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Kevin’s NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night Seventeen Review

August 10, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Kota Ibushi NJPW G1 Climax 29 Final
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Kevin’s NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night Seventeen Review  

NJPW G1 Climax Night Seventeen
August 10th, 2019 | Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 9,641

The time has arrived to decide who will win the A Block. As usual, Gedo has booked the tournament so that only the final match matters. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi. I’m sure plenty of folks have already thrown five snowflakes at it. There are a few other matches that sound interesting on paper, so let’s see how it goes.

A Block: EVIL [8] vs. Lance Archer [4]
Though he sits at just 4 points, Lance Archer has quietly been one of the best things about this A Block. There’s some history here from tag matches, including EVIL getting his orbital bone broken by Archer. These two basically gave me exactly what I wanted from them. Two big fellas just beating on each other. I dig it. Archer impressed with a moonsault off the apron and by suplexing EVIL all over the place. It was the kind of performance I’ve wanted from Jeff Cobb all tournament. EVIL rallied and came back hitting Archer as hard as he was getting hit. It all made for quality pro wrestling. Archer countered Everything is EVIL and won with the EDB Claw in 10:02. Archer blew me away in this tournament. He’s just kind of been a guy for his whole career, but he was consistently great. This was a perfect way to end things. [***½]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [6] vs. SANADA [8]
Fale beat SANADA in their one G1 meeting back in 2016 (**½). Fale has won two straight, both via cradles. He was out with his buddies, who helped him gain the early upper hand. As usual, the segment of this match with Fale on offense was pretty dull. It doesn’t help that SANADA isn’t exactly known for being a sympathetic seller. It’s just not his wheelhouse. He took care of Jado and Chase Owens when they interfered, which got a good pop from the crowd. Whatever issues you may have with SANADA, the dude is wildly over. Imagine how big he could be if he was booked like a star. After making Fale tap out as the referee was taken out, SANADA put Owens and Jado in the Paradise Lock. Fale avoided the moonsault and countered Skull End into a small package for his third straight win in that fashion at the 10:38 mark. Filled with the same old Fale bullshit, but it was at least somewhat entertaining in spots. [**]

A Block: KENTA [8] vs. RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr. [6]
Man, even when Shelton Benjamin started 4-0, he got to finish with 10 points. A loss for KENTA would make five straight and be an embarrassing finish. KENTA won their only prior meeting in NOAH back in 2011. A lot of this was built around their strengths. Sabre’s submissions against KENTA’s striking ability. I loved how KENTA just broke a submission by driving knees into Sabre’s skull. There were other points where Sabre would just find a way to trap KENTA in a hold from out of nowhere. Both guys were doing the stuff they’re basically meant to do. Sabre continued to make crucial mistakes in this G1, like getting goaded into a striking exchange here. One or two just floored Sabre. Still, the submissions expert had KENTA scouted and used it when he was focused and not so frustrated. He countered the GTS into a guillotine that he turned into the Jim Breaks Armbar with vicious boots to the head. KENTA had no choice but to submit in 16:26. Though this lacked meaning and I’m disappointed in the overall booking of KENTA losing five straight, this was great stuff. I really liked the styles clash and Sabre winning by going after KENTA’s previously destroyed shoulder was tremendous. [****]

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [8] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay [6]
Willy’s dream match. I may not like the guy, but he should be someone who thrives in a match led by Hiroshi Tanahashi. The story to tell here is a simple one and Tanahashi knows exactly what to do. It’s the veteran trying to show he can still hang against the younger, super athletic dude. If Ospreay could play cocky better, it would be better. Tanahashi did little things to show how much it meant to hang like bridging up during a submission. He didn’t need to do it but it was to show that he still had it. And you still got the sense that Tanahashi knew when to slow the pace, like using the Texas Cloverleaf. Ospreay sold the leg decently. There were times when he hobbled, but then he’d use both legs to leap or springboard. And I don’t get it because I’ve seen him do the one-legged springboard when properly selling in the past. Tanahashi countering Storm Breaker into a modified Slingblade was really cool. I saw praise for the Hidden Blade but I thought it looked like shit. Ospreay hit KENTA and Ibushi better. Here, he whiffed and launched himself in a poor attempt to make it look better. Anyway, Ospreay hit Storm Breaker to score his biggest win ever in 17:12. For Okada to get better, he had to be led by Tanahashi for years. Me saying Ospreay was led here is no slight against him. This was a huge win and the match told a wonderful story. Plus, they kept it in under 20 minutes and I can’t stress enough how much better Willy is in those situations. It remains true. It was far from perfect, but this was great stuff. [****½]

A Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [14] vs. Kota Ibushi [12]
Okada beat Ibushi back in 2014 (****¼) and again when Ibushi was Tiger Mask W (****). Guess what? Okada formula was in full effect here. He does the same spots in the same order with the same mannerisms in almost every match. That’s mostly true during the first 10-15 minutes of a match and then he ends hot with a counter series that caps it. Thankfully, Kota Ibushi was more than game and is good enough to combat it. He made sure some of this moved at a snappier pace and it helped along this tired formula. Ibushi kicked Okada in the bicep as things picked up, which was smart as it impacted the Rainmaker. If he can’t hit it cleanly, he probably doesn’t win. He had that Cobra Clutch for a short time but really only has one finisher. They did a lot of little things right. I loved Ibushi falling back on a powerbomb and having it land in a spot where Okada could get the ropes instead of wasting energy on a kickout. That kind of stuff is hugely important. We still got late Rainmakers and the counter stuff that always happens in an Okada match. At least we got a new counter as I popped hard for Ibushi turning the Okada dropkick into a sitout powerbomb. That was sick. Okada kicked out of a Kamigoye, so Ibushi just hit another instantly and won the block in 25:05. I’m glad they didn’t tease the draw because we’d seen that already. This is a match I’ve seen plenty of times before in terms of how it was laid out, but like I said, I’m all for the things Ibushi did to make it feel different. [****]

Kota Ibushi *Winner* 14 (7-2) Jay White 10 (5-3)
Kazuchika Okada 14 (7-2) Jon Moxley 10 (5-3)
EVIL 8 (4-5) Tetsuya Naito 10 (5-3)
KENTA 8 (4-5) Hirooki Goto 10 (5-3)
Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 (4-5) Tomohiro Ishii 8 (4-4)
SANADA 8 (4-5) Toru Yano 8 (4-4)
Zack Sabre Jr. 8 (4-5) Juice Robinson 6 (3-5)
Will Ospreay 8 (4-5) Shingo Takagi 6 (3-5)
Bad Luck Fale 8 (4-5) Taichi 6 (3-5)
Lance Archer 6 (3-6) Jeff Cobb 6 (3-5)
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
A great way to end the A Block. The only thing holding it back from ranking higher was Fale/SANADA and the lack of importance for most matches. Still, I liked Archer/EVIL and found KENTA/Sabre rad. The final two matches were big time, even if I’m tired of the Okada formula. Great stuff.

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G1 Climax 29, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja