New Japan Pro Wrestling held Night 2 of the G1 Special in the USA in Long Beach on Sunday featuring the IWGP United States Championship Tournament. In this review, I talk about my thoughts on the show after being there live. Oh, and Ricochet did a shoot on Lucha Underground! Click to read. Learn to love it.
Even though Steve is busy with other matters, he was gracious enough to send over his star ratings.
David Finlay, KUSHIDA, and Jushin Thunder Liger defeated YOSHITATSU & the Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu)
The fans were solidly behind the team of Finally, KUSHIDA, and Liger. KUSHIDA was probably the most over on the team. YOSHITATSU’s team didn’t get a kind response from the crowd. This was a solid opener with KUSHIDA getting a good showcase here. The finish came with Finlay, KUSHIDA, and Liger had YOSHITATSU and the Tempura Boyz in submissions. There’s not much to say about this. Everyone looked good in the ring, and the fans were into it.
Andrew’s Rating: **1/2
Steve’s Rating: ***
Kenny Omega defeated Jay Lethal to advance in the IWGP United States Championship Tournament
Kenny Omega was the fan’s choice to win the tournament. This match continued to play off the story of Jay Lethal’s injured ribs. They told a good story with Omega constantly attacking Lethal’s ribs to wear him down. Lethal made some comebacks, but Omega would always one-up him. Eventually Omega got the win with a One-Winged Angel. Again, this match had a really well told story that the fans were into. Omega was on another level this weekend. More on that later in the review.
Andrew’s Rating: ***
Steve’s Rating: *** 1/2
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Zack Sabre, Jr. to advance in the IWGP United States Championship Tournament
This was another really good tournament match. They played up Ishii being the stronger competitor, with Zack using technical wrestling holds and submissions to offset that advantage. They teased Zack getting a win by submission with an Armbar variation to the point where the fans thought Ishii was going to tap before he got a rope break. It was honestly one of the best moments of the show and did an amazing job at captivating the audience. Ishii won with a Brainbuster. Another solid tournament match here.
Andrew’s Rating: ***1/2
Steve’s Rating: ****1/2
Dragon Lee, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Titan, & Volador, Jr. over Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito)
This match featured a lot of nice lucha spots from Titan, Volador, Jr., and Dragon Lee. The exchange between Lee and Takahashi were really fun as well. Juice Robinson also looked pretty solid in this and had a good showcase. This match was good overall, but was nothing overly special. It had its fair share of spots, but fell flat compared to the other matches on the card. The technicos won after White hit a reverse STO on BUSHI. The finish was also weird, as it just came out of nowhere with no real build. Either way, I enjoyed this for what it was.
Andrew’s Rating: **3/4
Steve’s Rating: ***1/4
Bullet Club (Hangman Page, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Roa) defeated Michael Elgin & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe)
The Bullet Club had HAKU with them, which was probably the coolest part of the show. This was a solid showcase for the babyface team of Elgin and War Machine. Elgin was able to display some nice offense in this. War Machine also got to display some offense here. The Bullet Club were able to get the win here after Page pinned Rowe. The match itself wasn’t great, as it felt more like a chance for the guys in this to show what they could do in the ring. There was nothing overly bad though.
Andrew’s Rating: : **1/2
Steve’s Rating: **1/4
Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) defeated RPG Vice (Trent Beretta & Rocky Romero) by submission to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
I was really losing my mind during this match. You pretty much got what you expected from these guys. All four of them went out and had a really fun spot fest. Trent? (or Beretta) took some crazy bumps. At one point, he took a Powerbomb onto the entrance ramp. Later, he took a neck bump onto the top turnbuckle while on the top rope. Dude has no chill.
The Bucks hit a different variation of their “More Bang For Your Buck” in this match. Instead of using a Fireman’s Carry, Matt had his opponent in an Argentina Backbreaker before doing a forward roll. Later in the match, Matt had Trent? in a Sharpshooter. As Trent? went to grab the bottom rope, Nick hit a springboard Senton Bomb onto him. When Matt dragged Trent? to the middle of the ring, Rocky hit a springboard dropkick to break the submission attempt. This was a really cool sequence.
But the most memorable moment came when the Bucks hit a special Meltzer Driver on Rocky Romero. Matt was able to catch Romero when he went for a Tope Suicida to the outside and got him in a Tombstone position. This allowed Matt to set him up for Nick to run up the ropes and do a front flip to the outside for the craziest Meltzer Driver I had ever seen. This spot was also dedicated to Dave Meltzer, who lost his father during the weekend. It was a touching tribute in a match that I’m sure Dave would’ve loved.
— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) July 3, 2017
Great match here. After the match, Ricochet did a springboard dropkick, followed by a dive by dive onto the Bucks. He got on the mic and challenged them to a match in Japan for their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship with Taguchi. He also took a shot at Lucha Underground, where he’s currently under contract. Ricochet was unable to appear on the events because of his current contract status with Lucha Underground. That’s probably a shoot, bruh.
— UnderhookDDT (@UnderhookDDT) July 3, 2017
The post match angle also saw Rocky tell Trent? that he was ready to compete in the heavyweight division. Amazing match, and the post match angle was also very nice.
Andrew’s Rating: ****1/2
Steve’s Rating: **** (Note: This was originally printed as “***” because of typo from Steve.)
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, & Yujiro Takahashi) over Chaos (Jay Briscoe, Kazuchika Okada, Mark Briscoe, & Will Ospreay)
The first five minutes of the match featured everyone tagging in and out quickly. There was little-to-no action going on during that time, and yet the crowd was fully into it. Eventually the heels worked over the babyfaces several times to set up hot tag spots. The match featured a mix of comedy stuff and spots. Cody got the win for his team after hitting the Cross Rhodes on Ospreay. This was another solid match, but nothing overly special. The way to describe it is “it was what it was.”
Andrew’s Rating: **1/2
Steve’s Rating: **1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Billy Gunn to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
I texted Steve during this match. I said that if I wasn’t reviewing this show, I would’ve gotten something to drink or used the bathroom. The fans for the most part weren’t into Billy Gunn, but there were some who were enjoying the novelty of Mr. Ass’ appearance. This was a very slow paced match. Tanahashi spent most of the opening portions controlling The One with headlocks. There were some antics with Chuck’s partner in life like underwear and ass showing, but this match was very uneventful overall. Tanahashi eventually beat Rockabilly with the High Fly Flow to retain the title.
After the match, Kip James gave Tanahashi respect and shook his hand.
Andrew’s Rating: * (It wasn’t terrible in the sense that they blew all their spots. It was just a really boring match.)
Steve’s Rating: **
Kenny Omega defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win the IWGP United States Championship
I really don’t know where to begin with this one.
The match started out with Kenny trying to stiff Ishii. None of this was effective on Ishii though. The match eventually spilled into the crowd early on, but because the big screen wasn’t on, it was hard to see what was going on. This would be the only thing about the match I didn’t enjoy.
The match would progress really well as it went on. There were a lot of cool spots and nice sequences. The way these two built up various spots was amazing. At one point, there was a table brought out and was set it up at ringside near the ring. Later, Omega and Ishii would tease the table spot with both of them on the ring apron trying to suplex each other through it. Words can’t do the tease justice, so here’s a screen cap that’ll give you an idea of how crazy it was.
After that awesome moment, we got a spot and Omega hit a Dragon Suplex on Ishii through a table at ringside. They teased a count out finish really well after this too. Both guys did a bunch of near falls and false finish spots in the last ten minutes of the match. There was one cool spot where Omega went for a reverse rana, but was hit with a One-Winged Angel, by Ishii.
The fans were coming unglued as it kept going up until Omega was able to hit a One-Winged Angel on Ishii for the win. I really can’t put into words how amazing this match was. Everything in the match was done so well, and the fans were super into this. Kenny Omega might be the best wrestler in the world right now, as his performance in this and the Lethal match were great.
Andrew’s Rating: *****
Steve’s Rating: *****
After the match, the Bullet Club came out. Cody Rhodes teased attacking Kenny, but eventually helped put the belt around him. Omega then got on the mic and cut a genuine promo about being human and thanked the fans for coming out to end the show.
This was an amazing event. Night 1 of the show was really good, and people were wondering how it was gonna be topped. The argument of whether Elgin vs. Omega or Ishii vs. Omega was better is gonna be a tough one, as they both were amazing matches. It’s hard to pick which match was better.
Kenny Omega was the M.V.P. of the weekend. He went out and had three really good performances, with two Five Star matches on back-to-back nights. This guy is something special, and professional wrestling is lucky to have him around.
NJPW did a great job as far as the show was concerned. Their merchandise booth situation was rough, and the lack of bleachers kinda sucked too. However, NJPW gave the fans a great experience. The matches overall were all good (aside from the Billy Gunn match, which was boring) and the atmosphere was electric. I really hope NJPW returns to the Southern California area.
If you want to check these shows out, head over to NJPW World where they’ll have replays available of both nights. I highly recommend you check out Kenny Omega’s matches from the weekend.