NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING – G1 USA – NIGHT ONE
JULY 1, 2017
LONG BEACH, CALIF.
AIRED LIVE ON AXS TV
REPORT BY TED LONDON, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
Early arriving crowd. This was my first time at this venue. The matches were held in a convention hall, so everyone was at the same level. The only elevated areas were the ring, the entrance ramp, and one platform for cameras. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett were already in place when I arrived, almost an hour early. Almost 50 percent of the crowd was wearing Bullet Club t-shirts. The merch stand seemed to be almost 200 deep in a single, long, snaking line. The seating area was completely full with people standing in the back.
(1) Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero & Will Ospreay & The Briscoes vs. Young Bucks & Marty Scurll & Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale. The crowd was very excited. Evenly divided between the two teams. Multiple “Too Sweet” chants. Loud dueling “Let’s Go Young Bucks/RPG” chants. Lots of time where wrestlers were resting outside the ring, almost hiding on the floor opposite the hard camera.
(2) Titan & Dragon Lee & Volador Jr. & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Takahashi & BUSHI & EVI & SANADA. The crowd was rooting for Liger’s team, with Liger getting the biggest pop. Chants for Liger, and a loud Lucha Libre chant. Big pop anytime Liger entered the match.
(3) Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page. Crowd heavily behind Jay Lethal. Multiple chants for Lethal and “Wooos” for his offense.
(4) Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr. Crowd 60/40 behind Juice Robinson. There was a long “Zack Sabre Jr/Juice” dueling chant at the start. A huge BOO when one fan tried to start a C.J. Parker chant. Lots of chants for Juice Robinson, but the crowd was into the match so there was no apparent feeling of disappointment with the finish.
(5) David Finlay & Jay White & KUSHIDA & Tanahashi vs. Tanaka & Komatsu & YOSHI-TATSU & Billy Guinn. Biggest cheers of the night so far for Tanahashi. A mix of cheers and boos for Billy Gunn when he was introduced. Crowd loudly behind team Tanahashi. Individual cheers for all four members of the team. When Billy Gunn tagged in it was the loudest boos of the night by far. If there was any doubt on how the crowd would react tomorrow, that doubt is gone. This crowd does not want to see Billy Gunn.
(6) Guerrillas of Destiny vs. War Machine. The crowd was behind the G.O.D. and popped big for the no DQ stipulation. The crowd popped big for the ending. It took a while to clean up all the wood splinters from the shattered table.
(7) Ishii vs. Naito. Huge Pop for Referee Red Shoes. Biggest pop of the night so far was for Naito. The crowd was heavily rooting for Naito, but clearly respecting Ishii. The crowd was very much into all their near falls. Good applause and respect for the finish, although a letdown for the crowd.
(8) Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega. Pro-Omega crowd. They like Elgin, they just like Omega more. Huge pop for Red Shoes pushing the Bucks away from the action. Loud “Kenny” chant to start the match. Very funny “That was 20!” chant after Elgin got back in the ring late. Dueling “Big Mike/Kenny” chants.
The entire crowd was on their feet for the last three minutes of the match and erupted in cheers at the finish.
(9) Okada vs. Cody. Cody came out to lots of boos, and huge applause for Okada. The crowd was fully behind Okada. When a “Cody” chant started, it was overwhelmed by boos. Then a loud “F— You Cody” chant started. Later a dueling “Let’s go Cody/Okada” chant started but it was about 80 percent Okada, 20 percent Cody. The fans were all on their feet once Omega came out for the remainder of the night. A loud “Throw the Towel” chant started after Omega came out. And a “You F—ed up” chant after Cody threw the towel at Omega.
FINAL NOTES: Very good crowd. Into all the matches. Cheering in the right places without trying to get themselves over. However, the crowd was not as loud or as hot as I expected them to be.
Most Over: Kenny Omega, Naito, Okada, Tanahashi, Young Bucks
Biggest Heat: Billy Gunn, Cody. My perception is NJPW fans don’t want to see ex-WWE wrestlers.
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