I thought I’d just put together some notes from each day of the G1 that I watch. I’m only watching the tournament matches and not the undercard. I’m sure there’s some fun tag matches on there, but I’ve only got so much time each weekend and I want to focus on the tournament itself.
Day 2 are all block B matches. The show is shot in a NJPW house show style – only the hard camera and no commentary. This is really disappointing. I know why they have to do it like this (time, production costs etc) but it REALLY takes away from the enjoyment of the show for me, especially when the guys go to the floor and you can’t see what the hell is happening.
Also this show had one of the deadest crowds I’ve seen/heard at a NJPW show in a long time. They sucked. Bad. Sat on their hands most of the night and hardly reacted to anything. There was a real lack of sustained crowd heat, or in some cases any noise whatsoever and that hurt my enjoyment of the matches.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This was a battle of the two of the stiffest dudes in NJPW. Not just their moves and strikes but also the way they move. They look like they’re in constant pain – which they probably are. Kojima is a legend of Japanese wrestling and usually brings the goodness for the G1. Ishii is just insane – one of the hardest hitting guys on the roster, but also someone who just takes incredible punishment. I can’t work out if he’s awesome at selling or just near death in every match. I fear it’s the latter.
Both these guys have great charisma, but in very different ways. Kojima is more expressive and plays to the crowd more, whereas Ishii just hits hard, gets hit hard and is basically a bad ass bulldog looking mother fucker who can’t be killed by conventional weapons. I love Ishii.
This was a fun back and forth brawl of a match. Loads of forearm shots, chops and lariats. Ishii busted out his stiff headbutts to the chest a few times towards the finish. Ishii kicked out of Kojima’s trademark lariat towards the end to a good crowd reaction (one of the few of the night). The finish saw Ishii nail a big headbutt to the chest, hit his sliding D lariat to a seated Kojima and then spike him on his head with a brainbuster for the finish. Fun match, nothing spectacular and a good win for Ishii.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii
Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi
This match sucked pretty bad. Yujiro plays a sort of pimp type guy (I think, he’s really just sleazy as fuck) and he brought his trademark coked up Japanese whore to the ring…don’t look at me like that, that’s exactly what she was. She did an awkward dance that’s supposed to be sexy but is actually a bit sad. The crowd gave the sum total of zero fucks to all of this. The lack of reaction to the IC Champion Goto was downright scary and this guy is damn good; probably the top guy in NJPW outside the big four of Okada, Nakamura, Tanahashi and AJ Styles.
The lack of crowd heat for this match was scary. Imagine R-Truth vs. pre Race-a-mania Curtis Axel. Now imagine that match taking place in the utter silence of the vacuum of outer space. Now imagine your deaf while watching the match. It was even quieter than that. Most of the match was Yujiro trying to get heat…he failed. The crowd kind of woke up for the finish, but it was more of an open one eye, sigh, hit the snooze button and mumble ‘five more minutes’ before rolling back over, kind of wake up. The finish came when Goto hit a massive lariat, his neckbreaker over his knee (I think Kevin Owens does this move in WWE too) and then hit his shouten kai finisher, which is like a vertical suplex, turned into a sort of side slam. It looks cooler than I describe it.
WINNER: Hirooki Goto
Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuji Nagata
After the borefest of the last match, this came across like the kind of heat Conor McGregor got beating Chad Mendez at UFC189 the other week (which was a fuck ton). These two are crowd favourites and two of my favourites. I’ve watched Nagata for years (he’s a shooter type guy, does a lot of submissions) and he’s an incredible performer for a guy in his mid-40s who has been through some real wars. He also did MMA for a while, but after an infamous 21 second head kick KO by Mirko Cro Cop that probably knocked 6 months of memory out of his head, he’s stuck to pro wrestling since – good idea! Honma is a cult hero, he never usually wins, has a rock solid head and usually misses at least 3 falling headbutts (with one or two from the top rope) in every match and the crowd love it! He’s also a great worker and put on one of the matches of the year against Ishii a while back – a tough and entertaining son of a bitch.
The crowd loved this and especially Honma. His headbutts are so over. It was a good match, lots of back and forth with both men showcasing their very different styles of pro wrestling. Honma kicked out of a big backdrop driver but the second one with a bridge was enough for Nagata to pick up the win. Fun match.
WINNER: Yuji Nagata
Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada
This was a big match for Elgin, his first in the G-1 and as the sole representative of ROH (and a former ROH World Champion) he had a lot of pressure on him going in here. He was working against Okada, so unless he had some sort of nervous breakdown, he’d have a good match…and thankfully he did. In fact they had a great match. Okada is just a joy to watch, he’s easily one of the top three best workers in the world today and the way he puts his matches together and times when to do his big moves is a work of art. I could literally watch this guy have matches all day and not get bored and thanks to New Japan World I’ve actually done that.
This was a battle of power vs. athleticism and it was great to watch. Elgin really got over with this crowd, who if I haven’t mentioned before TOTALLY SUCKED. God damn they were quiet. Anyway, Elgin was really impressive early with hard hitting, innovative moves and plenty of awesome power spots and deadlifts. The most impressive of which was a deadlift suplex with Okada on the apron and him on the middle rope (like Cesaro does) only he turned it into a falcon arrow as he jumped off the ropes. Very fucking cool. They worked a great pace, with both guys hitting their signature moves. They also worked in some good counters and crossing up of their trademark spots (which is something NJPW guys do better than anyone else). The finish came when Okada finally hit his tombstone (after a few blocked and reversed attempts) and then his rainmaker lariat for the win. Great match and a great showing for Michael Elgin.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada
Karl Anderson vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This was the main event of the show, so the match went longer than the others. It was alright, nothing special and certainly not a patch on some of the big PPV and main show matches Nakamura has had in the past. He was probably in 3rd gear here, which is still better than most people’s top gear, but it wasn’t a blow away performance by a guy who is easily the most charismatic worker in NJPW today. The crowd, once again auditioning for the role of the soundtrack to a silent movie, didn’t help matters. Still, it was an ok match but nothing to write home about.
The annoying one camera set up came into play here as Anderson dropped Nakamura with something into the front row, but we couldn’t see it. Just heard Nakamura yelling in pain and moaning, so I’m assuming it was something pretty devastating. To be fair to the crowd they did get a bit livelier as the match went on, but none of them believed Anderson could win. Which was funny cause he did. They worked some good near falls off Anderson’s gun stun finisher (RKO) before Nakamura hit his boma ye kne strike for a close near fall. After some more counters and reversals Anderson hit the gun stun for the shock win. I would say the crowd were shocked into silence, but it was hard to tell. Did I mention how fucking quiet these guys were? Seriously. This wasn’t a classic but it was ok and capped off a somewhat lacklustre show. Although in case you hadn’t noticed, I blame the crowd.
WINNER: Karl Anderson
Match of the night for me was Elgin vs. Okada, but unlike night 1 with Tanahashi vs. Ibushi, there’s nothing you really need to go out of your way to see here. Let’s hope day 3 brings a livelier crowd, a few better matches and more than a one camera shoot!