Welcome to the Wrestling Headlines weekly New Japan G1 Climax 30 review where your intrepid New Japan guides, The Implications and Sir Sam 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 nine to twelve, in case you missed last week’s review, you can find it here. To follow along through the week you can find either fella on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat or @Sir_Samuel.
Sam: We’re nearly there Imp! The finals are in sight? How do you feel about your Jay White prediction?
Imp: Jay’s going strong into the final nights! Nice to have my pick still looking a heavy favourite as we edge closer to the final for once. But how’s your annual Tetsuya Naito pick?
Sam: Well he was in the lead going into this week some wasn’t too far off. Crazy that they could be setting us up for a Jay White v EVIL final. That weird but exciting possibility is well and truly in the mix!
Top Five Matches of Week Four
5. Sam: Jay White v Yujiro Takahashi (Night 13)
This match was an absolutely outrageous flex by New Japan. Not only do they put on the most athletic wrestling in the world but because of their long term dedication to character consistency and roster positioning they can pull off a five minute glorified squash match, with the kind of drama other company’s could only dream about.
There were so many cool little details in this match. The first was Jay wearing t-shirt, track pants and street shoes to what he thought would be a gimmie win. I love how Yujiro slowly being overcome by the humiliation of laying down for his leader as White decided to play with the pinfall rather than get the dirty business done. Because it is the G1 of course I bit on the near falls, thinking Yujiro could upend the hierarchy of a faction already in chaos. Not only was this individual match a blast on its own, it added further layers of intrigue to the potential Bullet Club Civil War that looks set to explode.
Five minutes of sheer dramatic brilliance.
Imp: Jeff Cobb v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 13)
Oooo, big boys!
Starting the week with a clash of muscle, a meeting of beef, another helping of big sweaty meat slappers. New Japan bringing the steak as Daddy Cobb staggers the human embodiment of a stone slab with stiff forearms and strong Hawiian sauce.
A hefty helping of Strong Style, big lads chopping trees till trunks give way, eventually one of them’s going to fall. Not before they reached the wrestling equivalent of deuce and logically concluded they should start headbutting each other. The match was even, what else were they meant to do??
No neck boulders of men clobbering each other, is there any better combination for an Ishii match than that?
4. Imp: Jeff Cobb v Will Ospreay (Night 15)
Yet another fantastic pairing in this A Block for the ages. Not quite hitting the heights of their Madison Square Garden opener last year – that was just last year?? Fuuuuuu – but the top notch chemistry between them was clearly on display once more.
Cobb’s power constantly halted Ospreay, suspending him in mid-air before forearming the lad to the mat. Thanks to Cobb’s strength, the Essex man was essentially able to use him as a climbing frame and spin all around the fecker. He was like a kid in a play park springing from one thing to the next, after leaping the fence in the first place like he was high on sugar.
This meeting between big lad and ‘not as big’ lad led to one entertaining flow, Ospreay trying to flippity floppity but Cobb was right there to lariat that bunny’s head off. The Olympian was just too much power and Billy soon found himself taking an involuntary island tour ride… to hell!
Jeff Cobb really has grown into this tournament, such an impressive second half surge.
Sam: Shingo Takagi v TAICHI (Night 15)
There is a saying that styles make matches and never is that more true than with TAICHI, put him with some and he will flop hard but put him against someone like Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki or Shingo Takagi and suddenly the match becomes must-see. I think the magic comes from his character, he knows what he needs to do to get the victory but his pride sees him want to prove himself and constantly get dragged into intense exchanges against the toughest men on New Japan’s roster.
This match was strong style at its best. TAICHI’s story throughout ensuring the match built perfectly as he eased his way in but the hard and fast strikes from Shingo saw him want to get his own licks in and things moved to an unrelenting back and forth of two men trying to show how tough each of them are. As they got going the pair were very evenly matched so I completely bought the near falls at the end as well.
This match was intense, explosive, hard hitting and went for just the right amount of time, exactly what I want when I watch wrestling.
3. Sam: Hiroshi Tanahashi v SANADA (Night 16)
I’ve been notoriously cold on SANADA, very little about his act has every really clicked with me. I can see that he is popular, I can see that he is quite a good wrestler but I just haven’t ever connected with him emotionally. That was not so on Night 16. Of course, it helps when you have Hiroshi Tanahashi, one of the most expressive and emotive wrestlers ever across the ring from you but for the first time, this G1 I could feel SANADA’s desperation to fight through the onslaught delivered to him and take out his must-win match.
Thinking back on this match I don’t remember specific moves as much as I remember the surges in momentum as both men willed themselves through the fight. The crowd was so into this match too, it seemed to be willing both men on which with the clapping only limitation really creates the best possible atmosphere.
I didn’t want to put this in the list as I had already written up another match but in the end, the fire of Tanahashi and SANADA just could not be denied.
Imp: Hiroshi Tanahashi v SANADA (Night 16)
SANADAAA! My pick for the pick ‘ems what I picked secures his place for the final day via a lengthy outing alongside the Ace Of The Universe. A fantastic mix of the Tanahashi main events we’ve all come to know so well, but with a massive dose of the SANADA style. That mix of grounding down and sudden bursts gelled really well with Tanahashi trying to re-energize himself back into the flow.
The surges towards the end were particularly great, with the 30 minute time limit edging closer and both men still dead set on countering each other at every turn. Leaving us with absolutely no idea who was going to win, amazing strings of reversals and finishers cut off right at the last second. Special mentions to SANADA catching a High Fly Flow-ing Tanahashi mid-air with a Cutter and the Ace rolling and flipping out of the Cold Skull’s attempted Skull End submissions time after time.
This match built to such a fantastic crescendo, the rhythm of it all playing at such a frantic yet fluid pace. Both men were desperate to score that win, neither giving an inch to let the other snatch it from them. The best scenario to be in, such a top notch way to send B Block into the final round with so many still alive in the chase for the ever prestigious G1 crown.
2. Imp: Jay White vs Minoru Suzuki (Night 15)
“Chop me, son!”
“I said CHOP ME!”
“I AM CHOPPING!”
Papa Suzuki smiles at the pain, “I shall now slap you in the face.”
Sam: Jay White v Minoru Suzuki (Night 15)
I don’t quite know how to follow that incredible review Imp other than saying that yes, this was an absolute character-centric masterpiece.
White v Suzuki is a dynamic that has long intrigued me as they are both heels but a very, very different kinds of characters, a coward v an ass-kicker if you like. Their match in the G1 28 was a taste of what they could do but they got the full spotlight here to create something special and boy did they deliver. Jay knew he was up against a deadly serious threat, who would not pause to dish out punishment, so gone were the taunts and antics and instead, he just focused on desperately trying to take and maintain the upper hand in any way possible. For Suzuki’s part, he seemed to want to teach this arrogant young upstart a lesson and he was progressively overcome with disgust for the cowardice and weakness of The Switchblade and Gedo. Suzuki’s facial expressions were particularly intense.
Not that this match was all character, no action. The match had some of the most vicious chops and forearm shots I’ve seen from Suzuki deliver and the way Jay desperately scratched and clawed to keep his upper hand added a great layer of intensity.
So many great G1 matches meld into one another but this one really stood out and I feel like it will only be better when I come back to watch it again down the line.
1. Sam: Shingo Takagi v Kazuchika Okada (Night 13)
Shingo Takagi is a wrestler who wants to run headfirst and the biggest threat he can find just to see how he stands up against them and in New Japan there aren’t many threats bigger than Kazuchika Okada. With Okada going through something of a depression, early on it felt like Shingo was simply doing things to raise his ire and bring out the true Rainmaker he had seen before but never got to face. After some kicks to the face, slaps to the back of the head and hard lariats in the corner, Shingo’s wish started to be granted and the Okada of old began to awake for the first time this G1.
The slow emergence of Okada meant the match built at a great pace and by the time Okada started reaching into his bag of tricks the match was a runaway train of fun. Credit has to go to Shingo for being the first man to truly make a struggle in the Money Clip exciting, firstly trying to punch his way out of it, by grabbing Red Shoes to stop him ringing the bell and at one point straining through bulging eyes to pull out a backbreaker and escape the hold.
In the final stretch, Shingo hit his amazing MAde in Japan and some typically huge lariats, even pulling out a Rainmaker of his own, however, it wasn’t to be and Okada once again caught him in the Money Clip to take the win.
It has been an extremely subpar tournament for Okada, this is actually the first time I included him in the top five and last year he was one of my top scorers. This match though, opposite the hottest performer of the tournament for my money was a reminder of exactly how good he can be.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 15)
Kazu sure started to amp it up in this closing week. We’re finally getting a dose of those amazing late-match sequences with the two lads dodging and countering everything in their final surges desperation. I just happened to prefer his Ishii bout over his battle with Shingo, the latter is RUNNING this year but there’s just something about the familiar… I’m not sure ‘comfort’ is the word with Ishii.
I’ve been worried about an Okada late surge given the run so far to get Money Clip over hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, running whatever the opposite of riot is. If anything his matches have felt in danger of becoming a bit TAICHI, as in potentially amazing second halves but with a rather boring first. This week Kazu proved me wrong! Two absolute bangers against Shingo & Ishii.
Remember what I said last week? You run the gauntlet of Ishii, Shingo or Ospreay and you’re almost guaranteed to be scoring on these lists. Those three men have been directly responsible for a bulk of the top matches every week, surely no coincidence that the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion’s final 3 matches are against those exact men. Giving the man that quality run right at the end!
He and Ishii clobbered each other, with that expected incredible final run of constant counters and dodging. The perfect mix when combined with Ishii throwing lariats and Okada responding by throwing ones of his own, but when he does it they’re Rainmakers! Loved this match, the undying force of Ishii against the growing momentum of Okada. We all know how powerful both of those can be.
G1 Climax MVP – Week Four
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.
Sam: Shingo Takagi
The runaway freight train of the G1 this year. So many of my favourite matches have had Shingo in them, his mix of power and speed matches up well with just about every opponent and he always seems to go out there to steal the show. This week we had him carrying Okada to his first properly great match of the tournament and standing toe to toe with TAICHI in a Strong Style slug fest. I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it here, Shingo is the new Ishii when it comes to the G1.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada
The Rainmaker finally returns! Man it’s great to have our Okada back in these final matches. Even if he is still trying to win with the Money Clip, the matches themselves jumped right the hell up in quality.
Like a certain someone’s energising up for a certain final on the horizon…
Imp: Jay White
Two fantastic character matches this week, as Sam said the one with Yujiro was such a flex from New Japan. Then his bout with Suzuki was White’s second top notch heel vs heel encounter of the tournament, pissing off the Murder Grandpa as they both brawl with all the usual antics in play. Both solid outings, White’s really grown as an in ring performer but character wise he has it down to a T. The man’s in his 20s and running a heel clinic.
Sam: Jay White
The thing that sets Jay White apart from nearly all others in New Japan is just how well he inhabits his character and that was on full display this week in his two fantastic matches. Jay’s efforts in the G1 have convinced me that there is no better heel in wrestling, he can wrestle with the best of them, he can cut a compelling promo and he has his scum bag character absolutely dialled in. This man is a superstar.
Sam: Hiroshi Tanahashi
May The Ace never grow old! Four weeks into the G1 Tanahashi has no need to be going all out the way he has been but that is simply not what made him the once in a generation talent that he is. Instead, he put on two match of the night performances against first Goto and then SANADA. In fact, if I wasn’t so set on including the Jay White v Yujiro match I would have had Goto v Tanahashi in my top five too.
Imp: Minoru Suzuki
I can’t commend White’s performance without acknowledging that of Minoru Suzuki, 52 years old and going at this level is some R-Truth level of unaging magic. He’s had such a strong tournament and continues to be such a presence in these tournaments, his match with Jay White was everything I had dreamed it would be and the look on Suzuki’s face as he was held back by Young Lions was such a perfect end to it all. A fantastic character who is so damn believable in his badassery, but also throughout this tournament has showed just how strong he continues to be in the ring.
May Suzuki continue to somehow never age!
Jay White – 12 points
Kota Ibushi – 8 points
Shingo Takagi – 7 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 7 points
Tetsuya Naito – 5 points
Will Ospreay – 4 points
Kazuchika Okada – 3 points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 2 points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2 points
TAICHI – 1 point
Minoru Suzuki – 1 point
A Block Standings
(After 8 matches)
1 | Jay White – 12 pts
2 | Kazuchika Okada – 12 pts
3 | Kota Ibushi – 12 pts
4 | Will Ospreay – 10 pts
5 | Taichi – 8 pts
6 | Jeff Cobb – 8 pts
7 | Shingo Takagi – 6 pts
8 | Tomohiro Ishii – 6 pts
9 | Minoru Suzuki – 6 pts
10 | Yujiro Takahashi – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 8 matches)
1 | Tetsuya Naito – 12 pts
2 | EVIL – 12 pts
3 | SANADA – 10 pts
4 | Zack Sabre Jr. – 6 pts
5 | Toru Yano – 6 pts
6 | Hirooki Goto – 6 pts
7 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 pts
8 | Juice Robinson – 6 pts
9 | KENTA – 4 pts
10 | Yoshi-Hashi – 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 @Sir_Samuel. 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 review of the final weekend and tournament wrap early next week. See you then!