Thanks to the joys of 2000Trees, I’m already behind on the G1 a situation that is going to be compounded by the fact I’m off on another holiday tomorrow… still, we can try to catch up! After A Block commenced in America, NJPW came back to Japan for B Block to join the fun. Let’s see what down.
My spoiler free recommendations for this show are: Juice Robinson vs Shingo Takagi, Jon Moxley vs Taichi and Tomohiro Ishii vs Jeff Cobb.
Juice Robinson (1-0) defeated Shingo Takagi (0-1)
You could legitimately question whether Will Ospreay would fit in with New Japan’s Heavyweight style, but no-one was worried about that when it came to Shingo Takagi. My boy came out and went straight to work, fighting it out with Juice in a match that got physical from the first bell.
The big man was so comfortable that he took control early on, out-powering Robinson and controlling the strike exchanges. Juice was forced to get smart in return, countering a Shingo dive attempt with a spear through the ropes. It was interesting to see the Junior wrestle as the muscleman while the Heavyweight was forced to think on his feet.
Not that Juice was playing some battling underdog. Robinson is having a fantastic couple of months, and that continued here. He’s wrestling a more focused style, less of the flamboyant one and more the guy that went to war with Moxley. Juice is always going to be a charismatic bugger, but he’s developing an edge, and he’s all the better for it.
Despite that, this was Takagi’s match, and the message was clear, he’s not coming into the G1 to be treated like a kid sitting at the adult table. Even in defeat, he looked like a fucking monster, battering Robinson with Pumping Bombers and needing two Left Hand of Gods and a Pulp Friction to make him stay down. That’s how you kick off a Block in style.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Jon Moxley (1-0) defeated Taichi (0-1)
Shota seconded Moxley, carrying his belt to the ring like a good son. Although he let his Dad down by not pointing out that Taichi had snuck into the crowd to attack Moxley during his entrance. The lad still has things to learn.
I had no idea what this match was going to look like because let’s face it, no fucker expected to see Jon Moxley vs Taichi in the 29th G1. Thankfully, they went out and did exactly what they needed to do, throwing all the fancy shit out the window to have a brawl. Moxley has an almost sloppy edge to his wrestling which adds to its wildness. He hit Taichi with a Tope Suicida and the fact it looked a bit ugly just made it better.
And I think it was that which helped me enjoy this. These two left all the rules backstage to throw each other through tables and bash each other with chairs. That’s the kind of shit that has been known to piss me off, but when it actually feels dangerous, I’m alright with it. Everything they did felt like a bar brawl, and while you couldn’t call this a great wrestling match, you’d be lying if you said wasn’t fun to watch.
Verdict: Four Stars
Toru Yano (1-0) defeated Tetsuya Naito (0-1)
Tetsuya Naito is one of those wrestlers who melds perfectly with Yano. Before the bell even rang, he was playing along, no-selling The Master Thief’s antics while taking an age to remove his entrance attire. Naito then refused to lock-up, only engaging when Yano went into the corner to get his turnbuckle pad.
By the end, these two had transitioned into a full-blown farce. Then, having dragged Naito’s t-shirt over his head (which he refused to take off at the start), Yano pulled out his favourite trick and stole away with the win. You already know whether you are going to enjoy this or not. If you’re a fan of Yano pissing around, you’re going to have fun. If you’re not, skip it.
Verdict: Three Stars
Tomohiro Ishii (1-0) defeated Jeff Cobb (0-1)
In the opening seconds of this match, Ishii and Cobb locked-up, growling at each other as they did so. It was two angry hosses, snarling as they prepared to go to war and I practically slapped four-stars on it right there.
Because while I love a lot of things in life, from music to roughly four or five people, very few of them have my affection the way a Tomohiro Ishii G1 run does. When that G1 run starts with him beating the shit out of another big boy, well, let’s just say that I’m having a good time. The timekeeper called the five-minute mark in this match, and I was amazed as it felt like the damage these two had dished out should have taken place over five times that. It was brilliant.
I have waxed lyrical about Ishii before, though, so let’s spare some words for his opponent. Jeff Cobb has been handed a big spot, and if he wanted to prove he belonged, he needed to have a great match with Ishii. Thankfully, he did. This was a man leaning into his size and power, using it to stand in the centre of the ring trading strikes with the hardest opponent New Japan has to offer before hoisting him up into the air to bring him down hard. In his first G1 outing, Jeff Cobb proved he can compete at this level.
If I was put in charge of wrestling, a lot of it would look like this. These two men didn’t require steel chairs or flashy tricks. Ishii and Cobb relied on stiff strikes and vicious suplexes backed-up with a shitload of heart. How can you not love Tomohiro Ishii leaning into Cobb’s blows or Jeff desperately blocking Brainbusters, broken but refusing to die? I loved it, and if you have any place in your heart for this style of wrestling, I suspect you’ll love it too.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Hirooki Goto (1-0) defeated Jay White (0-1)
Jay White started the match by rolling outside and grabbing a steel chair. Thankfully, that wasn’t so he could introduce it to the ring, but instead, because he wanted Gedo to have a seat. White was so confident that he didn’t feel he would need the help of his manager.
That moment gave me hope that we were going to get a straight-up fight between these two. Sadly, I was expecting too much. It didn’t take long for Gedo to reappear and grab Goto’s ankle, putting White in control, and setting-up a period that was, well, boring. I wanted to love this because I think Switchblade is great and I’m craving an awesome G1 from him, but it wasn’t working. These long control periods don’t suit his style as he’s yet to find a way to make them interesting. He’s too tied up in wrestling to his character rather than wrestling to entertain.
Thankfully, we got a bit of the Goto that people want to watch. New Japan has been telling the story of him going out to train with Shibata and finding himself, which led to a fiery performance from a man who too often lacks that. White was still proving smarter than him, finding the answers as they went into the closing stretch, but Goto refused to die. When White went for the Switchblade, Goto grabbed his hair, dragging him back before delivering a vicious series of headbutts followed by a Final Cut. After months of watching White cheat to win, Old Hirooki had enough, and it should have set-up the finish.
Sadly, they went a few minutes longer, and I think that kind of sums up this match. If these two had told the same story in ten to fifteen minutes, I’d have loved it. Sadly, it was all a bit too dragged out. It feels like White and Goto have an awesome match in them, but they are falling just short, and it’s frustrating as hell.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Wow, I thought A Block had delivered a high bar to leap over, but B Block shat on their parade, didn’t they? What a night of wrestling this was, as even a main event that failed to capture the imagination didn’t take away from some truly fantastic performances. Two nights in, this G1 is already set up to be something truly special.
Top Three Matches Of the G1 So Far
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Jeff Cobb (13/7/19) – Four And A Half Stars
- Juice Robinson vs Shingo Takagi (13/7/19) – Four And A Half Stars
- Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6/7/19) – Four Stars
Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/