A statistical look at the Sakura Genesis main event
In the main event at this weekend’s Sakura Genesis, Kazuchika Okada and SANADA will meet in a singles match for the ninth time in their careers.
Okada has historically dominated the series, and you’d think that that’s the long and short of the probable outcomes. Still, with his new friends, his new look, and his new motivations, SANADA looks as dangerous as ever. SANADA used all this new energy to propel himself to a New Japan Cup victory, earning him this main event slot against the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada.
Recent History – Last 365 Days – NJPW Singles Matches
Depending on how one defines “recency,” the recent results of either wrestler could point to having the momentum headed into the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match on April 8. It is well-documented that Kazuchika Okada had a great 2022, and he enters his competition against SANADA with a 14-2 record in the last 365 Days. Okada’s .875 winning percentage in that time is over 100 points higher than the next-best in NJPW.
Okada carries a ten-match winning streak with him, dating back to the middle of G1 Climax 32 when Okada lost to JONAH on August 7, 2022. If we look
at the consistency each wrestler has displayed over the last 365 days and each wrestler’s last 16 matches, Kazuchika Okada enters Sakura Genesis as the heavy favorite.
Recent History – Last 90 Days – NJPW Singles Matches
SANADA enters his first challenge for the relatively new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, riding a five-match winning streak, his first major NJPW tournament victory, and a 5-1 record in the last 90 days. In the last 90 days, no wrestlers in NJPW have been more dominant and successful than SANADA. SANADA has labored through the first quarter of his year; his 22:19 average match length is the highest in NJPW among wrestlers with at least three singles matches. Lengthy and arduous or not, SANADA is producing wins and proving that he belongs in the IWGP World Heavyweight Title picture.
Recent History – Last Five Years – NJPW Singles Matches
Over the last five years, Kazuchika Okada has proven himself to be New Japan Pro Wrestling’s iron man. Okada’s .782 winning percentage in singles matches in that time is the highest in NJPW, and he achieved that while wrestling in 101 singles matches, which is the most in NJPW since 2018. Of course, Okada’s 79 wins are at the top of NJPW over that time as well.
That’s not to say SANADA is any slouch. His 46 singles victories have quietly landed him in the top 10 of NJPW over the last five years, and his 26 hours, 24 minutes, and 44 seconds of total singles match length land SANADA in the top 5. SANADA certainly has the stamina to keep up with the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. Still, the question is whether he can log a victory to make the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship his second run with IWGP singles gold.
Head To Head History
Kazuchika Okada and SANADA return to the site of their 2019 Tokyo Sports Match Of The Year in this year’s Sakura Genesis main event. Ryogoku Sumo Hall hasn’t been especially kind to either wrestler, as Kazuchika Okada and SANADA enter with winning percentages far below their recent production.
SANADA is just 4-7 in his career at Sumo Hall, including just a 2-3 record in NJPW. SANADA has had his chances to make a mark on Ryogoku, but he has not yet figured out how to win the big one here. In 2014, while he wrestled for Wrestle-1, SANADA did defeat Austin Aries here to capture the TNA X-Division championship, but since then, SANADA’s only shining moments here have occurred during G1 Climax tournaments. Most recently, SANADA lost in the G1 Climax final here in 2021, and two years prior, SANADA lost a heartbreaking IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Kazuchika Okada here in the fall of 2019.
Okada does enter with significantly more experience in the storied Sumo Hall and a track record of success when wrestling in championship matches here. Okada is a staggering 9-1 here with the IWGP Heavyweight or World Heavyweight title on the line. The lion’s share of his losses and draws in Ryogoku have occurred during the final stages of G1 Climax tournaments. Since Okada seems to turn up the heat when the title is on the line at Ryogoku, it’s hard to point to him as anything but the favorite.
Chris Samsa is a professional wrestling statistician and research assistant supporting the NJPW English Broadcast team since 2019. Follow him on social