|Sakura Genesis 2018|
Promotional poster for the event, featuring various NJPW wrestlers
|Promotion||New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Sponsor(s)||Wakasa Seikatsu's Body Recovery|
|Date||April 1, 2017|
|Sakura Genesis chronology|
Sakura Genesis 2018 was professional wrestling event promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), which took place on April 1, 2018, in Tokyo at Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The event was main evented by 2018 New Japan Cup winner Zack Sabre Jr. challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This marks the second show under the Sakura Genesis name.
Production[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
Sakura Genesis 2018 was officially announced on January 4, 2018, during Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome. This marks NJPW's second April Ryōgoku Kokugikan show under its new name. The previous events had been held under the name Invasion Attack. The event aired worldwide through New Japan Pro Wrestling World with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Don Callis.
Storylines[edit | edit source]
Sakura Genesis 2018 was featured professional wrestling matches that involve different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds and storylines. Wrestlers portray villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in the scripted events that build tension and culminate in a wrestling match or series of matches.
Sakura Genesis 2018 was the first major NJPW show following the 2018 New Japan Cup. The New Japan Cup is an annual single-elimination tournament, where the winner gets to choose whether to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Intercontinental or the NEVER Openweight Championship. Traditionally, the title match has taken place at the April Ryōgoku Kokugikan show, previously known as Invasion Attack and now as Sakura Genesis. On March 21, 2018 Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in the finals of the 2018 New Japan Cup, and become the number one for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This led Sabre becoming the second gaijin to win the tournament after Giant Bernard in 2006. During the tournament, Sabre stablemate Taka Michinoku became his manager and spokesperson. The following day, NJPW officially announced the match between Okada and Sabre as the main event of Sakura Genesis 2018, while also announcing that Sabre and Okada would face in a prelude match at Strong Style Evolved, with Okada teaming with his CHAOS stablemate Tomohiro Ishii and Sabre with his Suzuki-gun stablemate and co-holder of the Undisputed British Tag Team Championship Minoru Suzuki, which Sabre and Suzuki won. After the match Sabre went on to attack Okada. On March 23 in a press-conference Sabre stated that aimed to be the first British IWGP Heavyweight Champion and that he would also submit Okada for the win. Sabre also criticized NJPW for not using submission moves like in the past. He also brought up, that during the New Japan Cup that he had beaten NJPW's top wrestlers including Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, SANADA and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Sabre also made intentions of defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in England, if he defeated Okada at the event.
The semi main event of Sakura Genesis was the Golden☆Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi) against Bullet Club (Cody and Hangman Page). On January 28 at The New Beginning in Sapporo Kenny Omega lost the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship to Jay White. After the match, Omega's Bullet Club stablemate Hangman Page assert himself as the next challenger, after taking White's belt away from him. Omega took the belt from Page and gave it back to the White, leading to an argument between Omega and Page. This led Cody, The Young Bucks and Marty Scurll coming to the ring to calm things, but this ended up in an argument between Omega and Cody. This led Omega accidently shoving Matt Jackson, which led The Young Bucks walking out of the ring. Apparently, when things calmed down, Cody turned on Omega and when Page went to assist Cody to further attack Omega, Kota Ibushi returned to the ring to save his former tag team partner. Omega and Ibushi then embraced in the ring, reuniting the Golden☆Lovers. On February 23 at first night of the Honor Rising: Japan, the Golden☆Lovers teamed up with Chase Owens in a losing effort against Cody, Page and Scurll. After the match, Cody and Omega went on to attack each other and the Bullet Club had to separate them. The following night, at the second night of the Honor Rising: Japan, the Golden☆Lovers made their tag team return defeating Cody and Scurll. During this time, Cody tried to manipulate The Young Bucks against Omega, leading The Young Bucks to move to NJPW'S Heavyweight tag team division. On March 26 at Strong Style Evolved, after the Golden☆Lovers defeated The Young Bucks, Cody went on to talk with Matt Jackson and ended up shoving Nick Jackson, leading Omega to went back to attack Cody. The match was officially announced on March 27. The match also served as a predule match between the four, due to Page facing Ibushi and Cody facing Omega at ROH's Supercard of Honor XII.
In the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match, Will Ospreay who was making his second title defense against Marty Scurll. On March 26 at Strong Style Evolved, after Will Ospreay defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, he was attacked by Marty Scurll, who made his intensions on receiving his rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Rey Mysterio tried to help Ospreay, but Scurll pulled his mask off, leading Scurll chased off by Liger. The match was officially announced on March 27. In the past, at Best Of The Super Juniors XXIV, Scurll made his debut in NJPW defeating Ospreay. Ospreay and Scurll have faced before, when Scurll defeated Ospreay to win the ROH World Television Championship, in his singles debut in Ring of Honor. The two would then face each other November 5, 2017 at Power Struggle, where again Scurll defeated Ospreay to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. The two would then take place of a four-way match at Wrestle Kingdom 12 for the title, where Ospreay was finally able to defeat Scurll, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for a second time.
In the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match, Suzuki-gun's El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru who were making their first title defense against Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi) and Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh). On February 10, 2018 Suzuki-gun's El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh). During the match, the two repeatedly attacked Sho's injured back. After the match, Kanemaru and Desperado made their intentions of challenging Sho and Yoh into a title match. Four days later, Sho and Yoh lost to Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi). BUSHI and Takahashi also challenged Sho and Yoh into a title match. This led on February 13, NJPW announcing that Sho and Yoh would defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Suzuki-gun (Desperado and Kanemaru) and L.I.J. (BUSHI and Takahashi). On March 6 Desperado and Kanemaru won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, after pinning Sho who was blind after being hit with poison mist by BUSHI. Sho and Yoh criticized the way Desperado and Kanemaru won the titles. During the New Japan Cup, L.I.J. and Suzuki-gun would attack each other until RPG 3K, laid out the two teams and made their intentions on receiving a rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, leading NJPW officially announced the rematch on March 22.
The full card of the event was announced on March 27. The event also included a title match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship and a predule match between David Finlay and Jay White. On March 26 at Strong Style Evolved, after White successfully defended the title against Hangman Page, Finlay attacked White. Afterwards, Finlay challenged him for his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship on April 24 at Korakuen Hall.