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Sakura Genesis 2017 was a professional wrestling event promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), which took place on April 9, 2017, in Tokyo at Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The event featured nine matches (in addition to one dark match), main evented by 2017 New Japan Cup winner Katsuyori Shibata challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Previously held under the Invasion Attack name, this marked the first show under the Sakura Genesis name.

Production

Background

Sakura Genesis 2017 was officially announced on January 4, 2017, during Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome. This would mark NJPW's first April Ryōgoku Kokugikan show under its new name. The previous events had been held under the name Invasion Attack. The event would air worldwide through New Japan Pro Wrestling World with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Don Callis.

Storylines

Sakura Genesis 2017 featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds and storylines. Wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in the scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.

Sakura Genesis 2017 was the first major NJPW show following the 2017 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 20, Katsuyori Shibata defeated Bad Luck Fale in the finals to win the 2017 New Japan Cup. Following the win, Shibata brought up a promise he had made, before announcing his intention of challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Shibata's promise harkened back to February 2014 and the The New Beginning in Osaka event, where he confronted Okada and challenged him to a title match, which Okada refused, stating that he needed to win the New Japan Cup to earn the right. That day, Shibata promised to win the New Japan Cup and become Okada's next challenger. Although he failed to win the 2014 New Japan Cup, now, three years later, he was a New Japan Cup winner and made the challenge to Okada. The following day, NJPW officially announced the match between Okada and Shibata as the main event of Sakura Genesis 2017, setting the stage for Okada's fourth title defense. This would mark Shibata's first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship since his September 2012 return to NJPW. He previously challenged for the title on July 19, 2004, when he was defeated by the defending champion, Kazuyuki Fujita. This would also mark only the second match between Okada and Shibata with their previous encounter during the 2013 G1 Climax on August 7, 2013, having ended in a victory for Okada.

The semi main event of Sakura Genesis 2017 would see Hiromu Takahashi make his third defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against previous champion Kushida. After capturing the title from Kushida on January 4, 2017, at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome, Takahashi successfully defended it against Dragon Lee on February 11 and Ryusuke Taguchi on March 6. Following the March 6 match, Kushida answered an open challenge by Takahashi, asking for a rematch, and followed that up by pinning the champion in a tag team match the following day. On March 21, NJPW announced the rematch between Takahashi and Kushida for Sakura Genesis 2017.

In the NEVER Openweight Championship match, defending champion Hirooki Goto was set to take on Zack Sabre Jr. in his third defense. Sabre made his NJPW debut on March 6, defeateding Katsuyori Shibata with help from Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Minoru Suzuki to capture the British Heavyweight Championship, joining the Suzuki-gun stable in the process. The following day, Sabre defeated Goto in an eight-man tag team match to set himself up as the next challenger for Goto's NEVER Openweight Championship.

Both of NJPW's tag team championships would also be on the line at Sakura Genesis 2017. In the IWGP Tag Team Championship match, defending champions Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) would take on the Ring of Honor (ROH) tag team War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe). War Machine made their NJPW debut in late 2016 during the 2016 World Tag League and put themselves in title contention in February 2017 by defeateding The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) and Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) during the NJPW and ROH co-produced Honor Rising: Japan 2017 shows. Tencozy captured the IWGP Tag Team Championship on March 6 by defeateding Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano, after stepping in as a late replacement team for Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. Winning the title for the first time in three years and four months, Tencozy vowed to hold and defend the title until Honma was able to return to NJPW from his spinal cord injury. This would mark their first title defense. In the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match, Suzuki-gun's Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru were set to make their first title defense against the veteran team Jado & Gedo. The match was initially set up on March 6, when Jado & Gedo saved previous champions Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) from Taichi and Kanemaru, after the Suzuki-gun duo had defeated them to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. On March 20, Jado submitted Taichi in a six-man tag team match and afterwards made a challenge for a title match, which was made official the following day.

Other matches at Sakura Genesis 2017 would include Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi, Evil, Sanada and Tetsuya Naito) taking on Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi) in an eight-man tag team match, which followed Tanahashi, Ricochet and Taguchi defeateding Bushi, Evil and Sanada for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship on April 4, as well as a tag team match between the Bullet Club duo of Bad Luck Fale and Kenny Omega and the Chaos duo of Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano, which stemmed from the New Japan Cup, where Ishii eliminated Omega in the first round and Fale eliminated Yano in the second.

Results

Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
(c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.

Commentators

External links

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