Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Climax 29 (Day 17 & Day 18) (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.]

The final block winners of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) G1 Climax 29 will be decided on Day 17 (for the A Block) and Day 18 (for the B Block). It is Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada who will face off for the winning spot of the A Block in a match where Okada is hoping to become the first champion to win the tournament in almost 20 years. Ibushi, meanwhile, is looking to win the block by defeating none other than the current IWGP Champion. Things are not as clear cut for the B Block, with three matches playing a part in the eventual winner: Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White; Hirooki Goto vs Shingo Takagi; and Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley. If:
– Naito wins and Juice defeats Moxley, then Naito wins the block
– White wins, and Shingo defeats Goto, then White will win the block
– Goto wins, and then White wins, or White/Naito draw, then Goto wins the block on a tie breaker
– Moxley wins, Shingo defeats Goto, and Naito wins or White/Naito draw, then Moxley will claim the block

But, as a very outside chance, if Tomohiro Ishii defeats Taichi, and all of the aforementioned three matches end on double countouts, then it will be Ishii who claims the block from the jaws of defeat.

+ Jay White vs Tetsuya Naito (G1 Climax B Block Match): it’s not often that NJPW crowds properly boo a competitor, but Jay White is something special in just how much everybody seems to hate him. Naito was the complete opposite, and looked to be the absolute mega star we already know he is to the Nippon Budokan crowd. White looked to have surgical malice on his mind as he picked Naito apart, but the thing with Naito is that no matter how many times he gets planted right on his neck, there is always the chance he’ll get up and hit some of his signature offence. This was a fantastic main event, and win, lose or draw, both men looked really good coming out of it
+ Shingo Takagi vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax B Block Match): another super strong-stye, hard hitting slobberknocker, and thankfully the last tournament match for both men – I think they’ll need some time to recover. Shingo looked every bit the heavyweight wrestler he was intending to be in the G1 proper, and Goto continued the excellent form that he began on the first night of B Block action
+ Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson (G1 Climax B Block Match): much like their recent US Championship bout, this was great. There is history between the two, championship implications and a potential G1 win for Moxley, so this match had everything it needed to be a real main event-style context
+ Taichi vs Tomohiro Ishii (G1 Climax B Block Match): these two always bring out the best in each other (or, perhaps, Ishii – and Naito – always brings out the best in Taichi). This felt relatively short, but I didn’t keep track of the actual time, but I can safely assume that is to save more for any more inevitable, eventual rematches
+ Toru Yano vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax B Block Match): the very opening moments of this match were absolute comedy gold, and the rest of the match was pretty solid wrestling. Cobb worked surprisingly well against Yano’s style, and in the end I can’t say it was a Jeff Cobb-style match, but I liked it for what it was
+ Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada (G1 Climax A Block Match): this started slowly, and sped up at just the perfect pace to build tension to an absolute fever pitch. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that both men looked good in the ring, but I can admit that the finishing minute or so was very surprising
+ Zack Sabre Jr. vs KENTA (G1 Climax A Block Match): this was fine, so much that I’d love to see it again some time, but I really wish it was an earlier match in the tournament. Obviously the way this tournament works is that some matches simply have to be last, and this was a first time match up, I just wish there some something on the line between the two
+ Lance Archer vs EVIL (G1 Climax A Block Match): as far as matches with nothing on the line, Archer continued to be incredibly impressive, whilst EVIL was his same old fantastic self

Will Ospreay vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax A Block Match): I’ve been harsh on Tanahashi — TanHARSHi LOL — but I’ve also tried to be fair when a match he was in was genuinely pretty good. This was not the case here. Ospreay looked to be going through the motions, and Tanahashi looked particularly slow against the extremely fast Ospreay
Bad Luck Fale vs SANADA (G1 Climax A Block Match): I don’t really know what the recent ‘Fale is actually a competent wrestler’ thing was leading to, but seeing him against someone like SANADA blows that theory out of the water no doubt. SANADA was impressive, but Fale was just not very good

Should you watch this event: Although on these last nights, it’s often the case that 80 per cent of the matches have no real stake in the tournament, this was still a good double features night of shows. The two Block winners are worthy choices, and it is all but certain they will have a hell of a match. I’ll put down my choice of MPVs in the review for the final night, but overall these block matches were a great way to end the tournament block stages.

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