I usually don’t watch Kizuna Road for whatever reason or another, but upon seeing that the title matches delivered I decided to give it an old look at these two and run through the combatants in this years G1 Climax.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Michael Elgin vs Hirooki Goto
Goto never got pinned to lose the belt, so rightfully so that he is Big Mike’s first challenger and he’s a big challenge for the big man from Canada. I’ve to say Big Mike looks fresh in his new gear and looks strong in this leaner frame, but will it see him through this tough encounter with The Fierce Warrior of Chaos.
They start off with some technical wrestling but it’s not long until the first forearms are thrown around which are followed by a series of big shoulder tackles from the pair, but Elgin gets the advantage after a Saito Suplex that sees Goto leave the ring to get some breathing space, only for Elgin to come flying off the apron with a foot stomp to Goto’s back.
An early buckle bomb from Elgin and an Ushigoroshi signify that they both know they need to use the strong side of their arsenal of moves to get a victory here. After the Ushigoroshi, Goto kicks the chest of Elgin. Big Mike comes back with a German Suplex and follows it up with an Overhead Throw. They trade chops until Goto unleashes a flurry, runs off the ropes only to be taken down with a Standing Dropkick. Elgin takes him up for a Stalling Vertical Suplex but only gets a two count from Red Shoes. Elgin is dictating the pace but Goto rises to the challenge of the Canadian and gives the big man a Lariat. Goto is in the ascendency as he drops Elgin with a Back Drop Suplex but only gets a two, he goes to the corner but Elgin cuts him off with a flurry of Lariats and chops. Out of the corner, Elgin takes Goto up in a Military Press and brings it down in a Powerslam.
Goto has Elgin trapped in a headlock and as Elgin pushes Goto backwards, they knock out Red Shoes inadvertently. Taichi comes in and hits both men with his stupid microphone stand before Jeff Cobb comes in and gives him a German Suplex and takes him to the back. Both men are on their knees, trading forearms as they rise to a vertical base. Big German Suplex from Goto but Elgin comes back with a series of kicks, follows it up with a scoop slam and heads up to the top rope only to be cut off by Goto. They start fighting on the apron and Goto knocks Elgin onto the floor, he lines up a kick but it is caught and Elgin drops Goto onto the floor with a Fisherman Buster. Back in the ring, a prone Goto gets splashed by Elgin from the top rope but Goto kicks out at two. Elgin sets Goto up on the top turnbuckle but Goto fights him off. Elgin is on the apron now and knocks Goto off the top turnbuckle with a Lariat. He lifts him back up to the top, he’s looking for an Elgin Bomb but Goto blocks him off and brings out a Kaiten! Goto only gets a two. Elgin gets a two after a roll up, followed by another nearfall for Goto. Big forearm from Elgin but Goto locks him into a Sleeper. Elgin is fighting it and flips Goto over his head to break his hold. He turns Goto inside out after a big Lariat and follows it up with an Elgin Bomb only to get a two count.
Elgin gets a Buckle Bomb, Goto immediately comes back with Lariats and a Headbutt, follows it up with a Penalty Kick, reminiscent of former champion and tag partner, Katsuyori Shibata. Goto is looking for a GTR but Elgin constantly fighting it. Goto delivers a series of knees to Elgin and a big clubbing blow to the back before he finally gets the GTR and the victory.
Elgin fails at the first hurdle, Goto has reclaimed his NEVER Openweight Championship and Jeff Cobb has made the challenge.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado
These two were Young Lions together, they know each other and this comes out in their matches, like the brilliant BOSJ encounter that Despe won. I wonder about Despe’s mask coming into this match as he seems to have not really cared much about it during the BOSJ and to me, it looks like we’re heading towards a Mask vs Mask between him and Dragon Lee. Hiromu entered with a guitar case and handed Despe a bouquet, similar to when Despe challenged Ibushi. Despe smashed the flowers off Hiromu before throwing them into the crowd. Hiromu takes Despe outside the ring and whips him into the guardrails, at one point doing his patented Shotgun Dropkick, sending Despe back into them with force. They go up into the crowd, similar to their match in the BOSJ, Hiromu brings the guitar case with him, he skips to the farside but leaves the case, and he comes charging back at Despe, only to be hit with the guitar case.
Despe brings him back down but instead of going to the ring, he throws him into the chairs. Giving fans an up close and personal view of Hiromu’s pain. In many ways this match is reminiscent of the BOSJ match in its early stages, except this time Despe is the way in control. Despe goes to get his tag belt but Red Shoes stops him, providing the distraction so Despe can take off the turnbuckle padding and expose the steel. He whips poor Hiromu into the exposed steel and follows it up with a Snap Suplex, only for Red Shoes not to count the pinfall due to the exposed steel.
Kanemaru comes out and slides in a chair, distracts Red Shoes so Despe can use the chair against Hiromu and breaks it off his back. BUSHI comes out and mists Kanemaru and takes him backstage. Hiromu looks for the Timebomb but Despe’s leg hits Red Shoes and takes him out. Despe goes back to get one of the belts, he swings but Hiromu rips off the mask, Despe doesn’t seem to care and knocks Hiromu with the belt and puts back on the mask. Despe hits the Guitarra De Angel only to get a two count. Hiromu locks in the Triangle Choke, Despe lifts him up and pounds him into the mat but Hiromu holds on, Despe pins his shoulders to get the break. Hiromu does a Hurricarana and holds on for a Triangle Choke, Despe picks him up and buckle bombs him into the exposed turnbuckle. Hiromu rises and Despe charges at him, Belly to Belly Suplex into the buckle, Despe writhes around in agony. Fireman Carry into the corner from Hiromu, sets up and hits the Timebomb and he gets the win.
It’s now 1:1 between these two, are we heading towards a Junior Heavyweight version of Okada and Omega? I hope so.
Hiromu called out Dragon Lee to be his next challenger.
G1 Climax 2018 Preview
Michael Elgin, EVIL, Bad Luck Fale, Togi Makabe, Kazuchika Okada, Hangman Page, Minoru Suzuki, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White& YOSHI-HASHI
Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, Juice Robinson, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA, Tama Tonga & Toru Yano
In Block A, we have Hangman and White being given the chance to shine against the likes of Suzuki, Tanahashi and Okada. Bad Luck Fale has lost weight and is looking good so he could be a wildcard, Tanahashi is owed wins by Okada and Suzuki so he could do well here too. There’s also the void of titles from Dominion that left Jay White as the only title holder in Chaos until Goto won back the NEVER, White’s match with Okada should have an interesting dynamic.
In Block B, there’s no real surprise inclusions, Kenny will look to do well and avoid defeats so as to eliminate any potential Kings of Pro Wrestling challenger, he’ll be looking to avenge his loss to Juice from last years G1 and he’ll face longtime friend, I suspect at the Budokan. We’ll see SANADA go up against L.I.J leader Naito, after SANADA refused to raise his fist to Naito. Naito will look to continue with another win over Omega here, a repeat of last years final. There’s the spoiler here in Yano. And with Naito, SANADA, Omega, Ibushi, Ishii, Goto, Sabre and Tonga, this could be well the group of death of this years G1.