The Naito comeback express is picking up speed and with the B Block in Osaka he needed Moxley to lose to Jay White before he faced off against his stablemate, Shingo, in the main event. Just that alone sounds like a shitload of fun, so let’s not hang around – onto the wrestling!
My spoiler-free must-see recommendations are Tomohiro Ishii vs Toru Yano, Jay White vs Jon Moxley and Shingo Takagi vs Tetsuya Naito.
Tomohiro Ishii (4-3) defeated Toru Yano (3-4)
Yano and Ishii are regular tag team partners and, presumably, friends. Not that their relationship stopped the Master Thief taking off the turnbuckle pads before Ishii had even got into the ring and then almost sneaking away with the win in a matter of seconds with a series of roll-ups.
Sadly for Yano, he was made to suffer for his indiscretions. After nearly being counted out when he took a seat outside the ring and demanded Ishii come to meet him (Ishii decided he’d rather stay where he was), poor Toru got some of those patented Ishii chops for his sins. It almost felt like two separate matches were going on, the Yano comedy one and the Ishii beating one.
And if any more proof was needed (which it’s not) that Ishii is the best bell to bell wrestler on the planet, this is the cherry on that particular cake. I love Yano, he makes me giggle, but he’s not someone who has great wrestling matches, usually. This turned into a war. Yano was trading elbows with Ishii, hitting him with suplexes and wrestling Ishii’s style which was brilliant, especially when it was combined with Yano’s ability to get the win out of nowhere. Every five-second Yano victory was justified by the number of stunning near falls in this match. These two nailed it, and I loved it.
Verdict: Four Stars
Taichi (3-4) defeated Juice Robinson (3-4)
Taichi, Taichi, Taichi. You fooled me, didn’t you? For a bit, I thought that you might have a good G1 and would limit the bullshit. I was wrong, what a shame.
This was a Taichi match. It started with Kanemaru attacking Juice during his entrance and ended with the wee troll getting involved at every opportunity. It wasn’t Juice vs Taichi, it was Juice vs Taichi and friends.
There was enough in the middle for it to not be a complete disaster, and it helps that Juice is over, but I still can’t pretend I liked this. It was at best fine, and fine isn’t enough.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Hirooki Goto (4-3) defeated Jeff Cobb (3-4)
This was a gruelling war of a match. Two lumbering kaiju, battling in the centre of the ring with stiff blows and painful moves. Which, when I put it like that, sounds like something I’d love, but it never clicked with me.
It felt like Goto and Cobb were struggling to reach full speed. The whole thing was wrestled at a half pace which, with their physical style, could have worked, but never quite caught alight. It was good, but it needed that extra sparkle to push it to great. I wanted to see them unleash on each other, but it never came.
Still, it was another win for Goto, and after his dodgy run, La Dojo is picking up a bit of momentum. He’s not going to win this thing, he’s still Goto, but it’s nice to see him being treated like a bit less of a geek. If nothing else, I want him in a position where he can beat Moxley, so on you go, son.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Jay White (4-3) defeated Jon Moxley (5-2)
Here is the thing about shenanigans in wrestling, they don’t have to be shite. When used in the right spot, to get the right idea across, they’re great. This was a perfect example of how someone like Gedo can aid a match, rather than hinder it.
All tournament, Moxley has been portrayed as an unpredictable force of nature. You don’t know what he’s going to do next. So, White tried to counter that with Gedo. When Moxley set-up a table, Gedo picked it up and ran away. He was the Ace in Switchblade’s pocket. The best part about it, though? It didn’t work. Moxley countered every Gedo interference and sent him packing.
Which left Switchblade to do the job himself, a role he played perfectly. Not everyone loves White’s intricate closing stretches, but I can’t imagine anyone thought this one wasn’t great. They nailed it, White avoiding the Death Rider to hit a series of Suplexes and give him the opening for the Bladerunner. With Moxley losing his second match in a row, this Block has got a lot more exciting.
Verdict: Four Stars
Tetsuya Naito (4-3) defeated Shingo Takagi (2-5)
Chris Charlton did a fantastic job of covering Naito and Shingo’s history during Takagi’s entrance. I won’t repeat it word for word but shall recommend that if you haven’t heard it, you should go listen to it. These two are partners, but there is a rivalry there that goes back a long time, and it’s a rivalry that Shingo has been on top of more often than not. This was Naito’s chance to even up the score a bit.
It turns out that history equals insane chemistry. These two were brilliant together, as Shingo went out and refused to play his faction leader’s games. Naito tried to get into his head, and Shingo called him on every piece of bullshit, even going as far as launching a chair into the ring when he got Tranquilo. Naito has talked about wanting Takagi to take LIJ away from him and watching this, you can picture it.
Particularly as Shingo went on to dominate the first half of this match. His power seemed too much for Naito, as he kept the lead Ingobernable on the backfoot, beating on him and looking like the monster he is. Naito didn’t treat this match like he was wrestling a Junior, he gave Shingo everything, calling back to the dominance he apparently had during their sparring matches in the Dojo.
And when this broke down, it was incredible. These two went balls to the wall, throwing absolutely everything at each other. At one point Naito pulled out a fucking Canadian Destroyer, while Shingo seemed determined to actually remove Naito’s head with a Pumping Bomber. It was stunning wrestling, as Naito’s willingness to damn near kill himself combined with Shingo’s brute force. I loved every second of it.
Of course, Naito won. Shingo is a Junior and one of his underlings, but they went out of their way to make it clear that the gap is not huge. In a year when 95% of people have already declared Will Ospreay their wrestler of the year, Shingo is standing behind him, a scowl on his face and a CV just as good, if not better, than Will’s.
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
If last week’s shows felt like a slight dip in the G1’s quality (and it was a dip down to merely fantastic rather than mind-blowing), Osaka has brought the fire back. There was two match of the year contenders on these shows and they were backed up by countless great performances. We’re on the home stretch, and if we can get a couple more of those brilliant matches, this tournament will have to go down as one of the greatest of all time.
Top Three Matches Of the G1 So Far
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi (3/8/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Shingo Takagi vs Tetsuya Naito (4/8/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay (18/7/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
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