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Two heavyweight titles change hands at New Japan Sakura Genesis

Chris Carlton’s Twitter

New Japan Pro-Wrestling closed out their Sakura Genesis event today (April 8) in Tokyo with five championship matches. None disappointed, and two saw challengers win the belts in question for the first time. That should cement the new champs in those respective scenes — including the main event one.

It was in the main event of today’s show from Tokyo that SANADA finished his story. After years of being an also-ran, the former Impact X-Division champ’s been on the receiving end of a push in 2023. He recently won the New Japan Cup tournament to earn a shot at IWGP World Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada. In an effort to finally beat Okada in a World title match (he’d had only beaten Okada once in nine total singles matches), SANADA jumped factions from Los Ingobernables de Japon to the new Just Five Guys group.

He put that all together at Sakura Genesis, repeatedly countering Okada’s biggest moves...

... en route to hitting his new Deadfall DDT finisher and winning New Japan’s top prize for the first time.

Before he could celebrate with his new stablemates, an old one emerged to ask for a shot at his new belt. LIJ’s Hiromu Takahashi, who in the match before the main event retained his IWGP Junior Heavyweight crown in a great match Robbie Eagles, was met by Just Five Guys’ Yoshinobu Kanemaru, who wants a shot at Takahashi’s title first.

That wasn’t the only big loss Okada’s CHAOS stable suffered at Sakura Genesis. Earlier in the show, Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) put the IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles on the line against Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher). The United Empire duo controlled much of the action...

...especially while isolating YOSHI-HASHI even as Fletcher was treated for a cut on the head. Goto made a run after the hot tag, but Aussie Open hit him with their Coriolis tandem finish to take the match, and the belts.

Along with Mercedes Moné’s successful title defense in a three-way thriller, those were the big news items from today’s show. But Sakura Genesis was a pretty great card throughout, and gives NJPW some momentum heading into a summer that included June’s Forbidden Door show with AEW in Toronto, and their annual G1 Climax tournament (which is was announced will start on July 15 and conclude on Aug. 13).

Here’s a full rundown of what happened at Sakura Genesis:

• Minoru Suzuki, Great-O-Khan & Toru Yano def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, YOH & El Desperado

• United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Francesco Akira & Aaron Henare) def. House of Torture (EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi)

• Just 5 Guys (Taichi, DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)

• Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, David Finlay & KENTA) def. Tama Tonga, Hikuleo & Master Wato

• Afterwards, Finlay & KENTA attacked El-P, kicking him out of Bullet Club

Mercedes Moné def. AZM and Hazuki to retain her IWGP Women’s Championship (More HERE)

Zack Sabre Jr. def. Shota Umino to retain his NJPW World Television title

Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) def. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) to become NEW IWGP Tag Team champions

Hiromu Takahashi def. Robbie Eagles to retain his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title

SANADA def. Kazuchika Okada to become the NEW IWGP World Heavyweight champion

• Takahashi wants a shot at SANADA’s new belt, but Kanemaru wants a shot at Hiromu’s first

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