New Japan Pro Wrestling will be making its return to Ryogoku Sumo Hall on April 4th, 2021 for Sakura Genesis, an event that was once an annual fixture of the New Japan calendar. Due to both their trip to the US in 2019 and the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020, this will be the first time in three years that this event will take place. As the beloved cherry blossoms fall at roughly 5 centimeters per second outside of the Sumo Hall, inside of it will be one of the most controversial shows in New Japan’s history as the first-ever IWGP World Heavyweight Championship defense will take place in the main event. Before that, however, some big-time tag team matches take place to round out the six-match card.
Sakura Genesis 2021 Full Card
Suzuki Gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI) vs. BULLET CLUB (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado)
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada) vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL, KENTA, Dick Togo, Taiji Ishimori, & Yujiro Takahashi)
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs. The United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & X)
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship Match: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru(c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kota Ibushi(c) vs. Will Ospreay
The United Empire Expands
After months of only featuring three active competitors, The United Empire will reveal its newest member in a battle against LIJ at Sakura Genesis. While there hasn’t been much speculation as to who will join the UE, conspicuous by his absence on this card is Toa Henare, who got heated following his previous loss to Los Ingobernables de Japon at the New Japan Cup Finals. While Henare is noticeably floundering in Hontai, a move to a controversial new faction could be even more detrimental to his career. The United Empire hasn’t quite captured the interest of New Japan fans up to this point, and adding yet another unproven guy to their ranks might make matters worse for the group.
Roppongi 3K Returns to Action
After being out of action since last year’s New Japan Cup with a leg injury, YOH of Roppongi 3K will finally return to action at Sakura Genesis in an attempt to win back a belt that he never lost. Forced to vacate the junior tag belts shortly after his injury, the straps have bounced around before finding their way to Suzuki-Gun duo and now three-time champs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado. The four competitors are far from strangers, as this will be their ninth battle in 2-on-2 action, with their current record standing at four wins apiece. While a big win for Roppongi 3K could be a great feel-good moment, El Desperado’s recent surge to being the face of the Junior Divison in Hiromu Takahashi’s absence could very well result in a successful defense for the juniors of Suzuki-Gun.
The First of Many IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Defenses
In the main event of the evening, Kota Ibushi will defend his newly christened IWGP World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in history. The new belt, which is meant to combine the lineage of both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships, has been met with a lot of backlash for its subsequent erasure of both. This has painted Kota Ibushi in quite a negative light, a light that could outshine only the absolute worst that New Japan has to offer.
Will Ospreay staked his claim for the belt after winning the New Japan Cup Finals last month and will look to become the first British Born Heavyweight Champion in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s history. Kota Ibushi, on the other hand, will look to prove that he can carry the weight of the world on his shoulders as he leads New Japan into a brand new era.
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