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A non-wrestling fan friend of mine got free tickets through his work, so I ended up going. Good card, and I had a great time. Crowd was great all night, good reactions to every match and only a few of the self-aware chants that litter smark-heavy US crowds. How did the crowd look on TV? There were huge empty spots in the corners of the arena that showed up on the camera they were showing in the building. Merch tables were packed all night - four or five lines 10+ deep every time I walked by. Biggest reactions live were for KENTA and Okada. And I'm glad I got to see Liger in-person once. 

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Great way to kick off the first night of the G1. Archer/Ospreay, SANADA/ZSJ, and Okada/ Tanahashi all delivered. Ibushi/ KENTA was really good and Ibushi slowed the pace down to accommodate KENTA well. 

A major gripe I had with the show was they really should've covered up the empty areas or had better camera work. In some angles it looked bad and I didn't know if it was New Japan's or AXS at the helm but that was not a pretty sight. 

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Despite Ospreay's dodgy facial expressions, his match with Archer was the MOTN by a large margin. Evil vs Fale was shit, no surprises there. I also love SANADA vs ZSJ working technical clinic. Ibushi vs KENTA and Tanahashi vs Okada both were disappointments to me. Ibushi/KENTA never really got into that second gear and Okada/Tana just felt like a condensed version of their previous classic bouts. A good match, just nothing new with the exception of the drama of seeing if Tana can still hang at Okada's level.

Decent start to the G1, although it boggles my mind why they decided to run an arena as big as the American Airlines Center. Cagematch says they had an attendance of 4,846 in a venue that holds 16,000+ when WWE runs it. 

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5 hours ago, cactus said:

Decent start to the G1, although it boggles my mind why they decided to run an arena as big as the American Airlines Center. Cagematch says they had an attendance of 4,846 in a venue that holds 16,000+ when WWE runs it. 

It's possible Mark Cuban got them a good deal for it and they thought they could get around 10k or so. NJPW is just terrible at promoting international shows.

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Finally caught up on the rest of the show. Ishii/Umino-Cobb/Narita was really fun stuff and I loved the post-match brawl. Ospreay-Archer was great and even better than their NJ Cup match. Really impressed by Lance as of late and I hope he can keep it up. I actually thought EVIL-Fale was fairly decent, although I put that more on EVIL stepping up and busting his ass whereas Fale was slow and lumbering as usual.

Okada-Tana is probably still my pick for MOTN although Archer-Ospreay is at a very close second. 

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Not a large crowd, but a great crowd. I'm pumped as all fuck for Ishii vs Cobb.

All the G1 matches delivered in a big way. Ospreay is so great at using the space of the ring in unusual yet interesting ways, like this crazy counter to the first pounce. The one issue with that match is that Archer's G1 has peaked. Watching Ospreay take on this different guys is gonna be so much fun.

I'm not as down on Bad Luck Fale as others, he's a decent big man worker (his finisher is the pits though) but he's really taking space in G1 at this point, especially since he wins so much. Does he has a sextape of Gedo of something ? EVIL looked pretty damn good though, and I'm usually pretty mixed on him.

SANADA vs SZJ was great. Total technical clinic, Sabre is the greatest dickhead, SANADA is displaying more charisma and he seemingly can do anything.

KENTA vs Ibushi delivered in a big way. KENTA works exactly like he should. People expecting him to fly around are gonna be disappointed because he won't do that anymore. Ibushi looks like a freak, really, he's almost scary. The right guy won. 

I thought Okada vs Tanahashi still was the best match of the night, they can have a MOTYC in their sleep it seems. Tana also looked to move way better than at Dominion, which is a good thing, although I have no idea for how long it will remain that way.

I wasn't too keen on the idea of beginning the G1 in the US, especially on a show that would not sold out (they should really promote better by announcing matches in advance), but it was a complete success. Great, great show with a terrific atmosphere.

 

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2 hours ago, El-P said:

KENTA vs Ibushi delivered in a big way. KENTA works exactly like he should. People expecting him to fly around are gonna be disappointed because he won't do that anymore. Ibushi looks like a freak, really, he's almost scary. The right guy won.

 

Yeah that's what I thought about KENTA. He's not the KENTA of 2004 in athleticism, but he's still a mean bastard that is stiff as all hell and will hit you very very hard. I thought that match was worked as it should've been.

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G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 1

#1. Lance Archer [0] vs. Will Ospreay [0]

Even these two doofuses can’t fuck up the simplistic structure of a David vs. Goliath match. I can nitpick some aspects of this that were ill-conceived, but the positives significantly outweigh the negatives here. This was a genuinely fun match fought with energy, urgency, and creativity. 

***½

#2. EVIL [0] vs. Bad Luck Fale [0]

There’s nothing remarkable about this. Just your average Bad Luck Fale match. So long as whoever’s facing him has his working boots on -- and EVIL certainly had them laced up -- these matches should at least be watchable. 

**½

#3. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] vs. SANADA [0]

Firstly, I prefer grappling that’s rough on the edges and conveys a sense of struggle, and this was too cooperative for my tastes. Secondly, SANADA stymieing ZSJ and escaping his holds, not with skill, but with superior athleticism was actually an interesting story that wasn’t executed as well as it could’ve been. Thirdly, I get the impression they started running out of ideas at the end, and that gives me the sense that the match was a touch too long. SANADA constantly attempting to apply the Skull’s End with ZSJ constantly countering it wasn’t exactly the most compelling finishing run. There’s some great individual moments here, but it just doesn’t come together as a whole. Disappointing match.

**¾

#4. KENTA [0] vs. Kota Ibushi [0]

This was bad. KENTA looks washed, out of shape, and old. Ibushi was presented like a pseudo-jobber out of his depth. KENTA’s methodical beatdown of Ibushi sucked. I’m a huge fan of KENTA beating the shit out of his opponents, but his control segments here were surprisingly lifeless. This had some  heat, but it felt forced … like the crowd was cheering because it’s these two, and not because the match was actually good. There’s very little I liked about this outside of some of the striking segments. Ibushi’s selling was really good, too, but not good enough to save this from KENTA’s uninspired performance and the awkward match construction.

 *¾

#5. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [0]

A concise, well-paced match that touches on all the highlights of their past epics, but doesn’t strive to replicate them. There's a slight lack of drama that takes this down a notch, though. At no point did Tanahashi believably present himself as a threat to defeat Okada.

***¼

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We got another solid showing to kick off the B block. I can't say any single match blew me away, though I could see some people feeling that way about Cobb-Ishii. But every G-1 match was exactly what it needed to be. Moxley and Shingo will both be exciting to follow throughout the tournament. And the main event exceeded expectations, in large part because Jay White really has come into his own as the promotion's No. 1 heel. 

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3 hours ago, Childs said:

We got another solid showing to kick off the B block. I can't say any single match blew me away, though I could see some people feeling that way about Cobb-Ishii. But every G-1 match was exactly what it needed to be. Moxley and Shingo will both be exciting to follow throughout the tournament. And the main event exceeded expectations, in large part because Jay White really has come into his own as the promotion's No. 1 heel. 

Still have to finish the ME but yeah really good show. Loved the variety in the match styles: Shingo-Juice being a more typical competitive match, Mox-Taichi being a brawl, Naito-Yano being more comedic, and a hoss fight in Isii-Cobb.

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OK, so G1 Climax Night number 2 thoughts:

First three matches were nothing filler featuring Young Lions. Did a little story-telling setting up the three matches tomorrow of Tanahashi/KENTA, Fale/Archer & Ibushi/EVIL. 

Shingo/Juice was fine. Pretty good finishing stretch. Nothing that would blow you away. 

ZSJ/Minoru Vs. Okada/Yosh-Hashi was, again, just OK. Felt like a TV match. One of NJPW's biggest problems is when there's action going on two places at once. They always miss at least half of it. That was a recurring problem throughout the show tonight. In example, earlier in the night, they missed EVIL posting Ibushi's ankle. 

Taichi/Moxley was a glorified squash. Best part was the acting from Miho Abe after the table spot.

Yano/Naito was super fun. Surprise ending too. Short but entertaining. One of my favorite things of the evening. I've really come around on Yano. The stalling at the beginning by Naito was masterful. Yano hamming it up & getting more & more impatient was a lot of fun.

Ishii/Cobb was probably MOTN. Nowhere close to Tanahashi/Okada or Ospreay/Archer from Night 1, but they were hitting each other with some stiff shots & bombs. The deadlift stalling Superplex by Cobb was great. As was the headbutt & the Gonzo Bomb looking piledriver. Cobb has definitely put on some weight. He's morphing into Rhyno. I'm a big Jeff Cobb fan. Ishii, a lot of the time to me, feels like he phones in some performances but this match was fine. It didn't get to the level that I was hoping it would but it was a perfectly serviceable strong style match.

White/Goto was boring & forgettable to me. Glad Goto got the win. I still see absolutely nothing in White. Man bores me to tears. Never felt like it hit the next level. Never felt like they were trying to get to the next level. I did like the part where Red Shoes refused to count after White did a bunch of heel shit outside the ring. 

I don't think any match on the card even hit 4-stars. A definite step down from the Dallas show. Looking forward to Night 3. 

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#1. Shingo Takagi [0] vs. Juice Robinson [0]

Strong back-and-forth match. Shingo eats the pin, but he builds some equity as a heavyweight, so it's not a total loss for him. Juice bumps and sells his ass off for him, and does everything in his power to portray Shingo as a serious threat.

***½

#2. Taichi (with Miho) [0] vs. Jon Moxley [0] 

I see Taichi is as terrible as ever. Moxley tries hard and is able to carry him to an average match.

**½

#3. Tetsuya Naito [0] vs. Toru Yano [0]

Predictable, skippable hokum. Yano’s yearly G1 escapades continue in the most hackneyed fashion imaginable. These matches would be somewhat enjoyable if he was actually funny.

*

#4. Jeff Cobb [0] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [0]

Cobb is kind of clueless when he’s in control, isn’t he? He’s engaging in those back-and-forth test of strength spots and impressing the crowd with his showy power, but when he’s telling Ishii to get up, it kind of feels like a meta moment where he’s secretly begging Ishii to get up as quickly as possible and lead him to the next spot in the match because he doesn’t know what to do. Luckily for him, that’s exactly what happens. Ishii is a true ring general here and directs this match beautifully. He realizes he can’t do extended selling segments here -- even though the impact of Cobb’s moves call for them -- and smoothly shifts into a fun heavyweight spotfest instead, playing into Cobb’s strengths. 

***¾

#5. Jay White [0] vs. Hirooki Goto [0]

Good match, nothing special. White continues to grow into the heel role, but the imperfections are still there. Goto fights compellingly from underneath and delivers hard-hitting offense. His flurry of combos to at the end fucking ruled. The announcers sell his "new and improved" angle by reading off a list of tropes that applies to every "new and improved" athlete in the history of professional sports. "He's been training hard." "He's been training with [insert retired wrestler]." And, my favorite, "he just got back to the basics." This has to be an annual gimmick for Goto, right? Bi-annual, at the very least. 

***

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3 hours ago, Calvin said:

Cobb is kind of clueless when he’s in control, isn’t he? He’s engaging in those back-and-forth test of strength spots and impressing the crowd with his showy power, but when he’s telling Ishii to get up, it kind of feels like a meta moment where he’s secretly begging Ishii to get up as quickly as possible and lead him to the next spot in the match because he doesn’t know what to do.

This is definitely an issue with Cobb. He's got great presence, and he does a lot of cool stuff, but he's not very good at filling a match. In this match, I particularly noticed that he kept throwing strikes for Ishii to counter, and they were not convincing as attempts to hit someone. They really looked like he was throwing his arm up and waiting for Ishii to do something. They were like Flair going to the top rope.

I'd still rather watch him than a lot other people, but I'm always a little let down by his matches.

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Ishii vs Cobb was spetacular but didn't get to *that* level indeed. That bieng said, still an excellent match. And Matanza Cueto in the G1 is pretty damn cool. It's gonna be really interesting to see him work against the rest of the block.
Although there was no match as great as Tanahashi vs Okada or even Ospreay vs Archer, I still loved that first B Block showing. Juice vs Takagi was excellent and I like how they are gonna tell he story of powerful junior Takagi trying to prove himself against the heavyweights. White had bloomed mast year in the G1, he's only better this year. I can't say I'm a big Goto fan, but this match worked on so many levels. White is a terrific heel and his style is almost too smart for his own good in that it reflects his kayfabe character almost too much therefore his matches are maybe less spectacular that others, but he's crazy good for his age. Storytelling wise, the best match of the show.

And then, two very different matches, with Mox destroying Taichi, to the distress of Miho Abe (she was indeed great in reacting to the whole table spot) and Yano & Naito working the absurd comedy/spoiler match. Yano is so great at what he does. Must be cool to have him in your block too, as it's a day off and good to rest your body a bit. I hope Taichi will get some victory, at least, so Miho can celebrate. Love it that Taichi made it this year, he's ridiculously underrated. After the first two shows, I can't say I miss Tama, Makabe, YOSHI-HASHI and Elgin at all, this year's gonna be so much fun. Suzuki in place of Fale would have been perfect.

In the undercard, I quite enjoyed the LA Dojo vs Young Lions thingy too. 

Ok, still 17 shows to go. What a ride.

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OK, Night 3. 

I skipped all of the opening multiman tag matches. They're just meaningless filler truthfully. And that saves me an hour. I just want to see the tournament matches.

Bad Luck Fale Vs. Lance Archer - Went in thinking it was going to be a complete dud/stinker but there were some things that I genuinely enjoyed. I like the new Lance Archer, with the new look & getting over The Claw. The Superplex spot was awesome. As was The Pounce that Archer hit Fale with. The sound of all that meat colliding! :lol: Archer getting chucked into all of the chairs in the crowd looked brutal. The Chokeslam that Archer hit Fale with was SUPER impressive. I def. thought that was the finish & fell for the near fall. Can't believe Fale got up like that! There were a couple of "no way" spots that they built into the match smartly too, like teasing Fale doing the rope walk or Archer hitting the Iconoclasm (or whatever he calls it). They got the crowd into it. Better than I thought it would be & Archer has impressed me in both of his G1 matches so far. Fale losing without it being a DQ feels like a big deal. Not a great match of course but still, better than I thought it would be, they got the crowd going & they did some entertaining stuff. Perfectly serviceable hoss fight. 

Sanada Vs. Will Ospreay - I have always felt Sanada was underrated. He's ridiculously athletic, anyway. The opening exchanges were good displays of both men having said athleticism. My biggest gripe would be when pregnant pauses are built into sequences. Ospreay is very guilty of this. Pretty much anytime he goes into his Thor/Roman Reigns pose it means it's time for the crowd to clap. Drives me a little bonkers. The stretch/sequences leading into the TKO were a lil' sloppy. The stretch/sequences leading into the sitdown powerbomb were not. Great 30 seconds there. The Stormbreaker counter into the Skull End was cool. The Ospreay Cutter countered into the Skull End was cool. The finish was sweet. Pretty fun spotfest although honestly, it was more subdued than I would have guessed. I thought they were going to go crazy with the high spots but they were reeled in a bit. The story of Ospreay having great success with the hook kick was a nice little addition to the match.

Zack Sabre, Jr. Vs. Kazuchika Okada - Show so far, at least from the order of the first three G1 tournament matches, has been laid out really well. You had the slobberknocker hoss match. Then the athletic display match. Now with ZSJ you get the technical wrestling match. The banana split spot was fantastic. ZSJ plays a great cocky dickhead. I've come around on him a lot too. Honestly, there's very few people left in New Japan that I don't at least enjoy a little. I'm not big on EVIL. I downright loathe Chase Owens. But most of the people I didn't like, such as Captain New Japan, Iizuka, Taguchi, Nakanishi & Tenzan I've not seen around in awhile. I love that part of ZSJ's schtick is that he not only does the British style, or the submission based offense but that he's always well prepared for his opponent leading to a lot of counters. It makes sense, from a storytelling perspective, if you're familiar with the moveset of a guy & then have a plan according to it. I wish more people did that. Maybe not necessarily in a first encounter but the psychology of learning from the matches as you go is important. Rainmaker countered with kicks to the arm. Rainmaker countered into a Royal Octopus. Rainmaker countered into a European Clutch pin. Rainmaker countered into a hanging armbar. That's good stuff. Okada still has one of the best dropkicks in all of wrestling & you get to see it three or four times in this match. After all the counters to the Rainmaker, that builds to the finish of Okada finally hitting it & it leading to the victory. Pretty good story told. Okada did a spinning variant on the Rainmaker and ZSJ didn't have a counter for that. 

EVIL Vs. Kota Ibushi - Guess I'll get to see what sort of shape that Ibushi's ankle is in. The pictures he posted of it on Twitter were brutal. Very slow paced, strike based match to start. After a few minutes EVIL grabs an ankle lock. The English commentators mention Ibushi's ankle a lot. They work the ankle into the match. With Kota not even being able to jump as high as normal, which is pretty cool. First match of the night where a part has been worked too, I believe. Pretty good Superplex, off the top rope, by EVIL. Wasn't as impressive as the one Fale did to Archer earlier though & that was off the second. This match didn't really grab me or do it for me. Felt lackluster.

KENTA Vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - Jury still out on KENTA for me. I didn't like his previous G1 match at all, although I know some other posters on the forum in this thread did. Something that never really gets talked about enough: there's dudes in New Japan, like Tanahashi & Okada, that just have incredible gear. It really goes a long way in helping them stand out & look like bigger stars from some of the other guys. I've seen more freakin' double stomps this weekend than I've ever needed to see. I would be OK with never seeing another one again. Put Cutters, Destroyers & Superkicks on that list too. All these years of watching pro-wrestling & I still mark out for someone just simply putting their knees up to counter a top rope splash. Also, I love Frog Splashes. I'm not really that difficult to please! :D Anyway, Tanahashi goes to sleep abruptly. Match never really hit the next gear. Kind of just felt there. This whole show did, really.

Not a great day. Every match was pretty much in the 2-3 star range. Crazy that after the first three nights, I think Lance Archer has been in the best match so far. Both night 2 & 3 feel entirely skippable. 

I've noticed, not just in New Japan but in wrestling as a whole lately, there's an over-reliance on repeatedly going back to the same well too many times in the same match. Young Bucks with Superkicks. Tanahashi with Sling Blades. Kenny Omega with V-Triggers. Etc. Just making the moves not mean anything. 

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Good but not great day. Archer-Fale wasn't terrible but not very good either. Ospreay-SANADA was a tad underwhelming but really liked the second half. Ibushi-EVIL started and finished strong. The middle dragged a little but EVIL's work on the ankle was logical. Okada-Sabre was surprisingly short but I liked the story of Okada outmatching Sabre in most departments but was just one pin or sub attempt away from losing. The ME would've been amazing 6-7 years ago but was very good as sort of an aged, gunslingers fight. KENTA's offense for the most part looks good but his GTS is definitely kinda weak now.

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G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 3

#1. Bad Luck Fale (with Jado) [2] vs. Lance Archer [2]

A serviceable slugfest that’s occasionally punctuated with awesome, well-executed big-man spots. Not something I’d call good, but not bad at all.

**½

#2. SANADA [2] vs. Will Ospreay [0]

Weird match; didn’t click with me at all. There’s a lot of downtime in between sequences that aren’t filled effectively. The stop/start pacing doesn’t work, as a result. Ospreay’s constant posing after every move needs to fucking go. SANADA needs to polish up his end-game offense. He’s too much of a one-trick pony in that department to deliver truly compelling finishing sequences. As for the positives, the athleticism in this match is off-the-charts and wildly entertaining. I thought the sloppiness didn’t hurt this at all, and gave some of the spots a sense of struggle. Now that they’ve felt each other out and developed some chemistry, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see a better match down the line if they’re ever matched up again.

**¾

#3. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [2]

Okada is as bland as ever here. He’s just kind of there. His offense isn’t particularly interesting. His bumping and selling feel sterile. How bad was that spinning Rainmaker? ZSJ completely saves this match, though. Great neck selling (that fucking Tombstone from Okada, holy shit), great submission spots. I enjoyed the story; ZSJ is unable to whittle down a specific limb/body part, so he takes the shotgun approach and targets everything, but it ends up failing badly at the end. Such a shame that Okada decided to take the night off. This could've been so much better.

***

#4. EVIL [0] vs. Kota Ibushi [0]

Ibushi adjusting to his ankle injury by becoming somewhat of a smash-mouth brawler has me intrigued. His selling is on-point (!!) -- he moves slower, and his athletic spots lack their usual springiness and explosion. EVIL was alright; he’s another one who has trouble filling longer matches with compelling content, but at least he turned it up a notch at the end. 

***¼

#5. KENTA [2] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0]

This was better than KENTA’s match with Ibushi, but that’s not saying much. KENTA looked less lost and gassed. His strikes are still stiff and violent, but he’s using them as a crutch, and it’s not working. Tanahashi is just there. At least he didn’t get squashed and the match was somewhat competitive. The match stayed at the same flat tempo the entire time and never kicks into the next gear. Another major swing and a miss.

**
 

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Night 3 was not as good as it looked on paper. Ospreay and Sanada didn't have much chemistry, despite their superior athleticism. Have no idea what put KENTA-Tanahashi in MOTY territory for NintendoLogic. Didn't think it carried the intensity needed for that, though it was fine. Okada-ZSJ was MOTN for me. I liked the decision to streamline their usual formula, and I always feel Sabre's style makes it harder for Okada to revert to his generic layout. I also believed either guy could win.

I'm still waiting for a match to kick this G1 to the next level. So far, we're cruising along in the middle gears.

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5 minutes ago, Childs said:

Have no idea what put KENTA-Tanahashi in MOTY territory for NintendoLogic.

Yeah, this is about where I was too. I did enjoy the first quarter though, thought it had a nice intensity to it that just wasn't sustained. 

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Night 4: So far, the G1 has felt a bit disappointing to me. The three best matches, in my opinion, so far, have been Ishii/Cobb, Archer/Ospreay & Tanahashi/Okada & none of them were great. So I'm hoping we get at least one match over the 4-star range tonight because these shows, outside of how hype the crowd was in Dallas, have been pretty mediocre & not felt like must-see shows.

Shingo/Yano - Yano cracks me up. His matches are never really good but they're always entertaining & I think that's needed to help some of the G1 matches stand apart. I really wanted Yano to get the win via  countout after the mouse trap obstacle was set up. That killed me. :lol: But this was fun for what it was.

Goto/Juice - Goto is kinda boring, huh? The match was fine. Felt like a TV match. Nothing exceptional or that you couldn't see on a show like Smackdown. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. 

Moxley/Cobb - Mox works over Cobb's left shoulder. If negatively effects Cobb's attempts at offense & takes away some of his power. Match ended shortly after that. Shame. It needed about ten more minutes. Never came close to hitting the next level. This match disappointed me as it was one of the matches I was most interested in for the whole tournament & it just ended abruptly before it ever really got going. 

Ishii/White - Some decent heeling to start from Gedo/White leading to Ishii getting posted on the outside to let White gain control. Best match so far. I did  genuinely enjoy the sequence where Ishii was Hulking Up and walking into the strikes to get back on offense. Leading to a HUGE stalling, jumping superplex that looked like a million bucks. Good match. I would recommend this one.

Taichi/Naito - Love Naito but I'm not big on Taichi. This match was OK because they got a lot of time so they could do a lot of things. They ran through all of their spots but it didn't feel great to me at any time. Didn't feel like a main event either. They went over 20 minutes. It was the longest match of the night but I think Ishii/White was better. Naito starting the G1 0-2 is interesting.

 

 

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KENTA/Tanahashi had plenty of good stiff offense, told a strong story, and never felt overly choreographed or cooperative. It wouldn't be a MOTY most years, but that's enough to put it right near the top in 2019. Plus, KENTA kicking Tanahashi in the back of the head during his air guitar routine was my favorite thing to happen in a wrestling ring this year.

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Ishii-White was easily MOTN for a generally unremarkable Day 4. They're a natural match-up -- Mr. Bullshit vs. Mr. No Bullshit. I didn't mind the Moxley finish in the sense that I think he's a guy who should be able to end matches unexpectedly. But I agree he and Cobb left something on the table. I don't hate Taichi, but that match never grabbed me and never felt like a main event, despite the surprise ending. Still waiting for the breakout show or match in this tournament.

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