A crowd of 3,907 filled the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo for Night 1 of the annual G1 Climax tournament, A Block action is the main feature of the action tonight plus five tag team matches on the undercard.
Ren Narita & Toa Henare vs CHAOS (Jado & Hirooki Goto)
As one would expect, the Young Lion would take the losing pinfall. NEVER Openweight Champion, Goto tags with the returning Jado, the match came down to Goto and the young Narita, a Ushigoroshi was all that was needed to get the victory.
CHAOS (YOH & Toru Yano) vs CHAOS (SHO & Tomohiro Ishii)
CHAOS vs CHAOS is the theme of the day, with SHO and Ishii working well as a tandem, especially in the closing stages as the former Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion, Ishii set up Yano for a Brainbuster to get himself and SHO the victory.
David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
David Finlay came out with a new look as he partnered with new IWGP US Heavyweight Champion, Juice Robinson. G.O.D also making their first appearance since the events of San Francisco, wrestling much more aggressively and more focused than previously. Tama Tonga got the win after a Gun Stun on David Finlay.
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jnr & TAKA Michinoku) vs Yujiro Takahashi & Kota Ibushi
With ZSJ starting off against Ibushi tomorrow, he’ll be looking to mount some momentum. TAKA spoke on behalf of Zack to the Japanese audience and future opponents saying ‘Just Tap Out’. The technical wizard showed he has a new move to his already deadly arsenal as he got the win over Takahashi following a Michinoku Driver.
L.I.J (SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) vs Bullet Club Elite (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
Being announced as Bullet Club Elite, Omega and Owens will be looking to get the victory here, with Omega in particular having a big target on his back as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, any loss is a potential title match and history doesn’t favour 1st time holders, Kings of Pro Wrestling will likely shape things for Omega’s role at Wrestle Kingdom. L.I.J have some dissension amongst the ranks as SANADA and EVIL never mentioned Naito in the press conference by name. During the match Omega and Owens worked well together as did the L.I.J pairing, SANADA was left alone with Owens and ended it with a submission win with the Skull End.
Matches 3-5 are worth a watch for story but nothing mind blowing happens either.
YOSHI-HASHI vs Togi Makabe
YOSHI-HASHI appears with a new outfit, mimicking the colour choices of White, Okada, Ospreay and Goto on recent events, the colours of the spiritual leader of CHAOS, Shinsuke Nakamura. YOSHI-HASHI has something to prove as he has a less than stellar year, he needs a break out tournament to show the company what he can do. Hard hitting action from both men, which favours Makabe but YOSHI-HASHI shows some fire and passion. He no sells a German Suplex from Makabe, only then to suffer a Spider German Suplex which is followed by a King Kong Kneedrop and a pinfall victory for Makabe.
Bad Luck Fale vs Hangman Page
First encounter in singles competitor amongst Bullet Club members on opposing sides following the events of San Francisco. Bad Luck Fale looks leaner after losing something like 40 pounds, and as G.O.D showed earlier, he has appeared to up the aggression in his matches. He attacks Page from behind as Page made his entrance on the apron, but Page gives a good account of himself and takes the fight to the much bigger Fale. Page becomes distracted as Loa makes his way slowly to ringside, eventually tripping him while the referee is looking away. Tama Tonga comes in and attacks Page as he sets up the Rite of Passage. Triple team beat down on Page after he gets the DQ win, a rarity in the G1. Ibushi, Owens and Omega make the save.
EVIL vs Michael Elgin
Following talk online that his loss, so quickly dropping NEVER Openweight was a result of the ongoing scandal in America that he finds himself in, and didn’t even have a match at the G1 Special. I found it quite surprising at his inclusion but it appears this heat hasn’t quite followed him to Japan yet. This is their 3rd consecutive meeting in the G1, standing at one victory each. EVIL had a good showing last year and I expect much of the same from him this year. All EVIL’s attempts to end the match are vanquished by Elgin who Buckle Bombs EVIL, follows it up with a Big Mike Bomb for the win.
Minoru Suzuki vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Suzuki flanked by El Desperado, who had a breakout BOSJ, recently celebrated his 30th year in the sport in the pouring rain in Yokohama, going to a time limit draw with Kazuchika Okada. Tanahashi is no young lad himself, wrestling in his 17th consecutive G1. Suzuki came out quick with combination strikes that rocked Tanahashi, the Sadist Suzuki follows up by implementing a variety of holds targeting the knee and ankles of Tanahashi, smiling with sadistic glee as he looks to damage Tanahashi severely. A desperation Dragon Screw Whip gives Tanahashi some space and allows him to get in a succession of moves but is overwhelmed and busted at the mouth by a barrage of slaps by Suzuki. Tanahashi goes to the well again and this time does damage to Suzuki after an Inverted Dragon Screw that has Suzuki crying in pain. Slingblade, two. One crossbody High Fly before returning up top to do a High Fly Flow to a downed Suzuki to get the win.
Jay White vs Kazuchika Okada
‘One day, you’re going to have to face me’ were the words White once uttered to Okada. Now both beltless, with Okada losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Omega at Dominion and more recently, White lost the IWGP US Heavyweight belt to Robinson. While his loss to Robinson is said to maybe have been White’s breakout match, he still needs a signature win in NJPW, with many feeling that this will be it as Okada is down. White brutalises Okada outside the ring, Saito Suplex on the floor. Charging Okada’s back into the railings and the ring apron repeatedly, going after the neck and back of Okada. White is dominant for much of this but Okada fights back as a tense atmosphere descends amongst the crowd in Ota Ward. The first Rainmaker is successfully countered by White. White introduces a chair and knocks over Red Shoes. Okada dropkicks the chair into White and follows it up with beautiful dropkick like only he can do. Tombstone Piledriver, he picks up White for a Rainmaker but as he pushes White out, White intentionally backfists Red Shoes. Referee isn’t able to count the three. White throws a chair at Okada after a low blow. Bladerunner and a revived Red Shoes counts the win.
Afterwards White says on the microphone, something along the lines of Okada has been dying an embarrassing death since Dominion. This is ‘my Rainmaker, my Chaos, my G1’.
I reckon a CHAOS War is imminent.
Suzuki and Tanahashi, White and Okada are really worth a watch. Great start to this years G1.