NJPW G1 Special In USA Night 1
I've elected to watch the Japanese version of the show, as I'm not at all interested in hearing 65 year old Jim Ross say Japanese names wrong for 4 hours.
Bullet Club vs CHAOS
I suppose it wouldn't be a true NJPW show without opening with a few multi-man tags. Indie stand offs, match 700 in the Bucks/Rocky Romero series, dueling chants like it's a PWG show. Yujiro always fucking sucked, and my feelings on Marty Scurll certainly haven't changed since the BOTSJ. The Bucks, who were last seen (by me) working nearly superkick free matches with psychology, are back to every other move being superkicks and 12 step combo spots. Is this supposed to be a NJPW for American audiences, or a NJPW happening in America? Rocky won with a roll up OUTTA NOWHERE.
Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Dragon Lee/Jushin Liger/Titan/Volodor Jr.
Oh weird, another multi-man tag. Who could have guessed? A good amount of lucha fuckery, as to be expected. Takahashi killed Titan with a Time Bomb in a very short match. Not even 7 minutes I believe.
Jay Lethal vs Hangman Page IWGP US Championship Round 1
I'm sure this will be match of the year. Lethal, who is getting a t h i c c lower body, hits a dive in the first minute. NJ sprung for real guard rails, but didn't lock them together or anything, so anytime anyone has touched them, they fall over. I forgot that Page was the dude who does the shooting star shoulder block off the apron. So, Lethal comes in with taped up ribs, and that seems to be the main focus of the match. This is a match, I guess. Lethal won with the Lethal Injection to advance in the tournament.
Juice Robinson vs Zack Sabre Jr. IWGP US Championship Round 1
I hope the dueling chants and generally random chants before anything has even happened stuff doesn't find its way back to Japan. What's really funny to me is the last time Juice wrestled in California (2015), fans fucking hated him because they felt he was over pushed and taking up screen time from their NXT faves. And now they love him because he's "legit" from time in NJPW. Lol at ZSJ putting Juice's dreads in a cravat. Unsurprisingly, this is mostly worked around ZSJ doing arm work and Juice selling and showing babyface fire and occasional power spots. Zack won with a double arm lock octopus stretch to advance. Certainly much, much better than the previous tournament match.
Jay White/David Finlay/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kushida vs Billy Gunn/Yoshitatsu/Tempura Boyz
Uh. The heck? I'm going to say no thanks on this. Fucking lol at how much bigger Billy Gunn is than Tanahashi, though. Also, if you somehow had any expectations for their match on night 2, their interactions in this make it seem like it's going to be a nightmare. Jay pinned Yoshi with some kind of Flatliner that cameras missed almost entirely right after they missed a multiple dive spot. The most pre-intermission match possible.
Guerillas of Destiny vs War Machine IWGP Tag Team Championships
The ultimate post-intermission match. What the heck, Meng Dynasty didn't even put on face paint? B show confirmed. War Machine gets on the mic to request this be a No DQ match. GOD agree. This ends up being a mindless sub-WWECW hardcore brawl with some aggressively shitty ROH camera work that made it not feel like NJPW at all. War Machine pinned Camacho after a powerbomb/leg drop combo through a table. New champions.
Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii IWGP US Championship Round 1
It's pretty clear to me that NJPW did not bring their production team to America for this show. They appear to be using ROH's crew or some other local crew that is making plenty of production errors and abusing the crane shots. The now age old story of Naito being a disrespectful cunt and getting punished for it. These two have had better match together certainly, but this audience seems weirdly not particularly into it. They were hotter for Juice/ZSJ and the previous match, which seems pretty absurd to me. Ishii won with a brainbuster to a kind of muted reaction, although the match got a half-hearted standing ovation.
Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega IWGP US Championship Round 1
This match having so much more heat than Naito/Ishii is lol. People in the US have never been hot for an Elgin match. Although, it doesn't sound like they are here, either, as Kenny Omega is by far the most over person on this show so far. Despite Kenny being in his big match gear, he doesn't feel like he's in big match mode. In general, this feels above at ROH/NJPW show, but below a big NJPW show. Guys going 80% as opposed to 50% for ROH shows and 60% for Road To...shows. Understandable, I suppose, with the brutal G1 schedule. At the same time, Kenny is doing apron bumps and taking avalanche BT bombs. I also think it is kind of weird that they're doing a similar story to Omega/Okada II, with Kenny just trying to survive while getting decimated for long stretches of the match and selling like an underdog face. He got the win with the One Winged Angel to advance.
Cody vs Kazuchika Okada IWGP Championship
Wtf, Cody comes out with dudes in American President masks, smoking a cigar. Is this supposed to be cool? Now I'm just annoyed he's trying to use Point Break swag. Lmao he puts the cigar out on his arm. God, that's terrible. Anyone that didn't tell him that looked like the lamest shit in the world should be fired. I still don't get what the fuck Cody's gimmick is. Aggressively mediocre wrestler with an ego? I guess I don't know why most of the time he acts like Stardust without the paint and tries to get the crowd to cheer him. Or why he goes from Memphis level stalling for heat, then pauses to get cheered. He still feels like he's pretending to be a heel, an approximation of what he thinks an indie/Japan heel is. Plus The Riddler. Shit is weird. Okada, who is clearly not going 100%, is completely outclassing Cody on every level, even while having the most basic WWE match he can. Cody is just so cartoony. Terrible fit for NJPW. Not even in the Omega way of anime cartoony, but Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoony. Fuck Cody Rhodes. Okada gets sick of pretending to have a competitive match and starts being the dog shit out of Cody. After a few Rainmakers, Kenny Omega comes out with a towel, much like Cody did in Kenny/Okada II. Except this time, the fans actually WANT the towel to be thrown in because they don't like Cody, either. Lmao. Cody wipes his ass with the towel and throws it at Kenny. Great, Bullet Club EXPLODES angle incoming. Also lol at the finisher theft. USA! Okada wins with I think 4 total Rainmakers, including the That's Incredible > Rainmaker rush. Title retained. Cody seriously took the triple Rainmaker combo and then had another 10 minutes in the match where he was mostly in control. CODY RHODES.
This was certainly above the normal NJPW/ROH show, but below a normal NJPW show. Being that it was a big show for the company to impress in a new area, I don't think it really accomplished anymore than they'd do on a general ROH/NJPW joint show beyond the ring and refs. They certainly didn't bring their normal production crew with them, which was very evident as the what seemed to be ROH crew overusing crane shots and missing dives/big spots in the tag matches. The production made it not FEEL like a real NJPW show, combined with a weird crowd cheering for not who you'd expect (kind of dead for Naito (and LIJ in general)/Ishii, super into ZSJ, 50/50 for Cody). It was a solid show, nothing overly spectacular or anything, but a fairly normal B level NJPW show that just happened to be in America. I'm glad that 95% of it turned out to feel like like NJPW show in America as opposed to a NJPW show for American audiences in America.
At the same time, NJPW clearly at least thought they were pandering to US audiences even though all of the guys they booked for that purpose were disliked even if they're liked in Japan. It seems like the crowds really wanted the full NJPW experience, which they mostly got, complete with multiple random tags and a boring first half of the show. I can only imagine what it was like watching live on AXS with JR and Josh Barnett apparently fucking up names and moves constantly.