UA-59049186-1 New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Special in USA Night 1 Review - Good if it Goes

New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Special in USA Night 1 Review

NJPW

Chaos (Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero), The Briscoes (Jay and Mark), and Will Ospreay ) defeated Bullet Club (The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), Marty Scurll, Bad Luck Fale, and Yujiro Takahashi)

A fun opener to the show, with guys flying all over the place, and neither team in control for very long. Roppongi Vice and The Young Bucks would face off on night two for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, so this match laid the foundation for that match with the two teams face-to-face and Rocky Romero ultimately rolling up Matt Jackson to get the win for Chaos, after which Matt was concerned that the Bucks’ deal with Hot Topic could be in jeopardy as they’re not supposed to lose on TV. ★★★★

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, Bushi, Sanada, and Hiromu Takahashi) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, Volador Jr., Dragon Lee, and Titan

This match wasn’t bad, but it did feel a bit underwhelming. LIJ got the heat on Liger for a bit, then the action went back and forth until LIJ wrapped a chair around Titan’s head and EVIL smacked it with a second chair while the referee was distracted. Takahashi then hit a Time Bomb for the win. ★★½

IWGP US Championship Tournament Round 1: Jay Lethal defeated Hangman Page

Page got the heat on the banged-up Lethal for a while. Lethal made a comeback and was able to muster up the strength to hit the Lethal Injection, but couldn’t make the cover. Lethal would hit the move a second time and that time, he was able to make the cover and get the win. Another solid, but not great match. ★★¾

IWGP US Championship Tournament Round 1: Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Juice Robinson

The crowd was split for this one. Sabre controlled the action for much of the match which featured some very strong technical wrestling. Sabre put Juice in a couple different holds before making him submit to an octopus hold. ★★★

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kushida, David Finlay, and Jay White defeated Yoshitatsu, Billy Gunn, Sho Tanaka, and Yohei Komatsu

Tanahashi’s working with a torn bicep, so he didn’t do a ton in advance of his defense of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Billy Gunn on night two. Gunn did his old DX schtick. Yoshitastu did Triple H’s (that’s his thing). The heels got the heat until the match broke down. After the dust settled a bit, White hit the Kiwi Krusher on Yoshitatsu and got the win. ★★½

War Machine (Raymond Rowe and Hanson) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship

Rowe asked that the match be a no-disqualification match since at Dominion, Bullet Club brought weapons into the match. New Japan officials acquiesced. The teams brawled, then a garbage can was introduced into the proceedings. Chase Owens ran in to help his Bullet Club stablemates and G.O.D. got the heat on War Machine. Rowe was put through 2 chairs for a near fall. Hanson made the comeback and War Machine overcame the 2-on-3 disadvantage and hit Fallout for the win. Best tag match I’ve seen in a long time. ★★★★½

IWGP US Championship Tournament Round 1: Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tetsuya Naito

Jim Ross said Ishii is built like his grandmother’s old refrigerator. As things tend to be when that refrigerator-shaped individual is involved, this was a hard-hitting match. Naito had a great showing himself, as usual. The LIJ leader may very well be the best all-around performer in the world right now. His matches are amazing, his promos are great, and he’s the most believable heel character in at least three decades. After a brutal, back-and-forth affair, Ishii got the win with a brainbuster in what has to be seen as an upset. ★★★★¾

IWGP US Championship Tournament Round 1: Kenny Omega defeated Michael Elgin

The last of the four round one matches went back-and-forth with neither man in control for very long. Both hit some big moves; Kenny dropped Elgin on the entrance ramp, Elgin suplexed Kenny on the apron. Elgin hit a crucifix powerbomb off the second rope, but Kenny managed to kick out, stunning Elgin. Kenny made a comeback, hit several V-Triggers and then the One Winged Angel for the win. An excellent showing by both men. ★★★★¾

Kazuchika Okada defeated Cody Rhodes to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship

J.R. made a crack about how he wasn’t sure what to call Cody’s wife since they have no last names…then proceeded to call Cody “Rhodes” repeatedly. Josh Barnett did so quite a few times as well, correcting himself more often than not. I can’t blame them too much, because he’s Cody Rhodes and everybody knows he’s Cody Rhodes, but they can’t legally use the name because of intellectual property horsecrap by Vince McMahon. Everyone makes a big deal about the Hardys not being able to use the Broken gimmick because of the threat of legal action from the evil Anthem owlman and the man who is fond of slapping nuts, and that’s ridiculous to be sure, as the Hardys created the gimmick, but even more ridiculous is Vince keeping Cody from using the Rhodes name. Vince didn’t create the name – Dusty came up with it nine years before working for Vince Sr. in the WWWF. Pathetic. Anyway, it brings me to my next point that J.R. wasn’t “Greatest Wrestling Commentator Ever” J.R. Saturday night. He was mostly fine, but if we’re being honest, he doesn’t really fit the New Japan product. I said on Twitter that I wish he and Mauro Ranallo could switch jobs. Mauro’s a better fit for strong style, while J.R. is a better fit for the more traditional pro wrestling we see in NXT. Regardless, with Mauro off the table and unless Kevin Kelly would be able to do NJPW in addition to ROH, a “doesn’t fit the product” version of Jim Ross is still better than anyone NJPW or AXS could get.

The match itself was very good. Cody had nuclear heat and paused a couple times early on to kiss his wife. Cody played into it, spitting on Red Shoes and flipping off the crowd. The two men tried to gain control and their finishers, as well as their opponent’s finisher. Okada would gain control and hit a pair of Rainmakers, then Kenny Omega would come down to the ring with a towel, mirroring what Cody did at Dominion when Kenny was in a similar spot against Okada. Like in Osaka, the Young Bucks prevented the towel from being thrown. Cody got the towel, wiped his butt with it and threw it in Kenny’s face. Cody and Okada went back-and-forth for a bit before Okada was able to hit the spinning Tombstone Pilderiver, then another Rainmaker for the win. Another great match to end the show, and it looks like we’re going to get Kenny vs. Cody at some point, perhaps for the US Championship (I haven’t seen night two yet (it doesn’t air on AXS until Friday), so if you’re reading this and think it sounds stupid, that’s why). I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Bullet Club split up into different factions, as the nWo did. ★★★★½

Overall: We saw four excellent matches and a great 10-man tag – out of nine matches, I had five at four stars or better. The mid-card stuff was solid, but not great, though that tends to be the case with NJPW cards. ★★★★½

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

E-mail: schroeder.giig@gmail.com

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