Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, July 02, 2017

NJPW G1 Special in USA - Night 1 24 Hrs Later Not Live Blog

Even if I'm not very interested in the New Japan product, it's inarguable that it's the hot trend among our niche online wrestling culture. Even though I rarely match up with the popular opinions on it, the appeal kind of fascinates me because I don't totally understand it. A lot of things that I see and think look terrible, and it's still oddly jarring to see plenty of people see the opposite. Still, I think it's cool they're giving the US some shows, and I think it's cool they got broadcast live. We were out all day yesterday, and against my instincts - and without knowing much about the card or the results - I figured I would waste some time on a Sunday checking it out.

1. Bullet Club (Young Bucks/Bad Luck Fale/Marty Scurll/Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Briscoes/Will Ospreay/Roppongi Vice)

30 seconds of Scurll and I'm already kind of regretting this one. His act feels composed entirely of movements that you've seen before, done better. But the Briscoes make me feel better about this decision. We get a great double team jab/chop combo, Mark hits a nice dive, Jays hits a dynamite baseball slide and then a crazy blockbuster to the floor  and this is getting good. The Bucks collapse a ring barrier on a dive and Ospreay hits the most gorgeous possible springboard SSP. That Scurll finger breaking spot is one of those things you flip for the first time, and at a certain point you realize how completely stupid it is to expect any wrestler to sell broken fingers 2 minutes into a match. Mark Briscoe is looking great though, flying in with a great rana and leaning deep into a Bucks superkick, and this whole thing is really good whenever it's not Scurll in the ring. Fale seems really out of place in this 10 man, doesn't look very plausible taking Romero offense. This whole thing was quicker than it should have been, and they easily could have dropped a few guys and made it into a better 6 or 8 man, but I assume they're trying to get as many guys on the card as possible. Matt Jackson: "I can't lose on TV, I got a deal with Hot Topic!"

2. Hiromu Takahashi//SANADA/EVIL/BUSHI vs. Jushin Liger/Dragon Lee/Titan/Volador Jr.

Weird they would frontload all these multiman matches, seems like they would be better served having them between tournament matches. Liger seems slower than the last time I saw him. I think he's better now in singles, that don't require the go go pace of an 8 man. SANADA takes a high bump to the floor and a sharp back elbow. Lee and Takahashi are guy who's match-up benefits from a multiman, then they don't have to kick out of absurd moves, but instead come in for some lightning in 15 second bursts. Takahashi whips himself into a German faster than anybody, it's nuts. SANADA mans up and catches Titan on a nutso dive, and suddenly this match is making me really want more SANADA. Titan ups the crazy by sprawling spectacularly into the buckles on a bump and eating a chairshot. Another short match, really feels like a major waste of some of the guys involved. I both appreciate them not making this a 6 hour card, while being disappointed in the match lengths so far.

3. Hangman Page vs. Jay Lethal

These flimsy ring barriers have already made a couple of nice spots look spectacular, I think we've had a barrier get knocked over every match so far. Here a nice Lethal dive looks devastating as Page gets plastered ring through it. This just in: Page's shooting star shoulder block STILL the most "indy" move in wrestling. I say that, of course, before remembering that the Lethal Injection is somehow considered a finisher. I think I really like Lethal, except for that move's glaring stupidity. But considering matches often build to that move, it's a big problem. His rolling elbow and enziguiri look nice here, he eats a big clothesline, but we keep going back to that stupid slow handspring. When he finally hits it, he totally whiffs on it and Page sells it the same anyway. My god the move is the worst. And we get a 4th attempt and it lands short, but thankfully Page leaps forward right into it. If he literally just used any other boring finisher, his matches would be so much better, as all his in between stuff looked really great, great variety of kicks, elbows that land heavy, nice punches, but when so much of the match is built around something that stupid...

4. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson

I think every match has featured someone with a strike combo that ends in a standing senton. I shouldn't complain as the senton is one of the most logical moves in wrestling, just dropping your body on a guy's ribs, but it's weird how many of these guys just aim to wrestle to similarly. Heel Sabre is wonderful as he has a great mug for smug showoff shit, and has a nice arsenal of cocky spots. There's mocking stuff like the dreadlocks cravate, but meatier stuff like nasty wrist bends, and subtler stuff like stepping on Juice's hand before applying a hold. People who discredit him as someone who just puts on "holds exhibitions" don't give him credit for cool stuff like that, distracting his opponent with one bit of pain before applying something more dangerous right after. Juice is good at setting up Sabre's nastiest stuff, and the powerbomb out of a triangle was a nice comeback spot. The match ending octopus hold was sick, and I love the set up with Sabre kicking Juice's bad win, Juice instinctively punching him but doing further damage to the arm in the process, and leaving himself open to be stretched to submission. Really satisfying 10 minute match.

5. Yohei Komatsu/Sho Tanaka/Yoshi Tatsu/Billy Gunn vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi/David Finlay/Jay White/KUSHIDA

Boy this feels like a lopsided match-up. I don't know if Tempura Boyz are actually any good. I really loved a Komatsu/Liger match from a couple years ago, but I think I more loved the structure of vet vs. rookie than his actual ring work. I do love the heat Gunn is getting. He knows he's as out of place on this card as the ticket buyers think he is, so I love him going in their and just soaking it up. His lightly hurt face after his 1999 Suck It draws boos was perfectly done. People dump on Tatsu but he's got the Toecutter hair, gets dumped on his dome by Jay White, hits a fast low angle spinkick, and has no problem getting suplexed into the buckles. Finlay works like 2005 Roderick Strong mixed with current Barbaro Cavernario. His dad needs to teach him how to stomp hands and headbutt chests. Tanahashi's slingblade looked like crap against Gunn, and I don't think it was Gunn's fault. Overall, this wasn't much.

6. War Machine vs. Guerrillas of Destiny

I don't think I actually knew Camacho was Meng's kid when he was in WWE. They make this No DQ, but that just means they use some flimsy trash can lid shots, when their normal match strikes look better. I'd rather see them headbutting War Machine in the nose than hitting them in their meaty backs with a lid. I hate how "agile" Hanson tries to wrestle. Rowe embraces the hoss and is better for it. Hanson has too many spots that get too cute. But him getting powerslammed off a springboard is an impressively nutty spot to take. Tanga hits a nasty diving headbutt, and diving headbutts are still a thing guys are doing in 2017. Rowe eats a powebomb through chairs, and probably lucky for him he parts them instead of bending through them with his kidneys. Hanson uses his cartwheel smarter than normal, organically using it to dodge a charge. It usually feels so much more thought out. And his dive is always impressive. But, I will say, the few times Hansen did it in All Japan are so much more memorable because of how seldom he did it. The powerbomb/legdrop through the table was impeccably timed.

7. Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii

This is fine but I'm kind of numb to Ishii's masochistic style at this point. Naito doesn't work as stiff a style as other guys who he's just endlessly stood and exchanged with, so it rings a little hollow to see him selling thigh slaps more than he sells say Shibata elbowing him in the throat. Naito makes amusing faces while eating gross chops, and I like a few of the cockier touches that he brings, like wiping his boots on the back of Ishii's head. His spit spot is always stupid and gross, but we ramp up to a whole new level when he spits blood in Ishii's face, and it actually makes me cheer when Ishii clobbers him with a vicious headbutt and snaps him with a folding powerbomb. I can't actually tell if Naito just botched running up the ropes a couple times in trying to the tornado DDT, but if they did then they expertly covered it and made it seem like Ishii was just pulling him away from the ropes to block. Either way, it made the DDT mean a lot more. They lost me a little bit with each guy showing how they can get dropped on different parts of their dome, but the 15 minute run time was far more satisfying than if this same match was in the Dome. I imagine it would go 25 and the pinfall here would just be the beginning. This was fine but felt a bit too much like they ramped up to "we're having an epic".

8. Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega

Elgin has a great shoulderblock and back elbow, and Omega has no problem leaning into a huge shoulderblock. Taking offense is obviously not Omega's problem. Love powerslam spots and Elgin always has a nice one. I would love it if he did more, really. JR talks about how they're starting "slow" but we've already gotten a powerslam, a shoulderblock dive off the top, and a brainbuster. Omega nails the leg lariat as on the concrete and he actually hits it, usually he just leaps all the way over his opponent and they take a faceplant. Omega always has really weak looking chinlocks, and his backpack sleeper was even worse. His arm didn't even look like it was touching Elgin's neck. It was barely touching his beard. Elgin always has a lot of great looking slams, but it's the same problem as Angle letting everybody reverse his ankle lock, it just makes his own moves look weak. They all look spine crushing, but they're all treated like early match bodyslams. Like, holy shit, here's this German suplex on the freaking apron, followed by a freaking crucifix power bomb off the middle buckle, and Omega kicks out of it the EXACT same way he kicked out of the 4 minutes in brainbuster. The previous match ENDED with a brainbuster, and here it was nothing. But we now know that apron German and crucifix bomb are not enough. Elgin lays Omega with a burliest clothesline on this show by far, but Omega still kicks out all the same. Seriously, he only knows how to kick out one specific way, always at the exact same time, every count. Every move almost puts me away, but no moves actually finish me! After Omega gets the back of his head blasted into the mat a few times, that unlocks the "do all your offense in a row" part of his brain, so we get a bunch of running knees (some looked great, some looked like femur bruising slaps), I admire Omega's restraint to not drop Elgin vertically on the clutch tombstone, and he eventually does all the right dance steps in the right order to unlock his finisher.

9. Cody vs. Kazuchika Okada

I will never not love when a heel postpones the opening bell so that he can go and kiss his attractive spouse. And Cody's shiny America tights and stars n strip boots are glorious. HOWEVER, not using red/white/blue kinesio tape is that little touch to detail that shows that Cody JUST DON'T FUCKING GET IT. He gets it...but doesn't totally GET it. But then Brandi is wearing a fucking sequined American flag cocktail dress and he obviously fucking gets it. That dress would boost the ticket sales to any fucking USO show out there. I could be completely crazy, but has anybody else noticed the AXS cameras specifically focusing on couples in the crowd? 80% of the up close camera shots are of two slender, charming couples, chanting for their favorites and occasionally smiling at each other. Were they given a directive of "hey, no fattie neckbeards, okay? We gotta make this look like it's worth 4 hours of schedule." Okada having to find a way to get his opponent on the buckles so he can dropkick them off, yet always doing it the same way, is just as stupid as "you can't powerbomb Kidman" or somebody trying to sunset flip Super Porky or Rikishi. It needs to be said. Okada is a prettier faced, conditioned haired, Billy Kidman except without all the deathwish bumps. Okay, they just showed a couple guys in the crowd who didn't APPEAR to be a couple, but one of the guys looked kinda like between-shoot-body Dan Stevens, so they may have thought they were showing a celebrity. Okada calls for the rainmaker which just shows he's never heard of Albert Hammond Sr. before. Cody is the only guy in New Japan who understands how to use slaps. You mockingly smack a guy to muss his hair, or you do one after wide-eyed shit talking, or you use them to allow your opponent to get angry enough to justify their transition to offense. Cody gets - and uses - all three of them. You just don't stand and trade them. Cody gets that how to use the rainmaker to make scared fans think that Cody was somehow going to get the title. When I wanted Kendrick to desperately win the CWC and he got that one great nearfall on Ibushi? That joy I felt is tantamount to the fear these fans felt when they thought Okada would lose. Cody, however, does not lose.

You know, this could have been an absolute disaster of an idea. But this was a nice high floor low ceiling show. No blowaway great matches, but nothing that made me want to lean on the FF. A lot of the best stuff were the matches that hit the proper time, that money 10-15 minute zone. So it was nice to see this NJ style that I dislike, worked slightly toned down (I say toned down only because only one guy dumped himself on his head 3+ times, and nobody lost feeling in the right side of their body from a shoot strike on a nearfall). I liked tons of individual performances on the show, thought Cody looked great in the main, thought Sabre and Juice complemented each other well, SANADA looked like a guy I would actually request recommended matches from (any SANADA matches that would make our MOTY List from the last few years?), so it was a breezy view. I drank good coffee, played with my cat son Tacos, goofed off on Twitter, and watched some decent wrestling. It's a quality Sunday.

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