[Please note: To save myself some time, I am only going to review the G1 tournament matches themselves. If there is a really good undercard match, and I get the time to watch it, I will make a note of it eventually. There may be spoilers for previous days.]
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual heavyweight tournament, the G1 Climax 29, continues. Action on Day 7 will see Will Ospreay once again test himself against the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, as Okada seeks to remain undefeated in the A Block, while KENTA seeks to do the same against EVIL. For the B Block on Day 8, Tomohiro Ishii will go to war with Tetsuya Naito in the main event, while the still undefeated Jon Moxley faces old rival Shingo Takagi, and Toru Yano looks out outsmart Juice Robinson.
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito (G1 Climax B Block Match): what can I even say about this match that you wound’t expect me to say? Ishii is probably one of my top three favourite wrestlers right now, and every single match he has is incredible. Adding the main event version of Naito into that already simple equation leaves you with two of the best wrestlers in the world putting on one of the best matches you’ll ever see. Just incredible
+ Shingo Takagi vs Jon Moxley (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was great. The commentary added a lot to this match by referencing the former rivalry between the two from their DGUSA days, and the intensity never let up. I know I say it every review, but Moxley is such a breath of fresh air in NJPW, and Shingo new foray into the heavyweight division meant this was as unique a match up as you could hope for. I loved this
+ Taichi vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax B Block Match): there was a lot of shenanigans in this match, but it suited the match they were having. Goto has had a good run of matches, even though he has not necessarily been winning them, and Taichi is Taichi – you either love him, hate him, or love to hate him. Still, I am thinking that Taichi might deserve a bit more love from some people. He is not the best technician but damn if he doesn’t get the crowd riled up one way or another
+ Toru Yano vs Juice Robinson (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was the definition of short and sweet match. Yano is great as the character that he is playing, and Juice is better than many give him credit for. Forgive my pretentious wording, but this was a thinking man’s comedy match. Good stuff
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay (G1 Climax A Block Match): this was okay, but in some ways it has just exposed Ospreay. As good as Ospreay is, he is out of his depth against these bigger guys. Without implying anything about the winner, I was surprise in the way it ended, mostly because there was one or two moments earlier in the match that I was dead certain was going to be the finish. I guess that made the one who didn’t lose at that point look stronger, but sometimes those fake outs are not the best way to go. Okada is the best wrestler in the world
+ SANADA vs Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax A Block Match): this was a really good match. Like Ospreay/Ibushi, these two started off quite slowly, but it built the tension really effectively. SANADA is so smooth in everything he does, especially those huge leapfrog jumps, and the speed at which Ibushi can throw a combo of strikes means he can send the crowd into a frenzy in literally a single second. I really enjoyed this
+ EVIL vs KENTA (G1 Climax A Block Match): this was fine, but not quite the big match I wanted it to be. EVIL is not quite on the Ishii level but he could be with some minor moveset tweaks. KENTA is still such a surprise, and I can’t believe the WWE would rather make him a nobody when he can still go like this
– Jay White vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was probably the weakest of the B block matches (unless you are not a fan of Yano’s style). Cobb did in fact look really good, though, as he utilised his strength against White. Even going undefeated, White is the biggest jerk in the tournament, but this still truthfully didn’t so much for me. Neither man was particularly bad, it just felt like it was ‘there’
– Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax A Block Match): as always for this tournament, Archer looked great and Tana was a broken down, sloppy mess. I really, truly do understand why Tana is held is such high regard, but he is objectively just not the wrestler he used to be, and at this point he should be saving himself for big matches
– Bad Luck Fale vs Zack Sabre Jr. (G1 Climax A Block Match): frankly, this was just slow and boring. Whether it was the size difference between the two or the clash in styles, this just did nothing for me
> it is a simple thing, but NJPW not being afraid to reference promotions like DDT or DGUSA really makes their wrestlers feel accomplished. I understand why the WWE wouldn’t reference anyone else, or at least only do so very rarely, but bringing up the past history between Moxley/Shingo, for example, just made their match feel like a big thing
Should you watch this event: What a pair of back to back night for the G1, but in particular the B Block. Ospreay/Okada and Ibushi/SANADA, and then especially Ishii/Naito and Moxley/Shingo were all great, and you may get a kick out of Yano/Juice if Yano is one of your boys.