Wrestling Review: NJPW Sakura Genesis (2021)

With the New Japan Cup in the rear view mirror, the winner of that tournament will face off with the new, inaugural IWGP World Heavyweight Champion in the main event of Sakura Genesis. Kota Ibushi has borne the brunt of the criticism of the unifications of the previous titles, but is determined to be a strong first champion; his contender Will Ospreay meanwhile, will stop at nothing to prove that Ospreay is on another level entirely to the rest of the NJPW Roster. In the semi main, Roppongi 3K reunite for the first time in over nine months as they vie for the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships, against the dominant current champs, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemauru of Suzuki-gun. Also on the show, the newest member of Will Ospreay’s United Kingdom faction will be revealed, Tanahashi and Jay White renew hostilities in a tag team match, and more.

+ Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship): I was worried about YOH coming back and dragging down SHO, after the massive singles run SHO has had, but thankfully that was not the case. I love the Despy/Kanemaru duo, and this was the standout match of the show. I’m happy to say that after this match, I’m looking forward to more of Roppongi 3K
+ Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale): thankfully this managed to restore my hopes for this show. White and Tanahashi have such fantastic chemistry together, and I hope to see them going one on one again sometime soon. Kojima is also still really good, and while I can’t say Fale fits the mold of those three, this was still better than all the preceding matches
+ CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada) vs BULLET CLUB (Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA & EVIL): a lot of intertwining stories collided in this one, and the match was the better for it. It was still relatively short and simple, but I liked it for what it was. KENTA, Ishimori, Ishii, and Goto all looked great

Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship): this was a disappointing slog into an exciting final stretch, but frankly I can’t say this was a positive overall. These two have had such good matches in the past, but for whatever reason they just seemed to never mesh like they often have, despite booth looking okay individually. Ospreay was the clear standout here, to the point that maybe I wonder if Ibushi was dealing with an injury of some kind. Very disappointing, with a really unappealing aftermath
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & X): first and foremost, the ‘X’ reveal was really disappointing. Cobb and O-Khan are a good team of powrehouses, and against Shingo both had some good moments. This never clicked for me
Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs BULLET CLUB (Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa): I really liked the segments between Sabre and Tanga Loa, but the rest of it was not particularly good. Gino Gambino gushed over DOUKI on commentary was more enjoyable than the match

Should you watch this event: The tag team title match was fantastic, but don’t bother with much else on this show. That main event was one of the most disappointing big matches in recent NJPW history, and without wanting to sound overly dramatic, perhaps all time. Maybe I need to take a break from NJPW for a while.

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