Sakura Genesis will rock Ryogoku on April 4.
For the first time since 2018, Ryogoku will play host to Sakura Genesis. The card, going down on April 4, will feature two championship bouts and several tag matches.
Following his New Japan Cup victory, Will Ospreay will challenge Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
The main event will see the first ever defence of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship when Kota Ibushi goes head to head with Will Ospreay. As Sakura Genesis returns to Ryogoku Sumo Hall, so too does a British IWGP challenger, echoing Zack Sabre Jr.’s 2018 victory, and creating an appropriately international feel to this main event.
Ospreay’s number one contendership status was earned after a 30 minute war with Shingo Takagi that showed off the Commonwelath Kingpin’s effortless ability to change gears between high flying high risk offense and intense, focused punishment. It’s an ability that has evolved within Ospreay since making the transition to heavyweight; a transition that arguably began with the first ever in ring meeting between these two men.
At Wrestle Kingdom 13, Ibushi and Ospreay competed for the NEVER Openweight Championship in what Ospreay addressed at the time as a ‘dream match’, but which became a nightmare for Ibushi. With a new level of intensity unseen in the then fan friendly junior heavyweight star, Ospreay unleashed a Hidden Blade to the Golden Star that would put Ibushi on the injured list for the ensuing month.
While encounters that followed in the 2019 and 2020 G1 Climax tournaments would see Ibushi come out on top, the end of G1 Climax 30 would have Ospreay betray Kazuchika Okada and CHAOS. Forming the United Empire in the wake of a destroyed friendship signalled to the world that friendships and alliances were expendable, and a fair price to pay for ultimate glory; Ospreay is more than willing to accept that it’s a lonely spot at the top, and will stop at nothing to take the World heavyweight gold.
As for Kota Ibushi, it is perhaps only recently that the Golden God is understanding the unique weight of his position as champion, and the gravitas that comes with the decisions he makes. Unifying the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships under the World Heavyweight banner has proven controversial to say the very least. Tensions felt during tag team matches at the New Japan Cup’s closing weekend suggest that he has strained relationships with his peers in hontai and NJPW at large. Support for Ibushi to defeat Ospreay in Ryogoku will likely be near unanimous however; will the extra man make the difference next Sunday?
Below is the full card.
NJPW Sakura Genesis 2021
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale)
- Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & X)
- CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada) vs BULLET CLUB (Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA & EVIL)
- Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs BULLET CLUB (Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
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