Normally the G1 is a time of burnout as you try to stuff as much wrestling into your face as possible before you’re sick. However, this year, New Japan seems to have nailed the scheduling, and after a few days off, I am craving some Grade One Climax action.
My spoiler-free must-see recommendations are Shingo Takagi vs Jon Moxley and Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii.
Juice Robinson (3-1) defeated Toru Yano (2-2)
Another B Block show another Yano match packed full of ingenious schemes. We got a well-worked countout spot and Yano trying multiple times to use the athletic tape to his advantage. I’m never going to hate these because Yano makes me giggle, but at the same time, you can’t call them classics. They are what they are and, as I always say, you probably already know whether you’re going to enjoy it or not.
Having gone for the Left Hand Of God multiple times, Juice finally connected and followed up with Pulp Friction for the win. Simple but effective stuff.
Verdict: Three Stars
Taichi (2-2) defeated Hirooki Goto (1-3)
Taichi stole Karl Fredericks’ LA Dojo t-shirt and being stamping on it as Old Hirooki made his entrance. That wound up Goto enough that he ditched the intros and got straight into beating on the Singing Ballbag.
Goto’s fast start set-up a middle section that was nearly nonsense free with only the occasional Taichi moment getting in the way of him and Goto fighting it out. Goto blossoms in physical wars and we’ve seen this year that it brings the best out of Taichi too. I’m a simple man, and if two people are going to Lariat the shit out of each other, I’m going to have a good time.
Sadly, it would fall apart in the final act as Taichi descended into peak bullshit mode. With it ending in a low blow and a Gedo Clutch it is becoming apparent that the new Goto is much like the old one, incapable of getting the job done. They also gave us a match that while not bad, is unlikely to linger in anyone’s memory.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Jon Moxley (4-0) defeated Shingo Takagi (2-2)
I keep expecting Moxley not to have great chemistry with someone. Coming in, everyone thought he’d lay a few eggs, but so far, it’s not happening. The second he went forehead to forehead with Shingo, I got fired up and ready to watch these two beat the shit out of each other.
Moxley’s doesn’t do clean, technical masterpieces. They’re sloppy and wild, as he’s done a better job of getting across the idea that he’s unhinged in five matches for New Japan than WWE did by screaming about it for years. The key to them, though, is that there is a method to his madness. Against Shingo, his crazed attacks were focused on the leg. Underneath the insanity, there is a man who knows what he wants to do.
And fair play to Shingo who, as he did in the Super Juniors, sold his injuries brilliantly. Takagi is a big man who isn’t afraid to show weakness, crumbling to the floor as he realises he can’t run across the ring. You buy that his offence is based on short bursts of adrenaline which are allowing him to fight through the pain to deliver another Pumping Bomber.
The final act revolved around whether Shingo’s leg could hold out. Moxley drove it into a table then wrapped the injured limb in a chair and slammed another into it. Takagi fought valiantly, hitting Made in Japan but proving unable to keep Moxley up for Last of The Dragon. A series of Regal Knees set-up a Cloverleaf and the damage was already done. Shingo had to tap.
Verdict: Four Stars
Jay White (1-3) defeated Jeff Cobb (1-3)
It was now or never for Jay White as a defeat to Jeff Cobb would have left him dead in the water. Even with that worry hanging over him, or perhaps because of it, Switchblade struggled to get into the action. Cobb’s strength proved the deciding factor early on, and it was only thanks to Gedo’s antics that White found an opening.
There were a couple of cool spots in this match. At one point, Cobb hit a Samoan Drop which he usually follows by kipping up. However, as he prepared to do so, White grabbed a handful of his hair, meaning that while he went a little up, he quickly crashed back down. We also got the usual selection of Cobb throws, as he tossed Jay around the ring to Hiroshima’s glee. There was an awesome Back Drop where he sent Switchblade straight up and then stepped out of the way to let him come back down.
In response, White had to rely on his brains. He began to use Cobb’s momentum against him, using the power generated by Big Jeff throwing an elbow to bring him over for a suplex. Even the most ardent of White haters can’t argue that he doesn’t wrestle the gimmick well. He’s the snivelling bastard who you want to leave as a smear on the ground, but who always dances one step ahead of you, preventing that from happening.
In the final act, Red Shoes took a bump before Gedo and White got up to some nonsense, but it ended surprisingly clean as White slipped out of Tour of the Islands to hit a Blade Runner. Sadly, the lack of a hot ending still hurt and the match, and while it was a solid performance from both men, it will be remembered for White getting on the board rather than the wrestling.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Tetsuya Naito (2-2) defeated Tomohiro Ishii (2-2)
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but the day that Tomohiro Ishii and Tetsuya Naito have a bad match will be a rare one indeed.
Its beauty comes from their differences. There is a clash of philosophies when these two go to war. You get Naito’s Tranquilo vs Ishii’s intensity and the lead Ingobernable’s fluid combos vs The Stone Pitbull’s willingness to headbutt his way through a wall. That conflict makes the match all the better, as they bounce off each other, pushing themselves to their limit.
And, this was no different. It was a blur of action with Naito going after Ishii’s neck, and Ishii belligerently refusing to stay down. Every time it looked like Naito had the advantage, Ishii would pop up, growling his way into another flurry of blows. I loved the way he pulled himself up after a German, clenching his fists and letting out a roar before stumbling up to return to war.
Towards the end, Ishii took the idea of headbutting his way through a wall a bit too literally, thrusting his head up into the underside of Naito’s chin while poor Tetsuya was perched on the top rope. From there, it was all magic as at one point Ishii went as far as no-selling a DDT, launching himself back to his feet to come crashing down with the Sliding D. In the end, though, Naito just had that little bit more. He spiked Ishii on his head one too many times, and when Destino struck, not even Wide Tom had enough left to kick out.
Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. Naito and Ishii are two of my favourite wrestlers, so they’d really have to fuck up not to keep me happy, but this was fantastic. Two brilliant men going to war in an attempt to prove their superiority. I’ll watch them do it a million more times and I bet they’d never let me down.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
It’s weird that I’m looking at five matches, two of which went over four stars, and thinking that this was one of the weaker days of the G1 so far. Only one approached instant classic status, so can we really call it great? I’m joking, of course. This tournament is incredible and this was another brilliant day of wrestling. Complaining would only prove you’re a prat. On to the next one!
Top Three Matches Of the G1 So Far
- Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay (18/7/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada (20/7/19) – Four And A Half Stars
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito (24/7/19) – Four And A Half Stars
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