On October 16-18, New Japan Pro Wrestling concluded the 2020 G1 Climax, the company’s thirtieth annual heavyweight tournament to determine the challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event of their biggest show of the year and send someone home with a big-ass trophy. The last three nights of the G1 dramatically crowned winners for A and B Block, leading to a tournament final between two fan-favorite babyfaces. In this mega-review, I’ll look back at the last bunch of block matches, the G1 outcome, and all the other developments over these shows in a way that’s hopefully exhaustive but not exhausting!
Before the trophy finds out it isn’t changing owners this year, the last nights of block action see most G1 competitors finish the tournament strong, first in A Block’s Night of Betrayal, then in B Block’s Night of Rollups.
G1 Climax 30 Night 17 – October 16, 2020, at Ryogoku Sumo Hall – A Block
Yujiro Takahashi def. Jeff Cobb
The last night of A Block competition starts with Yujiro Takahashi getting his first win of the tournament. It’s over Jeff Cobb, and I have conflicting feels about this! The match isn’t much different from Yujiro’s other G1 matches except that he wins and uses his pimp stick. It turns out all you have to do to be successful in this life is just cheat more! (Do not give me counter-examples and definitely don’t give me any from this same show; Cobb vs. Yujiro proves this absolutely.)
I’m not shocked to see Yujiro get this win because of the content of his promos and those others have cut about him, but it’s still kind of a bummer to see Cobb take the L to this guy. The former Olympian is clearly the second-most expendable wrestler in A Block and in that way the best person for Yujiro to beat, but he killed it this G1 and a strong win on his way out would provide more hope for Cobb’s NJPW future. He could still end up doing more cool things in the company, but death by Pimp Juice doesn’t feel like a great sign or a loss he deserves.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 16, 2020
Shingo Takagi def. Minoru Suzuki
Takagi and Suzuki go crazy in their second-ever singles match and make it a lot of fun. They don’t waste a second to start brawling, and their aggression combined with the number of headbutts they each dish out makes it feel like they’re really here to fight. The throughline of the match is Suzuki working Shingo’s prized right arm and doing significant damage, but Shingo insisting on pushing through the pain and doing all his normal arm-based offense with much more difficulty. Takagi wrestles this match like a huge meathead idiot, and his arm selling is so consistent throughout that it works; he looks stupid in-kayfabe rather than invincible.
Shingo ends up winning the match in a somewhat unexpected way, with a Last of the Dragon soon after an escape from a rear-naked choke without his usual build-up moves like Noshigami and Made In Japan. Overall, this match is a good time and different enough from their Jingu Stadium match that it makes it seem like they still have plenty of gas in the tank of the feud they’re going to continue having because this win means Takagi has earned a chance to regain the NEVER Openweight Championship.
Will Ospreay def. Kazuchika Okada, Oka is back, Bea Priestley is here now
There is no part of the Empire development that doesn’t suck aside from Oka getting shark teeth.
Let’s start with the IRL aspect and move on to kayfabe. Last month, I wrote about the industry fallout of the rape of UK wrestler Pollyanna and Ospreay’s involvement, which consisted of several documented public and private statements smearing her character between 2017 and as recently as this summer, continuing to book her alleged rapist, and allegedly contributing to Pollyanna being blacklisted from the industry. Recently there were some developments in this story that got a lot of attention but didn’t say that much.
The promotion International Wrestling League, which came forward in June to back up Pollyanna’s story that she was blacklisted and that Ospreay (see the previous hyperlink for receipts and quotes from all this), recently repeated something they had said back in June in a way that made some people think it was new information: that when they were told to unbook Pollyanna, it was by the venue and not Ospreay directly. Then they said that they’ve come to think “maybe the situation wasn’t as clear as I thought. Hence the clarification today.” But this statement actually makes things even less clear about a really serious situation. To make things worse, it looks like these statements from IWL were a surprise to Pollyanna, the person who suffered a sexual assault and believes she lost her career for talking about it. If IWL received new information or changed their opinion on what happened, they didn’t share it with the person who most deserves to know.
This happened five days ago, and there has been no follow-up from IWL, Pollyanna, or anyone else since. And to make this situation uglier, this all happened shortly after the death of UK wrestler Ryan Smile, in a period where BritWres workers and fans were publicly grieving, and in which an Instagram post by Ospreay shared on Twitter was taken by some to be manipulative.
In the midst of this continued scandal, here’s a new faction for Will Ospreay. Fans invested not just in his wrestling but his personal character and months’ worth of reports by Dave Meltzer have reframed Pollyanna’s story as being about Will Ospreay’s mental health and/or Ospreay and Priestley being cyberbullied. Hana Kimura has been brought up many times. But this is not even really a story about Ospreay, this is part of the fallout of what can be most generously described as the British wrestling scene’s mishandling of a sexual assault. So here’s a BritWres-themed faction led by two of the scene’s most divisive people. What on earth am I supposed to do this with? Be like, “Ooh, I hope they get Aussie Open?”
Most Japanese NJPW fans aren’t aware of these issues or others related to Speaking Out. Compounded by the fact that a good portion of the company’s international fanbase does not care, so it’s easy to see why New Japan doesn’t feel the need to respond, whether through public statements or creative changes. And NJPW and RevPro’s lack of response isn’t unexpected; it’s not even unique. Other wrestling companies are making similar decisions right now, most visibly WWE heavily promoting Jordan Devlin in NXT (and keeping Devlin around) and keeping Matt Riddle on TV as his legal issues continue. But if the problems in the wrestling industry that came up during Speaking Out mean something to you personally, whether because of empathy or your own similar experiences, that doesn’t make these decisions less hurtful or upsetting. These wrestling companies are saying they can’t even be bothered to maybe promote someone in a slightly different way while their name is connected to sexual abuse incidents. They can’t even consider pulling an AEW temporarily pulling Sammy Guevara from TV for situations that are much more concerning.
Returning to Ospreay specifically, unless something like a clear-cut chain of emails or texts emerges that reveals explicitly why Pollyanna stopped getting booked after she alleged that she was raped by another wrestler, this story will probably never get its loose ends tied up. But considering the publicly available things (screenshots and transcripts aren’t going to get deleted like his Twitter account) that Ospreay chose to say to and about a rape victim, as well as his public treatment of other women wrestlers like Sadie Gibbs, it’s perfectly understandable why he’s a wrestler some fans don’t want to watch or think about.
This is a lot to say about real life before we get into the creative and kayfabe aspects at play here. But wrestling takes place in the real world, and sexual assault is part of many people’s real lives. When wrestling companies show apathy towards addressing issues of abuse except when it makes sense in their future drawing power vs. bad PR calculations, it insults all of these people.
Aside from the real-life context making processing Will Ospreay’s new faction an even weirder experience than it might otherwise be: The Empire is also just an uncreative faction so far. It feels like diet OG Bullet Club with O-Khan in the Fale role. There’s also something very “stunted at age 14” about the whole aesthetic. Like watching ELP do an EDM edgelord gimmick in his 30s in 2020, this type of thing makes me feel more embarrassment about watching wrestling than almost anything else about it as an entertainment product. I can’t imagine getting into a version of NJPW that includes these personalities to the extent that led me to start blogging about it, even if there was not real-life grossness attached.
It doesn’t help that Ospreay is not good at promos, character work, or acting, which are weaknesses as a performer that don’t fit the faction leader role. He and Bea’s unlikeability would fit their heel roles if they were just widely hated for being cringe rather than for very legitimate real-life reasons. Also: what happens when this act starts showing up in English-speaking countries?
Okay, now that this section I’m sure is going to get edited down [Ed note: it did!] is over, let’s finally move on to the next match, which has no real-life burdens, only kicks.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 16, 2020
Kota Ibushi def. Taichi
Kota Ibushi’s last match before the G1 30 final is a showcase of all his good qualities besides being a great high-flyer. Those qualities are toughness, mastery of kicks, being an idiot, and being an insane person.
Taichi vs. Ibushi had their first singles match in this year’s New Japan Cup and faced off many times since in the Golden Ace vs. Dangerous Tekkers tag title feud. A recurring element of their interactions has been kick battles. Here, they make almost their entire match a kick battle, and it’s very dumb and amazing. The experience of watching it gets better as they become less able no-sell each other and it becomes more visibility obvious it is that this is a stupid thing for two people even wrestling people, to do. This match is crazy as a creative decision and as a decision for these characters to make, and I respect it so much.
Your main event is up!
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 16, 2020
Tomohiro Ishii def. Jay White
After Ibushi wrestles (but really just kicks) the stupidest kind of match possible for someone hoping to have one of the most important matches of his career two days later, he has to watch the main event like the rest of us to see if he’ll have a chance at G1 glory. The stakes are clear: if Jay White beats Tomohiro Ishii, he’ll advance to the final, beating Ibushi by tiebreaker. If Ishii beats him, he’s out.
Ishii doesn’t have a stake in this match besides fighting and winning, and he’s fully the gatekeeper to Jay’s success. The Stone Pitbull is a fully-fledged character with a persona that fans have loved for years, but while that’s on display as he wrestles Jay, in the greater context of the tournament this is less like a fight between these two individuals and more like Jay is about to enter a castle to try and take the throne, but first a stone gargoyle flies down from the building and he has to fight it. Ishii’s playing the role he summed up perfectly to Kenny Omega when he said, “I am that wall.”
Overall, this is an exciting main event that displays a lot of what Jay and Ishii are each best at. For much of the match, it looks like Jay could be successful. He uses the strategy that’s worked well for him this tournament, both in terms of producing wins and good matches, of targeting one of his opponent’s body parts, in this case Ishii’s taped-up knee. Ishii gets a few hits in there, but he can’t string offense together for a long time, while it looks like Jay is at the top of his game. This all makes Ishii’s eventual comeback that starts with a vengeful dragon screw even more satisfying to watch. There’s a sequence with awkward Blade Runner counters that kind of cancel out the really cool one Suzuki did on the previous block show (the Blade Runner can be cool, but there have been so many awkward setups and counters to it over the years), but it doesn’t hurt the match as a whole.
The vertical drop brainbuster that gives Ishii the win looks so definitive when Jay has been doing so well that I almost expected the referee to be pulled out to stop the count, but Ishii actually wins, Jay is stuck at twelve points, and Ibushi makes the final. It doesn’t set up anything for Ishii’s future (which encapsulates Ishii’s likely future), but the result immediately turns the spotlight back on Jay, who already has plenty going on in his life without a G1 final. Gedo is very upset about this loss in a way that might as well be a neon sign over his head saying “I’m going to betray Switchblade Jay White” and Switchblade Jay White has a full, fantastic paranoid breakdown backstage. A hundred chef’s kisses to him taking the chairs whose presence he demanded to be a personal insult, and extra-large chef’s kiss to this main event.
G1 Climax 30 A Block winner: Kota Ibushi
Night 17 match recommendation: Ibushi vs. Taichi
G1 Climax 30 Night 18 – October 17, 2020, at Ryogoku Sumo Hall – B Block
Yoshi-Hashi def. Toru Yano
The last night of B Block competition begins with its first of four roll-up or pinning combination victories. Yoshi-Hashi vs. Yano is a mid-level Yano match, with Yoshi-Hashi generally playing the straight man but also using some of Yano’s tricks against him. Yoshi-Hashi taping Yano to his staff doesn’t do the trick, but blocking a low blow and turning it into a roll-up for the win is a surprisingly cool finish that fits Yoshi-Hashi’s surprisingly good G1. He didn’t have anything close to the strongest run out of everyone, but his match with Evil was one of the tournament’s best, and it was consistently enjoyable to see Yoshi-Hashi stepping his game up.
Juice Robinson def. Hirooki Goto
Juice vs. Goto is a historically strong matchup, and they work well together again here in a hard-hitting, clean, baby-on-baby fight. Juice smartly focuses on Goto’s injured arm while Goto fights more from underneath, and both wrestlers show plenty of intensity and pull off some interesting counters. Overall, the match is high energy and keeps you guessing who’s going to win and what’s going to happen next. Both wrestlers exit disappointed about their final win-loss records and point totals (especially Juice, who tends to get morose about this stuff), but this match is a great look for them on their ways out of the G1 Climax
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 17, 2020
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Zack Sabre Jr.
After intermission, we return with a historically even better pairing: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zack Sabre Jr., who have a submission-based match that I absolutely loved. Most of the match is built around both wrestlers applying “basic” moves like headlocks and leg scissors, then adjusting them as their opponent tries various ways to escape. It’s a showcase of creativity and wrestling fundamentals that’s anything but basic, and it keeps the viewer hooked the whole time.
They eventually start using things like Octopus Holds, slingblades, et cetera, but it’s fittingly a wrestling move that ends the match, with Tanahashi countering Zack’s armbar into a pin. It’s a victory that reminds everyone, not that we really needed to be reminded, that past-his-prime Tanahashi can still beat anyone and do it in a variety of ways. It’s also kind of a flex – Tanahashi clarifies backstage that he intentionally pinned Zack for a five-count and talks about weight advantage. The Ace ends his G1 in a good mood and Zack ends his with a tantrum, which feels like the way to go after this summer so frequently saw Zack gloating and Tana on the verge of tears.
Kenta def. Tetsuya Naito
Aside from its finish, Kenta vs. Naito is just about the most generic version of a Kenta vs. Naito match imaginable. It starts with good energy and some fun moments of two annoying people pushing each other to be more annoying, like Jay vs. Taichi but way less so. But soon settles into submission-based wrestling that’s way less interesting than that of the previous match, and it gets boring.
The match does pick up in its finishing stretch, though, starting with the Destino counter to the Go 2 Sleep, building to an amazing Valencia, and then getting completely turned on its head with Kenta’s surprise roll-up counter win that made me lose my mind and Naito completely break tranquilo. You’d think that something being the third surprise pin counter win on one show might make it less exciting, but instead, it makes it even more unexpected. I think this is the worst match of the show, but the finish is fantastic, and it works toward making the next match’s finish even better.
Highlights from “#G1CLIMAX30 Night18” (Oct 17th)
Watch full matches on https://t.co/z1DNREgyh5
(ENGLISH Commentary)@seiyasanada (5-3) takes on @151012EVIL (6-2)!
Be ready as B Block is decided in the coming minutes!#njpwworld pic.twitter.com/yhqbCzOcSx
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 17, 2020
Sanada def. Evil
Sanada vs. Evil matches were angsty back when they were tag partners, and their first match as enemies is even more dramatic. It leans more into what could be called sports entertainment territory than almost any other match this G1, and I think they pull it off.
This match is a clear good vs. evil morality play, with the goal of putting the already-popular good guy over as hard as possible going into the G1 final. Sanada’s best wrestling matches are earlier in the tournament, but this is the match in which he looks like the biggest deal. Every time he’s on offense is set up to make him look like the coolest guy ever, and the audience eats it all up. The audience loves Sanada so much that they turn their phone lights on after the match before he even asks.
Two elements that benefit this match are its finish and the way it handles interference. NJPW wrestlers are left hanging by their stablemates (or choose to ~fight their own battles~) so often that it’s always extra appreciated when someone actually helps out like Hiromu abandons his guest commentator position to do. While Hiromu’s involvement may provide the match’s best dramatic moments, the best wrestling moment is the finish, an O’Connor Roll made even more surprising by the high frequency of roll-up or pinning combination finishes on this show.
From the Naito-esque fake-out pose at the beginning to the bridge at the end, Evil vs. Sanada is a match that says “You guys like Sanada, right? Isn’t Sanada awesome?” And anyone is entitled to dislike Sanada and deny that he’s awesome, but the Ryogoku crowd clearly answers those questions with a resounding YES, and that’s why this guy gets to be G1 finalist tier now.
NJPW G1 Climax 30 B Block winner: Sanada
Night 18 match recommendation: Evil vs. Sanada
G1 Climax 30 Night 19 – October 18, 2020, at Ryogoku Sumo Hall – Final
The last night of the G1 is pretty much always a one-match show. Everyone’s watching for the final and we accept that there needs to be more wrestling before that to warm us up and make the ticket/PPV price worth it. The undercard isn’t just filler, though. While the final sets up the Tokyo Dome main event, the rest of the show works to sell everyone on the next month or so of NJPW, usually the Destruction events and King of Pro Wrestling, but this year the period before the BOSJ/World Tag League combo tour, aka Power Struggle season.
On October 18, the undercard works overtime to set up future angles, going five for five with post-match and backstage challenges and/or attacks. This part of the show is boosted by the return of the junior heavyweights after a month without them. It also helps there were no tag matches at all on the G1 tour, which makes these feel a lot fresher than they would otherwise. The pre-intermission tags are entertaining, but the two before the final and what they tell the audience to get hyped for kill the mood and hurt the appeal of NJPW’s near future.
I’m going to try not to take up too much space talking about what happened on the undercard because this article is already long, but before we get to the final, let’s go over the important parts in a…
G1 Final Undercard Speed Round
The opening Suzukigun vs. Chaos eight-man tag is fun and chaotic, but even more chaotic is the backstage segment in which the bad guys brag about Douki’s win over Yoshi-Hashi (he pinned him after the tag champs hit Zack Mephisto) and Ishii tries to fight them all in a dark hallway. Folks, the year of Douki truly begins now. He and Taichi and ZSJ are challenging for the NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship, and Yano has challenged Sabre to a match for his KOPW title. These groups have great chemistry so far and so do pairings within these groups, so this is a promising start to a feud.
In the second match, Shingo and Hiromu defeat Suzuki and Kanemaru, setting up not only Shingo’s challenge for the NEVER title that everyone could see coming, but a slightly less expected challenge from Hiromu for Kanemaru and Desperado’s tag titles, which he wants to win before BOSJ. This is both our first time seeing Shingo and Hiromu as a two-man team (they don’t do a lot together, but their five seconds of character interaction makes me want to see more) and our first time seeing NJPW junior-on-junior action in over a month.
Wato, Cobb, Juice, and Tana vs. Gedo, Ishimori, Kenta, and Jay takes the Most Chaotic award from the opener and features some great moments like Cobb full-on throwing Gedo onto Ishimori and Jay trying to mock Wato with Mongolian Chops, then Wato kicking him into Tenzan to eat the real deal. The Wato-Tenzan relationship continues to be mostly inexplicable but also kind of amazing.
This Bullet Club vs. Hontai match also produces some very eventful backstage comments: Tanahashi’s level-headed challenge for Kenta’s briefcase, Ishimori asking Bullet Club to “just try to get along,” Jay hugging Mima Shimoda and thanking her for the chairs, and MOST IMPORTANTLY what looks like the grand finale of Kenta’s romance with the NJPW World camera operator. He talks to different cameras as different characters, and he asks the object of his affection to say “I love you” only for them to say it and sound too much like a man because, well, they are a man and this is all still the wrestling character of Kenta doing a skit within the fictional wrestling world. This amazing promo shows Kenta’s total mastery of the backstage comment and continues to own anyone who ever said one of his problems in WWE was that he didn’t have a personality.
These matches are followed by the announcement that Wrestle Kingdom 15 will be another two-night event (I’m guessing to make up for the months of revenue lost or decreased due to the pandemic), The Empire beating Sho and Okada without gaining any new members, and Evil and Yujiro defeating Naito and Bushi to set up yet another Naito vs. Evil match, which I’ll talk about more later. After a fun pre-intermission hour or so, these last two tags before the final display real-life crappiness and creative crappiness and make the near future of NJPW looks a lot less bright. The G1 final ends the show on a happier and more promising note. However, unlike past finals, it’s not a display of the best NJPW has to offer.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 18, 2020
G1 Climax 30 Final: Kota Ibushi def. Sanada
That’s not to say both wrestlers don’t go into the match looking their best. Aside from that these are two men who look beautiful every day of their lives, Kota Ibushi and Sanada were given very flattering roads to the G1 30 final. Both Ibushi and Sanada had matches I’d consider highlights of this G1 (Ibushi’s matches with Suzuki and Ishii and Sanada’s with Naito and Tanahashi) and final block matches that give them opportunities to shine in different ways.
Sanada, after getting put over by the Ace, gets a big, dramatic, heroic victory over his former tag partner turned evil in more than name, and he gets to close two shows in a row with his crowd-favorite romantic cell phone lights bit and look like a big star. Ibushi doesn’t need his babyface power amplified like this at this point in his career because that work has been put in in the past. Everyone knows that he could be The Guy, so it works for him to have a consistently strong tournament that with matches that show off a variety of his skills – high flying more emphasized in some matches, shoot background in others.
These guys are both very popular and set up to succeed as much as possible in their G1 final together, but that doesn’t overcome that they’ve never had a really good match together. They’ve had very athletic matches and it’s always fun to be able to so clearly label something a Handsome Battle, but they don’t seem to have any special chemistry. Their past G1 matches have quickly blurred into those tournaments, and the match they wrestle for the G1 30 final would too if it wasn’t a G1 final.
The easiest way to describe most of this match is “normal.” They start with the type of wrestling and pacing that shows they’re going to go long, but the intensity doesn’t build all that much from there. Sanada works Ibushi’s taped leg (a highlight of this match is the camera pan that shows one of Ibushi’s thighs fully wrapped in athletic tape because he intentionally let someone kick it for like ten cumulative minutes two nights before), but that doesn’t really go anywhere.
They go on to wrestle a competitive match with well-executed moves and a few cool spots but nothing is super memorable aside from Those two nearfalls. The O’Connor Roll that Sanada got major wins with earlier in the tournament is so close to putting Ibushi away that it causes what sounds like the loudest COVID-rule-breaking NJPW crowd reaction yet. This was definitely one of the most exciting 2.99 counts I’ve ever seen, and the Sanada’s own close kickout soon after is amazing too. I can already remember almost nothing else about this match I watched twice before writing this article, but I think these nearfalls are unforgettable.
Ibushi wins the match with a Kamigoye soon after these match-highlights, and it’s both a happy moment and what seems like the right decision. Sanada is very over as a babyface and there’s concern by some fans over his lack of significant wins, but he’s only 32, and unless he gets totally nerfed over the next year a G1 win for him in 2021 would probably be even more well-received than this one would have been. Ibushi’s repetition of something he’s said in the past, that “Sanada should be on this side” makes me think there might be an intention to split the Cold Skull from L.I.J. and turn into a purer babyface character first as well.
Meanwhile, Ibushi is (somehow!) 38 and has been building towards this moment for even longer. As he mentions after the match, he’s now the only three-time consecutive G1 finalist, he’s the third man to win two consecutive G1s (after Chono and Tenzan, both in the building), and he’s won every major title in NJPW aside from the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He’s widely beloved by wrestling fans, and his character has even been encouraged by his personal wrestling god not just to achieve any particular accomplishment, but to become a god.
It really can’t be emphasized enough that Ibushi’s arc in 2020 has been 1) best friendship tag team with his god, 2) have to carry his god in said tag team, 3) encouraged by his god to become a god as well, and 4) take that a step forward and pledge to become big-G God. After you weird everyone out by talking about becoming big-G God for months, you kind of have to at least win the G1. Wait, maybe the G in G1 stands for “god” this year. Oh my god. Oh my god.
Ibushi’s G1 win is followed by Chono handing him the trophy and nearly making him cry, a promo and backstage talk to the press that are all very normal top babyface fare except for the stuff about becoming God, and a really good challenge from Jay White. Whenever White walks toward someone while slow-clapping it’s the sign of a good segment, and their angry Zima clink is perfect. Ibushi’s only eligible briefcase challengers right now are White and Shingo Takagi and I’m not sure when they could even do that second match, but this first one is promising and has already been sold very well.
The double championship is here to stay? and other press conference and Power Struggle thoughts
The epilogue to the G1 is the post-tournament press conference and the Power Struggle card announcement, and I have conflicted feelings about a lot of it.
First, Naito has said he wants to defend the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships separately. With another two-night Wrestle Kingdom coming up and Ibushi saying explicitly on the 18th that he’s only interested in the Heavyweight Championship at this time, it seems like January 4-5, 2021, is the perfect time to split the belts up, if not earlier. But at the press conference, Ibushi is given a contract to challenge for the double championship. There could be a twist between now and January that allows the belts to be divided, but right now it feels like why not just unify the titles if things are going to continue like this.
The Power Struggle card confirms that Naito will defend both titles against Evil on November 7, and in this case, a double defense makes sense because that’s what their feud as been about. But it will also be the fourth singles match for these two within six months. Their G1 match was finally an Actually Good one, but that does not make me want to watch another so soon.
Usually, New Japan doesn’t have a problem with running the same singles match back to back to back in such a short period of time, and I have to guess the reason for this booking anomaly is the hiatus this spring compressing their schedule. Power Struggle is entirely singles matches we’ve seen at least once within the last month aside from the offering from The Empire. In a normal year, this stuff would probably be spread out among the Destruction tour, King of Pro Wrestling, Power Struggle, and the August NYC show they had planned, but now it’s all happening in a few weeks. Most of these matches will probably be pretty good, but coming right out of the G1 where almost all of them just happened, they’re less appealing.
The choice for this show to be entirely heavyweight singles matches is also a little disappointing because of the tag title challenges on the G1 final. I get putting the Suzukigun vs. Chaos 6-man title bout on a Road show, but Hiromu and Bushi challenging Desperado and Kanemaru will probably be better than at least two or three of the matches on this card, and it seems like the junior tag titles should get a little more respect than KOPW and the U.S. title match contract.
Okay, that’s everything, right? I think that’s everything to talk about?
Overall, the last three nights of NJPW’s thirtieth G1 Climax show some of the company’s best, but also that not everything NJPW has to offer is necessarily the best. The G1 winner feels like the right choice, but the G1 final mostly felt like a dud. There are some promising storylines going forward, but some hurt by staleness and by reminders of the wrestling industry being terrible. They’re shows that say it’s worthwhile to tune in for Wrestle Kingdom and maybe the BOSJ/tag league final, but they don’t inspire more interest or dedication than that.