It’s Moody’s Day One in Dallas, New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax 29 review! As usual, only G1 tournament matches will be reviewed; not the undercard.
– Lance Archer v Will Ospreay – You knew from the promos and interviews leading up to this New Japan Cup rematch that it just had to go great. With Archer’s KES partner, Davey Boy Smith Jr, now gone from NJPW, you also knew the big man would step up his game. And boy did he ever. Yeah, sure, Ospreay can pretty much carry anyone at this point. To Archer’s credit he brought a very mobile big man presence and was in the right place all match. My fav moment came towards the “climax” when Big Lance hit a running knee to a wobbled Will sitting on the top turnbuckle, gearing the momentum on the side of Archer. This match had all the great Ospreay sig moves with Archer profoundly countering some of them. The claw finish was a great ode to his fellow Texas bred Von Erichs, as well. – 4.25/5
– Bad Luck Fale v EVIL – I didn’t hate this match as many other critics, as its ref bump/chair use shenanigans offered a different spice to the usual “go 20+ mins and kill yourself” ordeal. While we all wish Suzuki was here instead of Fale, I’ve seen far worse from him. I do like NJPW coming right out and having the two big men get over right away on Day One. – 2.5/5
– SANADA v Zack Sabre Jr. – Just an overall great mat-based wrestling match. Tons of smooth, creative submissions and submission counters from both guys and awesome nearfalls. While this wasn’t placed in the late card spotlight, SANADA and ZSJ still went out and had a terrific contest. I can watch them tango any day! – 4/5
– KENTA v Kota Ibushi – Lots of pressure here on the former WWE Hideo Itami against one of the absolute best in the business in Kota Ibushi. KENTA did his thing, and never held back. The striking game here was super strong style, and KENTA absolutely wiped out Ibushi in flying double stomp on a draped-over-the-guardrail Ibushi. “Holy shit!,” indeed. As for the rest of the match, it was a lot more methodical than most Ibushi affairs, since KENTA is far more ground based but def laid everything out there in his efforts. KENTA threw in some wicked surplexes in there. And while great all night, the crowd didn’t seem like it knew how to react to Ibushi taking all of the heat. The GTS finish missed and hit Kota in the gut and didn’t get over as much as you want in a debut. Still, this was a slick preview of Tekken 8 and had the moments to prove it. KENTA is here in New Japan to stay and I’m just licking my chops at all his looming G1 conflicts. – 3.75-4/5
– Kazuchika Okada v Hiroshi Tanahashi – How many F’N times are these dudes gonna wrestle? Hopefully, infinite. Despite many of us marks having watched a zillion battles, the two NJ legends still find a way to get their usual spots over and add touches of creativity to the layout. The crowd was super hot for both guys — especially going abso insane at the bell (a nice ode to the audiences in Japan)!! Yet, it didn’t take long for Dallas to become a heavy Okada crowd with sprinkles of “Ace” chants thrown in during Tana’s comebacks. Okada sold the leg well throughout, and Tanahashi put so much pressure on it — via dragonscrews, cloverleaf submissione, etc — you had to figure there was no way he was gonna lose. Both guys kept the crowd guessing, and Tanahashi even hit two huge high fly flows for good measure (including his signature one to the outside, dammit). In the end, there’s no reason to really review an Okada/Tana match. Just go fucking see it. – 4.25/5
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles.
Awesome first night with only one skippable match. I loved the AXS presentation, as every frame looked super wide, bright and larger than life. Kevin Kelly and Rocky were so good you hardly knew they were there. They just mesh so well with the product. They let the wrestlers wrestle and the NJPW presentation is a much welcomed show-not-tell. There were four outstanding matches here and only the slightly too methodical pace and strange crowd response prevented Kota/Kenta from being superior. Sadly, Fale is gonna drag almost everyone down he faces. But, despite that, this year’s G1 looks incredibly stacked and came out flying on U.S. soil. My palms are getting sweaty for the rest.