After the Strong Style Evolved card, I was really excited about Sakura Genesis…until I saw the number of multi-man matches on the show. I think New Japan goes a little heavy on these matches sometimes – though the various tag matches are usually decent and a staple of Japanese wrestling, they do make the show longer and there is often no pay off.

However, I remember being sixteen and remember having to depend on WWF Heat and WCW Worldwide for my wrestling fix…bad times! As the old saying goes, never look a gift horse in the mouth. If New Japan want to provide me with long, quality wrestling shows, I’m not gonna complain too much…

Chase Owens and Yujiro vs The Young Bucks (3/5) was a good opener, slower than most Young Bucks matches, but with a nice build to the finish. I really like the emphasis on Matt Jackson’s back injury – the focus and storytelling around the injury (from Wrestle Kingdom) is excellent.

Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi and Takashi Iizuka (2/5) didn’t do a lot for me. The slow heat on Ishii and the usual Suzuki-gun tactics (jumping Yano and Ishii before the bell, cheating, weapon shots) didn’t hold my interest. I’ve seen it before and it’s getting stale, especially when you’re not watching the likes of Suzuki and Sabre Jr doing it.

Never 6 Man Openweight Ryusuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin and Togi Makabe vs Bad Luck Fale and G.O.D was fine. (2.5/5) I thought the start was pretty slow and I was fearing a repeat of the previous match, but the action picked up, culminating in a cool finish (Tama Tonga pinned Taguchi after dodging a flying hip attack and hitting the Gun Stun)

David Finlay, Juice Robinson and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Yoshi-Hashi, Jay White and Hirooki Goto (3/5) was more about storylines than the action. The focus was on Finlay vs White and Goto vs Robinson and the goal of this match was to set up further matches over the course of the next month. I thought it was a success – Juice pinning Goto makes me want to see them face off for the NEVER Openweight Title and I loved the intensity from Finlay as he went after White.

Sanada, Evil and Tetsuya Naito vs Davey Boy Smith, Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki (3/5) was a fine contest, with similar intentions to the previous match. The goal here was to further the storylines and set up a tag team title match between Evil and Sanada and Killer Elite Squad and an Intercontinental Title match between Naito and Suzuki. Again, I thought it was a success – based on the intensity displayed here, I’m now pretty interested in seeing those two matches. The match itself was good, thought I thought it was a bit short to go above 3/5.

The IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title match between Roppongi 3K vs Suzuki-gun vs Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi (3.5/5) was non stop. Lots of ridiculously quick sequences, with the heel Suzuki-gun team retaining the titles and furthering the feud with LIJ’s Takahashi and Bushi. I enjoyed this match more than the first match last month and again, I’m looking forward to another clash between Suzuki-gun and LIJ.

The IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll was superb. (4.5/5) It had everything I could want from this match – great high flying, a cracking storyline (Ospreay wanted to beat Scrull one on one as Scrull usually has his number), some intense focus on working a body part and a ton of false finishes. I bit on a few of them, such as the second Tombstone Piledriver from Scrull to Ospreay and Ospreay nearly beating Scrull by countout after a dangerous Spanish Fly (somersault Rock Bottom) off the ring apron to the floor. An epic match and probably my favourite match from both men.

The Golden Lovers vs Cody and Hangman Page (4/5) was a slower paced match than the Young Bucks vs Golden Lovers match at Strong Style Evolved, but it felt like more of a chapter in a bigger story (Cody vs Kenny Omega over the Bullet Club) than a big main event match. This match never got to fifth gear, but it didn’t need to…the aim of this match was to give Cody some momentum heading into the match with Omega at Supercard of Honor next weekend.  That said, the wrestling was good – I enjoyed the methodical teamwork of Cody and Hangman early on and the last third had some good sequences. Throw in a sick looking cut on Cody’s face and you had a fine match that really makes me want to see Omega vs Cody on Saturday….

Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr. for the IWGP Heavyweight Title had a good story going in –  could Okada hang with the technical wrestling and submission skills of Sabre Jr? I like when matches have a story based on wrestling – it feels like a legitimate sporting contest, plus I think wrestling can be fascinating when you have two opposites facing off, to see which approach wins out. I liked how Sabre Jr. bossed the early mat based portion of the match, then was out of his depth once Okada brought the strikes and big moves.

However, I could never see Sabre Jr winning and the match itself felt like a placeholder main event. A good match (3.5/5 for me) but I want to see Okada in a long running feud with a bitter rival – he needs more than Sanada and Sabre Jr if this title reign is to keep going.

Overall, Sakura Genesis scored 3.22/5.00. I thought it was a good show, but it felt like a stepping stone, with the route to lots of big future matches set in motion (Naito vs Suzuki, Omega vs Cody, Killer Elite Squad vs Evil and Sanada, Suzuki-gun vs Bushi and Takahashi and Ospreay vs Kushida) I’m looking forward to seeing those matches and it was a fun journey to see how we get to those matches, but I wanted a bit more from Sakura Genesis. I want more from Okada’s IWGP Title reign too – I feel like we are treading water until the G1 Climax tournament. I like that Tanahashi confronted Okada after his win (Okada is close to breaking Tanahashi’s record of IWGP Title defences) – that could be a great match, if that is the direction they go in.

In the end Sakura Genesis was a good show, better than an episode of WCW Worldwide, which is all I ask really! The tag matches did a good job of pushing future matches so I can’t really complain about them and there was a great match in Scrull vs Ospreay – I would recommend you watch that match if you can….