wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco Preview

July 7, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
NJPW G1 Special

WELCOME back to column time with Larry! Today, I am going to discuss and preview tonight’s NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco event. This is the latest US special for the company. Feel free to make your picks in the comment section. Thanks for reading! It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

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YOSHI-HASHI, Gedo, Rocky Romero, SHO, & YOH vs. Haku, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, & Chase Owens: Well it wouldn’t be a NJPW show without a giant undercard tag match, would it? One of the main selling points to the show is Bullet Club, so I get it. I am curious as to no why no Bad Luck Fale, possible VISA issues is my guess, but what the hell, we get some nostalgic fun with Haku teaming with his kids. This should serve well as the show’s opener in terms of the crowd being into things since Bullet Club is so over, and it will likely be a fun match. There’s no real angle heading into this, so I’m going bullet Club for the win. WINNER: Bullet Club (Haku, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, & Chase Owens)

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Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.: This is a rematch from the June 9th Dominion event, where Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr defeated Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii. That match was good and fun, highlighted by the Suzuki vs. Ishii interactions, which should be the case once again here. The Sabre vs. Yano interactions are also oddly great to the point that I can’t stop watching them. This should also have a good crowd, as Suzuki’s entrance is over huge, Yano is always over in the US, and one shit gets rolling, the fans love Ishii and his shit kicking ways. I think that Ishii & Yano get revenge for Dominion in this match. WINNERS: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

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Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA vs. Hangman Page & Marty Scurll: At Dominion, Marty Scurll, Cody, & Adam Page defeated Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, & Hiroshi Tanahashi when Cody pinned Liger. Rey Mysterio is playing things safe like Chris Jericho, opting not to work the NJPW show in the US as there are rumors that he’s close to signing a new WWE deal. SO this time we get Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA teaming to battle Bullet Club. Tanahashi and page have worked together a bit recently, and KUSHIDA & Scurll have worked a lot together, so there will be some familiarity here. At the very least this will be good, and the crowd should be into this as Tanahashi & Marty will be over big time. We should see some babyface revenge here with the former Aces picking up the win. WINNERS: Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA

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NEVER Openweight Title Match: Champion Hirooki Goto vs. Jeff Cobb: At Dominion, Michael Elgin defeated Taichi & NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto to become the new champion in a surprise move. And then, eight days later, Hirooki Goto defeated Champion Michael Elgin at a Kizuna Road event to win back his tile. E got the immediate rematch as Taichi was the one pined at Dominion. The general feeling is that NJPW opted not to book Elgin in the US (likely due to his Glory Pro sexual assault scandal), and that was the set up to book Jeff “less problematic Michael Elgin” Cobb here to challenge Goto for the title. I do love that Cobb is getting the shot, and he and Goto do have the chance to deliver a banger based on their styles. Also, booking Cobb for the show is smart because he’s worked a ton of west coast in his career, and will hopefully get that hometown pop. With the G1 coming up and NJPW liking to protect their champions as much as possible, there is a small chance that Cobb picks up the win here, but at the same time, it feels too soon for anther title change. WINNER: Champion Hirooki Goto

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IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Champions The Young Bucks vs. EVIL & SANADA: At Dominion, The Young Bucks defeated Champions EVIL & SANADA to win the titles and make their move to heavyweight success. They had a great match, and while the rematch feels too quick, I won’t claim it to be a bad idea. On one hand, I fear that they will do a quick title change, but with the G1 coming up, EVIL & SANADA don’t need the titles, and I think that changing the bets back to them would be incredibly shortsighted. I think that they can use the tease of EVIL & SANADA winning the belts back a big part of the match’s story, possibly even using a BUSHI run into make fans think that the Bucks are getting screwed over, only for them to overcome and retain. Love them or hate them, the Bucks are the hot hand right now, and there is absolutely no reason to move away from them right now. WINNERS: Champions The Young Bucks

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Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI: Following his loss to Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada has been on the rehabilitation tour, winning tag matches and trying to get his groove back. Naito and Ospreay are also coming off of title losses, and are looking for momentum as well. BUSHI is BUSHI. The multi-man LIJ vs. CHAOS tags have traditionally been very good to great, and you have three absolutely great performers involved in this match… and BUSHI. BUSHI is BUSHI and likely here to eat a delicious rainmaker and take the fall. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t did like BUSHI, but the reality is that he’s the low man on the LIJ totem pole in every regard. I’ve heard people for years try to sell me on his greatness, but just about every time he gets a major singles chance, he peaks at good, and then they move on from him and he goes back to being a role-player and there’s nothing wrong with that. Anyway, Okada & Naito will be over huge, young William will do some sweet flippies and BUSHI will amaze us with his shirt choking skills before eating the pin. WINNERS: Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay

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IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee: These two men are two beautiful bastards, and I have long called for them to be put on a US NJPW show. Their rivalry and setoff matches over the last few years have been athletic achievements, brutal, dangerous and at times, but also simply amazing. You know a feud and set of, matches are great when the low bar is around 4 stars and their ceiling is 5. And with Dragon Lee scoring a win over Takahashi in the BOSJ, NJPW is seizing the opportunity and has booked the match. This is one of those pairings that I never get sick of, they are always great, they play well off of their previous matches, and always manage to work in new things that don’t seem possible. I cannot wait for the latest installment of the feud, and this is my pick for match of the night. WINNER: Champion Hiromu Takahashi

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IWGP US Title Match: Champion Jay White vs. Juice Robinson: Jay White won the title back in January, defeating Kenny Omega and getting him rolling as a player after the good, but disappointing WrestleKingdom outing with Tanahashi. He’s heading into the match with three successful defenses, and a reign of over 160 days. The company has plans to make him a big star, and likely hope he can be another Kenny Omega (mega Gaijin star). Juice Robinson is the former CJ Parker that didn’t feel he was going anywhere in the WWE system, and didn’t see any upward movement with WWE bringing in big name indie & foreign stars. And he was right, while he worked hard, CJ Parker was shit and he needed to move on. CJ Parker got his release, and Juice Robinson was born in NJPW and he’s obviously made the right choice. After a rough start, he slowly started to get the NJPW way, slowly started to get over with the fans, and slowly started to get good, really good. He failed to win titles against Goto, Naito, and Goto again but put in great performances, and most importantly, he was over HUGE with the fans as a challenger. In the latest loss to Goto, the crowd was begging for him to win, he was close, but it just wasn’t his time. But he’s getting another chance at gold here, in the US against White. White retaining wouldn’t be a surprise, but again, I feel there is a chance of a title change because Juice has been so close only to fail a few times and you don’t want to give him the stigma that he’s a choke artist. The only concern I have with Juice winning here is that I don’t know how it will play. He’s over huge in Japan, and the title win there would go over big, but in the US, I’m not so sure. Plus White’s last title defense in the US was cold, he and Page worked hard, but the crowd wasn’t into it big time, and I fear the same for that in this match. But I think they may want to make a big move to make this US show stand out and the title change would do that, so I’ll go wit Juice here. WINNER: Juice Robinson

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IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kenny Omega vs. Cody: This feud really started brewing at Dominion 2017 as Kenny Omega went to a draw with Okada, and Cody teased throwing in the towel on Omega. Cody tried to one up Omega and challenged Okada in the US, but failed to beat him. So we had the original teases of issues between Kenny & Cody, leading to Cody eventually turning on Kenny and the reunion of the Golden Lovers. This led to riffs within Bullet Club, almost a civil war, and even a Golden Lovers vs. Young Bucks match. Things finally came to a head at ROH Supercard of Honor, where ROH drew a 6,000 + crowd for the first Kenny Omega vs. Cody match. They had an overall good match, but for me, it really felt short of expectations considering the great angle and work they did to sell the match. The work was good, and there were some good storyline elements (like the angle with the Bucks); in many ways I think it was the right match for this stage of the feud, because they are far from the blow off. But this was too much ballyhoo Cody, complete with stalling and a ref bump, instead of “proving a point Cody,” which he had been for most of 2018 leading into the match. They carried on, thing started to simmer, and Bullet Club seemed to be fine. Omega then, one year later, defeated Okada in a classic, winning the IWGP title, and delivering the happy ending as he united with Ibushi & the Bucks as the Golden Elite as Cody watched on, being left out. They actually followed up on that on Being the Elite, showing that Cody was actually going to congratulate Omega later on, complete with a handwritten note, champagne, and a custom weigh belt. But Cody’s ego got the best of him and threw it all away. And now Omega’s first challenger is the man that beat him back at ROH Supercard of Honor, Cody. Cody makes sense as the first challenger, especially in the US, due to holding a win over Omega, plus it continues the build of the feud, which was beautifully told in ROH, NJPW, & on Being the Elite. I hope that we get the Cody that we saw at WrestleKingdom against Ibushi and the Cody we got against Okada last year in the US, because if we do, we’re in for a hell of a match. WINNER: Champion Kenny Omega

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”