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Opinion

Abe’s New Japan G1 Climax Watch Guide (Part 1)

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G1 Climax 28 Logo

Two weekends ago, pro wrestling’s biggest and most critically-acclaimed tournament, the G1 Climax, kicked off.  The G1 is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual summer tournament that decides who will headline Wrestle Kingdom in January.  The pool is comprised of twenty of NJPW’s best which usually leads to the most exciting matches you’ll see all year.  You can watch them by signing up over at njpwworld.com.  I assure you it’s worth the subscription.

I’ll give you a quick run-down if you are new to the product.  Wrestle Kingdom is their biggest show of the year so this is like the Royal Rumble except it lasts a month.  The talent pool is divided into two separate blocks of 10 competitors each.  It’s a round robin style tournament so each wrestler will have at least 9 matches (one match against every man in their block).  A win is 2 points, a loss is 0 points, and each man is awarded 1 point in the event of a 30 minute time-limit draw.  The competitor with the most points in the A Block and B Block will face each other on August 12 to determine the winner.  If you want the an in-depth analysis of every night of G1 action, check out the articles by The Chairshot’s Andrew Balaz and Mathew Sarpraicone.

I understand that it’s A LOT of wrestling.  The most hardcore fans will struggle to find time for even half the matches.  The purpose of this guide is to give you the most efficient viewing experience possible.  Every week of the tournament I’ll be listing the matches I think every fan would enjoy.  I’ve decided to categorize them by Storytelling Matches, Character Matches, and Quality Matches.  Storytelling matches are matches that incorporate a current or past angle into a match, Character matches will help you become invested in certain wrestlers, and Quality matches are all of the above.  These are essentially the best the product can give you, in my opinion.  This first part will cover Night 1 (7/14) through Night 8 (7/26).

Storytelling Matches

  • Hangman Page v. Bad Luck Fale (N1, 7/14)
  • Jay White v. Kazuchika Okada (N1, 7/14)
  • Kazuchika Okada v. Bad Luck Fale (N3, 7/16)
  • Jay White v. Hiroshi Tanahashi (N3, 7/16)
  • Hirooki Goto v. Kenny Omega (N4, 7/19)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Bad Luck Fale  (N5, 7/20)
  • Tama Tonga v. Kenny Omega (N6, 7/21)
  • Tama Tonga v. Tetsuya Naito (N8, 7/26)
  • Juice Robinson v. Kenny Omega (N8, 7/26)

You may notice the frequency of the Bullet Club on this list.  If you are unaware, that’s because the BC underwent a transformation in San Francisco when the Tongan sect of the faction turned on the rest of the group, forming The Firing Squad.  Since most of the BC was bordering as a babyface faction in recent memory, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Bad Luck Fale decided to split and go back to their roots.  They’ve essentially hijacked the G1 tournament.  They’ll make a statement at all costs, especially against their former Bullet Club stablemates.  I honestly got chills when Hangman was walking down the aisle to confront Fale for the first time.  Speaking of making a statement, Tama made sure to take a shot at Roman Reigns and their Twitter beef before his match against Naito which was fantastic.  Something similar is happening in CHAOS.  When Jay White joined as the only heel in the faction back in January, he promised that he would face Okada one day and claim CHAOS as his own.  After his quest for dominance, he met Tanahashi in a Wrestle Kingdom rematch.  To top it off, we got to see a rematch of the 2016 G1 Finals when Kenny Omega and Hirooki Goto squared off as two different men this time around.  Most recently, Kenny and Juice had their rematch of last year’s meeting where Juice shocked the world.  This time, both men had lingering injuries to worry about.

Character Matches

  • Minoru Suzuki v. Hiroshi Tanahashi (N1, 7/14)
  • Toru Yano v. Tomohiro Ishii (N2, 7/15)
  • Minoru Suzuki v. YOSHI-HASHI (N5, 7/20)
  • Toru Yano v. Kota Ibushi (N6, 7/21)
  • Juice Robinson v. Tetsuya Naito (N6, 7/21)
  • YOSHI-HASHI v. Michael Elgin (N7, 7/22)
  • Bad Luck Fale v. EVIL (N7, 7/22)

Toru Yano is going to be plastered all over my watch guides.  Few leave me more entertained when he steps between the ropes.  He’s the type of comedic relief perfect for these long tournaments when every match needs a change of pace.  Many of you know Suzuki is the ultimate sadist so his matches against fan favorite Tanahashi, and ultimate underdog, Yoshi-Hashi were the perfect complements to his style.  Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero were really emphasizing Yoshi-Hashi’s lack of success in his bout with Elgin so it was really easy to get invested and root for him in that one.  Juice and Naito were originally going to be on my list of quality matches but the heel work and fighting spirit displayed in the match was too good to overlook.  EVIL brought Bad Luck Fale and the rest of the Bullet Club over to this part of the watch list because he was doing a really good job at handling the numbers disadvantage.  LIJ are technically supposed to be heels most of the time but it was refreshing to see EVIL work as the clear babyface in his matchup against Fale.

Quality Matches

  • Zack Sabre Jr. v. Kota Ibushi (N2, 7/15)
  • Tetsuta Naito v. Kenny Omega (N2, 7/15)
  • Zack Sabre Jr. v. Toru Yano (N4, 7/19)
  • Kota Ibushi v. Juice Robinson (N4, 7/19)
  • Zack Sabre Jr. v. SANADA (N6, 7/21)
  • Hirooki Goto v. Tomohiro Ishii (N6, 7/21)
  • SANADA v. Kota Ibushi (N8, 7/26)

Zack Sabre Jr. keeps coming up for a reason.  ZSJ is truly at the top of his game.  He has a very distinct in-ring style yet makes it new and interesting with every one of his opponents.  He would have been a sneaky favorite of mine to make a run if he didn’t win the NJ Cup earlier this year.  Kota and Juice also continue to stand out in each of their matches just as I expected.  We were treated to the rematch of last year’s finals early as Kenny and Naito put together a hot one.  Both guys are accustomed to lengthy main event style matches but the 30 minute limit forced them to go all-out from the get-go.  Goto vs. Ishii and Sanada vs. Kota Ibushi were probably my two favorite matches of the tournament so far.  Those are just four guys that are masters in the art of wrestling and always know how to create a main-event level match.

Standings As of 7/26

A Block

  1. Jay White (6 points)
  2. Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points)
  3. EVIL (6 points)
  4. Kazuchika Okada (4 points)
  5. Togi Makabe (4 points)
  6. Michael Elgin (4 points)
  7. Minoru Suzuki (4 points)
  8. Hangman Page (2 points)
  9. Bad Luck Fale (2 points)
  10. YOSHI-HASHI (2 points)

B Block

  1. Kenny Omega (8 points)
  2. Tetsuya Naito (6 points)
  3. SANADA (6 points)
  4. Kota Ibushi (4 points)
  5. Zack Sabre Jr. (4 points)
  6. Tomohiro Ishii (4 points)
  7. Hirooki Goto (4 points)
  8. Tama Tonga (2 points)
  9. Toru Yano (2 points)
  10. Juice Robinson (0 points)

What’s great about the G1 is that even the guys staring down 2 points or less have still put together great matches.  A lot of them have a decent shot to get on a roll too.  For example, I didn’t expect Okada, Suzuki, Fale, and Tama to be stuck at 2 points after three matches.  I also don’t think many expected Jay White to get off to a 3-0 start.  Juice Robinson is the US Heavyweight Champion and has started 0-4 so it looks like they’re going to continue the rhetoric that he’s a “streaky” fighter.  Tama and Fale have taken multiple DQ losses which are rare so I see them shaking things up and coming back strong, especially since they’re at the center of the freshest storyline.  I understand that their main objective is to make a statement but I think the best way to do that is to win against the best competition.  It’s working for Jay White so far.  Okada is poised to go on a furious tear.  He’s the clear favorite in his block and already got some of his toughest tasks out of the way.

It was announced this week that Kenny Omega has been wrestling with a fractured heel.  He confirmed it in this week’s episode of Being the Elite and said he plans to finish the tournament regardless.  I watched his match against Juice Robinson with this in mind and it was incredible how much pressure he continued to put on it.  Omega said it hurts to walk but I never would have guessed by watching that match.  If the pain becomes unbearable, it’ll be interesting to see what NJPW decides to do moving forward.  Pulling him from the tournament or compensating by building a story around the injury are the first things that come to mind.  Removing him from the tournament while he’s still undefeated would protect him in more ways than one.

I also wanted to mention how much I’ve loved the commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.  You can tell they have paragraphs of notes for each match.  They’ve kept a tab of the total match time for each competitor so they can reference their long-term durability for the rest of the G1.  They also like to detail all the significant past meetings of the men in each match, especially if they were G1 matches.  During Hiroshi Tanahashi’s match against Hangman Page, they explained that Tana has a poor record against first-time G1 opponents.  Way back on Night 1 Kevin Kelly made a comment about how the ring sounded different after a slam so a board might have gotten knocked loose from a suplex earlier in the match.  He elaborated that this was significant because it could make any future contact with the mat potentially more dangerous.  These are things I never would have thought about.  It’s amazing what a little more insight can do to elevate the prestige of the tournament as a whole.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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