NJPW G1 Climax Night 1: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/07/06/njpw-g1-climax-night-1-kazuchika-okada-vs-hiroshi-tanahashi/

Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of the opening night of the G1 Climax tournament from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Wai Ting and I will be LIVE at 11 pm Eastern with our POST Show reviewing the card. You can catch the live version of the show if you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso member of the POST Wrestling Café.

*Guerrillas of Destiny over Roppongi 3K in a non-title match in 6:42
*Jeff Cobb & Ren Narita over Tomohiro Ishii & Shota Umino in 7:18
*Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi over Jay White & Chase Owens in 8:37
*Juice Robinson, Jushin Thunder Liger & Toru Yano over Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi in 8:19
*Lance Archer over Will Ospreay in 18:17 – A BLOCK
*Bad Luck Fale over EVIL in 11:34 – A BLOCK
*Sanada over Zack Sabre Jr. in 21:12 – A BLOCK
*KENTA over Kota Ibushi in 20:52 – A BLOCK
*Kazuchika Okada over Hiroshi Tanahashi in 22:05 – A BLOCK

Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are calling the show on AXS TV with Romero calling the G1 “the pinnacle of professional sports”. They previewed the field of competitors.

The crowd shots showed the overabundance of empty seats.


After a pair of dives from 3K, the Guerrillas took over and the audience was heated while SHO was fighting from underneath. YOH was tagged in, blocked a Gun Stun from Tonga and the duo hit double flying knees to Tonga and Loa.

They called for 3K but SHO was nailed with a Gun Stun by Tonga. A super powerbomb was delivered to YOH and Tonga scored the fall.

WINNERS: Guerrillas of Destiny at 6:42

The audience sounded louder than you would anticipate and assisted greatly. It was a standard opener but enhanced by the audience’s backing of Roppongi 3K.


The chants for Ishii were huge as he entered the arena. Ishii and Cobb had a shoving match before the bell ran and started the match. They are facing off on next Saturday’s B Block card.

Ishii wouldn’t go down from Cobb’s offense, the audience roared like there were 10,000 in the arena.

Narita was in with Ishii and stunned him with a forearm and vertical suplex. Cobb delivered belly-to-belly suplexes to both. Umino was tagged in and built to a vertical suplex onto Cobb showcasing his intensity that came across well. Narita hit Umino with the overhead belly-to-belly suplex, Cobb hit a standing shooting star that Umino kicked out from and stayed down after the Tour of the Islands.

WINNERS: Jeff Cobb (pinned Shota Umino) & Ren Narita at 7:18

This had phenomenal heat, and everyone clicked. Ishii and Cobb had a staredown after the match to set up their tournament match next Saturday and came to blows. The pull-apart got over big and chants of ‘let them fight’.

This was a very fun tag match.


White repeatedly drills Yoshi-Hashi’s back into the side of the apron. White spat in the direction of Goto and displayed tremendous main event level presence. White sold well for Goto, retreating to the corner to get away from him.

Owens did the ‘suck it’ gesture to Goto, hit the Jewel Heist and Goto kicked out.

Goto blocked the package piledriver from Owens but ate a discus elbow. Goto sent White to the floor with a clothesline, hit Owens with the Ushigoroshi, a kick to the chest and the GTR to pin Owens.

WINNER: Hirooki Goto (pinned Chase Owens) & Yoshi-Hashi at 8:37

The match was good and a showcase for Goto and his return from his trip to the L.A. Dojo. Owens wrestled the majority with White’s role limited, and thus protected in the loss. This built towards White and Goto’s B Block match next Saturday.


Next Saturday’s B Block card features Robinson vs. Takagi and Naito vs. Yano.

Liger came to a reaction that you would expect and could do no wrong.

Takagi was in with Liger and was hit with a Shotei, allowing Liger to tag Robinson in. Robinson missed with the Left Hand of God and they trade simultaneous lariats. Robinson connected with the Left Hand of God, but Takagi countered Pulp Friction with the Noshagami. Naito and Yano were tagged in.

Naito grabbed the loose turnbuckle padding and Yano got a roll-up for a near fall. Bushi was in, Yano was behind him as the referee was distracted and hit a low blow and schoolboy to pin Bushi.

WINNERS: Toru Yano (pinned Bushi), Juice Robinson & Jushin Thunder Liger at 8:19

It was a procession of stars to the audience, each got their moment and pop from the audience and there was no doubt the crowd would be into Yano and got his trademark finish. They left with Liger’s music playing and Robinson posing with him.

There was an announcement that New Japan will be running a Fighting Spirit Unleased tour with three shows in September:
*September 27th at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts
*September 28th at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City
*September 29th at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tiger Hattori will be retiring after these shows. Tickets will go on sale Friday, July 26th.


Hoyt came out with a totally new look and hairstyle. He attacked people at ringside.

Archer ran into a Spanish Fly before the bell and proceeded to hit a Yang Time off the top to the floor. Ospreay hit a springboard 450 splash and Archer kicked out. This was all within 30 seconds.

Archer got out of the way from a Space Flying Tiger Drop and choke slammed Ospreay through a table as the place cheered. Archer took control until a handspring enzuigiri landed for Ospreay. Archer sent Ospreay flying into the corner with the pounce and a Last Ride. On the floor, Archer hit an apron bomb.

On the ramp, Ospreay countered a powerbomb into a Code Red and Romero brought up Amazing Red, who Ospreay has been teasing a match with for the Super J Cup.

Ospreay returned to the ring with a springboard dropkick and shooting star press for a two-count. Archer caught the OsCutter, Ospreay escaped and hit the second one, but Archer kicked out.

Ospreay kicked out from a Muscle Buster. Archer hit Blackout and Ospreay kicked out that, as well. Archer applied the Iron Claw and Ospreay got to the rope. The claw didn’t get the reaction I envisioned in Texas.

Archer tried for a top rope chokeslam and Ospreay countered with a Spanish Fly off the top for another two-count. The Storm Breaker and chokeslam were countered by each. Ospreay hit a spinning hook kick. On the turnbuckle, they battled and ended with a Super Blackout from Archer before re-applying the Iron Claw and using it to pin Ospreay.

WINNER: Lance Archer at 18:17

This was better than their match at the New Japan Cup and designed to get the Iron Claw over as a legitimate finish for the G1. Both worked their asses off and there were tons of near falls that the audience was with throughout. Archer looks in tremendous shape and the new look suited him.


Romero brought up that Fale was never pinned or submitted in the G1 last year, although he only had six points.

They started on the ramp and fought ringside. EVIL got back into the ring to break the count and Fale placed pressure onto his back. EVIL fought back and a chair was introduced, placed around Fale’s neck and was sent into the post. Romero explained if the chair stays out of the ring, it’s unlikely to cause a disqualification. Kelly added you need to commit ‘felonious assault’ get disqualified, noting Fale’s ability to get disqualified last year.

EVIL attacked with lariats inside the ring, he got Fale to one knee and then hit with a shoulder tackle. Fale and Marty Asami argued over the chair, EVIL kicked it away and hit a lariat for a two-count. Fale stopped Everything is Evil, a Grenade was blocked on the first attempt, Fale hit it on the second attempt and EVIL kicked out.

EVIL avoided the Bad Luck Fall and handed Fale’s leg to Asami and knocked him with down a lariat, sending Asami to the floor. EVIL attacked Fale with the chair, he hit a chair that was thrown by Fale and nailed with a low blow. Fale placed a chair round EVIL’s neck and swung for the fences. He hit the Bad Luck Fall and won the match.

WINNER: Bad Luck Fale at 11:34

It was a better match than you’d expect from Fale. It wasn’t anything approaching the level of the last match. The audience chanted for EVIL but didn’t get behind him in a big way. The match was good and either right at my expectation going in or slightly above.


Sanada defeated Sabre in their G1 match in 2018.

The audience gave a standing ovation after a sequence of reversals and counters.

Sanada attempted the Paradise Lock and Sabre countered and it was a stalemate with Sanada retreating to the floor. The audience chanted, ‘New Japan’.

Each had the other in a straitjacket hold and they took turns countering it. Sabre went to the floor and announced he ‘had a 20 count, dickhead’. Sabre stopped a Paradise Lock attempt by applying an armbar and Sanada saved with a rope break.

Sanada finally tied him with a Paradise Lock on the bottom rope. Sanada hit a seated dropkick to break him free.

Sabre applies the Octopus, goes to the mat with the arm extended and almost a crucifix applied before Sanada reached the rope. Sabre hit a low angle tornado DDT and applied a Dragon Sleeper, which Sanada stood up to get out from and Sabre moved to a guillotine and Sanada broke free with a hangman’s neck breaker.

Sanada applied Skull End, went for the moonsault from the top and was caught with a triangle. Sanada was out, went back to the Skull End. The finishing sequence saw Sabre go for a European Clutch, Sanada countered with a Skull End, Sabre countered the hold and then Sanada bridged back for the cover and pinned him.

WINNER: Sanada at 21:12

Technically, this was a brilliant display and some of Sabre’s finest work with an opponent that complimented him so well. It didn’t have the heat of some of the other matches, but it was a tremendous wrestling match. I enjoyed it a lot. Sabre attacked some of the officials after the match.


KENTA received an enormous reaction walking out. Katsuyori Shibata was shown watching on from afar. The match had a big-time feel when the bell rang.

It started like a kickboxing fight with each holding their hands up and attacking the other with leg kicks. They traded brutal slaps. Ibushi kicked KENTA in the previously injured left shoulder with the scar on it. KENTA attacked with a flying knee to the back of the neck and bullied Ibushi with his striking.

Ibushi dropped KENTA off the turnbuckle with elbows, attempted the Power German suplex and was stopped. Ibushi went for a pescado and was it in mid-air and Ibushi grabbed his ankle, the replay didn’t look like KENTA made a lot of contact. KETNA hit a double foot stomp off the apron with Ibushi draped on the apron. He hit another off the top turnbuckle inside the ring and Ibushi kicked out.

Ibushi fought back, he attempted the Kamigoye and KENTA avoided and teased the Go to Sleep. They traded kicks and forearms, KENTA landed a high kick and put Ibushi down. KENTA landed a series of head kicks and then hit the Go to Sleep to win it.

WINNER: KENTA at 20:52

It was a very strong match and the audience seemed to get behind KENTA. The match was all about getting KENTA over with his dangerous strikes and re-introducing the Go to Sleep as a devastating maneuver. It didn’t reach the level of a match-of-the-year candidate but was very good. Ibushi sold the finish big.

KENTA helped Ibushi up afterward.


The audience went wild and stood on their feet when the match began, it was amazing.

Okada teased the Rainmaker early and Tanahashi ducked. Okada dropkicked him off the turnbuckle to the floor and Tanahashi favored his right knee. Okada hit a DDT onto the floor. Okada took control until Tanahashi caught him with a dragon screw leg whip. He caught Okada with another one from the apron in the ropes. Tanahashi targeted the knee.

Okada called for the Rainmaker the place roared, Tanahashi stopped him with a roll up. He climbed to the top and hit a High Fly Flow to the floor and immediately grabbed his right knee. In the ring, Tanahashi hit a sling blade and then was caught by a dropkick and tombstone. Okada went for the Rainmaker and it was countered with another sling blade.

Tanahashi hit a standing High Fly Flow in the ring, returned to the top and landed on Okada’s knees. There was a backslide roll through and Okada hit a short Rainmaker, held onto the wrist and hit another one. He set up Tanahashi for a proper one and Tanahashi countered with an inside cradle for a two-count and a Dragon suplex for another two-count. Okada held the wrist as Tanahashi slapped Okada multiple times.

Tanahashi came off the ropes and was hit with a spinning tombstone and the Rainmaker for the win out of nowhere.

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 22:05

The match was fantastic, and the audience treated it like two legends having a classic.

The finish was out of nowhere and this was very different from their prior matches and was also their shortest match, ever.

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I’m in the arena. The Claw was over huge and elicited Claw chants. Surprised it didn’t come across better on TV.

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Is it as empty as it looks on TV?

Well…yeah. 5000 ppl (at most) in an arena for 25000. Even in the lower bowl there are about five sections with hardly anyone in them.

It’s a lively crowd but there are a ton of great 5-10k seat arenas in DFW this should have been at to give it a more intense feel.

It just looks really bad on TV

Looking at the performers in the ring and not the crowd usually helps.

The crowd looked small but sounded hot for everything. Those who came to the show came to really enjoy themselves from the sounds of it.

My favorite match of the night might be Archer vs. Ospreay, followed by Sabre vs. SANADA. Archer really surprised and impressed me with his work. The top three matches were all quality. It looked like a safer GTS to me, hitting Ibushi in the chest.

I too enjoyed the SANADA-ZSJ match greatly and glad to see it get some love from John, as there are other wrestling writers that don’t seem so up on it. ZSJ delivers interesting matches, perhaps more cerebral at times than some are used to. So while some matches may have more “heat” (see the Ibushi-Kenta match following), if they are not worked well they lose me.

Speaking of which, the finisher by Kenta was sloppy. Perhaps it was Ibushi’s fault. But that was not the only sloppy part of the match. Ibushi whiffed a kick yet Kenta still sold it - this was on par with some of the bad WWE work.

Yes, the arena looked empty, because it’s a huge arena and swallows up 5k people easily. So while it might come off on TV as a bit of a miss, in reality many more people attended this than most other wrestling events (including many WWE houseshows and Smackdowns and even a few Raws of late.)

Got to see the show live. It was Awesome. This was my first wrestling live event as well. Couldn’t have been happier. I really enjoyed the card from beginning to end. Everything was paced well. The show didn’t drag at all. There were quite a bit of empty seats unfortunately but fans did their best to show their appreciation. My favorite match of the show was of course Okada and Tanahashi, with Ibushi vs KENTA right with it. I also surprisingly enjoyed the ZSJ vs Sanada match. It was slower than the norm but the back and forth of the holds and pin falls really put the competitive art form on display. Almost forgot to mention that table spot with Ospreay… Ridiculous

So based on the empty arena…are we saying New Japan is dying? Because we seem to do that to certain other companies who had bad attendance.

So a company that typically doesn’t run a ton of US shows, should be compared to the WWE? It wasn’t a great showing, but WWE having attendance drop doesn’t look great for them. But they are not even close to dying and no sane person thinks they are. If they go under it will be a slow death. But I don’t think they are even started on that yet.

LOL not trying, so that’s why they went outside and picked up new Executive Directors.

Also, if WWE had the same attendance that NJPW had in Dallas…everyone would be proclaiming their death.

Don’t act like you don’t see the “smart” fans leaping to conclusions over everything.

You do realize this would be like WWE drawing a small crowd and in Japan and us proclaiming them a failure right?

This is a Japanese company. When they stop drawing in Japan then they are dying. Last time I checked they expanded their big show to two nights because it was doing so well :slight_smile:

Uhhhhhh That’s exactly what I said…and it would happen.

The WWE drew poorly in India. No one has raised this as a case of them dying.

Them drawing poorly in Washington and Tacoma is way bigger deal

Being there live, you really forgot about the empty seats after a while because the crowd was so electric. Looking at it on TV, it came off so much worse because the hard camera was opposite the stage, and they only had one curtain down the middle, leaving about a third of the whole arena that was behind the stage line empty and completely exposed. This was the kind of thing that any concert in that arena would have draped off to cover what’s on the production end and create a backdrop for the stage. Additional black drapes with the spotlights from the stage shining up them would have turned the negative into a more dramatic look.

That wouldn’t have done anything for the rows of empty seats in the main bowl, of course, but had they lit the ring more brightly, the stands would have been less clearly visible in most of the shots. Heck, just turning off the rings of LEDs around the arena probably would have done the trick.

We’re just so conditioned by WWE to expect shows to pay so much attention to the TV presentation, and NJPW just seems to have a different mentality. It’s like watching Major League Baseball games on TV where half the stands are empty. No one says “great game, but the empty seats made them look so bush league.”

I will say also that I saw Stone Cold vs. The Rock in that same arena in 2002, and I think last night’s 4800 people made more noise at the beginning of Okada-Tanahashi than the full arena did for Rock-Austin 17 years ago.

It was said…then people starting getting racist and it was dropped.

It makes people think that team must suck.

It’s pretty common for even top teams to have a lot of empty seats at games in the regular season. No one considers that more of an indicator of how good the team is than their win-loss record. It’s not apples-to-apples; just trying to make the point that NJ doesn’t care as much about that kind of presentation.

Sure some people might jump to crazy conclusions. Some WWE fans also point to attendance numbers as to why WWE is the best product. Both are dumb arguments.

Indisputable fact: WWE is the largest wrestling promotion in the world.

Likely it will be for quite some time, it has tremendous name recognition and inertia.

That does not mean that it’s popularity hasn’t waned from its peak years (or even from recent years) and that other companies haven’t made gains toward being a larger competitor.

Your argument it the Seth Rollins “Lets compare bank accounts argument.” If you are the big guy who has done big things, failure to do so is a failure. If you are the little guy anything is an accomplishment because expectations have not been set. Also people have criticized the attendance as looking bad, John and Wai even said it was likely a mistake not advertising the match-ups, and that maybe Dallas wasn’t the right choice. So it is not as if nothing critical was said.