NJPW is officially on the road to Sakura Genesis and there will be a few shows leading us into the event. Today’s show was headlined by a King of Pro Wrestling (KOPW) 2023 provisional match with Shingo Takagi defending against Aaron Henare.
This match came to be after Henare eliminated Takagi in the first round of the New Japan Cup last month, and this match is an ultimate triad match meaning no disqualifications and no countouts, the only way to win is to get a submission, pinfall and KO of your opponent. Yes, you read that right, you need to get all three, not just one of them.
Let’s head to the action!
The first few minutes of this match were quite slow, with both men exchanging holds and working to get an advantage. Shingo would shoulder-check Henare causing him to spill to the outside and then Takagi would throw him into the ring post, the ring apron and finally into the barricade.
Takagi then took the match into the stands and both men would take turns throwing their opponent into a back wall. They continued to battle through the crowd, and then both men grabbed a chair. However, they gave up the chairs and opted to exchange closed fists back and forth.
Henare won the battle of the fists and he started to lay into Takagi, but that did not last long and Takagi started returning the favour before hitting a suplex. He would then hit a big lariat followed by a senton, Takagi then locked Henare into an STF. After breaking the hold, Henare hit a pop-up Samoan drop and he then wedged Takagi into the turnbuckle so he could viciously attack him with knees.
Henare took Takagi back outside the ring and threw him repeatedly into the barricade and ring apron. Back in the ring, Henare was able to get a two-count after a blue thunder bomb and he then locked Takagi into leg scissors. Takagi was then eating some kicks from Henare, but all they did was fire him up more.
Takagi built up the power to hit a gory bomb and a spike DDT, before locking Henare into an anaconda vice. Henare managed to power out, and both men started exchanging elbows and slaps, but it was Henare landing the punch to Takagi’s side and then a spinning heel kick. Henare then hit his lifting side slam and locked him into the seated abdominal stretch, before transitioning into the Ultima making Takagi tap out and getting Henare his submission finish.
Due to fatigue of Henare, he attempted Streets of Rage, but could not get Takagi up. Takagi reversed a spear from Henare into a jumping spike DDT, he then hit a powerbomb and locked Henare into his own abdominal stretch making him tap out for Takagi’s submission of the match.
The action was not done, and both men started hitting some of the stiffest forearms of the entire match. Henare was then able to hit a springboard kick from the second rope, but Takagi no-sold it and hit him with a lariat. Henare was right back up hitting a headbutt, a running knee strike, and then looking for the Streets of Rage. Takagi slipped out and rolled Henare up to get a pin-fall, so all Takagi needs is to knockout Henare in order to retain.
Henare was not going down easily, he was right back up hitting Takagi with a running knee and then the Streets of Rage to get the pin. Now both men only need the knockout, it all comes down to the first man to turn their opponent lights out.
Both men were giving it all they had left by exchanging strikes, and Henare thought he had it after a right to the jaw of Takagi, but he got up at nine during the referee’s ten count. Henare wanted Ultima, but Takagi used all his strength to not let him lock his hands and he then hit Henare with Last of the Dragon.
Takagi made the interesting decision to get Henare up instead of letting the referee count, and both men were doing whatever they could to take their opponent down. After a headbutt from Henare, Takagi bounced off the ropes and nearly took Henare’s head off with a lariat. Both men were down and the ref started his count, but only Takagi made it to his feet before the ten count. Henare has been knocked out and Takagi completed all three of his necessary falls.
Takagi is still the KOPW2023 Provisional Champion!
Road to Sakura Genesis April 2, 2023 Results
Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Oskar Leube & Yuto Nakashima
Makabe hit Nakashima with the diving knee drop from the top rope for the victory.
Winners: Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
Los Ingobernables de Japón (Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Bullet Club (Gedo, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)
Bushi dove from the second rope connecting the MX to Gedo and getting the win for LIJ.
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japón
Ryohei Oiwa, Ren Narita, El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki vs. House of Torture (Dick Togo, Sho, Yujiro Takahashi & Evil)
This match was a brawl from start to finish, all eight men were fighting each other at all times. All of these men ended up in a battle on the outside and nobody broke the twenty-count, making this match a double-count out.
Winners: Draw due to double- count out
Chaos (Toru Yano, Yoshi-Hashi & Hirooki Goto) vs. United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
Aussie Open hit Yano with the Corialis to get another victory for United Empire. Aussie Open will be facing Bishamon for the IWGP Tag Team titles on April 8.
Winners: United Empire
Boltin Oleg, Ryusuke Taguchi & Shota Umino vs. TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Robbie Eagles & Zack Sabre Jr.)
This was the debut match of Boltin Oleg, an amateur wrestler from Kazakhstan. Despite this being Oleg’s debut, he ended up tapping out to an arm bar from Sabre Jr.
Kevin Knight and Kushida made an appearance via video to announce their new team name, The Jet Setters. They also said they will be returning to Japan very soon and want a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles.
Master Wato, Yoh, Tiger Mask, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada vs. Just 5 Guys (Taka Michinoku, Douki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi & Sanada)
Sanada took out Okada and Douki took out Wato and Yoh, allowing Kanemaru to hit a moonsault on Tiger Mask and get the win.