wrestling / Video Reviews

Jon Moxley’s First G1 Climax Review

August 16, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Jon Moxley NJPW, Kota Ibushi
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Jon Moxley’s First G1 Climax Review  

The idea of Jon Moxley being in NJPW was intriguing if not instantly exciting. If nothing else, he seemed like an ideal special guest champion for the US title (that he won in his debut) and certainly a huge improvement over previous long-running guests like Cody Rhodes. Then on his second show, things got exciting. He announced that he was joining the G1 and adopted a son.

Moxley and his adopted son proceeded to have one of the most intriguing G1 runs ever. Moxley truly utilized his tag matches to add a lot of depth to many of his tournament matches. Then he frequently added something special to his tournament matches to make them stand out. It was a hell of a ride and made his first G1 one (despite his many flaws as a performer) of the more substantive and satisfying runs in recent memory.

(I’ll also include links to my other G1 reviews throughout in chronological order.)


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Sanada

KENTA vs. Kota Ibushi

Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer

Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi


July 13th

Jon Moxley vs. Taichi

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.


Taichi jumped Moxley during the latter’s entrance. They brawled in the crowd. Moxley was really infuriated that Taichi had the gall to do that, and it really brought an edge to Moxley’s work for the rest of the match.

Both dudes just began to furiously attack each other trying to do as much damage as possible. The tone of the work was pitch-perfect (even if both guys are rather soft in their strikes), and both guy’s awkwardness in their movements complimented each other and the brawl they worked well.

This was a great example of how two guys using the G1 match format to their advantage. [Moxley eventually won after throwing a chair in Taichi’s face and then connecting on Death Rider.] (****)


Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito

Shingo Takagi vs. Juice Robinson


July 14th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Jeff Cobb & Ren Narita

This was the kind of energetic undercard match you want on these G1 shows. Shota and Narita brought a ton of fire as is their jobs. Moxley and Cobb teased their finishers to preview their upcoming G1 match. The most notable aspect of it was that when Moxley realized how dangerous Cobb’s big moves were and how he was unable to connect on anything, he went after Cobb’s eyes. That will presumably play a role in their tournament match. [Cobb finished off Shota with Tour of the Flat Earth.] (***)


KENTA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi


July 15th

Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

Moxley learned the day before in a tag match that Cobb was going to be an issue for him. He came into this match with a strategy. He targeted Cobb’s left arm right away. He tried to follow it up with some hardcore stuff on the floor, but it seemed like there was no available table.

They continued to battle. Cobb fought back and tried to use his big power movez to fight back, but the left shoulder damage made that difficult if not impossible. That gave Moxley enough room to continue to fight until he managed to connect on a draping Night Rider (seen below) to pull off the victory.

This two match story ruled. They battled in a tag. Moxley learned from it and developed a strategy. Cobb did not prepare for anything and was left without much of a path to victory. (***1/2)


Shingo Takagi vs. Toru Yano


July 18th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Yuya Uemura

This was a very sound opener that did a fine job of teasing Moxley vs. Ishii. Instead of there being some deeply personal issue, they were trying to get over that there was just a natural clash and distaste between the two. Moxley also got temporary satisfaction from having his personal son pick up the victory. (***)


Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi

KENTA vs. Lance Archer

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi


July 19th

Jon Moxley vs. Tomohiro Ishii

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

The tag the day before established the dynamic these two would have for their tournament match simply and efficiently. These two just are very similar and very different in all the ways that would prevent them from ever getting along. It was not hatred. It was just a natural animosity that did not feel forced for the sake of the tournament but a natural consequence of them crossing paths. It was all they needed to elevate their match.

Both guys walked into the ring ready to hurt each other to win while also never allowing themselves to be distracted by a desire to hurt at the expense of winning. It gave everything they did purpose and meaning. Beyond that, there was not a lot going on in this one. It was just fire, lively sequences, a good pace, and great action. And Ishii did a dive through a table. Easy thumbs up. [Moxley won via NIGHT RIDER.] (***3/4)


July 20th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Juice Robinson & Yota Tsuji

Yet another good Moxley/Shota tag! They are the tag team of the year!

Moxley and Juice brawled a bit. They do not like each other. They brawled to the back. Yota got the better of Shota. Moxley showed up without Juice and helped out Shota. Shota then finished Yota with a Boston Crab while Mox posed on the turnbuckle. Lovely stuff. (***)




July 24th

Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

Kamikaze USA explodes!!

This was how you do a middle-of-the-G1 match. You mostly just keep things simple with a clear in-ring story and pick your spots with the more physical moments.

Moxley came in here with a plan to not back down from Takagi and then to go for one of his legs throuughout the contest. That’s what he did. Takagi fought back valiantly, but he suffered enough leg damage for Moxley to finish him with a Cloverleaf. It was solid. (***)

Except for Moxley’s fucking dive. Either stop doing dives or do them better, Jonathan.


July 27th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)

The structure of this match was super smart. Naito and Moxley have a G1 Climax match coming up. Naito did Los Ingobernables things to annoy Moxley. Moxley fell for it. He wanted to tear into Naito so badly that he was getting reckless. And every time Moxley finally got his hands on Naito….he delivered the weakest-looking “strikes.”

It’s not normally a thing I nitpick about. I don’t have a particular eye for it. And I certainly don’t get excited by “a great punch.” But these were *really* noticeably bad. It was a shame too, because everything else about this match was real good! [Takagi finished Shota with a (purposely) lazy Pumping Bomber.] (**3/4)


Kazuchika Okada vs. KENTA

Kota Ibushi vs. Lance Archer


July 28th

Jon Moxley vs. Tetsuya Naito

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

As was the pattern with Moxley’s G1, this one benefited from the preceding tag match involving Mox and his opponent. In that tag, we saw how easily Naito got under Moxley’s skin. That caused Moxley to get reckless and lose track of the prize. His team predictably lost.

The question would be if either man would learn from what happened there. Based on how this match played out, it seemed like Naito did and Moxley did not.

The result would be the same of course.

After the tag, it seemed like Moxley was going to have to force himself to remain calm and keep centered while Naito played games. He did not do that. Naito decided to lean in even more to the mind games at the start. The combination of the two clearly caused Moxley to lose focus at the start.

He tried to regain focus but was unsuccessful. He did not have the patience to return to one strategy over and over like he did in the Takagi match that he won. Instead, he was just throwing a whole bunch of shit at the wall hoping anything would sti —————


Okay….a little peak behind the curtain. This story seemed to be unfolding in such an obvious manner. In a good way though! As you can see above, I was tracking what I thought were all these wonderful nuances that made the match interesting!

The combination of telling a very clear story where Moxley was clearly on his way to losing AND then to also to do a lame finishing sequence based on the wrestlers just kicking out of their finishers made this by far the least satisfying match that Moxley has had in NJPW. It felt like a significant misstep. We will see if things get back on a more interesting track from here. (**3/4)


July 30th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Ren Narita & Toru Yano

This was a good way to bring Yano and Moxley together ahead of their G1 match. It showed that Moxley was scouting Yano ahead of time and ready for shenanigans. He still found out though that if you take your eye off Yano, he can steal the win out of nowhere. This time it was Shota eating the pinfall. Will it be Moxley next time? (Yes. Yes it will.) (***)


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay


August 1st

Jon Moxley vs. Toru Yano

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

Match of the tournament. Match of the year? (****1/2)


August 3rd

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Jay White)

This entire match was basically Jay White playing cat & mouse with Jon Moxley while Chase Owens beat up Shota. It was getting under Moxley’s skin and then eventually led to White finishing off Shota. It was a good story to set up the White/Moxley G1 match on paper, but it was just so lifeless due to it being the Bullet Club. (**)


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lance Archer


August 4th

Jon Moxley vs. Jay White

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

Much like the other mini-stories throughout the G1 that Moxley has had, this G1 contest was a very appropriate follow-up on the tag match the two guys had on the previous show. It was a shitty brawl. and the fans did not really care.

There was one sequence in the Ishii/Yano G1 match on the same night that truly captured the brilliance of the whole match. Similarly, there was a sequence in this one that captured how dumb and use it was.

Moxley had been kicking White’s ass for a while and then called for the Knee Trembler. As Moxley began to run to connect on the knee, White dropped from the kneeling position and just blatantly started to lie down on purpose without even covering up.

With his opponent literally just lying there doing nothing to defend himself, Moxley stood there and tapped White with his foot. He could have fucking mauled his insufferable opponent to death in that moment. Instead, he tapped him with his foot. It was so fucking dumb and made the whole match feel phony. [White eventually won with Blade Runner.] (*)


Toru Yano vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Shingo Takagi vs. Tetsuya Naito


August 7th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI)

This was REALLY nothing of a match. Moxley and Goto brawled some. They did not really establish anything meaningful for the actual G1 match that they will have. It seems like a similar dynamic to Moxley and Ishii where they just naturally don’t like each other. That’s far more effective with Ishii than Goto. (**)


August 8th

Jon Moxley vs. Hirooki Goto

This was a 2019 G1 Climax.

In a tournament where Jon Moxley has come into almost every match with a very clear and specific strategy and where almost every match had a tight story, this completely empty match with Goto was  underwhelming. It just had nothing in it and had nothing going for it.

There is however one silver lining to this match. Anything that makes fun of Goto is always very good. Moxley the character has given every opponent he’s faced so far the respect of knowing he needed to do something special to give him the advantage. With Goto though, Moxley understood that he’s such a geek that nothing special was required.

What a lifeless match. (**)


August 10th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Juice Robinson & Ren Narita

This was not much of a match. It did do however a great job of characterizing Moxley going into his final G1 round robin match with Juice the next day. Juice had a bum knee. Moxley went after it during the match and afterwards (as seen above). Mox has been put into a corner. He seemed to be the favorite to win the tournament after jumping out to a 5-0 start. He’s completely let his lead die though with three consecutive losses. He’s got one more chance to win his block, and he’s not going to let outside perceptions of morality prevent him from having the best shot to win. (**)


August 11th

Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson

This was a 2019 G1 Climax match.

In the preview tag the day before, they set this tournament match up beautifully. Mox blew his big lead in the G1 Climax. He was pissed, but he appeared to be committed to doing what he needed to do to defeat Juice. He went after Juice’s injured knee during *and* after the tag.

The match then played out beautifully based on that setup. Moxley went after the knee and was very focused. The moment Juice started to show some life though, Moxley went for the weapons. He wanted a table and chairs to assist him.

Moxley got a reprieve though from losing focus. Juice was so concerned about how he was perceived by the fans that he took the time to put away the weapons. The fans and referee may have liked that, but that gave Moxley more time to go after the leg and did that he did.

Moxley took his eye off the ball unfortunately. He assumed victory when he had a chinlock/stf applied. But Juice had *JUST* managed to grab on to the ref’s pants to prevent being called for the KO. Moxley walked away and then blamed the referee instead of just finishing the match.

Moxley then went to the weapons again. This time Juice was in no position to put the weapons away. Moxley once again could have just finished Juice off. Instead, Juice fought back and managed to pull off Pulp Friction to steal the victory. Or more accurately, Jon, much like the B Block, gave the match away.

Jon Moxley and Juice Robinson are FAR from perfect wrestlers. But they understand what they have to do to make sure their matches together work. (***3/4)



August 12th

Jon Moxley & Shota Umino vs. Juice Robinson & Toa Henare

This was a solid follow-up to the latest chapter in the Moxley/Juice feud. Juice defeated Moxley a day earlier which effectively eliminated Moxley from having a chance to win the G1 Climax. Jon and Shota took it right to Juice to start the match, and it was clear that Mox is not backing down from Juice in the slightest. Their third match could be quite the deal. (***)

Moxley attacked Juice after the match. This included him putting Juice through a table. This was a nice follow-up to their match yesterday.



Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White

My Reviews of All G1 Climax Finals

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Moxley's run in the G1 (and NJPW in general so far) was a huge success. It also reaffirms many basic ideas of pro wrestling that are continuously proven to be true. For starters, you do not have to a truly great performer to produce interesting work. A lot of what Moxley does looks like shit. He is however clearly putting a lot of thought into his work and making his matches interesting despite individual moments of poor execution. Secondly, WWE is clearly the depth of creativity. While many NJPW wrestlers certainly fall into their lazy tropes, there's just no question that Moxley has done so far in three months with NJPW has been more creatively interesting than anything he ever did in a decade with the WWE (the FCW Rollins feud is close/The Shield's storyline really sucked quickly even if the match quality remained strong). If the wrestlers there want to do something more meaningful, they have to get out of Vince's Big Trump Fundraising Shit Traveling Circus.