RADICAN’S 7/1 NJPW G1 Special In USA (night 1) report – tournament begins to crown first IWGP U.S. Champion, Okada defends IWGP Hvt. Championship against Cody (Rhodes)

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


JULY 1, 2017

A video package kicked the show off previewing the matches on the card. Footage was shown of the announcement before ROH’s “War of the World” PPV that there would be a tournament to crown the first IWGP U.S. Hvt. Champion on this show.

They went to shots of Long Beach, Calif as Jim Ross welcomed fans to the show at ringside with Josh Barnett. He went to the brackets for the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Title Tournament mentioning the semi-finals and finals would be held on night 2. Ross then discussed Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP Hvt. Championship against new ROH World Champion Kazuchika Okada. The graphics for the matches look crisp and professional. They had a Japanese and American ring announcer introduce the show separately. This show very much has the look of a standard NJPW event. I don’t think this part of the show should air for a U.S. audience on TV, especially with Ross and Barnett talking over the ring announcers.

They finally went to the first match as Bullet Club’s music played for the opening 10 Man Tag match. They did the standard English and Japanese introductions like they do in Japan for both teams.

(1) Bullet Club (IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions Matt & Nick Jackson & Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Mark & Jay Briscoe & Rocky Romero & Trent & Will Ospreay in a 10 Man Tag match. Ross played up the rivalry between RPG Vice and the Young Bucks. The fans fired up and chanted Scurll’s theme once the introductions were over. Scurll and Ospreay kicked things off, which is very cool when you think of them coming from the U.K. to make it in NJPW together. The Briscoes hit a pair of dives during the early going, which left The Young Bucks and RPG Vice alone in the ring to go at it. The Young Bucks wiped them out with a pair of superkicks as Bullet Club took control of the match. Ospreay set up and hit a step up SSP press to the floor to wipe out everyone. WOW! The action went back and forth until Ospreay finally caught Scurll with the Essex destroyer. Fale got Trent at one point and hit a bad luck fall to the floor to wipe out a ton of men. That was sick. The Young Bucks set up for the Meltzer driver on Romero, but it got broken up by Ospreay. Romero then rolled up Matt for the win.

Winners: Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe & Trent & Rocky Romero & Will Ospreay

Star rating: (***1/4) – This was a high-octane does of action to kick the show off.

(Commercial break)

(2) L.I.J.  Hiromu Takahashi & NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions SANADA & BUSHI & EVIL vs. Jushin Liger & Dragon Lee & Titan & Volador Jr. in an 8 Man Tag match. Liger is teaming with Lee, Titan, and Volador, who are from CMLL in Mexico. SANADA shook hands with Liger, but EVIL ended up jumping him from behind. L.I.J. used cheap tactics to dominate the action early. They built to a big exchange between longtime rivals Lee and Takahashi. Titan and Takahashi went at it. Takahashi finally cut him off with a belly to belly into the turnbuckles and the action broke down. Titan ended up getting isolated and L.I.J. nailed him with a triple dropkick. Takahashi grabbed the ref and EVIL and SANADA draped a chair around Titan’s neck. EVIL then swung for the fences. Takahashi then finished off Titan with the time bomb.

Winners: Hiromu Takahashi & Sanada & BUSHI & EVIL – This was fine, but short.

(C0mmericial break)

Naoki Sugabayashi, the NJPW chairman, came down to the ring with the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship and the fans applauded. Ross said the tournament has 8 entrants in a single elimination tournament. All of the quarterfinal round matches will take place tonight. The semi-finals and finals will take place on night 2.

(3) Hangman Page vs. Jay Lethal in a IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Round match. Page jumped Lethal as he made his entrance. They brawled at ringside. Lethal eventually kicked Page off the apron and nailed him with a dive through the metal guardrail. Lethal had his ribs taped to sell a storyline injury. Page went on the attack and went after Lethal’s mid-section. Page hit his signature SSP shoulder tackle from the apron to the floor. Barnett said Lethal had beaten Naito in NJPW, but he actually beat him at ROH’s All Star Extravaganza PPV last September. Lethal mounted a comeback, but Page cut him off and went after his ribs with an abdominal stretch. Lethal mounted another comeback and hit a cutter, but he didn’t make a cover. He went up top and hit hail to the king. Page caught Lethal with his slingshot clothesline into the ring for a 2 count. Lethal fired back and hit the Lethal injection, but it looked very sloppy. Ross and Barnett didn’t know the name of his finisher. Lethal hurt himself executing the Lethal injection and couldn’t make the cover. Lethal hit a second Lethal injection and it was good for the win.

Winner: Jay Lethal to advance to the semi-final round of the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Title tournament.

Star rating: (**1/2) – The action was solid here with Page working over Lethal’s ribs as expected, but Lethal managed to overcome him. Ross and Barnett need to do more homework if they’re going to call shows like this.

Ross said Ospreay vs. Robinson in another tournament match was next.

(Commercial break)

Back from the commercial break, Ross said it was actually Zack Sabre Jr. that would face Robinson.

(4) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson in a IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Round match. Sabre ended up going after Robinson’s arm once the action settled down. The crowd booed as Sabre went after Robinson’s dreads. Robinson fired back and hit a gut buster, which Ross called a reverse back stabber. Sabre quickly got control again and got a mounted wrist lock. Robinson managed to counter it into a vertical suplex into a slam. That was slick. Sabre tripped Robinson and hit a PK, but the announcers didn’t identify it as such. Robinson fired up and took several slaps from Sabre. He shook them all off and the fans chanted as he hit several punches. They went back and forth and Sabre got Robinson with a flying arm bar on Robinson. He transitioned to a triangle. Sabre then did a neck bridge with the triangle still applied while cranking on the arm, but Robinson lifted him and hit a one-arm powerbomb! The fans chanted for Robinson as he fired up. Sabre countered Robinson and grabbed a mounted arm submission. He began working on Robinson’s fingers as the fans gasped. Robinson went for the ropes with his other on, but Sabre tied him up in a mounted double arm submission for the win!

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. to advance to the semi-final round of the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Title tournament.

Star rating: (***) – This was a good match with Sabre dominating with his submission work to get the win.

(Commercial break)

(5) The Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Kamatsu) & Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn vs. IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion and ROH World TV Champion KUSHIDA & IWGP IC Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jay White & David Finlay in an 8 Man Tag match. The action broke down during the early going. Kamatsu sent KUSHIDA from the apron to the floor with a big dropkick. The Tempura Boyz then went after KUSHIDA inside the ring. Gunn got the tag and the fans booed as he worked over KUSHIDA. Gunn and Tanahashi ended up going face-to-face and the fans gasped. He then resumed working over KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA mounted a comeback and wiped out the Tempura Boyz, but Gunn cut him off from making the tag to Tanahashi. KUSHIDA staggered Gunn with an elbow and tagged in Tanahashi, who went at it with Gunn. They went to an awkward spot where it appeared Tanahashi clotheslined Gunn and both men were down. It just wasn’t a very smooth spot. Yoshitatsu and White both tagged in and went at it. The fans fired up for White getting into the match. White hit a big backdrop suplex right on Yoshitatsu’s neck, which was scary given that Yoshitatsu had a long recovery from a previous neck injury. White ended up suplexing Yoshitatsu into the turnbuckle. The action broke down with members of both teams running into the ring. Everyone hit moves until White and Yoshitatsu were left alone in the ring. White hit a big uranagi on Yoshitatsu for a near fall and everyone ran in to break up the pin. White signaled for the end and they missed the flatliner White hit on Yoshitatsu for the win.

Winner: KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jay White & David Finlay – This was a standard 8 Man Tag match.

Jim Ross announced they were going to commercial break and they would come back for intermission, as Tanahashi held the belt up in Gunn’s face to set up their match tomorrow.

(Commercial break)

(6) IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe). Both teams brawled to the floor and went back and forth. Hanson went for a dive, but got nailed with a trash can by Tonga. Roa worked over Rowe inside the ring with some boots. Rowe got isolated and took a combination of moves from Tonga and Loa capped by a standing frog splash for a 2 count. Hanson ran into the ring and went after both members of G.O.D. Hanson eventually went back and forth the ring hitting clotheslines as he did in their previous match at Dominion in June. The fans fired up as he continued to run back and forth across the ring multiple times hitting clotheslines. Rowe stacked G.O.D. up in one corner and nailed them with a clothesline. He went for a bronco buster, but Tonga and Roa got out of the way. Everyone ended up down on the mat. All four men got up and began exchanging blows. Rowe ended up alone in the ring with G.O.D. going up top. Roa hit a diving headbutt and Tonga hit a frog splash, but Rowe managed to kick out at 2. Rowe caught Tonga going for a splash in the corner and he slammed him on top of Roa. War Machine then hit a pop up slam on Tonga for a 2 count. Someone ran down with a G.O.D. shirt and he nailed Hanson with a chair shot when he went up top. Roa powerbombed Rowe into a couple of chairs, but he kicked out at 2.

The man helping G.O.D. is Chase Owens. Wow, they took out a table and they have the same small tables that NJPW uses in Japan. The action broke down and Rowe wiped out Owens with a big jumping knee. Hanson hit a dive to wipe out Tonga and Owens on the floor. Rowe hit a big knee to the jaw on Roa, but he shook it off. Rowe hit a German that Roa no-sold. He then hit a running knee and Roa stood up for a second before collapsing to the mat. War Machine ended up hitting fallout on Roa through the table for the win.

Winners: Hanson and Raymond Rowe to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions

Star rating: (***1/4) – This was a good brawling style match with weapons that fired up the crowd as it went on.

Ross plugged Naito vs. Ishii in a tournament match coming up after the commercial.

(Commercial break)

(7) Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii in a IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Round match. Naito got a big reaction coming out. He wanted Red Shoes, the ref, to hold the ropes open for him, but he refused. Naito confronted Red Shoes once he finally got into the ring and Red Shoes actually got into a fighting stance when Naito turned his back. These two have history in NJPW. Naito hit a cheap shot when Ishii got near the apron. He teased hitting a dive, but ended up hitting his pose on the mat. Naito tried to play mind games with Ishii, but he ended up getting decked with a huge chop. Naito hit several big slaps to the top of Ishii’s head. He shook them off and hit a big forearm and then a chop in the corner. Naito finally got on track with a twisting neck breaker. Naito faked out Ishii and slapped him across the head after hitting a low blow, but Ishii fired back with a Saito suplex and the fans fired up. Naito mounted a comeback and he twisted Ishii around in the corner into a handing neck breaker. Naito went up top and hit his signature missile dropkick. Naito went for his signature slingshot dropkick spot, but Ishii blocked it and nailed him with a lariat on the apron. Ishii went for a suplex off the apron into the ring, but Naito countered it into a DDT. Naito came up bleeding from the mouth.

They battled up top a short time later and Naito connected with a frankensteiner for a near fall. The fans fired up and counted along and then gasped when Ishii kicked out. Naito hit some boot scrapes across the back of Ishii’s head and the fans booed. Naito spit blood at Ishii, who glared at him. Ishii just looked at Naito as he punched him before unloading with a huge headbutt to the chest. They went back and forth and Naito came leaping off the ropes, but Ishii nailed him with a headbutt. He followed up with a huge lariat off the ropes for a 2 count. Naito went for a tornado DDT off the ropes several times, but Ishii blocked it. He finally hit it and both men were down on the mat. Ishii countered a Destino attempt and hit a headbutt. Naito connected with a flying forearm off the ropes. He went for Destino, but Ishii blocked it and hit a sliding lariat for a 2 count. Naito went for Destino again, but Ishii blocked it. For some reason Barnett kept shouting Gloria. Ishii hit a huge clothesline for a 2 count. He then hit a brainbuster and the fans gasped. Ishii made the cover and it was good for the win!

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii to advance to the semi-final round of the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship tournament

Star rating: (****) – This was one heck of a hard hitting back and forth match with Naito trying to get inside Ishii’s head by taunting him throughout the match only for it to backfire. Ishii blocked Destino several times before hitting a brainbuster for the win.

Ross said Omega vs. Elgin was up next in the final U.S. Title tournament match of the night.

(Commercial break)

(8) Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega (w/The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) in a IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship Tournament Quarterfinal Round match. Omega got a big pop coming out for his entrance. The Elite tried to too sweet Red Shoes before the match started and he threw a crotch chop at them. Omega and The Young Bucks sold it big. Elgin no-sold Omega’s offense during the early going. He ended up tossing him into the corner, but he missed a hip attack. Elgin fired back and went on the attack. He hit a big gorilla press slam and Omega sold is back. Elgin hit a big delayed vertical suplex, but he only got a 2 count after being distracted by The Young Bucks. Omega mounted a comeback and sent Elgin to the floor. He set up for the Terminator dive and the fans fired up. Omega took forever and Elgin ran into the ring behind him and greeted him with a big kick as he came off the ropes. Elgin went up top and connected with a flying shoulder tackle. Elgin went for a powerbomb on the floor, but Omega grabbed the ropes. Omega went for a moonsault off the apron, but Elgin caught him. Elgin tried to throw him on the ramp, but Omega slipped away and hit a leg lariat on the ramp. Omega caught Elgin on the floor and slammed him into the apron. Elgin nearly got counted out, but he quickly popped up and dove into the ring. That was a risky spot in terms of believability as Elgin popped up after selling death to beat the 20 count. The fans chanted that was 20. Omega argued with the ref and finally made the cover for the 2 count.

Elgin mounted a comeback, but Omega cut him off and hit a Finlay roll. He went for a moonsault off the second turnbuckle, but Elgin got his knees up. Elgin hit a series of German suplexes. Omega tried to grab the ropes to break them up and he managed to get his leg through the ropes. Elgin let go and nailed him with a kick to the head. Elgin went for another German, but Omega landed on his feet. Elgin hit a slingshot power slam on Omega a short time later for a 2 count. Elgin began hitting big clotheslines to Omega’s front and back, but he wouldn’t go down. Elgin went off the ropes. Omega went for a frankensteiner, but Elgin blocked it. Omega then hit a snap dragon suplex and Elgin rolled to the floor. Omega set up for The Terminator dive and was successful this time much to the delight of the fans. WOW! They went back and forth trading blows a short time later. Omega finally hit a cross-leg neck breaker over his knee after hitting a huge knee lift on Elgin and the fans fired up. Elgin fired back and caught Omega with a huge clothesline and both men were down. They battled up top and Omega tripped Elgin down to the mat. They ended up on the apron and went back and forth. Omega went for a reverse franksteiner, but Elgin blocked it and hit a huge German that popped the crowd. Elgin hit an avalanche crucifix bomb on Omega, but he kicked out! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Elgin hit a buckle bomb and went for the Elgin bomb, but Omega rolled him up for a near fall.

Omega was on wobbly legs and he hit a couple of strikes, but Elgin obliterated him with a huge clothesline for a 2 count. THAT WAS BRUTAL! Elgin no-sold a knee lift from Omega, but he caught him right away with another one to the head. Omega caught Elgin with another knee lift off the ropes and he hit a poison hurricanrana for a near fall and the fans lost their minds when Elgin kicked out. WOW! Omega pointed a hand gun at Elgin and he grabbed his hand. Omega hit another knee lift to Elgin’s head. He then hit another knee lift to Elgin’s head against the ropes. Omega went for the one-winged angel, but Elgin slipped out. Omega countered Elgin and hit a package tombstone for a 2 count. Omega hit another running knee against the ropes and the one-winged angel for the win! WOW!

Winner: Kenny Omega to advance to the semi-final round of the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Title Tournament

Star rating: (****) – This was another excellent tournament match. It took a little bit to get going, but the second half was action with some incredible back and forth action. Omega’s high-impact knees down the stretch and the back and forth sequences were great.

Ross said Okada vs. Cody was next.

(Commercial break)

Cody main his entrance surrounded by men in presidential masks like Nixon etc. His wife came out and lit his cigar before he made his way down the ramp. His reaction was mixed and boos could be heard. Okada’s music hit to a big pop from the fans. Both men went face-to-face and raised their respective titles high before the formal introductions began.

(9) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. ROH World Champion Cody (Rhodes) – IWGP Hvt. Championship match. Cody is wearing red, white, and blue tights and boots. Okada backed Cody into the corner and offered a clean break. Cody left the ring and went to give his wife a kiss. Cody went or the disaster kick early. Okada ducked and went for the rainmaker, but Cody ducked. The fans gasped and they went face to face, but Cody backed down. They ended up on the floor and Cody took a punch. He tried to walk away and went over the barricade, but Okada nailed him with a big splash over the guardrail that sent them both crashing into the chairs at ringside. Cody surprised Okada with a kick as he tried to get back into the ring. He followed up with a flatliner for a 2 count. The fans booed as Cody made the belt around my waist motions. The fans chanted for both men and Cody his a power slam for a 2 count. Cody’s shoulder was heavily taped. Cody set up for a springboard and the fans booed. Okada was very slow to get up and Cody hit a springboard missile dropkick for a 2 count. Rhodes spit on the ref and the fans booed. Rhodes flipped the fans off before going back after Okada. Okada mounted a comeback and decked Rhodes with a big elbow off the ropes. Rhodes tried to mount a comeback, but Okada hit his signature dropkick in the corner.

Rhodes went for a handing DDT on the floor, but Okada countered him and hit one of his own. Okada went up top, but Rhodes sprung to his feet and stepped up the ropes and hit an arm drag! Rhodes then hit the disaster kick for a near fall. Rhodes went for another disaster kick, but Okada turned it into a flap jack. Okada hit a neck breaker over his knee. He went up top and hit the elbow drop this time. Okada signaled for the rainmaker and the fans popped big. They missed the rainmaker zoom. Rhodes countered the rainmaker and got a trailer hitch. Okada teased tapping, but eventually got to the ropes. Rhodes slapped Okada on top of the head and he looked mildly upset. Rhodes grabbed Okada and slapped him across the face. Okada finally grabbed Cody by the hair and put the boots to him in the corner. Brandi Rhodes, Cody’s wife, got up out of her seat and went to the ringside area. Okada hit a big dropkick to the back of Cody’s head. He then hit a tombstone and signaled for the rainmaker. He went for it, but Cody spit in his face. Okada held on and hit the rainmaker anyway. He maintained wrist control and hit another big rainmaker. Okada hit the rainmaker pose and the fans applauded.

Omega came down to ringside with a white towel playing off Rhodes doing the same thing during the Okada-Omega match. Brandi argued with Kenny at ringside. The Young Bucks came down to make peace. The fans chanted for Omega to throw in the towel. Omega gave the towel to Brandi. Cody blocked another rainmaker and went for the cross-Rhodes. Okada blocked it and hit a big dropkick off the ropes. Cody ducked a rainmaker and hit one of his own for a near fall. WOW! Rhodes went over to the ropes and gestured at Omega. Ross questioned who the leader of Bullet Club truly is. Cody set up for the cross-Rhodes, but Okada blocked it and hit cross-Rhodes for a near fall! Both men began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring a short time later. The crowd booed each Cody punch and cheered for Okada’s punches. Okada finally grounded Rhodes with a big uppercut. Rhodes went for cross-Rhodes and Okada hit multiple knees to the head. Cody then slammed Okada to the mat for a 2 count! The announcers said there was a division between Cody and the rest of Bullet Club. Rhodes set up behind Okada, who was slumped against the ropes with his back to him. Rhodes set up for the one-winged angel, but Okada blocked it and it a German. Rhodes ducked a rainmaker and went for cross-Rhodes, but Okada blocked it. He eventually hit a jumping tombstone piledriver! Omega then hit a huge rainmaker for the win! WOW!

Winner: Kazuchika Okada to retain the IWGP Hvt. Championship

Star rating: (****1/4) – This match got off to a slow start, but it got really good with both men going back and forth. Cody was really good here against Okada and they played off the storyline started at NJPW’s “Dominion” PPV in June where Cody came down and was going to throw the towel in for Omega when he looked to be on the verge of losing to Okada. There was clear dissension between Bullet Club and Cody during the match.

After Bullet Club left, Omega came back to the ring and got on the mic. He said he’s jealous of Okada main eventing the show. He said they would have their match at G1. He said tonight is Okada’s night. Omega said goodbye and goodnight and left the ring.

Okada got the mic from Omega. Gedo then cut a promo with another mic. He said this is strong style evolved. He continued to speak in English and said Okada is the future of strong style. He then introduced Okada. The fans applauded his introduction. Okada said he wanted to make it rain strong style all over the world. He then closed his promo in Japanese to close the show as the fans applauded.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow Sean on twitter at twitter.com/sr_torch. Follow and like Radican’s Wrestling Community Facebook.com at Facebook.com/seanradicanrwc

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