DAY FIFTEEN – A BLOCK
– SANADA v Lance Archer – A good match between two hungry guys, one who has shocked the world and had himself a tournament, and another, who’s had a fine, albeit disappointing G1 (compared to 2018), but shocked the world with a win over the tournament favorite and IWGP champ (Okada). While nothing special compared to all the madness we’ve seen, there are worse ways to begin the night. Solid stuff. – 3.25/5
– Bad Luck Fale v Hiroshi Tanahashi – Fale sucks. Tana’s intricate selling saves this from being total shit. – 2/5
– Will Ospreay v KENTA – Now this was great. Despite a hobbled Ospreay who began the G1 as the hottest wrestler in the world, but has been jobbed to hell in the past week or so, the Os still found a way to go out and have a grade A performance — and even go toe-to-toe blow with the hard-hitting KENTA. You wouldn’t think it, but Ospreay’s strike exchange with the former Itami mighta been the best part of the match. And almost like Will, KENTA’s stock has slightly stalled in the past week. Despite taking a downright vicious apron Falcon Arrow earlier in the match, Will rises again with this huge win. – 4/5
– Kota Ibushi v Zack Sabre Jr – Another great one, but you knew that. Ibushi persistently fought off a gazillion submission and cradle victory attempts to hold on. While this didn’t exactly have the dynamic Kota we’re accustomed to, it didn’t matter. Kota is still a Golden Star. Both Ospreay and Ibushi have seemingly overcome nagging injuires in this tournament by slightly adjusting, perhaps toning down, their styles. In the end, Ibushi’s knees were too much for the technical Suzuki goon. – 3.75/5
– Kazuchika Okada v EVIL – Another Okada match where the pacing hurt because it was a main event that had to go 25+. Okada’s one of my favorite pro wrestlers of the last 4-5 years, but I can’t say he’s had the most exciting G1 in 2019 (despite that killer W/L record). Then again, has any other competitor had a better run of match final stretches? No. So if you’re OK with the moderate pacing, you’re in for a treat. Okada’s G1 is akin to a fine meal with a killer desert; you just know those last 5-6 minutes are going to be insane. EVIL has really turned it up in the past week and made himself a viable Block winner with this effort. Great stuff. – 3.75-4/5
Overall = 3.5/5 Bibles
Another awesome show with three must-see matches in one night. We’re really starting to take this G1’s greatness for granted now, ain’t we?
DAY SIXTEEN – B BLOCK
– Toru Yano v Taichi – Match of the Millennium. – All The Bibles/5
– Tetsuya Naito v Jeff Cobb – Good match that had its moments but.. shit.. I’m tired. Aren’t you? A guy like Naito (former IWGP Hvy champ, off and on IWGP IC champ, etc.) and a guy like Cobb (current PWG champ, off and on ROH TV champ, etc.) should likely have a barnburner– and they most definitely can. But not in this position and not on this night. Again, this was still good tho, with a real cool Tour of the Islands reversal into that now signature short Destino. – 3-3.25/5
– Hiroki Goto v Jon Moxley – Another very good match that was given the “TV match” time of the card. For the eight and change we got, this was as hard hitting as you’d imagine — though not close to what we’ll see later in the main event. New Japan has done a good job giving Mox a lighter workload as far as belltime, considering these 20+ minute matches he’s had here and there aren’t exactly the thing he’s really had to do in WWE. That might lower his overall match Q for the G1, but when Mox has needed to turn it on, he’s turned it on. I definitely want to see a rematch between the two higher in the card on a lower tier show. And maybe for that U.S. strap! – 3/5
– Jay White v Juice Robinson – Memba when they had a 20-minute plus match at the Cow Palace and killed it– and killed J.R. in the process? Yeah, I memba. While not bad, and at points really good, this paled to that IWGP U.S. title classic that saw a break-out performance from both men. This one, sadly, resorted to the same B.S. that White has relied on through most of the tournament.. though I do appreciate the villain redemption story and his post-match fuckery that applies to his character. Good story, long fucking nearly nothing match.. save for a few excellent finisher reversals in the final few minutes. – 2.75/5
– Shingo Takagi v Tomohiro Ishii – Bruh. If you’ve been following any of the G1 at all, then you should know what kind of tourney these two warriors are having. This mini-hoss battle was absolutely bone-breaking, chest-smashing and brain-splattering– and we even got the bleeding right ear of Ishii. Shingo, win or lose, has thrown himself into the gamut of great New Japan performers — Junior Heavy or Heavy — and, as if his classic with Naito wasn’t enough, this was the cherry on top. The biggest problem New Japan right now had is a plethora of top guys.. and you thought they’d go downhill when Omega left. Nope. Add Shingo to that already insane list that already now has Will Ospreay. This was a near classic display of two guys having a classic All Japan match because they can. Ruthless. Devastating. Persistent… Safe. Yeah, both guys looked dead to rights after 20-minutes.. and both practically crawled their way to the finish just a hair above 2-minutes later… but man. Pumping bomber USA. Amazing no-selling. Is that such a term? It is now. Just watch, and be amazed. – 4.5-4.75/5
Overall = 3.25-3.5/5
Hard to give a G1 night an overall grade of a 3.25 when there was an Ishii/Shingo match. There, I’ll give it the extra 0.125 rub. Minus that classic strong style affair, nothing else really stood out this morning, as most competitors appear to be coasting until the Block Final this weekend. Can’t say I blame them. It about to be wild, y’all!