Imp’s NJPW Adventure – G1 Special in San Francisco

Bobby Lashley

Imp’s NJPW Adventure

NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco

 

This Saturday the internet debate started all over again, as NJPW docked upon the sunny, Western shores of America and started asking a whole new set of questions. So instead of bashing out a by-the-by opinionated review of the matches, I thought I’d address those questions head on. I’ll touch upon the matches in the process anyway, but this way I don’t force myself to think up four paragraphs on contests where a short, one sentence tweet gets across everything in my head.

So let’s not dilly-dally like Harry Maguire with the ball at his feet in the opposition’s penalty box (had to get one World Cup line in this thing), and without further adieu get straight into this amazing show that was the G1 Special.


Is being the best attended non-WWE wrestling show in the US since WCW closed still considered a success if it’s not a sell out?

 

Let me just preface this by saying that we don’t know the official attendance numbers as of yet, but word is we’re probably looking at something above 7,000. Immediately that could give the reaction of, “In a 13,000 seat arena? That’s failure mate,” a reaction I’ve seen from folk on this very site. However, let’s not jump the gun as context is everything. The highest attended non-WWE wrestling event since WCW closed in 2001 was TNA Lockdown in 2013, where 6,700 fans attended the company’s biggest event. Which would make the G1 Special the highest attended wrestling show outside of WWE in over 17 years.

The gate is also currently estimated to be higher than TNA’s previous record, but without solid statistics I won’t pass too much judgement on that. Just adds to the question, was NJPW’s G1 Special a success? Running from yet another larger venue than the last, NJPW smashed their US attendance and gate records, continuing that gradual improvement in the US market. So in that department, how can it not be with such continued growth?

On the other hand, does the fact they were a few thousand away from selling out the historic Cow Palace trump all of that? It certainly didn’t have any impact on the enjoyment of those in attendance or anyone watching at home, so in the perception/trust department NJPW rolled ahead damn fine. What wasn’t great perception wise were photos of a very empty looking top section emerging online, which would be a talking point if it were not for the Cow Palace reportedly still backing up with traffic just 25 mins before the show started. Again, context is everything.

So yeah, that photo’s not a reliable depiction of the final attendance figures. It is, however, a reliable depiction of what the arena looked like not long before the show started. Like The Miz taunting a large room of empty seats at SummerSlam, we all know that’s not how full the arena was come the main event that night.

Was the G1 Special a success? Yes, still a success in spite of it not being a sell-out phenomenon. The interesting thing for me is to see is if that photo has any impact on the company’s perception come the next events, the way ‘how people look at things’ works online is… interesting at times.

No idea why all this would alter your enjoyment of the show itself anyhow, it was a right corker to me.


Was Hiromu Takahashi’s injury the result of recklessness or an unfortunate accident?

 

I’m not a wrestler, I’ve never taken a bump in the ring, the closest thing I’ve ever done was a leg drop on my brother in my back garden when I was 13. I got a jolt up my back and never did anything like it again. On the matter at hand, I’ve seen a variety of wrestlers on Twitter debating over this topic, with many falling on the different sides of the fence. Hiromu is thought to have broken his neck, which is just horrific news, and I don’t really feel like I can pass judgement on how it happened.

Comments from the likes of X-Pac and Finlay on the side of, “The spot was reckless and dangerous,” but there are others saying, “The spot was an accident, don’t forget this is wrestling.” Apparently causing a debate between those in the industry itself, never mind us measly peasants. All I can say is that the execution of the Phoenix Plex looked real bad on first look, then worse on replays. But my other reaction was that it’s not like I never shouted, “How has Hiromu not broken his neck? That was insane!”

Just last month Ishimori hit an absolutely devastating Piledriver on Hiromu in the Best of the Super Juniors final, so you could look at it as Hiromu’s been playing with fire quite for some time. Did he finally get burned? Or are you simply playing with fire every time you step in the ring? I really don’t feel like I know enough to give a definitive opinion on this, all I know is that a man’s broken his neck and that completely sucks.

I’ll pass on kind words for the hope of a great recovery, but I’m not going to debate over the nature of the injury.


The coming out party for Jay White and Juice Robinson AKA the etiquette of setting up a barricade

 

The Knife pervert versus The Flamboyant Disco Man. An actual #1 contender for the IWGP United States Championship that was an actual citizen of the United States America! In Juice’s own words, “With sparklers coming out my nipples and a bald eagle flying out my ass.” We’ll see how accurate that prophecy was come me talking the actual match, but first let’s talk barricades, shins and Jim Ross’ ribs. No, not BBQ ribs.

So during this fantastic IWGP United States Championship match, the two competitors started launching each other into the ringside barricades. Which sounds fine, but it appeared that not many of these barricades were connected to each other, so on one occurrence literal sparks flew out as Juice flew with said barricade grinding along the floor below him. Semi-loose barricades in NJPW is pretty common, but flat out unconnected flying barricades aren’t normally the setup of choice.

However, the big talking point came when White once again launched Juice, but this time in the direction of the barricade directly in front of English commentators JR and Josh Barnett. The barricade slammed into the commentary table, forcing the two seated back and Ross fell backwards and off his seat onto the concrete floor below. Barnett then stormed the ring, pointing at Jay White and bellowing f-bombs in a most audible of fashions.

Within the story of the match, it was an awesome moment that really didn’t to the feel of the chaos we were seeing. Added even more heat to the already deafening boos “Switchblade” Jay White was receiving. However Jim Ross sounded a bit pissed, uttered the phrase, “Security should get their shit together,” live on commentary and today went into hospital suspecting a broken rib. So whatever was planned, it appears to have gone perfectly in terms of heat between White and Barnett and awfully in terms of the safety of Jim Ross’ ribs.

In terms of the match itself, the G1 Special felt like a defining moment in the careers of both Jay White and Juice Robinson. With the heel going from, “Boo, you’re not Juice,” to “Eff you, asshole!” and the face from beloved wrestler to American hero. The closest thing to metaphorically having sparklers on his nipples and an eagle flying out his ass. In terms of character development, that match worked wonders. Creates so much interest going forward for those two guys.


*Shakes fist* Damn you, Tongans!

 

 For the first time in 12 years – since Brock Lesnar defended against Giant Bernard (aka Albert) – the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was contested between two non-Japanese wrestling talents. Kenny Omega vs Cody was a big moment in terms of how the future of NJPW shapes up, with the company putting more and more effort into expanding into the West. How will fans back home respond to more gaijin talent competing for the company’s top prize?

Well if the matches themselves are of this quality, I don’t think fans will mind one bit. Don’t forget, Omega lives in Japan, he’s fluent in the language and he’s super popular with the Japanese fans. Future matches may not all be flat out wars like his Bullet Club feud with Cody, but Okada showed consistent intensity can work wonders. Omega seems to have that ability in abundance.

One quick note, as great as the match was, there was another ‘Barricade of Death!’ moment when the thing flew into the Japanese ring announcers shins. OUCH! Bloody hell, did no one have a spare zip tie?

As for the match itself, it was everything I was expecting it should be. Story strong, building up the ante before hitting an ultimate peak moment where you’re shouting at the two wrestlers, “Don’t do it!” With one mountain of a ladder set up, Cody hit a Super Duper Suplex with one hell of thud onto the mat below. With the two having exhausted themselves beating the hell out of each other, things turned into a more traditional affair of actually trying to win the match.

What I wasn’t at all expecting, however, came post-match. A reconciliation of the friendship between Kenny and Cody, finally showing that Bullet Club is indeed fine… until those darn Tongans turned up! Damn you Tama Tonga, Tonga Roa and King Haku! That’s right, who’d have thought we’d be closing the night with Haku piledriving Omega onto a steel chair? I love the, “I can’t believe that’s an actual thing that actually happened!” nature of modern day wrestling.

With the three Tongans beating up every member of the Bullet Club, including regular teammates Yujiro Takahashi and honorary Tongan Chase Owens. Then deeming themselves The Firing Squad before leaving the arena with their former Bullet Club stablemates all layed out in the ring. My feeling on this… we’re finally getting a Tama Toga push! Yeeah boii. Seriously, there’s just something about that man that draws you in, I’ve often compared him to Randy Orton but really they just share a ‘snake-like’ nature.

Genuinely pumped for what comes next, especially as Tama Tonga and Kenny Omega are in the same Block for the G1 Climax that starts this Saturday. Wow, that’s this Saturday, here I was thinking I was about to get a lot more free time with the World Cup winding dow- LOL NOPE!

 

 

Which segways me perfectly into the end of this column. Thank you everyone for reading, commenting, clicking on the link by accident, it all helps. Without you, I wouldn’t have known I was accidentally spelling it as ‘CHOAS’ the entire time.

Quick plugs, I guested on XanMan’s NJPW G1 Special show on LOP Radio on Sunday, which you can listen to in all it’s ‘glory’ right here! https://lordsofpain.net/radio/njpw-on-lopr-us-g1-special.html

And myself and SirSam are putting together two G1 Climax preview columns (one for each block) to get you all ready for when Saturday hits. Hopefully the first one will be out as early as tomorrow! So look out for that, I shall see you there.

 

With that I bid you adieu, adios!

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