Kota Ibushi let a lot of people down on Sunday. The first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion fell in his first defense in the main event of Sakura Genesis. Ibushi lost to The United Empire’s Will Ospreay in a crushing defeat.
Ibushi’s loss is significant. With a large head, he declared himself God and essentially reset the IWGP Title records, to the chagrin of many fans. He was seemingly toying with the entire lineage of NJPW, founded on Antonio Inoki defending the island of Japan from invaders like Karl Gotch, Billy Robinson, Stan Hansen, Hulk Hogan, and others. Now, on his first defense, Ibushi has lost the gold standard of NJPW to the very face of western imperialism, The United Empire.
After the main event, Will Ospreay challenged Kazuchika Okada to a Wrestle Kingdom rematch, but before The Rainmaker could accept, Shingo Takagi interrupted and challenged his longtime rival. Ospreay said he’ll face Takagi first, likely at Wrestling Dontaku, and then Okada possibly at Tokyo Dome or Yokohama.
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) April 4, 2021
Ospreay’s win came on sacred ground for him. The building where he debuted in NJPW in 2016, and where he nearly broke his own neck in 2018, and now Ryogoku Sumo Hall was where he finally won the IWGP World Title. The last wrestler to hold both the IWGP & RevPro Heavyweight Titles was AJ Styles. The Commonwealth Kingpin wasn’t the only member of The United Empire to make a splash on Sunday.
Tired of smiling through defeat, Aaron Henare shed his “Toa” name and debuted as The United Empire’s “Ultimate Weapon” helping them get the win over LIJ. Henare drilled SANADA with his new finisher Streets of Rage, a version of Shuji Kondo’s Whale Hunt.
Roppongi 3K reunited after 9 months apart to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. The returning YOH debuted a new nickname & finisher, DIRECT DRIVE, as well as new music to completely refresh the team’s aesthetic.
Jay White finally got what he’s been asking for, though not in the way he wanted. After Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated White in tag team action, he finally accepted Jay’s challenge to a NEVER Openweight Title Match. Tanahashi promised to tap out White the way that White keeps bragging about tapping Tanahashi.
NJPW Sakura Genesis
Available on NJPWWorld.com
- Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI) def. Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado) by pinfall. (10:10)
Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Tanga Loa via European Clutch Pin (w/ mocking Too Sweet)
- CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii def. Bullet Club (EVIL, KENTA, Dick Togo, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) by pinfall. (11:37)
Toru Yano pinned Dick Togo by putting a bag on his head and rolling him up.
- The United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) by pinfall. (9:51)
Aaron Henare pinned SANADA via Streets of Rage.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima def. Bullet Club (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale) by pinfall. (10:05)
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Bad Luck Fale via High Fly Flow.
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match: Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) def. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) by pinfall. (20:48)
YOH pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru via DIRECT DRIVE.
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Will Ospreay def. Kota Ibushi (c) by pinfall via Stormbreaker. (30:13)
New Japan Pro Wrestling will return with Road To Wrestling Dontaku on April 10th at 5am ET on NJPWWorld.com.