There’s no rest for the weary as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 25 resumes early Friday morning (July 24) from Kyoto’s Kyoto City Budokan Center and, as all G1 shows, airs live on NJPWWorld.com.
For those who stuck with last night’s single-camera, no commentary show, a return to the more polished production will be a welcome sight. Production values aside, this morning’s show left a lot to be desired. The final two matches, Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson, delivered but the rest bordered on boring and flat-out bad (I’m looking at you, Yujiro). Elgin/Okada surprised many, myself included and turned out to the be the match of the night, saving what was an otherwise lackluster show. If there was ever a G1 show to skip, this morning could’ve been it.
Tomorrow, well, you’re not going to want to miss this one.
It’s the A blocks’ turn once again as guys look to recover from losses on Day 1 and winners look to keep their momentum. If you read my last “What to Watch” you’ll know what to expect with this piece. One small addition is a percentage listed below the match, which uses the predictions of our Voices of Wrestling G1 Climax 25 Pick’em participants to give an idea of the favorites/underdogs for each match.
Kota Ibushi (0) vs. Doc Gallows (0)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 1-0 Kota Ibushi
- Last Singles Match: NJPW New Japan Cup 2015 – Night 1 (March 5, 2015) Kota Ibushi def. Doc Gallows
- Favorite: Kota Ibushi (90%)
- What to Watch For: Kota Ibushi has had a fantastic 2015 and is in the conversation for Wrestler of the Year after an incredible first few months in both New Japan and his native DDT promotion. Tomorrow Kyoto may be his hardest test to date — can he get a decent match out of Doc Gallows? Gallows has a way of sucking the fun out of anything he can get his grabby little hands on. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Togi Makabe (2) vs. Bad Luck Fale (0)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 1-1
- Last Singles Match: NJPW New Japan Cup 2014 – Night 1 (March 15, 2014) Bad Luck Fale defeats Togi Makabe
- Favorite: Bad Luck Fale (51%)
- What to Watch For: Oh boy, this could get ugly. Their previous two encounters received *¾ and **½ from our reviews. The most recent, the *¾, stunk up the joint at the 2014 New Japan Cup, will they do the same at the 25th G1 Climax?New Japan was smart enough to keep these two away from singles competition for awhile but we’re finally here and things aren’t looking great. Fale was a far better worker in March of 2014 than he is today due in large part to the extra human being’s worth of weight he’s now carrying. Makabe is still capable of putting together a solid match at his age, however his 2015 has left a lot to be desired. Not only did he find a way to have a truly bad match with Ishii, his Night 1 performance was uninspired. This coul…eh, it’s going to be a trainwreck.
Toru Yano (0) vs. A.J. Styles (2)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 1-0 A.J. Styles
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 24 – Night 2 (July 23, 2014) AJ Styles def. Toru Yano
- Favorite: A.J. Styles (93%)
- What to Watch For: Styles’ 93% win probability is one of the highest percentages of the entire tournament and you’d be hard pressed to find many scenarios where Yano leaves here with a win. The dynamics of this match aren’t hard to predict: Yano will mess with Styles throughout, try the low blow rollup and probably eat a Styles Clash for his troubles. If Yano didn’t step up in a big way on Night 1, I’d say this could have a chance to be bad but given what Styles has done this year (a heavy favorite for Wrestler of the Year at this point), I expect nothing short of good.
Katsuyori Shibata (0) vs. Tetsuya Naito (2)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): N/A
- Last Singles Match: N/A
- Favorite: Katsuyori Shibata (60%)
- What to Watch For: This matchup is easily in my top five most anticipated matches of the tournament. Shibata has been one of my favorite parts of New Japan Pro Wrestling over the last few years and 2014 was a big year for Naito as he won me and many skeptical New Japan fans over with numerous fantastic performances. In recent weeks, Naito has shown a new nonchalant/heel attitude which should provide a fun dynamic against a take no shit, no patience for anyone asskicker like Shibata.
- Both men had great performances in Night 1 and I expect nothing short of excellent here. This could be the sleeper match of the entire tournament and a heavy favorite for Match of the Night.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 4-3 Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- Last Singles Match: NJPW Explosion (October 9, 2006) Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- Favorite: Hiroshi Tanahashi (93%)
- What to Watch For: I was shocked to find out this singles match hasn’t happened since October of 2006. How have they kept these two apart for that long? Tenzan didn’t blow me away on Night 1, then again he was wrestling Doc Gallows, so what can you do? Tenzan is always going to be a guy who gives it 100% against the top dogs and takes nights off against the lesser guys. After largely taking the year off fighting with Yano in short comedy matches, Tanahashi brought out all the stops in a Night 1 victory over Kota Ibushi, looking like the Tanahashi of old. Given that these two haven’t fought each other in years and it’s the main event in a relatively major city like Kyoto, you should expect greatness. It may not be the Match of the Night but it will be good.
Rest of the Card:
- Yohei Komatsu, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger & Satoshi Kojima vs. Jay White, David Finlay Jr., Mascara Dorada & Michael Elgin
- YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Cody Hall & Yujiro Takahashi
- Captain New Japan & Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga & Karl Anderson
- Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata vs. Gedo, Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura