Tuesday, April 2, 2024

NJPW Sakura Genesis 2024 Preview & Predictions

It's a BUSY wrestling weekend, with two nights of WrestleMania, a Ring of Honor Supercard PPV, and of course NJPW's (mostly) annual Sakura Genesis!

This show on paper looks pretty solid, especially considering how depleted the top of the roster is without Okada, Ospreay and White.  Unfortunately one has to take a few of these good-on-paper matches with a big grain of salt thanks to the company's insistence on pushing the rancid House of Torture stable and their overbooked Attitude Era-esque bullshit.  Are the NJPW faithful really into this stable?  Judging from NJPW's numbers these days it sure doesn't seem like it.  So why is House of Torture still a thing?  Jesus this company needs an overhaul.

Anyway, here are the six matches that matter (I shan't bother predicting the three throwaway opening tag bouts)....

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship: Drilla Moloney and Clark Connors vs. Intergalactic Jet Setters vs. Catch 2/2

This looks like a lot of fun; all three teams can go and have delivered fine Jr. Tag action in the past.  The Bullet Club tandem and Catch 2/2 have traded these belts a couple times already so I don't see Catch 2/2 regaining them just yet.  Jet Setters briefly held them last year so it's possible they get another run.  But I'll go with the champs to retain for now.

Pick: BC War Dogs retain

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Kenta and Chase Owens vs. Bishamon

The tag team division has to be pretty thin when Chase Owens is one of the centerpieces of it.  I really just don't see it with him.  Bishamon have been strong custodians of these titles but since Kenta and Chase just won them in February I kinda don't see them losing already.  Match should be alright.

Pick: Kenta/Owens retain

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Sho vs. Yoh

How times have changed.  Four years ago this would be a show stealer.  Now it will be a clusterfuck with run-ins, ref bumps, weapons, and everything I don't wanna see in a NJPW match.  Sho just won this title so I think he'll hold onto it.

Pick: Sho retains

Jon Moxley and Shota Umino vs. Ren Narita and Jack Perry

Okay, this could actually be really good despite House of Torture's involvement.  If anyone can steer into the skid and make that shit work, it's Mr. Moxley.  It'll be interesting to see Mox and Jack Perry mix it up, as I'm not sure we've seen that at all in AEW thus far.  I think Mox's team probably wins this since he's main eventing Windy City Showdown next week (possibly for the IWGP Title).

Pick: Mox & Shota

NEVER Openweight Championship: Evil vs. Shingo Takagi

Another match that would be a potential classic a few years ago.  But it's HoT Evil so it'll suck.  Evil probably retains.  Sigh.....

Pick: Evil keeps devaluing the NEVER Title

IWGP World Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs. Yota Tsuji

Okay now we're talking.  Maybe.  Ever since Tsuji burst on the scene in 2023 and overdelivered in his Dominion match with Sanada I've been waiting for this company to pull the trigger on making him the new top guy.  New Japan is way overdue for a new crop of main event stars and they really can't afford to keep slow-playing this hand.  I could see Naito retaining here and dropping the title to Moxley in Chicago though, if AEW is okay with Mox not being around for a little while.  Then maybe Tsuji or Umino beats him at Forbidden Door?  I guess if NJPW wants to get North American fans more invested that's a way to go.  On the other hand, Naito passing the torch to a new generation of LIJ leader would be a statement too.  I'm certainly rooting for Tsuji to finally get the duke, but this could logically go either way.

Pick: Eh, I'll take a chance - Yota Tsuji wins the IWGP Title (and hopefully brings back the old belt)

So this show could be the start of a new era in NJPW, or it could just be another show to get them to the next one.  Very hard to say, but they've really been leaning on established outsiders in the wake of losing so many top guys.  Where are the Tanahashis, Okadas, Nakamuras and Naitos of today??

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