New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 29 – Night 16
August 8, 2019
Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium
Yokohama, Kanagawa

Watch: NJPW World

It’s the last night before the oasis of Budokan. We’re stumbling onwards, mumbling phrases like “mathematically eliminated” through spittle and discharge, ready to discover who will face Ibushi or Okada in the final. Although all the signs seem to indicate Naito taking the B-Block, what’s the point in watching this is we don’t get a complicated minefield of branching scenarios going into the block final? 

Non-G1 Climax 29 Matches

  • Ren Narita and Shota Umino def. Yuya Uemura and Yota Tsuji
  • Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi def. SANADA, EVIL and BUSHI
  • Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr and Lance Archer def. KENTA, Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors
  • Kazuchika Okada, Yoshi-Hashi and Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Kota Ibushi, Toa Henare and Will Ospreay

G1 Climax 29 B Block
Toru Yano (8) def. Taichi (6)

Toru Yano, like always, starts his match barking like a dog. The only reasonable Pavlovian response is an eye roll – an expectation of a repeated joke that wasn’t particularly funny the first time. It’s pointless trying to analyze his matches at this point. They’re a melting pot of the fatty gristle on a steak, the blue Quality Street and the proverbial marmite. If you like them, you like them. Personally, I don’t. The low blows are so slow they’re almost erotic but they keep Yano alive in the G1. **

G1 Climax 29 B Block
Tetsuya Naito (10) def. Jeff Cobb (6)

Cobb is a wrestler with a ceiling. He’s obviously a magnificently talented powerhouse, but he rarely surprises me with a great match. There’s some fantastic displays of that power here – a catch from the Combinacion Cabron and a thrilling suspended suplex from the top rope – but they feel like exhibitions rather than moves with meaning.

What this match does, however, is tell a nice simple story. Naito mocks that power with faux-sumo trappings and wrestles a smart match with knee strikes and targeted offense. There are some slaps intended to raise ire, but ultimately Cobb gives the impression that he’s having another day at the office.

I want to see Cobb harness the reckless abandon that he hints at. Moves like the Tour of the Islands suggest an uncontrollable power that defies any concept of care for his opponent’s wellbeing. The F5-esque face plant looks fantastic, but it seems to come more from Naito’s superb selling ability than anything from Cobb. The moves aren’t the problem; it’s the conviction.

This match was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it feels like a breather for Naito as he prepares to storm the Budokan. ***½

G1 Climax 29 B Block
Hirooki Goto (10) def. Jon Moxley (10)

There’s something a bit disconcerting about the way Moxley rolls his shoulders. It’s one part hardman and two parts performance dance. He’s always trying to tell the visually impaired fan in the back row that he’s just, like, totally crazy. Perhaps a bit of subtlety would round out the most exciting run in modern wrestling.

Goto, on the other hand, is subtly compelling. He’s a man in constant crisis, finding a home and then losing it. He’s in the midst of one of his waterfall phases, except this time he’s hanging out with his old mate Shibata in LA, probably drinking and reminiscing about the times the world seemed at his fingertips. I’m very much looking forward to another fantastic mid-life crisis of body paint and meditation in idyllic locations.

Character quibbles aside, these are clearly two world-class workers and even with the grind of a long tournament clearly seeping into Moxley’s muscles, a bad match was an impossibility. Even the opening fist bump oozed with a ridiculous machismo that leaves the viewer in no doubt about the violent leanings of both men.

The highlight here was the ending; it was a clever nod towards the quality of these two wrestlers. It wasn’t an unstoppable move that fell Moxley, but a simple mistake. He overreached by going for a second Death Rider, and Goto was able to take advantage of the extra time. 

I get the impression that something was being held back here, and a title challenge from Goto could easily headline a smaller show. This match certainly left me wanting to see that. ***1/2





G1 Climax 29 B Block
Jay White (10) def. Juice Robinson (6)

It’s hard to watch these two wrestle and not reflect on their career trajectories so far. Both men graduated from the same dojo class, and while Jay White has been strapped with the proverbial rocket pack, Juice has slowly but surely climbed his way into both championship success and a place in all of our hearts. Juice has an aura that the crowd is compelled to respond to, and has crafted a character that is pure blue-eye in a world that seems drawn to the anti-hero time and time again.

Of course, Jay jumps out of the ring and tries to lure Juice in with a smirk-infested handshake. This makes me wonder if we’re supposed to watch every G1 show or just cherry-pick our favorite matches.

The match had a fantastic pace to it. It felt like a crawl towards the finish line, with both men moving on tired limbs and thinking with exhausted minds. This was woven into the story fantastically, with even simple moves like snap mares having an extra sprinkle of nastiness. It was slow, but every move was a thunderbolt.

Jay White, despite the shenanigans that litter his matches, it a superb worker. Essentially, he worked the leg, but he was able to do it with such conviction that he easily swerved the ‘limb work’ tropes and plod that so many of his contemporaries fall into.

Gedo played an interesting part here, with his maniacal cackle adding an extra layer of brutality to Juice being thrown to the floor.

Moving into a submission exchange, we start to feel like we’re being run over by a steamroller. It’s slow, methodical and hurts like hell. It’s a crawl to the bell, and pits two, juxtaposing G1 tactics against each other. Juice has chosen to battle the journey with heart, whereas White has chosen malevolence. By the time the Holy Trinity of the heel comes into play – distraction, ref bump and low blow – the tide has turned squarely in White’s favor.

White wrenches in the submission, and the G1 final remains within his reach. Juice is eliminated, and I find myself wondering what he’s thinking. ****1/4

G1 Climax 29 B Block
Shingo Takagi (6) def Tomohiro Ishii (8)

Tomohiro Ishii, like no other wrestler, tests the limits of his opponents. Sure, they have to resist the hellacious parade of forearms and brain busters, but there’s so much more to his test than that. He cajoles and mocks his opponent’s offense, constantly daring them to hit him harder. He tests the limits of your morality. What are you willing to do to him to win the match?  With blood dripping from his ear, he wags his finger at Shingo like a parent admonishing an unruly child. Shingo knows he needs to raise his game, or he’s not surpassing the immovable giant.

I’ve written extensively about Ishii and his superlative skill before, but the wonder he brings to the ring goes beyond that of a simple wrestling match. He lacks the skills, brains and looks of many of his contemporaries and bright, shining stars like Shingo are guaranteed to pass him by. However, like the greatest human beings, he scratches and claws for everything he’s got, whether it’s championship gold, a booking on the next show or, simply, the respect he deserves.

The moves here are stunning lariats and high-decibel forearm strikes, but by framing these in lactic acid-drenched muscles, Shingo and Ishii take flight. The way the sweat dances in the lights, the way Shingo wrenches the cannonball of Ishii off the mat and the way they launch their shoulders off the mat in an exchanged late match one-count. It’s a series of simple building blocks but it makes something magical.

As always, Ishii stumbles on the final hurdle. With this loss, he’s eliminated and will have to watch the bigger stars dance towards the bigger stages. Ishii will not have to watch with any doubt, however. He never looks at the fans, because we stand behind him, and we know he gave us everything he had. ****¾

Final Thoughts

Another excellent night of wrestling in what has been an excellent tournament so far. Sure, we have to accept the fact they’ll be some points positioning for the block final, but that didn’t stop the top two matches being special. There are clearly some tired limbs here, but we’ve reached the adrenaline of the Budokan and there’s no reason not to get excited for one of the best weekends in wrestling!

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

For audio reviews of each G1 Climax 29 Night, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/voicesofwrestling

Stay up to date on VOW’s G1 Climax 29 Pick’Em standings and scores at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

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.