The first three 2015 New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax shows could best be described as a mixed bag, with the tournament now rolling into Kagawa for Night 4.

Night 4, featuring the second set of B Block match-ups, was headlined by the IWGP Heavyweight Champion going against the popular Tomoaki Honma.

Night 1 featured two Match of the Year contenders supported by a very underwhelming undercard. Night 2 was a largely average show from top to bottom, while Night 3‘s matches received the most balanced reviews  of the first three offerings even if the high points couldn’t match the heights of Day 1’s spectacular Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi and AJ Styles vs Katsuyori Shibata matches.

On paper, Day 4’s line up looked to be another show that could end up anywhere on the spectrum. The B Block isn’t as top heavy as the A Block, but it does run deeper with competent, veteran workers like Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, and Karl Anderson who are far less likely to lay eggs than the bottom feeder and gimmicky types who populate the lower end of the A Block. Only Yujiro brings the eye rolls in Block B, which means you’re always going to get at least four match ups that have a reasonable chance to be good. With that said, Kagawa didn’t receive the most stacked of B Block lineups. Aside from Kazuchika Okada vs Tomoaki Honma, which was a virtual lock to be very good at worst, each of the other four matches had questionable prospects coming in. Shinsuke Nakamura & Yuji Nagata didn’t exactly blow peoples doors off against each other at New Beginning in Sendai. Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson were both coming off less than inspiring showings on Day 2. Yujiro vs anybody (in this case Tomohiro Ishii) is a risky proposition, and while Michael Elgin had looked great in his first two matches of the tour, including a killer singles match vs Okada, his match with Satoshi Kojima had just as much chance of flopping due to potential chemistry/familiarity issues as it had to be the sleeper match of the night.

The solid undercards on the shows have been overlooked, in part because many fans watching the shows on delay have skipped right to the tournament matches and haven’t bothered to watch. The pattern has been to pair the following nights G1 opponents off on the opposite sides of tag matches in order to build some heat and create a little juice. The key match-ups to watch here were Styles/Ibushi and Tanahashi/Naito working against each other respectively to set up the huge A Block show in Hiroshima on Sunday.

 Captain New Japan, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger vs Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Doc Gallows

Gallows pinned CNJ with the Gallows Pole. A few nights earlier Hall, Gallows, & Fale made for a surprisingly decent trio, so with Tonga being an upgrade for Fale I thought maybe this could be good. Simple match layout, with Bullet Club jumping the faces in the aisle during their entrance leading to Tiger Mask as the babyface in peril. Liger took the hot tag and cleaned house with palm strikes, but moments later when things broke down CNJ ended up isolated with Gallows and that was that. I’m almost positive the face side made a total of two tags. As bare bones & simplistic of a match you will ever see. *1/2

David Finlay, Mascara Dorada, Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Gedo, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano

YOSHI-HASHI scored a rare fall here, pinning Finlay following a Swanton Bomb. Since YH wins are so rare (we even got to hear his theme!) I’m not even sure if his version of the Swanton has a special name, so I’m going to go ahead and take liberties and dub the move “The Loose Explosion”. Please help me make this into a thing (looking at you, rogue Wikipedia editors). This was a better bout than the opener, helped tremendously by the charisma of Gedo & Yano (Yano has been money on this entire tour). Tenzan’s knee looks like it can give way at any second (then again, Tenzan’s body has looked this way for roughly a decade or so), so it was an absolute miracle he was able to have a match the caliber of which he had against Tanahashi. **1/4

 Jay White & Kota Ibushi vs AJ Styles & Bad Luck Fale

This was a teaser for the big Styles vs Ibushi match taking place on Sunday, and both guys worked harder here than they could have gotten away with. Fale pinning White was inevitable, but in this case he used the Grenade instead of the usual Bad Luck Fall. I was glad White didn’t kick out. Little things like that are smart, because I think more of this roster (and more wrestlers in general) should occasionally win with a secondary finisher or setup in order to keep those moves strong, and a tag match like this is the perfect spot to do it. **3/4

Ryusuke Tagushi, Katsuyori Shibata, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Yohei Komatsu, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito

This was pretty average, so this ended up not being the strongest night for the undercard tags after I spent an entire paragraph putting over how they’ve been sneaky good and overlooked. Taguchi took care of business against Komatsu to win it for his side, in a bout where nobody seemed interested in taking things to a second gear. Pass. **

G1 Climax 25

Tomohiro Ishii (2) vs Yujiro Takahashi (0)

Ishii put Yujiro away with the brainbuster, but the problem with this match was the same issue with Yujiro’s loss to Goto a few nights earlier. There is no need for the endless Yujiro control periods in these matches, both because he’s doing it against guys much higher in the pecking order than he is, and also because he’s terrible at it and it’s never compelling or interesting. Yujiro was never great, but he’s somehow managed to regress since that period around 2012 when he was at least passable and sometimes good. Technically he wasn’t bad here, as sometimes he ranges from sloppy to flat out dangerous, but these dominating match layouts don’t help because they do not play to his strengths (whatever those might actually be). Ishii was fine, with his usually tremendous selling and ability to connect with the fans. **3/4

Satoshi Kojima (0) vs Michael Elgin (0) 

Mike Elgin is certainly silencing doubters with his early performances in this tournament, with another very good showing here against the veteran Kojima. Another borderline **** effort, with tremendous pacing, clever psychology touches, and good drama down the stretch. Even the most ardent Elgin critics are having a hard time finding flaws in his work to this point, because a lot of his supposed flaws (working too fast, “getting his shit in”, selling) haven’t been prevalent at all. Elgin has not only been a pleasant surprise, he’s been one of the standout performers of the entire tournament. The finish here was great, with Elgin coming off the top turnbuckle but eating a Kojima lariat on the way down. Fun match. ***3/4

Hirooki Goto (2) vs Karl Anderson (2)

As good as Elgin has been in the early going, Goto has been just as disappointing. Perhaps we can give him a pass, as his first opponent was Yujiro, and Yujiro is Yujiro, and it appears they may be teasing a big run with Anderson, as he’s now pulled off two big upsets in a row. This was basically complete domination, with Anderson controlling 90% of the match, and hitting a Gun Stun out of nowhere when Goto finally started to get rolling on what everyone figured would be his big match ending comeback run. The finish drew gasps from the crowd as the fans seemed genuinely stunned that Goto not only lost, but lost in the manner in which he did. In a vacuum this was not a great match or anything, but I can give them a pass for not doing the traditional G1 mini epic style if this is indeed part of a larger Anderson story, and I could see others digging the match structure more than I did. ***

Yuji Nagata (2) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (0)

This blew away their match in Sendai earlier this year. Very slow start, which has me concerned about Nakamura since this is three major matches in a row where he has come off uninterested until the business end of the match, but they did manage to finish very strong. Both guys kicked out of their opponents respective finishes, which is not something overdone in New Japan (well, it is sort of overdone with the Bome Ye to be fair), so they had me buying in to several near falls. Nakamura ultimately didn’t even end up winning this with a Bome Ye, he won with a side kick to the face. The problem with Nak lately, and this has been with three different opponents (Goto, Anderson, Nagata) so I do think it’s fair point the finger at him, is that the early to mid portions of his matches have been uninspired and largely do not tell any kind of story. I’m not a hardcore psychology fetishist, but Nak’s early match malaise has been palpable lately. He could use a few blow away matches on the back end of this tournament. ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada (2) vs Tomoaki Honma (0)

In stark contrast to the previous match, this was compelling all the way through. Compare Okada’s focused neck work to set up the Rainmaker to whatever it was Nak & Nagata were doing before their closing stretch. Listen to the crowd reactions to Honma as the underdog compared to the reactions Nagata received, and keep in mind that deep down nobody thinks Honma is ever going to win, especially against Okada, while there was a realistic chance Nagata could have beaten Nak. Kayfabe wise this looked to be a paint-by-numbers strategy win for Okada, working the neck, cutting off Honma at every pass, delivering a Rainmaker, and getting out of Kagawa with an easy two points, but then the absolutely sick Honma headbutt counter of the Rainmaker happened and all hell broke loose. From there the story changed from Okada barely breaking a sweat to fighting for his life, before eventually surviving the onslaught and securing the points.

Okada has taken some huge steps this year in terms of his overall match psychology and has firmly established a claim for best wrestler in the world. The Wrestle Kingdom match vs Tanahashi was a storytelling masterpiece on par with any match in the history of wrestling. His feud with Fale was something completely different from what he had ever been asked to do previously, and he delivered big time not only in the feud ending singles match, but also in the set up and the under the radar house show tags. His work on the first two nights of this tour making the completely unknown Michael Elgin look like a million bucks, and subsequently getting Elgin over in the span of two matches, is something that isn’t being talked about enough. Another thing not being talked about enough is Okada as a very serious Wrestler of the Year candidate. He’s currently on the best run of his already outstanding career. ****1/4

Voices of Wrestling G1 Climax Pick’Em Standings
(Remember to support our sponsor and use our exclusive coupon code VOICE)

NameTotalBonusNight 1Night 2Night 3Night 4Night 5Night 6Night 7Night 8Night 9Night 10Night 11Night 12Night 13Night 14Night 15Night 16Night 17Night 18
August Baker7712454454242522444442
Dylan Waco7715435243244444532522
Josh Walther7715335533343424452324
Allen Vick Jr7615444404344514441443
Bastian Sauer7615544433224534442431
Bonski McBonski765435333435555553424
Rob Rodriguez7615434522443535340235
David Dunn7515334432435424323443
Graeme Touchdown7510444442244444353424
Joshua Robinson7515243354344534311542
Ed Burns7413334343145525542431
Alex K.7310444523334435432424
Dan Atwood7310454444144434532512
Ewen MacDonald7313345223324444351524
Siva Punisamy7313344444324444342322
Aaron Bentley7215443323223433442335
Ben Pitchford7210534334134534442433
Chris Maffei725434352344535452434
J. Michael7215334412135455232334
Jake Barry7215344322244425432414
James Starkey7210245443234445432432
Kenny Ortiz726544354234534444422
Marcus Origer7210235441243524445424
Matt Audet7210445434335422443422
Matt Love725434353354543443334
Morten Hansen7213343324234253434433
Skylar Hinnant7211443334253544342431
Barry Meijer7115544441134514432412
Evan Speciner7110444524145333442414
Len Liu7115324233253435424322
Matt Wheal7113345433134534432322
Oliver Court7110543243342434443333
Olivier Tremblay7115345433214422353431
Scott Barker7115533343124434432422
Adam Watkinson7013443333244534133422
Cameron Krusemark708443432244544343414
Capu Random7010334323234534344244
Christopher Duarte708335242343544143444
Doug Nunnally708444432325544433422
Kevin George705544442444444252405
Paco Silva Martínez705445554434424232433
Rob Reid705353433354535451423
Robert Palmer7010445423224544253322
Seth Chodosh7010434523132444454431
Taylor Mitchell706434432244534552424
Alejandro Giménez Gómez695345344243444433424
Andrew Chupurdy6910445432224534433313
Bryn Edwards Gunn6913533322343445332421
D Chong6910434332134433542434
Jody Plante6913235312124545433513
John Carroll6910343443422524352414
Mark Shaw695534443325433443433
Matt Trebby695454344244434342424
Paul Volsch698353334322524543244
Richard Jaeger697445353214445242424
Rob McCarron6910543312235544351432
Samuel DiMascio697425524344333442514
Santiago Tomasi6910544523133333442433
Tony Albicocco698544434223544351422
Brian Jackson686344344244344341353
Chad Campbell688433343143545442323
Chris Smith687245252324544333433
Goncalo Monteiro6810143412344545432333
James Baldwin685344424423454442532
John Mulligan688455334244444141332
Joseph Remy685445334334434243433
Keenan Carnegie6810524524414124343523
Mario Morrison688545442234525331332
Nnaemeka Odunze687345353244535322323
Paul Leazar6810444522254335332421
Rich Kraetsch6810433432334424342424
Robert Dougherty688435133334335343433
Ryan Smith685234543235554342423
Ryan Wilson6813134434323354223324
Sean Sedor6810334424224445243323
Tomek Cherek6810434433124424442532
Alexander Panos675444423244435342415
Benson Sam673245542343444443414
Brady Livingston675544343334534242333
Chris Bacon676333344353425432424
Jake Daniel675445353334515452312
Joe Gagne675435314344343443424
Kelly Harrass677344432245534352412
Michael Quealy678544443134534432321
Mike Spears678444333134434432523
Ru Gunn675444424134535352414
TJ Hawke6710545523533213222442
Tye Liddell675533433333534342425
Wyatt Eddy675445424444533332422
Ajay Sameer668534322134534432532
Aled M665443432324435442334
Andy Clark668343432134534541540
Azri Firman665324254243535354223
Brandon Howard6610443423234534431313
Brian Ubben665544453144544313412
Daniel Mason665434453215354333243
Dave Taylor665345323144535154423
Dylan Harris668445222343544331423
Ed Mills6610343332244433423432
Edgar Morales665144343344544433431
G Brett Williams663435443155534432431
Gregory Davis668455233234453232233
Heather Christianson665443343245434432423
Izzac Mackenroth667444333234324244325
Jason Bullock665444353224445252431
Jeff Tillery665435543234425542204
Martijn Winkel6610344323115443244333
Matt Kennedy665445314434334443323
Matt Rolder665443333334335343424
Niall Hallinan667442443225444144323
Paul Cooke665445333324544341423
Sean Flynn667244423333542451442
Sean N663445354133433553422
Antonio Garza657443433143435433313
Benjamin Good6510344113254444332422
Brian Brennan6510543222234424142434
Chris Burnett655444443134233423534
Christopher Griger658434243124324532434
Darren Lyne657545434124434322413
Dominick Gonzalez655544323234535323522
Erin Hotovy655434432324423432544
Filip Pejic655443332344533443305
Frederick Cholowski655544432243534352502
Jake Glowacki655534542125344332325
Jeremy Sexton657344424044434342423
Joe Estrada6510342432144534432412
Kevin Hare655343433234544443502
Lucas McFadden658455223523443233322
MacLean Craig657245333334524333413
Mitch Cowan658544423144434322413
Monty Rimorin655344334345313242444
Riley Hansen655535352233434432522
scott glover6510544453134335232112
Sean Spencer655444324145525351512
Travis McNeill655443413244344352424
Adam Joyce645345433234435332422
Brandon Gordon645335311234554343343
David Mora645434333234444433422
Dee H645153234344444332424
dillon burgess647433333134535432413
Eddy Collazo6410333314225244143424
Greg P645444342244434241523
Jason Lee6413335323233432443031
Kevin Lyon645344332424544452402
Luuk van Egeraat645344354324453214521
Mark Edward Dowling645324343414234443524
Martin Foster647143543343423442332
Michael Zavala646443312423545343323
Michelle Burkey6415333424114422322225
Parker Holland645344433034335544403
Robert Pannell645244343334534442421
Sherman Lee645233423243435433344
Tanner Teat645444333234333333434
Victor Zoest645444332234534442224
Warren Taylor648533432125524243422
Alessandro Tucci635544433224443350323
Andrew Carpenter6310441422242444342412
Andrew Perkins636244332242533332444
Ayaash M637445242233533232522
Ben Gordon635243433245524443411
Bill Knust633434433333434443422
Darren Lynch638342424334324231353
David Penton635433233425543441323
Ferdinand Meyer635534154224434252233
Gabriel Perez637345433424534321411
Guilherme Jaeger635444323422234442425
James Hagan635234233243434344334
Jamie Mohan635343343314333442533
Jeff Chase635434234244435432322
João Vitor Silveira Passos633444444333333441513
lawrence obrien633042442255435445322
Lou Pickney635344323234433453512
Mark Aasal635343332133355343343
Mark Berlowitz635434543135233442413
Matt Brown635444333233535422413
Matt McEwen635444532233534431413
Matthew Bray633343334344525432314
Phil Williams633433432254434423442
Samuel Cooke637343343344424222522
William Housell Jr.637334442253434241341
William Young635344524245424232323
Zach Smith633544344134344244214
Aaron Lomas6211432313243435342311
Benoit Brunette623544442423343332225
Brady Vincent623234443324534534402
Chris Adams625254224344523333422
Dave Christian625544532334442241412
David Neild623334343244534242522
Edward Miguez625334432144535322423
Garrett Kidney628433233253324332432
Hugh Little625244433324434342413
Jacob K Randlett623235423243534452314
Jamie ODoherty623535543234424053412
Jason Woito625444444342422341314
Jesse Carey625444442342234442412
Jordan Greenhalgh625444342234534342312
Kevin Gombau625444342234534342312
Kevin S627444323034434533321
Lee Thomas625334434243432343242
Mark Smith625433542233424442413
Michael Levy625325544223324242343
Peter Weinstein625433432335424442412
Rob Barry627435453123323242423
Ryan Tulleth625345443134334233332
Thomas Green625243233254424352432
Andrew Bates615444332423435232323
Andy Doran615235512234444442412
Antonio Edwards613343333134544232524
Charles Humphreys615244333224544232423
Evan Grady-Troia613544323135534352312
joe mills613543432135534433213
Lucas Zamarín615353333223535242224
manny kang615234443244525223313
Mary Robinson615224452224345233522
Matthew Nielson610533444334435442411
Mike Fuller613334422134333453533
Phil OConnor616233423443433433331
Sean Garmer615344322134444433413
Thomas Jayroe615435422143224424433
Alfred Arriola605545333343423332212
Brian Stafford605234432234243441415
Bryan Rose605334443232434433222
Chris Boothroyd607244322122434442415
Christian Renoe6010423223234434322421
Collin Miller603434332344534352311
David Woodley603245333234425442322
Derek Drago605434433223244422432
Francis Lane605342432334444432303
Jason Ryan603444324233424342423
Jesse B603344333254434332313
Joel Zewski607443322135434422412
Jonathan Parsons605332422334434432432
Jordan Benterman605224424134434253413
Keith Campbell605443232234434234413
Keith Harris605245322234435340333
Kenneth Butler603244423244523442422
Kevin Held605445422234424231432
Matthew Brown605243323134434443224
Michael McDonald605233342224332552424
Mike Bate605433323333445232422
Rodrigo Garcia605233532324334252423
The Mosayat605444323234433332413
Will True605544432124435252221
Abrasive Obelisk593435423044423341424
Alan Counihan593433343125344253313
Brandon Simms593534232423434434411
Dan Mullooly595544412123424353403
Dan Tiller597254142251522233324
Darrell Chess595434434213234242423
Drew Wardlaw595343413224334333522
Kelly Corcoran593244344334434332402
Kent Sinkler595445413444312243132
Markus Herter595354442333414232232
Martin Bentley593434432134424332433
Rancho King592335422244435243412
Richard Benson597535441223421232432
Rogers Hudson595243323124533442414
Tenese Sarwieh595444442222325432412
Tim Evans590444333234434441441
Travis Kriens595443312234534441412
Aaron Richards585242443333543152122
Angela Stephens585445432233434232401
Brendan Creecy585434232234444322403
Brennan Bajdek585334322324424342422
cal hodges587233323213435241433
Chris Steffensen585334323234435332402
Joseph Roche580444413342433253432
Karl Grant585334422224434352402
Neil McNerlan585244434143423323421
Peter Gardner580534342434323242433
Alexander Kaiser575235413134345332312
Dakota Schmidt573435513243334331223
Danny Kuchler573345442134434321313
David Neil Rapp575134422024433443423
Jon Burr575441304224522352333
Joseph Atwood575444331334242441411
Alex Giardini565345303123444223512
Andrew Moll567234332223524231512
Andrew Rich563133524124525342412
Bill Thompson563244543222313332424
Brian Sanders565344324222523333420
George T565234414204453342312
Greg Johnson563444112445433333122
Jack Beckmann565433453023324242313
Jake Polustine563324123234434333423
Jamie Sessions560544342214332352423
Jeremy Weimer565544424122444123302
Julian Perez565243323132335352421
Michael A. DeSota565533332135413152313
Mitch Parcells560343352243445332411
Mitch Thomas568434322134322333312
The Jonathon Hunt Experience560335222334434252441
Ben Crooty555433313224215432413
Johnny Marlow550423424224412345225
mark pierson II555422302234433432324
Mike A. Roonie555243233124232522523
Richard Fann555445402123443232124
Sarah kenneally553332432234233234423
Sebastian Zamf555245314224441332321
Stefan Kuschnig555334314233134341224
T.C. Carroll550443443233234352411
Aidan Daly543445443223233332220
John Boyle543343233204332252532
Matt Pecolatto545434321304333331522
Peter Richards543334343033444430321
Allan Blackstock533242423224432342214
Jared Welch532244444123414432221
Lucha Max533344423024343132413
Tim Kelly530334413124525332422
Tommy Livingstone533043423134434233412
Wayne Maw535342424032233342241
Alex Silva520433222243235442520
Case Lowe523433221223533253501
Christian Laputka520434424221434333321
George Andrew525334322131433522213
Niel Jacoby524244343103434132322
Jack Smith510345344114325132411
Kuba Fineczko515235432113234233302
Andrew J. DeYoe502133525125223412331
No One Nation504234441124222113523
Trent Williams505243502014333441321
Adrian Gaskin493343322124433331113
David R. Curington490334322133324252313
Kristin Barry462323321043422333141
Kyle Henke445422321214241022232