Monday, January 27, 2020

The 6th of April saw the most anticipated non-WWE event of a crowded Wrestlemania weekend, the NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard! This was also the first non-McMahon Family run pro-wrestling event to be held at the historic Madison Square Garden in almost 60 years. Add that to this being a key moment in NJPW’s international expansion and the pressure was on.

Honor Rumble

The show opened with the Honor Rumble. I always like a Rumble match and this was no exception! We got some great moments from the mix of ROH and NJPW entrants including:

• Coach Taguchi directing Rocky Romero to hit his Forever Clotheslines on all 4 corners before getting everyone not in a corner to join in with a massive clothesline train on Bushi, it ended with Romero tossing a beaten Bushi out of the ring.

• YOSHI-HASHI was in the match and made his entrance slowly and carefully so that he wouldn’t have another “incident” (he’s not long off the injured list after a strong style version of Titus’ Worldslide destroyed his shoulder!).

• Yano gave his spot to his new best friend Colt Cabana!

• Haku entered as a Bullet Club member and went after Cabana, Yano made the save!

• Fale took the “big man” spot with everyone in the ring coming together to eliminate him.

• Minoru Suzuki threw out Cabana and Yano, he’s the only person I didn’t mind doing it.

• The Great Muta made an appearance!

The match came down to Jushin Liger and the Great Muta, but it turned out Kenny King had been hiding on the outside and eliminated both for the victory. Honestly, the ending was a bit flat considering the excitement of Liger and Muta facing off. Afterwards, Muta got back in and hit King with the mist before taking his leave. The crowd erupted in “Thank you Liger” chants, he bowed to all 4 sides.

Winner – Kenny King

Winner take all match for the NEVER Openweight and ROH TV championships:
NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay v ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb

This was one of the two winner takes all matches of the night. This was a brilliant opener to the main show with two of the best up and comers around. It was intense and fast-paced from the start. Cobb showed off his power in several spots including a stalling vertical suplex from the second rope, and catching a huricanrana attempt from Ospreay and turning into a bearhug. Ospreay wasn’t to be outshone though and went at Cobb with his speed and athleticism, at one point hitting a perfect Spanish Fly. The two mens styles complemented each other well. Cobb picked up the victory and Ospreay’s NEVER Openweight Championship with a Tour of the Islands from the second rope followed by another on the mat, it was a decisive, and for me surprising, win. I hope we see a rematch in the near future.

Winner by pinfall and NEW NEVER Openweight Champion – Jeff Cobb

Rush v Dalton Castle

Castle made his entrance on a rainbow painted cart with some boys holding up peacock feathers behind him. It might have sounded better on paper, but it was a fun entrance.
Rush hit Castle with multiple dropkicks in the corner and pinned him for a shock victory in under 30 seconds. Not much more to say about the match itself than that.

Afterwards, Dalton’s Boys tried to console him, but he turned on them and left them both lying.

Winner by pinfall – Rush

We then cut backstage where Juice Robinson had been laid out by an unknown attacker in the locker room.

WOH Championship match Mayu Iwatani (c) v Kelly Klein

Klein asked for the handshake at the start, Iwatani barely touched her hand. Klein sent her entourage to the back, this earned Iwatani’s respect and she gave her a firm handshake.

The match started with some good mat wrestling and Klein got the advantage early on. Iwatani took control with a rear-naked choke but Klein powered out. Iwatani hit some hard kicks, knocking Klein out of the ring, and then hit a high crossbody from the top turnbuckle to Klein on the floor. Iwatani dominated a lot of the match from there, but Klein came back using her power and eventually scored the win with K-Power.

It was a decent match. I haven’t seen either woman wrestle before but I found Iwatani more impressive than Klein and was surprised she didn’t get the win.

After the match, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky came to the ring and were joined by Leon in beating up Klein and her entourage.

Winner by pinfall and NEW WOH Champion – Kelly Klein

We get a musical interlude from Mega Ran. I’ve no idea who he is, he wasn’t very good. Apparently Bully Ray agreed, as he came down to the ring glaring at him. It was pretty awkward. Bully pushed Mega Ran, who tried to square up to him, and then hit him with a chain.

The street fight is now an open challenge since Juice was attacked. Flip Gordon answers it and we have a match.

New York Street Fight – Bully Ray vs. Flip Gordon

Shortly into the match, there was interference from Silas young and Shane Taylor. Juice Robinson, now ready to go, and Mark Haskins came down with a big cartful of weapons. The match was then turned into a 6-man street fight. It was a pretty good hardcore match. At one point Flip channeled his inner Tommy Dreamer to take kendo stick shots from all 3. opponents. Then all 6 men were in the ring with sticks. Taylor and Young got taken out, and Bully Ray tried to walk away up the ramp, but he was thrown back in by Juice. Bully pleaded for mercy long enough for Taylor and Young to pull Flip and Haskins out, allowing Bully to hit a low blow. The faces were beaten down with Flip taking a trashcan to the head before being powerbombed through a table. They managed to make a comeback, after Juice hit a cannonball into Taylor on a pallet in the corner. They hit a Whassup to Bully Ray, followed up with a 450 by Flip, and all 3 pinned Bully Ray for the win.

Winners by pinfall – Flip Gordon, Juice Robinson and Mark Haskins

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match Taiji Ishimori (c) v Dragon Lee v Bandido

This match couldn’t have been more of a contrast to what came before. It was exactly the sort of fast-paced and hard-hitting wrestling you want from 3 of the best Junior Heavyweights in the world. The highlight of the match was Bandido hitting a super fallaway slam to both opponents at the same time from the top turnbuckle! We also saw Dragon Lee jumping over the top rope and hitting a huricanrana on Bandido on the outside immediately followed by Ishimori hitting both of them with a moonsault.

Dragon Lee got the surprise victory with a spinning sit-out powerbomb on Bandido. Bandido raised Dragon Lee’s arm in a show of respect.

I hope Lee’s victory means Hiromu Takahashi is on his way back from injury to take on his long-time rival!

Winner by pinfall and NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion – Dragon Lee

Winner takes all four-way tag team match for both the IWGP Tag Team and ROH World Tag Team Championships:
Guerillas of Destiny v Villain Enterprises v The Briscoes v EVIL and SANADA

I thought this match was going to be a mess, and it was, but a brilliant mess! It started with a brawl between all 8 men ending with SANADA getting Tonga Loa in a Paradise Lock before releasing him with a dropkick. They continued with non-stop action in and out of the ring. PCO is a lunatic, GoD threw him out of the ring and onto the floor but he bounced right back up! Then fell down again. Jado hit Brody King with his kendo stick allowing GoD to hit a super powerbomb for the win.

Yano appeared on the ramp looking suspicious, then revealed he had stolen the IWGP tag belts!

Winners by pinfall and NEW ROH Tag Team Champions – IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerillas of Destiny

RevPro British Heavyweight Championship match: Zack Sabre Jr (c) v Hiroshi Tanahashi

Tanahashi got a bit of air guitar in after a sequence of moves between the two. It turned out he was being a bit too cocky and ended up in an armbar because of it. ZSJ started to dominate the match but got hit with uppercuts after getting too cocky himself!

At one point ZSJ threw Tanahashi over the ropes, Tanahashi held on but as he tried to pull himself up and over, ZSJ caught him in the legscissors in the ropes. ZSJ concentrated on the wrist and arm a lot during the match, wearing Tanahashi down for his submissions. We got a great sequence with Tanahashi locking in a cloverleaf only for ZSJ to turn into a triangle hold, Tanahashi then managed to reverse it back to the cloverleaf but ZSJ got to the ropes. The rivalry between these two’s been great, they work really well together and gave interesting counters and reversals throughout the match, even using each other’s moves at points. ZSJ got the win in this encounter using with an excruciating looking submission hold, he got both of Tanahashi’s arms into a straitjacket, then pulled in his leg, Tanahashi had no choice but to submit. This was the best match of the night so far.

Winner by submission and STILL RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr

IWGP Intercontinental Championship match: Tetsuya Naito (c) v Kota Ibushi

Naito started with his usual big match mind game of taking ages to remove his suit, I think it’s the longest I’ve seen him take. Ibushi was like a coiled spring in the opposite corner, ready to go at any second. Naito motioned at him to calm down and wait.

The tactic worked and Naito controlled the start of match, keeping a slow and deliberate pace. Ibushi soon took over, and we were flying. Naito put it to a stop with a big kick, knocking Ibushi across the ring and onto his neck. Naito started targeting the neck, hitting knee to it off the rope and then clubbing blows. Ibushi slid under Naito in the corner and hit an a high backflip kick and, after going back and forth on the apron, Ibushi hit a huge hurricanrana to take Naito to the floor.

They continued at a high pace for the rest of the match with a lot of dangerous looking spots involving dropping each other on their heads and necks. At several points Naito was grinning from ear to ear, clearly enjoying being in the match as much as we were all enjoying watching it. Ibushi eventually got angry and started hittng Naito with hard strikes. Naito managed to hit a reverse rana followed by Destino for 2. He tried another but Ibushi reversed and kicked him in the face.

Ibushi’s goal of winning the IC Title was partly inspired by two of his wrestling Gods, Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura having held it. He paid homage to Nakamura by hitting Naito with two Bomaye in quick succession for a 2 count. Naito then kicked out of a last ride but Ibushi followed up with Kamigoye for the win.

Winner by pinfall and NEW IWGP Intercontinental Champion – Kota Ibushi

ROH World Championship Ladder Match Jay Lethal (c) v Matt Taven v Marty Scurll

For the most part, this was a fairly standard ladder match, the crowd were hugely behind Scurll and against Taven (f*** you Taven chant).

Things picked up when Scurll superplexed Taven off the top of the ladder. Jay Lethal came back into the match after this to try to grab the belt, but Scurll stopped him with a chickenwing. Taven then tried to climb up but Scurll snapped his fingers. Scurll’s knee buckled and he fell of the ladder, then Taven fell off, selling the finger snap.

There was a bit of a contrived spot where Lethal went to ram a ladder into Scurll, who was lying on another one against the corner. Scurll moved out of the way and Lethal awkwardly slotted his ladder in so they were linked in an X-shape. Scurll ended up dropping Taven on the device. Lethal came back in to hit a Lethal injection to Scurll. He then threw the ladders out, they bounced and hit a fan, starting a “That’s a lawsuit” chant.

Scurll hit a brainbuster to lethal on the floor. Then Taven drove scurll through a table a the outside with a spear through the ropes. Lethal brought out a taller ladder, climbed up and hit an elbow drop on Taven through a table.

Taven brought in a tall regal purple ladder. He set it up while Scurll and lethal were fighting each other. Lethal knocked Taven off the ladder. Scurrl hit both of them with another ladder, then set a ladder up as a platform between the tall ladder and the ropes as did Lethal on the opposite side. Taven hit Lethal with a chair and dropped Scurrl on one of the ladders. Taven and Lethal both started climbing up, Taven knocked Lethal off the ladder with the hanging belt, he fell onto the into the platform ladder. Taven took the championship for the victory.

I thought the match was good, but showed that ladder matches have been overdone. There were too many spots that took ages to set up and lost their realism very quickly. Taven is the Champion, which I guess means Scurll is off to AEW soon.

Winner and NEW ROH World Champion – Matt Taven

IWGP Heavyweight Championship match: Jay White (c) v Kazuchika Okada

The promo package was good but I was kind of taken out of it by the oddly jaunty music.

White came out looking every bit the Champion. It’s amazing how far he’s come in the last year. The crowd started a “F*** you Gedo” chant, quite rightly. They’re solidly behind Okada who made his entrance looking the most confident I’ve seen since his loss to Omega.

White stalled at the start by rolling out of the ring, he then used side headlocks for a while, keeping the match at his pace. Okada tried to come back but White dropped him again. White used a Muta lock, standing with Okada’s legs wrapped up to show he was firmly in control. He then spent too much time taunting the crowd, Okada jumped up and started a a relentless assault on White.
The action was thick and fast, highlights included:

• Okada hitting a high dropkick to White who was on the top turnbuckle
• White’s twisting brainbuster that looked fantastic for a 2-count.
• White got too cocky, indicating his intelligence to the crowd and then turning round to take a shotgun dropkick.
• Okada kicked out of he kiwi crusher at 2.9, he’s one of the best at near falls, perfect timing.

• White’s chops looked brutal
• Okada may have the best dropkicks in the business

Later in the match, Okada hit a spinning Rainmaker followed by a full Rainmaker but White kicked out! Okada was shocked, then angry. White hit a Blade Runner but couldn’t follow up with a pin. Both men were exhausted at this point and started hitting each other with hard while they were both on their knees

Okada got up, taking White’s best shots. Gedo tried to get in the ring to distract the referee, allowing White to hit a low blow, he went for another Blade Runner, but Okada reversed it into a German suplex.

White tried to kick Okada off but Okada held onto his wrist and hit a clothesline followed by a Rainmaker, a spinning tombstone and a full Rainmaker for the win!

This wa the match of the night for me. It was the culmination of Okada’s redemption story after losing the Championship to Kenny Omega last year and a great Face v Heel match in it’s own right. I also can’t say enough good things about the crowd for this match, they absolutely roared for the Rainmaker pose!

Winner by pinfall and NEW IWGP Heavyweight Champion – Kazuchika Okada

Overall, this felt like two events, a fairly average ROH show and a great NJPW show. I think ROH have suffered a bit from losing The Elite, while NJPW always had a deep enough roster to carry on getting bigger and better. Hopefully ROH can pick up some steam again in the near future once they build up the roster more.

NJPW has Best of the Super Juniors and G1 Climax tournaments coming up in the next few months, I think this show has set them up for some interesting times.

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I've been a wrestling fan for 20 years, mainly watching WWE. I only discovered the wonders of New Japan Pro-Wrestling a few years ago and got hooked after Wrestle Kingdom 11. Check out the rest of my reviews and articles!

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