Day 1 of the month-long NJPW G1 Climax is in the books and it kicked off with a bang. Or a stab, I guess. Whatever works best for talking about “Switchblade” Jay White.
The show started at 4:30am local time for me so I wisely set my alarm for 4:10 so I could catch the show live as I’m an idiot who doesn’t like feeling totally rested all day. I did catch a quick little cat nap during EVIL/Elgin because fuck Mike Elgin and it left me recharged for the final two matches.
As is customary with NJPW shows the lower card was made up of a handful of tag team matches. Most of the time these feel pretty skippable but there were some great pairings and some storyline elements in a few of the matches, plus they were all kept relatively short. Jado made his return in the opener alongside Hirooki Goto defeating Toa Henare and Young Lion Ren Narita. Chaos, and more specifically RPG3K, exploded as Sho teamed with Tomohiro Ishii to upend Toru Yano and Yoh. YTR has promised to not cheat at all (and he’s seriously serious about it!) in the G1 tournament and was stopped short twice in this match by Sho and the referee before finally removing the turnbuckle pad only to be the one to feel the brunt of the metal buckles. Yoh ate the pinfall here and Sho was left standing over his partner looking conflicted after the match. After being off the wagon for a bit I really came to like RPG3k in the Best of the Super Juniors, especially Yoh, and I find it real real rude that they’ll be on opposing teams twice more on this tour. Rude!
The newly-crowned IWGP US Champion, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay fell to the splintered Bullet Club members Guerrillas of Destiny. Finlay ate the pin here keeping Juice looking strong while putting Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa over to establish themselves and Fale (and Haku!) as the dominant force within Bullet Club. Zack Sabre, Jr and TAKA took Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi down with Yujiro not surprisingly taking the fall. It was nice seeing Sabre, Jr pull out the Michinoku Driver here and brought back fond memories of that one time TAKA almost beat Triple H for the WWE Title on some random Raw. Watching that as a kid I bought into the idea of TAKA taking the title 1000% and was gutted when he lost. Also, as we’ve already established, I am an idiot (and an optimist).
In the last of the pre-tournament matches Kenny Omega and Chase Owens faced Tetsuya Naito and SANADA with Owens tapping out to SANADA’s Skull End. Omega and Naito had some fun post-match interactions to build to their match tomorrow which I’m sure will be ridiculous. Will it also be a preview of what we’ll see in the Tokyo Dome on January 4? Time will tell!
Onto the tournament matches! If anything, this show made me realize how stacked B Block is in comparison to A Block. YOSHI-HASHI? Bad Luck Fale? Fuckin’ Mike Elgin? Ugh. I’ve never been a fan of the YH or Fale as I find them incredibly boring, and while I was a fan of Elgin in the past his secret (now public) history of being a total god damn creep and dirtbag has turned me off to him completely as it should with anyone else.
That being said, YH and Togi Makabe did put together a serviceable effort with Togi getting the win with the King Kong Knee Drop. YH showed me way more here than I ever remember seeing from him and my internal hope is that he’ll do something great in this tournament to make me a believer. I’m not counting on it, but… c’mon man… do something.
Fale and Hangman Page ended in a massive schmoz with the Firing Squad making their presence known to lay waste to Page. Before the Squad could hang Page with his own bull rope The Golden Lovers rushed the ring for the save. It felt weird seeing this finish as I can’t recall the last time I saw a dumb DQ finish in a NJPW match but if it brings about the end of a Bad Luck Fale match then I’m all for it.
I legitimately fell asleep during EVIL vs Elgin and I place the blame largely on Elgin. It annoys me that he’s still a really solid wrestler because, morally, I have to write him off completely at this point. I was hoping for an EVIL win here for myriad reasons but Elgin picked up the points.
The final two matches of the night were the ones I woke myself up at 4:10am to see. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Minoru Suzuki would do battle in the semi-main event which saw Suzuki completely dismantle Tana for the first chunk of the match. The two rolled around on the mat with Suzuki twisting Tana’s leg and ankle in gruesome fashion eliciting cries from the crowd urging the Ace to fight on. Tana showed resilience and refused to give up, fighting back against Suzuki in a spirited effort before taking the victory with the High Fly Flow. This one took me by surprise, or at least upset my bracket, as I had Suzuki taking the victory here. The King will need to make up the points against Makabe on July 16.
Chaos once again went head to head in the final match of the evening as former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada took on the former IWGP US Champion “Switchblade” Jay White. Chaos seems to be on the same course Bullet Club found itself on with inner turmoil causing strife at least amongst the leadership of the group. White has been steadily proclaiming that he is going to remake Chaos in his own vision and his first shot at that was here against Okada. The match started off lighthearted with both men going for their finishers immediately before laughing one another off. The fun and games wouldn’t last long, however, as the two men would tear into one another to see who would be the first member of Chaos to grab tournament points.
White would eventually reach under the ring for a chair taking the stakes even higher as he battled his stablemate and (supposed) leader. After taking the referee down with a shove and eating a face full of the chair he brought into the ring thanks to an Okada dropkick, it looked like it was over for “Switchblade” as Okada readied him for the Rainmaker. White’s arm flailing in the air would take the referee out again allowing him a chance to recover and hit Okada with a low blow that would make Toru Yano proud before hurling the chair into Okada’s face and connecting with the Blade Runner. Red Shoes recovered just in time to make the count giving White a hugely important win over Okada.
After the match, and backstage, White reiterated that Chaos was his and that he was going to lead it, and New Japan, into the future.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 14, 2018
Night 2 is… well… tomorrow! And thankfully it starts at the more sane time of 1am Central Time so I’ll either stay up stupidly late to watch it all and then try to sleep in, or just try and catch up on it throughout the day. Somehow I doubt I’ll be sleeping in, though, as we just picked up a 6-month old foster puppy that will be staying with us for ten days and the little dude is full of non-stop energy – especially when mixed with our year-old pup. Give me strength.