NJPW G1 Climax Week 2 Review – Top 5 Matches & MVP feat. Imp & Sam

G1 Climax

Welcome to the Lords of Pain weekly New Japan G1 Climax review where your intrepid New Japan guides, The Implications and Sir Sam rank the top five matches for the week and award the best and brightest performers for the week points towards being the LOP G1 MVP. This week covers matches up to the matches on night eight, Wednesday the 24th of July. To follow along through the week you can find either fella on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat and @Sir_Samuel.

Sam: Imp, we only had three nights of wrestling to cover this week so you would have thought it’d make our job of whittling down the best so much easier right?

Imp: Only 3 shows! How could figuring out a Top 5 from such a short list of matches be that difficult? Well, if a G1 vet such as myself knows anything, it’s that I know nothing at all and that is proved perfectly by my prediction brackets going down the toilet faster than the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships/YOSHI-HASHI’s English commentary career.

Sam: You leave my wonderful Aussie Iconics out of this, just wait till we go up 5-0 in The Ashes, that World Cup win won’t look quite so sparkling then. Can’t say my predictions are faring that much better though. What’s say we get into these awesome matches?

Top 5 Matches Of Week 2

5. Imp: Juice Robinson vs Jeff Cobb (Night 6)

So far in this G1 Juice has proven he can more than hang with the back and forth,strong fist swinging big lads of the NEVER style. And if anything Jeff Cobb’s kind of like an up and coming baby Ishii, the next generation of No Neck Warriors. Juice and Cobb stepped into that style and delivered one mighty back and forth fight, the final back and forth I had me so invested and the outcome so unpredictable. Either man really felt like they could have won right up until that final bell.

Like the NEVER match of the B Block I never knew I wanted. Here I was eyeing up Ishii v Goto like a normie, turns out the gaijins aren’t bad either!

Sam: Zack Sabre Jr. v Bad Luck Fale (Night 7)

One of the things I love about the G1 is how creative some of the matches can be. This was a long way from a ‘five star classic’ but I wanted to highlight it here because of the really fun way these two men went about their match. I won’t spoil it but this three minute match was the perfect way to pitt the biggest guy in the G1 against the smallest in a competitive way. At times it is like watching a snake try to wrestle a Gorilla but my gosh it has one hell of an ending. Also because this is only 3 minutes when you are done you can check out ZSJ v Tanahashi, Sabre’s other match of the week.

 

4. Sam: Shingo Takagi v Taichi (Night 6)

Shingo Takagi has been pushing very hard for the MVPs list both weeks so far, his consistency across his four matches has been so impressive and this strong style banger is the perfect demonstration of just how good he has been. My favourite part about all of his matches is how he always manages to perfectly pace his outings, slowly going through the gears and building up to a thrilling conclusion.

For his part, Taichi more than steps up to the pace that Takagi sets. He is a character that knows he has to rely on cheap tricks to get the wins but so often his pride gets the better of him and he gets pulled into hard hitting matches like this. The bottom line is this match flew by and showed off the best of both of these performers.

Imp: Shingo Takagi v Jon Moxley (Night 8)

It’s a Shingo block party over here. Like Sam said, it’s arguably been harder to leave Shingo off my MVPs than Yano. And I bloody love Yano in the G1.

This match was everything I’d hoped it would be, an absolute brawl of a match! Really, Moxley’s just brought that special aura into the arena every time he’s walked out. That feeling of mayhem, that he’s here for a fight more than a professionally sanctioned wrestling contest. And we’re now seeing his opponents ready to step right up to him, which has led to two flipping incredible matches back to back for the Purveyor of Violence.

Tables? Mox has got ‘em! Chairs? Mox’s got ‘em! Entertaining as hell final sequences? Mox has ‘em! This match played off the two’s history from way, way back and showed us even more variety in Moxley’s game, as he targeted Shingo’s knee to go for a submission victory. He’s such a revelation in this tournament, something completely different in a tournament already packed with variety.

 

3. Imp: Tetsuya Naito v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 8)

If you haven’t seen the match between these two from New Beginning… 2017?… *looks it up* Ah shite, that was Elgin. Wrong big lad. Right, well I’m going to need a minute to recover from that fail, Sam.

Sam: Naito v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 8)

Don’t worry Imp, I’ve got your back on this dead heat for third and trust me when I say this match is far in a way better than anything with Elgin in it.

The things I love most about the combination of these two is the contrast in their characters: Naito’s ‘tranquilo’ persona is full of swagger and arrogance but across the ring Ishii is a man who simply has no time for that kind of BS. This character chemistry has always led to explosive results and this was no different.

Going into this match Naito was extra motivated after his first win against Goto and he went about things with a typical lightning fast pace. Despite his size Ishii is one of the few wrestlers that can match Naito’s breakneck pace and the pair pitted Naito’s skill and speed with Ishii’s determination and power throughout.

Things climaxed with a sick series of suplexes that will surely test Ishii’s perennially injured neck putting the brutal icing on the cake of a great clash of styles.

Imp: What Sam said, every time these two clash we get something special. It’s like they reach the same level as, but in a much safer version than, Naito’s clashes with Ibushi. A hard hitting affair with plenty of even more punishing counters/reversals. The undying will of Ishii came across as such a momentous task for Naito and ends up in such a tense battle between the two, with the LIJ leader being forced to drop the tranquilo and be the one to kick up the pace.

Tomohiro Ishii is an incredible wrestler, but when he’s in there with someone that makes him look like a suplexing beast he hits a different level. Like Sam said, it’s a clash of styles that fits together brutally well and the story around it only added to that occasion. Realistically Naito had to win, but to do it he had to fell the immovable stone. That tension was felt all around the arena in Hiroshima Wednesday night, the reactions to the close falls towards the end had so many hearts in mouths.

Yet another brilliant Ishii G1 outing, this won’t be his last. Hell, it’s not his last this week!

 

2. Sam: Kazuchika Okada v Will Ospreay (Night 7)

You get the feeling that these two men are at the beginning of what will become a career defining feud for Will Ospreay. Right now the Junior champ is on the way up to the heavyweight division and you have to imagine his ultimate goal is the belt that sits around the waist of his stable leader and the man who first invited him to New Japan.

The match between the two started out with plenty of sportsmanship and respect, however after a few exchanges the competitive drive of both men began to get the better of them. Okada ruthlessly targeted Ospreay’s injured neck and as the champ cycled up through the gears Ospreay started to wrestle with the desperation of a drowning man in deep water hitting some strikes that echoed throughout Korakuen Hall.

The closing stages had the most mouthwateringly smooth counters as both men sought to avoid the other’s finishing move. It’s the kind of exchange that has made The Rainmaker a legend and Ospreay more than held up his side of the bargain.

There has been a lot of talk about Will Ospreay being the best wrestler in the world right now, and Okada wrestled this match like he wanted to remind everyone who truly sets the standard in New Japan. The best pure wrestling match of the G1 so far.

Imp: Jon Moxley v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 6)

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, the best Ishii match of this year so far. That’s saying something given the consistency of Japan’s wrestling potato in G1 Climax tournaments. As I said earlier, Moxley’s just brought that aura of animosity. With heads clashing before the bell, you know a fight’s about to go down.

And bloody hell did these two brawl all over Korakuen Hall, with Mox even smashing Ishii’s head into the ‘East’ sign of that crowd section. The match just built and built, eventually reaching all new heights with Air Ishii taking flight for a ringside crash landing. That’s all before they actually got to the final back and forth, which lived up to the elevation of violence the rest of the match had set.

An absolutely amazing brawl, Moxley ARRIVED in this tournament after that match. The question of if he could play to the level of a New Japan main event answered with a firm: bloody hell, he really can!

 

1. Imp: Kazuchika Okada v Will Ospreay (Night 7)

I’ve praised Jay White’s counter wrestling in this tournament, however he’s under the learning tree of a master untouchable in his field. Kazuchika Okada’s final sequences just enter this otherworldly zone, a place where God knows who’ll end up actually hitting anything. Those sequences are just mesmerising to watch, paired with Ospreay’s speed and athleticism, you’ve got the recipe for pure wrestling magic.

The Brit trying to prove he can hang with the best in the world, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion paying us a kind reminder that there’s a damn reason people label him as such. The second half of this match just continued to elevate (sorry, Will), the pace of the counters increasing, the power reversals were hit with strengthened. Like that Chernobyl HBO telly show, with like 10 different points that felt like they could have been fantastic ending points for the episode. Only for another one to pop up a minute later, “Surely this one’s the end!”

Ospreay has already made his case for Wrestler of the Year, but here he matched New Japan’s current holder of that mantel. Okada showed him that respect in the end with multiple Rainmaker lariats, something usually reserved for the toughest of his opponents. Sam just said it, but this really was the best pure wrestling match of this tournament so far.

Sam: Jon Moxley v Tomohiro Ishii (Night 6)

So what could beat out the best pure wrestling match match of the tournament?

When the draw for the G1 was announced I think everyone tentatively put a circle around these two men’s first ever meeting and asked themselves, what would happen when the wildest man in the west met the best brawler in the east?

The result was an absolutely wild, wild, wild fight that saw these two men brawl all around Korakuen Hall, dual with metal chairs, go through tables and exchange countless strikes as they attempted to mangle and maul one another into oblivion. Both men already have an unorthodox approach to things and auras of unpredictability so the clash of the two was utterly chaotic.

The thing that elevated both of these men though was that even though they were competing in utterly crazy circumstances, everything they did served their characters so well. Be it Ishii roaring out of Moxley’s continued assaults or the ‘Hound of Justice gone rabid’ throwing Ishii a chair just to test out how hard the Stone Pitbull could swing it.

This was not a classic New Japan main event but that is a good thing. Jon Moxley brings something entirely different to the NJPW main event scene and if he keeps putting on fights for the ages like this I for one hope he sticks around for a long time.

 

G1 Climax MVP – Week 2

Over the course of the G1 we will be awarding points to three wrestlers for their performances each week and at the end use them to crown the MVP for the G1.

3 Points

Sam: Tomohiro Ishii
This week was a showcase for everything that makes The Stone Pitbull such a special wrestler. In his two outings he went blow for blow and move for move with two very different New Japan main event talents and got the best match of the tournament so far out of both men.

As Rich Latta said Ishii shouldn’t work, he is barely 5 ft 6, is over 40 and is built like a fridge. Yet he is one of the greatest heavyweight wrestlers in the world and makes a habit of getting the most out of those across the ring from him.

Imp: Will Ospreay
It’s a shame he can’t use the song anymore, because ‘elevation’ really does some up Ospreay’s G1 so far. Impressive in defeat, but also managing to snatch wins from the unsuspecting. His match with Okada really was a classic mid-G1 Match of the Year contender, incredible back and forth sequences that leave you smiling from ear to ear in awe.

Here I was thinking he might take it down ‘a tad’ after his injury last week, well turns out that was wrong! Ospreay’s setting himself an incredible level in his first G1, if this is the rate he keeps at for the remainder of this tournament then we’re in for one hell of a treat.

2 Points

Imp: Tomohiro Ishii
I mean, it would have been criminal not to include this man after the week he just had. I’ve hyped his G1 consistency, but now you have the proof! This week he gave us two incredible matches back to back against Moxley and Naito, that’s after a strong pair of opening matches that left me feeling wrong for leaving him off my MVPs last week. This G1’s so damn stacked! But there was no way I was leaving him off this week after his A+ brawl with Moxley and equally strong, more in-ring centric, bout with The Tranquilo One.

I’m not someone who drools over Ishii, but Jesus are the heights of this man’s G1 performances undoubtable.

Sam: Shingo Takagi
I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t have a little bit of carry over from last week, however there will be very few wrestling fans that will dispute just how consistent Shingo Takagi has been this G1. Whether it was his hilarious match against Yano last week or his balls to the wall fights with Jon Moxley, Juice and Taichi, Shingo has brought it in every single match this G1 so for sheer darn consistency he gets two points this week.

While Will Ospreay has been the junior grabbing the most headlines, for me the most impressive junior has been the barrel chested LIJ member

1 Point

Imp: Jon Moxley
Such a fantastic injection of a kind of life unseen in the G1 for quite some time, the room’s atmosphere completely changes the moment Moxley enters it. He’s also starting to benefit from now entering a string of top level opponents, Ishii and Shingo matched his brawls this week and both matches were bloody brilliant. His next week starts Sunday against flippin’  Tetsuya Naito! Something tells me this won’t be Mox’s only week on our MVP lists… to be fair more than half the lads deserve to be on this list. This G1 is damn STACKED.

Sam: Jon Moxley
So you thought I’d let the G1 go by without awarding my favourite wrestler of all time some MVP points? Even beyond my impossibly bias opinion it is hard to look past the character Mox brings to the G1, everything he does oozes charisma and when he has stepped into the ring this week opposite Shingo Takagi and Ishii he has brought nothing but the best.

Even his tag matches have become ‘must see’ on account of his interactions with ‘Shooter’ Umino. I really hope he somehow stays a regular feature in New Japan once AEW starts regular TV, he is just too good here.

MVP Standings

Hiroshi Tanahshi – 6 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 5 points
Will Ospreay – 5 points
Jay White – 3 points
Shingo Takagi – 2 points
Jon Moxley – 2 points
Toru Yano – 1 point

 

A Block Standings
(After 4 Matches)

1 | Kazuchika Okada – 8pts
2 | KENTA – 8pts
3 | EVIL – 4pts
4 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 4pts
5 | Lance Archer – 4pts
6 | Kota Ibushi – 4pts
7 | Bad Luck Fale – 2pts
8 | SANADA – 2pts
9 | Will Ospreay – 2pts
10 | Zack Sabre Jr – 2pts

B Block Standings
(After 4 Matches)

1 | Jon Moxley – 8pts
2 | Juice Robinson – 6pts
3 | Shingo Takagi – 4pts
4 | TAICHI – 4pts
5 | Tetsuya Naito – 4pts
6 | Tomohiro Ishii – 4pts
7 | Toru Yano – 4pts
8 | Hirooki Goto – 2pts
9 | Jay White – 2pts
10 | Jeff Cobb – 2pts

 

That’s all from us this week. What were your favourite matches and who were your favourite performers in the G1 Climax this week? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat and @Sir_Samuel. You can also go deeper on the G1 thread or write a column about it yourself on the LOP Forums here.

In case you missed it you can find last week’s review here. Make sure you join us for our increasingly more incoherent ramblings next week. See you then!

 

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