NJPW G1 Climax Day 19 (August 13th) Review

No one can avoid their Destino. Credit: NJPW

Here we are. The nineteenth and final show of this year’s G1 and my final review. It’s been one hell of a tournament with umpteen match of the year contenders and a fair few emotional moments. So for one final time (well, until the next wrestling show I review), let’s dish out those stars.

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, Taka Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask and Kawato

It’s a flying lion. Credit: NJPW

This was all about setting up a future Junior’s Title match between El Desperado and KUSHIDA. While it’s fair to say that I could think of better opponents for KUSHIDA, I’m sure that won’t be too offensive and the post-match brawl did a nice job of building heat for it. The match itself was all about Kawato – again. He’s the star of every segment he’s in and it’s great to see.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

G.O.D. (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi

Be more Yuji Nagata. Credit: NJPW

Bell to bell this was uneventful. It was the moment after the bell where G.O.D. paid tribute to Nagata that made the match. Much like Fale before them, they aren’t the paying tribute type, and it made the moment all the better. It was a fitting way to signify the end of Nagata’s time as a G1 competitor.

Verdict: Two Stars

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Togi Makabe and David Finlay

‘I want to go to bed!’ Credit: NJPW

At this point in the show, it was clear that everyone was coming off a long tour and nobody was pushing it. Again, this was okay, and apart from that, there’s not much to report.

Verdict: Two Stars

Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) and Juice Robinson defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens)

Such a good boy, taking his grandparents out for the day. Credit: NJPW

Flick your eyes up to what I wrote above and then reread it.

Verdict: Two Stars

Funky Future (Ryusuke Taguchi and Ricochet) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles

The Funky Weapon gets invited to a Superkick Party. Credit: NJPW

The Young Bucks’ matches in New Japan this year should be the final nail in the ‘spot monkey’ accusation that is so often thrown at them. They’ve been working an ultra-aggressive style where they pick one of their opponent’s body parts and beat the living crap out of it. Here, it was Ricochet’s leg which the guy sold like a motherfucking champ. Taguchi, meanwhile, has to be one of the most underrated workers in the world as people focus on his antics rather than his stellar in-ring performances. The coach moniker is fitting as he tends to be the man who holds these high-impact matches together. Look, it’s four incredibly talented athletes going at it, it’s great, go watch it.

Verdict: Four Stars

‘I’m alive, that’s all.’

In a tournament filled with beautiful moments, none stand up to Shibata walking down to that ring and taking a symbolic back bump. The ovation he got and the smile on his face told a story that a million words couldn’t. It’s not about whether he wrestles again, it’s about him beating this shit and The Wrestler going on to live a healthy life. This was the start of that.

War Machine (Raymond Rowe and Hanson) defeated Bullet Club (Cody and Hangman Page) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles

Not the guy Bullet Club wanted to see nail the moonsault. Credit: NJPW

Guess what? It’s a three-star Cody special! Whoop whoop! Once again he produced an average match against great opponents, it’s almost a talent at this point. Hangman Page is another one who does little for me. Take that Shooting Star Press shoulder tackle off the apron out of his game and I wouldn’t remember a thing he did. Two men who are very good, are War Machine and if they don’t sign with WWE, I’d love to see them get a shot in the G1 next year. They single-handedly keep this division relevant and them leaving would be a big blow for New Japan.

The return of Killer Elite Squad post-match was well done, but I wish G.O.D. were being left out of it. KES and War Machine could have a great match and I think G.O.D. mess with that.

Verdict: Three Stars

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. and Takashi Iizuka) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Kota Ibushi

Suzuki-gun planning to sweep up the belts. Credit: NJPW

This was all about building for the future as we set up Sabre vs. Tanahashi and Elgin vs. Suzuki, both of which could be fantastic title matches if the trolls stay out of them. It meant the match itself played second fiddle, but that’s fine. It says a lot about where Sabre stands in New Japan that he started and finished this tour by tapping out the former Ace.

Verdict: Three Stars

Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, Evil, Sanada and Bushi) defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and Gedo)

Daryl returns and Takahashi wins. Credit: NJPW

Much like the last match, this was all about the future as Evil looks to bring the big belt to LIJ. He’s gone from a mid-card man to a star in this tournament and his post-match attack here showed why. He has an aggression in the ring that is thrilling to watch and he has earned this spot. The match itself was fun, LIJ and CHAOS are good at this shit, and it was nice to see Takahashi pick up the victory with a secondary finisher after an uneventful tour.

Verdict: Three Stars

Tetsuya Naito defeated Kenny Omega to win the G1 Climax

I can fly! Credit: NJPW

As my fifth placed finish in the Voices of Wrestling Pick ‘Em will tell you, this was how I saw this tournament going from the start. The fact I was fifth rather than first suggests I didn’t nail the journey, but I got the finish and what a finish it was. Four years on from winning this tournament and being rejected by the New Japan fans Naito did it again and was the biggest babyface in the building.

Before that, there was a worry that these men wouldn’t make it to the end of the match. Twice they flirted with serious injuries as the botched piledriver through the table nearly took Omega out and the DDT spot on the ring post (was it a botch or not? Who knows) almost did the same for Naito. Miraculously they came out at least relatively unscathed and were able to put together an incredible wrestling match.

The story here was about how much they wanted this. This wasn’t Tranquillo Naito but a man fuelled by a desire to prove he was the best while Omega’s whole year has been built around showing that. They threw everything they had at each other and neither man was willing to accept that he could lose. The work rate was phenomenal and by the end, I doubt they needed to sell after everything they’d put their bodies through.

One man had to win, though, and it was to be Naito’s night as he got the win with a couple of, let’s face it, sloppy Destinos. That’s not worth worrying about, however, and we have at least half of our Wrestle Kingdom main event set in stone (presuming New Japan don’t pull a massive swerve and have him lose the briefcase). More importantly, this was a fitting ending to a tournament that was quite frankly spectacular.

Overall Show

This doesn’t look safe. Credit: NJPW

You can skip most of this show. It was a bunch of tired wrestlers throwing out one last effort to get to the end of a long tour. The only things worthy of your time are the Junior Tag match and the G1 Final. If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, you can probably watch the Heavyweight Tag match too but don’t expect anything amazing.

To wrap this up, I want to say that this has been my very first G1 and I have loved every moment of it. Sure, it sometimes felt like wrestling had taken over my life but when the action is this incredible, who are we to complain? I had the time of my life and if you’re reading this and love wrestling, please consider signing up to New Japan World and giving it a go.

 

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