I wanted to get this written before the second half of the G1 started, but life got in the way. Now that we’re just past the halfway point, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the first ten days of the G1 and talk about the matches I enjoyed the most.
July 17 – A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito
The chemistry between Ibushi and Naito is insane. This match was back and forth the entire time with Ibushi hitting Naito with some devastating moves, but none more so than the suplex off the second rope. How Naito managed to kick out of that is beyond me because I…would’ve just stayed down and had a nice three second nap. But that’s why I’m not a wrestler and instead just…writing about it. Definitely a match that I will watch over and over again.
July 20 – B Block: SANADA vs EVIL
The first match for both of these guys in G1 27 and of course it was against each other. I came into this tournament a firm member of the Bullet Club and after this match (and some other matches featuring the LIJ boys), I can now say I am Team Los Ingobernables de Japon. This match almost seemed like they both felt they had to prove something, whether to themselves or their teammates, but boy did they deliver.
July 20 – B Block: Minoru Suzuki vs Kenny Omega
Even though I may be Team LIJ right now, Kenny Omega will forever be my number one. I loved that as soon as Suzuki hit the ring, Omega did this whole thing where he seemed nervous, slightly scared, and Suzuki fed right into it. And then that’s when Omega worked his magic, showing just why he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world today. I enjoyed the methodical way that Suzuki attacked Omega’s knee and how Omega was able to overcome it.
July 21 – A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr.
We didn’t get it during the Cruiserweight Classic (as TJ Perkins so lovingly reminded us on Twitter a while ago), but New Japan finally gave us the match we all wanted to see – Ibushi vs ZSJ. It could’ve been a battle between the two styles, but Ibushi seemed to wrestle ZSJ’s type of match for the most part. And it was incredible. We all know Ibushi does some wild things in the ring, but watching him grapple with ZSJ was just as beautiful.
July 22 – B Block: Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens vs Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, and Hiromu Takahashi
This match is being brought up only because of the tragedy that happened during the middle of the match – the death of the most over plush cat in all of wrestling, Daryl Takahashi. The loss was felt by the entire wrestling community and we will all miss you, Daryl. Bad Luck Fale, you’re a monster.
July 22 – B Block: Kenny Omega vs Tama Tonga
As if Bullet Club wasn’t already dividing up into smaller groups already, this match seemed to further the divide in the once-cohesive group. Tama Tonga shouted throughout the match that Omega didn’t care about Bullet Club, he only cared about himself and The Elite. It didn’t help Omega’s case that he was wearing gear that had “The Elite” on the butt and not a more neutral logo. However, Omega struck back and showed Tama Tonga that not only does his loyalty lie with the Bullet Club, but also exactly why he is the leader.
July 23 – A Block: Bad Luck Fale vs Tetsuya Naito
This goes along with the tag match these two had against each other the night before. It was a good match from both competitors and I like to think that the extra aggression that Naito displayed, along with the slight carelessness, was because of his friend and LIJ partner’s loss.
July 25 – B Block: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
SANADA is definitely going to become a main eventer, just give him time. This match confirmed that for sure, because he hung with Okada the entire match. When Okada tried to go for the first Rainmaker in the match and SANADA ducked it, only to put Okada on his shoulders, was brilliant. They worked well together and I won’t be surprised if, somewhere down the road, SANADA gets an IWGP Heavyweight Championship shot.
July 26 – A Block: Zack Sabre Jr. vs Bad Luck Fale
Everybody expected that this was just going to be a squash match, I’m pretty sure. How the hell could tiny Zack Sabre Jr. ever be expected to beat Bad Luck Fale? But…he did. He didn’t let Fale’s size get in the way and was able to use multiple submission holds on the Underboss. And Fale worked up a sweat during this one, hanging with ZSJ and almost getting the victory if it wasn’t for ZSJ’s quickness to reverse the pin attempt.
July 27 – B Block: Minoru Suzuki vs EVIL
I loved this match. I loved that it was two dudes that are a little off just beating the crap outta each other. I had EVIL as my pick for this and was surprised he did beat Suzuki, becoming only the second person in the tournament to do so. EVIL is so good and I’m really impressed with how he’s done in this tournament so far.
July 29 – A Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito
I enjoy watching these two wrestlers. Ishii is deceptively quick for his size, which made this a fun match as he was able to move out of Naito’s path multiple times. It was even more fun to watch as Naito tried to avoid getting back into the ring and eventually Ishii just slammed him. If I didn’t want Naito to win the A Block (and the whole tournament) so badly, then Ishii would be my next pick.
July 30 – B Block: Juice Robinson vs Kazuchika Okada
Juice Robinson is another guy I think has been doing a killer job so far in this tournament. He may not have the most points, but he’s definitely got the most heart and the biggest fighting spirit. Even though he was hurting after having faced Suzuki two B Block matches before, he still toughed it out against Okada. Juice Robinson may not win the B Block, but he’s definitely winning the hearts of NJPW fans worldwide.
So those are all the matches I loved in the first ten days of the G1. Did you have a different favorite? Let us know in the comments below!