wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Final NJPW G1 29 Look: Top Matches, Awards, & Star Rating Breakdown

August 15, 2019 | Posted by Larry Csonka
NJPW Mox Yano

WELCOME back to column time with Larry Today, I will take my final look back on the NJPW G1 29 tournament, including the top tournament matches, a breakdown of star ratings by performer, and some awards. Thanks for reading! As always, consider this my play list of great matches & overall recommendations as this tournament was an embarrassment of riches. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

NJPW G1 29 Star Ratings by Performer


Will Ospreay (9 Matches): 4.08
Kazuchika Okada (9 Matches): 4.03
Kota Ibushi (10 Matches): 3.9
Hiroshi Tanahashi (9 Matches): 3.75
EVIL (9 Matches): 3.64
SANADA (9 Matches): 3.64
Zack Sabre Jr (9 Matches): 3.64
Lance Archer (9 Matches): 3.64
KENTA (9 Matches): 3.56
Bad Luck Fale (9 Matches): 2.0


Big Tom Ishii (9 Matches): 4.22
Shingo (9 Matches): 3.89
Jon Moxley (9 Matches): 3.47
Juice Robinson (9 Matches): 3.31
Adorable Hawaiian Buddha Jeff Cobb (9 Matches): 3.3
Jay White (10 Matches): 3.22
Tetsuya Naito (9 Matches): 3.13
Hirooki Goto (9 Matches): 3.1
Taichi (9 Matches): 2.7
Toru Yano (9 Matches): 2.0


Big Tom Ishii (9 Matches): 4.22
Will Ospreay (9 Matches): 4.08
Kazuchika Okada (9 Matches): 4.03
Kota Ibushi (10 Matches): 3.9
Shingo (9 Matches): 3.89
Hiroshi Tanahashi (9 Matches): 3.75
EVIL (9 Matches): 3.64
SANADA (9 Matches): 3.64
Zack Sabre Jr (9 Matches): 3.64
Lance Archer (9 Matches): 3.64
KENTA (9 Matches): 3.56
Jon Moxley (9 Matches): 3.47
Juice Robinson (9 Matches): 3.31
Adorable Hawaiian Buddha Jeff Cobb (9 Matches): 3.3
Jay White (10 Matches): 3.22
Tetsuya Naito (9 Matches): 3.13
Hirooki Goto (9 Matches): 3.1
Taichi (9 Matches): 2.7
Toru Yano (9 Matches): 2.0
Bad Luck Fale (9 Matches): 2.0


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Biggest Surprise: Lance Archer

After a five-year hiatus from the G1, Archer got the call following the end of KES. Archer was a big part of locally promoting the Dallas event, and while he did some great things in the 2014 G1, there were questions shrouding his inclusion; he had been a tag guy for a long time, was 42, and also was coming off of what many thought was a career ending back injury until he had successful surgery. But Archer came in with something to prove, had an absolute banger of a match with Ospreay, got something watchable out of Fale, and while he didn’t have the best win/loss record, had a tournament on par with EVIL, SANADA, & ZSJ. Archer proved he could go, I had a blast watching his matches, and if anything he proved that he should be the monster in NJPW that can be occasionally elevated to big title matches over Fale. Archer’s G1 was a tremendous story, and I am honestly excited to see what’s next for him.

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Who Needs to Fuck Off and Not Come Back?: Bad Luck Fale

There are performers I can’t wait to watch, and then there are guys like Bad Luck Fale that make me want to turn the feed off. Bad Luck Fale is an overprotected poor professional wrestler that is constantly in overbooked matches and rarely delivers. When you have flat out bad matches with Ospreay & Ibushi, that’s all you need to know. I have no time for Bad Luck Fale in my life, his heel shtick is tired, and he isn’t entertaining. At least Yano is fun and entertaining and also had really good match with Ishii during his run as well. Fale is just… Fale.

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MVP: Large Thomas Ishii Jr III, Esquire

For about the last five years, Tomohiro Ishii has been the most consistent big match wrestler in the sport, delivering banger after banger with a big variety of opponents; he can work strong style, he can grapple, he can be a monster, or he can take a beating as a sympathetic face. There is nothing the man can’t do, the big problem with Ishii is that he’ was a late bloomer and is 43, so his chances at an IWGP title run remain at 0.01%. But that never stops big Tom from delivering and stealing the show. Form he easily had the best run in the tournament, and solidified himself as the true workhorse of NJPW. Others did well, Tanahashi told amazing stories, Will did spectacular things. And Okada and Shingo were awesome, but Big Tom stole the MVP tile once again; the man is a national treasure so love him while you can.


* 43. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Twelve): Hirooki Goto vs. Big Tom Ishii[****]
* 42. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Seventeen): Zack Sabre Jr. vs. KENTA [****]
* 41. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Fifteen): Will Ospreay vs. KENTA [****]
* 40. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Fifteen): Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr [****]
* 39. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Fifteen): EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada [****]
* 38. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Twelve): Shingo vs. Adorable Hawaiian Buddha Jeff Cobb [****]
* 37. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Twelve): Hirooki Goto vs. Big Tom Ishii[****]
* 36. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eleven): EVIL vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi[****]
* 35. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Four): Big Tom Ishii vs. Jay White [****]
* 34. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Nine): KENTA vs. Kazuchika Okada [****]
* 33. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Ten): Jon Moxley vs. Tetsuya Naito [****]
* 32. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eight): Jon Moxley vs. Shingo [****]
* 31. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Nine): Lance Archer vs. Kota Ibushi[****]
* 30. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Five): EVIL vs. SANADA [****]
* 29. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Five): EVIL vs. SANADA [****]
* 28. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Four): Big Tom Ishii vs. Jay White [****]
* 27. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Five): Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****]
* 26. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Three): Kota Ibushi vs. EVIL [****]
* 25. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Three): Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****]
* 24. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Two): Juice Robinson vs. Shingo [****]
* 23. From NJPW G1 29 (Night One) in Dallas: KENTA vs. Kota Ibushi [****] [****]
* 22. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Three): KENTA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [****]
* 21. From NJPW G1 29 (Night One) in Dallas: SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****]
* 20. From NJPW G1 29 (Night One) in Dallas: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [****]

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19. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eighteen): Big Tom Ishii vs. Taichi [****¼]: I loved the start of this and general tone of Taichi’s work here. This was all dangerous T, it was great, and Ishii continues to bring out the best in Taichi. We need more of this Taichi because this ruled.

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18. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eighteen): Shingo vs. Hirooki Goto [****¼]: This was a great, hard-hitting battle with both men throwing bombs and doing everything they could to end their opponent with great fight spots and realistic struggles. Shingo’s ability to go from 0-100 is amazing as his explosivenesses is next level. He closes out with a big win and continues to look great and deliver while poor Hirooki Goto chokes in a big match once again. Gedo, belt up Shingo you coward.

17. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eight): Tetsuya Naito vs. Big Tom Ishii [****¼]: This one started a bit slow, but they quickly picked it up and started playing into their past matches and delivered like we knew they could. They did a really good job of escalating the action and violence through out and with so much familiarity between them worked into a really well done and hot closing stretch until Naito picked up the win to dig out of his 0-2 start to get back to even.

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16. From NJPW G1 29 Finals: Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi: This was great as Ibushi becomes the first man to win the NJ Cup, BOSJ, and the G1. White gets to dominate a lot, and they get good heat out of this as people were buying White winning. Ibushi eventually makes his comeback, and has the crowd locked in and rallying for him. They smartly got rid of Bullet Club and Gedo for almost all of the match, but they of course ended up with some Gedo bullshit down the line. But it was ok, while I don’t think that White needs it as a crutch like he’s mid-2000’s Jeff Jarrett (because he’s a better worker than that), and you can not like it all you want because it’s not my favorite thing either, but they created an absolutely electric atmosphere as these people wanted the villain vanquished so badly and wanted nothing more than Ibushi to rise as a hero that that they were into it on an emotional level big time. The closing stretch was extremely well done and in the end, the right man won. Not an all-timer in terms of G1 finals, but in the top 10.

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15. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Thirteen): SANADA vs. Kazuchika Okada [****¼]: SANADA finally gets the monkey off of his back and pins Okada after several failures to do so. In a trivia note, the last three IWGP champions have started 6-0 and then failed on Osaka. While it felt slow at times early on, the work was always good and you felt that they were going long for a draw or draw tease. Overall they delivered a great match, with a really well done and dramatic closing stretch and they kept the crowd throughout.

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14. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Eleven): Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****¼]: This was absolutely great stuff, filled with some absolutely tremendous counter work and the two mixing the two styles extremely well and they kept you guessing the entire time as to who would win. In the end, Sabre’s focus on Ospreay’s injured neck paid off and the submission master picked up a much-needed win, overcoming the lack of Taka and those British political issues that have hurt his focus; a true hero to us all.

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13. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Three): Will Ospreay vs. SANADA [****½]: This was excellent stuff, just really smooth with top-notch execution from both guys. SANADA is one of the heavyweights, like Ibushi, that can keep up with Ospreay from a pure speed aspect, while also staying true to his style. The homestretch was outstanding, with some beautiful counter work until Ospreay finally out him away to pick up his first points. The scary thing here is that it almost felt as if they were holding back and that they have an even better match in them down the line.

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12. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Thirteen): EVIL vs. Will Ospreay [****½]: This was absolutely excellent stuff, with them playing off of the power vs. speed dynamic very well. They constantly escalated the action, delivered a hot closing stretch with a hit and invested crowd, and there were some absolutely great near falls throughout with a lot of doubt down the stretch in who could win. Just great stuff from both guys; Ospreay’s win/loss record may be trash, but he’s delivered like most have expected.

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From 11. NJPW G1 29 (Night Two): Adorable Hawaiian Buddha Jeff Cobb vs. Big Tom Ishii [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent and hard-hitting hoss fight that was exactly what I had hoped for. I loved everything about this, it was brutal, simple, crowd engaging, the action constantly escalated throughout and the crowd was locked into the closing stretch as they delivered some really tremendous near falls. Big Tom starts his latest campaign to be G1 MVP, and while Cobb took the loss, but looked great in his G1 debut, and more than delivered here.

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10. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Sixteen): Shingo vs. Big Tom Ishii [****½]: If for some insane reason you hadn’t bought into Shingo yet, the man delivered again. He’s so great, can work with anyone in any weight class and delivered an absolutely excellent match with Big Tom here as most hoped for/expected. This was a match I was greatly looking forward to and they didn’t disappoint, and while Shingo’s win/loss record isn’t stellar. It was hard-hitting engaging, and they peaked at the right time. Shingo helps out Naito here by beating Ishii, keeping him at 8 points, and the win should give Shingo a future NEVER title shot, and I am here all fucking day long for that.

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9. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Fourteen): Shingo vs. Tetsuya Naito [****½]: Naito said that he wanted a more aggressive Shingo, a Shingo that could take LIJ from him, and he got all of that and more as Shingo gave him all he had and took him into deep waters before finally falling. Naito winning was a given here, but this was absolutely excellent as they did an amazing job of keeping the crowd invested in a possible Shingo win, which was the key here. They rocked the match, Shingo looked every bit of Naito’s equal, and that closing stretch was out of this world.

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8. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Thirteen): Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi [****½]: This was an excellent match, with Tanahashi going way harder than he likely should, as they played well off of previous matches, and Ibushi vanquishing the ghosts of last year’s G1 final by beating one of his gods. In shocking news, everything clicked here, Tanahashi continues to make the most of what he has left, doing all the right things at the right time, while Ibushi is just an electric performer. The crowd was into it big time, the closing stretch was great and in the end, Ibushi picks up a definitive win he needed to stay in play for the block.

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7. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Seven): Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay [****½]: This worked and delivered on every level, as Okada’s offense focuses on the neck and head to set up for the rainmaker, which played into the established Ospreay injury. The first half set the table well and they then worked into an absolutely great, counter-filled, closing stretch that made it feel like it was finally Ospreay’s night to finally beat Okada, but while Ospreay unloaded with everything he had, he just couldn’t pull it off and fell to 0-4 against Okada in an absolutely excellent effort from both. If I had two legs, I’d have been up and pacing around the room as it was just electric.

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6. From NJPW G1 29 (Night One) in Dallas: Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay [****½] : This was an excellent way to kick off the G1 with Archer delivering again as they recaptured the magic of their previous match, but also improved on it while Archer came off looking more motivated than ever and like a player in his best singles match ever. This was also a really well done big man vs. little man match. Ospreay was fantastic here as always. Ospreay is poised for a great G1 to back up his insanely great BOSJ run.

5. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Ten): Big Tom Ishii vs. Juice Robinson [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent, hard-hitting war and a perfect example of someone looking great in loss. Ishii was just great as always, while Juice showed a ton of heart and hung with him until the very end, giving Ishii all he could handle and more. The counter stuff down the stretch and crowd reactions were off the charts, and Juice winning was completely believable here, but in the end he came up short against Big Tom. I loved this so much.

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4. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Six): Jon Moxley vs. Big Tom Ishii [****½]: This was an excellent main event with Moxley continuing to bring something completely different to the G1 this year and delivering. Ishii has an amazing ability to adapt and work with anyone and honestly have great matches with anyone, and while I was looking forward to this one, I never knew I needed it in my life, The match was excellent, thy had a great layout, kept the crowd engaged, and delivered a great closing stretch, I was convinced going in that Moxley was winning, but they did a great job of making me question that with the work in the closing stretch. A hell of a NJPW main event debut for Moxley here, and Big Tom remains the great Big Tom. It was such good shit, pal.

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3. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Five): Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi [****¾]: HOLY SHIT, what a match, and it was even better than their excellent WrestleKingdom encounter. They did an excellent job through out the match of using the injuries that were reported on both men and kept them a common thread throughout, which played extremely well and added to the drama and got the crowd invested. They also included great throwbacks to the WrestleKingdom match before working into a scintillating closing stretch with some absolutely tremendous near falls that had me on the edge of my seat. These boys absolutely delivered.

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2. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Seventeen): Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi [****¾]: I thought that they would more heavily tease the draw and go longer, but I am not complaining at all as this was absolutely amazing, with an out of this world closing stretch with insane last second counters, near falls, and a rabid crowd. Ibushi picks up the win, taking the block and guaranteeing a future title shot by beating Okada. It was an amazing roller coaster of a ride that would have had me up pacing around the room if you know, I had two legs. It’s ok to laugh guys. A block closes out with two of the tournament’s best matches, and the expected, but great Ibushi win.

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1. From NJPW G1 29 (Night Seventeen): Will Ospreay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [****¾]: This is easily the biggest win of Ospreay’s NJPW career and the biggest overall. The match was absolutely excellent, with Tanahashi looking to out smart and out wrestle the younger and faster Ospreay, and while the ace was more than game, Ospreay was just too much for him and overcame following an amazing closing homestretch. The counter work was great, the gameplan by Tanahashi was extremely smart, but he just didn’t have enough to keep Ospreay down and now they play the “what’s next for Tanahashi” game following a disappointing, in terms of wins and losses, G1 run. There were a ton of high expectations here, but they absolutely delivered the goods. The strength of the match is that they told an excellent Tanahashi style story, with him trying to overcome the speed and athleticism of Will, but it never takes away from Will’s strengths; just spectacular stuff.

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 43. On the show, the good brother, Jeremy Lambert, joins 411’s Larry Csonka and the guys will review WWE Summerslam and the final two nights of the G1 Climax 29 tournament. The show is approximately 113-minutes long.

* Intro
* WWE Summerslam Review: 2:30
* NJPW G1 29 (Night Eighteen/B Block Finals) Review: 45:20
* NJPW G1 29 Finals Review: 1:01:20
* WWE Raw 8.12.19 Thoughts: 1:30:10

You can subscribe and listen to the 411 on Wrestling Podcast via the above player on Transistor, or on the following platforms:

* iTunes
* Spotify
* Stitcher
* Google Play

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.