Date: April 6, 2019
Venue: Madison Square Garden (Manhattan, NY)
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana, & Kevin Kelly
ROH and NJPW combines its forces to present the G1 Supercard, the first non-WWE pro wrestling event to be held in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden in a very long time. Did both companies bring their A-game? Was I, a man who barely watches either, convinced to put these two companies in the rotation? Let’s find out!
- ROH WORLD CHAMPION: Jay Lethal
- IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: ‘Switchblade’ Jay White
- ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPION: Jeff Cobb
- IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Tetsuya Naito
- IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: ‘Bone Soldier’ Taiji Ishimori
- NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION: ‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay
- WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD CHAMPION: Mayu Iwatani
- RPW BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Zack Sabre Jr.
- ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Villain Enterprises (PCO & Brody King)
- IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa)
- IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Rappongi 3K (Sho & Yoh)
- ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Villain Enterprises (‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll, PCO, & Brody King)
- Jeff Cobb [c] vs. Will Ospreay [c] for the ROH WORLD TELEVISION and NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIPS (****1/4)
- Dalton Castle vs. Rush (NR)
- Mayu Iwatani [c] vs. Kelly Klein for the WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (*1/4)
- NYC STREET FIGHT: Juice Robinson, Flip Gordon, & Mark Haskins vs. Bully Ray, Silas Young, & Shane Taylor (**)
- Taiji Ishimori [c] vs. Dragon Lee vs. Bandido for the IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (****)
- Villain Enterprises [c] vs. Guerrillas of Destiny [c] vs. The Briscoes vs. Los Ingobernables de Jopon for the ROH WORLD TAG TEAM and IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS (***)
- Zack Sabre Jr. [c] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the RPW BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***3/4)
- Tetsuya Naito [c] vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (****1/2)
- LADDER MATCH: Jay Lethal [c] vs. Marty Scurll vs. Matt Taven for the ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (**3/4)
- Jay White [c] vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2)
-After a cool opening video featuring various ROH/NJPW folks talking about wrestling in MSG for the first name (save for Naito, who doesn’t seem interested, but you’re probably not surprised), we cut to the arena where we get all sorts of pyro and ballyhoo to kick the show off. I forget how much I miss seeing pyro on a regular basis whenever a non-WWE company goes, ahem, all in on doing it.
Jeff Cobb [c] defeated ‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay [c] via pinfall with the Tour of the Islands to retain the ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP and win the NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (12:55)
If you’re looking to get a filthy casual like me interested in the rest of your PPV, this was definitely the best way to open it. I’m more familiar with Ospreay than Cobb on the basis that I saw the former live during WrestleMania 32 weekend, so I already knew I was in for some insane high-flying spots, but I’ll be damned if Cobb didn’t make me a believer by the end of the match. He was pitch-perfect here, a chunky dude who would at one moment body Ospreay halfway across the ring and the other do a kip-up into a standing moonsault. He’s got it all. Ospreay brought his bag of tricks with him, setting the tone early with a back handspring moonsault to the floor, clearing the top rope Hakushi-style, and made every move Cobb threw at him look like a million bucks. Great stuff, I hope Jeff Cobb wins all of the titles in all of the companies at the same time.
- RATING: ****1/4
Rush defeated Dalton Castle [w/ The Boys] via pinfall following three shotgun dropkicks (0:16)
Dalton Castle has legitimately been the only reason I’ve paid attention to ROH over the past few years; in a company that takes itself far too seriously, he’s a breath of fresh air, a legitimately entertaining character who can also go in the ring. I heard he’s been battling injuries lately and has lost a step since his World Title reign ended in a whimper (BOOO), but I still went into this one hoping for a fun match especially after that BALLER flamboyant entrance.
…And I was immediately disappointed when Rush wrecked him with three dropkicks and got the victory in less time than King Kong Bundy pinned SD Jones at the first WrestleMania. Goddammit.
- RATING: NR
If that wasn’t bad enough we then got a heel turn from Castle, giving into his frustrations and turning on his most loyal Boys. Maybe he needed the revamp, I don’t watch ROH regularly (something I’ll say a lot here), but for me this was almost enough to turn off the show and go do something else. Finally tuned into an ROH PPV and watched my favorite character/gimmick get shot in the face. F*ck that.
–Juice Robinson has been laid out backstage. Kevin Kelly leaves to investigate, Mandy Leon joins the commentary team.
‘The Gatekeeper’ Kelly Klein defeated Mayu Iwatani [c] via pinfall following two K-Powers to win the WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (10:39)
I’ve heard almost nothing about ROH’s women’s division, and after watching this match I understand why. Klein and Iwatani had themselves a certified stinker here, full of awkward spots and Klein moving in what felt like super slow motion. Nothing looked good here, and it felt like it went on way too long despite only being ten minutes. I liked the opening, where Klein sent her ‘Team’ to the back so she could win on her own and in turn get the Code of Honor handshake she wanted from Iwatani, but after that it just went downhill.
- RATING: *1/4
Much like the last segment, things went from bad to worse as Angelina Love and Velvet Sky made their ROH debuts, joining up with the now heel I guess Mandy Leon to beat the new champion down and resurrect the wretchedly awful Beautiful People gimmick from TNA, now known as Allure (with the u having an umlaut because whatever). Absolute trash that felt like it killed the crowd dead. It definitely almost killed me dead. How embarrassing. I know we all want companies to have a women’s division, but maybe ROH should just bow out if they’re going to present sh*t like this. Better to not do it than to bring in THE F*CKING BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.
-Nerdcore rapper Mega Ran comes out and performs a rap written specifically for tonight as the crowd just EATS HIM ALIVE. Bully Ray, the heel, interrupts and gets the first BIG POP of the night which is definitely not the reaction you would want from this. Ray then WHIPS Ran with his chain while chasing him out of the ring as the crowd goes WILD, a real uncomfortable situation to sit through as a wrestling fan. Maybe don’t cheer the MAGA white guy hitting the person of color with a chain? Yuck. Ray gets on the mic afterwards and says since Juice is injured the NYC Street Fight challenge is now open once again, and out comes the returning Flip Gordon, looking a lot beefier than before his injury, to answer.
NYC STREET FIGHT
Flip Gordon, Juice Robinson, & Mark Haskins defeated Bully Ray, Silas Young, & Shane Taylor when Gordon pinned Ray following a 450 Splash (14:58)
Gordon and Ray, longtime enemies, pretended to have a singles match for a few minutes until Young and Taylor came out to help Bully beat Gordon down. This brought out the not injured at all Robinson (the only one actually dressed for a street fight) and his Lifeblood partner Haskins to even the score.
As you would expect there was a lot of plunder involved, folks going through tables and pallets and lots of chairs and garbage can lids. But the sickest moment had to go to Gordon getting absolutely WRECKED by kendo stick shots from Ray, Young, and Taylor, while asking for more circa early-90s ECW Tommy Dreamer. Seeing the sticks BREAK over his back was pretty gross, but it was the most fun I had in this match because I’m a psychopath. This didn’t need to go fifteen minutes, but honestly I’m a mark for matches like this so although it was unnecessary I still had a good time with it and Ray taking the pinfall after trying to run away was the right way to end it.
- RATING: **
Dragon Lee defeated ‘The Bone Soldier’ Taiji Ishimori [c] and Bandido to win the IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP after pinning Bandido (8:55)
After a whole lot of trash we got back to the good stuff with this triple threat match, an absolute beauty of a sprint between three tremendous junior heavyweights representing three different promotions. Each man had their moment to shine, but to me Bandido was the one who really stood out, mixing high-flying acrobatics with surprising power. His avalanche backflip slam on Ishimori and Lee AT THE SAME TIME was the definite highlight and one I watched via GIF repeatedly after the show ended. What an absolute unit that man is. Lee getting the win surprised me because outside of his hurricanrana off the apron it was mostly Bandido creating the highlights, but it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment. I could have watched these three wrestle longer, but I guess that street fight before it needed fifteen goddamn minutes.
- RATING: ****
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa) [c] defeated Villain Enterprises (PCO & Brody King) [c], The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe), and Los Ingobernables de Jopon (EVIL & SANADA) to retain the IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP and win the ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (9:53)
PCO got entrance of the night before this one, as he was electrocuted back to life by Destro (not the GI Joe villain, unfortunately) via car battery while voluntarily strapped to an electric chair. What a madman and way to make his return to Madison Square Garden almost twenty years after his Quebecer (and maybe also pirate?) days.
To the surprise of no one this devolved into a chaotic brawl real quick and people started taking flight, with King hitting a top rope cannonball and Mark Briscoe immediately following up with a torneo (that’s what they called it on commentary, I’m going with it). PCO got into the mix too with a top rope cannonball to Mark on the apron, finally hitting a move he said he would only day be successful in doing. He took John Cena’s ‘Never Give Up’ message seriously. PCO would then take the bump of the night as G.O.D. double powerbombed him from the ring TO THE GODDAMN FLOOR, no table or anything to break his fall. What an absolute psychopath. EVIL & SANADA were here too but to be honest they didn’t really add anything to the match, which is fair because there were just too many bodies in this one. Guerrillas of Destiny are now dual Tag Team Champions, and that’s cool, but I’ll need to see them in a regular two-on-two match to really gauge if I’m excited. Props to Camacho for getting a better gig than he had in WWE though.
- RATING: ***
Guerrillas of Destiny celebrate their win…but it’s overshadowed by the artists formerly known as Enzo Amore and Big Cass hopping the railing and brawling with The Briscoes at ringside. ROH cut away as much as they could and had the commentary team vamp while the situation died down, and honestly for a moment I thought it was a shoot. Apparently it’s a work though and that’s actually depressing because holy sh*t do they not belong in Ring Of Honor. What a tone-deaf move from the company.
Zack Sabre Jr. [c] [w/ Taka Michinoku] defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via submission to retain the RPW BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (15:10)
Tanahashi apparently had working at MSG on his wrestling bucket list, but unfortunately had to follow that weird worked shoot sh*t with Amore and Cass, so the crowd almost felt disinterested in this contest (also probably didn’t help that production did not mic the crowd well). Amazing. Their loss though because this was a beauty of a match; Sabre is just a joy to watch wrestle with his effortless ability and smoothness to everything he does. If we ever invent time travel someone better book Sabre vs. Lord Steven Regal circa 1993 WCW. It was a lot of limb-based offense, Sabre focusing on Tanahashi’s arm and Tanahashi working on Sabre’s knee, but not in the slow way some matches like this can be, and that’s a compliment to the talent of both of these men. As a VERY CASUAL viewer of NJPW seeing Tanahashi tap was strange to me, as in my head he’s still a dominant star, but giving Sabre the clean win made him look like an even bigger deal than he already is. Ignore the crowd and give this a watch, it’s damn good.
- RATING: ***3/4
Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito [c] via pinfall with the Kamigoye to win the IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (20:52)
This is a match I needed to sleep on, as the length of this show was starting to drag me down at this point. But now it’s a day later and I’ve had a chance to think about it, and I’m confident in saying that this was the match of the night. An unbelievably hard-hitting match between two guys with tons of chemistry together, and I loved the story being told of Ibushi trying to follow in the footsteps of his “gods” by winning the Intercontinental Championship. That he did, and he’s goddamned lucky he escaped without breaking his neck as Naito dropped that dude on his head SO MANY TIMES. Some insane stuff here, including a perfect hurricarana from Ibushi to Naito OFF THE APRON AND TO THE FLOOR that made my jaw drop, and a deadlift German suplex from the middle rope that I thought killed Naito. The finishing sequence, Ibushi holding onto Naito’s wrists after he kicked out of a sitout powerbomb so he could deliver a BRUTAL Kamigoye, was a great exclamation point and almost felt like Ibushi saying ‘F*CK YOU’ before getting the win. Ibushi is a goddamned star and now has the championship to back it up, he stands among his gods (Tanahashi and Nakamura were mentioned) and has achieved his goal. Great storytelling, great match, Naito may have lost but looked good in defeat and I would watch these two wrestle again in a HEARTBEAT.
- RATING: ****1/2
Matt Taven defeated Jay Lethal [c] & ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll to win the ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (29:38)
NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis joined commentary for this one, as he’s set to defend his title against Scurll at The Crockett Cup later this month. I guess he was hoping he would also get a crack at winning the ROH World Championship in the same match, but NOPE.
…So this was a ladder match, folks. All the spots you would expect, plus some tables, happened plus Lethal almost killed a fan at ringside after throwing a ladder contraption to the floor. I had no real engagement with who would win as I’m not exactly the biggest fan of these three guys, but I can’t say they didn’t try and keep the match engaging. Ladder matches are difficult to pull off though, especially ones that go almost thirty minutes. I will say that I liked Taven bringing his own branded purple ladder into the fray, and using the ROH World Championship belt as a weapon, swinging it into Lethal’s face, to get the victory. Those were cool moments. That’s all I really got though. The fact that Taven vs. Kenny King (winner of the pre-show Honor Rumble) is going to be a World Title main event is hilarious. ROH is a weird company.
- RATING: **3/4
‘The Rainmaker’ Kazuchika Okada defeated ‘Switchblade’ Jay White [c] [w/ Gedo] via pinfall after three Rainmakers to win the NJPW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (31:50)
This is maybe the fourth Okada match I have ever watched, so feel free to drag me in the comments section or on Twitter…especially since I didn’t find this match to be that good. The ending stretch was fun, including the INSANE final sequence leading into the final Rainmaker, but the damn thing felt like it was dragging for the first twenty or so minutes. It also probably didn’t help that I couldn’t Jay White seriously; his edgelord knife fetish thing is real lame to me, he probably still goes to Disturbed concerts willingly. White is fine as a wrestler I guess, but I don’t know he feels wedged into the spot as opposed to someone who is supposed to be there, like they needed a non-Japanese guy quick following Kenny Omega’s departure. Props to NJPW I guess for taking a chance, but I’m glad they righted the ship and put the belt back on Okada for the fifth time. Okada as a character and a wrestler is great, but I would appreciate him more in a shorter match I think. It was a good way to end the show, Okada is beloved and him winning the title got the burned out crowd FIRED UP, but I could have taken or left the match. Maybe it’s due to, once again, not really following NJPW. Such is life.
- RATING: ***1/2
OVERALL THOUGHTS: The G1 Supercard is a historic event in the history of professional wrestling, and should be applauded as such, but man it felt like an up and down show while watching it. The ROH stuff was mostly trash, with Enzo/Cass and THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE making their debuts to the joy of absolutely no one, plus a truly terrible Women Of Honor showing and a World Title match featuring a winner that doesn’t seem like anyone wanted to see in a match that went too long for its gimmick. The NJPW side mostly delivered though, especially Naito/Ibushi and the triple threat for the Junior Heavyweight Championship, so it was a nice counterbalance to the ROH stuff. If NJPW ran the show themselves, or with a different company, maybe I would have been more positive overall, but they didn’t and they get knocked for it. A lot of good to find on the G1 Supercard but as a whole I don’t think I would ever sit through it again.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: PCO gets powerbombed TO THE FLOOR by Guerrillas of Destiny