Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Climax 29 (Day 15 & Day 16) (2019)

[Please note: By the time you read this, the tournament will be over and winner will have been crowned. I have no idea who that may be. 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. As we reach the final rounds, only three competitors are still alive in the A Block, where Kazuchika Okada will go one on one with the man who beat him last year, EVIL. In the semi-main event, Zack Sabre Jr. looks to play spoiler against Kota Ibushi, the latter of whom is still in with a chance to win. On Day 16 for the B Block, almost every competitor is still in the running, with a notable exception of Shingo Takagi, who in his first foray into the G1 Climax has been eliminated relatively early. Takagi’s opponent, Tomohiro Ishii, however, is certainly in the running, so it will be up to Takagi to play spoiler. Elsewhere in the B Block, Jeff Cobb will face Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson will end the dreams of his longtime rival, the Switchblade, Jay White, and Hirooki Goto will face the block leader, Jon Moxley, and Toru Yano, himself still technically in with a chance at this stage, will face Taichi.

+ Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii (G1 Climax B Block Match): with Shingo already eliminated, this was a match where both guys were more than willing to just go to war and hold nothing back. Ishii has already had bangers with Moxley, Goto and especially Juice, and Shingo is clearly an official heavyweight at this point, so you best believe the strikes and flying sweat in this match was seemingly tailor made for someone like me, who just loves to see these beefy bois clobber each other
+ Juice Robinson vs Jay White (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was a real main event match, almost a continuation of the US Championship series they had. These two showed real animosity for each other, which was a great change of pace in the G1 matches. White is the biggest jerk in the company, and Juice may be the most loved non-Japanese guy on the roster, which made for a fantastic show
+ Jon Moxley vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax B Block Match): I really loved the urgency at which this match seemed to be fought with. This was surprisingly short, but it just made the action that much more important. Both men have had a fantastic tournament, and this was a great match between them
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was bloody fantastic. Cobb looked like a monster as powered out of Naito’s signature sequences with outlandish strength, and Naito looked as good as he has all tournament. This was a match full of incredible counters, and I loved it
+ EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada (G1 Climax A Block Match): based almost entirely on the match these two had last year, I was on the edge of my seat for this whole match. EVIL has that ability to kick it into another gear towards the end of his big matches, and Okada is the biggest and best in the company for a reason. This was a phenomenal main event, with heavy strikes, great strength and grapples and an intense final stretch
+ Zack Sabre Jr. vs Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax A Block Match): I didn’t really care for Sabre in this match, but Ibushi looked great. In these late stages, matches are often unimportant due to one competitor being unable to win, but in this case at least there was more at stake than just one man advancing. This does get a pass, because I was invested, but it certainly wasn’t either man’s best
+ Will Ospreay vs KENTA (G1 Climax A Block Match): I enjoyed this one, even if it was technically a Best of the Super Juniors match up, with both men being well underneath the heavyweight limit. Ospreay works best against either the big guys or these strikers, so this was a good match, and I am still shocked and impressed by KENTA, some eight matches into his NJPW run

Taichi vs Toru Yano (G1 Climax B Block Match): eeeh. A Yano win would mean he was still alive in the standings, but I can’t say that meant much for me at this late stage of the tournament
Bad Luck Fale vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax A Block Match): frankly, this was just not very good at all. Another match between two who were already eliminated meant that there was not even a chance of one man playing spoiler (as there was in the later matches)
Lance Archer vs SANADA (G1 Climax A Block Match): with both guys mathematically eliminated, there really didn’t feel like much was at stake here, even as commentary tried to put over “be the guy to beat the guy who beat Okada”. Archer has had a good tournament, but his best matches have been against the smaller guys he can no-sell, and SANADA doesn’t quite fit that billing

> As much as I hate having matches with no real consequences — ie, no champion to be defeated, no possibility to win the block and no real history — I do love the way NJPW books the tournaments to be so open ended, even at this late stage. The fact that, certain conditions permitting, six of the 10 competitors (I think) in the B Block are still eligible to win is just a testament to the great planning of NJPW’s staff

Should you watch this event: Dang it, Ishii/Shingo, Goto/Moxley, Juice/White and EVIL/Okada were all so good. Definitely give them a watch, and if you are a fan of anyone else still in the tournament runnings, give them a look as well, because odds are they had a good match.


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