New Japan G1 Climax 1991, Day 1
review by Kevin Wilson

Date: August 7th, 1991
Location:  Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Attendance:  Unknown

Ah, the first night of the first ever G1 Climax, does it get any more special then that? No, it doesn't. Most of these matches aren't shown in full but two of them are, and I really enjoy watching the future stars of New Japan (Mutoh, Chono, and Hashimoto) wrestle when they were still young and still physically healthy. The additions of Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow helps as well of course, and the two minute clipped match is just an extra bonus. Here is the full match list for the review:

- Keiji Mutoh vs. Scott Norton
- Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Shinya Hashimoto
- Masahiro Chono vs. Riki Choshu
- Big Van Vader vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
- El Gigante and Brian Pillman vs. Kengo Kimura and Osamu Kido

As I mentioned, this was shown as a 1 hour special so obviously they couldn't have the full matches of all the G1 Climax matches. But the bulk of the G1 Climax matches are shown while the last match is joined very late in progress. Let's get started.

Keiji Mutoh vs. Scott Norton
Tie-up, and Norton pushes Mutoh down to the mat. Mutoh gets back up, tie-up, and again Norton shoves Mutoh off his feet. A third tie-up, side headlock by Mutoh, Norton Irish whips out of it and the two collide with neither going down. Mutoh goes off the ropes again, leapfrogs over Norton and delivers a dropkick. Side headlock takedown by Mutoh, Norton struggles to his feet and Irish whips out of it, but Mutoh hits a back kick and takes Norton back to the mat with a side headlock takedown. Norton gets back up while in the hold and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Mutoh reverses it with a side headlock takedown. Back up, again Norton goes for a backdrop suplex but it has the same result. Norton gets to his feet again and tries to Irish whip out of the hold, but Mutoh keeps it locked in. Finally Norton succeeds and he hits Mutoh with the Stun Gun. Norton picks up Mutoh and delivers a short armed lariat. Norton picks up Mutoh again and hits a military press slam, dropping Mutoh onto the top rope. Mutoh rolls out of the ring but Norton follows him out, delivering another lariat. Norton then picks up Mutoh and drops him into the guard rail before returning to the ring. Mutoh returns after a moment but Norton grabs him as he gets on the apron and snaps his neck on the top rope. Norton finally pulls Mutoh back in the ring and hits a neckbreaker. Neck crank by Norton but Mutoh gets a hand on the ropes. Another short armed lariat by Norton, cover, but it gets a two count. Norton picks up Mutoh and the two trade blows, which Norton gets the better of. Jawbreaker by Norton and he punches Mutoh into the corner before choking him on the second rope. Backbreaker by Norton and he hits an elbow drop. Norton applies a reverse chinlock to Mutoh, Irish whip, but Mutoh rolls out of the way of the lariat and then ducks when Norton charges him, sending Norton flying out of the ring. Mutoh then goes off the far ropes and hits a crazy corkscrew plancha suicida onto Norton. Mutoh picks up Norton outside the ring, Irish whip into the railing and he delivers the cartwheel back elbow strike. Mutoh rolls Norton back into the ring, Mutoh goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Cover, but Norton kicks out. Mutoh goes up top again and hits a flying crossbody, cover, but again it gets a two. Snapmare by Mutoh, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault, cover, and... it only gets a two count! The count was so close some fans started throwing streamers. Mutoh slams Norton and goes to the top turnbuckle again, Norton rolls out of the way of the second moonsault attempt, Mutoh lands on his feet but Norton knocks him down with a lariat. Both men slowly get up, elbow by Mutoh and he goes off the ropes, delivering a jumping forearm. Mutoh goes off the ropes again but Norton catches him with a powerslam for the three count! Your winner: Scott Norton

Match Thoughts: Norton was still pretty green at this point but he was being pushed by New Japan and also picked up a pinfall over Mutoh a few months earlier. Not a great match but definitely solid, it just needed more time. The first half of the match would have fit in perfectly in a 20 minute match or longer, and I enjoyed Mutoh doing something a little different with the side headlock but it went on too long considering the overall length of the match. Once that was done business really picked up, as Norton was throwing bombs and Mutoh was using his crazy flying offense trying to pick up the win. There were a few small communication problems and I don't think they planned to make Mutoh's pin attempt so close it pissed off the fans, but other then that it was a good match. Score: 6.0

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Shinya Hashimoto
JIP, as Bigelow hammers on Hashimoto's back. Bigelow knocks Hashimoto into the corner but Hashimoto chops him back and the two trade blows. Body slam by Hashimoto, he goes off the ropes and delivers an elbow drop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Hashimoto applies a neck grip onto Bigelow but releases the hold and stomps Bigelow in the back. Bigelow gets back up and headbutts Hashimoto in the ribs repeatedly, cover, but it gets a two count. Another cover, but again it gets two. More headbutts by Bigelow but Hashimoto gets back to his feet, Bigelow pushes Hashimoto against the ropes and chops him in the chest. Vertical suplex by Bigelow, cover, but Hashimoto kicks out. Back up, Irish whip by Bigelow from the corner but Hashimoto moves when Bigelow runs in and kicks him in the face. Bigelow catches the second kick however, pushes Hashimoto to the mat and headbutts him in the groin. Cover, but it gets two. Bigelow picks up Hashimoto, slams him by the ropes, he goes out to the apron but Hashimoto moves out of the way of the slingshot splash. Kicks to the chest by Hashimoto and he hits a DDT. Bigelow gets back up, but Hashimoto hits him with a spinning heel kick to the back of the head. Hashimoto picks up Bigelow and delivers a second DDT, cover, and Hashimoto picks up the three count. Your winner: Shinya Hashimoto

Match Thoughts: Very clipped, but not that great. Hashimoto beating down Bigelow and then letting him get back up so that Bigelow could take over on offense didn't make a lot of sense. The slingshot move by Bigelow also wouldn't have done much even if Hashimoto didn't move. The end was pretty sudden, but at least it took three quick solid moves to keep him down long enough for the three count. We didn't see much but what we saw was disappointing. Score: N/A

Masahiro Chono vs. Riki Choshu
Tie-up to start, Choshu pushes Chono into the corner but he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, Choshu gets Chono against the ropes, Chono switches positions with him but he also gives a clean break. Tie-up, Choshu pushes Chono against the side ropes but this time kicks him in the stomach before backing off. Kick by Chono and he stomps Choshu but Choshu returns to his feet. Snapmare by Choshu and he stomps Chono in the chest. Another snapmare and he applies a headscissors. Chono manages to get out of it and returns to his feet, stomping Choshu in the head. Snapmare by Chono and he applies a headscissors of his own. Choshu rolls to the ropes and puts his leg on the bottom rope to force the break. Takedown by Chono and he applies the Scorpion Deathlock, but Choshu quickly gets to the ropes and rolls out of the ring once the hold is broken. Choshu returns after a moment, but Chono kicks him as he gets in the ring. Punches by Chono, he goes off the ropes and boots Choshu in the face. Chono picks up Choshu and hits a Yakuza Kick, but Choshu fires back with a lariat. Kicks to the stomach by Choshu, he goes off the ropes and delivers a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Choshu locks in the Scorpion Deathlock but Chono makes it to the ropes. Choshu picks up Chono and hits a vertical suplex, Chono slowly gets up and Choshu connects with a lariat for another two count. Reverse chinlock by Choshu but he releases it so that he can stomp Chono in the chest. Clubbing blow by Choshu and he kicks Chono in the stomach. Choshu goes off the ropes but Chono avoids the lariat and knees Choshu in the stomach. Chono picks up Choshu and hits a neckbreaker, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle but Choshu recovers and joins him up top. Superplex by Choshu, he goes off the ropes but Chono catches him with a dropkick. Yakuza Kick by Chono and he hits Choshu with a second one. Choshu falls out to the floor, Chono goes out to the apron and sails out onto him with a diving shoulder block. Choshu returns on his own power, scoop slam by Chono in the ring and he goes up to the top turnbuckle. Diving shoulder block by Chono, he picks up Choshu and applies the Octopus Hold. He can't keep the hold locked in however, and Choshu drops him with a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Choshu picks up Chono and delivers a second backdrop suplex, cover, but Chono gets his foot on the bottom rope. Punches by Choshu and he goes for an enzigieri, but Chono blocks it. Chono then hits a pair of enzigieris of his own and locks on the STF, but Choshu is too close to the ropes and forces the back. Chono drags Choshu back to the middle of the ring and locks in the STF again, but again Choshu crawls to the ropes and gets the break. Kick by Chono and he applies the STF again, but this time Choshu isn't able to get out of it and he submits! Your winner: Masahiro Chono

Match Thoughts: Not a bad match. The part I found amusing is that the crowd clearly didn't think Chono had a chance of winning, as they didn't react to the STF attempts until Choshu tapped to the last one. Course Choshu was higher on the pecking order then Chono which is why, but I was still surprised as they were chanting Chono's name at various times and yet didn't really think he could pull it out. The match had a few overkill parts with the Yakuza Kicks and Lariats but nothing overly offensive, and Chono putting Choshu in the Scorpion Deathlock was fun. Still not a lot to it though, no real story or way to pull a fan into the match. Decent, but not what these two are capable of on normal circumstances. Score: 5.5

Big Van Vader vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
An armdrag by Fujinami starts the match, followed by another armdrag and a dropkick. Lariat by Fujinami, and Vader rolls out of the ring to re-group. Vader chucks a chair into the ring, and we get a small clip as Vader is now beating Fujinami in the corner. Irish whip by Vader and he delivers a Vader Attack. Vader picks up Fujinami, Irish whip, and he hits another Vader Attack, sending Fujinami out of the ring. Vader joins Fujinami outside and rams him back-first into the ring post before slamming him to the floor. Vader returns to the ring and Fujinami slowly follows, and Vader drops him with a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Vader applies a stretch hold on the mat and clubs Fujinami in the face. Vader applies the Dragon Sleeper to Fujinami, but lets it go after a moment and goes for a Scorpion Deathlock, but Fujinami blocks it. Vader picks up Fujinami but Fujinami fights back with punches to the stomach and an enzigieri. Seated armbar by Fujinami but Vader knocks him off. Irish whip by Vader and he levels Fujinami with a lariat. Vader picks up Fujinami and delivers a falling body slam, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Vader from the corner but Fujinami moves when he charges in and hits a body slam. Fujinami goes up to the top turnbuckle but Vader catches him when he jumps off and slams him to the mat. Running body splash by Vader, cover, but it gets a two count. Vader waits for Fujinami to get up and hits a lariat, but Fujinami doesn't go down. A second one does the trick however, cover, but Fujinami kicks out at two. Vader goes for a third, but Fujinami blocks it and applies a backslide for the three count! Your winner: Tatsumi Fujinami

Match Thoughts: Ah, now this was fun.... big Vader beating down the old man only for Fujinami to get a quick victory over the monster. Backslides and the like were Vader's weakness, he was just too big to get out of flash pins. He did everything he could to put away Fujinami, even stealing his Dragon Sleeper and leveling him with several lariats, but Fujinami wouldn't stay down. Sure, it was only a 10 minute match that we saw 7 minutes of, but it was definitely entertaining. Score: 7.5

El Gigante and Brian Pillman vs. Kengo Kimura and Osamu Kido
JIP, with Pillman battling Kimura. Chops by Pillman but Kimura returns fire. Irish whip by Kimura but Pillman ducks the lariat and delivers a spinning heel kick. He dropkicks Kido off the apron, but when he goes off the ropes Kimura catches him with a slam. Kimura tags in Kido, and Kido delivers a dropkick. Kimura is tagged back in, double Irish whip, but Pillman hits a double dropkick and tags in El Gigante. El Gigante lariats both Kimura and Kido, Irish whip to Kido and he boots him out of the ring. Irish whip by El Gigante onto Kimura and he applies the claw, forcing Kimura to submit! Your winners: El Gigante and Brian Pillman

Match Thoughts: Not sure on the date on this one, probably the same night. Very clipped obviously and an odd way to end the show, the main point I guess was to get El Gigante over as a force to be reckoned with. Score: N/A

Final Thoughts:

A pretty lackluster hour, which is a shame as the pairings were all fantastic. With only two full matches they really had to deliver, and while Mutoh/Norton and Vader/Fujinami were both really fun they weren't enough to justify buying the event and there are better matches from those pairings at other points in 1991. Still historic though and I'd recommend it to someone collecting all the G1 Climaxes, but not to the average fan.

Not Recommended

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review completed 12/2/08