NJPW G1 Climax 29 A Block Day 1 Highlights w/ The Chairman
The NJPW G1 Climax is finally here. I unfortunately couldn’t get my fix until today because I don’t have AXS TV and NJPW World didn’t allow me to stream live. Anyways let’s get right into the action as I will be covering your A Block this summer while JCWonka is taking care of the B Block that kicks off Saturday. Just a heads up, I will only be covering the G1 Climax tournament matches. There will be no undercard coverage. With that being said, here we go.
Lance Archer vs Will Ospreay
Archer is wrestling in his first G1 Climax in five years and has a completely new look to show for it. Archer’s first match was against perhaps one of the hottest wrestlers in 2019, Will Ospreay. Ospreay of course is wrestling in his first ever G1 Climax and why not after winning the Best of the Super Juniors. Archer tried getting the jump on Ospreay, but Osperay was ready. It didn’t take long for the action in this one to get extreme. Ospreay leaped over the ropes to the outside towards Archer for a high risk move, but Archer caught Ospreay and chokeslammed him over the barricade and thru a table. Archer means business and was in complete control after that move. At one moment Archer was walking across the ropes old school. Ospreay eventually was able to get some offense in on the bigger Archer to make this a match. However Archer just using his size to dominate Ospreay including a devastating shoulder tackle that led to an apron bomb on the outside moments later. As you know, the apron is the hardest surface in the ring. Archer intended to powerbomb Ospreay on the ramp, but Ospreay somehow countered into a Code Red. Both men raced to the ring to beat the twenty count and Ospreay went on an fury of offense. Ospreay attempted the Oscutter and got blocked, but moments later hit the Oscutter on Archer. However Archer kicked out shocking everyone. Archer was able to get back into the match and was looking to finish Ospreay with a Muscle Buster, but didn’t get the job done. Archer then went for a Blackout, but Ospreay kicked out. Archer then goes for the Claw and Ospreay reached the ropes to force the break. Archer had some bad intentions as they went up to the top rope, but it was Ospreay with a top rope Spanish Fly. That still wasn’t enough to finish Archer. Archer is able to get back into the match however with a Super Blackout from the top rope followed by the Claw pin combination that drops Ospreay and gives Archer two points. Fantastic starter match for the G1. Archer looked tremendous in this one and Ospreay did as well. I had low expectations for Archer, but seeing him defeat Ospreay changes everything.
EVIL vs Bad Luck Fale
Bad Luck Fale didn’t score many points in last year’s G1 Climax being he got disqualified in just about every match. One of those that benefited last year was Evil. Evil has averaged ten points in three G1 Climax appearances and Fale has averaged ten points in five G1 Climax appearances. There was some conversation that Evil may be looking to leave Los Ingobernables De Japon? The match started and both men are fighting on the outside early. Fale tried to get a countout victory early, but Evil managed to roll back in the ring. The crowd was clearly behind Evil in this one. Evil at one point managed to bodyslam Fale which is a rare sight to see. Definitely a slower paced match compared to the Archer/Ospreay match. The ref got knocked down at one point and Evil was looking to use some chairs on Fale. However Fale nailed Evil with a low blow and then put the chair around Evil’s head and then Fale swung with a chair and knocked down Evil. Fale then went for the Bad Luck Fall and Fale scores two points. Nothing great here, definitely skip this one.
SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr
Sabre Jr has an eleven point average in his two G1 Climax appearances and it’s no secret how successful he’s been as a tournament wrestler. Sanada looks to ride off his success in the New Japan Cup where he almost managed to defeat Okada. Sanada defeated Sabre Jr in last years G1 Climax and it’s known that Sanada starts off the G1 very well. Sanada and Sabre Jr go at it right away and early in the match we see these guys try to roll each other up for a quick win. Sanada over the course of the match wanted to use that Paradise Lock, but Sabre Jr countered into an armbar that almost finished off Sanada. Sanada managed to reach the ropes to force the break. However the damage has been done to the arm of Sanada. Sabre Jr now has his focus point. Sanada after taking some abuse to his arm finally applied the Paradise Lock to Sabre Jr using the bottom rope. Can’t say we’ve seen that before. The crowd was definitely cheering for Sanada in this one. However Sabre Jr managed to lock in an Octopus Hold on Sanada and then dropped to the ground. Sanada was desperate to escape and finally managed to get his foot to the rope. The match continued on as Sabre Jr continued trying to lock on every submission possible to Sanada. The finish was fast and furious. Sanada was able to escape Sabre Jr’s rollup pin attempt and get a bridge style pin of his own and stole the win. Sabre Jr was not pleased and locked the referee in an armbar and assaulting Young Lions at ringside. Sanada gets two points and a potential title shot at Sabre Jr’s REVPRO British Championship. My dark horse Sanada is on the board. Really good match as expected. Similar styles of back and forth action made this enjoyable.
Kota Ibushi vs KENTA
Perhaps one of the most anticipated matches of the evening. Kenta returns to Japan after five years with a hope to resurrect his career. However Kenta’s G1 Climax debut isn’t going to be an easy task. Kota Ibushi was the runner up last year in the G1 Climax to Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ibushi is favored to win the stacked A block. He’s my pick to win it all this year. Ibushi has averaged 9.5 points in his five G1 Climax appearances. This was a match full of physical strikes as expected. Kenta went for alot of quick covers early, but definitely going to take more than that to put Ibushi away. Definitely a split crowd for this one when there were Kenta and Ibushi chants. We even got a “Let’s go Red Shoes?” chant. As the match progressed, things picked up. Kota backflip kicks Kenta to the outside. Kota jumps over the ropes at Kenta, but Kenta lifts a knee and hits Kota as he comes crashing down. Kenta wasn’t finished there though as he laid a limp Kota across the barricade and Kenta leaps from the apron and stomps the back of Kota. Kenta gets Kota back into the ring and goes for the double stomp off the top to the chest of Kota Ibushi. Kenta went for the cover, but it wasn’t enough. Kota wasn’t done yet as he fights off Kenta and takes him down with a thunderous clothesline. A Last Ride from Kota followed, but Kenta kicked out. The action continues on as both men continue their battle. As the twenty minute mark passed, Kenta is delivering kicks to the head of Kota. Kota looked glazed as Kenta tried pinning him, but Kota kicked out. Kenta moments later goes for the Go To Sleep and puts away Kota Ibushi. Kenta gets two points and instantly propels himself into the conversation as a threat to win the A block taking down the heavy favorite Kota Ibushi. The foundation of A Block has changed with this win by Kenta.
Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Two of the biggest superstars in NJPW collide in the main event. Tanahashi won last years G1 Climax with fifteen total points that took him to Wrestle Kingdom where he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Kenny Omega. However 2019 has not been Tanahashi’s year since winning the title. Between losing the title to Jay White in February and an elbow injury, Tanahashi is now looking to rebound. All Tanahashi has to do to start his G1 Climax on the right foot is beating five time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. The Ace and The Rainmaker have faced off in three G1 Climax matches and had a time limit draw all three times. The crowd came to life when the bell rang. Everybody was ready for this match. The two rivals didn’t hold back at the start of the match from strikes, hair pulls, and everything in between. At one point we see Okada bust out a signature Tanahashi dragon screw. Right at the ten minute mark, Tanahashi goes for a flipping senton pin on Okada, but definitely not enough.
The action continues on and eventually Okada made the Rainmaker pose, but Tanahashi quickly tried rolling up Okada. The match was definitely far from over as we reached the halfway point. Tanahashi is on the top rope and flies to the outside taking down Okada. Things really picked up when the action got back in the ring. The rivals exchanged moves, but it was Okada who got the advantage. Okada went for the tombstone and looked for the Rainmaker, but Tanahashi countered into a slingblade. Tanahashi then went up top and took Okada down with a crossbody. Tana goes back up for a frogsplash, but Okada got the knees up. Things continued on and Okada hit a short Rainmaker just at the twenty minute mark and then another Rainmaker.
Okada wasn’t done though. He knows what it’s going to take to put Tanahashi down. Okada went for the Rainmaker again, but the Ace with a rollup almost stole the match. Tanahashi then with the dragon suplex bridge pin, but Okada kicked out. Okada has the wrist of Tanahashi wanting that Rainmaker, but Tanahashi keeps slapping the face of Okada. Okada eventually gets the jumping spinning tombstone followed by a Rainmaker that finally puts away Tanahashi. Okada gets two points and has finally defeated Tanahashi in the G1 Climax after drawing the first three times they faced off in the G1. No IWGP Heavyweight Champion has won the G1 Climax since 2000, but Okada is looking to change that. Another fantastic match in the rivalry of Okada and Tanahashi. After the match, Okada spoke to the crowd in English saying that he will come back to America as the G1 Climax winner and IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
B Block action will begin next Saturday and JCWonka will be bringing that to you. I will be back next Sunday when A Block resumes. Here is what is on tap.
Kazuchika Okada (2 pts) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (0 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0 pts) vs. KENTA (2 pts)
Kota Ibushi (0 pts) vs. EVIL (0 pts)
Will Ospreay (0 pts) vs. SANADA (2 pts)
Lance Archer (2 pts) vs. Bad Luck Fale (2 pts)
Who would’ve thought after the first two nights either Archer or Fale would be leading the A Block? That’s going to happen as these two big men collide. Ibushi and EVIL face off in a critical matchup where the winner stays in the race while the loser falls behind another match. Ospreay will look to score his first G1 Climax win against a hot Sanada in a match that could steal the show. Sabre Jr will try to get on the board, but he has a tough task against Okada. Of course rumors are running that Minoru Suzuki could play a factor in helping Sabre Jr win? Another big match taking place features last years winner Hiroshi Tanahashi looking to get his first points against Kenta who is coming off a huge win against Ibushi. Imagine if Kenta moves to four points and Tanahashi with a goose egg after the first two nights? Definitely a reality. This is going to be a great show coming up and definitely will be more extreme than something else that day. As always, thanks for reading and keep it here with HTCWrestling where we will be covering the NJPW G1 Climax all summer.