Night 1 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 26 is over and we know things we didn’t know before it started! As the tournament wears on, I intend to use this space to recap the new things we learn each night about the performers, and especially how the most recent matches affected the overall standings. With only one night of results, there aren’t a lot of conclusions to draw about the overall tournament, but there will be more and more as we inch closer to August’s G1 Final. For now, here is What We Learned after the five A Block matches from Night 1.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN DEF. TOMOHIRO ISHII
- Tenzan is motivated! Unless the dream run fizzles out, Tenzan’s matches are going to be must-watches for the duration of the G1. Of course, even a motivated Tenzan has his work cut out for him in his looming matchup with Tama Tonga.
- At 40 years old, Ishii is still as likely as anyone to be the best overall performer in the tournament.
- Headbutts make me cringe but they can still be awesome when deployed well.
TOGI MAKABE DEF. TAMA TONGA
- There’s no need to make sure you watch any matches featuring Makabe or Tonga.
HIROOKI GOTO DEF. BAD LUCK FALE
- Fale doesn’t need Okada or Tanahashi to have a good match. He was in control nearly the entire contest and still put together a solid match.
- The fans still want to get behind Goto, even if they’ve been burned time and time again.
SANADA DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI
- Hiroshi Tanahashi is a liar. On his podcast, according to the translation from the great Chris Charlton, Tana said he would “definitely not” hit the High Fly Flow to the outside. We weren’t even to the closing stretch of the match before Tanahashi broke his word and scaled the turnbuckle.
- Despite the doubters, Tanahashi is going to have another great G1.
- If this was another audition for SANADA to eventually be a New Japan main eventer, he succeeded wildly.
- SANADA has a chance on Night 3 to complete a sweep of Tanahashi and Okada, while also getting his win back over the Rainmaker. With SANADA set to main event against Togi Makabe on Night 5, SANADA coming into that match 2-0 doesn’t seem far-fetched.
NAOMICHI MARUFUJI DEF. KAZUCHIKA OKADA
- Marufuji is going to be a player in this tournament. He would not have started off with a win over Okada otherwise.
- Marufuji *does not* pull his chops, no matter the opponent.
- The New Japan crowd is more than willing to get behind Marufuji. He quickly won them over during this match and they went nuts for the upset victory.
- After both put on very good performances, Night 3’s matchup between Marufuji and Bad Luck Fale looks promising.
- Gedo’s reactions are some of the best things in all of wrestling.
- Even Okada has bad hair days.
Night 2 of G1 Climax 26 is on Friday, July 22, and it features the first five matches of the B Block portion of the tournament.