Who says New Japan Pro Wrestling doesn’t have fresh matchups? Night 12 of NJPW’s G1 Climax 25 features the first-time ever battle between New Japan legend Yuji Nagata and Michael “#BigMike” Elgin, the first head-to-head meeting between perennial fall guy Tomoaki Honma and Bullet Club charter member Karl Anderson since 2009. Oh, the rest of the card? Well those are all rematches from G1 Climax 23. Nevermind, then.
The biggest story with Night 12 is the eventual resolution to the glut atop of the B Block. Our main event pits current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada against the man he’s tied atop the block with, former NEVER Openweight champion Tomohiro Ishii. When Night 12 concludes we’ll finally have one leader of the block. Elsewhere, Shinsuke Nakamura looks to continue to his momentum as he gets back on track after a shaky start to the G1 and Honma, oh Honma, looks to get that elusive win (spoiler: he’s going to lose).
Oh and don’t shoot the messenger but Night 12 is once again a fixed camera, no commentary broadcast on NJPW World. While I’m a fan of the fixed camera for spot shows throughout the year, they’ve definitely lessened the impact and atmosphere for viewing the G1. What works for a spot show in a little village doesn’t necessarily work for your biggest tournament of the year. Everything has felt slightly less special, less big-time, less major league. It’s not New Japan’s fault, per se, it’s a necessary evil but at the same time, I’m disappointed.
Anyway, be sure to check out all of our NJPW G1 Climax 25 coverage at voicesofwrestling.com/category/njpw-g1/. We’re also extensively talking about the tournament on our newly re-designed forums, head over there now and join the discussion: voicesofwrestling.com/forums.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 25 – Night 12
Friday, August 7
Act City Hamamatsu – Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
Yuji Nagata (2) vs. Michael Elgin (6)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): N/A
- Last Singles Match: N/A
- Favorite: Yuji Nagata (63%)
- What to Watch For: #BigMike has taken the world by storm and for good reason, he’s looked awesome throughout this tournament and Night 12 should be no exception. Nagata may not be reliable enough to be in top spots on the card but if you need a solid, inoffensive match, especially one to kick off the G1 portion of a show, there’s nobody better than Nagata. I’m interested to see who wins this one, 63% of our G1 Climax pick’em participants said Nagata at the beginning of the tournament. Now? You have to imagine Elgin is a favorite. Who knows, I’ll be watching this one closely.
Tomoaki Honma (0) vs. Karl Anderson (6)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 1-0 Karl Anderson
- Last Singles Match: NJPW Circuit 2009 New Japan Generation – Night 8 (September 22, 2009) Karl Anderson def. Tomoaki Honma
- Favorite: Karl Anderson (89%)
- What to Watch For: Alright, Honma’s getting pissed now. After his Night 10 loss, Honma showed signs of frustration. Could this be the next step in character development or just a one-off bout of frustration? I’m not really sure. I think we at the very least see a more motivated Honma who comes so close to beating Anderson but just can’t pull it out. Poor Honma.
Satoshi Kojima (4) vs. Hirooki Goto (6)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 2-2
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 23 – Night 3 (August 3, 2013) Hirooki Goto def. Satoshi Kojima
- Favorite: Hirooki Goto (80%)
- What to Watch For: Goto’s had an uneven G1 Climax season. He’s stepped up big time when in featured matches but tailed off on the lesser matches. Likewise, he hasn’t been booked as strong as many had thought/hoped. Take our predictors for instance, 80% thought Goto would win this match. I would have to imagine that number is far lower today and there’s a legit chance Kojima walks out of here with a victory. I think in the end Goto wins and this is a solid match but there’s potential for this to be on the lower end of the matches for Night 12.
Shinsuke Nakamura (6) vs. Yujiro Takahashi (4)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 2-0 Shinsuke Nakamura
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 23 – Night 5 (August 6, 2013) Shinsuke Nakamura def. Yujiro Takahashi
- Favorite: Shinsuke Nakamura (98%)
- What to Watch For: Yujiro is awful and Nakamura has showed signs of disinterest in meaningless G1 Climax matches this year. This is a bad recipe. Add Nakamura’s injury and this will likely act as more of a “Rest Day” for Nakamura than a match worthy of the semi main event. Nakamura is an absolute, stone cold lock to win this match as he can’t afford another loss. I’m not too excited about this match, let’s hope they prove me wrong.
Kazuchika Okada (8) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (8)
- All-Time Record (Head-to-Head): 1-0
- Last Singles Match: NJPW G1 Climax 23 – Night 7 (August 8, 2013) Kazuchika Okada def. Tomohiro Ishii
- Favorite: Kazuchika Okada (80%)
- What to Watch For: Now we’re cooking! These two have been kept away from singles action since the 2013 G1 Climax and while that match didn’t deliver quite up to expectations both men are vastly improved workers since then. I expect this match, in the main event of a G1 Climax show to absolutely deliver. Okada has been the man throughout this tournament and is turning into a bonafied ace worker. Ishii, is, well, Ishii. His matches can all blend together and look the same but a lot of that is dependent on who he’s working with. In the ring with a guy like Makabe, yeah, it’s going to be plotting, overbearing and sometimes boring. With a guy like Okada, someone who isn’t there just to exchange elbows and chops for 20 minutes, it could be pure gold. I expect this to be the no doubter Match of the Night and possibly in the top 10 of G1 Climax matches this year. Anything less than *** will leave me tremendously disappointed.
Non-G1 Climax Matches:
- Yohei Komatsu vs. Jay White
- David Finlay Jr. & Tetsuya Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano
- Captain New Japan, Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & AJ Styles
- Mascara Dorada, KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask & Katsuyori Shibata