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.
Imp: But who is Max The Max??
Life is busy, but the G1 ain’t got time for your woes! It’s time for wrestling, baby! The tournament with no breaks can’t stop and won’t stop hurtling down that hill. The question is, Jeremy, are we in for a comfortable stop once we reach the bottom?
Jeremy: Imp, I hope we are. Right now the chances of EVIL winning the B Block and the whole tournament increase with every victory he gets. Hopefully good will prevail over EVIL and we won’t have to worry about that.
Imp: Fingers crossed for that Hollywood ending! Bright side, the in-ring action this week was on a much higher level as the Block tension truly builds. The highs and lows showing their faces and bringing out some absolute banger matches.
So let’s get on to our Top 5s before serving up those tasty MVP points!
Top 5 Matches of Week 3
Jeremy: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii (Night 13)
Yet again a non-tournament match makes the list! On this night it was originally scheduled to be Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito. With the leader of Los Ingobernables De Japon on the shelf, his stablemate, Hiromu Takahashi, answered the call to face the Stone Pitbull.
Last year, these two men clashed in one of the best matches of the New Japan Cup 2020. This match was just as great as last year’s! This had the pacing of a Best of the Super Junior match and the brutality of a NEVER Openweight title match.
Despite being a junior, Hiromu brought the fight to Ishii and unleashed everything in his arsenal including a devastating DVD on the apron (the hardest part of the ring)! This wouldn’t keep the Stone Pitbull down for long. Ishii destroyed Hirmou’s throat with chops and eventually finished him off with the vertical drop brainbuster. Once again Hiromu proves why he should be a regular in the G1. ****1/2
Imp: Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 9)
You know a G1 week has been strong when a match as great as this only just makes my top 5. I had to choose which Ishii match I enjoyed the most! Right after deciding which ZSJ match to cut. A much stronger week of action this time around. The pain is real.
Throughout the G1 each wrestler adapts to their opponent’s style, creating matches like this with such great, violent gelling. Brute force versus adaptable tact, with the toll of the tournament starting to show and bringing out weakness to attack. AKA the worst scenario to then face Ishii in, as that man WILL headbutt you.
The wear and tear on Sabre Jr. started to show against the already damaged Ishii. A Brit on top of the world following his white hot start, clashing with New Japan’s G1 consistent who’s always on a tear. Wrestling a top-tier run of big matches left him worn and open for the Stone Pitbull.
A fantastic closing sequence to boot, keeping me on the edge of my seat during a vital turning point of the tournament.
Imp: Jeff Cobb vs TAICHI (Night 10)
What an amazing pairing these two were! TAICHI fought back with those karate kicks as Cobb launched him with awesome force.
An incredible final run as kicks rocked and suplexes became DANGEROUS. Dodges and counters galore with both the Music Kick Man and Beef Sandwich landing hefty blows to increasing success.
It was only a matter of time before one of the competitors would break and fall. A wall can only stand for so long if you’re swinging a sledgehammer at it.
Jeremy: KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 13)
This was easily KENTA’s best match of the tournament. KENTA is definitely far from his peak and there’s a lot of stuff he used to do that he can’t do anymore. However, one thing KENTA can still do is throw some vicious looking strikes. KENTA’s kicks, chops, and slaps rang through the arena. There was one slap so hard that the referee had to check to see if Sabre was knocked out.
When he wasn’t getting slapped to death, Sabre targeted KENTA’s injured knee. He had several near submissions on KENTA, but KENTA was able to fight to the ropes. Towards the end of the match, Sabre reversed KENTA’s GTS into an ankle lock. KENTA rolled through and sent Zack flying into an exposed turnbuckle. KENTA lifted the dazed Zack and put him to sleep. ****1/2
Jeremy: Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 9)
Big Tom is on my list twice this week!
Tomohiro Ishii and Zack Sabre Jr. are perfect dance partners for each other. I’ve seen these two wrestle each other live and it was a treat!
The story of Ishii’s tournament has been him fighting through the pain of his injured right arm. In every match, he unleashed as much punishment with the arm as possible before it gave out. Unfortunately on this night, Ishii was facing the Submission Master.
Ishii’s arm was a big bullseye for Sabre. Sabre worked over the arm with various holds and kicks. Sabre failed to submit Ishii with holds that worked for him in previous matches. Ishii refused to submit and fought through the pain. Like Imp mentioned, the closing stretch was great. Ishii leveled Sabre with a lariat and finished him off with a vertical drop brainbuster. ****1/2
Imp: Kazuchika Okada vs TAICHI (Night 12)
Big match Kazu dances with Dr. Kicks and the beat has everyone clapping! Those educated feet going to work and good lord did TAICHI nearly decapitate the money man.
A lightning quick closing runs of exchanges as the Okada main event style mixed with the Suzuki-Gun man so damn well. With quite possibly the closest nearfall of the tournament as Okada’s undefeated run came oh so close to an end.
I bloody loved watching TAICHI this week. Both of his matches kicked into such a spectacle of a gear, the counter style of Okada being quite possibly the best partner for it. DANGEROUS snaps and sudden kicks grounded in an instant as the match swung back n’ forth on a dime.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA (Night 10)
Yet another Okada/SANADA battle burning to the dying embers. This might have been my favourite of the lot.
The dynamic between them is in a really strong place as the Cold Skull edges on the brink of stardom, entering the test against a Rainmaker in hot, driven and focused form. The atmosphere shifting as the two made their entrances, this one felt like such a big deal. The crowd gets increasingly behind SANADA each time they meet and they can just sense the huge victory on the horizon.
The match had such a great flow. Your usual slower start, but with the 30 minute G1 time limit it’s never long before offense starts flying and that counter panic sets in.
An amazing final counter from Kazu as SANADA ran in for the Destino rotate-around only to find himself caught and driven down with the Landslide instead. A top notch set up to then swing in with The Rainmaker to the crowd’s clapping ovation.
Jeremy: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA (Night 10)
Unlike most people, I’ve never been a big fan of the Okada/SANADA matches. In 2019, several of their matches received Match of the Year praise. I thought the matches were very good but none of them came close to cracking my top 10 list. So going into this I didn’t have high expectations, especially in a clap crowd environment. As the match progressed I got more and more into it. By the end I was on the edge of my seat!
Kevin Kelly did a great job laying out the comparisons between Okada and SANADA. Both men are the same age and have similar years of experience. However, Okada has been able to become a way bigger star than SANADA. SANADA wants to be where Okada is at. So every time they step in the ring, it’s a chance for SANADA to prove he’s on Okada’s level.
This match was full of great mat wrestling and counters. At one point in the match, SANADA used a Destino type motion to transition into a Skull End for a near submission. Later on SANADA would go for the actual Destino which would be his downfall. Okada countered the Destino with the Landslide. Okada then followed up with a Rainmaker and out his generational rival away. ****1/2
Jeremy: Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi (Night 9)
These men were supposed to face off at Wrestle Grand Slam at MetLife Dome for the IWGP World Heavyweight title. Due to Ibushi getting pneumonia, Ibushi was pulled from the match and replaced by EVIL. Coming into this match, Ibushi had a lot to prove. Beating Shingo here would give Ibushi the vindication that he could have defeated Shingo in MetLife Dome and is good enough to be World Champion.
Ibushi fought his heart out. All his moves were on point including a beautiful Asai Moonsault. The Dragon wouldn’t be slain so easily. Shingo utilized his high-impact offense including a devastating Pumping Bomber to the back of Ibushi’s head. Shingo tried to put Ibushi away with the Last of the Dragon, but Ibushi slipped out and hit a poison rana. Ibushi then hit a V-trigger and two more Kamigoyes and got the win.
This was an incredible main event and was definitely G1 worthy. With Ibushi winning, I’m sure we’ll be getting a Shingo/Ibushi title match down the line. ****1/2
Imp: Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi (Night 9)
A Block continuing to deliver those hot fire Sunday night main events! One of the standout matches before the tournament began, slotted in a great middle scheduling where the heat of the tournament really starts to be felt.
And bloody hell did they bring it! The big main event match we were meant to get at Wrestle Grand Slam, ending up getting served on the quicker G1 plate. Which personally might have worked so much better at making me want to see a title match between the two. Like getting a faster paced showcase of highlights before the true epic clash itself.
On a stacked week it says something that this was ranked #1 for both of us. The kind of Strong Style main event that reminds me why I fell in love with New Japan in the first place.
G1 Climax MVP – Week 3
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: Tomohiro Ishii
BIG TOM IS ON A ROLL! In week 3, Ishii had two great matches and proved why he is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Hurt arm or not, Ishii is an absolute machine.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada
Okada has been in this tournament for the long haul. Like Shingo, wrestling multiple matches to the limit as he reaffirms his main event Rainmaker stance. This week he had a banger duo of opponents in SANADA and TAICHI. Back to back incredible G1 matches leading to me finally raining due applause.
His return to Rainmaker form has been such a vital part of B Block’s increasingly strong run.
As I said earlier, I loved watching TAICHI this week! The man’s G1 matches slowly working their way onto my personal ‘Must Watch’ list. And that’s a short, difficult list to get on! It’s mostly just Ishii belters and my favourite moments of Yano madness.
But he really has been one of the company’s most consistent performers this G1 and this week was a damn strong showcase of that fact.
Jeremy: Kazuchika Okada
The Rainmaker had another great week. Like Imp mentioned, he had two awesome matches with SANADA and Taichi. This is the Okada that NJPW desperately needed.
Imp: Jeff Cobb
Beefy boy on top! Booked damn strong at the top of B Block alongside The Rainmaker himself, delivering tough steak as he looks damn impressive launching his fellow G1 lads about.
Another beast of consistency this G1 and as the tournament rolls on his matches are only becoming bigger and bigger. I promise this won’t be the last time the man is on my MVP list!
Kayfabe wise Taichi is not having a great tournament. However, his in-ring performances have been excellent. He is one of the hardest-working guys in this tournament. If you think Taichi stinks, you’re clearly not watching this product.
Shingo Takagi – 6 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 6 points
Kazuchika Okada – 5 points
TAICHI – 3 points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 3 points
Jeff Cobb – 1 point
Kota Ibushi – 1 point
A Block Standings
(After 7 matches)
1 | Kota Ibushi – 12 pts
2 | KENTA – 10 pts
3 | Shingo Takagi – 10 pts
4 | Zack Sabre Jr – 10 pts
5 | Great O-Khan – 8 pts
6 | Tomohiro Ishii – 8 pts
7 | Toru Yano – 8 pts
8 | Tanga Loa – 4 pts
9 | Yujiro Takahashi – 2 pts
10 | Tetsuya Naito – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 6 matches)
1 | Jeff Cobb – 12 pts
2 | Kazuchika Okada – 12 pts
3 | EVIL- 8 pts
4 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 pts
5 | Hirooki Goto – 4 pts
6 | SANADA – 4 pts
7 | TAICHI – 4 pts
8 | Yoshi-Hashi – 4 pts
9 | Chase Owens – 2 pts
10 | Tama Tonga – 2 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 @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 also hosts the #1 New Japan podcast ‘Keeping Strong Style’ over on the Social Suplex network!
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