There’s been a march taking place in March over in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Zack Sabre Jr won the New Japan Cup by submitting a good portion of the NJPW main event scene. Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, Sanada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi all fell to Sabre in their quest to win the tournament. Because he won that tournament he now has his sights set on Kazuchika Okada and the IWGP heavyweight championship, but he faces some pretty long odds. Okada is in the middle of an all-time run as the champ. You can make the argument that it seems like Okada ALWAYS WINS, but when you’re the Ace of the company that’s how it’s supposed to be. Losses feel unique and if an Ace loses, they need to pick themselves back up and redeem themselves. The match itself should be interesting because Okada has only faced one opponent similar to Sabre and that would be Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki is the leader of Suzuki-Gun and a mentor to Sabre. Both men wrestle a submission based style and while Suzuki is much older and possibly more sadistic, Sabre is younger and inevitable.
What do I mean by inevitable you ask? Sabre has won gold in just about every promotion he’s wrestled in: Evolve, Rev-Pro, PWG, just to name a few. His submission style isn’t necessarily to work on a limb until you’re forced to tap out. It’s to work on ALL of them and this causes opponents to wonder where he’s going to strike next. He’s composed and calculating and he WILL win eventually. If Okada is able to survive, which seems to be the popular consensus, NJPW has a new star to contend with and he will not stop until he gets gold. It may not be in the form of the heavyweight championship, but it will happen.
I’d love to see Sabre win, if for no other reason than to just put one over on everyone who thinks that Okada always wins. However, I’m fine with Okada winning as well because I think he’s on a run that will be talked about for many years. Both potential outcomes could lead to interesting things as well. If Sabre wins, he’ll find himself at the top of the company and his mentor as the gatekeeper to get to him. Suzuki is also the current Intercontinental champion. The Intercontinental championship is the second biggest title in the heavyweight division. It could also lead to internal strife within Suzuki-Gun since Sabre would have surpassed his mentor. How long before Suzuki-Gun becomes Sabre-Gun? If Okada wins he’ll find himself closer to having broken another broken. He will be tied with longtime rival Hiroshi Tanahashi for successful title defenses in a single title reign at 11 defenses. If Okada wins, I think Tanahashi will come out and be the next challenger for IWGP heavyweight championship. Either way I think the match is going to be a great one and will set the pace for what is already a jam-packed week of wrestling.