NJPW Event 2019Recaps (PPV/Event)

[Event Recap] ‘NJPW G1 Climax 29: Night 1 (Tournament-Only)’ – Okada vs. Tanahashi, Ibushi vs. KENTA

Date: July 6, 2019
Venue: American Airlines Center (Dallas, TX)
Commentators: Kevin Kelly & Rocky Romero
Viewing Method: NJPW World

G1 Climax 29 kicks off deep in the heart of Texas with A-Block action as Kazuchika Okada takes on longtime rival Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event, plus a lot more. This is my first G1 and I’m pumped about it, let’s throw some lukewarm takes up on this here internet!

NOTE: I will only be covering the tournament matches themselves, not the undercard unless there’s something big happening.

CHAMPION ROLL-CALL

  • IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada
  • IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Tetsuya Naito
  • IWGP UNITED STATES CHAMPION: Jon Moxley
  • IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Will Ospreay
  • NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION: Tomohiro Ishii
  • IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa)
  • IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
  • NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, & Toru Yano

THE LINEUP (TOURNAMENT-ONLY)

  • G1 CLIMAX “A” BLOCK: Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer (****1/2)
  • G1 CLIMAX “A” BLOCK: EVIL vs. Bad Luck Fale (**)
  • G1 CLIMAX “A” BLOCK: SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (****1/4)
  • G1 CLIMAX “A” BLOCK: Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA (***1/2)
  • G1 CLIMAX “A” BLOCK: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (****1/2)

*****

-An opening video covers all the participants in tonight’s A-Block matches. NJPW bringing the big guns with an Okada/Tanahashi match and the non-WWE re-debut of KENTA. Bring it on! Also props to NJPW and AXS TV for that rundown so I at least have some idea of what’s going on.

G1 Climax: “A” Block
Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer

Archer is sporting a new look and attacks a random young boy at ringside because REASONS. Ospreay is apparently having an amazing 2019 so far, I’m interested in seeing how this one goes. I wanna see the big dude throw the little dude around a bunch. Ospreay’s music has been altered due to “music rights”, but to be honest this replacement song slaps too and should be someone’s for real entrance theme.

Archer charges Ospreay, Ospreay hits a standing Spanish Fly. Archer bails to the floor, Ospreay with a Moonsault on the outside and a springboard 450 on the inside for a two-count! Hot damn, we are wasting no time! Archer no-sells Ospreay’s chops and tells him he f*cked up now. Ospreay tries more strikes, Archer drops him with a forearm. Archer gets sent to the apron and Ospreay sends him to the floor with a springboard dropkick. He follows up with a back handspring Moonsault; Archer is supposed to catch him but he’s nowhere near him but makes up for it by CHOKESLAMMING THIS MOTHERF*CKER THROUGH A TABLE. Timekeeper tries to keep a count going on the house mic, Archer rips the mic from his hands and throws it at him. HA. Archer runs Ospreay over with a shoulderblock and damn near caves in his skull with a short-arm clothesline for a two-count. Archer talks trash, Ospreay responds with a weak forearm that only amuses the big boi. Archer locks knuckles with Ospreay and rope walks post to post before going OOOOOLD SCHOOOOL. Quite a big Undertaking, much respect. Archer with three corner running elbows in a row, and this man has come to friggin’ plaaaay.

Archer throws Ospreay towards the ropes, Ospreay turns it into a back-handspring kick to the face. Ospreay dazes Archer with a 619 followed by a springboard clothesline for the 1…2…Archer kicks out. Ospreay kicks off Archer and hits an enzuigiri, Archer hits the Pooooounce (Period) which launches the smaller man across the ring. Monty Brown would be proud of his former foe/partner (maybe both, I don’t remember TNA as well as I want to). Archer connects with a buckle bomb followed by a Last Ride power bomb, Ospreay rolling to the floor to avoid being pinned. Archer makes him regret it though with an apron bomb and Ospreay is pretty much a pile of meat at this point. Archer brings Ospreay into the entrance aisle, Ospreay counters a backdrop with a Code Red (sunset bomb) and both men are down. Archer shoves Ospreay to get back in, Ospreay makes it back at 19, hits Archer with missile dropkick followed by a Shooting Star Press for the 1…2…Archer kicks out! Ospreay hits a Robinson Special, Archer blocks the Os-Cutter, Ospreay escapes a slam and this time the Os-Cutter is successful for the 1…2…ARCHER GETS THE SHOULDER UP AND OSPREAY CAN’T BELIEVE IT. Ospreay goes for the Stormbreaker, Archer blocks it so Ospreay kicks him a whole lot of times in the face. Ospreay escapes a Blackout attempt, Archer responds with a massive right hand followed by a muscle buster for the 1…2…OSPREAY KICKS OUT. Archer follows up with the Blackout for the 1…2…OSPREAY KICKS OUT AGAIN.

Archer locks in the Iron Claw right in the heart of Von Erich Country, popping the crowd. Ospreay falls to the apron to force the rope break. Both men climb the buckles, Archer goes for a chokeslam but Ospreay counters in mid-air with a SPANISH FLY for the 1…2…ARCHER KICKS OUT. “THIS IS AWESOME” chant from the crowd, which is weird to hear on an NJPW show. Ospreay digs deep and LIFTS ARCHER UP FOR THE STORMBREAKER but Archer lands on his feet and goozles him. Ospreay flips through and connects with a series of kicks ending in a spinning hook kick. DANG. Ospreay climbs to the top, Archer crotches him and puts him in a full nelson on the middle buckle. Ospreay breaks the grip and headbutts Archer to the mat. Archer comes charging back up with a knee and follows up with a SUPER BLACKOUT FROM THE MIDDLE BUCKLE. Archer locks in the Iron Claw once more, driving Ospreay to the mat for the 1…2…3.

Lance Archer defeated Will Ospreay via pinfall with the Iron Claw (18:18)

  • If this is any indication on how these G1 tournaments go, I am in for one helluva month. A tremendous match, even better than what I was hoping for. I got my “big dude bodies little dude” spots plus some amazing aerial feats by Ospreay and Archer showing off moves I didn’t even know he had…though to be fair the last time I remember seeing him in a singles match was during the FSN days of TNA. He’s definitely gotten better, that’s for damn sure. Hell yeah. MORE OF THIS IN MY VEINS RIGHT NOW. (****1/2)

G1 CLIMAX: “A” BLOCK
EVIL vs. “Rogue General” Bad Luck Fale

Brawl breaks out immediately as EVIL attacks before the bell and sends Fale to the floor. They fight up the ramp and EVIL belts Fale with a running clothesline a la The Great Muta, but Fale doesn’t even leave his feet. EVIL tries a slam, but Fale is too big and Fale responds with one of his own. The ref doesn’t even start a count till they get to ringside, but EVIL rolls in just in time to prevent Fale from his cheap win. EVIL tries another slam and once again it fails, putting Fale back in clubberin’ control. Fale tries a one-footed pin while saluting and EVIL “surprisingly” kicks out. Fale blocks an Irish whip attempt and sends EVIL in the corner. EVIL dodges a splash and this time successfully slams the big man, falling to the mat while raising his arms in victory. Awesome. EVIL clotheslines Fale to the floor and pulls out a couple of chairs. Fale kicks him and tries to use a chair but EVIL stops it and sends him into the post with a chair wrapped around his head. EVIL with a bronco buster and a pair of clotheslines that send Fale to one knee. EVIL goes for a third but gets bodied for his troubles, Fale using his girth out of desperation. Fale splashes EVIL in the corner and on the mat for the 1…2…EVIL kicks out. Fale brings the chairs into the ring, but the ref grabs one out of his hands. Fale tries to use another, ref grabs it and EVIL kicks it into his face. EVIL follows up with a lariat and covers for the 1…2…Fale isn’t done yet. Fale counters EVIL’s finisher and goozles him. EVIL escapes via headbutt and turns right into Fale, who again goozles him and hits the Grenade (a pop-up right hand) for the 1…2…EVIL kicks out again. EVIL escapes a splash mountain, Fale tries a kick and the ref accidentally catches the leg allowing EVIL to drop him with a lariat (also taking the ref down). With no ref EVIL tries to use the chair but Fale stops it and hits a low blow. Fale wraps a chair around EVIL’s head and hits it with the other chair, sending it flying. Fale gets rid of the other chair and hits the Bad Blood Fall for the 1…2…3.

Bad Luck Fale defeated EVIL via pinfall with the Bad Blood Fall (11:36)

  • First off let me get this out of the way: I love both of these guys’ ring names with every ounce of my soul. Bad Luck Fale sounds like a video game beat-em-up boss, and honestly kind of looks like one too. That aside this match was okay but felt too reliant on chairs and brawling, a stark contrast to what I just watched before. I didn’t hate it, nor did I dislike Fale as much as I thought I would given all the sass he gets on the internet, but I can’t say I was really invested. Fale continuing his streak of not being pinned or submitted in a G1 Climax setting (starting last year) is interesting; I wonder who will get the honors of ending it. (**)

G1 CLIMAX: “A” BLOCK
SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Sabre with a cravate to start, SANADA escapes into a wristlock, Sabre rolls through into a wristlock of his own. SANADA flips around to escape and takes Sabre to the mat with a wristlock. Sabre kicks away and the two counter the sh*t out of each other until they bail to opposite corners to reset. Beautiful. I could watch Zack Sabre Jr. do this all day. Sabre tries a key lock, SANADA gets to the corner to force a break but Sabre paintbrushes him with his forearm. More counters, this time with various roll-ups but neither man can even get a one-count. SANADA tries a Paradise Lock, Sabre counters it and each man gets a two-count before they reach another stalemate. SO GOOD. SANADA takes a minute on the floor, Sabre holds the ropes open for him. SANADA and Sabre lock knuckles, Sabre escapes into an armbar then into a straitjacket/necktie/whatever you wanna call it. SANADA reverses into one of his own. Sabre finally escapes with a bridge and reapplies his version of the hold. SANADA rolls through and reverses back! Sabre shakes around to escape, an arrogant dance leading into a forearm. SANADA quickly counters a headlock attempt into a wristlock, Sabre escapes via snap mare but SANADA quickly rebounds back into another wristlock. Sabre and SANADA trade counters until SANADA sends him to the floor with a dropkick. Sabre creates a little distance to avoid any attempt at a high-flying move. Sabre waits till the count of 19 to get back in, SANADA rolls through a sunset flip and goes for the Paradise Lock but Sabre kicks him up and counters in an armbar which SANADA escapes via rope break.

Sabre takes control, stomping SANADA’s arm and kicking Orange Cassidy-style to play mind games. SANADA chops, Sabre responds with a forearm and applies an abdominal stretch. SANADA escapes via hip toss and sends Sabre scurrying with a dropkick. Sabre tries to kick the arm, SANADA dodges and ties Sabre up in the ropes with a Paradise Lock, surprising and confusing him. SANADA lets him stew for a minute then hits a baseball slide that sends him to the floor. SANADA lands with a springboard splash, landing on his feet. Both men with standing switches, SANADA finally connects with a belly-to-back suplex for a two-count. Sabre applies an Octopus hold in the center of the ring, bending SANADA’s arm back in a very unnatural position and wrapping his legs around SANADA’s head. YIKES. Sabre transitions into an armbar, keeping his legs locked, but SANADA scrambles and makes it to the ropes. Both men trade forearms, Sabre counters out of inverted DDT but SANADA responds with a strike. Sabre connects with a twisting DDT out of nowhere into a Skull End (Dragon Sleeper), which he modifies in his own unique Sabre way. SANADA gets to his feet, Sabre counters a TKO with a hanging front chancery (I forget the name of it). SANADA escapes by driving Sabre to the mat, then follows up with a TKO for the 1…2…Sabre gets the shoulder up. SANADA lands on feet during a Moonsault attempt and catches Sabre into a backslide position for the 1…2…Sabre kicks out and tries to kick SANADA’s head off with a penalty kick. Beautiful.

Sabre goes for the Zack Driver, SANADA escapes and counters into a Skull End turning it into a goddamn Giant Swing. SANADA goes for a Moonsault, Sabre gets his knees up and locks in a triangle choke! SANADA escapes, Moonsault into the Skull End. Sabre escapes and they trade counters until SANADA gets the roll-up for the 1…2…3!

SANADA defeated Zack Sabre Jr. via pinfall with a roll-up (21:12)

  • This match was an absolute joy to watch. Sabre is so damn fluid and near-perfect with every hold and counter he does that it’s almost mesmerizing, and SANADA going toe to toe with him on the mat while also throwing in some Moonsault attempts for good measure was great as well. F*ck yeah. Good win for SANADA and Sabre looked great in defeat. (****1/4)

After a replay we go back to the ring where Sabre puts the ref in an armbar until a series of folks ringside force him off. Sabre continues throwing a hissy fit as he walks to the back.

G1 CLIMAX: “A” BLOCK
Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA

KENTA is better known to mainstream fans (meaning me) as Hideo Itami of NXT/205 Live fame, but now he’s been set free and he’s in NJPW to prove he’s still the killer he was before he took the big money and left Japan for attempted superstardom. Ibushi is Ibushi, you gotta love him and be terrified every time he wrestles because he has no regard for his body. KENTA’s mentor, Katsuyori Shibata, is shown watching by the entrance stage with ALL OF THE EMPTY SEATS behind him. Awkward. Also I miss Shibata; he was my favorite during my brief foray into NJPW a few years back and I’m sad that the stuff I dug him for is what ultimately caused his retirement. Sorry, man.

Ibushi and KENTA trade stiff kicks to start as the Dallas crowd duel chants in appreciation. KENTA grabs a waistlock, Ibushi brings him to the mat and counters into a headlock. KENTA slides out and locks in a front chancery. KENTA backs Ibushi into the ropes, breaks clean then SLAPS HIM. Ibushi responds with one f*cking womper of a palm strike and down KENTA goes. DAMN DUDE. Ibushi gets elevated to the apron, KENTA kicks him in the face a couple of times then drops a flying kneedrop to the back of the head. KENTA with a chinlock, Ibushi escapes but KENTA drops him and follows up with a penalty kick right to the sternum. These shots are LOUD and TERRIFYING. KENTA covers with one boot but “Red Shoes” won’t make the count as it’s not a real pin. The ref earlier didn’t care but hey whatever, we all have our quirks. KENTA drives a pair of knees to the back of Ibushi’s poor head, then pulls his kneepad down and…hops over for a dainty kick to show off. LOVE IT. Ibushi fights back with some strikes, KENTA quickly puts a stop to that with more stiff kicks for the 1…Ibushi kicks out. KENTA goads Ibushi, who responds with hard ass forearms to the temple, KENTA with an uppercut and a yell to try and wake the crowd up before kicking Ibushi in the spine for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out once more. Back to the chinlock we go.

Ibushi escapes and connects with a dropkick when KENTA charges at him. Ibushi dodges a corner splash, hits a powerslam and concludes with a second-rope Moonsault for the 1…2…KENTA kicks out. Ibushi did all that in one fluid motion, UNREAL. KENTA bounces back, dropping Ibushi with a leg lariat and hitting a pair of clotheslines into a T-bone suplex. KENTA connects with a flying clothesline from the top for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out once again. Ibushi counters a tornado DDT by seating KENTA back on the buckles and hitting him with a chop. Ibushi and KENTA fight on the buckles till the latter crashes to the apron. Ibushi gets in position for a deadlift German, KENTA fights out with back elbows and Ibushi responds with a backflip kick that sends him to the floor. Dang. Ibushi with a pescado, KENTA tries to counter with a kick but pretty much misses and Ibushi clutches his ankle. KENTA hangs Ibushi over the barricade and hits a double stomp from the apron, hot damn. Back in the ring KENTA hits a springboard dropkick followed a corner stalling dropkick and a double stomp from the top for the 1…the 2…the IBUSHI KICKS OUT JUST IN TIME. Ibushi grabs the top rope to avoid the GTS and escapes, blocks a clothesline attempt, and hits one of his own. He got all of that! Ibushi with a sit-out power bomb for the 1…2…KENTA is still in it. Ibushi pulls down his right kneepad for the Kamigoye, KENTA counters into a fireman’s carry, Ibushi counters into a crucifix for the 1…2…KENTA kicks out. Both men counter each other, KENTA hurls himself knees-first into Ibushi and both men are down once again.

Both men get to their knees and do the fighting spirit forearm exchange. The forearms turn into kicks, and KENTA gets one right to the temple for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out again! KENTA makes with FOUR kicks to the skull for the 1…2…Ibushi is hanging on. KENTA pulls his kneepad down and hits the GTS (to Ibushi’s armpit/chest…oops) for the 1…2…3!

KENTA defeated Kota Ibushi via pinfall with the GTS (20:52)

  • KENTA almost seemed excited to be back doing some actual wrestling instead of whatever the f*ck they were having him do on 205 Live. Good for him, I’m glad he’s happy. Slow start but it picked up around the ten minute mark and I was into it from there, though that GTS was real bad and awkward and kinda made me sad. That’s his big move, the one WWE would barely let him do despite INVENTING IT, and his first chance to use it again outside of the company it goes like that. Ouch. I look forward to seeing it in another match in this tourney though. I wanna see this supposed right way to sell it. (***1/2)

They show a REPLAY of that awful GTS and Romero does his duty by saying it hit Ibushi in the skull when it very very very much did not. WWE does the same thing though so I can’t fault him. KENTA tells everyone he’s back then helps Ibushi to his feet so they can respect hug.

G1 Climax: “A” Block
“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada vs. “The Ace of the Universe” Hiroshi Tanahashi

This is the feud I’ve heard so much about over the years, and I think I’ve seen a few of their matches but I can’t remember them very well. With this only being a 30-minute time limit though I’m hoping it’ll hold my attention better. Side note what if Okada wins the G1? Does he get to sit out Wrestle Kingdom in January? I’d be into that.

Bell sounds and the crowd gives both men a standing ovation before they even lock up. Okay that’s pretty cool, I wish I was in this bubble. Okada backs Tanahashi in the corner, shushes the crowd, and pats Tanahashi on the chest. Tanahashi responds with a forearm and a shootout commences. Okada connects with a big boot off an Irish whip, Tanahashi hops to his feet immediately and dodges a dropkick attempt. Tanahashi dodges the Rainmaker, Okada blocks the Dragon Suplex, headscissors, counters, and we’re at a stalemate as the crowd chants “BOTH THESE GUYS”. Tanahashi with a bodyslam followed by a leaping elbow and a little air guitar for flavor. YES. Tanahashi to the middle buckle, Okada dropkicks him to the floor. Okada follows up with a DDT right on the protective mats and rolls in, ready to accept a countout victory but Tanahashi rolls in just in time. Okada with a basement dropkick and a pose while covering with one foot but Red Shoes isn’t counting that pinfall. Okada buries a series of back elbows to the side of Tanahashi’s head in the corner, Tanahashi powers through them and connects with a series of forearms. Okada catches a kick and connects with a Dragon Screw Legwhip, which is apparently a move Tanahashi also uses. Take me down to CHINLOCK CITAAY. Okada goes for another Dragon Screw, Tanahashi escapes and connects with one of his own. Awww yeah. Tanahashi connects with a forearm followed by a corner dropkick. Tanahashi flattens Okada with a senton from the middle buckle for the 1…2…Okada kicks out. Ten minutes have gone by in this match, ten minutes.

Okada ducks a back elbow and catches Tanahashi with one of his own. Okada with a corner splash followed by a DDT for the 1…2…Tanahashi kicks out. Heeey I just noticed one of the sponsors on the mat is the video game Pac-Man. That’s…strange. Tanahashi connects with a Dragon Screw within the ropes, tweaking the knee extra due to the ropes preventing a full twist from Okada. Tanahashi charges, Okada connects with a flapjack and both men are down. Okada with a European uppercut, Tanahashi with a dropkick to the knee, Okada with a short forearm into a neckbreaker for the 1…2…Tanahashi manages to kick out. Okada connects with a flying elbow from the top rope, then signals for the Rainmaker, ZOOM OUT AND EVERYTHING (I love that so much), Tanahashi rolls him up out of nowhere for the 1…2…Okada kicks out, Tanahashi with an inverted Dragon Screw to the knee and a Cloverleaf. Okada makes it to the ropes, Tanahashi makes him pay with another inverted Dragon Screw, hurting the knee even more and the champ rolls to the floor. Tanahashi throws caution to the wind and it’s a HIGH FLY FLOW ON THE FLOOR. Excellent. Tanahashi with a twisting neckbreaker, Okada responds with a shotgun dropkick, Tanahashi responds with a Sling Blade, Okada responds with a dropkick and a TOMBSTONE. Tanahashi counters the Rainmaker with another Sling Blade and hits another standing High Fly Flow, Okada gets his knees up when Tanahashi goes for the for real High Fly Flow. Hurts Okada as much as Tanahashi as he clutches his left knee.

Okada goes for a Tombstone, Tanahashi blocks it and tries one of his own but Okada blocks it. Tanahashi with a hard left jab to the side of the head, Okada ducks a sling blade into a backslide, Tanahashi rolls through and Okada hits the RAAAAAAAAAINMAKAH! Okada grabs the wrist and hits a second RAAAAAAAINMAKAH. Okada goes for a third, Tanahashi rolls him up with an inside cradle for the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME. Tanahashi connects with a Dragon Suplex, bridging for the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT AGAIN. Tanahashi counters a Rainmaker with a slap to the face, but Okada keeps hold of the wrist so he slaps him again. Okada keeps the grasp and a third slap finally causes him to relinquish wrist control. Tanahashi charges, Okada connects with a JUMPING Tombstone followed by a RAAAAAAAAAAAAINMKAH for the 1…2…3!

Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall with the Rainmaker (22:07)

  • NJPW made sure to bring the thunder in the U.S. with an Okada/Tanahashi main event and they DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I’m sure a lot of this has happened in their previous encounters but it felt new to me (dammit) and I loved every minute of it. So many counters, so many big impact moves, I love how NJPW made a goddamn DROPKICK into a big move. And it wasn’t 45 minutes or whatever, so no time for potential filler! Kick ass. (****1/2)

Okada gets on the mic and yells “FIRST WIN” in Japanese, then apologizes and yells “DALLAS!”. Crowd pops and immediately launches into an “OKADA” chant. Okada asks the crowd how they liked the show, obviously they dug it. Okada talks about this being the first night the G1 is in America, but it won’t be the last which gets a huge response. Okada says he’ll be the G1 Climax winner and IWGP Heavyweight Champion when he returns to Dallas. He thanks the crowd and poses some more for the crowd.

*****

FINAL THOUGHTS: I skipped the undercard so I can’t review the show as a whole, but as far as the tournament matches go this was a GREAT show. Even EVIL/Fale, the technical “worst” match on the show, had some fun stuff to it. NJPW brought a tremendous show for their Dallas debut, and although they lacked the size (about 5000 or so in a 10,000+ arena), this was the liveliest I have heard a crowd in some time. I look forward to checking out the rest of this tournament until I fall behind and can’t catch up.

  • MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer
  • MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Okada’s “Rainmaker” pose/camera zoom-out combo. I f*cking love that so much.

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