Hope that long layoff didn’t kill your buzz from a stellar NJPW G1 Climax 25 opening night in Hokkaido. If you haven’t seen Night 1 yet, get yourself on NJPW World and watch it now, alternatively you can check out our written and video coverage of the event.
With the layoff finally over, it’s time to talk about Night 2, the opening night for the B Block of the 25th G1 Climax. The show, emanating from Twin Messe Shizuoka, airs live on NJPW World at 5:30 a.m. EST for us in the United States, 18:30 in Japan. The live viewing does have a caveat though, it will not be a full-on production like Night 1 or many of the other live NJPW World airings. While there could be an issue in translation, Thursday morning’s show will be (as translated by Google): “the delivery of a fixed camera.”
For NJPW World veterans, you know this means, the one-camera shows from smaller arenas featuring no commentary, no close-ups — a bare-bones production. Below is an example of the camera shot from a previous single-cam show:
For some, myself included, it’s an easier watch as you can more easily focus on the action inside the ring. Others may be turned off by the lack of presentation. Regardless, this is the kickoff of the tournament for the B Block participants and, on paper, should be an above average show. Let’s break down the card and what you should look for in each of the matches. We’ll have coverage on the website including a review from Rob McCarron immediately following the show, discussions on our forums and, of course, the continuation of our G1 Climax 25 Pick’Em contest.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 3-2 Satoshi Kojima
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 24 – Night 2 (July 23, 2014) Tomohiro Ishii def. Satoshi Kojima
- What to Watch For: Those used to see Kojima simply as one-half of TenKoji are in for a treat as Kojima is an all-time great and still one of the best pound-for-pound performers on the New Japan roster. On the other end, Tomohiro Ishii comes into the 25th G1 Climax with a lot of questions — he definitively lost a feud and his NEVER Openweight championship to Togi Makabe, is this New Japan preparing him for bigger and better things or is Ishii taking a step backwards? How this match is booked could give us a peek into the future. Regardless of his stature, Ishii almost always delivers at G1 and this should be no different. Look for this to be high on the list for Match of the Night.
Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 13-1 Hirooki Goto
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 24 – Night 2 (July 23, 2014) Hirooki Goto def. Yujiro Takahashi
- What to Watch For: Goto is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion staking his claim to the championship and his role in the company with a statement win against Shinsuke Nakamura at Dominion. Tonight he’ll do battle with Bullet Club lower rung member Yujiro Takahashi. Like 93% of their previous encounters, this one should easily go Goto’s way.
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoaki Honma
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 2-0 Yuji Nagata
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 24 – Night 2 (July 23, 2014) Yuji Nagata def. Tomoaki Honma
- What to Watch For: If this is your first Tomoaki Honma in the G1 Climax tournament experience, welcome… you’re going to want to strap in because it’ll be a wild ride. As you may know, Honma doesn’t win many singles matches. This year should be no exception as it’s likely Honma repeats his effort last year and doesn’t win a single match. At best, I could see him winning his final match of the tournament. With that said, it doesn’t matter. The crowd will still be into every single nearfall, wanting to be a part of that eventual win if and when it ever occurs. Nagata needs no introduction, he’s a New Japan legend and should pick up the easy win here. He’s a guy I’m keeping an eye on throughout this entire tournament. He’s stated in interviews (in-character) that he’s felt slighted in New Japan as of late, hasn’t gotten the opportunities he feels he deserves, etc. Putting on a historic performance throughout the tournament could launch him back into the upper-tier of NJPW, even if only for “one last run”.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): N/A
- Last Singles Match: N/A
- What to Watch For: While these two haven’t had a single match prior to this, they did face off in a triple threat match at the Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling co-promoted Global Wars show. The match was fantastic but that doesn’t give us a clear idea how Thursday’s match will play out. Elgin, whether you love or hate him, is going to be giving it 110% all tournament. Being in Japan, in this tournament, working for New Japan has long been a dream of his, he’s not going to squander it. Okada, what needs to be said? He’s the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion and while champions in the past HAVE won the tournament, the new format (G1 winner gets a title shot briefcase for Wrestle Kingdom) seems to indicate those days are over. Okada will put in a great effort throughout the tournament and still win a majority of his matches, but upsets are a possibility. I don’t think we see one here, but expect a more competitive than assumed match.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 3-3
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 23 – Night 1 (August 1, 2013) Karl Anderson def. Shinsuke Nakamura
- What to Watch For: The main event of Night 2 — international superstar Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Bullet Club charter member Karl Anderson. The last time these two met, Anderson was on an upward trajectory in New Japan having just made it to the G1 Climax finals the year prior while setting up for his stellar run in the 2013 edition. Nakamura, while still a focal point of the promotion, hadn’t reached the levels of superstardom he would in the next two years. Now, there’s almost no question who wins as Nakamura is the heavy favorite to take home the G1 Climax crown and move onto the Wrestle Kingdom main event. Don’t sleep on Anderson. Sure, he’s been mostly comedy fodder as one-half of the Guns n’ Gallows team but when put into singles match, Anderson almost always delivers. Though it seems underwhelming on paper, this is a great choice to main event the first show from the B Block.
Rest of the Card:
- Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Jay White & Yohei Komatsu
- Captain New Japan, Kota Ibushi & Togi Makabe vs. Cody Hall, Doc Gallows & Bad Luck Fale
- YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano vs. Tama Tonga & A.J. Styles
- Mascara Dorada, Tetsuya Naito & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan