What’s the G1 Tournament?
This was the 29th G1 Tournament marking the first time any G1 Climax show has taken place outside Japan. For those who aren’t familiar with the New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax, it is a month long wrestling tournament where 20 wrestlers separated into 2 blocks (A & B) of 10 face off to determine the winner and face off for New Japan’s biggest title IWGP at their biggest PPV Wrestle Kingdom (NJPW’s version of WrestleMania). Wins are by Pin fall, Submission and Disqualification. All wins equal 2 points. If a match heads into a draw within the 30 minute period, each wrestler is awarded 1 point. It is arguably the biggest tournament in all of Wrestling and for the 1st in the company’s history, they decided to bring the 1st Night to the United States which will showcase the A-Block participants.
Addressing the major elephant in the room- attendance for this show was extremely poor. Selling a little under 4,900 tickets in 20,000 arena was not a good look for them. Granted they only put around 5,000-6,000 tickets on sale but it’s still a bummer.
There is a major disconnect between fans and the company. For all the company’s fault with promoting in the US, prices themselves as well, the fans asked and begged for an authentic New Japan show, they didn’t show up and that’s on them. As for the audience there, it honestly sounded like the show sold out we were loud for virtually most of the show. It’s a shame the show didn’t do better because the crowd was great for the whole show.
As for the show itself, it was incredible, just what I expect from the G1 for the most part even the tag matches were very good. I won’t discuss the undercard tag matches because there was no consequences for them and they are usually for helping promote the upcoming set of G1 matches (save for the opening bout Guerillas of Destiny vs Roppongi 3K).
The G1 Matches:
Will Ospreay vs Lance Archer
Arguably the best match of the night and easily the best match of Lance Archer’s career.
Archer had a lot riding on this match. This was in his hometown of Dallas, it has been 5 years since Archer has been in the G1 and he is two years from having a broken back.
Ospreay who is having one of the best years a wrestler could dream of participated in two of New Japan’s other big tournaments earlier this year in the New Japan Cup and the Best in the Super Juniors. This is his 1st G1 and he’s also the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion. Will has a lot of on his plate here having already moved to Japan, and holding the mantle of trying to prove Junior Heavyweights belong in the main event spotlight like the Heavyweights.
What a great big vs little match! Lance’s offense actually looked great and Will rag dolled for him in those high spots. Will’s selling has improved tremendously even if he oversold sometimes. Ospreay has to go back to the drawing on approach the next set of matches vs Heavyweights and Lance looks motivated and determined to prove to everyone he belongs.
Lance Archer defeated Will Ospreay @ 18:17 via pin Highly Recommend Watching
EVIL vs Bad Luck Fale
I enjoyed this match more than most. I felt the crowd was disrespectful leaving making this the “piss break” match. I’m a firm believer in the undercard tag matches are the time to get everything done, the main matches are worth staying for. With that being said Bad Luck Fale is probably the most criticized wrestler in the A Block for having bad matches and lazy finishes.
Bad Luck Fale,The second in command for the Bullet Club, went by the Underboss now goes by the Rouge General as the Bullet Club is still ushering their new era after their previous rendition was split into two groups. On the other end, EVIL is a part New Japan’s BIGGEST faction now (used to be Bullet Club for a while) in Los Ingobernables de Japon (Japan’s versions of the faction in the Mexico promotion CMLL’s Los Ingobernables).
The match was nothing to brag about but there was one interesting point – the chairs. EVIL introduced the chair to the match and it backfired on him. EVIL and the guy that’s about to be mentioned in SANADA were IWGP Tag Team champions before losing the belts to GoD. They were given a rematch but they lost as EVIL was the one who took the pin fall. EVIL costing himself the match here seems like there is a story in place here so we’ll see how far along this will go.
Bad Luck Fale defeated EVIL @ 11:30 via pin Decent but not good
SANADA vs Zach Sabre Jr
My match of the night, the chemistry between these two was off the charts and they made some great callbacks to the previous matches. There was beautiful counters throughout and some of their submission maneuvers are second to none.
SANADA as mentioned above is a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon. He’s probably the biggest enigma of the whole faction. He has the look, skill, and charisma to be a major star in the company but something is holding him back from being a top star for them. Perhaps not being signed full time with New Japan. Originally a part of All Japan Pro Wrestling and trained by wrestling legend Kenji Mutoh, SANADA has been performed in various promotions like Wrestle-1 and the formerly known TNA.
Zach Sabre Jr on the other hand was one of the biggest acquisitions made by New Japan in 2017. He eventually joined the faction Suzuki-Gun led by Minrou Suzuki and is one of the bigger names in the faction. Currently, Zach is the Rev Pro (British Promotion with allegiance to New Japan) British Heavyweight Champion. He actually participated in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic a year before signing with New Japan.
Both guys found their home in New Japan and honestly both guys are trying to prove that they are worth becoming top stars. This was purely technical match that dealt submissions, counters and precise grappling. Really great match and looking forward to how both of them perform the rest of the way in the G1.
SANADA defeated Zack Sabre Jr. @ 21:25 via pin Highly Recommend Watching
KENTA vs Kota Ibushi
This is a match I’ve been waiting for a long time. KENTA returning to Japan, his G1 debut, and his 1st singles match ever with Kota Ibushi. Hype level overboard for me. After a 5 inconsistent arguably disastrous years with the WWE as Hidieo Itami, KENTA returned to Japan; only this time he chose to go to New Japan instead of returning to Pro Wrestling NOAH (A place he helped built and was household name for). Kota Ibushi followed a similar yet curious path to New Japan.
Originally a member of the Japanese wrestling promotion Dramatic Dream Team Pro Wrestling, Ibushi became a freelancer traveled where he see fit. Eventually landing in New Japan in 2009 as freelancer, it wasn’t until this year where Ibushi signed full time with the company. He also had brief stint with WWE in the same tournament as Zach Sabre Jr, the Cruiserweight Classic and was on NXT for quick second.
I’ll start by saying KENTA’s new theme is freaking awesome. The match itself started off a little off for me, KENTA I think is still adjusting back to his old style he was doing a few things WWE wants wrestlers to do (such as rest holds and hot sequence with lariats) but as the match went along he became more comfortable. Kota Ibushi was his normal self, minus one botch on the outside. KENTA’s finisher G2S (Go 2 Sleep) didn’t land but Ibushi sold it well.
This isn’t the KENTA from 2008-09 that was killing everyone left and right and I accepted that before that match begun. I think KENTA has a lot to prove and in his eyes he believes so also. KENTA virtually dominated this match as I expected. I think as the tournament goes along he will get more comfortable. As for Ibushi, I just hope he remains healthy throughout the tournament, he injured his ankle pretty bad during the match. I loved this match and think there’s a rivalry brewing. Also their post-match embrace was beautiful.
KENTA defeated Kota Ibushi @ 20:50 via pin Highly Recommend Watching
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Arguably one of the greatest rivalries of all time but it’s the most important rivalry of this current New Japan era. Being there live is something I will never forget. The prematch chants made me almost lose my voice. This is what we all wanted once New Japan were doing solo shows in the US. I could go in-depth about this rivalry but the post is long already and there’s YouTube videos and articles about this already.
As for the match itself, well it was one of their weaker matches, but it was a great match. These 2 have incredible chemistry and know one another like the back of their hands. I’m happy they decided to make this match 22 minutes with a decisive victor instead of drawing it all the way out to 30 minutes. A very great and entertaining match, the perfect way to close this show.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 22:10 via pin Highly Recommend watching
What a show! I thought the crowd well lack thereof was going to kill this show, but it did the complete opposite. I’ve been to the 1st 3 New Japan live solo shows and I can say this was their best foot forward by a mile. It also helped a few people I know get into the G1 tournament. It’s a show worth watching and seeing what the hype is about. Another key point is the fact New Japan have a quite a few shows in the US coming up soon.
August 22-25th is the return of the Super J Cup tournament, a second Junior Heavyweights tournament.
- August 22nd Seattle, Washington: Temple Theater
- August 24th San Francisco, California: San Francisco State University Student Life Events Center
- August 25th Los Angeles, California: California State University Long Beach Walter Pyramid
Tickets are on sale now for these shows (1st 2 shows are sold out)
Also they’re doing an East Coast tour called Fighting Spirit Unleashed at the end of September
- Friday, September 27, 2019・Boston, MA Lowell Memorial Auditorium
- Saturday, September 28, 2019・New York, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
- Sunday, September 29 2019・Philadelphia, PA 2300 Arena
You’ll probably see me at one of the shows and I recommend for people to attend and have a good time. Wrestling in general has been seeing a growth in fan interest and all companies are trying to expand. This is great time to enjoy wrestling I know I am.