Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Special in USA (Day 2) (2017)

Please note, there will be full spoilers for match results from Day 1 in this review. For a review of all of the action from the first day, please click here.

For the second night in a row, live from Long Beach, California, in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents the G1 Special in the USA. Kazuchika Okada defeated Cody (Rhodes) in a champion vs champion match last night, and the main event of this night would crown the first ever IWGP United States Champion as the four remaining competitors in the turnament do battle. Kenny Omega will go one on one with Ring of Honor mainstay Jay Lethal, whily Zack Sabre Jr. will look to cut down the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii, before the winners of each match face each other in the final match. Also on the card, IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi will face Billy Gunn (yes, that’s Mr Ass) in a title match that on paper left many scratching their heads, while the Junor Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks willf ace off against Roppongi Vice for the belts. It’s a big night for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and a huge night for whoever comes out with a win in the United States Championship tournament.

+ IWGP United States Championship Final: between the winners of the two semi final matches from earlier in the show, this was absolutely phenomenal. With a new title on the line, in the main event of the final day of the first ever United States tour, there was a lot on the line for both competitors, which made the bigger moments (including a terrifying table spot) even more important. Back and forth action, an electric crowd and glory awaiting the winner made for an absolutely amazing contest
+ Kenny Omega vs Jay Lethal (IWGP United States Championship Tournament Semi Final Match): this was such a clever match. It didin’t feel like it went very long, but the way these two played against expectations, even though the result was not a real surprise, was fantastic. The crowd seemed evenly split at times, but the Omega love was apparent from the beginning
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr. (IWGP United States Championship Tournament Semi Final Match): on paper this was such an unpredictable match which I expected to tell the tale of technique vs stoicism and power, and more or less that was what happened. Sabre’s incredible counter-submissions and Ishii’s brutal strikes made for a great match
+ Juice Robinson, Titan, Dragon Lee, Jay White & Volador Jr. vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito): hot damn, Dragon Lee and Hiromu should never stop fighting each other. Naito set the match on fire early against Volador, before the rest of LIJ took the stage. Admittedly, I felt the ending was a bit flat, but all of the talent in this match made for a well above average match up
+ Jushin Thunder Liger, David Finlay & KUSHIDA vs Toshitatsi & The Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu): Much like yesterday, the Tempura Boyz were so impressive that even the adamantly-behind-the-good-guys crowd soon had to show them respect (none for Toshitatsu, though, he was the most hated man in the building). This was about average, as it slowly built towards a really solid ending

– Hiroshi Tanahshi (c) vs Billy Gunn (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): this was slightly better than their interactions in the previous days’ tag match would make you think, but put simply this was still not very good. It was a strange choice when it was announced, and it ended up being bad for the exact reasons you’d expect. There was some playing to the crowd, including a bare ass cheek or two, but for the most this just should not have ever happened
– Bullet Club (Cody, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luke Fale) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe): way too much playing to the crowd, and way too much comedy made this easily the worst match of the weekend. Once the action started properly, this was so choreographed and timed and seemed so planned it was hard to get invested. This whole match, and everyone in it, disappointed me
– The Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) & Hangman Page (w/ Haku & Chase Owens) vs War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) & Mike Elgin: Elgin is a good fit to team with War Machine (better than the recent David Finaley, anyway). This was fine, but nothing particularly special, but damn if the ending didn’t come out of nowhere and really intrigue me
– The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (c) Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): I don’t think I’ve ever heard the crowd this quiet for a Bucks match. The bigger spots drew a response, but for the most part I think the crowd was getting tired, even as Beretta once again took so much punishment, as he does in all of these matches. Frankly, this felt like it went on for too long without a good enough payoff at the end
– Ricochet made an unscheduled appearance to challenge for the Junior Tag Team titles, as well as cut a pretty embarassing promo. His promo consisted of a shout out to The Rock, ragging on Lucha Underground and generally coming across as a huge WWE suck up. I didn’t like it, at all
– there was quite a few moments where the cameras completely missed the main action, including both the GoD/War Machine match, and the Junior Tag Titles bout

Should you watch this event: There was a more even spread of good-vs-bad matches on this second day of the double, but the good matches were just as good as before. All three US Title matches were worth watching – Omega/Lethal was great, Ishii/Sabre Jr. was good, and the final between the two winners was incredible – and both the 6- and 10-man tag matches were good. It is a shame the other tag matches were not as good, but this match was all about the US Tournament finale, and in that regard it delivered in spades.

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