Welcome to the Lords of Pain 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 LOP 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.
Powered by RedCircle
Imp: Back on the road again! The excellence in wrestling that is the G1 Climax tournament rolls round once more! And for the first time to cover the G1, I’m joined by Keeping It Strong Style’s Jeremy Donovan for the ride.
How are you feeling about this year’s tournament so far, Jeremy?
Jeremy: MAX THE MAX! YOU GO TO MAX THE MAX! First, I must say I’m really digging this year’s theme song by Jam Project.
I think the tournament has been very good so far. A lot of people have been brushing off this year’s tournament because of the clap crowds and lack of stars. However, the first few days have put out some bangers. We’re on pace for another great G1 Tournament.
What are your thoughts Impy?
Imp: Glad to be in agreement! I was genuinely skeptical coming in to this year’s tournament with an unexciting block announcement and the company as a whole really struggling to latch onto momentum.
With all that said though, the G1 so far has been genuinely great. Bangers across the board as a select few lads really step up to the mantle and deliver.
But enough dillydallying, let’s get to our top rankings for the first week of action!
Top 5 Matches of Week 1
Imp: Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night Three)
When I say this match slapped, I’m being relatively literal.
One of my favourite G1 pairings. These two deliver one of the top matches of the tournament year on year. This time maybe not reaching those heights, but I bloody enjoyed the twist of familiarity in their multiple sequences of counters and endless dodges.
Ibushi bringing his ability to flip the switch to God mode as his expression turned cold and slapped the bald pitbull across the face. You’re damn right Ishii responded in kind! Stiff as hell kicks to the head responded with stone headbutts square to the chest.
A final stretch of no mercy. Each man going for the kill shot in your New Japan special of blocks and reversals until one lad summons a strike from hell.
Jeremy: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kota Ibushi (Night Three)
Find you someone who loves you the way Kota Ibushi loves bumping on his neck. I’m pretty sure Kota Ibushi is one of the only people who would volunteer (and maybe even be the one to suggest) bumping on his neck off a shoulder tackle.
Ibushi’s G1 didn’t start so hot after an upset loss to Yujiro Takahashi. After suffering from aspiration pneumonia, Ibushi has been struggling to find his fighting spirit. Tomohiro Ishii was the perfect opponent to help Ibushi wake up the Murder Ibu that has been laying dormant.
Ishii challenged Ibushi with hard hitting chops, lariats, and slaps. Ibushi had to dig deep and fight for every piece of offense he got. At the end of the match Ibushi hits a desperation V-Trigger and quickly followed up with a Kamigoye for the win.
This wasn’t this duo’s best match. But I believe that was by design to help tell a redemption story for Ibushi. However, this was still hard hitting, gritty, and full of cool moves. ****1/4
Jeremy: Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night One)
It’s hard to talk about this match without bringing up the heartbreaking news that came after this match: Tetsuya Naito suffered a left knee injury and is out for the rest of the tournament.
Unfortunately it was only a matter of time that Naito’s knees would give out. Those things have been taped up for years. I’m not sure if he came into the match with the injury or if it happened during the match but Naito still had a great performance.
Naito and ZSJ have been feuding for several months with their respective partners for the IWGP tag titles. They have also done battle in the past so are no strangers to each other.
Naito attempted to use a fast pace offense to get the better of ZSJ, but he wasn’t having any of that. For the majority of the match Sabre Jr. was in control and worked on the knees of Naito. At the conclusion of the match there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for Mr. Tranquilo as he winded up for one last Destino. That hope quickly disappeared as ZSJ reversed and locked Naito into the “Yes! I am a long way from home”. With 3 minutes left Naito tried to hold on but the pressure on his knees increased and had no choice but to submit.
Unfortunately this is the end of Naito’s G1 journey, but it’s just the start for ZSJ who is now positioned as someone who could win the whole block. Heck, he could win the whole thing. ****1/4
Imp: Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night One)
Naito’s one and only G1 Climax 31 match. Here I was originally all worded up to applaud his selling, but it turns out there’s no better way to sell than to be actually hurt.
The match still went the distance as ZSJ wore down the LIJ man, to what I assumed was going to be an eventual Naito fight back into a reversal heavy finish. Which is pretty much what we got, but I was not expecting the increasing control Sabre Jr. grabbed as we got closer and closer to that 30 minute time limit.
Your classic Naito flashes of speed against a man that can match that style incredibly well. Reaching the end with our hero broken and trapped in Zack’s submission web, as I was sat just waiting for a sudden Destino victory that was never to come.
We may have only gotten one Tetsuya Naito match this G1, but he went down in style. What an incredible pairing these two are.
Imp: Shingo Takagi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night Two)
The IWGP World Champion has been bearing the flame this G1, our fire breathing force of the A Block burning down those main events. Going the distance both nights in two wars to the limit as he runs a champion’s gauntlet.
Then you pair that strong fighting spirit against the man with the quickest and smoothest reversals in the game? Outrageous tekkers! Sabre Jr really going over strong at the start of this tournament, battling tooth and nail with Block favourites who just do not give up.
The fire of Shingo and silky smooth reversal traps of Sabre Jr. drove us into a truly memorable final stretch. Takagi needing to truly lamp the lad just once to swing back that momentum, but how do you down the man who’s got an answer for everything?
Fantastic match as both these guys set up what could be two incredibly strong G1 runs.
Jeremy: Shingo Takagi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night Two)
After ending Naito’s G1, ZSJ was looking to take out another Ingobernable.
The stakes were high for Shingo as he had several things riding on this match. First, he had to fight for revenge for his fallen friend. Secondly, he was undefeated in the tournament and needed those two points to remain undefeated and have a better chance at winning the block. Lastly, a win here would also prevent ZSJ from a future IWGP World Heavyweight Title opportunity. The deck was stacked against the Dragon, but as usual Shingo was ready for war.
These two have such different wrestling styles, but they worked beautifully together. Shingo used his strength advantage to lay in with hard strikes and throws. ZSJ used his technical wizardry to tie up Shingo and torture him. When Shingo would escape he would make ZSJ pay. You could see Shingo’s frustration rising with each hold he had to battle out of.
Once again this match came down to the last few minutes. Shingo was trapped in a Triangle Choke and attempted to power his way. ZSJ was able to transition into an arm bar and submit the champ! ZSJ is on fire! ZSJ is now a heavy favorite to win the A Block. Even if he doesn’t win, he submitted the IWGP World Champion and is owed a future title match. ****1/2
Jeremy: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night Two)
This was the first time since the opening night of G1 Climax 29 that Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi faced off in a singles match. There are some not so bright people out there who were complaining about these two facing off again. I don’t care how many times these guys wrestle, it will always be great. I had the pleasure to be in attendance for the aforementioned G1 29 match and loved every second of it. I don’t think these two could have a bad match even if you paid them too.
The best part of this outing was the return of the Rainmaker. For the last year, Okada has been working in a slump and attempted to make the Money Clip a thing. On this night the slump was over. The cocky, arrogant and confident Rainmaker is back.
This match came down to the last 30 seconds. Instead of trying to lock the Money Clip in, Okada pulled out the infamous wrist control and took Tanahashi’s head off with the Rainmaker ripcord lariat. This is the Okada that NJPW desperately needs. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of his tournament plays out. ****1/2
Imp: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night Two)
The ultimate ace pairing of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Our third battle to the limit of the tournament and we were only two nights in!
As is always the case with Okada & Tanashi, the day out starts chipper enough but by the final stage momentum is swinging back and forth so quickly that you just get wrapped up in the exciting flow of madness.
I’ve been watching these two wrestle for how many years now? Yet they still know exactly how to sucker me in and have me waiting on every beat.
As Jeremy said, this match truly felt like we’ve finally got our Rainmaker back. Big Money Kazu raining down the stars once again with those insane final sequences and remarkable New Japan style. You’re always in for a treat when Okada and Tanashi are placed in the same Block!
Imp: Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night One)
Big booys! Stiff strikes and charging power!
The number of times I yelled, “JEYZUS!” during this battle. Some of their strikes knocked the wind out of me nevermind the competitors! Drawing audible gasps from the crowd as the two fought to the absolute limit.
I can’t applaud this match enough. Right up my street as they no sold Germans and lariats, only for the wounds to eventually show on wobbly hinds. Clobbering each other with hefty blows, slamming with force and yelling out in POWER! I just had no idea what it was going to take to keep the other man down, both outright refusing to stop fighting.
Not that they could stand after this, but take a bow, lads.
Jeremy: Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night One)
This match was freaking awesome! Shingo and Ishii are always magic together. This match had a more different pace and intensity than anything we’ve seen in the tournament thus far. Right from the opening bell both men throw thunderous forearms to the skull. Throughout the match Shingo sold his hand which he hurt striking the boulder head of Ishii.
There were so many incredible sequences including where both men took turns back suplexing each other. With each progressive back suplex each man was getting drained but refused to give up.
I gasped when Ishii lost his grip of Shingo on an avalanche brainbuster. For a split second I thought Shingo was going to land incorrectly and be injured. Luckily Shingo fell on his back and was okay, but Ishii wouldn’t let that failure discourage him from trying it again later. Second time was the charm and Ishii hit the move with no issue.
The closing sequence was great. Ishii battered Shingo with chops to the throat, then Shingo nailed a big head butt and he quickly hauled Ishii up to nail him with the Last of the Dragon.
Thus far this is easily the best match of the tournament and one you should go out of your way to watch. ****3/4
G1 Climax MVP – Week 1
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: Shingo Takagi
2021 is Shingo’s year. He’s been on an absolute tear since Wrestle Kingdom. I have a hard time seeing anyone beating him for NJPW Wrestler of the Year. Thus far his performance in the G1 has been incredible and has produced the two best matches of the tournament.
Imp: Shingo Takagi
The IWGP World Champion has set a top tier pace for everyone else to aspire. Firing out of the gates with two 5 star performances and more than earning his Sunday rest against Nagata.
If this is the level we can expect over the course of the tournament then we are truly in for something special. The kind of run that just elevates those around him and fills me with all kinds of excitement.
Imp: Tomohiro Ishii
Shingo’s first dance partner and after that absolute war how could I not give those lads MVP spots #1 and #2? The Stone Pitbull has an insane level of consistency across G1 tournaments and something tells me with Jeremy on board this year those points are only going to tally up even more!
Jeremy: Zack Sabre Jr.
The Submission master has started the tournament red hot this year. ZSJ is an incredible wrestler and it’s great to see him getting some shine here. This week he broke the hearts of LIJ fans and broke Naito’s knee. Keep your eyes on ZSJ for the rest of the tournament.
Imp: Zack Sabre Jr
An incredibly strong start for the British half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, matching the champion for just shy of half an hour as A Block starts to feel wide open following his first match resulting in heavy favourite Naito’s injury.
In the absence of other Gaijin heels, will NJPW go with the age-old tactic and just create another one?
Jeremy: Tomohiro Ishii
Big Tom has been in some hard hitting affairs in the tournament. Ishii is a machine. Even though he’s down 2 losses he’s been smashing his opponents in great performances.
Shingo Takagi – 6 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 3 points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 3 points
A Block Standings
(After 2 matches)
1 | Zack Sabre Jr – 6 pts
2 | Great O-Khan – 6 pts
3 | KENTA – 4 pts
4 | Kota Ibushi – 4 pts
5 | Shingo Takagi – 4 pts
6 | Tanga Loa – 2 pts
7 | Tomohiro Ishii – 2 pts
8 | Toru Yano – 4 pts
9 | Yujiro Takahashi – 2 pts
10 | Tetsuya Naito – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 2 matches)
1 | Jeff Cobb – 4 pts
2 | Kazuchika Okada – 4 pts
3 | TAICHI – 4 pts
4 | EVIL- 2 pts
5 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2 pts
6 | SANADA – 2 pts
7 | Tama Tonga – 2 pts
8 | Chase Owens – 0 pts
9 | Hirooki Goto – 0pts
10 | Yoshi-Hashi – 0 pts
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 @JeremyLDonovan. 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!