It’s time for wrestling’s tastiest feast and for me to exhaust myself trying to review it all. I haven’t even started yet, and I’m already behind. If 2000 Trees could not organise their festival at the same time as the G1 in the future, it would be appreciated. Anyway, cards on the table, I’m not going to be doing the undercard. It’s too much. I will, however, be reviewing all of the tournament so bookmark the site and come back. You can generally tell how I’m getting on by how unhinged I come across in the intro. Now, let’s stop dilly-dallying! It’s time for the G1 baby.
Togi Makabe (1-0) defeated YOSHI-HASHI (0-1)
If you need proof of how New Japan views the G1, then you need only watch Makabe working his ass off, that’s the same Togi Makabe who spends 90% of his time standing on the floor avoiding bumps. All of a sudden he’s letting YOSHI-HASHI toss him into barriers.
No one was expecting this to be a sexy opener, but these two went out there and reminded everyone that when they get the call, they can go. YOSHI was showing a level of aggression that we don’t see from him. Standing up and trading elbows with Makabe, daring to turn things into a slugfest.
While that might be good for him in the long run, he chose the wrong guy to start his change in attitude. Togi Makabe lives for trading blows, so nothing HASHI could do was keeping him down. If anything, the stiffer things got, the more into it Makabe was. He survived the fight, hit the Spider German and followed-up with that big old knee crashing into the Headhunter’s nogging for the win. A surprisingly great sprint from two men who are often maligned by New Japan fans.
Verdict: Three and Three Quarter Stars
Hangman Page (1-0) defeated Bad Luck Fale (0-1) by Disqualification
This wasn’t great. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, it was the latest chapter in the development of The Firing Squad. Not long in, Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga hit the ring and joined Fale in a beatdown of Hangman before Kenny Omega, Chase Owens and Kota Ibushi came down to chase them off.
The question this raises is whether we should expect this to become the norm. Will The Firing Squad take the place of Suzuki-gun by having their bouts riddled with interference and bullshit? I hope not, because it feels like Tama Tonga needs a big year and that’s not the way to provide one.
As for what we did get, it’s a Bad Luck Fale fight. He’s lost a shitload of weight, but he’s still a giant in a world of more athletic stars. You get what you expect from him. It’s the first skippable match of the tournament.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
A piece of shit (1-0) defeated EVIL (0-1)
I have been engaged in an internal debate with myself as to whether I should cover Michael Elgin’s G1 or not. Whatever he is, he is a good wrestler, so there is always the chance for some fantastic performances.
However, wrestling quality does not make up for being a shitty human being which is what Michael Elgin is. If you want to read about him, go elsewhere. I am having nothing to do with the prick.
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-0) defeated Minoru Suzuki (0-1)
These two men are the definition of classy wrestlers. They go out there and craft intricate stories with Suzuki, in particular, always raising the bar when he’s in there with The Ace. In their G1 opener, they proved why and set Tanahashi up for another year of heroics.
It will be the leg he’s selling this time around as Suzuki continued where he left off in January. He was in Murder Grandpa mode, charging after Tanahashi and twisting that limb in a way that left everyone cringing. No-one murders better than Suzuki and no-one sells being murdered better than Tanahashi.
It was a piece of selling from Suzuki that proved the pivotal moment, though. In a desperation move, Tanahashi unleashed an inverse Dragon Screw, driving MiSu’s leg into the ground. What followed was something that we rarely – if ever – see. Minoru Suzuki collapsing with a scream of pain. With one big move, Tanahashi had literally twisted this match around.
From there, Big Match Tana took over as he slipped into the sequence that we’ve seen a million times before. However, the genius of the story they’d told was that you knew it could end at any second. As he climbed the rope for High Fly Flow the potential for that leg to give out never left. It made the relief as he came crashing down all the more palpable.
Suzuki and Tanahashi, it’s a classy feud from two classy wrestlers.
Verdict: Four Stars
Jay White (1-0) defeated Kazuchika Okada (0-1)
Knife Pervert strikes down The Rainmaker. If you want an example of two men working their gimmicks to perfection, this is one for you. It started from the entrances, with Okada almost skipping to the ring, bursting with feigned delight. He looks like a man trying to convince himself he’s okay, while the world watches on overwhelmed with the feeling that he is most certainly not.
It was a feeling that never went away. This was an exercise in frustration for Little Kazu. Every time it looked like he was set to build some momentum, White would cut him off. Whether it was a stinging chop to the chest or a very deliberate arm flailing out during a Rainmaker to remove Red Shoes from the equation, Switchblade was always a step ahead of the former champion.
That also extended to how far he was willing to go. Jay White did not wrestle like a man in there with his stablemate. Knife Pervert was out for blood, driving Okada into the barricades and even dumping him over the top rope with an insane Saito Suplex. Rocky Romero, who joined Kevin Kelly and Don Callis on commentary for the show, was doing a fantastic job of selling his anger at Switchblade’s actions. He started off trying to call things down the middle, but by the end was practically on his feet, shouting in a mixture of fear and anger at what was happening to the leader of his faction.
In the end, a low blow followed by a chair thrown into Okada’s head set-up White for the Blade Runner. The once unbeatable champion is now very beatable while Jay White proved that he is deadly serious when he speaks of ‘his CHAOS’. Knife Pervert is going to the top, and he wants to take Okada down as he does so.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
As expected the G1 is off to a good start. We got Big Match Tana, Jay White’s continued rise to the top of CHAOS while even Makabe and YOSHI-HASHI got their working boots on. I don’t think it will go down as an all-time great day, but all-time great G1 days are the greatest wrestling on the planet. This was merely in the top five, which was fine by me.
Top Three Matches So Far
1. Jay White vs Kazuchika Okada – Four And A Half Stars
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki – Four Stars
3. YOSHI-HASHI vs Togi Makabe – Three And Three Quarter Stars