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[Tournament Recap] ‘NJPW G1 Climax 29: Night 3’ – Tanahashi vs. KENTA, Ospreay vs. SANADA

Date: July 14, 2019
Venue: Ota City General Gymnasium (Tokyo, Japan)
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, & Chris Charlton

Night 3 of G1 Climax 29 features A-Block action as Kazuchika Okada takes on Zack Sabre Jr., KENTA faces off against Hiroshi Tanahashi, and much more. As always this is tournament-specific.


  • IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada
  • 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 6-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano


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


Lance Archer (2) vs. “The Rogue General” Bad Luck Fale (2) [w/ “Master Heater” Jado]

Shoving match between these two behemoths to start. Fale punches Archer, Archer spears himself and Fale through the ropes and to the floor. EVERYBODY DIES. Archer goozles Fale, Jado hits Archer in the back with a kendo stick to distract him so Fale can attack. Fale goes a clubberin’, throwing Archer into multiple rows of chairs while the crowd cower away. Fale gets in the ring so the ref can start the count. Archer angrily throws a chair and gets in at the count of 13. Fale stomps Archer’s back tattoo, log rolling the spine. Archer fights back with a HARD right that staggers Fale, but Fale fights through to keep the clubberin’ going. Archer dodges an elbowdrop and hits Fale with a series of shoulderblocks and a clothesline that sends him into the corner. Fale reverses a corner Irish whip, Archer climbs the buckles and hits a twisting flying crossbody (!) for the 1…2…Fale kicks out. Archer rope walks, Fale grabs the ref to distract him so Jado can crotch Archer on the top buckle strut with a kendo stick. Fale follows up with a Superplex from the middle buckle and EVERYBODY BOUNCES. Daaayum. Fale covers for the 1…2…Archer gets a shoulder up. Fale locks knuckles with Archer and teases rope walking but Archer stops it with a series of forearms. Archer almost gets the Blackout but Fale escapes and hits the Grenade for the 1…2…Archer kicks out! Archer with a big boot and goozles Fale. Jado gets in the ring, Archer blocks the kendo stick shot and sends him flying with a right. Fale can’t take advantage of the distraction and Archer connects with the POOOOOOUNCE (called “The Derailer” here) followed by a chokeslam for the 1…2…Fale kicks out! Crowd is HYPE for Lance Archer. Archer locks in the EBD Claw, driving Fale’s shoulders to the mat for the 1…2…3!

Lance Archer defeated Bad Luck Fale via pinfall with the EBD Claw (10:13)

  • A slow but fun hoss fight, with Archer once again coming out looking like a superstar. I like watching two behemoths clobber each other and I got it here, and without that “HIT ME HARDER I AM A MAN!” stuff to boot. Archer stole the show last week and had another good showing here, this dude may be on the rise. (***)

Archer celebrates with an elbow to a Young Lion.

“The Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay (0) vs. SANADA (2)

Oh my god this is going to be a hard match to keep up with, BRING IT ON. Ospreay and SANADA trade wristlocks to start, Ospreay flips through into a chinlock but SANADA quickly slips out to go back to the wrist. Counter, counter, counter, flip, fip, flip, dueling dropkicks and we’re at a standstill. Crowd is hot for both of these guys, and I can’t blame them. SANADA offers a handshake, Ospreay accepts it. SANADA tries a kick, Ospreay catches it and tries the Paradise Lock but doesn’t know how to put it on and gets kicked away. SANADA shows him how to do it, but Ospreay slides out to SANADA’s surprise. SANADA bails to the floor and takes a powder, so Ospreay changes gears and shows off with a pose instead. SANADA slides in and Ospreay catches him immediately with a baseball slide. SANADA ties Ospreay up in the ropes with the Paradise Lock, showing off for the crowd as the Assassin struggles to get free. HA. SANADA whips Ospreay into the ropes, who turns it into a back handspring kick out of nowhere. Ospreay with an enzuigiri followed by a top rope 619. SANADA kicks the knee, Ospreay with a roll-up into a double stomp and standing shooting star press for a two-count.

SANADA rolls to the floor, Ospreay with a back handspring Moonsault (Sasuke Special according to Rocky Romero, which is probably right). Ospreay rolls SANADA in and hits a springboard clothesline for the 1…2…SANADA kicks out. Ospreay with a chop, SANADA leapfrogs twice and connects with a picture-perfect dropkick and a slingshot splash to the floor! Love it. SANADA uses a fan’s towel to wipe the sweat off and rolls Ospreay in. SANADA connects with a belly-to-back suplex, Ospreay kicks out of the lateral press. SANADA absorbs Ospreay’s forearms and connects with a European uppercut that Ospreay immediately responds with a hook kick. More counters, Ospreay tries a victory roll but SANADA blocks and gets him back in the fireman’s carry. Ospreay escapes, connects with a hook kick, SANADA counters an OsCutter with a TKO. YESSSSS. Both men struggle to their knees and trade forearms. They get to their feet and the forearm shootout continues, quickening the pace. Ospreay with a high kick, SANADA with a savate kick, Ospreay KICKS OFF SANADA and hits another kick. Ospreay rolls through something else and hits a sit-out power bomb for the 1…2…SANADA KICKS OUT. Ospreay with a shooting star press for the 1…2…SANADA barely kicks out. What a beautiful shooting star. SANADA blocks the Stormbreaker so Ospreay kicks him in the face a bunch of times. Ospreay picks SANADA up, SANADA counters the Stormbreaker into the Skull End (Dragon Sleeper). SANADA lets go, misses a Moonsault but lands on his feet, and Ospreay hits a standing Spanish Fly for the 1…2…SANADA KICKS OUT AGAIN. Ospreay measures SANADA and connects with the Robinson Special. SANADA blocks the OsCutter into the Skull End, Ospreay escapes and hits a Buzzsaw Kick. SANADA tries an OsCutter, Ospreay blocks it, hits a hook kick, and this time hits the OsCutter! Ospreay holds on and and hits the Stormbreaker for the 1…2…3!

Will Ospreay defeated SANADA via pinfall with the Stormbreaker (17:07)

  • Helluva match, I could barely keep up with some of the spots these two were doing. Rapid-fire pacing, great back and forth, and enough hook kicks to feed a family of four. Wait that didn’t make any sense, oh well I’m keeping it in. Both these guys killed it, Ospreay really does deserve that Wrestler of the Year talk. (****1/4)

“The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada (2) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (0)

Sabre goes to work, tying Okada up in various holds and getting a lateral press as more of a mind game than a pinfall attempt. Sabre with a top wristlock that brings Okada to the mat, transitioning into a hammerlock. Okada with a single leg, Sabre rolls through and they reset to polite applause. Sabre with a straitjacket stranglehold, bringing the champ to his knees. Okada reverses out, Sabre bridges up and reverses back, and Okada gets to the ropes to force a break. Okada with a snapmare, Sabre with a big boot and Okada responds with a big boot of his own. Sabre counters a hip toss with an abdominal stretch, Okada counters with a hip toss for real. Sabre swats away a dropkick and rolls Okada up for the 1…2…Okada kicks out just in time. Sabre with another roll-up for the 1…2…Okada kicks out again and Sabre locks in a version of the Banana Split with a calf crusher thrown in for extra flavor. HOW GOOD IS ZACK SABRE JR?!? Okada side steps a big boot and drops Sabre with an elbow. Okada kips up and connects with a floating elbow in the corner followed by a DDT for the 1…2…Sabre gets a shoulder up. Okada pops Sabre up, Sabre counters with a guillotine choke, Okada with a neckbreaker over the knee. Okada with a flying elbowdrop that would make Randy Savage blush. RAINMAKER POSE. Sabre counters the Rainmaker with a kick to the arm, Okada catches Sabre with a dropkick followed by one motherf*cker of a Tombstone. Sabre ducks the Rainmaker and locks in an Octopus, bending the Rainmaker arm back in a most unnatural position. Okada almost taps but manages to turn his weight to get to the ropes.

Sabre lays into Okada with a couple of kicks, Okada absorbs them and gets to his feet. Sabre with a series of European uppercuts, Okada with forearms and Sabre drops him with a slap right to the face. DAMN. Okada catches the Penalty Kick. Sabre with chops, Okada with a dropkick followed by another. Sabre dodges another Rainmaker and rolls Okada up with a Gotch for the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT. Sabre with another crazy roll-up for the 1…2…OKADA KICKS OUT. Sabre fights out of the Tombstone and hits a pele kick to the arm. Okada rolls through a backslide, Sabre dodges another Rainmaker and applies another Octopus. Okada escapes and connects with a spinning Rainmaker followed by the Rainmaker for real for the 1…2…3.

Kazuchika Okada defeated Zack Sabre Jr. via pinfall with the Rainmaker (12:00)

  • Match only went twelve minutes but what an absolute joy those twelve minutes were. How someone could watch Sabre run through his endless repertoire of submissions and roll-ups and not be awed is crazy to me. His Rainmaker counters were brilliant, his modifications on established submissions holds looked murderous, Zack Sabre Jr. kills it once again. Okada proved his worth as Heavyweight Champion by managing to fight through it all and hit his big moves to go 2-0 in the tournament. Just beautiful stuff here, I can’t say much bad about it. (****)

Kota Ibushi (0) vs. “The King of Darkness” EVIL (0)

Both men are chasing their first points of the tournament, having come up short last week in Dallas. EVIL makes his entrance carrying the most video game scythe I have ever seen. A lady in the crowd has a mini version that lights up. I’ll take three.

Ibushi and EVIL waste no time, running into each other and trading all of the forearms that have ever been in existence. EVIL charges three times, shaking off two mid-kicks but not the third. EVIL bowls Ibushi over with a shoulderblock. EVIL goes right after Ibushi’s left ankle, which was injured last week against KENTA. Ibushi gets to the ropes, EVIL just stands on the ankle, grinding it into the mat. GROSS. Ibushi goes for a kick, EVIL catches it and tosses it to Red Shoes, leaving Ibushi open to a kick. EVIL with a bronco buster and a lateral press for the 1…2…Ibushi kicks out and EVIL immediately goes to the Ankle Lock, grapevining the leg for extra torque. EVIL is apparently busting out new moves due to Ibushi’s ankle, changing his usual strategy a bit. I respect that. EVIL buries chops into Ibushi’s chest and whips him across the ring so he’s forced to run on the hurt ankle. Ibushi manages a dropkick and both men are down. Ibushi with a series of kicks and standing Moonsault for a two-count. Both men block strikes, EVIL sends Ibushi to the mat and follows up with a senton for a two-count. Ibushi fights out of Darkness Falls by wiggling like he’s in Dead by Daylight and connects with a powerslam followed by a Moonsault (using his good leg to spring) for the 1…2…EVIL kicks out!

Ibushi climbs to the top, EVIL crotches him by running into the ropes. EVIL wrecks Ibushi with a clothesline and connects with a TOP ROPE SUPERPLEX. EVIL isn’t Barry Windham though, so no float over into the lateral press here. EVIL belts Ibushi with a lariat for the 1…2…Ibushi manages to barely kick out. Ibushi escapes Everything Is and hits a German suplex, EVIL powers through it and hits one of his own but Ibushi ALSO powers through it. Both charge at each other, hit clotheslines, and collapse to the mat. After some time they get to their knees for a forearm shootout. So many forearms, EVIL screams and kicks Ibushi right in the ankle. YES. EVIL drops Ibushi with a forearm and goes for the Scorpion Death Lock but Ibushi is too close to the ropes. Ibushi peppers EVIL with palm strikes, EVIL blocking most but still falling to the mat. EVIL shoves Red Shoes into Ibushi and connects with a headbutt to the midsection. EVIL with a double chop, Ibushi with a lariat for the 1…2…EVIL kicks out. EVIL counters the Kamigoye with a low-angle Scorpion Deathlock, almost a Cloverleaf. Ibushi gets to the ropes and EVIL is forced to let go, exhausted from applying the hold. EVIL goes for a super senton from the top but Ibushi rolls out of the way and hits the Bomaye from behind. Ibushi exposes the knee and hits another Bomaye for the 1…2…EVIL KICKS OUT. Ibushi exposes his other knee, EVIL blocks the Kamigoye and hits a series of strikes into a lariat. EVIL follows up with Darkness Falls for the 1…2…IBUSHI KICKS OUT so EVIL hits the Everything is Evil for the 1…2…3!

EVIL defeated Kota Ibushi via pinfall with Everything Is Evil (19:12)

  • Last week EVIL brawled around ringside with Bad Luck Fale, this time he matched wits with Ibushi and kept it in the ring having a completely different style of match, and it was GREAT. Awesome stuff here from both men, EVIL amending his moveset to include ankle-based submissions to take advantage of Ibushi’s injury from last week, and Ibushi fighting through the pain to still hit some big money kicks and strikes. I dug this a lot. (****)

Katsuyori Shibata joins the Japanese commentary team for the next match, not content to watch from the entryway like last week.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (0) vs. KENTA (2)

KENTA backs Tanahashi into he corner and slaps the taste out of his mouth. That’s one way to start this one! Tanahashi backs KENTA into the corner and slaps him back. Forearm shootout time! Tanahashi changes gears with jabs to the gut followed by an elbowdrop. Tanahashi tries to do some air guitar but KENTA kicks at him to stop it. NO FUN. Tanahashi brings KENTA to the floor and throws him into the barricade, a Young Lion just barely getting out of the way. Tanahashi tries to do it again but KENTA reverses it, then sends Tanahashi into the commentary area with a Yakuza Kick. KENTA blisters Tanahashi with more kicks followed by a DDT to the floor, no protective mats in that area. KENTA sends Tanahashi into the post. Back in the ring KENTA covers but only gets a two-count. KENTA with a neckbreaker, Tanahashi kicks out at one. KENTA exposes the knee, teases a double stomp but arrogantly kicks at Tanahashi instead. KENTA settles into a headscissors while Kelly/Romero talk about his story: he left Japan for a disappointing run in the States and not only has to prove himself in NJPW (not his home company in Japan) but also re-earn the respect of the Japanese fans. Tanahashi charges, KENTA drives a knee to the midsection and kicks him right in the damn spine for the 1…2…Tanahashi kicks out once again. Chinlock time.

KENTA kicks Tanahashi into the corner, Tanahashi catches the Yakuza Kick and connects with the first of likely many Dragon Screw Legwhips. Tanahashi with a flying forearm followed by a somersault senton for the 1…2…KENTA kicks out. KENTA counters a sling blade with a kick followed by even more kicks. Tanahashi responds with a left hand and charges, KENTA drills him with a powerslam. KENTA with a springboard missile dropkick followed by a corner Yakuza Kick and delayed dropkick. KENTA follows up with the flying double stomp for the 1…2…Tanahashi kicks out. Tanahashi blocks the GTS, countering into a Dragon Screw followed by an inverted version and a Cloverleaf. KENTA almost gets to the ropes, Tanahashi pulls him back in but KENTA counters with an inside cradle for the 1…2…NOPE! KENTA drills Tanahashi with a hanging DDT, Tanahashi counters the Busaiku Knee with a sling blade! Another forearm tough boy shootout, Tanahashi throwing in some slaps as well. KENTA hits a right of his own followed by a spinning lariat. Tanahashi counters the GTS with three Twist and Shouts. Tanahashi measures and connects with another sling blade for the 1…2…KENTA kicks out, Tanahashi springs to the top for High Fly Flow. Tanahashi goes back up and KENTA counters the second High Fly Flow with a pair of knees! KENTA with a sleeper, Tanahashi almost fades but KENTA lets go instead for a PK. Tanahashi catches it, KENTA counters with a flying knee strike. KENTA with a Penalty Kick followed by the GTS for the 1…2…3!

KENTA defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall with the GTS (18:36)

  • Much better showing for KENTA in this one, but he was also facing the biggest star of the past decade and change in NJPW so that’s not surprising. Great match to cap off a night of great matches. I’m excited to see more of this killer KENTA come out as he gets more and more comfortable being back working this style again. Tanahashi, the winner of last year’s G1, is now 0-2 to start this one. Could he go winless? Eh probably not but I’d like to see it anyway. (****1/4)

KENTA offers a handshake but Tanahashi refuses it as he hasn’t earned his respect quite yet. KENTA gets on the mic and introduces himself to the members of the NJPW crowd who don’t know who he is. KENTA says he isn’t here to play around or hang out with friends, he’s here to win the G1 Climax.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Night 3 of the tournament is tremendous, all but one match being ****+. KENTA continues his redemption arc, Ospreay continues his march to Wrestler of the Year, and Lance Archer continues impressing the sh*t out of me. NJPW is pretty okay after all.

  • MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Will Ospreay vs. SANADA
  • MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Tanahashi ignores KENTA’s handshake attempt

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