DAY SEVENTEEN – A BLOCK FINAL
– Lance Archer v EVIL – Archer has had a very very good G1 and this was a huge win over EVIL, who just took Okada to the near distance just a couple nights ago. Perhaps that was the story. A chokeslam reversal of EIE, an F5 and the EBD claw put the cloaked one away. Maybe an Archer match with Ishii or Moxley in the Dome? Those could be fun. – 3.5/5
– Bad Luck Fale v SANADA – LOOK OUT WALTER! THE REAL “RING GENERAL” IS HERE! Fale wins his 3rd match in a row via cradle roll-up. WTF. I guess this beats everything else Bad Match Fale did before it… – 2.5/5
– Zack Sabre Jr. v KENTA – Lost in all the greatness that is this year’s G1 Climax is how super solid of a tournament KENTA had. While at this point in his career, the former WWE Hideo Itami isn’t nearly as impressive workrate-wise as his (new) New Japan comrades, there’s no doubt that KENTA has worked his ass off and had a float of solid-to-great matches in the past month. Hell, he even managed to have a halfway decent match with Fale. As for this, it was a nice contrast of styles and the dominant KENTA found himself on the losing end via triple submission reversal of the GTS. A rematch is in order. – 3.75-4/5
– Will Ospreay v Hiroshi Tanahashi – Great to see the hottest guy going into the G1 go out with a bang. While Ospreay won’t be facing his CHAOS brethren at next year’s Wrestle Kingdom, with this perfornance he definitely has a top spot on the card locked up. Maybe Naito? Tanahashi didn’t look the wee bit old vet he’s looked in half his G1 matches (still performing superbly, mind you) and him and Os just gelled. For the penultimate spot on the card, this was incredible. Another near-perfect match that will be forgotten because we New Japan fans are spoiled AF. Highlights include a pair of nasty Sling Blade reversals of both the Oscutter and Stormbreaker. Such timing! Os eventually overcomes Tana’s late game signature run and destroys Tana with Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker. Are we witnessing a passing of the torch, perhaps? – 4.75/5
– Kota Ibushi v Kazuchika Okada – I almost wish they saved this for January.. and maybe they will. To no surprise, this was an instant classic G1 main event and it, unlike the majority of Okada matches in the 29th Climax, was perfectly paced. Even when Okada sat down for a second — knowing he had no reason to actually beat Ibushi, with a tie going to the champ — the work was super fluid and didn’t feel like a 25-minute match, just for the sake of. It really started to heat up when Ibushi hit a slew of RANA’s, both rope-bouncing and from the top, eventually hitting a Last Ride bomb that almost saw Okada topple him. Then enter The Rainmaker’s RAIN: a pair of short clothesline destroy Kota, sandwiched between perfect kamigoye reversals. One of them was a German suplex exchange and the other was an incredibly crisp dropkick out of nowhere. These guys are just too good. Okada follows up with another timely dropkick, this time off the bomaye. Just beautiful. Ibushi remained persistent, though, and eventually countered a final Rainmaker with some high-arching karate kicks and a pair of kamigoyes. The second one straight KILLS Okada! Ibushi advances to the finals. – 4.75/5
Overall = 4/5 Bibles
Due to the last two matches, this was the best night of Block action BAR NONE. It also might have been slightly better than TakeOver! And that’s saying something.
DAY EIGHTEEN – B BLOCK FINAL
– Jeff Cobb v Toru Yano – LOL.. – 2.5/5
– Taichi v Tomohiro Ishii – Why can’t we get this Taichi all the time? This was a fucking sprint. Big clotheslines, hard kicks, and amazing reversals led to a huge, perhaps shocking win for Taichi. There was hardly any B.S. here and it makes you wonder what a wonderful high-end villain Taichi could be for NJPW– and lord knows they need some strong heels. Don’t skip this match. – 4/5
– Juice Robinson v Jon Moxley – A rock solid brawl type match that pails to their first encounter from the Best of the Super Junior Finale show, but still entertaining. While it looked like early on that Mox was positioned as their next “Jericho”, and it’s now led to four losses in a row, Juice needed this more. Mox still has AEW and has looked like a stud in defeat, regardless. – 3.5/5
– Shingo Takagi v Hirooki Goto – Winner fights Scorpion. or Sub-Zero. Or Shang Tsung! Fuck if this wasn’t the “Mortal Kombat” match of the year for NJPW! Funny, ’cause Shingo is now kinda like the new, super improved Goto… while Goto had a recharged G1, thanks to the extra work with Shibata. Still, Goto loses the big one while Shingo has placed himself into the upper echelon of the promotion– and that’s not easy to do. If you like some fight in your wrestling, you’re gonna love this. Arguable match of the night. – 4-4.25/5
– Jay White v Tetsuya Naito – Sadly, the post-match stuff between Jay and Kota was better than this match. Naito needs to go to AEW or WWE (haha, as if Shinsuke getting ruined wasn’t enough). But! How many times can we see this top guy falter when it counts in this promotion? Pains me to say it, but Naito is not getting any younger. I had high hopes for this match too, with Naito coming off an arguable match of the tournament with Shingo and White getting stronger as the tournament went on. Welp. This had a lot of heat, but not much else. I know this will piss off a lot of New Japan elitists, but this would’ve been the 5th best match on TakeOver last night. At least the heel v babyface dynamic for tonight’s G1 Finale is an interesting one. – 3/5
Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles.
This was a disappointing show, but, that said, still had two great matches and two very good ones. In other words, this morning’s B Block Finals were still better than most wrestling shows. But it doesn’t touch TakeOver: Toronto (I gave that card a 4/5, with three matches 4+; some puroreso purists will disagree). And, I’m actually not in the Hate Jay White Fan Club either, but this main event just wasn’t very good. While I’m glad it’s not Naito and Ibushi dropping each other on their heads again, I would have gone with Moxley. Not sure why he went from “the” guy to “just another guy”, but damn. I feel like New Japan dropped the ball on that one!