It is WrestleMania season once again!
But it is only the WWE who will be hosting their biggest show of the year but also a joint promotion between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor presents: G1 Supercard!
Combining the names of NJPW's famous tournament the "G1 Climax" along with ROH's "Supercard of Honor" event makes for an exciting show and it certainly is that with the card given to us! From top to bottom it definitely has a chance to be show of the year.
What is more exciting is that we are all going to be witnessing this at an historic venue in itself: Madison Square Garden! This is the first time in decades where a non-WWE wrestling event will take place in the Garden and what better promotions for that to happen other than with NJPW and ROH, whose partnerships have proved fruitful for both promotions along with CMLL and RevPro.
Lots of title matches with other interesting storylines and match ups will take place all in one night. I will breakdown each of them for you and share my personal thoughts, preview, and predictions as well!
So without further ado, let's get straight into the action as we take a look at G1 Supercard!
From: Queens, New York, USA
Weight: 280 lbs.
From: Joliet, Illinois, USA
Weight: 220 lbs.
Faction: Lifeblood (ROH)
Bubba is born and raised in New York so he feels right at home! But I bet you he won't be getting nearly the same love as other hometown heroes usually gets just by the virtue of being himself and his current character status. Speaking of New York, he has held an NYC Street Fight open challenge as a part of the G1 Supercard.
Juice Robinson had the biggest win of his career so far at Wrestle Kingdom 13 when he finally got over Cody Rhodes and took back his IWGP United States Championship! He has already defended the belt successfully twice against Beretta and Bullet Club's Chase Owens. Now we do not know yet if Juice would also be putting his belt on the line as he jut accepted challenge at one of the Road to G1 Supercard shows.
A lot of fans speculated before that it would be Flip Gordon to answer the challenge, being he had a storyline with Bully and all, but as soon as he got cleared from injury he got injured right back so that's unfortunate. Tomohiro Ishii would've been a cool match up as well but I guess he's staying in Japan. As for my personal pick to actually face Bully was Minoru Suzuki, as he is available in the weekend facing Josh Barnett in the main event of Bloodsport but guess we won't be hearing the MSG crowd sing "Kaze Ni Nare" anytime soon which is a shame but Juice is alright.
Match #4 - Singles Match:
Dalton Castle vs. Rush
From: Catalina Island
Weight: 219 lbs.
From: Tala, Jalisco, Mexico
Weight: 225 lbs.
Faction: Los Ingobernables (CMLL)
On one side you have the former ROH World Champion; Dalton Castle. Him defeating Cody Rhodes at Final Battle 2017 is still one of the best title victories in ROH history for me, but unfortunately for him due to injuries stacking up he was not able to have a great run with the belt despite the lengthy 197 day reign.
He has defeated the likes of Punishment Martinez, Marty Scurll, EVIL, and Beer City Bruiser to successfully defend the belt during that time span but the run itself was lackluster and he dropped the belt on a houseshow back to Jay Lethal also involving a match with Cody and Matt Taven last year.
Now Dalton is looking to gain back his momentum fully recovering from the injuries. He just had a good match against Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight Title couple of months ago during the Honor Rising Tour in NJPW, but is now going to face against one of ROH's top prospects and newest stars: Rush.
Like a lot of luchadors, Rush is a member of a famous wrestling family. His father La Bestia del Ring is a veteran and has donned multiple personas over the years. Two of his brothers are also active wrestlers, Mistico II and Dragon Lee, whom the latter will also be having a match on this card.
Since the creation of the stable "Los Ingobernables" founded by La Sombra, who is now Andrade Almas in WWE, Rush became one of the most popular wrestlers in CMLL! He has held numerous titles with the company already and is on the rise to becoming one of the biggest stars in the wrestling scene today since gaining bookings outside of Mexico.
After signing with ROH, Rush is yet to lose a match! We will see if Dalton Castle may be too much for him or his rising momentum will just continue to go through the roof and possibly become a future contender for the World Title down the line.
A victory over a former World Champion would surely do wonders for Rush! He is charismatic and great in the ring, its only a matter of time before he becomes a champion himself.
Match #5 - Women of Honor World Championship:
Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Kelly Klein
From: Yamaguchi, Japan
Weight: 115 lbs.
From: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Weight: 162 lbs.
After 5 defenses across her 251 day reign, Sumie loss the belt in a four corners survival match at Final Battle 2018 exactly a year after the belt was established and the new champion would go on to become Kelly Klein! The woman she defeated to become champion.
But Kelly's reign herself wouldn't be too long as two months later at Bound By Honor, Mayu Iwatani would defeat her and is now the reigning WoH Champion!
With the popularity of Joshi rising again since the days of Aja Kong and Manami Toyota in the 90's, STARDOM became one of the most recognizable promotions today. One of the original members of its roster who is still a part of the company to this day is Mayu Iwatani!
She's been with STARDOM from the beginning and is still going strong today despite her fame rising across other countries. Mayu has held all the possible championships there is to gain in STARDOM including their top prize the World of Stardom Championship.
Kelly Klein on the other hand has been a part of the ROH roster since the Women's Division for the company was established. Unlike Mayu who wrestles in an all around style, Kelly uses her size advantage towards her opponents and is mainly more of the brute side.
Both men are at a tie with 2-2 record against each other. Their match at the Garden would finally break said tie and also the stakes couldn't be any higher as it is also for the Women of Honor Championship!
If ROH really wants to solidify their women's division then Mayu Iwatani is the way to go! She is a great wrestler plus with a lovable personality! What else do you want? Kelly Klein is fine, but there are far better wrestlers out there.
Match #6 - IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship:
Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Dragon Lee vs. Bandido
From: Tala, Jalisco, Mexico
Weight: 165 lbs.
From: Miyagi, Japan
Weight: 165 lbs.
Faction: Bullet Club (NJPW)
From: Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico
Weight: 183 lbs.
Faction: Lifeblood (ROH)
On July 7, 2018 at the G1 Special in San Francisco then champion Hiromu Takahashi unfortunately suffered a neck injury during his title defense against Dragon Lee but was still able to finish the match. Due to the injury though he is forced to get sidelined and the title was since vacated.
A small tournament was then held compromising of the last four champions: Will Ospreay, KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll, and BUSHI which KUSHIDA ended up winning and gaining his 6th title reign with the belt which is tied with second for most along Tiger Mask IV. The record for most reigns belongs of course to Jushin "Thunder" Liger at 11!
Anyway before all of that though, a new junior has joined the ranks of the Bullet Club and that is The New Bone Soldier: Taiji Ishimori! Former junior ace of Pro Wrestling NOAH is now a full pledged member of NJPW. He reached the finals of his first Best of the Super Juniors tournament but was bested by Hiromu.
Wrestle Kingdom 13 however, Ishimori finally got what he wanted and that is to become IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion defeating KUSHIDA in what was the Time Splitter's final match at the Tokyo Dome. Ishimori has already defeated so far former champions Ryusuke Taguchi and the aforementioned Liger.
Now two challengers are going to face him at Madison Square Garden and they are not just any other opponents but two of the very best in lucha libre right now: Dragon Lee and Bandido!
If you're an avid NJPW viewer you're probably familiar of Dragon Lee by this point. He has been a part of many BoSJ Tournaments before and continues to wow the audience especially against his brutal matches against his rival Hiromu which stems all the way back from Hiromu's excursion days in CMLL!
Bandido on the other hand is still fairly new to the scene among the fans as its only in recent years where he really started to make a name for himself in promotions such as The Crash, PWG, and AAA. His most high profile match yet was main eventing All In with Rey Mysterio and Fenix against The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi.
Both Dragon Lee and Bandido have signed with ROH recently and are now looking to challenge for the coveted IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden!
A pick wherein I'm pretty confident. All three men are great but I feel like the only rightful man to dethrone Ishimori right now is none other than Hiromu Takahashi! Please return soon!
Match #7 - IWGP & ROH World Tag-Team Championships:
Four Way Match (Winner Takes All)
Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, Guerrillas of Destiny are the reigning IWGP Tag-Team Champions and currently on their 5th reign with the belt! The sons of Haku have been terrorizing the tag-team division of New Japan for awhile now and with the new era within the Bullet Club, their dominance seems to be unstoppable!
Brody King and PCO, the reigning ROH World Tag-Team Champions are a fairly new team. Since The Elite have left ROH to go on to build their own empire at AEW, Marty Scurll was the only member left at ROH so he went on to create his own faction "Villain Enterprises" compromised of the newest members of the roster; Brody King and PCO. Both men have made a name for themselves in the indies, with PCO gaining a resurgence in his already 3 decade career in wrestling!
EVIL and SANADA, members of Los Ingobernables de Japon in NJPW are two of the greatest wrestlers in New Japan today but with their combined forces as a tag-team, they seem to be unstoppable and thats proven as in a short amount of time they've already held the IWGP Tag-Team Titles twice and winning them at Wrestle Kingdom as well! In their latest run however, GoD managed to pull off an upset victory over them during the Honor Rising tour.
Jay and Mark Briscoe, The Briscoe Brothers are arguably the greatest tag-team in ROH history! They are a record 10x ROH World Tag-Team Champion with a total combined day reign of 1, 117 days and the most defenses as well at 54!
This was originally supposed to be a normal 2v2 match between GoD and The Briscoes, but at ROH's 17th Anniversary event Brody King and PCO defeated the brothers inserting themselves in the match! Former champions Briscoes and EVIL & SANADA want retribution so here we are with a four corners tag-team match which will showcase the finest of tag-team wrestling of both promotions!
If you've read my past posts before this might come as a shocker since I am an LIJ fanboy through and through but I have to get realistic here and think that GoD and Bullet Club's dominance altogether will be highlighted during this event so them winning both the belts would solidify that scenario.
My heart says EVIL & SANADA, but my gut says GoD. I went with my guts, hopefully they don't fail me! Also it would be pretty cool to see Haku in their corner too, the presence of the King adds strength to his sons!
Match #8 - NEVER Openweight & ROH TV Championships:
Will Ospreay (c) vs. Jeff Cobb (c)
From: London, England
Weight: 174 lbs.
Faction: CHAOS (NJPW)
From: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Weight: 263 lbs.
Ever since losing the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship, Will Ospreay has been on the road to be a part of the heavyweights division in NJPW. One of his first steps into officially becoming one is capturing the NEVER Openweight Championship by defeating Kota Ibushi in a hellacious opening match at Wrestle Kingdom 13!
Ospreay has then already defeated Chris Brooks of RevPro and Dalton Castle of ROH for the belt. He also participated in the New Japan Cup Tournament and managed to gain victories over giants such as Bad Luck Fale and Lance Archer, until he ran onto his stable leader Kazuchika Okada in the quarter finals.
While Ospreay has been making a name for himself across different parts of the globe, Jeff Cobb first made an impact in the wrestling scene as a part of the Lucha Underground roster, taking the role of "Matanza" and is a former Lucha Underground Champion himself! One of the most notable members of the LU roster.
Cobb would find continuous success in other American indie promotions primarily for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) where he is currently the reigning PWG World Champion and is also a former PWG World Tag-Team Champion with now NXT wrestler: Matt Riddle. In 2017 he made his New Japan debut teaming up with Michael Elgin for the World Tag League, he returned at the Kizuna Road Show on 2018 wherein he loss a NEVER Openweight Championship bout against then champion Hirooki Goto. Since then Cobb has returned on different times with New Japan, becoming a welcomed commodity.
In his first ever match for Ring of Honor Jeff Cobb shocked the world by defeating Punishment Martinez and becoming ROH World Television Champion! Now he is gonna go head-to-head against Will Ospreay.
Ospreay has been quite the "giant killer" recently but what makes Jeff Cobb different than the other big men Ospreay has faced before is that not only is he big, but he wrestles like a junior heavyweight as well! An exciting match up to say the least, and the winner takes both belts!
I honestly think this match could end up being a draw as both men are really going into this match with some strong momentum! But if I have to pick a single winner, I think its gotta be Jeff Cobb. Any result would satisfy me though as the match will be a surefire instant classic!
Match #9 - RevPro British Heavyweight Championship:
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Zack Sabre Jr.
From: Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England
Weight: 187 lbs.
Faction: Suzuki-Gun (NJPW)
From: Gifu, Japan
Weight: 223 lbs.
It all really began at the 2018 New Japan Cup where the two of them faced off at the finals. At this point ZSJ has already eliminated a lot of the fan favorites such as Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, and SANADA. The pinnacle of fan favorites Tanahashi was no different either and loss to the Submission Master.
ZSJ would go on to face Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, his first opportunity for the belt but would ultimately lose to the Rainmaker.
Tanahashi on the other hand would go on to have a "resurgence" year especially at last year's G1 Climax wherein he won the tournament after a flawless finals match against Kota Ibushi! The two of them gave it their all but Tana's perseverance would give him the victory in the end, gaining his third G1 win!
Finally in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13 Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenny Omega fought vigorously for the coveted IWGP Heavyweight Championship! A battle of ideologies to determine the future of New Japan Pro Wrestling. In the end, The Ace who was deemed as the underdog going into the match took home the belt and his record 8th reign as IWGP Champion! An emotional win for Tana but it all ended in an anti-climatic fashion.
In Tana's first defense as the champion, he loss to "Switchblade" Jay White in what was one of the biggest upset victories ever for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship! He would try to gain the belt back by joining this year's New Japan Cup and even managed to defeat last year's winner Zack Sabre Jr. but loss to SANADA in the semis.
ZSJ has already defended the belt three times against the likes of PAC, Shigehiro Irie, and James Mason. After winning the belt back from Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom 13, he faces his toughest title defense yet against The Ace! Who will go home from MSG as the Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion?
RevPro are not afraid of giving their title to some of the big names in New Japan and having Tanahashi's name in the history of champions would certainly add to what is already a prestigious belt! Being in the same virtue as the likes of Katsuyori Shibata, Tomohiro Ishii, and Minoru Suzuki is a pretty darn good lineage.
Match #10 - IWGP Intercontinental Championship:
Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
From: Tokyo, Japan
Weight: 225 lbs.
Faction: Los Ingobenables de Japon (NJPW)
From: Kagoshima, Japan
Weight: 205 lbs.
Its a story that's been already told before but worth mentioning again, at least the summary of it. The IWGP Intercontinental Championship symbolizes Tetsuya Naito's failure. The failure to become the next main eventer he was seemingly destined to be, but alas the fans did not accept him to be in said role and was kept under the radar. What was ultimately the "punch to the gut" at Wrestle Kingdom 8, the fans voted the Intercontinental Title match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura to be the main event over the IWGP Heavyweight bout between Okada and Naito!
Since then Naito went to a second excursion this time to CMLL to rediscover himself and became "tranquilo" after finding inspiration from Los Ingobernables stable led by La Sombra. Naito initially returned to New Japan as a heel but would slowly turn into a fan favorite and is now arguably the most popular and best selling in terms of merchandise in the entire NJPW roster! Two months ago at WK, Naito defeated Chris Jericho to regain the IC Title he once loathed.
On the other hand you got Kota Ibushi. A man who has all the tools to easily become the top guy; the looks, talent, and charisma! Yet he remained to be a humble man despite all the success he's getting until recently when he announces that he is staying with New Japan even though his bestfriend, Golden Lover, Kenny Omega went on to do his own at AEW. Ibushi remains loyal to his home country and is now determined to be THE guy that he is always destined.
At this year's New Japan Cup, what could easily be the finals was seen in the first round as a match up between these two men took place. Eventually Ibushi would take the victory over Naito, but he would only go as far to the second round losing to Zack Sabre Jr.
With that win, Naito has pushed Ibushi to face him for the title and in the end The Golden Star gave in and the match is set official at Madison Square Garden between two of the most talented wrestlers in the world today!
It could go either way and you won't hear complaints from me but Naito's run with the belt is still pretty early. He only had 1 successful defense so far against Taichi. Ibushi can always bounce back from a loss.
Match #11 - ROH World Championship - 3 Way Ladder:
Jay Lethal (c) vs. Marty Scurll vs. Matt Taven
From: New Hampshire, USA
Weight: 219 lbs.
Faction: The Kingdom (ROH)
From: New Jersey, USA
Weight: 225 lbs.
From: Cambridge, England
Weight: 195 lbs.
Faction: Villain Enterprises (ROH)
Jay Lethal who is the reigning champion, is arguably the best ROH World Champion ever! Going into this match he holds the record for most combined days at 700 days across his only two reigns with the belt! Lethal is the leader of the ROH locker room and has carved out a storied career for himself. From his early days in TNA impersonating some of his favorite legends, to now being a respected champion! When he says he is the greatest first generation wrestler, it's kind of hard to argue.
Matt Taven has slowly made his way onto becoming one of the top heels in ROH today. But he has actually been with the company since 2010 and also worked for partner promotions: NJPW and CMLL wherein he found success there as well. What really put Taven on the map was the creation of his now successful stable: The Kingdom. It all began with Adam Cole but now that he is gone from ROH, Taven is the leader of the group and has led it to the top. He is claiming himself to be the "uncrowned champion" and has had multiple opportunities with the belt before, but this is his biggest match yet at such a high profile scenario in MSG!
Last but not the least we got Marty Scurll. The underdog and the dark horse pick of this whole match! Scurll truly found his footing in the wrestling scene by joining the Bullet Club and turning into The Villain. But ever since his friends left him and went on to create AEW, he was seemingly going to become a man left alone in an island until finding new "friends" in the likes of Brody King and PCO creating "Villain Enterprises", he is now going into the match after proving himself by winning the Survival of the Fittest tournament! Scurll is not shy from facing adversaries before, the biggest match of his career so far since this one was against Kazuchika Okada at All In. He has also experience in the biggest stage, defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in a four corners match.
All three of these men have worked their ways to reach this the highest points of their respective careers so far. This is not going to be any three way match though as the MSG crowd will bear witness to another potentially historic ladder match! The only question now is, who is deserving more to hold ROH's biggest prize?
I am really torn with this one. On one side, Jay Lethal has been heavily promoted in various articles online for being the first non-WWE wrestler to headline an MSG event. Plus with him being a respected veteran and all, it would be a great moment for him to win the title that defined him at the Garden but...
ROH's mistakes in the past must end right here. They should always strike while the iron is hot, THIS is Marty Scurll's time! He has challenged for the belt already before, but this is the biggest match of his career and there is no perfect way to capitalize on The Villain than now.
The pop for him would be astounding and he can prove that he does not need the Bullet Club to solidify himself as one of the top wrestlers in the business today!
Match #12 - IWGP Heavyweight Championship:
Jay White (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
From: Auckland, New Zealand
Weight: 220 lbs.
Faction: Bullet Club (NJPW)
From: Aichi, Japan
Weight: 236 lbs.
Faction: CHAOS (NJPW)
Unlike Naito and Ibushi who have different paths into getting where they are now, "Switchblade" Jay White and "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada have actually a pretty similar arc in their careers.
Both of them trained in the dojo and went on to do excursion in the US, returned to New Japan at the biggest stage at Tokyo Dome, Wrestle Kingdom. With Okada he defeated fellow returning young lion YOSHI-HASHI and would later start his historic rivalry with Hiroshi Tanahashi. Along the way he would make records and become the longest reigning IWGP Champion in history at 720 days! Almost surpassing Kenta Kobashi's historic 735 days reign as GHC Heavyweight Champion of NOAH, the longest World Title run in Puroresu. As for Jay White, after an excursion with ROH, he returned as the Switchblade and faced the aforementioned Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12!
Since then the careers of both men have intertwined especially when Switchblade decided to join CHAOS, the stable led by Okada. He only really joined to infiltrate the faction itself and to cast him a future opportunity for the IWGP Title but alas Okada would lose the belt to Omega and Switchblade would do the inevitable turn on CHAOS and side with Bullet Club bringing Okada's long time manager and mentor: Gedo with him!
What the Bullet Club has done though is create an alliance between CHAOS and Seki-Gun (unaffiliated wrestlers) and the biggest team up of them all is a modern day Mega Powers, the Dream Team between Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi! Once bitter rivals turned into a team with a common foe: Jay White.
It truly was a New Beginning in Osaka when Switchblade pulled an upset and gained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Tanahashi in The Ace's first defense since winning the belt from Kenny at WK13! Now Jay White himself is preparing in his first defense against the man who he always has the numbers on: The Rainmaker who won his second New Japan Cup to finally get to where we at now!
Two young upstarts who tasted success in the early runs of their careers will battle it out potentially at the main event of Madison Square Garden for the coveted IWGP Heavyweight Championship! Will the Cut Throat Era continue to prevail or will The Rainmaker finally get his avenge and become a 5x World Champion?
As much as it pains me to see Okada lose another bout against Switchblade, I think Jay White will have a lengthy run with the belt for quite awhile. Plus I feel they are saving Okada's eventual revenge win over White in Japan. Hey, I wouldn't mind if Okada wins at MSG but I feel the odds are in favor of Switchblade retaining. Either way, should be a great match and they'll top their WK 13 performance!
The Cases for the Greatest series will continue after Mania. If you haven't read any of the past articles yet, check it out here.
Hope you all have a great and fun WrestleMania weekend!
Thanks For Reading.
The name is Super Mastodon. Been a wrestling fan throughout my life, and I share my interest with you here, at the MWC Blog.