GABRIEL KIDD vs. YUYA UEMURA - 5.75/10
Excellent grappling. Kidd’s back got worked over and he was forced to tap out.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Shingo Takagi - DUD!
Yujrio cheats a but still can’t even get an advantage on Shingo. Eventually he goes to the outside. Shingo follows him and still controls things until Yujiro stops himself before he crashes into the barricades, then starts whipping Shingo into them. Yujiro got cocky, allowing Shingo to pull him off the apron and down to the floor. Both guys got on the apron and Shingo set up for something big on the apron but Yujiro slipped free and hit a reverse DDT on the apron. They were on the outside for almost two full minutes without ever being counted out. Then once the big move happened Yujiro got back into the ring, the referee started counting, because only now, after a big move like that, might a fan actually buy that a count-out finish would be possible. Is it really that hard to have the guy on offense duck his head back into and out of the ring every once in a while to break up a count so that we can pretend the rules are actually rules not just things we use for spots?
They proceeded to hit each other a lot and it wasn’t very interesting. There was biting. During one of the instances of biting, the referee came over to tell Yujiro off for this illegal behavior, so Yujiro shoved him down hard. This was not a DQ, because in New Japan, the purpose of the referee is so the heels have someone they can beat up to get heat. Yujiro tried to use his pimp cane which the incompetent referee just let him keep in the corner of the ring the whole match instead of having one of the young-boys at ringside take it, but Shingo blocked it. Shingo beat Yujiro. If Yujiro has to cheat every match and still can’t win, why, in kayfabe does New Japan even employ the guy? He’s a cheater, he physically assaults company officials, and they’ve made it clear that he’s an undercard wrestler at best. Are you really going to tell me that there isn’t some free agent in Japan who actually follows the rules that they can’t bring in for similar money?
BLOCK A MATCH:
Jeff Cobb vs. Jay White (w/Gedo) - 4.75/10
You get no points for guessing what the first thing Jay White did in this match was. What is even the point of going to the outside right away and staying there for ten seconds if you’re just going to get back in the ring afterwards and charge in for a takedown?
They started to tell a story where White couldn’t outwrestle Cobb so he had to use his craftiness to take advantage… and then, after getting Cobb to commit to a leapfrog while White hugged the ropes and didn’t rebound, giving White the chance to come at Cobb while Cobb couldn’t move because he was in the air White ran up to Cobb and… slapped him in the face, then bailed to the outside. This is the sort of sh*t that I absolutely hate. Instead of doing the logical thing to try to win the match, White goes to the outside to stall because stalling gets heat. Instead of being guided by the kayfabe goal (to win the match), White’s actions are being guided by a non-kayfabe goal (getting heat). Any time a character’s actions are being guided by a structural goal of your story without having some sort of logical in-universe explanation for the character’s actions, you have failed as a storyteller.
At least this time the referee got smart and quickly started to count White out instead of letting him get away with stalling. This got White into the ring so that the match could resume. Funny how that works.
Cobb got the advantage on White. White was near the ropes so Cobb pulled him to the middle of the ring. Gedo tried to stop this but Cobb was strong enough to pull both of them, so now Gedo was in the ring, too. The referee saw all of this, so there is no reason for him to not eject Gedo from ringside at the earliest opportunity.
Cobb bonked the two heels’ heads together and they both rolled to the outside. Cobb followed White out this time. He rolled White in, but Gedo hooked his leg to stop him from getting in, allowing White to stomp on him. The execution here gave them some plausible deniability that the referee didn’t see Gedo, but it was clear that he suspected him, and having seen him actively try to interfere just moments ago, I am once again forced to ask why Gedo- who tries to interfere in every match he is at ringside for multiple times- was not ejected from ringside.
White now had the advantage on the outside so it was time for- you guessed it!- running his opponent’s back into the barricades. After two of these, White got back into the ring because I guess he thought he’d get a count-out after just this? Cobb back into the ring easily, and finally we were back in the ring to stay for a while.
White continued to work the back, but Cobb made his comeback relatively quickly and started to dominate with his power. White got the advantage back and now started to work the head and neck (which one of his finishers targets), which makes me wonder why he insists on doing the same repetitive spots targeting the back early on when in every damn match, even if he’s not going to wind up targeting the back as part of the story of a match.
Cobb got the advantage again, but White cut him off by going after the knee now. White attacked the knee for a bit, but when Cobb took over again, he didn’t sell it at all. Eventually Gedo caused another distraction to allow White to hit a big suplex, but then Cobb countered the very next thing White tried (a Blade Runner) so what was even the point? Gedo got into the ring to cause yet another distraction but Cobb threw him onto White, the hit Tour of the Islands for the win. If Cobb is going to win, maybe don’t have Gedo interfere and a whole bunch of times so that if the distraction isn’t going to matter, you both don’t make the referee look stupid and you make the interferences that do happen feel more significant.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki - 7.5/10
We started off with some nice, fun grappling. They sped things up a bit and Suzuki eventually avoided an elbow by Okada in the corner to set up the armbar in the ropes, then pulled Okada to the outside to continue working the arm in the barricade. He got some heat on the outside for a while, and, of course, the referee did not start to count them out for an inexplicably long time. This is exactly the sort of situation I’m talking about when I say that there is no reason they couldn’t do this same sort of thing but actually follow the rules by just having Suzuki quickly break up and then restart the count whenever the referee got to eighteen. You get the exact same wrestling, but with the added benefit of not making the referees look incompetent and the rules look like a joke.
Suzuki continued to work over the arm. At one point he suckered Okada into an exchange of strikes and even offered him free shots to get Okada to use the injured arm. Offering the opponent a free shot is pretty stupid in my book, but at least there was some logic here as opposed to the usual “GRRR! We’re fired up, so now we’ll do the spot where we take turns hitting each other to see who gives in first!”
My dislike for that general spot led me to pop huge when Suzuki started to realize he was making a mistake and starting to fight back, but it was too late and Okada now had the advantage. Okada worked the head and went for the Cobra Clutch. Suzuki somehow found a way to wiggle out of it and get an armbar. From that point on they traded submissions until Okada won with a perfectly timed flash pin. We need more of this; actual wrestling with good stories, rather than just hitting each other hard, throwing each other into the guardrails, and ignoring the referee.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi - 5.75/10
They started off with the “politely take turns hitting each other” spot, and decided not to sell most of them, either. It’s going to be one of those matches, isn’t it?
They decided to both start selling once they were done with their big spot. In Ishii’s case, this meant selling his knee, so Taichi took him to the outside to keep working it over. Just kidding! He whipped him into the barricades and then attacked him with a foreign object. When Red Shoes tried to stop Taichi from using the foreign object, Taichi shoved him. This was a not a DQ. Red Shoes went over and SAW Taichi choking Ishii with the foreign object, he applied a five count instead of calling for the DQ.
Taichi ran Ishii into the ringpost and the rolled him back into the ring. After rolling his opponent back into the ring, Taichi began to blatantly choke him, just like he does in every single f*cking match. After several choking spots, Ishii got up but was grabbed by the throat and sent back down. With the exception of stepping on the Ishii’s head, pretty much ever single thing Taichi has done in the past two minutes has been illegal. I don’t care if it’s just a choke. At this point it’s ridiculous that Red Shoes doesn’t just disqualify him.
Every Taichi match ever continued with the snapmare, the hard kick to the back, and then stupid little tainting kicks until the opponent fires up and gets up. I cannot fathom what’s like to be so f*cking boring and uncreative. At least they didn’t go right into the strike exchange.
Ishii took over with a powerslam and did the Violence Party in the corner. Both guys spent the rest of the match targeting the other’s head, which makes me wonder what the point was of starting off the match with Taichi kicking away at Ishii’s taped-up knee. Taichi put his hands on the referee multiple times with the clear intention of interfering with the referee’s ability to do his job or of using him a human shield, but was not disqualified.
If you like seeing lariats, enzugiris, forearms, backdrop drivers, and powerbombs followed by folding presses over and over again, this match is for you. If, like me, you like a little more variety in the final ten minutes of a big match… well… these two guys are probably the two worst in all of wrestling in that regard.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi - 8.5/10
Remember that Ricochet/Ibushi spot from BOSJ in 2013 (and if you saw the spot, you’ll know exactly the one I’m talking about)? I think these guys might have topped it here. They both worked the head and did a bunch of cool, crazy sh*t, building to an insane finish.
This was a bad show buoyed up by an awesome main event. By this point in the G1, I feel like I’ve seen too much of most of these guys, and the matches are starting to feel way too repetitive. The style that a lot of these guys work doesn’t help, but even for a guy like Cobb who doesn’t wrestle like that, I feel like I’ve seen mostly the same stuff from him. The highlights for me are guys like Ospreay and Ibushi who make their matches feel different. Hopefully everyone else starts to change things up down the stretch, but I’m not hopeful.