AUGUST 7, 2019

Watch: NJPW World


  • Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi) defeat Toru Yano, Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura
  • CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto) defeat Shota Umino & Jon Moxley
  • BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Jay White) defeat Juice Robinson, Tonga Henare & Tomoaki Honma
  • Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) defeat Tomohiro Ishii, Jeff Cobb & Ren Narita


Two of the surprise standouts of the A block go head to head in this G1 opener. It was a very simple match structurally, but both wrestlers played their roles to perfection and made sure that everything landed. The match started in the ramp, with Archer quickly going after SANADA, who’s still feeling the effects of his victory against Okada in the longest match of the tournament so far. The first portion of the match is Archer demolishing SANADA with his impactful offense, as well as his still surprising diving moves. 

At one point, they were reversing their signature moves until Archer executes a massive Chokeslam for the first big nearfall. There was also an impressive sequence where both wrestlers performed a Moonsault one after the other, and at the very end, SANADA escaped the Blackout and got the victory after executing the O’Connor Roll. This was 10 minutes of damn good pro wrestling action, with a nice little story and perfect execution, just what it needed to be. ***½ 


Haven’t seen anyone give this hot take, but Bad Luck Fale’s matches are a unique spectacle in pro wrestling. The amount of sweat that comes out of this guy’s forehead his unbelievable. Every time Fale bends downward there is a cascade of sweat falling down the top of his head. In this match, there was a moment where Tanahashi slapped him in the face and the amount of sweat that flew off was like he stepped on a puddle. Spot of the match.

Onto more serious things, this is the first time since 2008 where Tanahashi is a no factor going into the final night of block action. This G1 might be the turning point that many were talking about for the last couple of tournaments for Tanahashi. Maybe last year was his last big G1 moment, and from now on we’ll see the Ace of the Universe slowly but surely going down the card. He’s still an incredibly talented wrestler, and he proved it here, since he was capable of making Fale wrestle a decent match. 

The tropes of a Fale match were there, but they were perfectly placed and not offensive to watch, and the ending of the match was original for a Fale victory, since he pinned Tanahashi with a Backslide after Tana escaped the Bad Luck Fall position. After the loss, Tanahashi was visibly disappointed in himself, which makes sense. Nobody would be proud of themselves if one of the least athletic wrestlers in major league wrestling pins you with a Backslide. **¾ 


In the most anticipated match of the night for many fans, KENTA meets Will Ospreay in the ring for the first time ever. The rise of Ospreay as one of the top wrestlers of the planet has happened while KENTA was hibernating in WWE, and there is a chance that, story-wise, the Japanese legend sees Ospreay as an alternative version of himself. Ospreay has been a junior ace for New Japan in the last couple of years and now he’s trying his luck with the heavyweights in this G1. KENTA went through something similar back in his peak, since he started as a junior ace but eventually surpassed his weight class to face heavyweight legends like Kenta Kobashi, Minoru Suzuki or Genichiro Tenryu.

The match started quick and there was a series of fake-outs that included teasers of both of their finishers and ended with a double knockout kick to the head. The story of the match was KENTA trying to keep Ospreay grounded and weakening his neck and back when he could. This type of offense included a second rope DDT and a Falcon Arrow in the edge of the ring. In this last spot, we had our first count-out tease of the night. KENTA kept controlling Ospreay for a while, and then the strikes and the reversals started to happen. 

Ospreay eventually hits a sit-out Powerbomb and then follows up with a Shooting Star Press that KENTA reverses into the Game Over. Eventually, Ospreay escaped the Go To Sleep and connected the trifecta of finishing moves: the Osscutter, the killer elbow to the back of the head and the Stormbreaker for the victory. This is Ospreay’s biggest win in the G1 yet and it could get even better if he beats Tanahashi in the final night of block action, which is a possibility. This match lived up to the hype. The crowd was up for it, the work was top-notch, Ospreay is incapable of having a not-great match and KENTA has proved that he still has it, and he kept up with one of the best juniors in the world. ****¼ 


Ibushi and Sabre have one of those sneaky good tournament rivalries. They’re always paired up at the G1 and have faced in New Japan Cup before. They always have good matches and have good chemistry. In this match, Sabre could play spoiler for Ibushi if he beats him, which is a position very suitable for a wrestler like him that can submit you or pin you with all kinds of wacky maneuvers. 

Sabre worked his ass off. He went for the injured knee of Ibushi from early on and didn’t let the guy breathe during most of the match. For example, at one point, Ibushi went for his usual Powerslam to Moonsault combination, but Sabre caught him on the corner and got his legs trapped to keep exploiting the knee. This style of match is perfect for Ibushi, who still has his biggest match of the tournament coming up, so he just needed to do his signature spots and let Sabre do most of the work with the submissions.

The end of the match was particularly dramatic, with Sabre executing one of his key submissions, Orienteering with Napalm Death. Ibushi struggled to get to the ropes, and then tried the Bomaye, only for Sabre to trap him into three consecutive pinfall attempts. Finally, Ibushi hit the Bomaye and the Kamigoye for the victory. Great performance by Sabre that elevated the match. **** 


At this point in his career, Okada has perfected a type of match that is now synonymous with New Japan and quality main event pro wrestling. This is the reason why now is a disappointment when a main event match is “just” 4 stars. This bout against EVIL is the latest example of a formula that remains the most reliable one in pro wrestling. It only adds to the equation that Okada and EVIL also have story between them, but this surpassed their previous affairs.

If you have been a New Japan fan since the Ustream days, you don’t need to read a description of this match move by move, because you probably have internalized the structure, pace and feel of the Okada main event match. Last time we saw Okada in the ring, he put on a masterclass of timing and how to make the audience react to everything you do. Everyone knew he was losing to SANADA, but the last 3 minutes were agonizing. The equivalent in this match happened every time Okada went for the Rainmaker and EVIL docked it and tried the Everything is Evil, the perfect counter to the Rainmaker. 

This match was perfectly built from the beginning, and the sense of escalation is slow but steady, culminating in a wonderful climax full of reversals, powerful strikes and dramatism. In this type of matches, there’s always a moment when both wrestlers are on the floor, and the arena is erupting with people screaming, talking and murmuring. It’s the best soundtrack a wrestling fan can ask for: the sound of people caring about what’s happening in the ring. Like most of the great Okada matches, this ended with a climactic Rainmaker for the three count, and Okada standing tall and celebrating. ****½ 


A dream match, a portrait of a falling ace and a great modern pro wrestling main event made the Night 15 of the G1 Climax 29 a must-watch as the tournament enters the final days of action. The stage is set for the A Block show in Budokan.

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