Genichiro Tenryu and Kensuke Sasaki went to war at Wrestling World 2000
2000 saw a sea change within New Japan Pro-Wrestling. A year removed from tensions between Keiji Muto and the injured Masahiro Chono began, Muto had changed the face of the nWO, and on Chono’s return, he made his dissatisfaction physically clear. A battle at Wrestling World 2000 would see nWo Japan truly crumble, as seeds were sown for a new group, Team2000 to take its place. Elsewhere, Jyushin Thunder Liger, upset at a lack of fighting spirit in the junior heavyweight division would debut a black clad version of his bodysuit and destroy Koji Kanemoto in under four minutes with an unforeseen aggression.
Newer wrestlers were also rising to the fore. As a promising trio of Young Lions in Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wataru Inoue and Katsuyori Shibata were toiling away in the Dojo, a super rookie by the name of Kenzo Suzuki would have a huge opportunity; after Manabu Nakanishi’s scheduled opponent of Bill Goldberg withdrew due to injury, Nakanishi took on the new face instead, and Suzuki surprised many with his competitiveness.
Truly a generational shift was taking place, and as a new millennium began, a perfect main event saw its own generational clash. Genichiro Tenryu was one of the last true main event warriors of the Showa era that had ended a decade prior, but was running strong with renewed fighting spirit in 2000. Kensuke Sasaki ups3et by Tenryu at the end of 1999 and losing his IWGP Heavyweight Championship, needed his win and title back to lead New Japan at the forefront of Heisei into the new millennium. The resulting hard hitting war was an early match of the year candidate.