NJPW Sakura Genesis Results: Tetsuya Naito retains, new champs crowned

Tetsuya Naito defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against 2024 New Japan Cup Winner & LIJ stablemate Yota Tsuji. (c) NJPW
  • Venue: Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall)
  • Attendance: 6,632
  • English Commentary: Chris Charlton (lead) & Jeff Cobb (guest color commentary)

First two matches were streamed live and free on NJPW WORLD’s YouTube Channel.

Frontier Zone (1/20): Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Boltin Oleg defeated Ayato Yoshida, Takuro Niki & Chicharito Shoki (8:33) – Boltin pinned Chicharito

Active Advance Wrestling (2AW) arrives in the Frontier Zone with three of their mainstay talents in Chicharito, Niki and Yoshida. The company was previously TAKA Michinoku’s Kaientai Dojo in Chiba but rebranded in 2019 when the company parted ways with Michinoku, leading to him later establishing JUST TAP OUT. 

Prior to the split, Ayato Yoshida spent time in NJPW in 2018-2019 learning the Young Lion ropes alongside Shota Umino, Ren Narita, Yota Tsuji and Yuya Umura, including teaming with Umino for World Tag League in 2018. After completing his learning experiences with NJPW, Yoshida became the young ace of 2AW, gaining experience within the company and visiting promotions like All Japan (AJPW), Big Japan (BJW), GLEAT and ZERO-1 and having two successful reigns as 2AWs Openweight Champion.

This match focused on showcasing Boltin’s continued dominance and Yoshida’s substantial growth since his last time with NJPW. Yoshida spent most of the match targeting Ishii and to a lesser extent Yano. Boltin may have got the win, but Yoshida certainly got everyone’s attention. 

What’s Next?

  • Backstage, Tomohiro Ishii thanked Nic Nemeth for selecting him as his partner for Chicago, telling him not to worry and that in the end, he’ll be grateful for picking the Stone Pitbull as an opponent. Meanwhile, Ayato Yoshida challenged Ishii to a singles match in the backstage comments.

Tag Match: Zack Sabre, Jr. & Kosei Fujita defeated Ryusuke Taguchi & El Desperado  (9:32) – Fujita pinned Taguchi with an O’Connor Roll

The key features of this match were the former Suzuki-gun on former Suzuki-gun violence between Zack and Desperado and throwing a big spotlight on Kosei Fujita. The more I see Desperado wrestle against the heavyweights, the more I hope to see him at least expanding into the NEVER Openweight division if NJPW isn’t going to let him leave the Juniors. Fujita has been spending lots of time under ZSJ’s learning tree and the fruits of his labor are really starting to show. I hope that we see ZSJ vs. Desperado in a singles match down the line.

What’s Next?

  • As we’re gearing up for BEST OF THE SUPER Jrs 31, it is very likely that Taguchi and El Desperado will be included and a possible debut for Fujita. 
  • ZSJ will challenge for the NJPW WORLD TV Championship at Windy City Riot.

Tag Match: BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi defeated David Finlay & Gedo (5:39) – BUSHI submitted Gedo 

David Finlay unfortunately dropped out of the 2024 New Japan Cup due to a medical issue and this was his first match back. The pairing of BUSHI and Hiromu against Finlay and his manager Gedo, came off as a precursor for some potential future match-ups depending on how the rest of the show shakes out. Although BOSJ is on the horizon, BUSHI and Hiromu have yet to secure the IWGP Tag Team Championships together, though BUSHI held it with Shingo Takagi previously. 

Finlay looked to be back in fighting shape and with Gedo taking the loss for his team, it kept him strong for the road to Wrestling Dontaku ahead.

What’s Next?

  • Potentially BUSHI and Hiromu challenging the winners of the IWGP Jr. Tag Championship 3-way later in the night. David Finlay could possibly be one of Gabe Kidd’s mystery partners for Windy City Riot (potentially alongside the rest of the War Dogs in Connors and Moloney) for the Riot Rules match.

6-Man Tag Match: SANADA, Yuya Uemura & DOUKI defeated Jeff Cobb, Great O’Khan & Callum Newman (8:54) – Uemura pinned Great O’Khan

With the vacated NEVER 6-Man Championship tournament next weekend in Taiwan, this was a nice match to hype potential teams and get a bunch of fan favorites and roster regulars on the show. There wasn’t anything particularly outstanding aside from Yuya playing possum after a 3-on-1 United Empire offensive to snake a pin as GOK went for a cocky pin.

What’s Next?

  • Uemura now has the opportunity to challenge GOK for the KOPW Championship punctuating his statement with a Deadbolt Suplex and a hoisting of the provisional championship belt.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Championships 3-Way (1/60): Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney (c) defeated KUSHIDA & Kevin Knight vs. TJP & Francesco Akira (17:29) – Connors pinned KUSHIDA after Full Clip; V1 for BCWD

The NJPW Juniors always make things interesting and this was a great preview for everyone participating in BOSJ. Going over 15 minutes, it was consistently high speed for the majority of the match with everyone hitting their greatest hits. Knight and Akira continue to improve and show increased confidence the more they work with KUSHIDA and TJP. The longer Moloney and Connors are in War Dogs, they are truly developing their own style. 

The Intergalactic Jetsetters hitting one of the signature moves of the Motor City Machine Guns and KUSHIDA making it very clear of their impact on junior heavyweight tag wrestling was a nice touch. It was short lived as BCWD got hold of KUSHIDA, hit him with Full Clip and retained after a three count. Moloney made sure to shoulder check TJP on his way out of the arena as repayment for the Aswang Mist during the match. 

What’s Next?

  • I have a feeling that Connors & Moloney won’t need to wait long before their next challengers present themselves.

IWGP Tag Team Championships (1/60): Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YPSHI-HASHI) defeated KENTA & Chase Owens (c) (13:51) – Goto pinned Chase after Lights Out (Shoto)

This was a standard IWGP Tag Championship transition match involving the multi-time former champions in Bishamon and the defending champions from Bullet Club tag of KENTA &  Chase Owens. It was a good middle of the card match, but nothing particularly outstanding. I am curious to know how long Bishamons’ fourth reign as tag champions will be. Likely Goto & YOSHI-HASHI will carry the championships until the G1, unless NJPW makes a smart move and finally give TMDK’s Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste a solid run with the championships.

What’s Next?

BEST OF THE SUPER Jrs. 31 Participants Announced

  • Ryusuke Taguchi – 21st Entry (19th consecutive); 2012 BOSJ Winner
  • El Desperado 8th Entry (5th consecutive)
  • Kevin Knight – 2nd Entry (consecutive)
  • YOH* – 7th Entry (4th consecutive) 
  • Hiromu Takahashi – 9th Entry (5th consecutive); Winner 2018, 2020, 2021 & 2022
  • BUSHI – 12th Entry (9th consecutive)
  • Titan 5th Entry (3rd consecutive)
  • TJP – 4th Entry (3rd consecutive)
  • Francesco Akira – 3rd Entry (consecutive)
  • DOUKI – 6th Entry (consecutive)
  • Robbie Eagles – 6th Entry (consecutive)
  • Taiji Ishimori – 8th Entry (7th consecutive)
  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 7th Entry (4th consecutive)
  • SHO – 7th Entry (consecutive)
  • Clark Connors – 3rd Entry (consecutive)
  • Drilla Moloney – 2nd Entry (consecutive)
  • Kosei Fujita – Debut Entry
  • Blake Christian (ROH) – Debut Entry
  • Ninja Mack (NOAH) – Debut Entry
  • HAYATA (NOAH) – Debut Entry

Notes: 

  1. 2023 Winner Master Wato required knee surgery earlier this year and the estimated return table was close to a year. There is no mention of if he will be present to surrender the trophy or on commentary as those on medical typically remain off NJPW programming until medically cleared to return.
  2. *See IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match for details

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (1/60): SHO (c) defeated YOH (1:36) – Referee Stoppage; Dislocated Shoulder

The build for this match was YOH finally devolving into madness to get on SHO’s level after absconding with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. During his entrance SHO tried a sneak attack resulting in a Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote chase through the venue. Once the bell rang, YOH went for Direct Drive, followed by a sliding drop kick, and dislocated his left shoulder. Although he attempted to continue the match, the dislocation was very visible on camera, and the referee stopped the match. 

They were able to pivot away from the YOH’s evaluation with Fujita and DOUKI coming out to challenge SHO. However, NJPW WORLD kept cutting YOH and the ring doctors trying to pop the joint back into place. The medical team seemed to triage and reset it, but the extent of the damage is unknown at this time. YOH’s ability to participate in BOSJ31 is now unknown.He did walk off on his own afterward in tears, and while not included in the broadcast, fans caught SHO crying and wiping back tears as he made his way to the back while trying to remain in character. 

What’s Next?

  • Fujita and DOUKI will wrestle one another for the number one contendership and the winner will face SHO in his second defense.
  • SHO is without his title once more as DOUKI took it with him upon exiting the arena.

Special Tag Match (1/30): Jon Moxley & Shota Umino defeated Ren Narita & Jack Perry (14:32) – Moxley pinned Narita after a Deathrider

This match centered around the special singles match between Shota Umino and Jack Perry as well as a preview of Jon Mon Moxley prior to meeting Tetsuya Naito at Windy City Riot next weekend. Yes, there is the undercurrent of Narita vs. Umino, but it takes a distinct backseat to most of the action, and while Narita does show flashes of his time in NJPW STRONG, he’s largely a distant fourth place in the match compared to everyone else slated for WCR.

The only concern I have to Umino is when will he graduate from Moxley’s protege and be able to stand alone on his own. They can remain aligned with one another, but I worry that whenever an international show comes around, they reunite Umino and Moxley together, which makes it sometimes feel like he’s taking steps backward instead of moving forward. Perry eliminated Umino in the New Japan Cup, so I wonder if Umino will be able to reconcile that loss in Chicago, and what it could mean for him if Moxley’s special singles match becomes an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match. 

What’s Next?

  • Umino and Perry will clash at Windy City Riot next Friday.
  • Moxley will face Naito at WCR and it could potentially become an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match if Naito retains over Tsuji.

NEVER Openweight Championship (1/60): Shingo Takagi defeated EVIL (c) (21:14) – Last of the Dragon 

My gut tells me that this match went longer than it needed to in order to make up for the abrupt ending to SHO vs. YOH, especially with how off-the-rails it went the longer the match went on. EVIL started trying to stack the deck against Takagi early with bringing Yoshinobu Kanemaru out in a referee shirt, and as always Dick Togo.

For the parts of the match that involved wrestling, it was a reminder of how reliable Takagi (and yes) EVIL can be when it comes to championship matches. Unfortunately, The HOUSE OF TORTURE seven course experience began, including targeting the referee so Kanemaru could take over. However, in rare form, LIJ didn’t let Takagi fight alone in this one, with BUSHI and Hiromu in a NJPW referee shirt joined the fray to help even up the numbers, especially with the arrival of Yujiro Takahashi. Surprisingly, Hiromu stalled for time until Red Shoes Unno could run-in and take over the match.

While Takagi defeated EVIL to reclaim the championship, the celebration was short-lived as Gabe Kidd, Clark Connors and Drilla Moloney elected to attack, so Kidd could stake a claim as Takagi’s first challenger. 

What’s Next?

  • Gabe Kidd jumped at the opportunity to express his interest as next in line for the NEVER Openweight. He will lead a team of unknown members at WCR in a Riot Rules NO DQ match against Eddie Kingston.
  • Shingo Takagi appealed to President Hiroshi Tanahashi after the match with the broken down NEVER Openweight Championship. Much like the World and Global Championships, it is possible we could see a redesign of the NEVER Openweight Championship in the near future as well.
  • Backstage BUSHI & Hiromu declare their intentions as the next challengers for the Jr. Tag Championships against Connors & Moloney.

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship (1/60): Tetsuya Naito (c) defeated Yota Tsuji (2024 NJC Winner) (34:26) – Destino; V2 for Naito

Yota Tsuji stepping up to Tetsuya Naito as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion and his own faction lead was another one of his bolder moves since his return from excursion last year. The match was long, but at times felt a bit longer than it needed to be, but I understood the longer match length. Tsuji used many of Naito’s own bits against him, which was refreshing. It would be easy to chalk up some of the mistimings in the match to Tsuji’s inexperience compared to Naito, but I genuinely felt at times that it was Naito’s age, experience and wear-and-tear betraying him. It was a great precursor to Tsuji eventually ascending to the front of the Reiwa Four pack, but in the end, he didn’t get the result many had hoped for. 

This was a good endurance match for Tsuji and his second attempt at chasing the World Championship. Winning the 2024 New Japan Cup is a great feather in his hat, but coming up empty handed to Naito is both understandable yet frustrating. Tsuji went toe-to-toe with the leader of LIJ and arguably one of the company’s most popular wrestlers, but left Ryogoku covered in Naito’s confetti streamers. 

What’s Next?

Overall Thoughts

Sakura Genesis tends to be the first big event of the new fiscal year. With company president Hiroshi Tanahashi on Japanese commentary and several championship changes, the titles that could have stood to change, so it would feel like a proper new start, remained in place. The low point was the devastating injury to YOH’s shoulder on a move we’ve seen him do countless times. Tsuji put up a good fight against Naito, but knowing that the Moxley match was lined up months ago, it makes me wonder if he’ll be the one to dethrone Naito come next week. 

Recommended Reading: STARDOM American Dream 2 Event Report – features a preview match for Vaquer vs. AZM and Shirakawa in the tag match. Also if you enjoyed seeing STARDOM on Ring of Honor, I’d recommend this show as a gateway into the world of STARDOM.

Windy City Riot (4/12) – Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL

  • Kick-Off STRONG Survivor Match: Matt Vandegriff vs. Zane Jay
  • Kick-Off Tag Match: Mina Shirakawa & Viva Van vs. Alex Windsor & Trish Adora
  • NJPW WORLD TV Championship (1/15): Matt Riddle (c) vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
  • NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship (1/30): Stephanie Vacquer (c) vs. AZM 
  • NJPW STRONG Tag Team Championship 4-Way: El Phantasmo & Hikuleo (c) vs. TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) vs. Fred Rosser & Tom Lawlor vs. WCWC (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)
  • Special Singles Match: Nic Nemeth vs. Tomohiro Ishii
  • Special Singles Match: Shota Umino vs. Jack Perry
  • Riot Rules Match: Team Eddie Kingston vs. Team Gabe Kidd – No DQ Tornado Tag; Remaining participants announced on entrance
  • Special Singles Match: Mustafa Ali vs. Hiromu Takahashi
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Tetsuya Naito vs. Jon Moxley

WRESTLING WORLD 2024 (4/14) Zepp New Taipei, Taiwan

  • STARDOM Singles Match: Starlight Kid vs. HANAKO
  • NEVER 6-Man Tournament – for the vacant championship

ALL TOGETHER (United Japan Pro-Wrestling) (5/6) Nippon Budokan – Inaugural event & benefits the Noto Earthquake relief effort

  • 6-Man Tag: Shota Umino (BJW), Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH) & Yuki Ueno (DDT) & Yuya Uemura (NJPW), Konosuke Takeshita (DDT) & Shun Skywalker (DG)
  • Tag Match: Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW) & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Masa Kitamiya (NOAH) & Jeff Cobb (NJPW)
  • 6-Man Tag: Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW), Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH) & Sanshiro Takagi (DDT) vs. House of Torture (EVIL, Ren Narita & Yujiro Takahashi)

NJPW Resurgence (5/11) Toyota Arena, Ontario, CA

Announced championship defenses include: 

  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
  • NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
  • NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship
  • NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Championships

Upcoming Dates

  • Wrestling Dontaku (5/3-4) Fukuoka International Center
  • BEST OF THE SUPER Jrs. 31 (5/11-6/3) Various Locations
  • DOMINION ~BOSJ31 Finals~ (6/9) Osaka Castle Hall
  • G1 CLIMAX 34 (7/20-8/18) Various Locations

Stay tuned to Post-Mania week with WH Park and I will catch up on POST PURORESU and Bruce Lord and I will review NJPW Windy City Riot on Saturday, April 13th.

About Karen Peterson 112 Articles
Occasionally drops by wrestling podcasts, but remains rather elusive. Joined the Japanese wrestling fan scene in summer 2017, and continues to work on bridging the language gap between fans. Outside of wrestling, she’s a dog mom, perpetual Japanese learner, and when conditions permit, world traveler. Never skips dessert.