New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax season is fast approaching and the last stop before it begins is in Australia.
For the regular NJPW viewer, these cards might come across as relatively bland with the exception of perhaps two matches (Will Ospreay vs. Robbie Eagles and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Henare). The true significance of the Melbourne show is that they are performing at the legendary Festival Hall and it’s live on iPPV. Festival Hall is synonymous with Jim Barnett’s World Championship Wrestling and was the major venue in what was considered the “glory days” of Australian wrestling with stars like Mario Milano (who’s become a controversial figure due to a recent accusation of sexual misconduct in the past, but that’s another story), Spiros Arion, Dominic DeNucci, Killer Kowalski and others. Fite TV will be streaming the iPPV for $25 (US dollars).
The Sydney show, unfortunately, won’t be shown on iPPV. There have been complaints that Sydney doesn’t come across as an authentic NJPW show, especially compared to Melbourne that has more NJPW workers on the card. That was to be expected because Sydney has a smaller venue and therefore, a smaller show in general. Both shows will be on NJPW World within a couple of days.
NJPW Southern Showdown: Melbourne
June 29, 2019
Toa Henare, Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Michael Richards, Andrew Villalobos & Mark Tui
NJPW Dojo system boys vs. Fale Dojo system boys. Toa Henare will lead young boys Umino and Narita against the three Fale Dojo graduates (with Tui and Richards becoming trainers for the dojo). It should be interesting to see what the Fale Dojo guys bring to the table as they are the real unknowns on this card. Mark Tui was on the previous NJPW Australia tour on the Perth leg and teamed with Yuji Nagata against GOD (Mark was under the name ‘Mareko’). Richards and Villalobos have spent some time in the NJPW Dojo themselves as a part of the Fale Dojo program. Overall, it’s going to be a short opener with Henare getting the win for his team as he has Ishii tomorrow and he should look strong against these guys. Prediction: Henare & Umino & Narita
Slex vs. Aaron Solow
One half of American tag team Extra Talented (hey Ricky Starks) and Bayley’s (yes, the WWE one) partner, Aaron Solow has found his way onto these NJPW shows and landed two singles matches. It might seem random, but Solow has been training at the Fale Dojo. He had the connection with Fale Dojo head coach Tony Kozina who had previously trained him in 2012. Solow has a nice test for himself against Slex, who is definitely one of the best wrestlers in Australia and someone that NJPW should utilize. You might remember him as the guy who wrestled Kazuchika Okada on a Melbourne City Wrestling show and looked terrific in that contest. Out of respect to Slex holding the Melbourne City Wrestling Championship (arguably the top prize in Australian wrestling), Solow is definitely taking the fall. Prediction: Slex
CHAOS (SHO, YOH & Toru Yano) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Gedo & Gino Gambino)
This feels specifically designed for Yano and Gambino to have comedic interactions and I’m down for that. Gino ‘Mr. Juicy’ Gambino is the most low-key Bullet Club member and the one that people are most likely to think ‘how the fuck did he get in the group and when did this happen?’. Well, he’s close pals with Fale and is the Australian liaison for NJPW. In saying that, Gino is great in his own right and had recently a tremendous heel run as MCW Champion before he lost it to Slex. You will likely be getting comedy Gino on these shows though. Ishimori and El Phantasmo have been feuding with Roppongi 3K and they recently fought for the junior tag belts in a lackluster match. Booker man Gedo is in as Phantasmo will face Rocky Romero later on. I think it would be nice to see Gino get the pin on Yano in his hometown, so I’m going with that. Prediction: Bullet Club
RPW British Cruiserweight Championship
El Phantasmo © vs Rocky Romero
A rematch of their hot Korakuen Hall main event during the Best of Super Juniors. While it’s likely that the match won’t be as good as their previous encounter—with the red hot crowd and great story of old man Romero getting the surprising win over undefeated and overconfident Phantasmo—it will still be fun with the dickheadery and flashiness of El P against the veteran trickery of Rocky. El P will get his win back from Rocky & defend that Revolution Pro title. Prediction: El Phantasmo
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)
Very much a filler match where the fans get a taste of Ishii. Takahashi has quietly returned from an eye injury to little fanfare and back to tagging with Chase Owens. Always enjoy Chase in these undercard tag settings. YOSHI-HASHI got beaten by Zack Sabre Jr on a Kizuna Road show and is snubbed out of the G1 because he’s a geek (kayfabe wise). Anyhow, Ishii gets the win for CHAOS. Prediction: CHAOS
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) © vs Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls
It’s safe to say that ‘MAD’ (Mildly Annoyed Dad) Mikey Nicholls has been underwhelming in his NJPW so far. The main criticism is that he comes across as dull. Feels like a lower midcarder for the promotion at this point. Maybe he’s more comfortable as a tag wrestler (predominantly known for his tag team with Shane Haste in The Mighty Don’t Kneel. Don’t mention TM-61 or whatever) rather than a singles wrestler and could achieve more success in that division. I’m personally pulling for a Tacos and Big Dick Nick combo for a CHAOS geeks team. Unfortunately, the heavyweight tag division is quite lifeless with Guerrillas of Destiny at the helm and Gedo neglects it. So anyway, Nicholls is teaming with Juice who is on the back burner after his loss to Jon Moxley for the US title in a rough brawl. I think Nicholls and Juice will get the titles to do something different in the tag division (hopefully) and Mikey gets the pinfall victory in his home country. Prediction: Juice & Big Dick Nick
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay © vs Robbie Eagles
This is going to be incredible. If you haven’t seen it, then watch the Assassin vs Sniper and Marking The Target hype videos. Because that has all the backstory that you need to get hyped for this match. The rivalry goes back to 2017 when Will Ospreay made a big impact in Australia when he won the Pro Wrestling Australia championship against “Sniper of the Skies” Robbie Eagles, as well as the MCW Intercommonwealth championship against Adam Brooks on the same weekend. Both were all-time great matches in Australia and were a catalyst for the recent boom in the Australian scene. It also helped inspire and motivate Ospreay in what he felt was a down point in his career. A couple of weeks later, Brooks would get a pinfall against Ospreay to win both the PWA and MCW titles in a career-defining moment for him in a triple threat match (which Eagles was in). Eagles would have to wait even longer to get redemption against Ospreay.
A year after his loss, he would face Ospreay once again in PWA. The loss was bothering Eagles and felt that he needed to trump Ospreay. Didn’t like the fact that Will beat him on home turf. In another classic match, Eagles would achieve his goal. At the end of the match, Ospreay gave him the Japanese flag on his tights to indicate that he wanted him in New Japan. However, Bullet Club would acquire Robbie Eagles rather than CHAOS. He would tag with Ishimori in the Jr Tag League. He looked impressive and everything was looking up for Eagles with his new spot in the BC. But then El Phantasmo debuted, which is bringing Eagles spot in the club into question as Phantasmo is seemingly being slotted above him. Tension has been simmering between Eagles and Phantasmo in the BOSJ with Phantasmo cheating to get a win against Eagles and El P having unwanted assistance in the third Ospreay/Eagles clash. Robbie wanted to win in an honorable fashion but El P’s chair shot to Ospreay gave a tainted win to the Sniper. Lastly, Ishimori chose El P over Robbie to challenge for the Jr tag belts.
This is the fourth encounter between Eagles vs Ospreay and should be a barnburner. In a way, I hope Ospreay doesn’t go too crazy because the G1 Climax is coming up. In saying that, that is not the way Ospreay rolls and he’s probably going to do whatever he can to get Eagles over. Ospreay will retain the Jr title and NJPW will continue to tease Eagles joining CHAOS. Prediction: Will Ospreay
Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White & Bad Luck Fale
The Mega Powers of Okada and Tanahashi will face the devious ‘Switchblade’ Jay White with his muscle Bad Luck Fale. Some people might be disappointed that Bad Luck Fale is main eventing, because he isn’t a good wrestler. However, he’s the guy who had a major role in organizing the tour and has done a lot for the Oceanic scene in bringing NJPW over. Jay White has been getting under the skin of both Okada and Tanahashi throughout 2019. Okada has got the better of White after beating him for the IWGP title at the Madison Square Gardens show. Tanahashi has been struggling against his younger rival with Switchblade getting crafty pins on the old ace of NJPW. Should note that here is concern about Tanahashi with his recent post-surgery performances and doesn’t look anyway near his best. With that concern aside, it’s a solid main event for the fans in attendance. Don’t expect anything special as all four guys have the G1 Climax coming up and need to preserve themselves. Going to side with Okada and Tanahashi to end the show. Prediction: Okada & Tanahashi
NJPW Southern Showdown Sydney
June 30, 2019
Stevie Filip & Tome Filip vs Michael Richards & Andrew Villalobos
The Filip Bros are the MCW Tag Team Champions and exciting prospects—very athletic and fun tag team with Stevie as the more eye-catching worker and Tome as the charismatic one. They need work but could blossom into something special. Recently trained at the Fale Dojo and are set to spend some time in the NJPW Dojo. Very much a Fale Dojo exhibition match with Richards and Villalobos facing them. Champs for the victory. Prediction: The Filips
Rocky Romero vs Tony Kozina
The ‘WHEELMAN’ Tony Kozina is on a New Japan show in 2019. Wow. The last time that Tony Kozina wrestled Rocky Romero was twelve years ago in a tag team match. It was No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards and Romero) vs Kozina and TJ Perkins on an ROH show. This match might seem weird, but Kozina is a head trainer at the Fale Dojo and Romero has been a valuable gaijin for NJPW (both in and out of the ring). It’s Fale Dojo ambassador vs NJPW ambassador. Likely a short match with shenanigans from both veterans. Prediction: Rocky Romero
Mick Moretti vs Jack Bonza
Sleeper match alert. Moretti and Bonza are two of the best wrestlers in Australia this year. They wrestle for the Pro Wrestling Australia promotion and hold their tag team championship. Both are members of the 4 Nations which is a prominent and accomplished stable in the Sydney scene. Recently had the consensus Aussie MOTY so far at PWA Fight for the Black Metal and this is a rematch. Depending on how much time they are given (time limit is twenty minutes), it could steal the show.
Moretti has a chaotic, loose cannon gimmick which does lean towards comedy. But his unique, smooth and athletic offense make him distinctive. In my opinion, one of the best independent wrestlers in the world. Jack Bonza is a ring general and excellent technical wrestler. Has that strong “built like a brickhouse” look. New Japan GM Michael Craven praised Bonza on a podcast. Considering that Moretti got one over, Bonza will even the score. Prediction: Jack Bonza
Chase Owens vs Aaron Solow
Part two of the Aaron Solow trial against solid hand Chase. I think Chase is much better in tags rather than singles matches. His matches against Juice for the US title were a plodding disappointment. This should be a shorter match though and Chase is more enjoyable in those scenarios. Owens will win and Solow will work hard to look as impressive as possible. Prediction: Chase Owens
Bullet Club (Gino Gambino, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs Juice Robinson, Mikey Nicholls & Toru Yano
A little continuation of the GOD vs Robinson/Nicholls feud and Gambino/Yano shtick. Not much else to say other that it will be fun. Well, the Yano and Gambino spots will be fun if you like the comedy of both of those guys. Juice/Nicholls/Yano for the win as I think that Juice/Nicholls are likely to get those tag belts & continue to ride high after that. Prediction: Robinson & Nicholls & Yano
Tomohiro Ishii vs Toa Henare
Hard-hitters going at it. Old bull vs young bull. These two are going to be dishing the forearms, chops and lariats. Last year’s match on a Road to Wrestling Dontaku show was just that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they top it as Ishii is a machine and Henare would have something to prove after being snubbed from the G1. Having an excellent performance against the NEVER champion is a strong statement. This is going to be a belter. At the end of it, Ishii would prove to be too much for the young Kiwi. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Will Ospreay vs Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Robbie Eagles)
A multi-man NJPW tag that is full of stars. Not the most exciting main event, but a suitable one considering the names in the match. What is going to be most interesting is whether they do the Robbie Eagles turn on this show. Sydney is Robbie Eagles’ home base and the Ospreay/Eagles rivalry has so much history in that city. Him switching from CHAOS to Bullet Club would get a massive pop. But they might save that for Japan. Who knows? Choosing Okada/Tanahashi/Ospreay for the win and possibly Eagles ends the show with them. Prediction: Okada & Tanahashi & Ospreay