Review: NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco (July 7, 2018)

King Haku, Chase Owens, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, & Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club) vs Gedo, Rocky Romero, SHO, YOH, & YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS) Some good moments but this was honestly a worse opener in practice than it looked on paper. There was a puzzling near-fall involving Haku and then just a really unfortunate loss of momentum in general.

Zack Sabre Jr. (vegan!) & Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-gun) vs Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (CHAOS) First thing’s first: I’m not fundamentally opposed to remixes of Suzuki’s music but I don’t know that they improved it here. As good as they often are, I did feel like Ishii and Suzuki may have been giving less than 100% early (which is kind of understandable given their ages and the upcoming G1 Climax, but it still hurt this match a bit). ZSJ vs Yano was mostly what you could expect, but entertaining nonetheless. When Ishii & Suzuki engaged again later in the match, it was more like the excellent intensity you can expect from them, so good on them for kicking it into high gear eventually. The finish here was pretty fantastic, too. ***3/4

Hangman Page & Marty Scurll (Bullet Club) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA I think the worst you could say about this match is that it was exactly the sum of its parts. That’s not to say it was bad at all; look at the parts involved! A very good undercard tag match, for sure. ***1/2

NEVER Openweight Title Match: Hirooki Goto (c) vs Jeff Cobb Certainly a great showcase for Cobb, but not the most memorable bout. Make no mistake: there were some excellent moments in this. ***3/4

IWGP Tag Title Match: Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson (The Young Bucks) vs EVIL & SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon) Actually kind of a weak start to this, I think. However, it really peaks nicely with some brilliantly athletic spots, and the drama finally reaches some of its potential (after it really felt like a less significant match than it should in the first few minutes). But even with those peaks, this just felt way less dramatic than their previous encounter at Dominion. Plenty good, though! ****

Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay (CHAOS) vs BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon) Speaking of remixes, I might be way into Okada’s, even if I loved his previous music. It seems like it might be part of a really interesting babyface turn for Okada. He seems to be leaning into his sense of humor more, which I like. Kind of a slow match, but Naito vs Ospreay was an unusual treat. ***1/2

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Dragon Lee Just as explosive a match as one could expect from these two. That said, I just wasn’t the biggest fan of how this match flowed… it was severely on the spotfest-y side for my tastes, with a lot lacking in terms of connective tissue between big moves.

IWGP United States Title Match: Jay White (c) vs Juice Robinson I’m a big fan of how this was paced, as well as the psychology from both guys. White is making himself a really valuable heel, and Robinson continues to be a really brilliant babyface. I thought that virtually every second of this match was effective, and the heat on Jay White was exceptional. Speaking of heat: I honestly couldn’t tell whether the dust-up around the announce table was legitimate or what, but it was definitely interesting. I honestly loved this match, and—judging by the sound—so did the crowd. *****

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Kenny Omega (c, w/ Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson) vs Cody (w/ Brandi Rhodes & Bernard the Business Bear) It’s easy to feel like this match deserved a better build, but there’s a lot of ambient tension to draw upon to fuel the drama. The Bucks and Brandi being at ringside contribute to all of that, and the action was engaging in one way or another from beginning to end. I have to say, I feel like Omega and Cody were not quite at the top of their respective games for this match just based on little timing things, but I don’t want to overstate this point. Tons of great moments in this one, even if the finish felt a bit weird and flat. ****1/2

Kenny Omega Promo & More A weirdly poignant post-match promo from Kenny, and some very eventful, necessary violence afterwards. ****3/4

Photos of the products in the Meatless Rib Store.

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