Since my 2003 G-1 collection covers the entire tour in a total running time of 12 HOURS, I've decided to post my reviews of the shows after I watch each day of the tour. Starting here with the opening day, which had a bit of everything. I'll save my final overall thoughts on the entire set when I get to the end.
Katsuyori Shibata VS Shinsuke Nakamura
Probably the best “wrestling” match I’ve seen from these two, despite the constant return to their trained shoot style. Shibata showed a lot of aggression while Nakamura remained his calm, observant self. One I thing I noticed about Nakamura is he likes to take a beating, but always looks for an opening to get his shots in.
Match Rating: **1/2
Yutaka Yoshie VS Yuji Nagata
This started off rather slow but ended up being really excellent. The really slow pace that started the match was really dull, but when they finally kicked it into gear, You get a really excellent match! Yoshie took some big moves from the NJPW ace, like the top rope Exploder and a barrage of enzuguiris, but kept getting back up for more! One part I didn’t enjoy was Nagata laid out on the floor from a big shot by Yoshie, the referee counts up to 18, and suddenly Nagata springs to life and gets back in the ring, only to again be a lifeless body on the mat! I hate to say it, but Yoshie made this match a lot more fun to watch than Nagata did, and the crowd was way behind Yoshie here.
Match Rating: ****
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Manabu Nakanishi
This looked really sluggish to me. Tanahashi may have started his rise in the ranks, but both just didn’t seem to click that well with Nakanishi. The crowd was into to it, but I thought it was just an OK match with nothing really special, save for the ending when Murakami and Shibata beat down Nakanishi.
Match Rating: **
Osamu Nishimura VS Masahiro Chono
This was fun! I really enjoyed watching Nishimura here, and even Chono was very cautious about every move he made against Mr. Muga. No doubt, Nishimura can be really dangerous if you underestimate him, and he even pulled out some aggression of his own, hitting some big lariats on Chono and even attempted a suicide dive out of the ring! By the time this match was over, and it almost went the 30 minute time limit, Chono was obviously exhausted, but Nishimura was still working on all cylinders! Muga at it’s best!
Match Rating: ***1/2
Tadao Yasuda VS Yoshihiro Takayama
I don’t know what surprised me more, that this match went as long as it did, or that Yasuda actually won a decisive vidtory over the then IWGP/NWF champion! Give credit to Takayama for making this match watchable when he controlled the pace. But it got boring real quick with Yasuda in charge. I didn't like the interference from the Makai members outside either when they ganged up on Takayama. Ending was a bit of a shock like I mentioned above, but the match itself was the worse so far.
Match Rating: **
Jun Akiyama VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Tenzan fought with a lot of brute force in this one, but Akiyama played a smart game! The NOAH ace absorbed a lot of punishment as he played mostly defense against Tenzan’s power moves. Akiyama was in trouble a lot of times near the end of the match due to his cockiness, with the crowd heavily behind Tenzan. But Akiyama proved to be the better man in the end (on this day at least). And if this opening day match was this good, I can’t wait to watch the finals between these two!
Match Rating: ****