With three nights making up the third week of the G1, we will doing a shortened version of our latest edition of G1 in Star Ratings and with one rubbish night amongst the three, the amount of matches we will look at is going to be further shortened. It was 15 minutes into the Tonga/Takagi match where I thought “I’m doing this on a Sunday morning?”.
Luckily, the next two nights were better with some fun matches and some interesting calls booking-wise. So, let's look at the best from Week three in the G1
Was Night 10 the worst G1 card ever? According to the folks who vote on Cagematch it is 5th on that list with its 5.29 being 0.01 better than the card in Nagano 7 days earlier and unlike Nagano where the crowd was awful, the Nagoya crowd wanted to like the action, the action just didn't want to be good. With no matches that hit 4 stars+ on this night, re-watches of this card will probably be zero.
But in quick, my thoughts on the night.
I actually dropped an f-bomb in front of my dad at the end of Ishii/EVIL. I liked the Sabre.Jr/Haste match with the escalation of the tension between the pair in what made the first intra-TMDK match interesting viewing. I’d rather watch Laura Kessenberg’s Sunday morning show than watch Tama Tonga wrestle a 20-minute time limit match and making Tanahashi and Goto wrestle a main event match with their respective bodies being so messed up is a worse punishment than making someone watch a Tama Tonga 20-minute time limit match. Yeah, this night was more meh than a weekday afternoon in Wetherspoons.
The time limit was this matches friend with the previous two contests that involved the New Musketeers going the distance. The draw felt as odds-on as Germany were to qualify out of the group stage of the Women’s World Cup. How did those two bets work out.
The big moments hit beautifully from Umino leapfrogging the Tsuji Spear hitting the stomp but then Yota adapting with the Pop Up Spear to take the win. I really hope we see this move more often from Yota. From a kayfabe side, it makes sense with the opponent being unable to be in control of his own body before Tsuji hits the spear and also Pop Up moves are kinda awesome.
Tsuji’s win also blows Block A open and makes the need for an abacus necessary for Saturday morning which is how we all want to spend our Saturday morning obviously (everyone has Umino beating Hikuleo right?)
The win also makes Tsuji feel the big dog of the Musketeers with his win on Tuesday putting him top of the New Musketeers mini-league and with Tsuji unable to turn great performances into wins, the Umino victory on this night felt big and with a lot of people feeling that Yota Tsuji is the breakout of NJPW’s young stars, Tuesday’s win could be Yota’s “Andy Murray finally wins his first Grand Slam” moment.
I made a pact with myself that to stop me going insane during G1 season that I would not watch “dead rubbers” unless Cagematch voters told me too. When I saw the graphic to tell us who people were facing next, when I saw Ishii and HENARE next to each other, my first reaction was “well, I’m watching this one even if the W actually doesn’t matter in the end” Both Tomohiro and Aaron justified my reaction.
Simply put, Ishii did Ishii things. Henare did Henare things. Aaron Henare is a good shout for Most Improved. WIth ****+ matches against Takagi (they have chemistry that can’t be denied) Kingston and Ishii (tbf it’s Ishii) Henare is a much improved wrestler from last year and has upside to get even better in the next few years.
With a gorgeous looking finish where Tetsuya faked a tornado DDT into a small package, I enjoyed this immensely. While Naito wasn’t the literal hometown hero in Hiroshima, his support was one of the most vibrant in the G1 so far and while Sabre.Jr wasn’t unpopular in the building, you could see Sabre enjoy his time playing the heel instead of the tweener he and his TDMK stablemates have played in 2023.
Naito’s win makes Wednesday interesting with Sabre being the one outside looking in on tiebreakers against fellow 8-pointers Cobb and Naito.
Who else has Tanahashi beating Naito on Wednesday?
This felt like the first match that Finlay looked like a proper Bullet Club leader after David has spent the last few months looking like Graham Potter to Styles, Omega and White’s trophy winners from the past. The stakes on offer certainly helped with Finlay being able to clinch with victory and Takagi’s need for win to stay alive but the match construction was sublime sans the obvious “fake injury” spot.
The table spot with one of those tables being so thick, you could have mistaken it for a Love Island contestant looked brutal. The big hits felt big, the timing was exceptional and finish was decisive enough to make Takagi feel like he’s still one of the big guns of the company.
Takagi winning felt obvious when you do the Climax math with Finlay vs Kingston rounding off Block C and now the winner of that getting through and the same stakes in Takagi vs EVIL and Tonga laying in wait to do a Goto should draws happen in both matches.
Block B Permutations
Without any “notebook” matches from Block B in Week 3, Block B gets its own section in our looks at what it looks like in the "who needs what" department. Simply, the winner of Will Ospreay vs El Phantasmo advances to the quarters to probably face the winner of Group C (one of Takagi/Kingston/Finlay/EVIL) unless Okada loses to Tanga Loa. Which means we might get Ospreay vs Takagi sixteen days before their Rev Pro match (and yes, I am excited to get the chance to yell things at Gabe Kidd for 15 minutes in the ELP/Shibata vs Finlay/Kidd match). I'm also excited to see NJPW stars and make more noise than the entire Nagano crowd put together.
Next week, we look at the final round of matches with the following week looking at the knockout stages and the actual real storyline of the G1 which is who gets the first ***** match from Dave Meltzer (bets should probably go on Will Ospreay for that feat)