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By Mark Worrall @hoohoowozza
Night 1, 17/7/17
The most anticipated tournament in the wrestling world begins, and with the whole of the wrestling world watching (unless you live in the WWE bubble) the G1 will no doubt provide us with some outstanding matches and memorable moments. Opening night emanates from Sapporo, capital city of Japan’s most northerly island Hokkaido. The A block is the focus of this show with five matches filling the second half of the show. With the G1 spreading over nineteen shows, and a lot of wrestling I have made the decision to review only the G1 matches and not the undercard, let’s be honest, this is all about the G1 tournament and the undercard is just filler.
YOSHI HASHI defs. YUJI NAGATA
Nagata as already announced that this G1, his nineteenth, will be his last. So just like Tenzan last year we may get the fairytale story of the legend bidding to win the G1! However, Jushin Liger was unlucky in the Best of Super Juniors and I fear this may go the same way as he begins his campaign with a loss to Yoshi Hashi, who we are reminded by English commentary beat Kenny Omega in his opening match one year ago, whether this is a way of telling us Nagata, just like Kenny, will go on to win the whole thing is, well unlikely, but I guess you never know. Yoshi Hashi seemed intent on frustrating Nagata, slapping him, trying to make him bite, and it worked as Hashi felt the full force of an irate Nagata. We did get to see Nagata put Hashi in a lock with Nagata’s eyes going north until Hashi scrambled to the ropes. Unfortunately Nagata felt the Loose Explosion and suffered defeat on the opening night.
BAD LUCK FALE defs. TOGI MAKABE
Fale seems to come into his own during G1 season and brings out his A game when paired against some of the bigger names and always amounts a credible amount of points during the tournament. Makabe is a bigger name to Japanese fans than those of the west so it seems that western fans do not always get why Makabe is so over with New Japan crowds. Fale threw his authority out here and dominated most of the match which was fine for what it was, and I am pretty sure Makabe may be propping up what is already a stacked block. Fale hit the ‘bad luck fall’ to pick up what may be his easiest points of the tournament.
HIROOKI GOTO defs. TOMOHIRO ISHII
These two have met many times before, however another great match that did not disappoint. Ishii, never a winner of the G1 is someone who never seems to get the rub, what you do get with Ishii in the block is almost a guaranteed great match with any opponent, testament to the credentials of Ishii. This was a hard fought match, what you would expect, however I always got the feeling that Goto was going to win which harmed the match slightly as he seemed to always get the better of Ishii and when he hit the ‘Go to sleep’ it was night night Ishii! Hoping Ishii will score well as I am a big fan; if he keeps having these types of matches then we all win.
ZACK SABRE JR. defs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Zack Sabre Jr entering his first G1 tournament and here to no doubt make an impression, which he did. The technical wizard played on the injured arm of the Intercontinental champion, working the injury to his advantage, locking holds including an Octopus stretch, carefully weakening the arm of Tanahashi, and although the New Japan ace fought resiliently, using the Dragon screw that nobody but Tanahashi can do so well to escape the British star’s vice like grips, he would finally succumb to Sabre Jr tapping out as his arm could no longer take the punishment. Great semi main that saw Tanahashi letting Sabre Jr highlight his technical prowess, and although El Desperado, Sabre’s Suzuki-Gun team mate tried to get involved, it did not ruin what was a really good opening night match.
TETSUYO NAITO defs. KOTA IBUSHI
So Ibushi turned out to be the surprise entrant of the G1 tournament, although maybe not has Ibushi has entered every odd year since his debut in 2013. Naito seems to be the favourite to take the G1 title this year with a mouth
watering match against Okada at the Dome the prize. This really was the main event that was expected, a superb match that left both men exhausted as Naito worked the injured neck that Ibushi has carried around with him for some time. Ibushi for me has nothing to prove, however, he may feel he does, and so the Japanese fans including Naito who expressed the fact Ibushi as a part timer should maybe not be in this tournament at all! Ibushi proved his doubters with a class performance, and his dead lift German suplex on Naito, lifting him from the apron was stunning to say the least. Naito’s persistence payed off when a second ‘Destino’ finally put his challenger away and two points for the Los Ingobernobles leader!
A great opening night with not really any shocks unless you choose to see Zack Sabre beating Tanahashi a shock, although I do not as this tournament progresses to Korakuen Hall for three shows starting on Thursday July 20th to July 22nd