Shinsuke Nakamura VS Yutaka Yoshie
This was a really fun, entertaining skill VS power match. Yoshie used his bulk well and even powered out of a few of Nakamura’s submissions. I think Nakamura even impressed himself when he manage to body-slam the bigger Yoshie. And it was cool watching Nakamura sell Yoshie’s back hand blow like someone blew his head off with a Magnum near the end! Good way to kick off day two of the G-1!
Match Rating: ***1/2
Katsuyori Shibata VS Tadao Yasuda
Yasuda beats Takayama convincingly the previous day and just lays down here for Shibata who reluctantly takes the win.
DAI “DUD” DESU!!!
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan
I’m really trying to be impartial in my reviews, and it’s no secret I’m not big on Tanahashi. But much like the previous day’s match with Nakanishi, this looked kinda sluggish. I’m not sure why, maybe cause Tenzan was still beat up from his match against Akiyama the previous day? Even the end sequence when Tanahashi emulated Yoshinari Ogawa with a plethora of quick cradles, it just didn’t seem to go as smooth due to Tenzan’s bulk. OK match overall.
Jun Akiyama VS Osamu Nishimura
This was just pure GOLD! Akiyama really underestimated Nishimura here, and Mr. Muga even showed some real fire as he traded some big elbow shots with the NOAH ace at one point. It was fun watching Nishimura do more than his standard fare of Muga grappling. I was really expecting a replay of Akiyama/Hase from the 1998 All Japan Tokyo Dome show, but was really surprised by how this one turned out! Great match!
Match Rating: ****
Manabu Nakanishi VS Masahiro Chono
Started off as a good back and forth brawl before they settled down with the mat work. Kinda funny when they both collided in mid-air with jumping knees not once, but twice! One cool spot looked like Chono dodged Nakanishi’s spear, but Nakanishi actually clipped Chono’s knee which made for a wicked mid-air flip for Mr. G-1. Rest of the match from there is Nakanishi attacking Chono’s bad leg. OK match overall.
Match Rating: ***
Yoshihiro Takayama VS Yuji Nagata
This was very reminiscent of their Ultimate Crush IWGP title match, which is good or bad depending how you look at it. Started off with a good exchange of strikes, but when Nagata started the wear down process with his submissions, it just kinda lost my interest till Takayama picked up the pace again. To summarize, it started off good, got slow in the middle, but finished rather nicely.
Match Rating: ***
Josh Barnett & Koji Kanemoto VS Minoru Suzuki & Masayuki Naruse
Special attraction tag match from 8/15/2003. Kanamoto was acting all tough against Suzuki, acting like “you’re a big shooter, but I can take you!” but man, Suzuki sure schooled him in submissions! Naruse seemed to fare better against Barnett than Kanemoto did against Suzuki! This was an OK match, but watching Kanemoto & Naruse going for shoots at each other instead of wrestling makes me even more convinced that NOAH has the best junior heavyweights in the world.
Match Rating: **
Vol.1 of the 2003 G-1 was really good overall. Check back for reviews of Day’s 3 & 4 from Vol.2, Coming Soon!