After a disappointing night five, New Japan looked to rebound on night six of the G1 Climax in Sendai. The crowd was much, much better in this town, which helped tremendously, as opposed to the funeral like atmosphere from night five. That matters a lot, not only for atmosphere, but psychologically as well for the athletes. Remember, these men are live action performers, and they feed off the energy of the crowd.
Some predictable finishes hurt the show a bit. There was no way Okada or Tanahashi, with four points each, were losing. A loss would sink either man, and this was excessively early for that. Maybe they should have saved the Shibata & Goto matchups for later, but these tournaments are a giant puzzle and I don’t envy the people who have to put it together.
1. Block B: Shelton Benjamin (4) vs Kota Ibushi (6) – This was probably the best opener of the tournament, and the best match Shelton has had so far. These two had great chemistry. When Ibushi works early in the show, his matches tend to be repetitive, but he did a bunch of fresh spots here. Shelton was his equal athleticism wise and kept up just fine. Ibushi went for a springboard move and got caught with the Paydirt for the finish. Shelton now has two established finishers, along with the ankle lock. Great match, good action. ***1/4
2. Block B: Karl Anderson (6) vs Toru Yano (2) – Anderson attacked Yano before the bell, stole his robe, and mocked the RVD style chant that he does. Anderson dominated the meat of the match with some boring brawling. Yano removed the turnbuckle pad for the sixth straight night. I wasn’t really in the mood for this shit after Shelton & Kota tore it up in the opener. Yano used the ref to creatively block the Stun Gun, then hit a low blow and scored the pin. Didn’t love this. **
3. Block A: Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) vs Tomohiro Ishii (4) – DBS showed Ishii who was boss with some shoulder blocks and BIG APPEAL. Davey continued to work him over with slams & various holds. More BIG APPEAL. Ishii finally turned things around with a vertical suplex that popped the crowd.
Then his chop sequence in the corner until Davey reversed with a running knee and big boot. Ishii hit a lariat and Davey no sold with a flex & a tongue. So Ishii bounced off and hit him again, followed by a German for two. This was men beating each other up. Superplex by Davey for two.
This was men beating each other up. Davey hit his powerbomb but only got two. Top rope superplex by Ishii. Big lariat. Only two. Davey blocked another and hit a Tiger Suplex for a near fall. They were blocking strikes left & right. Davey won it with a sit out powerbomb, which he had been working for most of the match. This was great. ***1/2
4. Block B: Minoru Suzuki (4) vs Yujiro Takahashi (6) – Yujiro had two women with him after being all alone last night. He started to cut a sleazy promo, but Suzuki wasn’t having that shit and kicked him in the face. Then they brawled on the outside.
Remember when Pamela Anderson accompanied Shawn Michaels to the ring at WrestleMania, sat ringside, and looked like she’d rather be literally any place else on earth? Yeah, that was Yujiro’s two strippers. This turned into a nice slugfest, with Yujiro holding his own and fighting off the choke. MiSu hit the Gotch Piledriver and that was that. Good for what it was. Suzuki beat Yujio to the back and made the best disgusted face ever at the two strippers as he ran them off. I died. ***
5. Block A: Lance Archer (4) vs Togi Makabe (4) – With both men sitting at 4 points, this was a big match. I expected big things being positioned last before intermission. Archer hit a huge chokeslam almost immediately. Turned into a slugfest. Archer missed a moonsault. Archer no sold a bunch of lariats, and Makabe no sold big boots, until Archer ended that with a spear. Makabe ducked a short clothesline and hit a German for two. Makabe hit his Spider suplex and followed with the King Kong Knee Drop for the pin. This was good but ended just as it was getting going so it was a little short. A victim of G1 time constraints. **3/4
6. Block B: Tetsuya Naito (6) vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4) – Tenzan has been struggling to keep up all week long. Naito to me is very overrated. So I wasn’t expecting much. And I was right. Pretty basic stuff, nothing wrong with it, but it won’t knock anybody’s socks off. Tenzan hit the moonsault for the win after setting it up with a long Anaconda Vice spot. Whatever. **
7. Block A: Prince Devitt (6) vs Satoshi Kojima (6) – Unlike his partner, Kojima is having one hell of a tournament. Devitt matches have been the expected riot. Fale distracted Kojima on the outside, allowing Devitt to hit a running double ax handle off the apron to take control. Big boo’s for that. Devitt spent a lot of time working over Kojima’s taped up arm. Fale broke up a pin by dragging out the ref, and the madness began. Kojima blasted Devitt in the face with a chair for a big pop. Devitt went through his usual routine, and hit the Bloody Sunday for the win. Nothing special. **3/4
8. Block A: Katsuyori Shibata (6) vs Kazuchika Okada (4) – Shibata went right after him at the bell, but Okada fired back with European uppercuts. Great start. They went to the outside, which kind of killed momentum. Back inside, Shibata was blasting him with kicks.
Okada came back with elbows, with Shibata taunting. Shibata took him down and locked on a figure four. I felt like they were rushing through at this point. Okada was selling the figure four by limping around when he got whipped in the corner. I hope Naito is watching. He stumbled around on the knee, and went up top for the elbow drop. He did the Rainmaker pose, but Shibata shot right back up and won a strike exchange.
This was feeling like the condensed version of what could be an amazing match. Shibata used a Boston Crab, while Okada was screaming what I can only assume were profanity laced taunts as he got to the ropes. Shibata locked in a choke. Crowd was hyped. Okada popped up and hit the high dropkick. He was on fire and went right to the tombstone. Rainmaker setup, I expected Shibata to duck, and he didn’t. They really worked a 30 minute match in 10 minutes. I CAN NOT FUCKING WAIT for the 30 minute version of this. ***3/4
9. Block B: Shinsuke Nakamura (6) vs Yuji Nagata (6) – This was for first place in the block, as the entire field was tied with 6 at this point aside from Yano. This was the opposite of the frantic pace of the previous match, and worked like a typical big show main event, with a good slow build, before getting to the trademark spots. Combing through some research, these men haven’t faced each other as much as you might think, so there was an odd buzz about this in the crowd. In a cool spot late, Nakamura landed on his feet on a German attempt, and kneed Nagata in the back of the skull. Nakaura set up the Boma Ye but got tossed. He hit one off the second turnbuckle, then a traditional, but Nagata kicked out!
He hit one more, and that was it. Good finish to a cool match. ***1/4
10. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) vs Hirooki Goto (8) – I had some internet problems here, so only caught the finishing stretch. I’ll edit this review after I go back and watch it start to finish. The big problem with this match, was like the Okada match, Tanahashi only had four points coming in, so he pretty much had to win because they weren’t going to eliminate him this early. Plus Goto had eight so he could absorb a loss. Crowd was super into it and pulling for Goto without overtly rooting against Tanahashi. Tanahashi won with the HFF, and what I saw was really good. Check back later for a rating. NR
Overall this was a pretty good show. Middle of the pack of the G1 offerings thus far, with really good matches sprinkled in among some skippable stuff. Tanahashi & Okada have made the predictable points comebacks, and we have some seriously congested standings as we head down the home stretch. Hard not to be looking forward to the final three shows, wothich feature some big matchups (Tanhashi vs Okada V, Shibata vs Goto IV, etc).
More action from @SenorLARIATO:
Standings, courtesy @HulkaMatt:
Block A: http://imgur.com/9Wq2idk
Block B: http://imgur.com/EYe8lou
Photo: All rights reserved by _temaki_