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Kevin’s NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night One Review

July 7, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night One Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night One
July 6th, 2019 | American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas | Attendance: 4,846

It’s one of the most anticipated times of the year. NJPW’s annual G1 Climax. It often gives us some of the best matches each year, though we also get a lot of filler. Still, it’s quite fun. Every time a field is announced, it’s called “THE GREATEST G1 FIELD EVER” and once the G1 ends we get “THAT WAS THE BEST G1 OF ALL TIME.” I still sit here waiting for one to top the G1 24. Here’s how I’d rank the G1s I’ve seen. 24 > 27 > 28 > 26 > 23 > 25.

For the first time in history, the G1 Climax comes to the United States. As always, I’ll just be focusing on the tournament matches and not the undercard. This year, it looks like the A Block will rule. It’s welcome since the A Block was HOT GARBAGE last year.

A lot of my NJPW reviews this year will be exclusive to patreon.com/the_kevstaaa so head on over for more content like this.

If anyone wonders about my predictions, I think Kazuchika Okada beats Jay White in the finals. It gives him yet another accomplishment under his belt and he’ll challenge Tetsuya Naito for both titles in the Tokyo Dome.

A Block: Lancer Archer [0] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay [0]
Ospreay won their New Japan Cup meeting this year (***). One of only two matches in this tournament where I prefer Lance Archer over his opponent. I’ve made my feelings on Will Ospreay clear in the past, but I believe Archer is the kind of guy who can take him out of his comfort zone and that’s what Willy desperately needs. Archer charged at him at the bell but got caught with an impressive Spanish Fly. Archer being done with Will’s flying shit and chokeslamming him through a table was stellar. The G1 peaked in its first match, folks. I know the Ospreay for WOTY train has some weird legs, but I felt like Archer was the better performer here. Will’s offense mostly came off well, but his wide eyed selling still irks me. Kenny Omega had a similar problem for a while. I liked how the intensity turned up late, especially after the countout tease. It felt like the match mattered. Archer hit the Blackout before winning with the Claw in 18:16. Better than I expected. They had some awkward points (like the Code Red outside) but ultimately delivered a strong opener that played to a lot of their strengths. For the millionth time, Willy’s wheelhouse is 15-20 minutes. Keep him there. [***¾]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [0] vs. EVIL [0]
Fale beat EVIL in the 2017 New Japan Cup (**¾), but EVIL evened the score in last year’s G1 (*). Fale is such an enigma. He can deliver good matches at times, but at others, he is a chore to watch. He spent most of last year just getting disqualified. There was another attack at the bell, because Gedo is a repetitive booker. It comes out often during the G1. Props to EVIL for throwing himself into this match. However, Fale never matched his intensity and seemed to be going through the motions. They infused it with a lot of brawling and chair stuff that just never clicked. Fale won with the Bad Luck Fall in a lackluster 11:33. Too many shenanigans. And yet, this was still better than 95% of Fale’s G1 run last year. [*¼]

A Block: SANADA [0] vs. RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr. [0]
Zack Sabre Jr. won their New Japan Cup meeting (***½), while SANADA won their G1 outing (****), both last year. I loved that G1 match. That banger clocked in at just under 11 minutes. This about doubled that coming in at 21:12. I like that Sabre brings something different to these tournaments. This was a contest filled with some of the smoothest transitions you’ll find anywhere. Everything they did looked sexy and came across like two guys who have nailed the technical aspect of the game. That being said, at points it felt like they were just doing it to showoff rather than to try and win a match or wear an opponent down. It looked good but lacked drama and a sense of urgency. I did like the reaction by the crowd and Zack when he finally got trapped in a version of the Paradise Lock. I also enjoyed the callbacks to their previous encounters. SANADA nearly had it won with the Skull End, which would’ve been huge against Sabre. Sabre nearly stole it right from under him with the European Clutch, but SANADA countered into his own pin to win. Another nice callback to how he won last time. There’s a lot to like here, but it dragged at times and especially down the stretch. That keeps it from being great. [***½]

A Block: KENTA [0] vs. Kota Ibushi [0]
This topped my list of most anticipated A Block matches. Katsuyori Shibata was shown watching from a spot in the crowd. He could find a seat, there were plenty open. Ibushi and KENTA brought the big strikes early. I liked how KENTA got floored by the first. Like he hasn’t been hit that hard in a long time. There was an air of smugness to KENTA. He was out to prove a point. He went to wearing down Ibushi, realizing that while he can hit as hard, he’s outmatched in terms of mobility and speed. It was a smart move. Ibushi weathered the storm but would still get stalled when he tried a comeback. Some of KENTA’s stuff lacked like his clothesline sequence and his attempt to knee a diving Ibushi, but other stuff looked good like the diving double stomp on the guardrail. The closing stretch saw the pace pick up and you got the sense that KENTA was getting more comfortable. When it was all said and done, KENTA hit a Go to Sleep that Ibushi sold like death, giving him the win in 20:51. A great match. It was hard hitting and a strong way to get KENTA back into the fold. He showed rust in a few spots, which was expected, but still gave us the match of the night. And yes, Ibushi is still fantastic. [****]

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [0]
The rivalry debuts in the US. As always, I’ll run down my scores on their series. In 2012, Okada beat Tana at New Beginning = (****) and Tana won back the title at Dominion = (****½). In 2013, Tana retained at Wrestle Kingdom (****¼), Okada won it back at Invasion Attack (****¾), and retained at King of Pro Wrestling in their best match ever (*****). They also went to a G1 draw that year (****½). In 2015, Tana retained at WK 9 (****½). In 2016, Okada retained at WK 10 in their worst match (***¼), before they went to another G1 draw (****¼). In 2018, Okada retained at Wrestling Dontaku (****½), they went to a third G1 draw (***½), and Tana won at Destruction (***¾).

I’m over this feud but it’s a big deal to have it in the States. The fans ate up everything they did and were molten hot before this even began. This match went exactly how I thought it would. They played their greatest hits in front of a crowd that had never see it before and popped hard for everything. I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. It’s a good idea to do that kind of match here. Work smart, not hard. Tons of spots here that came off smoothly and it featured plenty of counters that played off their past. Okada ultimately won with the Rainmaker after 22:04. I appreciated that they didn’t try to tease another time limit draw. They got in, did their stuff, and saved a lot of energy for later in the tournament while putting on a show in front of a hot audience. [***¾]

Kazuchika Okada 2 (1-0) Hirooki Goto 0 (0-0)
KENTA 2 (1-0) Jay White 0 (0-0)
SANADA 2 (1-0) Jeff Cobb 0 (0-0)
Bad Luck Fale 2 (1-0) Jon Moxley 0 (0-0)
Lance Archer 2 (1-0) Juice Robinson 0 (0-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi 2 (1-0) Shingo Takagi 0 (0-0)
Kota Ibushi 0 (0-1) Taichi 0 (0-0)
Zack Sabre Jr. 0 (0-1) Tetsuya Naito 0 (0-0)
EVIL 0 (0-1) Tomohiro Ishii 0 (0-0)
Will Ospreay 0 (0-1) Toru Yano 0 (0-0)
The final score: review Good
The 411
A very good start to the tournament that was just shy of being great. You get three matches between ***1/2 and ***3/4, as well as a great **** outing. That would be great on its own but the score is dragged down because Bad Luck Fale gave us a boring match. Just like he did a bunch last year. Strong start overall though.

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G1 Climax 29, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja