Night 2 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 from each block, 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 B Block matches from Night 2.
KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA DEF. TORU YANO
- Toru Yano is one of the best parts of the G1. In this match, the crowd totally bought that the finish might be Yano choking Nakajima with a t-shirt to get the pin! Even when I’m not looking forward to Yano’s matches, they are always a nice change of pace.
- Nakajima’s slow start here against Yano is a cause for concern for those of us who expected a good tournament from the Genius of the Kick. He should be comfortable working with Yano after their recent tag bout in NOAH. Luckily, Nakajima will have a much bigger chance to prove himself on Night 4 against Katsuyori Shibata.
YOSHI-HASHI DEF. KENNY OMEGA
- Omega has a lot of work to do if he wants to get as good as Big E at swiveling his hips.
- Other than the continuation of the New Day program, Omega was remarkably serious here, which is a good sign going forward.
- It’s hard to tell whether we’re just in the middle of a big run of Gedo-booked upsets or there is something planned for a guy like YOSHI-HASHI. In fact, his Night 4 match against Tomoaki Honma will tell us a lot about what’s in store for both men.
- If YOSHI-HASHI is going to be this year’s Michael Elgin, he’s going to have to be better. This was a good match but almost entirely because of Omega’s hard work.
EVIL DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN
- Elgin finds himself in dangerous territory early with a loss and an impending matchup with Tetsuya Naito, who also ended the night 0-1. I expected Elgin to garner some protection as Intercontinental Champion but an upcoming schedule of Naito, Shibata, and Omega, the last of which he owes a win, makes that expectation precarious.
YUJI NAGATA DEF. TETSUYA NAITO
- Nagata is too old to sell the leg.
- Naito really enjoys doing Nagata’s taunt.
- I thought Naito might be spared an early upset to start his trajectory toward a block victory but truly no one is safe.
- Nagata has a chance to begin the tournament with a little run as he next meets the 1-0 EVIL.
TOMOAKI HONMA DEF. KATSUYORI SHIBATA
- This win seems to confirm that Honma will be in the middle of the road throughout this G1 instead of getting some surprise wins toward the end. In the big picture, that’s a worse spot for the Korakuen favorite.
Night 3 of G1 Climax 26 is on Saturday, July 23, and it is headlined by Kazuchika Okada (0-1) looking to get on track against Night 1 upset winner SANADA (1-0), and Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-1) similarly trying to avenge his early loss as he faces Togi Makabe (1-0).