Welcome to the Wrestling Headlines weekly New Japan G1 Climax review where your intrepid New Japan guides, The Implications and Jeremy Donovan rank the top five matches for the week and award the best and brightest performers for the week points towards being the Wrestling Headlines G1 MVP. This week covers matches from night’s one to four. To follow along through the week you can find either fella on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat or @JeremyLDonovan.
Imp: FIGHTING WITH A REAL SWORD. The G1 bus driving down the highway, blaring it’s promotional horn to let everyone know the strong Japanese boys are ‘having a wrestle’.
How was the Week 2 ride for you, Jeremy?
Jeremy: I’m not going to lie. The week 2 ride was a little rough. Unenthusiastic clap crowds, Yano buffoonery, and Bullet Club shenanigans were just a couple of the speed bumps the G1 Bus nailed on the way to the end of Week 2. This week overall was not as good as Week 1, but there were still some gems that shined bright.
Imp: And shine a light on those gems we will! Last week we had the pleasure of both having the exact same Top 5 matches beat for beat, however this week we have an immediate divergence! A lower quality week does tend to bring out what you latch on to with your personal tastes.
So let’s get on with it and find out which one of us voted for Yano.
Top 5 Matches of Week 2
Jeremy: Yuji Nagata vs. Shingo Takagi (Night 5)
You’re probably asking yourself, “wait, is Yuji Nagata in the tournament?”. Don’t worry you’re not losing your mind. Blue Justice is not in the tournament, but he is one of the replacement wrestlers for Tetsuya Naito on this tour.
Shingo received 2 points via forfeit and this was supposed to be a night off for him. Clearly, Nagata did not get the message. Blue Justice was exploder suplexing this man all over the place. Nagata removed himself from G1 competition in 2017 because he thought he couldn’t hang anymore. Well on this night he almost defeated the IWGP World Heavyweight champion.
Despite this being a non-tournament match it was one of the best matches from night 5 and is definitely worth a watch. ZEA! ****
Imp: Kota Ibushi vs Toru Yano (Night 7)
I told you I’d get at least one Yano match onto these lists! The trickster brought all of his wit to try and out-fox Kota Houdini as he rolled the star up like a Golden Burrito. In the past, he’s bested Ibushi & ZSJ back to back in Korakuen Hall, but these pesky lads have become wise to his ways!
For me the best Yano is in the sub-5 dash of madness. I don’t need no 25-minute KOPW epic. Just give me blind Ibushi in a hood stumbling around ringside as his G1 teeters on the edge of the cliff of jeopardy.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada vs Hirooki Goto (Night 8)
Goto ‘No Wins’ over here acting all competitive n’ shit. Finding himself up against his CHAOS leader as those points become an increasingly hot commodity. Just when he’s heating up the fire, there’s Kazu with the best dropkick in wrestling to distinguish the flames.
An audible gasp from the crowd as Goto nearly scored a fall, but it was instead Okada out of nowhere with the flash pin. One of the many positives of the G1 presented before us, as we see Goto’s arc start to increasingly get to the normally stoic man with each additional loss.
This one arguably stinging the most of all, looking to prove yourself to a faction leader, only to lose via a sudden snap roll up. The other side of that coin is that it finally feels like we’ve got our Rainmaker back, the CHAOS Ace rattling down the track off the speed of momentum.
For the first time in a while, it feels like Okada really has asserted himself in a G1 Climax tournament.
Jeremy: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kazuchika Okada (Night 6)
YOSHI-HASHI has been having a great year as one-third of the NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Champions. He’s had a ton of success with his trio unit, but thus far he’s failed to translate his tag success into singles success. On night 6 he had the difficult task of trying to defeat a red hot Rainmaker. The Loose Explosion didn’t back down from his CHAOS leader and brought the fight.
Even though YOSHI-HASHI was coming into this match winless, Okada didn’t take him lightly. Okada focused his offense on the neck and the injured shoulder of YOSHI-HASHI. Okada delivered several devastating DDTs, but they wouldn’t keep the master of the Karma down. YOSHI-HASHI made a valiant comeback and got several near falls. YOSHI-HASHI’s come back came to a screeching halt with a beautiful Rainmaker clothesline.
Even though the result of this one was obvious, both guys worked really hard and gave Korakuen Hall a very good main event. ****
Jeremy: KENTA vs Shingo Takagi (Night 7)
This was a crucial match for both men. After suffering a loss on night 3 to Zack Sabre Jr., Shingo needed a win here to keep up with ZSJ and the Great-O-Khan. On the other hand, a KENTA win, would put KENTA on top of the block with ZSJ and Great-O-Khan. Also, a win over the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion could land KENTA a Fall title match. So the stakes were high for both men.
Shingo came into the match with a bullseye on his right arm that was injured during the Sabre match. KENTA wasted no time attacking the arm. An early LeBell Lock increased damage on Shing’s arm. KENTA would also use the ring post and the barricade to weaken the Dragon’s lariat arm.
Shingo fought through the pain and delivered of his signature offense that we know and love. At the closing stretch of the match, Red Shoes went down. This gave KENTA the opportunity to use a chair on Shingo’s arm. On the brink of defeat, the Dragon refused to quit. He used an exposed turnbuckle (which KENTA exposed earlier in the match) to his advantage and dropped KENTA with the Last of the Dragon.
Shingo roars on to another win, but will his arm be able to last the rest of the tournament? ****
Imp: KENTA vs Shingo Takagi (Night 7)
A 2019 NEVER mid-card battle now a main event running the distance. Nowhere near my favourite main event of the tournament, but Shingo’s fire still breathed hot after a blistering Week One.
KENTA flipped the switch as he decided to try and break the IWGP World Champion. Building to a point of frustration as the Bullet Club fanged one took aim to clip The Dragon’s wing. Wielding a steel chair as he swung without remorse in an attempt to hinder the arsenal of offence.
However, Shingo Takagi sure is a unique kind of competitor! That man will swing a Lariat at you as hard as he can even if you dislocate that arm. Sure he’ll grimace afterward but you’re out cold, so what does it matter?
Imp: SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night 8)
What a lovely little Friday treat this was.
B Block’s prestigious ‘Handsome Battle!!’ reached new heights as hairspray drenched men flew high through the air. Tanahashi’s gorgeous locks patterned to perfection, whilst SANADA’s stood tall as a mountain. Even after Topes and Moonsaults, their hair held strong, the two of them looked like they’d just walked out of the dressing room!
Really it’s just nice that I can also rain as much praise upon SANADA’s beard, the man upping his game from last year’s disappointing display in the category. That said Tana really brought the grooming game in this back n’ forth battle!
But just when you thought Tanahashi had it, the Cold Skull gave a sly eyebrow raise to the crowd and that was all she wrote for The Ace. There’s just no competing with the blonde’s eyebrow game.
Of course, as is the case every year, the most points goes to the peck game. Tanahashi went full showman as SANADA stood silently, letting the muscles do the talking. Hard to not give points for Tana’s effort, but in the case of SANADA, should we really detract points from a man in such incredible shape?
Oh yeah, and the match was also top-notch as both lads wore each other down and scored near fall after near fall. But we all know where the real victory lay.
Jeremy: SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night 8)
Anytime SANADA and Hiroshi Tanahashi end up facing off it usually ends up in a game of anything you can do, I can do better.
Tanahashi taunted SANADA with the air guitar. SANADA returned the favor by wrapping Tanahashi in the paradise lock and going an air guitar solo of his own. Both men attacked each other’s legs. Tanahashi did a dragon screw and SANADA followed with one of his own. We even got the infamous both men grab each other’s leg and want the other guy to put it down first spot.
This game of one-upmanship went on through the whole match. At the conclusion of the match, SANADA attempted to win the O’Connor Roll which he used for victory earlier in the tournament. Tanahashi fought through and nailed a beautiful dragon suplex followed by the High Fly Flow. 1-2-3! The Ace rides again! This was a great main event that could have benefited from a crowd who was allowed to scream and cheer. ****
Jeremy: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 5)
Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. always have great matches together. This night 5 bout will get added to that list.
Sabre came into this match with confidence at an all-time high after submitting Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi. Even though Zack has every right to be confident, his confidence can sometimes be his worst enemy. Throughout the match instead of sticking to his mat game, Zack was goaded into strike exchanges with Ibushi which he always lost. Why would anyone want to exchange strikes with the Golden Star?
Ibushi fought at a hard fast pace, but you can still tell that Ibushi is not quite at 100 percent yet. For the most part, Zack seemed to always be a few steps ahead of Ibushi. Zack had a submission for any limb he could grab a hold of. Zack even had a submission answer for the Kamigoye. He wrapped Ibushi up in an Octopus Stretch and then transitioned to a scissored stretch muffler and forced Ibusih to verbally submit.
Just like that, Sabre taps out another victim. Who will be able to stop the Submission Master? ****¼
Imp: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 5)
Here we bloody go! Now we’re goin’, Ibushi darlin’. Beating those pricks on auto-pilot. No one’s got an answer. Whoever’s got a stupid bracket can throw those in the bin with Naito’s knees. Muy bloody bien.
Jesus Christ this was good. What an incredible tournament ZSJ has had so far, easily one of the standouts as this run continues to develop. Ibushi felt surely a lock-in for victory after finding his footing on Night 3, but this isn’t your standard fizzling-out mini early heel build for the Brit! The bendy octopus man from the Isles was given the opportunity to dish out strong display after strong display.
Playing off the expectation of a sure Ibushi fight back perfectly, instead, the Golden Star was the next in line to get caught in a trap as another domino falls. So far Zack Sabre Jr has been running this G1 and Week Two completely solidified that fact.
… I can’t wait for his Yano moment.
G1 Climax MVP – Week 2
Over the course of the G1 we will be awarding points to three wrestlers for their performances each week and at the end use them to crown the MVP for the G1.
Jeremy: Zack Sabre Jr
Zack Sabre Jr. is riding an incredible wave of momentum right now. His G1 31 run is eerily similar to his 2018 New Japan Cup run. Not only is Zack dominating in the standings but he’s also dominating with his performances. He’s been consistently great thus far and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Imp: Zack Sabre Jr
Tekkers indeed, Zack. Tekkers indeed.
His rotation out of these big matches will come, but ZSJ has bloody seized control of the ball with the opportunities given this G1. Consistency up there with the champions of the company as he also racks up point after point.
Easily my #1 MVP for the week and it’s not even close.
Imp: Tomohiro Ishii
I almost put Ishii vs Tanga Loa on this list. That’s how hot the Stone Pitbull gets when G1 Season comes blowing by!
A really strong bout with KENTA, that I’m sure will make most people’s lists, before pulling out Tanga Loa’s best match of the tournament. Ishii in the G1 just does not miss.
Jeremy: Shingo Takagi
Week 2 was another great week for Shingo. He had a great non-tournament match with Nagata, where he could have easily mailed it in. He also had a great main event with KENTA.
Imp: Kota Ibushi
The Golden Star has been picking up pace since losing to the Tokyo bloody Pimp on Night 1. A match with Yano may detract from an end of week standing for many, but I like myself a wee bit of comedy and his bout with the G1 Man of the Moment ZSJ was awesome enough to keep him up high my MVPs shortlist!
Then he goofed around ringside with a hood on his head. All the stars!
Jeremy: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Never count out the Ace! No matter how many times Tanahashi proves how great he is there will be people who doubt him. Tanahashi proved his doubters wrong yet again with wins over Tama Tonga and SANADA.
Zack Sabre Jr. – 9 points
Shingo Takagi – 8 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 5 points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 1 point
Kota Ibushi – 1 point
A Block Standings
(After 4 matches)
1 | Zack Sabre Jr – 10 pts
2 | Great O-Khan – 8 pts
3 | KENTA – 6 pts
4 | Kota Ibushi – 6 pts
5 | Shingo Takagi – 6 pts
6 | Toru Yano – 6 pts
7 | Tomohiro Ishii – 4 pts
8 | Tanga Loa – 2 pts
9 | Yujiro Takahashi – 2 pts
10 | Tetsuya Naito – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 4 matches)
1 | Jeff Cobb – 8 pts
2 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 pts
3 | Kazuchika Okada – 6 pts
4 | EVIL- 4 pts
5 | SANADA – 4 pts
6 | TAICHI – 4 pts
7 | Tama Tonga – 2 pts
8 | Yoshi-Hashi – 2 pts
9 | Chase Owens – 0 pts
10 | Hirooki Goto – 0pts
That’s all from us this week. What were your favourite matches and who were your favourite performers in the G1 Climax this week? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat and @JeremyLDonovanl. You can also go deeper on the G1 thread or write a column about it yourself on the LOP Forums here.
Make sure you join us for our increasingly more incoherent ramblings next week. See you then!
Jeremy is also hosts the Keeping Strong Style podcast over on the Social Suplex network. This past week talking the G1 one with a few words from Rocky Romero himself!
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