New Japan Pro Wrestling held their first ever G1 Climax shows in the United States selling out Hall B of the Long Beach, California Convention Center the past two nights. This wasn’t a glorified house show, the brand new IWGP United States Championship’s inaugural tournament was held, the IWGP Heavyweight Title was on the line and every faction Japan has to offer was featured. Look out Vince, the other big boys are here to play. The WWE’s, arguably, best years were during the height of competition with rival promotion WCW. Once the Attitude Era thinned out the era of John Cena and Randy Orton saw a decline in ratings and sometimes attendance. Over the past five years the WWE, slowly, has gained steam by adding top independent wrestlers to their roster and placing them in top positions in the company. Also over the past five years or so the independent wrestling scene that took over the territory days of old continued to blossom, promotions like Ring of Honor, PWG, Evolve and others began to sell out shows and watch their talent leave to join the WWE machine. Now, in 2017, NJPW leads the charge into America looking to challenge Vince for domination of the wrestling world.
5. It is always great to hear Jim Ross’ voice calling any wrestling match but for some reason or another good ‘ol JR wasn’t on his game night one much to my sadness. Has the time come, like it does for every great in the world of entertaining other humans, for JR to hang up his proverbial boots and call it a career? I guess we shall see if and or when the WWE calls on the legend to call his next match.
4.When NJPW announced the IWGP United States Championship would debut in a tournament in America the gauntlet was thrown. New Japan wasn’t just coming to have a show, they were hear to leave footprints and impressions for shows and for years to come. The field of eight men included a list of who’s who of New Japan and the indies including Zack Sabre Jr, Kenny Omega, Tomohiro Ishii and Michael Elgin. Now that New Japan has a belt born in the United States it’s just a matter of time until it is fought for again on American soil.
3. Outside of the top matches on the card night one was a great introduction to new fans of the product but also a way to feature the entire roster. The multiple men tag team matches featuring the likes of Jushin Thunder Liger, Will Ospreay, Tanahashi, CMLL roster members and Bullet Club members was a great usage of time compared to leaving guys off the card altogether.I am very curious to see how many people signed up for New Japan World, for only $9.99, after night one.
2. The Bullet Club is definitely one of the reasons why professional wrestling is cool again. One thing that made them cool to begin with was the faction’s members were cool and there wasn’t a lot of them. After AJ, Finn, Gallows and Anderson left for the WWE there was room in the club but Adam Page continues to be a stretch for me. Adding Cody to the faction immediately created tension that was teased night one with the current leader Kenny Omega. Marty Scurll adds another layer that makes the Bullet Club fun but adding too many cooks into the kitchen can make for bad dinner; or whatever. Cody is a great heel but maybe him feuding with the Bullet Club then joining eventually was a better long term plan.
1.If New Japan really wishes to challenge the WWE as top wrestling promotion in the world then the door may just go through Kenny Omega. The WWE’s pursuit of Omega was top news last winter. Omega decided to stay with the company that has helped him blossom into the top star that he is today. The Young Bucks, Okada and others will also be key as NJPW makes their push forward but if Omega can get his name into the marquee with guys like John Cena then, Vince, watch out.
Until next time, leave a comment, listen to the latest HTC Wrestling Podcast, follow me on Twitter @camdougharty and let’s talk wrestling!