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 eight to five, 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: First week is now in the bag Imp, before we get into week two’s highs and lows though I want to ask for your thoughts on how your fellow Nottingham boy Gabrielle Kidd is going in the prestigious C Block? I saw he picked up some wins this week.
Imp: The Young Lion matches between Kidd and Tsuji have been heating up! Both men have been impressing so damn much, but obviously I’ve been incredibly impressed with the fellow Notts man. He was always a wrestler that had that natural ability to get the crowd behind him, but now the aggression he shows has lifted him to such another level. Mightily impressed and NJPW seem to know what they have in that man, the US Dojo has brought so many hot prospects.
Sam: I will say that while I do not miss the preview tag team matches I’m very happy the three Young Lions are still getting a chance to get in front of the crowd. Enough faffing around though, let’s get into this incredible list of matches
Top 5 Matches of Week
5. Imp: Toru Yano vs EVIL (Night 6)
Sam: You won’t rate it higher than Shingo v Ospreay
Me: YOU WATCH ME *cocks gun*
*watches the next two nights*
*puts gun away*
*apologises immensely in mumbling, stuttery British*
… it’s still making my list though!
I love me some Toru Yano. Every year I manage to feature at least one of his matches in my Top 5s. On this occasion it was one I had circled the moment the schedule was released: King vs King, a showdown of shenanigans, a minus 5 stars technical, but a pure rollercoaster of two lads trying to out-cheat each other over 4-5 minutes of hectic fun.
If you like your wrestling a serious competition between two competitors giving it their all, this match might possibly not be for you. A rapid-fire of attempted tricks, both men pointing their finger to their head to show how smart they are for not getting caught. With even Dick Togo getting in on the action, the legend holding up a pad in the corner at the last second so EVIL didn’t crash back first into the exposed turnbuckles.
Such a fun match, the King Of Pro Wrestling on a hot streak and EVIL being elevated to one of NJPW’s big stars made for one entertaining as hell dynamic. Wrestling doesn’t have to always be serious, a tad of light-hearted fund doesn’t go amiss!
Sam: Zack Sabre Jr. v KENTA (Night 6)
One of the things I love about the G1 is how you regularly end up with heel v heel matchups. I’ve never thought much of the idea pushed by some that heel v heel just intrinsically doesn’t work, there are plenty of other forms of media that are only bad people fighting amongst each other and this match here stands as evidence of that dynamic works in pro wrestling.
Essentially this match was a cocky prick against an arrogant jerk and neither wanted to take a back step and cede ground to their rival. I loved how mean every one of the strikes, kicks and slaps felt, because it was between two rouges every exchange felt personal and in the grapples both men sunk their holds in deep. Things got more and more brutal as this match went onwards, peaking with a full-throttle Double Stomp by KENTA from the top turnbuckle as it headed into the final flurry of the match.
While this wasn’t as frenetic as say, a Tomohiro Ishii match, in its own way this was quite an intriguing strong style match up with a very cool character dynamic.
4. Sam: Hiroshi Tanahashi v YOSHI-HASHI (Night 8)
No Imp, this is not a joke. Call it a bit of Tanahashi magic, call it wrestling with the pride of a NEVER 6 Man Champ, call it a fluke but I think I just saw YOSHI-HASHI’s best ever match and he is in our top 5!
One of the most enjoyable things about watching the G1 for me is matches like this that I am not anticipating but that over-deliver in the most delightful way. While I knew the ones that placed above were going to be something amazing, I had zero expectation going in and was blown away by the heart and fire in this match. Of course, it helps if you have Hiroshi Tanahashi across the ring from you and for his part, Tanahashi played his part perfectly in the drama. You could feel the crowd in the arena willing both men on and as a sign of respect, Tanahashi had to use three High Fly Flows to keep YOSHI-HASHI down.
This was not the first YOSHI-HASHI match I enjoyed this tournament either but it was the confirmation in my mind that he has gone from a loser to a fiery underdog and I am absolutely here for it.
Imp: Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA (Night 8)
Naito was oozing with a champion’s confidence, entering the match on three straight wins whilst a calm as ever SANADA calm was looking to break out after three straight losses. Every experienced G1 viewer told you the writing was on the wall for this one, this was the match for the rising LIJ star to jump start the rest of his tournament run.
However, boy did they tease the Cold Skull failing, Naito’s dominant run so far gave every attempted Destino an additional sense of finality. If he was able to hit the bloody thing that would have been it for SANADA, but the counters came thick and fast every single time. As you’d expect from an NPW main event, the final minutes swung back and forth so many times that there was no telling who was going to swing the final blow.
The two Ingobernable men were so familiar with each other that it was a hell of task to even to hitting a signature move. Arguably the best example of that came in one single float over, Naito attempted a Running Destino, SANADA saw it seemed to attempt a counter mid-flow into a TKO, but Naito also read that and mid air countered again falling back into the Destino. All in one swoop, in one fluid rotation there were two counters and I’m still amazed they pulled it off with such ease.
But that was the tale of the match, they knew each other so incredibly well that even in attempting single moves they countered each other numerous times. Meaning in the end you’re just waiting for that final counter, for Naito’s knees to raise, for SANADA to catch the man from going over his shoulder.
They drew me right the hell in and I was a sucker for the ending sequences. A fantastic example of a NJPW main event if there ever was one, built and built until they reached Counter City and went crazy.
3. Imp: Jay White vs Will Ospreay (Night 7)
The boost for Ospreay continues with an enormous showing against one of the tournament favourites. Jay White has been something special throughout his ‘Jay-1’ journey so far, presence and charisma abound as well as being so damn solid in the ring. Seriously, four matches in and the man’s already looking like a lock for my Tournament MVP.
Which was something that really added to this match, just the expectation the Switchblade would at some point just halt Ospreay in his tracks and end his night with the Blade Runner. The Essex man just kept bloody countering back, like he had the Bullet Club leader’s number and necessary nastiness in that extra edge. Possibly Jay White was underestimating how real Will’s new level of dick’ead has become, the Kiwi expecting Ospreay to at some point play too nice, planning for that to be his in when in reality that trait no longer exists.
White tried the heel tricks, but Ospreay consistently kept his cool and focused all of that energy for the man himself. A huge result in a damn great back and forth contest, with that expected tasty load of counter/reversal sequences and athletics from the flippy bastard to elevate the match just a tad more.
Yet another pairing that complimented each other really well, played to each other’s strengths like veterans twice their age. Seriously, they’re both only bloody 27!
Sam: Jay White v Will Ospreay (Night 7)
These two characters are like oil and water, they just don’t mix well and both times they have faced the results have been spectacular. Ospreay doesn’t like The Bullet Club leader’s attitude in New Japan and White simply thinks he is miles better than Ospreay in every conceivable way.
In the ring, this translates to The Switchblade goading Ospreay and trying to force a mistake from the Britt, while the former Junior Champion tries not to lose his cool in the face of constant shenanigans. With two wrestlers as well equipped as these two that meant a very engaging match paired with an escalating story of rising tempers and Switchblade’s attempts to take advantage of that.
I gave Jay White huge praise last week and that superb heel work continued into this match as he toyed with the crowd’s claps and taunted their inability to cheer. His strategies to earn the crowd’s anger have been innovative and are already being copied by other heels on the roster.
In the end, this match was a huge win for Will Ospreay. The result solidifies him alongside White as New Japan’s top foreigner going forward. I am looking forward to seeing how this rivalry continues to develop too.
2. Sam: Tomohiro Ishii v Kota Ibushi (Night 5)
Wrestling is funny in how it can bring together and unite such polar opposites. This match, one of the most prodigiously talented wrestlers ever, an incredibly beautiful man who has done nothing but walk on clouds in every promotion he has ever wrestled in and someone I lovingly describe as a fridge on legs, a man who had to scratch and claw for every inch of respect he has earnt. Yet despite being such incredibly different men, when these two come together they possess such incredible chemistry and similar enjoyment in just ripping strikes into one another, it is almost uncanny.
If you have seen these two before you know what to expect, beating each other black and blue doesn’t even begin to describe this high stakes game of ‘who’s gonna flinch first’. Palm strikes, forearm strikes, chops, kicks, headbutts, even when they were both left lying on the canvas they couldn’t stop hitting each other. The brilliance of it though was in how they both slowly transitioned from trying to shrug off the onslaught to, gritting their teeth, to selling the opponents moves like they had been hit with a freight train but still managing to fire back as the crowd cheered them on.
Ultimately while Ishii had the heart and tenacity, Ibushii had the technique and harder strikes which won the day. Both men were left on their back for a solid two minutes after this one finished. With some serious firepower coming up after them on night five, this felt like the old “follow that” statement match from two pros who felt they deserved the main event. If you want to see what makes Strong Style special then watch this match.
Imp: Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 7)
In the words of Big E: you want your five star matches? Naah, not me. I want big, sweaty, greasy, men slappin’ that meat!
Beefy beef throwing it down! Chopping away as sweat flies 360 degrees, every inch of that ring drenched in the pure power of these men. Big lads doing big lad wrestling, a wrestling potato chopping down a firing breathing dragon. So much sweat! So much MEAT! “Steak’s ready, Son.”
The heat rising to a boiling point that even surpassed the bell, not even a headbutt battle could settle the fire. Ishii’s the toughest steak in town and Shingo Takagi bloody well brought the fight to him, neither force backing down as they threw strike after strike at each other. Gradually wearing the other slab of muscle down, hoping to score that grounding follow up and pray for a pin.
We all know that’s not how it goes against Ishii. Back and forth, to and fro, each mound of muscle throwing arms with force as the other daren’t back down. You know the story, Shingo drives the Stone Pitbull down, Ishii kicks out at one, Takagi rebounds with his incredible lariat in the Pumping Bomber, maybe even following up with a Made In Japan, but the bald bastard bloody bounces back up.
Man do I love Tomohiro Ishii in the G1 Climax.
1. Imp: Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay (Night 5)
The Ingobernable Dragon sweeping the points this week! I adored their Best Of The Super Juniors final from last year, so went in expecting a statement of a follow up here and boy did they not disappoint.
An absolutely amazing contest, at times with me jumping up in genuine shock, completely hooked by the action. And that’s quite the achievement given I’m normally a rather reserved Englishman, watching in relative quiet, smiling away all happy and content with my New Japan.
Seriously, I mean what a fantastic elevation from these two, stepping up from their Juniors effort and bringing their clash to the heavyweight G1. They hit just as hard, flew just as fast, countered back and forth with the same amount of fluidity. Such a top notch pairing these two are.
Only hitting differently because of Ospreay, both in and out of the ring. Inside it he’s acting much more a cocky prick, like his ego has overinflated and he’s no longer trying to climb but naming himself deserving. Many fans picking on how he’s showing more and more similarities to Kenny Omega’s heel character, a slightly uncomfortable manic edge to his mannerisms and promos.
A strength so far in the tournament turned a weakness against The Dragon, one of the few men who could match him in his speed, halt his athleticism, make his improved strength look like nothing. Cocky Ospreay got caught and wow were the sequences leading up to it awe inspiring to watch.
Easily the best match of the week, I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Won’t be enough to disperse the cloud around him, I don’t think anything will for a while, but it was without doubt the best 20 minutes of wrestling I watched this week.
Sam: Shingo Takagi v Will Ospreay (Night 5)
How the hell did these guys do it? Coming in with expectations sky high, following the incredible Ibushi v Ishii match and having to live up to their match-of-the-year effort from last year and yet they still managed to blow it out of the water.
This was seriously wrestling on a truly transcendent level, both men are so fast and powerful and complement each other perfectly, Ospreay the high flyer, Shingo the bruiser. Truly there are only a few other pairs that have reached the kind of flawless athletic fluidity these two displayed in some of their exchanges in this match.
Yet that wasn’t all, amongst the incredibly paced combinations Ospreay and Shingo told a fascinating follow-up story to their first meeting last year. Back then it was Ospreay who came in with everything to prove against the unbeaten Shingo and used that fire to beat the more fancied opponent. This time though it was The Last Dragon coming in, desperate to pick up his first win of the tournament, who got the best of a cocky Ospreay, whose body language and trash talk throughout betrayed overconfidence born of that previous victory.
This was New Japan Pro Wrestling at its absolute finest and I would not be surprised if it is the match of the tournament.
G1 Climax 30 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.
Sam: Will Ospreay
I don’t like the Pollyanna situation that #SpeakingOut brought up, Will Ospreay acted terribly and should be doing far more to make amends. By all accounts, he is a bit of a jerk outside the ring. However, we are here to review the G1 and it would be crazy to not acknowledge that Will Ospreay had an incredible week in the ring. Also on top of the incredible in-ring displays, he is starting to develop a character with the kind of swagger I can see main eventing this company. This week was a tour de force for Ospreay and he gets my three points.
Imp: Tomohiro Ishii
Two absolute bangers against Kota Ibushi and Shingo Takagi shot the Stone Pitbull right up my list this week. The G1 Climax constant continues to churn classics year on year, bursting out the blocks with blinding pace this year. With A Block being as stacked as it is I don’t see that changing any time soon either, the man’s still got Jay White and Kazuchika Okada to go!
How is every year Ishii’s best G1?
Imp: Shingo Takagi
And talk about strong weeks, the opposing dragon sure bellowed some fire this week. His match Ishii was a brute tank collision and his bout with Ospreay was yet again at such an incredibly high level. I praised Ishii’s consistency so far, but if anything he and Shingo have been on level footing. The kind of opponent that raises everyone’s game, yet another A Block competitor hitting contender after contender for Match Of The Tournament.
Sam: Kota Ibushi
Everything Ibushi touched turned to gold this week. Not only did he put on an absolute banger against Tomohiro Ishii, he carried Jeff Cobb to the best Jeff Cobb match I have ever seen. I’ve already waxed lyrics about the Ishii match but he deserves special praise for how he let Cobb toss him around and look like a real monster.
Imp: Tetsuya Naito
I pick Naito, no Ospreay, no but Naito though, but Ospreay’s matches, but all of Naito’s matches feel like such big deals, but Ospreay’s matches are all so great – aaaaaah – but Naito didn’t blackball a rape victim so you can watch his matches without pulling a face. I mean, that’s likely going to be the deciding factor every week… I guess I’m going with Naito.
I really enjoyed the output from both men this week, however I think I’m sensing a pattern. Even if I enjoy Ospreay’s in ring showcases, in a tournament this stacked I just can’t bring myself to list him on my MVPs. There’s that invisible notification as I watch, flashing in the corner of my screen like a Telltale game ‘Imp will remember that’.
But Tetsuya Naito has had a damn strong opening run as champion, a dominant display doing a fantastic job painting him as the biggest deal of B Block. In going the distance and wrestling over 25 minutes in 3 out his 4 matches so far, Naito’s been holding the B Block main event crown with pride this year.
Sam: Shingo Takagi
I also agonised over this final pick. I really wanted to pick KENTA for his pair of heel v heel matches and Naito was very deserving too. However, in the end, I couldn’t go past The Last Dragon for his work as one half of the clear match of the week and in a barnstormer against Ishii. This guy is powerful, fast and charismatic and is yet to put a foot wrong this G1.
Tomohiro Ishii – 7 point
Jay White – 6 points
Tetsuya Naito – 5 points
Shingo Takagi – 4 point
Will Ospreay – 4 points
Kota Ibushi – 2 points
A Block Standings
(After 4 matches)
1 | Minoru Suzuki – 6 pts
2 | Will Ospreay – 6 pts
3 | Taichi – 6 pts
4 | Jay White – 6 pts
5 | Kota Ibushi – 6 pts
6 | Kazuchika Okada – 4 pts
7 | Jeff Cobb – 2 pts
8 | Tomohiro Ishii – 2 pts
9 | Shingo Takagi – 2 pts
10 | Yujiro Takahashi – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 2 matches)
1 | Toru Yano – 6 pts
2 | Tetsuya Naito – 6 pts
3 | Juice Robinson – 6 pts
4 | Zack Sabre Jr. – 4 pts
5 | EVIL – 4 pts
6 | KENTA – 4 pts
7 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 4 pts
8 | Yoshi-Hashi – 2 pts
9 | Hirooki Goto – 2 pts
10 | SANADA – 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 increasingly more incoherent ramblings next week. See you then!