I think I nailed my G1 maths for A Block yesterday, so let’s see if I can do the same for B. On the block’s penultimate night, Jon Moxley, Tetsuya Naito, Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Juice Robinson, Hirooki Goto, Taichi and Jeff Cobb all still had a chance to reach the final. Now I’ve written all that down I’ve realised this would be the longest intro of all time if I tried to figure it out, so let’s leave it for the end.
My must-see spoiler-free recommendations are Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb and Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii.
Toru Yano (4-4) defeated Taichi (3-5)
Taichi has been watching Naito and wound Yano up by taking forever to get his gear off. Yano got so frustrated at the match failing to start that he tried to leave, only for Kanemaru to stop him (why?) and Taichi to wrap him up in the ring apron for a countout tease.
We then got a game of catch with a turnbuckle pad, Yano yanking Taichi’s trousers off and all your favourite shenanigans. It ended with Yano trapping Taichi and Kanemaru in another ring apron and getting the countout which gave us the fantastic spectacle of the two of them flailing around desperately trying to escape. Yano continues to deliver the giggles.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Tetsuya Naito (5-3) defeated Jeff Cobb (3–5)
Naito was on the wind-up as Cobb made his entrance, taking a sumo stance and mocking the big man. When Cobb charged across the ring and crashed into him, he might have pondered whether the gentle ribbing was a mistake.
Although the regret won’t have lasted long. After that brief assault, Naito was dominant, attacking Cobb’s leg and controlling the action with ease. It was only when he went for the Leg Sweep Dropkick combo that Big Jeff came back into things, catching Naito as he swung into the ring and getting down to some throws.
The work on Cobb’s leg led to some great selling. While I think Big Jeff is a fantastic athlete, this tournament has made me doubt whether he’s a fantastic wrestler. Here, though, he did a great job, hopping into his Standing Moonsault and then aiding Naito’s kick out when he grasped at the injury instinctively, distracted by the pain. He allowed the pain to slow him down, altering spots to adjust for it and that’s good wrestling.
We got a fun closing stretch that for one second put the fear into me as Cobb set-up for Tour of the Islands. As he flung Naito up for it, Old Tetsuya slipped around into a half Destino and brought Jeff crashing down. Cobb would kick out of that, but the proper one a few seconds later was enough for the Naito Express to roll on.
Verdict: Four Stars
Hirooki Goto (5–3) defeated Jon Moxley (5-3)
Goto almost fucked up getting into the ring on a double countout tease, and I swear I had a mini heart attack. I know Old Hirooki is famous for shitting the bed, but that would have been YOSHI-HASHI levels of incompetent.
Interestingly, this was not the wild brawl we have come to expect from Moxley. Instead, he slugged it out with Goto, playing out all his Japanese wrestling fantasies. Mox seems to have got a lot comfier with trading elbows, leaning into them and getting stiff with the NJPW roster. He still can’t throw a punch, but it’s something at least.
And then, just as it felt like they were heating up, it was over. Moxley hit the non-elevated Death Rider and rolled over to go for a second only for Goto to slip out, get him on his shoulders and drop him down into position for the GTR. It was sudden, but I’m not complaining. The Naito Express is going full steam ahead and God bless Hirooki Goto.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Jay White (5–3) defeated Juice Robinson (3-5)
I’ve been one of the bigger Switchblade fans, as I genuinely think he’s got all the potential. However, this tournament has left even me cold on his matches. The style he is working is not coming together, and it’s getting harder and harder to get into what he’s doing.
White vs Robinson was a perfect example as to why, as Gedo and Jay cheated their way around Juice from the first minute. As I talked about in my review of the Moxley match, that’s not an automatic fuck-off, but this was boring. It was a slow, uninteresting beatdown of Juice’s leg that might make sense but left me checking Twitter.
And that boredom never went away. I like both these guys, and they’ve had a great match in the past, but I never got into this. Technically, I don’t think they did anything wrong, both men worked over the leg and, as I said above, it made sense, but it was so dull. There was one cool spot where Switchblade threw Robinson to the outside, and he bounced into the barricade, but that was it, you only had to listen to how quiet the fans were to see it wasn’t working.
The finish teased the idea elevating proceedings for a second, but guess who turned up? Our old friend, Gedo. There was a chair and all sorts of nonsense, although I will at least give them some credit for White getting the win with the TTO after working the leg all match. At least they kept to the logic in among the boredom.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Shingo Takagi (3-5) defeated Tomohiro Ishii (4-4)
I was always going to love this match. Ishii and Shingo are two of my favourite wrestlers, who happen to be a perfect stylistic match. If they’d gone out and given 5% of their usual effort, I’d have popped, slapped four stars on it and smiled all day.
But Ishii and Shingo don’t give 5% effort. That’s not in their make-up. Instead, those two went out and beat the shit out of each other. If you’d hit me with one of the stiff strikes in this match, I’m pretty sure I’d be dead. Ishii and Shingo ate about fifty of them each. We got chops to the throats, punches, headbutts and everything else you can think of. It was two men beating on each other, seemingly delighting in discovering who could take the most.
And through it all there were these ferocious bursts of energy that saw both men hit top speed. They’d go from standing trading blows to flying across the ring, bouncing up from suplexes and showing a toughness that is quite frankly insane. Ishii was bleeding from his ear while every Lariat unleashed a torrent of sweat into the air.
It somehow got better as it went along. Towards the end, these two had me on my feet, giggling with glee. Ishii leaned into a Pumping Bomber, no-selling it before both men hit hellacious Lariats and traded kick-outs at one. It was wonderful, and the best part? Shingo won, and that means we’re going to see this again. Even when the bell was rung, they crawled towards each other, exchanging headbutts on the mat like the mental bastards they are. New Japan, if you want to do the rematch in London, I would be okay with that.
Verdict: Five Stars
Right, this show has eliminated Yano, Taichi, Ishii, Cobb and Juice from contention, leaving us with White, Moxley, Goto and Naito still in the mix. If Moxley wins and Goto loses he is through, that bits relatively simple. For Goto to make the final, he needs to win and have White beat Naito then it won’t matter what happens elsewhere. White, meanwhile, needs Moxley and Goto to lose while he beats Naito and Naito doesn’t have to worry about Goto but needs Moxley to lose and then a win over White. I think that’s all of it. Does it make sense? Probably not.
In the ring, this was an alright G1 show that was rocket packed to the moon by the main event. Shingo vs Ishii is my first five star match of the tournament, and might be my favourite of the year? The only other matches to get five stars are Shingo vs Will and Omega vs Tanahashi, so I’d have to think about it. Either way, it was incredible and you need to watch it.
Top Three Matches of the G1 So Far
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Shingo Takagi (8/8/19) – Five Stars
- 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
Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/