Welcome to the Lords of Pain weekly New Japan G1 Climax 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 LOP G1 MVP. This week covers up to the matches on night twelve, Thursday the 1st of August. To follow along through the week you can find either fella on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat or @Sir_Samuel.
Sam: So Imp, about that Naito prediction we made.
Imp: He’s not mathematically eliminated! I’m holding out for a hero, holding out for a Yano till the end of the night.
Sam: He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and I still think it’s Naito alright.
Imp: Speaking of heroes, our next week starts with Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahshi this Saturday. Time to get excited, Sam!
Top 5 Matches of Week 3
5. Imp: Lance Archer v Kazuchika Okada (Night Twelve)
I finally get to talk about one of the true MVPs of G1 Climax 29. Lance Archer has been a revelation, impressing me with style against every single opponent. He’s arrived with such a unique intensity, in which his matches very quickly become a battle of survival for his opponents. Truly living up to the, “Everybody dies!” tag line. It’s not exactly led to results going the way of the giant of a Suzuki-Gun member, but he’s sure made a name for himself as a singles star in the process.
Then you have that kind of beast go up against one of the best counter wrestlers of this generation? Jesus Christ what an incredible clash of styles! Okada surviving by the skin of his teeth, Archer catching the champ off guard with his big boy strength and at one point even an incredible Old School top rope walk into a Moonsault?! He’s like 6’8!
Lance Archer has been incredible so far, for me the true breakout star of A Block, this may be may favourite match of his out of them all.
Sam: Zack Sabre Jr. v Will Ospreay (Night Eleven)
Having been eliminated from contention from the G1 Zack Sabre Jr. vowed to “ruin everyone else’s.” and ruin Will Ospreay’s tournament he may have. Sabre wrestled an absolutely feral style, ruthlessly targeting Ospreay’s neck with choke hold after choke hold. The Aerial Assassin was of course able to bring a battery of offence to the table and fought back as much as he could but kept falling into Sabre’s incredibly well laid traps and was eventually worn down and forced to submit to the British Heavyweight Champion.
4. Sam: Kazuchika Okada v KENTA (Night Nine)
I love a bit of unpredictability and KENTA has been a huge wildcard in the A Block, going 4-0 in his first four matches and picking up dominant wins over some of New Japan’s top heavyweight talent. The question remained though, how would he look opposite the undisputed top wrestler in the company, a wrestler who was also undefeated in the tournament.
Unsurprisingly both men went in confident but KENTA was able to get the upper hand early with a battery of spiteful strikes, he even took a chance to mock Okada. I really enjoyed KENTA’s heel work as Hideo Itami in 205 Live and the chip that is developing on his shoulder as the New Japan crowd begins turn against him more and more really has me excited for his future in the company. Even though he failed in his first match against The Rainmaker I saw enough here that I want to see more.
Imp: Zack Sabre Jr v Will Ospreay (Night Eleven)
The first ever All-British match in G1 Climax history, and boy did this set the bar. The seamless fluidity between these two is just awe inspiring to watch, the mix of Ospreay’s athleticism and ZSJ’s technical mastery goes down smooth as hell. One of those matches that’s near impossible to keep up with, the action transitioning at such a lightning pace without much in the way of hesitation.
The longer the match went, the more evident the damage inflicted by Sabre Jr’s submissions became. Leading to some insane final sequences, with the British Heavyweight Champion living up to his monikers and leaving you asking, “How’d he do that? He just jumped straight into an Octopus Hold? Like howww?!”
3. Imp: Hiroshi Tanahashi v EVIL (Night Eleven)
This one really caught me by surprise!
Tanahashi has been a consistent top performer this G1, but for me EVIL has been one of those guys just not quite hitting the heights of others. I mean, EVIL, how dare you only pump out great 4 star matches instead of 4 and a half!
This was a Tanahashi classic though, the fight back from the face of defeat, digging deep and launching himself from up high. EVIL felt just as much the main event star as Tana did, matching The Ace step for step and even looking the more likely to win for a strong stretch. A fantastic back and forth bout that had me on the edge of my seat in it’s closing sequences, as Tanahashi entered his vintage, counter-filled overcoming fight back after just surviving the offence of EVIL.
Never underestimate The Ace!
Sam: Lance Archer v Kota Ibushi (Night Nine)
I have not said enough about Lance Archer yet this G1 and what better way for me to shine a light on the breakout star of this year’s tournament than to highlight this fantastic match with Kota Ibushi from night nine?
This was a match that really showed off the athleticism and skill of both men as they wrestled a fast pace with tons of exciting counters. The highlight for me was Ibushi countering a Derailer attempt by jumping up and planting a double stomp on Archer’s back. The match was all capped off with a shocking ending that left both men looking like a million dollars.
Of course Ibushi is lighting things up this G1 but Lance Archer has come out of the wreckage of Killer Elite Squad looking like a new man and with fantastic 10-15 minute performances like this is making himself a heavyweight fixture for many years to come.
2. Sam: Jon Moxley v Tetsuya Naito (Night Ten)
Yep, you had better believe what is perhaps the most controversial match of the G1 so far has made my top 5 but before I get to the ending hear me out, I have good reason for this beyond my possibly blind love for Jon Moxley. Firstly Mox and Naito have amazing chemistry; everything Naito did from the moment he stepped foot into the arena in their tag match the night before was calculated to frustrate and aggravate the already wound up, aggressive Moxley. His slow motion baby stepping during his entrance as Moxley paced back and forth like a caged animal in the ring was a joy to see and when he finally got there it was followed by a slow motion undressing just to provoke The Death Rider even further. These kinds of mind games are nothing new for Naito but were noticeably emphasised for this battle against Mox and the clash in their personalities was incredible to see.
However, that is where the brilliance of this narrative comes in, more than just some funny optics Naito’s antics showed something else that was revealed the minute the bell rung, Naito had underestimated Jon Moxley. After waiting an eternity Moxley went straight after his opponent and while Naito had hopped the extra aggression would make Moxley sloppy, Moxley was able to harness his anger to take charge with an assault of focused furry. Naito played with fire and got burnt.
Of course he was able to fight back into the match but the damage had been done and Moxley was able to reign supreme over the LIJ leader however I truly hope this is the beginning of something more long term. I’ve seen a lot of Dean Ambrose matches and Naito has some of the best natural chemistry I have ever seen with him. This match gave us a glimpse into the minds of each man and I really hope it is something we get to dig deeper on.
Imp: Kazuchika Okada v KENTA (Night Nine)
A match very similar to the earlier NJPW v NOAH clash of KENTA/Tanahashi from the 3rd night of this tournament. As the former NOAH Ace grows in confidence and seemingly feels more comfortable in showing disrespect to the traditions of New Japan Pro Wrestling. A major difference from his first match against Ibushi, now openly mocking Okada in between his stiff as hell strikes.
If the story of KENTA’s match with Tanahashi was the clash of wrestling worlds, then this was him fulling embracing his different ways. I’ve loved both of these stories told, KENTA v NJPW feels so intruiging to me. No longer feeling the need to impress or convince the New Japan crowd of the legitimacy of his style, he knows just how damn good he is. Which turns out was the complete wrong mental state to enter a match against Okada with, the champion who WILL counter your cocky ass.
This was the match The Rainmaker asserted his dominance, now on one hell of a G1 undefeated streak in the face of the man who came across like he thought he was better than these New Japan dweebs. Turns out he isn’t, he beat a 40-something Tanahashi, but against an Ace in his prime KENTA fell like all the rest.
1. Imp: Jon Moxley v Tetsuya Naito (Night Ten)
For the second week in a row Moxley is my and Sam’s #1 and #2 respectively. Fair to say the former Dean Ambrose has left one hell of a mark on the wrestling world since leaving WWE.
This here was a dream match I never thought would happen: Los Ingobernables de Japon versus The Shield. The lunatic loose canon up against the master of tranquilo, one of the top matches we all had marked on our calendars the moment the G1 schedule was released. And boy did this live up to my self-generated hype! The brawl of Moxley clashing with the calm nature of Naito, with both having that capability to kick things into a sudden high gear when needed.
Both were more than happy to enter each other’s worlds too, attempting to toy with their opponent and unfocus them. It didn’t work, turns out both wrestlers are rather damn good. Like Sam said, if anything that hurt Naito, whose ‘mind games’ actions seemed to intensify and focus The Deathrider even more. Rather than unsettling him the LIJ leader had lit a fire under Moxley AKA we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours, Naito.
I instantly fell in love with this clash of characters, I couldn’t care less about putting a star rating on the match quality or the like. Because to me, none of that matters if you enjoy yourself from start to finish, invested in every motion, cheering each nearfall or back and forth sequence.
Like Sam said, a glimpse into the minds of each man. Everything I could possibly wish for in what’s hopefully the first match of many in an increasingly contested series. With Moxley signed to AEW but able to work dates for other companies, NJPW have the opportunity to really take their time and flesh this one out. I for one could not be more excited.
That said there’s like 15 other possibilities I’m equally as excited for, the G1 Climax is such an incredible way of setting up the future.
Sam: Juice Robinson v Tomohiro Ishii (Night Ten)
Throughout this tournament I’ve been constantly going back to the thought, ‘if I was going to show one of these matches to a wrestling fan that in one go would encapsulate everything that is great about New Japan, which one would it be?’ It doesn’t always have to be the best match of the tournament (which in my mind this isn’t quite) but more something bite sized that shows everything that makes the New Japan heavyweight style special. Earlier in the tournament I was leaning towards Tanahashi v Okada, then last week Shingo v Taichi but I think I’ve found a new front runner in my favourite match for this week, the knock down, drag ‘em out slugfest between Juice Robinson v Tomohiro Ishii.
In terms of strong style and fighting spirit this match was off the charts. Employing the now classic ‘fast start’ that Ishii and Katsuyori Shibatta popularised, of running straight at each other like bulls out the gate the instant the bell rings set the hectic tone that only escalated from that point onwards. These two warriors chopped and slapped one another’s chest red raw, emptied a bevy of heavy suplexes and even some of the most ungraceful flying moves you’ve ever seen but both kept coming back for more. Only thing I would note is that I wish they would both ease up on the headbutt spots, however apart from that small aside this match was eighteen minutes of pure puro joy for myself and the crowd in attendance.
Of course Ishii is having yet another tournament to die for but it should be recognised just how good this new tough as nails Juice has been. After shedding his dreadlocks and losing to Moxley he has come at this one all guns blazing and is now in a position to go on and win the whole damn tournament. After matches like this I don’t think anyone would complain about that.
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.
Sam: Tetsuya Naito
I think it is safe to say that the rumors of Tetsuya Naito’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Naito is still sitting on the brink of elimination but to me it looks like this is all part of the Gedo master plan. For his part this week Naito put in an absolutely show stopping performance getting under the skin of Jon Moxley and then backed it up in a great match with Juice Robinson.
The way Naito approached Jon Moxley deserves special mention, his slow motion walk to the ring and body language as the increasingly agitated Moxley paced back and forth created such an awesome atmosphere for their match. It’s probably also worth noting that his story arc has been the number one topic of conversation this G1 so for that he gets the big three points for me this week.
Imp: Jon Moxley
I just can’t ignore the impact Mox has had on this tournament at this point, he’s made a hell of an impression in such a short space of time. Round after round feeling like a bigger and bigger deal, all building to this point where he’s the leader of B Block with everyone else playing catch-up. This week I instantly fell in love with his match against Naito and enjoyed every minute of both the tag preview and his ‘paradigm shifting’ loss to Yano.
Sometimes it can take a little while for a gaijin talent to acclimatise to the New Japan style, but Moxley’s instantly fitted like a glove. His value to NJPW moving forward cannot be understated, I think I can feel pretty confident in saying this man will be in the Tokyo Dome come January 4th. Now I can look a little closer, forward to this Sunday and his match with the rising Jay White!
Imp: Kazuchika Okada
A now consistent on my MVPs, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion managed to get not one, but two entries on my Matches of the Week list. I’m all in with these KENTA v NJPW matches and the champ’s battle against Lance Archer really was bloody fantastic. Last week I called him the greatest counter wrestler in NJPW today, this week Okada’s consistency really hit me. The folks topping each block really have had matches of a quality reflecting their high positions, how lovely!
The Rainmaker really is back, ladies and gentleman. Long may he reign.
Oh piss I should have put ‘rai-
Sam: Tomohiro Ishii
Another week, another pair of Ishii G1 bangers.
You could potentially say his two strong style beat em’ ups were quite similar but when you have a great formula why in the world would you want to change it? His match with Juice was a particular highlight and sits comfortably in my very top matches in the tournament.
Lots of guys in this tournament can go back and forth with hard strikes but no one quite pulls it off like the fridge with legs. He is even still in with an outside shot of making Rich Latta’s dream come true and taking out the B Block.
Imp: Lance Archer
Every bloody week I’ve had Lance Archer on here before pulling a sad face when realising there was no way in hell I could leave the likes of Tanahashi, Ishii, Ospreay, White or Naito off the list. I’ve not even been able to fit Yano in and that man’s nothing but pure joy in the G1!
As I said earlier though, Lance Archer has been a true consistent MVP of A Block. Having fantastic matches against every single person he’s faced: over delivering against Bad Luck Fale, keeping up the pace with Ibushi and matching the quality/athleticism of Okada. He’s made a name for himself, a true star making performance of the G1.
Sam: Juice Robinson
It’s all B-Block for me this week with Juice picking up his first MVP points of the tournament off the back of his amazing performance against Ishii and a solid performance opposite Naito. I particularly enjoyed his own slow motion undressing effort opposite Naito two nights after Naito’s taunting of Jon Moxley.
Juice is showing more and more that he is truly ready to take on the biggest names in the company and I think that white strapped belt would look fantastic with his new outfit.
Tomohiro Ishii – 7 points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 points
Will Ospreay – 5 points
Jon Moxley – 5 points
Jay White – 3 points
Tetsuya Naito – 3 points
Shingo Takagi – 2 points
Kazuchika Okada – 2 points
Toru Yano – 1 point
Lance Archer – 1 point
Juice Robinson – 1 point
A Block Standings
(After 6 matches)
1 | Kazuchika Okada – 12pts
2 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8pts
3 | KENTA – 8pts
4 | Kota Ibushi – 8pts
5 | EVIL – 6pts
6 | Lance Archer – 4pts
7 | SANADA – 4pts
8 | Will Ospreay – 4pts
9 | Zack Sabre Jr – 4pts
10 | Bad Luck Fale – 2pts
B Block Standings
(After 6 matches)
1 | Jon Moxley – 10pts
2 | Hirooki Goto – 6pts
3 | Jay White – 6pts
4 | Jeff Cobb – 6pts
5 | Juice Robinson – 6pts
6 | Tetsuya Naito – 6pts
7 | Tomohiro Ishii – 6pts
8 | Toru Yano – 6pts
9 | Shingo Takagi – 4pts
10 | TAICHI – 4pts
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.
In case you missed it you can find last week’s review here. Make sure you join us for our increasingly more incoherent ramblings next week. See you then!