NJPW Sakura Genesis 2018 Review


MVP: Will Ospreay

The show starts with Young Bucks vs. Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi. The show takes place in Sumo Hall in Tokyo and is called by Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, and Rocky Romero.

The Young Bucks vs. Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens 

Matt wrestles in the team Cody weight belt but Nick still doesn’t. This could be selling the injury or showing a feud in the Bucks. The two teams had multiple showings of respect because they are both on the Bullet Club but Yujiro and Chase attack right after the bell rings. Bucks are able to hit their normal tandem of kicks to get back on top. Chase Owens has a great showing in this match showing that he is totally underrated. The Bucks hit a really cool springboard 450 and standing moonsault combo being probably the highlight spot of this match. Yujiro stops the Meltzer Driver allowing Owens to hit his finisher the “Jewel Heist” for a near fall. In the end, Matt gets Owens in a sharpshooter and Nick hits the facebuster stopping Owens from getting to the ropes and Owens taps out. 

Winner: The Young Bucks via submission @ 9:26            Rating: ***

This was a routine Young Bucks match after their 5-star classic at Strong Style Evolved. This continues the Bullet Club civil war storyline. 

Suzuki-Gun (Izuka and Tai-Chi) vs. Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii 

Suzuki Gun attacks early. This was most of the match as Suzuki Gun hit multiple chair shots outside and there wasn’t much actual wrestling here. One of the highlights was Toru Yano taking off the turnbuckle pad but getting hit with it by Izuka. Yano is still over and is a great character even though his character work means that Yano matches aren’t focused on the wrestling. Izuka grabs his iron finger brass knuckles but Yano gets a roll up victory avoiding being hit with them.

Winners: Yano and Ishii via pinfall @ 7:55         Rating: *

This was a bad match. Suzuki-Gun is a good faction but the two members here are totally hated and for a good reason. They are solid heels but I don’t think Izuka could put on a great match at all and Tai-Chi is a very weird character. Yano was the highlight of this match but laughs and character work don’t make a good match always and Ishii as a great wrestler lacked the character to fit in this weird match. 

Rysuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin, and Togi Makabe vs. The Tongans for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Titles

Elgin and Tonga Loa start the match. After a chop by Elgin, Loa mocks Ric Flair with a strut and a Woo! After a back and forth between Elgin and Loa a fight breaks out outside the ring. Fale has some great moments with the commentary table grabbing the mic and saying “Elgin has a face you just want to punch the fuck in.” In the ring, Elgin tries to bodyslam Fale but fails. Makabe gets in on a hot tag but a shoulder block from Fale puts them both down. Hot tag by Taguchi, Taguchi tributes Shinsuke Nakamura and coaches his team to hit clotheslines to the opposing team in the corner. Taguchi gets a 3 on 1 attack by the Tongans but Taguchi fights back. Taguchi hits a 619 but on the springboard in Tama Tonga side steps and hits a cutter for the win. 

Winners: The Tongans Retain via pin @ 11:22      Rating: ***

This match did what the last one absolutely failed to do. It mixed solid wrestling with comedy. Fale’s interaction with commentary and Taguchi’s hot tag led to some good laughs but in the end, the wrestling in this match never broke into anything special.

Juice Robinson, Dave Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White, Yoshi-HASHI and Hirooki Goto

This match highlighted the upcoming match between Jay White and Dave Finlay really well. Jay White and Dave Finlay start the match with an intense strikefest. The match transitions to the outside with all the members of Juice, Finlay and Tana’s team being sent into the barricade. In the ring, Juice Robinson hits a hot tag and hits a Hi Fly Flo for a near fall. Hirooki Goto hits a Ushi-Guroshi. Tanahashi hits a hot tag. There was a cool spot where Tanahashi’s slingblade got reversed into a running blockbuster by Yoshi. Juice hits a pulp friction opening up the Hi-Fly Flo by Tanahashi that ends the match. 

Winners: Tanahashi, Finlay, and Juice via pin @ 9:20 Rating: **3/4

This match did a good job of setting up the upcoming US title match with Dave Finlay and Jay White with some solid tag wrestling and not much more. 

Los Ignorables (Sanada, Evil and Naito) vs. The Killer Elite Squad and Minoru Suzuki

Naito comes out with a really cool mask. This is Evil’s first big returning match after the Orbital Bone injury. In his entrance, Lance Archer goes all around the arena to spit water into the crowd. Naito shows indifference towards Suzuki in his entrance setting up a future match. Suzuki and KES attack early. Naito and Suzuki showdown and Suzuki triangles Naito over the top rope. Suzuki and Naito fight in the crowd with multiple chair shots by Suzuki. A great shot shows a baby crying at Lance Archer, great heel stuff. Suzuki locks in a kneebar in the ring on Naito. Davey Boy Smith Jr. misses a leg drop and sells the leg the rest of the match. Sanada comes in for a great sequence of moves. Davey Boy hits a Northern Light Suplex for a near fall. Tandem Sidewalk splash by Killer Elite Squad near fall. KES hits a killer bomb on Sanada and Evil. The pin on Evil gives Suzuki Gun the win.

Winner: Suzuki-Gun via pin @ 11;27                Rating: ***1/4

The Finish of the match means that Killer Elite Squad will get a future title shot at the tag titles. Also after the match, Naito and Suzuki cut promos challenging and accepting a match for Wrestling Dontaku. This was a good match that set up some good future matches. 

Los Ingobernables (Bushi and Hiromu) vs. Suzuki Gun (Desperado and Kanemaru) vs. Roppongi 3k for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Championships

This match is a rematch of the 46th Anniversary Show. Roppongi 3k attacks early and hits stereo dives. Brutal chops by Yoh to Bushi but Bushi chokes Yoh with his shirt. Suzuki Gun isolates Yoh leading to a very quiet couple of minutes in this match. Hot tag by Sho, Sho hits a spear on Takahashi. Double team suplex slam by RPG 3k  and Yoh hits german suplexes on Bushi and Hiromu. Rocky gets thrown into the ring and gets attacked by Hiromu, Yoh sacrifices himself for his manager. There is a crazy sunset flip-triple german suplex spot. Hiromu hits two Timebombs on Sho for a near fall where Kanemaru pulls out the ref. The illegal Desperado hits the Pinche Loco on Show winning the match in a cheap way.

Winners: Suzuki-Gun via pin @ 13:25                  Rating: **3/4

The cheap win and a very quiet long middle bring this match down. The definite highlight was the crazy triple german sunset bomb spot. I genuinely want the Jr. Tag Titles off of Suzuki-Gun

Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurrl for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

A rematch of the great match they had at Power Struggle last year. Early on, these men call back to previous matches where Scurrl had the winning streak. There are two really fast great sequences early on. Ospreay takes a hard landing off the neckbreaker over the ropes by Scurrl. Scurrl hits an apron thrust kick. Scurrl works the previously injured neck by putting Ospreay in a Torture Rack Scurll drops the holds and sends Ospreay into the corner. Ospreay does a great job of selling the neck or he is actually really badly injured. Cartwheel Enzugiri by Ospreay gives him some space. Standing Shooting Star by Ospreay for a near fall. Both men standoff after a double finisher attempt. Pumphandle Neckbreaker by Scurrl for a near fall. A great strikefest leads to a lariat by Ospreay for a near fall. Rolling over the top rope Scurrl hits a tombstone piledriver. The commentary sells it as if Ospreay has died. Scurrl stops the countout and instead wants the pin for a near fall. Awesome roll through powerbomb by Ospreay. Oscutter attempt dumped over the top rope and Ospreay hits his neck on the apron. Ospreay hits a Spanish Fly on the apron and Ospreay smashes his neck on the apron busting him open. Ospreay escapes the doctor to get in, Scurrl gets back in at 19. Pheonix Splash by Ospreay, near fall. Shooting Star Press on the ropes misses, Scurrl superkicks Ospreay in the neck. Chicken wing attempt reversed into a series of roll-ups. Oscutter hit but Will can’t capitalize. Piledriver by Scurrl for a near fall. Scurrl stomps brutally over and over again on the neck of Ospreay. Chicken Wing by Scurrl but Ospreay gets ropes. Tombstone by Scurrl reversed into a stunner then and Oscutter for the victory.

Winner: Will Ospreay Retains @ 30:45                     Rating: *****

This match combines the story of Ospreay’s neck, the Scurrl and Ospreay feud history and the resilience of Ospreay with great believable near falls and high spots grabbing the 5-star rating. This goes down high in the MOTY contenders. After the match, Ospreay challenges Kushida and Kushida accepts.

Golden Lovers vs. Cody and Hangman Page

Kenny and Cody start the match previewing their Supercard of Honor match on Saturday. Cody has some amazing heel work early on. Cody cheap shots Kenny but Kenny sends Page into Cody then dives on them both. The first Golden Lovers tag gets a huge pop from the crowd. Cross Slash that fails puts the Lovers on the outside and Cody throws a chair at a running Omega. Cody and Page isolate Ibushi in the ring. Moonsault by Omega stopped by Cody and Page hits a neckbreaker off the middle rope. Page brings out a table and bodyslams Ibushi and Omega ringside onto the flat table. The Young Bucks come out to distract Cody and they refuse to shake hands with him. In the ring, a heel kick by Omega busts open Cody. Hot tag by Ibushi sets up the series of dives they botched at SSE but hit successfully now. They hit the cross slash. An amazing tandem powerbomb/german suplex by the Lovers. Elevation suplex by Cody, near fall. One-Winged Angel to Cody through the table stopped. Ibushi looks to hit the German suplex spot from SSE but Page comes and assists Cody to hit the Doomsday Dropkick for a near fall. Buckshot Lariat by Page ducked into a double Pele by Ibushi to Cody and Page. Last Ride by Ibushi to Cody, near fall. Ibushi exposes his knee for the Kamegoye but Page on the outside saves Cody for a roll-up victory.

Winners: Cody and Page via pin @ 22:25                                              Rating: ****1/4

This match would feel a lot better if not completely overshadowed by The Bucks vs. The Golden Lovers. This match had a good story and some nice spots but both pale in comparison to the Strong Style Evolved match. Cody being busted open provided a good evil visual further proving that Cody can make anything work. After the match, there was an attack on Ibushi but Kenny saves him.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Taka Michinoku accompanies ZSJ and cuts his usual “Just Tap Out” promo. If Okada wins here he ties Hiroshi Tanahashi’s defense record at 11 defenses. Okada still has the disco pants on. As mentioned a lot here in this match, Shinsuke Nakamura is the only man to ever tap out Okada. This match has an actual MMA fight feel and not a pro wrestling feel. Long Rest hold period to open this match with Okada putting on Lucha holds but ZSJ hooking in real holds. Okada pats ZSJ firing him up. ZSJ locks in a heel hook but Okada gets the ropes. Bow and Arrow hold by ZSJ, Okada rolls out and hits the first strike of the match. ZSJ locks in an intense cobra twist but lets it go. ZSJ locks in a modified single leg crab that looks brutal. Brutal leg twist by ZSJ popping the knee of Okada. A dropkick by Okada gets caught into an STF by ZSJ but Okada gets roped again. On commentary, Rocky Romero says the Okada looked nervous before the match. DDT by Okada looks like it gave ZSJ a stinger. ZSJ locks in an octopus hold over the ropes but a big boot by Okada forces ZSJ ringside. Okada hits his big match over the barricade crossbody. ZSJ returns to the ring to work the arm of Okada. Great crowd shot of fans looking worried for Okada. ZSJ gets a guillotine choke but Okada reversed it into a reverse neckbreaker. An elbow drop by Okada gets caught in an armbar but Okada gets ropes. Okada is selling the arm which might play into a Rainmaker attempt later. Strikefest fires up Okada into hitting a shotgun dropkick. Backslide Rainmaker caught into a wristlock by ZSJ. Okada hists two dropkicks on ZSJ, thing of beauty. Tombstone by Okada, ZSJ rolls the taunt into a failed submission attempt. Rainmaker attempt rolled into a victory roll for a super close near fall. A PK by ZSJ puts both men down. ZSJ kick each other on the ground leading into a big dropkick by Okada. Rainmaker reversed into a triangle, Okada powers into hitting the first Rainmaker putting them both down. A second Rainmaker hit but ZSJ turns the third one into an Abdominal Stretch that gets powered into a jumping tombstone. A final Rainmaker ends the match. 

Winner: Kazuchika Okada                                Rating: ***** 

The build to this match was incredible and the match ended up being incredible too. Switching from the Okada formula to a unique match that made ZSJ look like a credible threat to Okada’s reign. Okada ties Hiroshi Tanahashi’s defense record. Okada brought the same Okada from the match with Kenny Omega last year and it made magic here. After the match, Hiroshi Tanahashi challenges Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Wrestling Dontaku and Okada accepts. 

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