New Japan Pro-Wrestling: G1 Special in USA, Day 1 (Review)

New Japan Pro-Wrestling comes to the US for the first time, as Cody Rhodes challenges Kazuchika Okada for his IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and eight of the best wrestlers in the world compete in the first round of a tournament to become the first ever IWGP United States Champion…

Beretta, Rocky Romero, Will Ospreay, Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe
Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale
(Winners via pinfall: Beretta, Romero, Ospreay & the Briscoe’s)

Titan, Dragon Lee, Volador Jr. & Jushin Thunder Liger
Sanada, Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi & Evil
(Winners via pinfall: Sanada, Bushi, Takahashi & Evil)

Jay Lethal
Hangman Page
IWGP United States Championship Tournament – Qtr Final
(Winner via pinfall: Jay Lethal)

Juice Robinson
Zack Sabre Jr.
IWGP United States Championship Tournament – Qtr Final
(Winner via submission: Zach Sabre Jr.)

David Finlay, Jay White, Kushida & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn
(Winners via pinfall: Finlay, White, Kushida & Tanahashi)

Tanga Roa & Tama Tonga (“The Guerrillas of Destiny”) (C)
Raymond Rowe & Hanson (“War Machine”)
No DQ Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
(Winners via pinfall, and new champions: War Machine)

Tomohiro Ishii
Tetsuta Naito
IWGP United States Championship Tournament – Qtr Final
(Winner via pinfall: Tomohiro Ishii)

Michael Elgin
Kenny Omega
IWGP United States Championship Tournament – Qtr Final
(Winner via pinfall: Kenny Omega)

Kazuchika Okada (C)
Cody Rhodes
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Kazuchika Okada)


I had been looking forward to New Japan Pro-Wrestling‘s two USA shows ever since they were announced. That they both sold out so quickly suggested that I wasn’t the only one to be excited at the thought of NJPW putting on shows on American soil. I also couldn’t wait to see NJPW in front of a non-Japanese crowd, which would hopefully give the typically brilliant NJPW headline matches a whole different feel to those put on in front of usually far more subdued Japanese attendees.

One thing New Japan did here, which I’m relieved they did, was keep everything the same. Besides onscreen graphics being purely in english, everything about this show felt and looked like any other show the company puts on. The ring set up, the steel guard rails, the numerous tag team matches… they didn’t sacrifice anything for their American audience, and made a point of just doing what they always do well. That put the onus on the audience (both live, and at home) to either enjoy the company for what it does, or go watch something else.

The opening match was perfect. High energy, fast pace, big spots, and fun characters. For anyone who already knew the competitors involved, or for those absolutely new to New Japan, this was a very entertaining opening match that set the tone for the rest of the night. The other multi-man tag team matches on the card were good fun too, something that isn’t always true of New Japan‘s undercard matches. There was good wrestling right across these tag team matches, and all the kind of stiff strong style you’d see in any of the NJPW Japan shows.

There were quite a few shocks on the night, too. War Machine regaining the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship so soon after losing it was a surprise, but I feel it corrected the mistake of them losing the championship in the first place. Naito losing to Ishii came out of nowhere too, especially as I was expecting a Naito/Omega final.

Speaking of Kenny Omega, his match with Michael Elgin was top drawer. It built slowly, as a lot of Omega’s matches do, but the final 5-7 minutes were nail-biting entertainment. I don’t think I was the only person watching who felt that Omega might actually lose, the longer the bout went on. Thankfully, he managed to get the win, but it wasn’t easy. The crowd loved it too, and Omega was predictably the most over guy on the show.

I felt Kazuchika Okada and Cody Rhodes put on a good main event. Throughout 2017, Okada has consistently put on the best main events in the world, and he and Cody put another quality title match in the history books. It might not have reached the same levels as Okada’s recent matches with Omega or Shibata, but there were some real moments of brilliants during this, and it was unquestionably one of the best matches I’ve seen Cody have since he left WWE.

The tease of friction between Omega and Rhodes is interesting, and we may be headed toward a leadership battle between both men, which would certainly be compelling viewing and keep Omega away from Okada for a little while. Rhodes sells huge numbers of merch at New Japan shows, so maybe they think they don’t need him associated with Bullet Club to make money off him? Either way, a Rhodes/Omega match could be great fun.

A wonderful first show for NJPW in the United States. The presentation felt strong, and it was good on the eye. Social media chatter suggests a lot of people were trying the company out for the first time during this broadcast, so hopefully that Western fanbase grows significantly more for the company over the next few months. If they want to capitalise on their success, they’ll need to announce more US shows soon, perhaps even scheduling in one big show before the end of the year. Beyond that, this wrestling fan hopes New Japan Pro-Wrestling set their targets on the United Kingdom next…

Match of the Night

Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega



You can watch this entire event at

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