NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
G1 CLIMAX 29 – NIGHT 5
JULY 18, 2019
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

The results of the undercard tags:

  • Jon Moxley & Shota Umino def. Yuya Uemura & Tomohiro Ishii 
  •  Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, & YOSHI-HASHI def. Juice Robinson, Toa Henare, & Yota Tsuji 
  • Chase Owens, Jay White, & Yujiro Takahashi def. Ren Narita, Toru Yano, & Tomoaki Honma 
  • Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, & Tetsuya Naito 

G1 Climax 29 A Block
KENTA (6) DEF. LANCE ARCHER (4)

I reviewed this show specifically because I knew I’d have tons of thoughts on this match. I’ve seen more KENTA than just about any other wrestler in my lifetime. I enjoy him, whether it be young boy KENTA, peak junior KENTA, or late-NOAH heavyweight KENTA, more than almost anyone. Through years of watching all that footage, I’ve learned that KENTA does his best work against men that tower over him. 

KENTA’s early onslaught of kicks had no major effect on the Texan. I thought for sure KENTA would spend the entire match chopping down the big man, but he saw early on that Archer was hardly phased by the shots to the calf. The kicks couldn’t slow Archer and his Pounces down, however. Twice, he ran over KENTA like a runaway train. 

Most of this match was worked as I expected it to be. The most shocking outcome of all of this was the crowd reaction. I expected a hero’s welcome for KENTA. It was five years ago in May that he said goodbye to Japan and wrestled his Pro Wrestling NOAH farewell in this same building. While he was jet setting around the world (from Largo, FL to the 205 Live locker room), Archer was working his ass off in Korakuen under the banners of New Japan, NOAH, and Suzuki-Gun Produce shows. The man has been around and the crowd has come to respect Archer. KENTA’s response was tepid, to put it kindly. Multiple times, the crowd erupted in “Archer!” chants, most notably when he cannonballed onto KENTA and his LA Dojo young boys on the floor. 

KENTA tried multiple times to get Archer up for the Go 2 Sleep, but Archer was far too big as he registers a full foot taller than the man that he called “Hideo” in this match. KENTA is two decades in, though, and he’s developed an arsenal deep with tricks. He was able to get Archer to the canvas and quickly transitioned into a submission that we have yet to see from him during this New Japan run, the Game Over. He wrenched it back and Archer had no choice but to submit. 

KENTA leaves this match still undefeated, but Archer leaves this match with the full respect of the Korakuen Hall crowd. Both of these men have been absolutely terrific in this G1. ****1/4 

G1 Climax 29 A Block
EVIL (4) DEF. SANADA (2)

I dug into the New Japan World archive earlier this week and watched the only other match these two have had together – a G1 singles match from July 20, 2017, in this same exact building. Had I not watched that match so recently, I may have been a little more engrossed in this bout. These two worked super hard and had Korakuen Hall rocking by the time it was over, but I couldn’t help but feel like this match was slightly bloated. I wanted a compact sprint and instead, although I recognize that it was very good, I was given a faux-main event epic. 

The work here was very solid. I loved the referee assisted Magic Killer and the barrage of Cold Skull counters that ended with SANADA planting his partner with Everything is Evil. The work here was very good, but when I compare it to the great match that I watched a few nights ago, this was not a great match. It was very good, but I know there’s a better version of this match out there. EVIL won with his patented STO and then squashed the beef with his partner, fist bumping him in true LiJ fashion about the bout. ***3/4 

G1 Climax 29 A Block
KAZUCHIKA OKADA (6) DEF. BAD LUCK FALE (2)

With this win, Kazuchika Okada now has a career record of 5-3 vs. Bad Luck Fale in singles competition. He dropped falls in both the 2016 G1 and the 2018 G1 against Fale, so this victory gives him his first ever win vs. Fale in the tournament. 

Unless there’s some sort of catastrophe, this will easily be Okada’s worst match of the tournament. Okada, by himself, was actually great in this match. I thought the build to Okada finally landing on the giant was very well done. Okada’s facial expressions and the bump he took on Fale’s big back body drop were superb. This was a singular gem for Okada because he looked so good in a match that so many fail to succeed in. 

Then, Fale attacked the referee, Chase Owens ran in, Okada dropkicked him into oblivion, and then he rolled up Fale the same way that he did Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho at the past two Dominion events. Okada escapes the clutches of Fale and gets out of town with a win. He remains undefeated and his KENTA in his sights next. ***1/4 

G1 Climax 29 A Block
HIROSHI TANAHASHI (2) DEF. ZACK SABRE JR (0)

Tanahashi gets on the board and evens the singles match series between he and Zack Sabre Jr at 3-3. It’s the first time he’s won a G1 match against ZSJ, as well, as they are now 1-1 in G1 competition. 

Will Ospreay has been lighting up the spreadsheets all year and I certainly can’t put up a fight against anyone that claims Will Ospreay to be the best wrestler in the world, but when I watch matches like this, I can’t help but feel like Zack Sabre Jr is applying his craft better than anyone else on Earth. 

I can watch the crafty technician twist Tanahashi into knots for hours. Tanahashi has battled a variety of “injuries” around the G1 for a half-decade now, and whether it be a hurt neck, an injured knee, or a disheveled arm, Tanahashi’s supposedly seriously injured body part always seems to get destroyed in the G1. With Sabre, it doesn’t matter what body part Tanahashi claims is less than 100% – he’s going to rip Tanahashi apart, limb from limb. It’s the perfect opponent for Zack. The Ace isn’t as bendy as an Ospreay and isn’t as smooth as someone like Okada. When Tanahashi gets put into a ZSJ submission, it looks horribly painful. 

If Tanahashi had to rely on the Cloverleaf of the High Fly Flow for the victory, this win might have gone to the Brit. He had very little left in the tank by the end of this and that’s not going to do him any favors as he has Lance Archer lined up next. Perhaps Tanahashi can pull out the same bag of tricks against the big man as he did against Sabre, as Tananashi was able to collapse on top of him and roll him up for the victory. I don’t ever remember seeing Tanahashi win a major match with a rollup, but I’m all for it. ****





G1 Climax 29 A Block
KOTA IBUSHI (2) VS. WILL OSPREAY (2)

With this win, Ibushi evens up their singles feud at 1-1. It should also be noted that Ibushi reigns supreme over Will Ospreay in Korakuen Hall, as the latter was on the winning side of both Golden Lovers vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay and Golden Lovers vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Will Ospreay. 

This was shockingly violent. Ibushi came into this match with a bruised and battered ankle and Ospreay came in with an extra day’s rest after sitting out of undercard action due to a neck injury. Naturally, these two men attacked each other’s most vulnerable areas. Ospreay grinned from ear-to-ear when he locked in on Ibushi’s ankle and Ibushi went blank with rage every time he had a chance to drop Ospreay on his head. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, these two poked it. They tormented each other within the confines of pro wrestling and as a viewer, there’s not much more I can ask for. 

For years now I’ve touted Ibushi as the best striker in the game that isn’t named Masaaki Mochizuki. When Ibushi began adopting a stronger style, which feels like it was around 2013 when he first started squaring off against heavyweights in New Japan, an entirely new element was added to his game. He had been criticized previously for being one-dimensional. If you’ve seen one 2009 Kota Ibushi match, you’ve seen them all. Granted, all of those matches are going to be superbly entertaining, but there was a general flow to his matches at the time and those that noticed it were fair in calling him out for it. 

He’s now perfected his striking game and it keeps me on my toes whenever he’s in the ring. He’s one slap, one kick, or one knee away from decidedly changing the tone of the match. Ibushi’s vacant face, as he’s delivering this damage, remains one of the most intriguing details regarding anyone in this company. For fifteen years, Ibushi has gleefully delved into debauchery with a smile on his face. Now, when the smile fades and Ibushi’s eyes show nothing behind them, I have no idea what could possibly come next. In this case, it was a Hidden Blade counter of his own that sent Will Ospreay’s neck jarring back before falling spine-first onto the canvas. 

The Ospreay vs. Ibushi feud is officially A Thing now. Every time these two square off, it’s going to mean something in the long run. Will Ospreay sits at 2 points currently with plenty of tournament left. When Ibushi entered the G1 as a junior in 2013, he finished with 8 points (three earned victories and a forfeit win against Hiroyoshi Tenzan). If I were Ospreay, I’d be gunning for 8. Anything to put yourself on the same level as Kota Ibushi seems like a positive in my mind. 

This match was phenomenal. Ospreay adds yet another gem to his collection this year and Kota Ibushi continues to add depth to what was once a hollow character. Full recommendation. Go out of your way to see this. ****1/2 

Final Thoughts

This is the sort of action that I expect from New Japan’s annual Grade-1 Climax tournament. Three matches are going on my spreadsheet and I can’t knock anyone that wants to include EVIL vs. SANADA on theirs as well. If not for Fale nonsense, this would be a perfect G1 show. Even then, the Fale stuff didn’t overstay its welcome, and with a main event like Ospreay vs. Ibushi, I can look past it to give this show two thumbs up. Watch the whole G1 portion of the show.

VOW G1 Climax Audio Reviews &  Pick’Em Standings/Scores

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A reminder that everyone is playing for a chance to win one of our three prizes: 

First Place

A free copy of Puroresu Travel: Vacation in Japan to Watch Pro Wrestling by Craig Mann (https://amzn.to/2Zvkzr6) as well as a collection of vintage puro magazines from http://ViolentMiracle.com.

  • Note: International winners responsible for postage.

Second Place

A free “Switchblade” Jay White iron-on patch from Cheap Shot Party & Angry Lemonade. Cheap Shop Party is also offering all VOW G1 Climax 29 Pick’Em Participants 10% off with promo code “G1CLIMAX”

Third Place

10 free Inspire Pro Wrestling Blu-Rays!

  • Inspire Pro Wrestling (http://inspireprowrestling.com) was founded in 2013 by Justin Bissonnette & Max Meehan and is based out of Austin, Texas. For six years, Inspire Pro has been Austin’s premier promotion, featuring the future stars the Lone Star state has been producing as well as some of the best from around the globe. Running bi-monthly events, Inspire Pro has featured many stars to have graced a NJPW ring like ACH, Ray Rowe, Ricochet & EVIL.