IWGP World Heavyweight, Junior and Tag titles joined by TV bout
Four championship matches have been made official for Ryogoku Sumo Hall on April 8, with Sakura Genesis set to see a loaded lineup for the biggest event of the spring.
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The New Japan Cup winner SANADA will face IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. After winning his first New Japan Cup in a fairytale victory before his home Nagaoka crowd, SANADA admitted that the real work begins here, a view backed up by Okada himself. ‘You changed your hair and faction and that makes you think you can beat me?’ the Rainmaker would ask, and the question is sure to weight on the mind of Cold Skull. Despite Okada naming SANADA as his rival in 2019, SANADA has not achieved a measure of the success Okada has at the same age, and can claim but one victory over the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, a G1 Climax 29 win that would lead to a challenge and tear marked bitter defeat in Ryogoku that autumn.
Now, a chance for redemption, but also the pinnacle of professional wrestling for SANADA. With Just Five Guys at his back, SANADA’s focus, fire and determination is at an all time high. But is it enough to defeat the last boss of professional wrestling and lift its greatest prize for the first time?
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship will be on the line when Robbie Eagles challenges Hiromu Takahashi. Hiromu had only just emerged victorious after a hard fought battle with Lio Rush in Nagaoka when Zack Sabre Jr. appeared to introduce the Time Bomb’s next challenger and the newest member of TMDK in Eagles. With the Sniper of the Skies now part of a faction with deep roots in Australian wrestling, he seeks to take the IWGP gold back to Australia. When the two last met in a championship scenario, Robbie was able to turn back the challenge of Hiromu in the MetLife Dome in 2021. With Hiromu laying claim to a 2-1 record overall against the Sniper, can Eagles level the score and claim his second IWGP reign?
IWGP Tag Team gold will be on the line when Aussie Open challenge Bishamon. During World Tag League, Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis scored a win on Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI in the league phase, while losing out to the current tag champions in the finals. Meanwhile, in a strong New Japan Cup showing, Fletcher would defeat YOSHI-HASHI one on one in the first round before falling to Hirooki Goto in the second. The record books then put the two teams on an equal footing, and their in ring output has cemented both as the top two teams in the world. The question is, just what order are number one and number two? We find out April 8.
The NJPW World Television Championship will be on the line when Zack Sabre Jr. defends against Shota Umino. Sabre was less than charitable toward his young opposition Umino as they headed into their New Japan Cup second round matchup in Okayama on March 15. Yet Umino surprised ZSJ with skill and a crowd connection that willed him to a high impact victory.
Yet the win came in 26 minutes and 12 seconds, the second longest match of this year’s tournament, and far longer than the 15 minutes the Roughneck will have on the clock April 8. If Umino is to come away with TV gold, he has to bring more than skills and strength, but speed as well, and all against the best technical wrestler on the planet.
The full card an match order is yet to be determined for Sakura Genesis, with more information to come soon. Yet a certain highlight of the undercard is in six man action, the Guerrillas of Destiny side of Hikuleo and Tama Tonga to be joined by Master Wato against the BULLET CLUB team of David Finlay, El Phantasmo and KENTA. Phantasmo has made it perfectly clear that with defeat in the New Japan Cup, he doesn’t recognise the Rebel as the new leader of BULLET CLUB. With friction high in the faction, the BC trio is up against two men in Tonga and Hikuleo that were expelled from the group in recent months, leading to a powder keg in Ryogoku, joining a stacked card on April 8!