In a surprising twist, I caught a bit of the undercard on this show. Amazingly, it got me quite excited for Moxley vs Yano. It was easy to forget when he was filtered through the lens of Vince McMahon, but Mox is a funny guy, and there is every chance he and The Master Thief will create some magic. Anyway, that’s tomorrow’s show. Today we’re in the A Block and have plenty of fun to look forward to.
My spoiler-free must-see recommendations are Will Ospreay vs Zack Sabre Jr, Kazuchika Okada vs Lance Archer, SANADA vs KENTA and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL.
Kota Ibushi (4-2) defeated Bad Luck Fale (1-5)
Fale has been eliminated from the G1, so we are destined to be treated to the delights of a Bad Luck who doesn’t give a shit both in reality and kayfabe.
Look, it is all but impossible for Kota Ibushi to have a match I don’t like. Go back and read my reviews, I might not love them all, but can you find one that I don’t think is at least good? If you can, let me know, because I’ve forgotten about it. Actually, don’t bother, Old Bad Luck has done the job for you and dragged Ibushi down into the cesspit that is his world.
Right from the start, this was riddled with interference and bullshit. Kota tried, he almost oversold everything Fale did in an attempt to make this feel like something important, but it didn’t work. In a world where Fale is slapping on Bear Hugs, you might as well give up. He certainly has.
Still, Ibushi is Ibushi, and he dragged this from total shite to just shite, but there was only so much he could do. If I hadn’t decided I had to watch all of this, I’d be skipping this crap. It’s not worth your time.
Verdict: Two Stars
Zack Sabre Jr (2-4) defeated Will Ospreay (2-4)
Zack Sabre Jr is blaming Boris Johnson for him being unable to focus on the G1. I don’t think I’ve ever related to a wrestler quite as much as I do Zack. Fuck Boris, and fuck the Tories. Right, that’s done, let’s get onto the wrestling.
It is easy to draw comparisons between ZSJ and Ospreay. They both came through the British scene, wrestling for the same companies and being associated with the same people. However, the truth is that they couldn’t be more different. Zack is the intellectual who embraced the history of British wrestling and worked his arse off to become one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. Will is, to be frank, the idiot who discovered lucha libre and had a natural ability to shine. I’m not saying he didn’t work hard, but he made it look easy. Their differences are starker than their similarities.
In many ways, they also established the story of match. Early on, Will tried to play Zack’s game because he’s a fucking idiot, and he was, unsurprisingly, punished for it. ZSJ went after his neck and started to torture Young William, making him regret that choice. Sabre is smarter than Will, and he was going to use that to his advantage.
Eventually, though, Ospreay’s athleticism and his natural ability came to the fore. He stopped walking into Sabre’s arms and started doing what he does best, taking to the skies and crashing down on his opponents. His natural combination of speed and power looked to be leading him to victory.
Except, sometimes, just sometimes, brains outdo power, and on this day, Zack Sabre Jr proved that to be true. ZSJ might not be able to win this any more, but he’d promised to ruin the G1 of everyone who stands in his way, and Will proved to be his first victim.
Verdict: Four Stars
Kazuchika Okada (6-0) defeated Lance Archer (2-4)
Big Lance might be everyone’s breakout star of the G1, but after a hot start, he’s rather fallen away when it comes to picking up wins. One presumes he’s aware of that as he charged across the ring at Kazu, attacking before the bell and dragging him to ringside for a beating.
While his kayfabe form might be struggling, this was another example of Archer proving himself a star. He’s wrestling with an intensity that makes you think he’s going to beat up his opponent, the ref, the Young Lions and several fans at ringside, but it’s combined with a tendency to do stuff a man his size shouldn’t be able to do. One second he’s screaming at a child, the next he’s walking along the top rope and leaping off with a Moonsault.
And that insanity led to Archer dominating this match. He hit Okada with everything, connecting with an insane Chokeslam before bringing him off the top rope for Blackout, leading to Okada just getting his foot on the rope in time. The champ was taking a beating, and if he had lost this match, it would have been the most one-sided Okada defeat in a long time.
So, of course, he wasn’t losing. You don’t send your guy out to be squashed like that as Okada finally turned the tide with a Discus Rainmaker. For a second, it looked like it wasn’t going to be enough, but it hurt Archer enough to let Okada block the EBD Claw and grasp the wrist. By now, we should all know how things end when Okada has control of the wrist.
Verdict: Four Stars
SANADA (2-4) defeated KENTA (4-2)
For years, people have been calling for SANADA to interact with the fans and let his personality out. Now, it seems like he starts every match with five minutes of playing to the stands. He might have gone too far in the other direction.
In contrast, KENTA has given up on seeking their love. He’s embracing their boos and is all the better for it. After his hot start, he may have dropped off into a couple of defeats in a row, but from a character point of view, the guy is nailing it. He wrestled this match with a sneer on his face, kicking his way through SANADA as he didn’t give a flying fuck what those in attendance were thinking. In fact, he was so good, that by the end, some of them were chanting his name.
And it gave SANADA the kind of match that he relishes. That guy is a massive babyface, and as he battled from underneath, you were gripped by his story. KENTA was dominating him, but SANADA never felt like he was going to die. He’s too good. There is a naturalness to his wrestling that means at any second he could slip into that Skull End.
That is exactly what happened too, as the final minutes were a dance between the Go To Sleep and the Skull End, with the Skull End eventually coming out on top. SANADA got it locked on for long enough that, for the first time this tournament, he was able to leap up to the top rope and come down with a Moonsault. After that, there was no chance in hell KENTA was getting up.
Verdict: Four Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2) defeated EVIL (3-3)
It’s so fucking easy to write off Hiroshi Tanahashi. I think part of it is that we are all dreading the day it happens. At some point, Father Time is going to tap The Ace on the shoulder and the years will come crashing down on his shoulders. Until that day, though, he will continue to play on our expectations, and then blow us away.
In his match with SANADA, Tanahashi went back to old faithful. He’d been avoiding the High Fly Flow, knowing the damage it does to his knee. However, Tana knows his strengths, and when it hit, he came away with the win. So, what did the mental bastard do? You know what he did, he fucking leapt from the top to the floor, taking EVIL out and crashing into the unforgiving ground at the same time.
But that’s Tanahashi, and this was a match built around his stubborn refusal to wander over the horizon and die. EVIL was the young stud, a hard-hitting goth who wanted to bully the ageing legend and put him out his misery. He was all big Lariats and stiff blows, on a mission to put the broken body of Tana through the wringer and get the win.
You can survive a lot with heart, though, and Tanahashi is all heart. He took everything EVIL had to offer, escaping multiple attempts at the Everything Is Evil and eating more Lariats than one man should. It didn’t matter what EVIL did, though. The Ace refused to die because he is our Ace, and he will fight until the end. Eventually, he went up and came crashing down with one and then two High Fly Flows and God bless Hiroshi Tanahashi. May he never change.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, I was a bit pissed when I watched this show. Whether that played a part or not, I’ll never know (there is enough wrestling to watch without me rewatching this), but I had a lovely time. After we got the Fale bullshit out of the way, everything came flying in at four stars before the main event slipped slightly over that barrier. It was great wrestling, and I like great wrestling. More, please!
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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