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NJPW ‘Sakura Genesis’ 4.1.18 Preview & Predictions

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New Japan returns April 1st to Ryōgoku Sumo Hall for the 2018 Sakura Genesis. There is a noticeable amount of foreigners on the show as NJPW furthers their push into the westerns markets. Four championship matches will take place, the six-man, junior tag, and both the junior and heavyweight title are all on the line. Each of the three musketeers of modern British wrestling will be represented in a singles match in front of a sold out show of 10,000 people in Tokyo, Japan. You can’t tell me 2018 hasn’t been a wild year for professional wrestling.

The Young Bucks vs Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
Recently making the move to the heavyweight division, The Young Bucks are looking to establish themselves as credible threats. Would a win over Yujiro and Owens be a big deal? Not really, but if they were to lose to a team consisting of two fall guys, that would be notable. Even though New Japan likes having newly graduated juniors take a few losses before getting that first major win, this is The Young Bucks. They are the most decorated junior tag team in New Japan history and it’s not like Yujiro and Owens are world-beaters. Expect a nice, little win for the Bucks
Prediction: The Young Bucks

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs Takashi Iizuka & Taichi
Another ex-junior who has made his way up to the heavyweight division is Taichi. He’s had a more typical graduation, strong outings but ultimately losing. New Japan love the team of Ishii and Yano, to the chagrin of every Ishii fan, so they’re liking to pick up the win. With that said, it’s not out of the question that Taichi could score a win over Yano. What’s more likely is that Yano will cheat to beat Taichi, causing a feud between the two cheaters.
Prediction: Ishii & Yano

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (c) vs Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin & Ryusuke Taguchi

We haven’t seen Tama Tonga wrestle in Japan since the Honor Rising shows in February so it’ll be nice to have him back. These titles never receive any sort of sustained reign so you never know which way a match is going to go. Ultimately it doesn’t matter which way this goes but I think it serves the champions better to retain. The three of them aren’t doing anything else and are a part of an established unit as opposed to their challengers.
Prediction: Fale, Tama & Tanga

Hirooki Goto, Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroshi Tanahashi Juice Robinson & David Finlay
In the coming weeks both Goto and White will defend their titles against Juice and Finlay, respectively. I’m not so crazy about the match between Goto and Juice but both are capable of a good match. White and Finlay are in a super heated rivalry and it’s cool to see Finlay receive his first shot at a singles title. In order to cement themselves as credible challengers, neither Juice or Finlay should be pinned. YOSHI-HASHI is there and is never one to argue against taking a pin.
Prediction: Tanahashi, Juice & Finlay

Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL vs Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad
Mind games between Suzuki and Naito continue and the tension has become thick. Suzuki wants Naito to challenge him for his IC title and Naito has been side-stepping Suzuki’s request. It’s a bizarre story, one where the challenger would have to reach a breaking point in order for us to get the match. I think we’ll see Suzuki try his damnedest to goat Naito into a singles match. What that will take is the key. K.E.S. want a rematch for their tag titles they lost at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and a win over the champions would make a good case for them to be the next challengers.
Prediction: Suzuki & K.E.S.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado (c) vs Roppongi 3K vs Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI

Another set of tag team titles which never seem to receive a reign of any significant length. Not since 2014 has a reign had more than three defenses. The last three reigns haven’t had any defenses at all. With all that said, this year has had some of the best junior tag matches in more than five years. The crowds have been more vocal in their appreciation, finally having guys they can get behind. There is no reason to pretend like you know what’s going to happen because I doubt that there is any direction at all. The match will be great though because people finally care about who they want to win. I’m guessing LIJ because I’m having the other half of the stable lose in the previous match.
Prediction: Hiromu & BUSHI

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) vs Marty Scurll

In 2016, Will Ospreay made his debut for New Japan in this building. He challenged KUSHIDA for the junior title but didn’t come out victorious. Eighteen months later he defeated KUSHIDA, in this same building, for the title. It was a crowning achievement in the career of Will Ospreay. His reign ended without one successful defense thanks to Marty Scurll. Now, Ospreay comes into Sumo Hall as the defending champion and looking to get his revenge on the man who ended his feel-good moment. Marty Scurll’s story is the man who takes away every moment from Ospreay and that can certainly happen once again but I hope not. Sometimes you want good things in wrestling and Ospreay is a good thing.
Prediction: Will Ospreay

Golden Lovers vs Cody & Hangman Page
Next weekend these four are scheduled to face off in singles matches at ROH Supercard of Honor so this serves as a little taste of what’s to come. Wrestling 101 says that you always want the heel to have a gripe. If the heel feels satisfied, why would he continue to pursue the face? Therefore the Golden Lovers should come out of this one victorious. This should be a nice feel-good moment for the fans, seeing the Golden Lovers come out with the win and showcase their upcoming singles matches against these two.
Prediction: Golden Lovers

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr.

If you had told me a month ago Zack Sabre Jr. was Okada’s next challenger I’d have been excited for a fresh match but would have told you there wasn’t any chance of Sabre winning. Thanks to the New Japan Cup, I can no longer say that with 100% certainty. To get to this point Sabre had to defeat Naito, Ibushi, SANADA and Tanahashi. The way New Japan have built up Sabre has been masterful. He ran through multiple fan favorites, forcing everybody to ‘Just Tap Out’. Even the likes of Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI have fallen victim to Sabre over the last week. For the record, if Sabre were to win, I’d be ecstatic. A fresh face and a new star born as he leads the way of the western expansion. Yet, I wouldn’t bet against Okada, he’s been unstoppable. This will be a fantastic match filled with intrigue thanks to New Japan going all in and having Sabre look like a credible threat to end Okada’s reign.
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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