Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today’s edition looks at several matches that check all of the above categories as we take a look at Jon Moxley and his matchups in the B Block of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 29.
After defeating Juice Robinson to claim the IWGP United States Championship in his first non-WWE match in eight years, Jon Moxley called his shot. He wanted in on the most prestigious tournament pro wrestling has to offer, he wanted his spot in the 29th edition of the G1 Climax. As was announced a few weeks ago, Jon Moxley got his wish, and in just over a week he’ll make his G1 Climax debut, where he is set to wrestle no shortage of top talent including some real dream matches for the new Death Rider.
For Jon Moxley, his G1 Climax experience begins on July 13th where he’ll take on TAICHI. On July 15th, he faces Jeff Cobb, followed up by a showdown with Tomohiro Ishii on July 19th at Korakuen Hall. On July 24th, Moxley meets Shingo Takagi before moving on to face, perhaps, one of his most anticipated opponents, Tetsuya Naito on July 28th. Moxley kicks off August facing Toru Yano before clashing with Jay White on August 4th in Osaka. Moxley faces Hirooki Goto on August 8th before finishing up his block on August 11th against the only wrestler he’s previously faced, Juice Robinson.
'Moxley has stated that he'll put everything on the line in #g129… anything can happen and likely will'
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) July 2, 2019
Voices of Wrestling recently released a preview of the G1 Climax where they went over each competitor (make sure to check out the LWOPW G1 primer as well) and noted specific matches people should keep an eye on. Here’s what they had to say about the G1 Climax matches for Jon Moxley: “Watch every Jon Moxley match. All of them.”
There you have it. Wise words indeed.
The 33-year-old Jon Moxley has been wrestling for 15 years, first getting his start with Les Thatcher‘s Heartland Wrestling Association. Considered to be a brawler who specializes in hardcore and death matches, Moxley made a career for himself by being a risk-taker and carved out the niche of being willing to do just about anything inside or outside a four-sided ring. While he was called the “Lunatic Fringe” in WWE, it was the gimmick he crafted prior to signing with wrestling’s top company, namely in Combat Zone Wrestling (where he is former two-time world champion) and Dragon Gate USA, that gave Moxley his following. And now, its a gimmick he’s returned to. Adopting the new nickname, “Death Rider,” Moxley, in his short time away from WWE, has already shown fans what they had been missing with the toned-down lunatic/occasional comedy act he embraced for the last seven-plus years.
— Jon Moxley (@JonMoxley) June 4, 2019
In the G1 Climax, Jon Moxley will have a chance to show just how good he can be as he will be stepping in the ring with some of the top names in NJPW and one in Ring of Honor. Since leaving WWE, Moxley has been said by some, to have come back to life, to have rediscovered his passion and purpose.
“Whenever I step in that ring, I’m going to work my ass off,” Moxley said in an interview with NJPW. “The thing I definitely bring to the table is fight and maximum effort…The only thing I can promise is that I will put my life on the line and give maximum effort because I have such respect for these fans.”
Jon Moxley vs TAICHI
Jon Moxley opens up his G1 Climax with a showdown with Suzuki-gun’s TAICHI, who is also making his inaugural appearance in the tournament. That means, whether it’s Moxley or TAICHI, someone is getting their first-ever G1 victory on July 13th.
A 16-year-pro, the 39-year-old TAICHI is a fantastic heel who isn’t above using dirty and underhanded tricks to win his matches. As a result, TAICHI’s matches are normally marred with controversy and less focused on in-ring excellence. That said, the longtime NJPW veteran, when at his technical best, can put on great matches, including most recently against the likes of Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito, two of whom he’ll see again in the B Block. When called upon to deliver big matches such as those, the former two-time NEVER Openweight Champion hasn’t disappointed and with a stage as big as the G1, and sharing a block with noted trickster Toru Yano, it’s likely we’ll see more of the serious TAICHI throughout the tournament. Even so, the Holy Emperor might find himself in need of some sneaky tactics against someone like-minded in Moxley. While Moxley’s NJPW character doesn’t seem the type to rely on tricks to win, he’s still unhinged and dangerous in his own right. Moxley will give TAICHI a run for his money.
Jon Moxley vs Jeff Cobb
After TAICHI, Jon Moxley will take on another G1 Climax first-timer in Jeff Cobb, who is the lone representative from Ring of Honor in this year’s tournament.
Known as “Mr. Athletic,” due to his incredible and sometimes unbelievable abilities for a guy his size (5’10, 262 lbs), the 36-year-old Cobb has been wrestling for 10 years. Getting his start in his native Hawaii, Cobb moved to California in 2012, where his career really began to take off. Debuting for Lucha Underground as Matanza Cueto three years later, Cobb, while under a mask, started to become a well-known name. By 2017, he was literally working everywhere up and down the coast of the U.S. and throughout the world. Then came 2018, Cobb’s breakout year, as he picked up the NEVER Openweight Championship, won the Battle of Los Angeles, and signed with ROH beginning an undefeated singles streak which ended just last weekend. The powerhouse is also the current Pro Wrestling Guerilla World Champion, a title he’s held over 250 days.
So what to expect when he takes on Moxley? Cobb is someone who has shown he can put on a solid match with just about anyone, no matter their size or in-ring style. But Moxley is really a wildcard. Cobb is more technical than brawler so Moxley’s craftiness could play well here against Cobb’s strength advantage.
Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii
Jon Moxley’s first opponent with G1 Climax experience comes against the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii, who is making his seventh consecutive appearance in the tournament.
An absolute tank, the 43-year-old Ishii, continues to deliver hard-hitting and brutal fights in this his 23rd year as a pro wrestler. Debuting in 1996, Ishii’s hard-hitting style matches his persona. His presence is intimidating and when he hits you with one of his vicious strikes, you know you were right to be scared of him. The current NEVER Openweight Champion, in his fifth reign, works with a limited moveset but it doesn’t affect his ability to put on great matches as he is a master of in-ring psychology and incredible at timing, selling and no-selling. A real-life underdog, Ishii plays that role well as the NJPW veteran of 13 years knows how to tell a story with his movements. He’s won 15 titles in his career and has done well in the G1, picking up 10 points three of his last five trips.
But back to Ishii’s intimidation. A guy like Moxley isn’t going to flinch. Think of it almost like how Tetsuya Naito approaches Ishii. No fear, no pretense. Just two guys going incredibly hard at one another to produce a series of classics. Whatever Ishii delivers, Moxley will no doubt return just as forcefully, just as recklessly, and that, that will be a sight to see.
Jon Moxley vs Shingo Takagi
Likely baring the marks of what happens when one gets in the ring with Tomohiro Ishii, Jon Moxley will only have a few days to recover before he meets yet another G1 Climax first-timer, the largely undefeated in NJPW Shingo Takagi.
The 36-year-old Takagi has been wrestling for 14 years and despite being under 210 pounds, he’s very much a powerhouse in the ring. The Los Ingobernables de Japon member, Takagi has really opened up eyes as to how good he is and how aggressive he can be, ever since joining NJPW in 2018. Of course, he only furthered what longtime fans of his work in Dragon Gate (where he’s won 17 titles) already knew. In NJPW, Takagi helped carry an ailing juniors division as he enjoyed an undefeated streak up until Best of the Super Juniors. Takagi swept his block clean but came up short in the final against Will Ospreay, marking his first singles loss in NJPW in almost a full year. A legitimate workhorse, Takagi’s last few juniors matches have all been highly regarded, especially the Ospreay match which received 5.75 stars from Dave Meltzer.
Against heavyweight opponents, Takagi won’t feel out of place at all as, despite his size, he can contend with the best of them. His match against Moxley should be a fun one as both guys are very much offensive wrestlers, not ones to sit around and wait for the action to come to them. Expect a hard-hitting, fast-paced clash where both guys get their share of licks in.
Jon Moxley vs Tetsuya Naito
After taking on Takagi, Jon Moxley moves on to face, perhaps his most anticipated opponent of the G1 Climax, in Tetsuya Naito, who will be making his 10th straight appearance, having won the tournament twice before (2013, 2017). It’s the battle of the United States Champion vs the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, a title match-up never before seen in the G1.
Considered one of the favorites to win his third G1 to finally get his Wrestle Kingdom main event against Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, the 37-year-old Naito, a pro of 13+ years, is undeniably one of NJPW’s top stars. With NJPW his whole career, Naito has won eight belts with the company and has been a fixture at big shows and involved in big storylines and feuds for much of his career. The leader of LIJ, Naito seems to always perform at his best this time of the year. He’s won the G1 Climax twice and reached the finals one other time.
Naito vs Moxley is like yin and yin. In fact, what Naito is in NJPW is all fans could have hoped Moxley could have been in WWE. One thing the two always had in common though, one thing WWE couldn’t tone down in Moxley, was his charisma. Both Moxley and Naito are two incredibly charismatic characters who know who they are and know how to play to the crowd. It’s no surprise then that both became fan favorites in their respective promotions. In some ways, both also got the short end of the stick. Both Moxley and Naito won the top title in their promotions, but many believed they should have achieved more than they did (namely in the world title scene) despite numerous career accolades apiece. Naito vs Moxley is a real dream match and it’s only fitting that it happens in the G1 with both holding gold and both looking for the ultimate opportunity winning the G1 affords.
Jon Moxley vs Toru Yano
While Tetsuya Naito’s character is everything fans wished Dean Ambrose’s was, Toru Yano’s is everything Ambrose, at times, actually was. But it’s not Ambrose who will be facing the B Block’s most veteran G1 Climax performer (13 appearances), it’s Jon Moxley.
The 41-year-old Yano, who began wrestling in 2002, always seems to be in the G1 for comedic relief. Not every match can be a five-star classic after all and Yano is there to provide just a bit of levity in the midst of the more intense and explosive action. Yano has perfected his gimmick over the years and has brought entertainment to his matches as a result. Even in the G1, where he’s picked up fluke wins almost accidentally and lost other matches where he’s had an advantage, such as when he tied up Kota Ibushi’s ankles forcing him to compete that way for an entire match or the numerous times he’s stolen victories over Minoru Suzuki costing him deep runs in the tournament. Overall, Yano has actually almost won as many matches as he’s lost in the G1 so he’s not one who should be taken lightly.
When Moxley faces Yano, we could see a little of the Ambrose character come back out. A much more serious and determined wrestler since leaving WWE, Moxley could be inclined to embrace some antics of his own in this one. It’s not going to be a show-stealer but this could be the most fun match of the tournament if Moxley goes toe-to-toe with Yano on the goofiness scale.
Jon Moxley vs Jay White
After what should be a fun bout with Yano, Jon Moxley moves on to face the cocky, mega heel, Bullet Club’s Jay White, who is making his second appearance in the G1 Climax after picking up 12 points and finishing third in his block a year ago.
The 26-year-old White, who is the second youngest competitor in the field and youngest in the B Block, has been wrestling just six years, but has made a pretty big impact in that time. A graduate of the NJPW Dojo, White is an incredible technical wrestler who relies on storytelling and psychology as well as power moves. He’s also great on the mic. Ever since returning from his ROH excursion in 2018, White has become, perhaps, the top gaijin in the promotion. In fact, his victory over Kenny Omega to win the IWGP United States Championship was almost a symbolic passing of the torch in that way. Aligned with Bullet Club, White has pushed his weight around and showcased his absolute disregard for the rules and honor of NJPW. Newly minted in the main event scene, White is focused on winning the G1 to get a chance to regain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from former stablemate, Kazuchika Okada.
White vs Moxley is a really intriguing matchup because both of these guys are no strangers to bending the rules. Both are also very much mat-based wrestlers who rely less on aerial maneuvers and more on just pure physicality. Moxley vs White could be a real treat as these two purely aggressive and violent wrestlers get their first taste at facing each other.
Jon Moxley vs Hirooki Goto
Moxley’s penultimate B Block match sees him taking on Hirooki Goto, who will be making his 12th appearance in the G1 Climax, having previously won the tournament in his debut appearance in 2008.
The 40-year-old Goto has been wrestling for 15+ years, all of which have been with NJPW. Debuting for the promotion in 2003, Goto has been one of the company’s most solid hands over the course of his career, being someone who could be counted on to always deliver a good match. While the top title has eluded him, despite many attempts, the hard-hitting Goto has won nine titles with the company including the NEVER Opneweight Championship four times. Known for his intensity and consistency, Goto’s track record is pretty solid. He’s won the New Japan Cup twice (and was a finalist three other times), the World Tag League twice and the G1 once, while also finishing as runner-up in 2016.
Moxley vs Goto is another one of those matches that has the potential to be really good. Both guys can deliver in the ring and while there shouldn’t be expectations for a five-star extravaganza, these two have the ability and skill set to create a compelling 10-15 minute bout.
Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson
It is perhaps only fitting that Jon Moxley’s B Block journey and likely G1, ends against the man who ushered him into NJPW, the man he took the US title from, Juice Robinson. He also just so happens to be the only person Moxley has faced before, both in Florida Championship Wrestling/NXT and NJPW.
Preparing to enter his second G1, the 30-year-old Juice Robinson said it best recently when he noted that CJ Parker, his WWE/NXT character was dead. Since leaving WWE developmental in 2015, Robinson has found a home with NJPW and has only continued to improve in his time there. A graduate of the NJPW Dojo, Robinson has credited his time there with why he was able to blossom into the performer he is today. And that performer is one whois an incredibly passionate and entertaining character who has showcased the in-ring skills to match. Now, an 11-year pro, Robinson has shared the ring and gone shot for shot with some of the best NJPW has to offer. Truthfully, he almost belongs in that category himself. At the very least, the two-time US champ is certainly one of their top gaijins and top babyfaces and is poised to have tremendous success as he continues to improve in his journey.
Historically, the G1 is more than just a tournament of top wrestlers facing each other. It’s about advancing the narratives and maybe even creating new ones. Moxley vs Robinson is already in motion. Whether this match holds any bearing on who wins the B Block or not, Robinson picking up a win here puts him back in the hunt for the U.S. title. The two wrestled a pretty intense, bloody, weapon-filled battle the last time out, garnering a 4.5 star rating. The rematch might not be as destructive but with Robinson focused and Moxley looking to impress in his debut, there’s no reason to think this rematch won’t be as good as the first encounter.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Make sure to watch all the action from G1 Climax 29 on NJPW World.