his entrance. Kushida’s intentions were soon unravelled as Takehashi responded from being sent into the railings by nailing a sunset flip on Kushida, who stood aloft the apron sending him hard onto the ringside floor. That was the end of Kushida’s challenge, Takahashi hit a ‘Timebomb’, followed that up with a running Death Valley driver into the turnbuckle and then produced ‘Timebomb’ number two and that was it! 1:56 is all it took for Takehashi to retain his title! Clever booking indeed as this made Takehashi look really strong, and has the title holder, making a Champion look this strong is a forgotten art at times. Concerns for where Kushida goes from here, maybe a back seat for now and a good best of super juniors? Takehashi began to eat the wrist tape of Kushida until Ricochet got involved and challenged Takehashi for a title match. Mouth-watering prospect.

IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

KAZUCHIKA OKADA(c) v KATSUYORI SHIBATA

Kauzuchika Okada is a sponge; he absorbs a mountain of punishment then strikes his opponent at their weakest spot. This match was typical Okada, Shibata methodically worked on Okada throughout, picking a body part and slowly working on that body part as Okada Methodically allowed the challenger to tire himself out. This was Okada at his best, and of course Shibata was fantastic in slowly attempting to wear his opponent down. They grappled on the mat to start, both men cautious not to give their opponent an opening, or to allow an advantage. Shibata took control as he got the better of Okada as he found an answer to anything that the champion threw his way, working the legs and locking Okada into a figure four before turning to a surfboard hold, taking pressure from the legs and applying it to the back. Okada responded with some offence of his own, but Shibata mounted the pressure applying an abdominal stretch to increase more pressure on the body of Okada. However, Okada took the pain, absorbed the punishment, exchanged strikes with one of the most dangerous strikers in wrestling, and then the Shibata head butt! Blood trickled from the challenger as he applied another abdominal stretch on the champion, and when Okada went down, somehow he scrambled to the ropes. Okada is the man in New Japan, and he’s the champion for good reason. Here, Okada showed what he was about, as Shibata grew weaker from his own continual onslaught on the champion, Okada, patiently continuing to absorb everything Shibata had, waited for one moment of weakness from Shibata, and then ‘RAINMAKER’ and this match was done.  Five star match for me, cleverly worked from both men as Okada continues to have continuous five star matches. The right result for me with Shibata no doubt finding another route to Okada down the line. Post match, Okada down and beaten is attacked by Bad Luck fale who made his attentions known as he beat down on the champion and declared himself a possible next opponent for Okada stating ‘You wanna fight, i’ll give you a fucking fight!’

Another great outing from New Japan that nailed the second half of the show, Kazuchika Okada continues to be the man as he nails another five star match with Shibata being a more than worth opponent. Clever booking for the Junior title match as only New Japan can do, and one title change as War Machine finally get their deserved title win. Be sure to check out this show on New Japan World.

Mark Worrall

@hoohoowozza

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