Now that the G1 Climax 29 is behind us, it’s time to look at and rank the best matches. Today we’ll be looking at matches 11-20 and like always feel free to tell me how wrong I am and what matches you would put in these spots instead. Let’s get started!
20. Tomohiro Ishii vs Juice Robinson (ENG/JPN)
The unique quality Ishii possesses is that he’s able to get the best out of each opponent. It’s a power that’s unparalleled and it was once again on full display all tournament long. Juice exudes a lot of emotion in his matches which can sometimes come off forced but it’s played perfectly when he’s in there with Ishii. I’m not sure if it’s Ishii’s goal to have the match of the night every night of the G1 but that’s what he does more often than not.
19. Will Ospreay vs EVIL (ENG/JPN)
Proving he belongs in the G1 without a shadow of a doubt, Ospreay came into the tournament for the first time and found a way to gel with each of his opponents. EVIL was able to play strongman while selling Ospreay’s athletic movements seamlessly. His selling of the Oscutter was the best I’d seen to date (Tanahashi has since stole that accolade). These two are perfect opponents. Like Ishii, Ospreay always finds a way to make his matches work.
18. Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay (ENG/JPN)
A rematch of the Wrestle Kingdom 13 bout which saw Ibushi escorted out via stretcher. This had all the crazy trademarks you’d hope to see between these two. Each of their encounters whether it be in singles or tags always feel special. There’s a thick aura of a generational battle every time they step foot in the ring together and we’re lucky to be able to see it as often as we have over the last year.
17. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs KENTA (ENG/JPN)
Unlike KENTA’s match with Okada, this match felt like it had legitimate heat. These two were waving the flags of their rival companies at the same time and to see them in the same ring together was something on another level entirely. The fact that KENTA came out with the win speaks miles and should not be understated. Tanahashi and KENTA were rivals, KENTA came into an NJPW ring and beat him clean. Arguably the most shocking moment of the tournament.
16. Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto (ENG/JPN)
The always reliable hoss battle made its way to the G1 for the fifth year in a row. If you’re not a fan of Goto 364 days of the year, you will always fall in love with him on the night he faces Ishii. These two tear into each other, Ishii takes the big bumps like always and gives Goto the beating he deserves. It’s clobberin’ time every time they’re in the ring together and it never stops being a treat.
15. Jay White vs Shingo Takagi (ENG/JPN)
There isn’t a wrestler more versatile than Shingo Takagi. He can be a bully or an underdog, have a hoss battle or work around the limbs. The man can do anything you ask and that was on full display against White. Shingo masterfully worked around White’s evasive ways, bullied him and yet still found a way to be the babyface. This man should be a major fixture for the future of the company.
14. Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (ENG/JPN)
The legendary rivalry that put New Japan back on the map, both locally and internationally, happened for the first time outside of Japan. Dallas came unglued to see these two work their magic that’s only ever been seen live in Japan over the last seven years. There’s absolute proof that magic exists every time Okada and Tanahashi wrestle and it’s a pairing no one in their right mind would ever grow tired of seeing.
13. Tomohiro Ishii vs Jeff Cobb (ENG/JPN)
Cobb wound up becoming one of the more polarizing figures of the tournament. Many thought his performances were underwhelming but there’s no doubt in my mind that his opening match was his best match and surprise, surprise, it was against Ishii. I believe Cobb had a strong tournament, he worked well against the fellow big boys and this match is an example of his best big boy performance. I’ll say it again, Ishii brings the best out of everybody.
12. Kota Ibushi vs Jay White (ENG/JPN)
The G1 Climax 29 final came down to these two; the ultimate good against the ultimate evil. Evil, not EVIL. Fed up with White’s month long escapade of running interference, the referee threw Bullet Club out before the match. Of course that didn’t stop Gedo from eventually running in but it was a well needed story arc for those who had watched White win at all costs throughout the tournament. Ibushi’s pure babyface power, trying his best to overcome all the odds and finally reaching the G1 Climax win was a nice payoff to all the shenanigans we were forced to endure over the course of the last month. The crowd goes home satisfied that the good guy came out on top. This is how wrestling should be.
11. Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi (ENGENGENG/JPN)
Have I mentioned that Ishii gets the best out of each of his opponents? The day before their match, Ishii challenged Taichi to drop all of the shenanigans and fight him clean. That’s exactly what Taichi did. There was no stalling, he attacked Ishii from the jump and beat him in what can almost be called a squash match. Taichi defeated Ishii clean in the middle, under twelve minutes and in the process finished higher than Ishii in the final standings due to tiebreaker rules. An insane, career-defining moment for Taichi as the crowd rallied for him even when he was on top. One of the best moments of the entire tournament.