In a dominant night for The United Empire at NJPW Sakura Genesis, Will Ospreay has defeated Kota Ibushi to become the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
Towards the end of the gruelling 30-minute match, Ospreay kicked out of Ibushi’s combination of a standing Kamigoye and regular Kamigoye before taking the champion down with a Chelsea Grin and finally putting him away with the Stormbreaker.
Following his victory, the ‘Commonwealth Kingpin’ declared that “God is dead”, referencing Ibushi’s claims to have become God when he won the then IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships from Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 15 back in January. Ibushi went on to declare his intention to unify the two championships into one IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. This came to fruition when the new belt was unveiled on March 30th. Tonight’s match was only Ibushi’s first defence of the newly minted title.
After the bout, Ospreay challenged his former friend and now bitter rival, Kazuchika Okada, to a match for the championship in a bid to avenge the loss he suffered to the ‘Rainmaker’ at Wrestle Kingdom 15. However, Shingo Takagi, the man Ospreay beat in the finals of the New Japan Cup to earn his championship match, interrupted before Okada could respond. Takagi pointed out that since he beat Okada on his way to the final of the New Japan Cup, he should receive a title match first. Ospreay agreed to the demand, setting up defences with both men over the coming months.
Ospreay’s victory topped off a great night for his United Empire faction. Earlier in the show, they unveiled their newest member, Toa Henare, now calling himself Aaron Henare, who picked up the pin for the group in a 6-man tag team match against Los Ingobernables de Japon.
Credit to Twitter user SpoonYouTuber for the above image.