By Big Red Machine
From July 22, 2017
KOTA IBUSHI, TOGI MAKABE, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, & Gedo) - 6.5/10
Kind of short, but fast-paced and very fun. An excellent match for the time it got. It also did a decent job of hyping up tomorrow's matches. And speaking of those matches, we also got a...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good, then bad. First Goto and Makabe had a very intense shoving match and had to be separated by referees. Then Ishii and Kota decided that they wanted to have a post-match segment, too so they went face-to-face in the ring, but it came off really lame in comparison to the shoving match we just saw between Goto and Makabe.
CHAOS (Jado & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado) - 6.25/10
Suzuki-Gun jump CHAOS to start things off. The match was very good for a G1 undercard match that didn't get too much time.
TOMOYUKI OKA & YUJI NAGATA vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI & KATSUYA KITAMURA - 5.5/10
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, & BUSHI) vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, & Chase Owens) - 6/10
The wrestling was fine, but the important news here is that Bad Luck Fale ripped Darryl to shreds for no reason other than to be a dick. This got MAJOR heat. Hiromu seems to think that Owens did it, but once he learns the truth I expect him to be coming after Fale which should make for some matches that, if not decent, will at least be interesting.
BLOCK B MATCH: Toru Yano vs. Satoshi Kojima (w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan) - 5.75/10
There were fewer Stupid Yano Tricks than usual, which made for a more enjoyable match because matches tend to be more enjoyable when you don't do the exact same sh*t every time. If only we could get Yano replaced by someone else we'd have an even more enjoyable match. Yano won with a bunch of low blows. If the f*cker isn't good enough to win a wrestling match without cheating, why is he in the G1 in the first place?
BLOCK B MATCH: Juice Robinson vs. EVIL - 7.75/10
Juice starts by charging right at EVIL, angry at him for keeping a hold locked in after the end of their match last night to try to injure Juice going into this match. These two are both really trying to make their mark this year, and both are making the most of the time they're being given (in this case it was less than twelve minutes).
BLOCK B MATCH: Sanada vs. Minoru Suzuki (w/El Desperado) - 8/10
A very good finishing sequence, and a good showing for Sanada. Still, he has no one to blame for his loss but himself because he had Suzuki in the nudo and chose to give him a dropkick in the side instead of going nuts and stomping him in the head or something like that.
BLOCK B MATCH: Kenny Omega (w/Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Tama Tonga (w/Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale) - 6.75/10
They came out separately, rather than all coming out as a united group the way Bullet Club has done in past G1s.
Tama Tonga jumps Omega before the bell. Well... at least we're not getting the f*cking Fingerpoke of Doom tease with Bullet Club for a third straight year. Tonga pressed this advantage, but eventually stopped with the offense to rip off Omega's Elite shirt. Omega responded by ripping off Tonga's American flag-colored version of the Bullet Club shirt. One that looks like Cody's but without the "American Nightmare" text. Hopefully that all winds up being significant six months from now.
Or- even better- it can start being significant right now! After giving Kenny a buster into the apron, Tama Tonga grabbed a mic and said to Kenny "You want to be the leader of the Bullet Club? Then you've got to represent the Bullet Club! What the f*ck is The Elite, huh? Huh? Three-man team? The SuperKIiq? If you want to be in Bullet Club, then you be one of us!"
After that point Kenny fired up and dominated most of the match, but they did a good job of not making Tonga look like he would have had no chance if he hadn't jumped Kenny. Kenny was disrespectful to Tonga after the match but the other three Bullet Club members jumped in quickly. Kenny helped up his hand for a too sweet and Fale, Yujiro, and Owens all joined. Tonga started to walk away before turning back and joining them. Then he and Kenny hugged; they've each made their point to other, and now the issue can be put to rest... or can it?
The more I think about it, the more I like the execution of this whole debate. Key to this is the absence of both Cody and the Young Bucks. The Young Bucks aren't here to immediately take Omega's side, and Cody not being here means that he doesn't get to stick his nose in this until later, and I really think that Cody not being involved in the beginning is key to having Omega and the Bucks come out of this as faces because- let's be honest here- not only does Tonga have a good point, but when you think about it, Kenny and the Bucks making a sub-group within Bullet Club and going around calling themselves "The Elite" is a really douchy thing to do. Having Tama Tonga be the first one to bring this criticism forward- and not having Cody be around for it- takes away any possibility of Cody being seen as having motivations as noble as Tama Tonga's are here. Now, when Cody returns and tries to seize on this point, it will come across as him just trying to grab power in Bullet Club rather than standing up for the pride and (arguably) the best interests of the faction like Tama Tonga is.
And yet... this would have worked a lot better if these guys hadn't engaged in last night's stupid shenanigans. First of all- and perhaps most damning, Tama Tonga comes across a lot less like a guy putting the best interests of the stable above his own best interests when last night's match saw him betray Kenny Omega by attacking him in a match that was clearly planned to be a farce so as to preserve the bodies of the two men involved for the rest of this grueling tournament. It also kind of kills Tama Tonga's outrage here if he gets so upset about Kenny wearing "Elite" tights here tonight when he had no problems with Kenny wearing the same f*cking tights in their match last night (which is more of an "attention to detail thing, but maybe if they weren't so focused on finding ways to be funny someone would have noticed it). The fact of the matter is that the effectiveness of what appears to be a big angle has been damaged by these wrestlers' desire to put on funny match last night (and the booker letting them do so). And if you're willing to sacrifice the effectiveness of your story just for the sake of comedy, then what makes you any better than Vince Russo or the goofballs running WWE, or anyone else who has been (rightfully) derided for this throughout the years?
BLOCK B MATCH: Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) - 8.75/10
Okada works the head and neck to set up for the Rainmaker while Elgin works the back with his power stuff. In addition to this they had a few really great Rainmaker-tease sequences, and Okada is one of the best in the business at waiting until the last split second to get his shoulder up. AWESOME match.
A GREAT show from New Japan, with several extremely interesting developments.