With the promise of Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA, New Japan’s gotten a lot of people out of bed early on Saturday morning (or in the States, kept them up very late on Friday night!), so let’s get to it! Day two in the first four-day stretch of the G1 Climax continues now…
#TLDR: A card that looked to be middling, at best, on paper ended up delivering what was promised – some good action, but not very much that would make you want to go out of your way to see this. Togi Makabe and Hiroshi Tanahashi’s main event was just about the match of the night, in a sea of good, but not great matches.
The Full Review: We’re at the Machida Coliseum in Tokyo for some block A action today, and yes, the long weekend is only just getting going! Today’s action doesn’t have as many tantalising matches, but Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA is easily the box-office draw, whilst Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto looks pretty promising too.
As always, we’ve got a four-match undercard full of tag team matches…
KUSHIDA, Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Captain New Japan vs. Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
A nice little eight-man tag to get us going here, and the youngsters have to hold back Captain New Japan from himself. We start with KUSHIDA and Tiger Mask, and KUSHIDA ends the athletic start with a knee to the midsection… before Tiger Mask takes him down with a tiltawhirl backbreaker and leaves him prone for a surfboard from Liger.
KUSHIDA swivels his hips (and somehow blocks a sunset flip from Liger), but an early Hoverboard lock attempt is quickly broken by the ropes. They play a funny sequence where everyone refuses to tag in Captain New Japan… but he tags himself in, and is immediately caught in an arm-wringer by Liger… Tiger… Kojima… before Nakanishi goes flying with an axehandle chop to end it all.
Captain finally tags in Juice Robinson for his fun sequence with Nakanishi, and some more hip swivelling ends his Dusty punches. Nakanishi refuses to be Irish whipped, but Robinson ducks a punch and hits a Yakuza kick, that doesn’t faze him. Manabu calls for the brainbuster, but Robinson hits a back suplex, and then a vertical suplex for a two-count.
An avalanche clothesline rocks Nakanishi, and Robinson calls for a super brainbuster… yeah, that’s not happening. Nakanishi shoves him down, then flies himself with a cross body block. Finlay and Kojima get tagged in, and Finlay eats the rapid-fire chops, before the youngsters run in an quadruple team him. A Finlay roll only gets a two count for young David after the veterans break it up, and after Kojima countered a suplex with a Koji cutter, we got another near-fall.
Captain New Japan broke that up, then missed a double clothesline. Nakanishi powered out of a double-team suplex, and made light work of a suplex to Robinson and Finlay, with the latter ducking a Kojima lariat and rolling him up for a near-fall, before a lariat put paid to Finlay and won the match. Not a fantastic match, but another typically good outing from these guys. ***
YOSHI-HASHI & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Tomoaki Honma & Katsuyori Shibata
Hmm, last night’s main event tagging against each other, after they had a post-show face-off? If this were in America, we’d have that hideous “partners who can’t get along” gimmick.
Shibata’s shoulder is taped up, and they’re already struggling to get along… Honma kicks Shibata in the midsection and tosses him out of the ring, so I guess he’s starting with YOSHI-HASHI. They exchange chops in the middle of the ring, finally decking YOSHI-HASHI with a two-handed chop, then a bodyslam… and yes, he misses a Kokeshi.
Everyone ends up outside as Nakajima lights up Shibata with forearms, whilst Honma gets tossed into the crowd barriers. Shibata gets posted, and that leaves Honma in the wrong corner as Nakajima and YOSHI-HASHI take turns on him. Honma elbows free of a backdrop suplex, but quickly gets kicked to the mat by Nakajima. Some more kicks from Nakajima gets a near-fall, and it’s YOSHI-HASHI in again, but Honma blocks an attempt at the Bunker Buster, before deadlifting him up for a suplex.
Honma refuses to tag out, but Nakajima kicks him into the corner, so Shibata forcibly tags in… and kicks away at Nakajima and YOSHI-HASHI in the opposing corners. Diving dropkicks for all! An abdominal stretch keeps YOSHI-HASHI in check, but Nakajima slides into kick Shibata to break it up… Shibata returns the favour with a Yakuza kick after tagging in Honma, and he lands a Kokeshi after a bulldog from the corner.
Meanwhile, Shibata and Nakajima are brawling on the floor, before Shibata returns to actually help launch Honma into a diving Kokeshi on YOSHI-HASHI for another near-fall. Shibata ducks a PK from Nakajima and locks on a Nagata-like sleeperhold, before YOSHI-HASHI surprises Honma with a roll-up out of an attempted Kokeshi Otoshi for the win. Fun stuff here, and all these guys are facing each other in block B action tomorrow (YOSHI-HASHI/Honma and Shibata/Nakajima). ***¼
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Toru Yano & Gedo
Poor Gedo here, taking one for the team…Yano was responsible for the worst match by far (so far) in this year’s tournament, and I don’t see this being that good.
A little bit of stalling to begin as Yano taunts Omega with the test of strength, and Omega just kicks him in the gut. Yano goes to the ropes and does his “break” spot… infuriating Omega so much he reaches for his broom to try and whack Yano. Gedo comes in and gets his beard yanked by Omega, and we then switch to Takahashi.
Gedo kicks away a back body drop attempt, then drop-toe holds Omega into Takahashi’s crotch for something vaguely homoerotic. Takahashi gets away from a back elbow in the corner, which sets up Omega to crotch Gedo in the ringpost, whilst Yano gets the same treatment across the ring.
Yano gets whipped into the guard rails, and they do our first count-out tease with Gedo beating the count at 19. Takahashi gets a near-fall on Gedo, who then gets choked with Kenny Omega’s shirt. Someone watched BUSHI’s matches!
Gedo blocks being thrown into Takahashi’s boot, then tosses Omega into it and makes the tag out to Yano… and the first thing he does is remove the turnbuckle padding. Why couldn’t he have done that while was waiting for a tag?! Omega leaps into the unprotected turnbuckles, before they take each other down with stereo hair-pulls. Yano pulls down both Omega and Takahashi by the hair, then brings back Gedo for some punches. We get some spots where the referee almost gets bumped, before all four men get tripped in turn by their opponents.
A small package from Gedo nearly wins it, before Takahashi counters a second roll-up with a brainbuster for a two-count. Takahashi turns Gedo inside out with a clothesline, then lands a short DDT for the win. That wasn’t as bad as Yano’s prior match, but I could have done with this being a little shorter. **¾
Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & EVIL vs. Michael Elgin, Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi
The off-on Milano Collection AT angle is back, but Milano just no-sells Naito again… speaking of, we start with Naito and Elgin (yep, they face off tomorrow), but EVIL sneaks into the ring and attacks Elgin from behind. Some very early double teaming is blocked as Elgin instead suplexes both of the Ingobernables, before tossing around BUSHI with ease with rolling gutwrench suplexes.
The two-on-one pays of finally as a kick from EVIL allows Naito to dropkick Elgin low. BUSHI comes in to take down Elgin with a missile dropkick, but I don’t like the masked man’s chances here. Naito comes back in for his legsweep/slingshot dropkick in the corner, and before Elgin blocks a tornado DDT off the ropes, countering with a Falcon Arrow and tagging in Yuji Nagata. EVIL comes in too (yep, they’re facing each other tomorrow as well), and EVIL eats a few kicks to the chest.
A running big boot into the corner staggers EVIL, but he comes back with a swinging neckbreaker for a near-fall. Nagata blocks a Fisherman’s suplex, then kicks away at EVIL some more, then lands a T-bone suplex. In comes Taguchi, who takes down Naito and BUSHI with hip attacks, before completing the set on EVIL. An awkward-looking springboard hip attack gets Taguchi a near-fall on EVIL, and things break down as Elgin turns Naito inside out with a massive big boot.
Taguchi scores a near-fall with a diving leg lariat to EVIL, but his attempt at a Dodon facebuster is blocked. Naito returns for a brief double-team that results in a near-fall, but EVIL gets the win with an STO on Taguchi. Another decent six-man, but having Elgin do the entire first five minutes did little to build up other matches for tomorrow. ***
G1 Climax, Block A: Tama Tonga vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Tama Tonga’s painted up like an evil pumpkin, and he’s wearing another pair of hideous compression tights. This time they have money on them… the exact opposite of his reaction here. SILENCE… and some polite clapping.
Tonga gets a reaction when he attacks Tenzan from behind, and elbows him in the head from the jump start. Tonga’s mocking Mongolian chops gets some cheap heat, whilst Tenzan’s authentic chops in return gets some cheers.
A shoulder block sends Tonga to the mat, but he replies with a back elbow as Tenzan tried to rush him in the corner. They head outside for the usual brawling around ringside, with Tenzan being whipped into the crowd barriers, and they teased Tenzan being counted out, only for him to come back in at 19 after Tonga’d laid into him on the floor.
Tonga keeps getting booed for trying to use Mongolian chops, before he charges Tenzan into the corner with shoulder blocks. Tenzan fights back, and drops Tonga with a suplex for a near-fall. Tama Tonga creeps around the ring to disorient Tenzan, then lands a dropkick, before hitting a spinning reverse DDT for a near-fall.
A back body drop on Tonga almost went awry, as it started out as a flapjack before Tonga flipped. Tenzan went up top and missed a swandive headbutt (well, he sold it like he did, Tonga moved just too late for it to be noticeable). A spinning wheel kick is missed by Tenzan, and Tonga gets a near-fall from it, before landing a spinning draping DDT off the middle ropes for another two-count.
Tenzan gets the Anaconda Vice locked in, before turning it into an Anaconda Buster for a near-fall. From there it was pretty much academic as a moonsault sealed the win to put Tenzan to 2-0… and end ten minutes of purgatory. Tama Tonga took way too much of this match, and it really dragged this down. At least the crowd got into the finish though! **½
G1 Climax, Block A: Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This is a battle between CHAOS stable-mates, and they launch into each other with clotheslines and forearms to get us going. And more forearms. And more. And more… you get the picture!
They switch it into shoulder blocks, before Ishii goes to the headbutts, and then they trade chops back and forth. I’ve not seen it in full, but they look like they’re trying to echo the famous Ishii/Shibata match from this tournament three years ago…
Ishii clotheslines Goto in the corner, and that seems to wake him up, but Ishii shrugged it off and took him down with a forearm smash. After being whipped into the corner, Ishii hit Goto with a clothesline, but Hirooki replied with a spinning wheel kick and a top rope elbow drop for a near-fall. A spot of confusing rope running leads to Ishii taking a clothesline and popping straight-back up, before they strong style their way out of some more clotheslines… and a kick drops Goto to the mat.
Ishii sets up Goto in the corner, and lands a stalling superplex for a near-fall, before some more clotheslines barely budge Goto. A kick gets caught, but Goto finally takes down Ishii by pulling him backwards into a backbreaker. More rapid-fire forearms from Ishii stun Goto, whose discus forearm drops Ishii, before an ushigoroshi attempt is thwarted and met with a headbutt.
Ishii leaps off the ropes and gets caught in a Fireman’s carry – and then yes, the ushigoroshi for a near-fall. A kick to the chest gets Goto another two-count, but Ishii lands another headbutt that sends Goto to the mat and Ishii into the ropes. Another near-fall comes from an Ishii powerbomb with a fold-up pin, before a clothesline turns Goto inside out… for just a count of one!
Goto ducks a clothesline and locks Ishii in a sleeperhold. Ishii pops free but gets another two clotheslines, and kicks out at one from that. Just like earlier! Goto looks for a suplex, but Ishii slips out and takes a headbutt, before a front release suplex sees Ishii dropped onto Goto’s knee. Goto then drops Ishii on the back of the knee with a reverse DDT, before finishing Ishii with the GTR (lariat into a backbreaker) for the win. Fun match, and it was clear they were trying to recapture the magic of Ishii/Shibata from 2013, but this should have been much later in the tournament – both guys beat each other up hard, but it didn’t have the meaning it would have done had it been towards the end of the block stages. ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Naomichi Marufuji
Fale comes out in t-shirt and dress clothes it seems, and yes, he swats down the announcer.
Marufuji isn’t really that much smaller than Fale, and he starts by chopping the big Tongan… who replies with a stiff forearm. Chop, forearm, chop, forearm, and Marufuji switches it up by hitting a big boot and a series of dropkicks to finally send Fale off his feet. A plancha follows from Marufuji, as he takes Fale down to the floor.
Back inside, Fale takes a back elbow in the corner before a clothesline drops Marufuji. We go outside and, yes, there’s an Irish whip into the crowd barrier, as that spot seems to have replaced the count-out tease in terms of being massively overdone. Fale tosses Marufuji into the ringpost, before beating the count-out tease at 19, and Marufuji takes a big back body drop for good measure… and for a near-fall too.
Fale grabs Marufuji by the hair, before whipping him into the corner. Marufuji blocks some charges with a big boot, then lands a missile dropkick that staggers Fale… and then goes for a suplex. That didn’t work. Of course it wouldn’t. However, Marufuji counters the reversal, before switching a Fale superplex into a tornado-style standard suplex.
Double-knees from Marufuji and a kick gets him only a one-count, before a superkick stuns Fale… who then shoves away from a Shiranui attempt. Another superkick and a series of spinning kicks drops Fale to the mat, but he blocks another Shiranui attempt, before dropping Marufuji with a clothesline.
A kick in the corner gets Marufuji some space, but again the Shiranui is blocked and Fale tries to counter with a Bad Luck Fall… but Marufuji slides out. Seriously, try another move, Marufuji! Another superkick is followed up with a step-up knee to the head on Fale. Marufuji blocks an attempted Grenade, but takes a clothesline to the midsection, before a body splash from Fale gets a two-count… Fale goes for, and succeeds with the Grenade and that’s it. A surprise result, and surprisingly not that bad a match. ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: SANADA vs. Kazuchika Okada
The battle of the Vastly Underused TNA Guys here! They start with a lock-up, with Okada pushing SANADA into the ropes, before scoring a shoulder block takedown and then squirming to the ropes to avoid an early Skull End attempt.
Another whip into the barricades follows as they go outside, and SANADA gets a chair – not a folding one, mind you – to thrust into Okada’s midsection. From a Fireman’s carry, Okada gets dropped throat-first across the barricades, and SANADA uses some cable to choke the IWGP champion on the outside as the 20-count finally starts!
Okada gets taken into the corner upon his return as SANADA throws some knees to the midsection, before landing a back elbow after sending Okada into the ropes. SANADA slows the pace down with a rear chinlock, but Okada elbows free and lands a big back body drop to get some space. Okada’s comeback continues with some forearms and a spinning back elbow, before planting SANADA onto his head with a Rob Van Dam-esque DDT.
SANADA lands the dualling leapfrogs before dropkicking Okada outside and quickly following in with a plancha. A springboard dropkick back in is aborted, and Okada counters with a flapjack to take SANADA down. Okada grabs a leapover attempt from SANADA and drills him with the Heavy Rain, but SANADA blocks a Rainmaker attempt and goes for the TKO.
Okada counters the TKO but takes an enziguiri, and then misses a dropkick. SANADA takes too long with the Skull End, and Okada works free, but SANADA drops him with a bridging Tiger suplex for a near-fall. SANADA avoided a tombstone piledriver, and replied with an uppercut to Okada, but a second uppercut was switched into a backslide attempt, and ended with an Okada dropkick.
SANADA ducked a Rainmaker and went for the Skull End, but Okada flipped out and into the tombstone, but SANADA flipped once more and this time locked in the Skull End. Okada looked like he was fading away, but made the ropes. A top rope moonsault was just about avoided by Okada, who got his boots up to avoid a charge in the corner… before meeting a SANADA springboard dropkick with one of his own.
SANADA ducked another Rainmaker, but saw a Skull End reversed into a German suplex and then a lariat for the win. Really flat finish to a match that never really got into a higher gear. Disappointing, I must say. ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: Togi Makabe vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
They start with a lock-up, as Makabe slowly pushes Tanahashi into the ropes for a break. Tanahashi slaps him, to some boos, and then takes down Makabe with an armbar, which he manages to keep applied in-spite of Makabe rolling through.
Makabe clotheslines Tanahashi to the outside, which means yet another whip into the crowd barricade. Back inside, Makabe grounds Tanahashi with a long rear chinlock, which Tanahashi successfully log-rolls his way into the ropes to force the break. An arm wringer sets up Makabe for a hammerlock, as Tanahashi again goes to ground, continually targeting Tanahashi’s healing arm.
Tanahashi fires back with some forearm shots, but Makabe counters and throws some clotheslines of his own, before a flying forearm from Tanahashi takes down the former tag champ. A bodyslam sets up Tanahashi for a move off the top, as he hits a flipping senton bomb for a two-count, before going in for a corner 10-count punch… but Makabe slips out and reverses it!
Tanahashi blocks a German suplex attempt, then uses a Dragon screw to take down Makabe, who responds with a series of clotheslines that rock, but don’t put down Tanahashi. Well, a third clothesline did…
After Tanahashi had rolled onto the apron, Makabe tried to suplex him back in, something which was blocked as Tanahashi instead traded forearms and headbutts. An attempted Dragon Screw in the ropes was thwarted, and finally Makabe suplexed him in, but that was countered mid-move, ending with a strait-jacket German suplex for a near-fall.
Makabe replied with another bridging German for a two-count, before an attempt to put Tanahashi on the top rope went wrong. Tanahashi instead climbed up to the top and was met with a forearm, as Makabe finally went for a spider German superplex, dropping Tanahashi on his head. A King Kong kneedrop followed, and there’s your main event upset! It started slow, but ended up pretty good by the end. ***¾
On paper, I didn’t have high hopes here, and although this wasn’t a bad show, this is one that you really only need to see for the G1 matches. We got our shocks, particularly in a main event as the story of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s stuttering comeback from injury continued, but if you were looking for classic matches here, you’re probably not going to find them.
Block A Standings
Hirooki Goto (2-0, 4pts)
Togi Makabe (2-0, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-0, 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale (1-1, 2pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (1-1, 2pts)
Kazuchika Okada (1-1, 2pts)
SANADA (1-1, 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (0-2, 0 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2, 0pts)
Tama Tonga (0-2, 0 pts)
Block B Standings
EVIL (1-0, 2pts)
Tomoaki Honma (1-0, 2pts)
Yuji Nagata (1-0, 2pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (1-0, 2pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-0, 2pts)
Michael Elgin (0-1, 0pts)
Tetsuya Naito (0-1, 0pts)
Kenny Omega (0-1, 0pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (0-1, 0pts)
Toru Yano (0-1, 0pts)