Segunda Caida

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Sunday, July 08, 2018

New Japan Pro Wrestling: G1 Special in San Francisco 7/7/18

ER: I loosely considered going to this event, just because it was an hour away, but the card wasn't too interesting to me and the prices were way too prohibitive (Tim said the cheap seats were like $60, which - even if that's not true - fully prevented me from even looking further into attending this show), but I'm not someone with a very active social calendar so once I found out this show was airing on television, I figured I can spare the time to watch it. We were at a BBQ earlier, came home and it was literally 4 minutes in, figured it was a sign that I had to ruin the rest of my evening.

Sho/Yoh/Gedo/Yoshihashi/Rocky Romero vs. King Haku/Tama Tonga/Tanga Loa/Chase Owens/Yujiro Takahashi

ER: I like that they start with Haku, but it's pretty silly to have him bumping around right out of the gate for Yoshihashi. But this whole match isn't too interesting. Barely 5 minutes in and Takahashi is settling into a chinlock, which should absolutely NEVER happen when you have 10 guys in a match. Rocky Romero threw some light shoulderblocks, Gedo threw nice punches, Haku dishes a nice old man piledriver, Haku's kids were hardly in it snd they would have been the best parts of the match, Sho/Yoh had a decent double team section, but this was super short and the definition of inconsequential.

Minoru Suzuki/Zack Sabre Jr/ vs. Tomohiro Ishii/Toru Yano

ER:  I have next to no use for Yano, which is a shame as he really muddles up the works here. I love Sabre but seeing him do his thing against Yano is just the least interesting opponent. Things get better once Ishii is scraping his boot all over Suzuki's face and head, but their opening forearm exchange is uber uninteresting. Sabre comes up with a couple fun ways to block Yano's horseshoe, but this match also feels super inconsequential. Everything has so far felt like guys goofing off until it's time for the finish, which is a terrible way to start a show. Maybe there were people there live that were super excited to see Yano's schtick (he does clearly have fans), but I would feel majorly ripped off at this point.

Marty Scurll/Hangman Page vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi/KUSHIDA

ER: When you see two straight clunkers, and the next thing you hear is "Coming up next, Marty Scurll", that's when you know that you've made a series of awful choices in your evening. We were at a BBQ later, and that was okay, and now we're here and this is less than okay. This whole show feels like a house show, with wrestlers who don't understand how to make a house show interesting. WWE house shows are some of the more interesting and fun shows I've been to, and these guys all seem to think they're really charming and can survive on coasting, but most guys on this show actually have really awful schtick. I think Page and Scurll's schtick is "our offense hits really poorly" then they're actually really good at it. Page's shooting star shoulderblock off the apron is a top contender for Dumbest Wrestling Moves Ever Performed. Page's early 2000s indie offense finishes things, and this show is a heaping crap pile so far. Matches have all ended abruptly and without much interesting happening, an easy 0 for 3 so far.

Jeff Cobb vs. Hirooki Goto

ER: I have higher hopes for this one, and it delivers early with some nice shoulderblocks and one of the flat out coolest belly to belly suplexes any of us have ever seen. Cobb catches Goto, spins around a couple times to find his angle, ducks down into a deep squat, then throws him straight overhead. There's some crazy strength involved here, and it looked awesome. Cobb also takes a nice posting on the floor, and I'm into this. Cobb keeps things interesting, breaking free of a Goto headlock to hit a nice impactful dropkick, nice leaping forearm in the corner, and a cool swinging Saito suplex. Goto has some early 2000s indie offense of his own, and there are many guys in modern New Japan who feel like Ric Blade, just dropping guys sloppily onto his own knee or clotheslining someone stupidly into his own leg or slamming his leg in a car door to own the libs or some stupid shit. I liked the Cobb running wild portions of this, and the Goto control segments where much less interesting. This was still the only thing worth watching so far.

Sanada/EVIL vs. Young Bucks

ER: We run through a lot of crowd pleasing stuff early, a spot where each legal man knocks the opposing partner off the apron, a series of missed elbow drops and sentons, a four person submission, just a bunch of guys working a series of bits. I wish Sanada and EVIL were a little more aggressive while beating down the Bucks. Sanada is a guy I like but he seems a little tentative here. Nick is super smooth in all his work around the apron, but the NJ guys seem a little slow on the timing spots. We still get the timing stuff delivered, there's just a little hesitation. I like Sanada's dragon sleeper giant swing, that's a great spot, but he's arriving to his mark too early to take Bucks' spots and it's pulling back the curtain on this seeming like too much of a moves exhibition. Still I like Nick using a big rope running flipping crossbody to take out EVIL on the floor. Nick is also good at leaping into EVIL's German suplexes and take a big silly fireman's carry/sit out powerbomb, taking it all flat backed so it really landed with a dull thud. The superkicks to the ref were done well, there were a couple nice saves down the stretch, this was a good enough match, but the structure and pacing could have been better.

Bushi/Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada/Will Ospreay

ER: A not bad tag, with a few guys who are bigger than this tag, and everybody kind of works this the same way Misawa might take off a tag 4th from the top at a non-major show. The key is that most people are working this show as very much a non-major show. Ospreay has come off like a big deal recently and comes off pretty low-tier here, as he's primarily matched up with Bushi, but he should be way higher on the card than Bushi. Naito throws a couple nice kicks, and Ospreay takes Bushi's stuff with a nice snap. All of these matches feel like they're taking place a half hour into an episode of Friday Night Smackdown, but specifically a Smackdown match that's worked by people that aren't appearing on an upcoming PPV, and are given orders to not show up the upcoming PPV.

But we're getting a lot of Eddie Trunk commercials.

Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi

ER: I'm shocked that they aren't constantly referring to this as the new generation Rey/Psicosis, seems like an easy get that JR would go to often. And we start with a wild Lee rana from the ring to Hiromu on the apron, and follow that up with a fast Lee tope. You just kind of have to decide whose offense you like more and root for the match that way, because there are going to be several times where you're annoyed that someone bounced back to his feet too quickly. Takahashi breaks out some crazy stuff, hitting hard on dropkicks, launching an especially nutty dropkick off the apron, then hitting the big standing senton to the floor. It's a greatest hits collection, but the crowd is a greatest hits crowd. By the time the two of them are trading big German suplexes, I don't care anyway. "These are restaurant quality suplexes, I assure you," says JR, and nobody has any fucking clue what he's assuring us of. You'll care even less about the forearm trading, but Lee will fly stupidly into the turnbuckles off a suplex. The match reaches full retard status when Lee bounces Takahashi headfirst across the mat on a package suplex, I mean literally headfirst, bounced off the mat. Doesn't matter too much, he won a minute later, off of what looked like one of the weakest moves of the match. That appears to be the New Japan way. "Do a bunch of dangerous shit, win with a weak lariat or a light backbreaker."

Juice Robinson vs. Jay White

ER: This works out of the gate because both guys are cool getting thrown violently into the ring barricades, with Juice especially flying hard into it. White needs someone willing to violently throw themselves into things, or else his whole being does not work, but luckily Juice appears to be this guy, throwing himself into the turnbuckles on a suplex and is good at taking a beating. Juice has a broken bandaged up left hand, and he's a southpaw, so we get a lot of stuff with White being a dick and going after the hand. On the floor and Juice takes a nice bump into the post, and then eats a nasty snap suplex into the barricade that actually knocks JR out of his seat, and that leads to Josh Barnett getting into the ring. White plays it nicely and both JR and Barnett are weirdly swearing on commentary, but White was hilarious acting like a smug prick for knocking over JR. Getting another 19 count out spot is a bit much on the same show (there was literally one in the previous match), but Juice is killing himself to make this match work, and White's cold heel demeanor is working off it. The stuff around Juice's left hand is a little too hokey though. Normally I'm a big fan of an injured taped up body part unable to be used, and the heel opponent using that to his advantage, but they integrate it a couple of really clunky ways using Red Shoes (Red Shoes acting too broad and hammy on a spot? Weird), it all could have been stronger. We do get a couple good nearfalls, and it was nice seeing Juice get the win. It was pretty easily the best match on the card so far, but there has also been a lot of very bad wrestling on the card so far.

Cody vs. Kenny Omega

ER: I appreciate the pomp, love Cody coming out in this grade school Roman cape, accompanied by Brandi and some lesser thans to carry him to the ring. His act works best with Brandi, and even if she's not great at ringside like Zelina, her presence can still be strong. It's great to see Cody doing totally shithead things like pulling her in front of him so Omega doesn't finish a dive. We get a lot of brawling on the floor, and it's pretty good. Guys have been taking nasty throws into railings tonight, feels like those things aren't tied down in any way. Juice in the prior match looked like he was bursting through them like the Kool Aid Man. But Kenny brings in a table and my god does it look incredibly painful when he does a flying double stomp to Cody. I was digging it up to this point, but they lost me with some of the trading and overkill, seems like Omega really wants to make his big thigh slap knee look as weak as possible, he throws it out so often and it can look great, but it never feels like a nearfall move anymore. You get nice bits of stuff, like a big flip dive from Omega and a nice headscissors, but I'm sick of stuff like trading dragon suplexes. Almost 20 years ago when I was sitting at home playing Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 and blowing off classes, the dragon suplex felt like a move that nobody could possibly even survive, let alone kick out from.

A ladder gets involved and I like some of the fighting around the ladder, liked the ladder used as a prop that you could get slammed into, but the climbing stuff didn't work for me, even though the two craziest spots in the match all happened because of them climbing that damn ladder. Cody's superplex  off the ladder was a thing of beauty, and I liked how we forgot about the table still sitting out on the floor, unbroken, waiting in position. I definitely could have done without the involvement of Red Shoes and his acting abilities, and they made sure all the worst elements of that dude were on display for the final 10 minutes. And I still cannot stand the one-winged angel, the fact that when an opponent looks like he can be put away Omega needs to go "Cool but let me try to bury my head inside his ass for a bit first", and as I'm talking about how stupid the move is, Omega does something far more violent and powerbombs Cody from the ring "through" the table on the floor, but the powerbomb falls a little short and Cody basically bounces off the table and straight to the floor. I enjoyed the drama with Brandi putting her body in front of Cody's to stop a V-Trigger, but really could have done without some last minute elbow trade offs. The underhook piledriver looked good and is far more plausible than burying your head in someone's ass until they're vertically up on your shoulders, but it was fine. The match went long and to their credit it didn't feel too stretched out. Behind Juice/White it was definitely the best of what's left.

ER: Well I'm not bummed at all that I didn't pay money to see this live, but the presentation was simple and nice, and at least the final 3 matches felt like the workers were treating this like a big show. A few of the big stars were there but clearly didn't show up, and I think I like that Juice match because of that. We get a bunch of guys taking the night off, and Juice shows up and throws himself wildly through guardrails and into suplexes. An awesome performance, with some unexpectedly fun Josh Barnett threats right in the middle of the match! NJPW bringing in Barnett to work a series would be more interesting to me than most of their options. But I genuinely loved the beatdown to close out this show. That was arguably my favorite thing we got to see. Tama Tonga is awesome and one of the more underutilized guys on the roster, one of the NJ guys I actually go out of my way to see. Tama and Tanga looked great dismantling everyone, and even though he's 60 Haku has an undeniable presence and looked intense while stomping guys out. Haku would be an awesome addition as the third man in trios, and I'm really curious to see some high level Tama matches, see how he can step it up with the big opportunity.

So, overall I wouldn't recommend the show. But the big singles matches all delivered (and even though I got bored with Lee/Takahashi, I guarantee most in attendance got exactly the Lee/Takahashi match they wanted, so good for them) and the show ending angle couldn't have been hotter, so it was a show that definitely got better as it went on.

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Blogger Yerfuneral said...

I had considered going to this show too when first announced but quickly learned it was basically the 4th of July weekend that made it unlikely. The final kabash was when tickets went on sale without even a match announced and the $45 to $85 (I believe that was the price of tickets left when I first checked) without convenience charges was a bit much for how much of my actual like for the product.

This show definitely when all said and done wasn't for me but imagine fans went away happy. To many of the wrestlers I cared about were facing people I don't like or were stuck in some form of tag matches. So glad didn't blindly buy tickets.

I was hyped for the first two matches had lots of people i liked and they were facing each other so didn't mind the thrown together teams. Good to see them on the show. It's unfortunately what you have to do to fit all these people on a single show. Now get me some Tenzan, Kojima, and other elder statesmen if they are even in NJPW anymore haven't seen them on the AXS edits in forever.

Then I was pretty much in wrestling drone watch mode until that Switchblade vs Robinson match. They really got me into it. Kudos to those guys and the story they were telling even though they had quite a few silly moments.

I like G.O.D. and glad to see they finally got back to the story line from (what?) a year or more when Tonga was showing some grief for the Bullet Club but quickly forgotten when Tonga seemed replaced with Cody in the same story.
Though I think at that point was watching things out of order since that was when I finally got AXS and recorded as much of the replays as I could and watched whatever not caring about order. AXS in its truncated form really lacks in story that may be better covered in the actual full length shows so maybe that grief was dealt with already. Either way excited for Tonga vs Omega.

4:20 PM  

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