The weekend in Long Beach was so crazy, we forgot to record a podcast. But that’s alright. Your favorite wrestling fanatics–the Ringside Apostles–are back at it with a brief roundtable review of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s first-ever G1 Special in the USA. While each of these four horsemen may have differing views, one thing we can all agree on is just how tremendous both nights of the event were. By the end, NJPW finished the 8-hours plus of non-stop, top-notch wrestling to resounding applause, and we can only hope a new, more casual audience will treat the brand with as much enthusiasm. Onto the views.
The G1 USA in Long Beach was my first ever Ringside Apostles Road Trip. While it was expected to witness some quality wrestling with some great friends, instead, the weekend felt more like a bachelor party with 8-hours of squared circle action thrown in. Saturday started with some day drinking and Rock Bottom chow, just waiting til Night One began. Yeah, the Apostles were assed-out of the “Meet and Greet”. (From what we heard, the M&G on Day 1 was horrifying, as one would imagine with The Elite being there and New Japan still working out the organizational kinks). Once pre-game ended, the show was amazing and the crowd was hot for the entire night. Cody and Okada lived up to the hype and gave us an electric main event! After the show, the real fun began. We hit up The Congregation Bar, since we heard they had wrestling themed specials and “The Rainmaker” shots did not let us down. The appropriately-named and themed stained glass bar — for GHG! — was overflowing with Bullet Club shirts and it was pretty awesome to be in a bar full of wrestling nerds.
Since we crashed at a hotel only a half mile or so from the Con on Saturday night, we had a lot more time to kill than imagined. The G1 Special wasn’t quite “WrestleMania” ready, as we may have underestimated just how tiny a 2000-2500 person event was; for such an anticipated and much promoted weekend, you hardly saw a wrestling shirt floating around downtown unless you were directly in front of the LBCC doors or sitting at the one sports bar across the street (where we ventured to both days). Even then, you’d see a nerd a PWT sitting on the concrete againt a pillar.. reading. There wasn’t a whole lot of wrestling-centric activity besides the meet-and-greet, a definite disappointment. Funnier though, the Monsignor and I discovered the Vanguard and Buddyfight Grand Festival 2017. Point blank, we were totally out of place at this anime card playing convention; the con consisted of roughly 600 12-year olds intently (and intensely) playing a D&D style card game — but with anime in the place of dragons. At least making fun of the socially awkward tweens kept our interest for about 10-minutes until the second afternoon of New Japan Wrestling. Yeah, we’re just that cool. Start to finish, the G1 card on Night Two was outstanding, and the last time we see the Japanese talent battle in front of only 2K+ with a 2018 return that should draw as much as, if not more than, your typical WWE RAW. My prediction? The Rising Sun shines over The Big Apple. G1 Special Night 1 = 4.5/5 Daryl the Cat’s; Night 2 = 4.25/5. – Tony Valenti
From the land of the rising son to the coastline of Long Beach, California, diehard wrestling fans were rocked when New Japan Pro Wrestling finally touched down their excellence onto American soil. “Smarking Out” was part of the allure during both Saturday and Sunday’s events, as the massively over faction Bullet Club saw a sea of skull & crossgun shirts in the audience chanting “The Elite.. The.. The Elite!” Fans were sitting, standing, and sometimes crawling to taste the air of excitement and catch glimpses of utterly life-changing wrestling. We bore witness to the first ever IWGP United States Championship Tournament. The round robin of eight had only one “just alright” match, with its seventh and final bout seeing a near classic in Omega vs. Ishii. Although I’m a Kenny fan, my thought process was different than Moody’s: I saw Omega’s win as extremely predictible, usually not the type of booking seen from Gedo, arguably the best booker in pro wrestling today.
I mean.. who didn’t see the top North American talent in Japan winning a US-based title in a tournament held in the good ol’ US of A? Even Rocky Balboa faced upset that set up a far richer storyline in the long run, but alas… Night Two also saw the Bucks of Youth come home — not too far from Rancho Cucamonga — complete with an indescribable buzz throughout the Long Beach Convention Center. Multiple superkicks started the party, and a Meltzer Driver from the heavens was pure magic in the sky (and nearly as dangerous to the concrete floor). R.I.P. Herb Meltzer. The Apostles were also saved by all of NJPW’s other amazing talents that made the ring sing to help distract from 2-hr bathroom and merch lines (that some marks even stood in and missed the whole f’n show). While $15 beers would make even the Rainmaker cringe, perhaps the biggest botch of Night Two was a non visible “titantron” screen that forced many missed spots for those not sitting in the first few rows. Regardless, your Bishop had a ball starting a chant of “Can’t See Shit” alongside fellow Apostle Ryan Grimm that made our night anyway. G1 Special Night 1 = 3/5 Meltzer Drivers; Night 2 = 4/5. – Richard Pearson
TRAVIS “MONSIGNOR” MOODY: Oh, where to begin… that’s easy; it was the instant I realized that Kenny Omega is the greatest heel in the history of pro wrestling. No other wrestler has ever defined the term “tweener” than Kenny. This man continues to berate, despise and belittle the Japanese company in the most nefarious way possible, despite playing complete and total babyface to his utterly loyal audience. By continuing the high bar set from Bullet Club forefathers Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) and AJ Styles, Omega has led the faction through a series of highs and lows, with this past weekend’s G1 Special seeing the group reach its highest high under his leadership. He’s so dastardly, he stole the shine right underneath Cody in the former WWE star’s brightest ever spotlight, and carried that V-Trigger pistol on his way to becoming New Japan’s first-ever IWGP United States Champion. But, you see, Kenny and I, we had ourselves an understanding. Never have I ever been more upset by a favorite wrestler of mine (not even when Pillman brandished a gun on Stone Cold!); but that’s exactly what happened by the end of the outstanding Cody/Okada main event on Saturday evening. Surely an hour later I understood Kenny’s play completely, reflecting on that glare he gave me at the ringside — a look that merely stamped why he’s the mothafuckin’ BgaijITW.
Push onto Night 2 of the #G1usa and Omega proved just that. I was almost certain that CHAOS’ own “Stone Pitbull” Tomohori Ishii was gonna get put over for the title, because why have a North American (specifically, Canadian) win a new belt for a Japanese brand? Because Kenny is that exception. It’s the first step in a newfound dominance of the Bullet Club; that, even in the unlikelihood that the fan favorite heel group clad in black and white turns on their leader in favor of an American Nightmare, “The Cleaner” will always be one step ahead — be it for the much-coveted IWGP Heavyweight strap around the first waste of “The Rainmaker” at the next Wrestle Kingdom, or in his own special way of saying thanks to all who put him in a position to become the biggest signee in WWE history. While the future of Kenny Omega may be unclear, the future of the New Japan Pro Wrestling brand is certain: more shows are undoubtedly coming to the USA, and the global popularity for the very best brand of professional wrestling has never been more astronomic. Thanks, Kenny, you twisted handsome little One-Winged Angel-destroying bastard. We fuckin’ love you. G1 Special Night 1 = 3.5/5 Bibles; Night 2 = 4/5. – Travis Moody
Moody’s Best & Worst of NJPW #G1special #G1usa:
- Best match of Night One: Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin – 4.5/5 Bibles
- Worst match of Night One: Jay Lethal vs. Adam Page – 2.25/5
- Best highlight of Night One: Watching Jushin Thunder Liger wrestle in person for the first time after following his career for over 25-years.
- Worst best moment of Night One: *TIE* Tetsuya Naito losing to Ishii; the psychological mindfuck that was the Okada/Cody main event.
- Best match of Night Two: Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 4.75/5
- Worst match of Night Two: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Billy Gunn – 2.5/5
- Best highlight of Night Two: The Young Bucks “Herbert Driver” tribute to Dave Meltzer and his father, who recently passed.
- Worst best moment of Night Two: RPG Vice breaking up; Ace showing some Ass.