Now that we’ve seen two nights of matches from the A Block, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 26 is starting to take shape. 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. Night 3 continued the trend of surprises in this year’s tournament. Let’s see What We Learned.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN (4) DEF. TAMA TONGA (0)
- The potential Tenzan dream run will make me watch a Tama Tonga match.
- Tenzan is so motivated for this tournament that he got a better match out of Tonga than we normally see.
- We will get a better sense of how Tenzan’s G1 is going to go when he meets Naomichi Marufuji on Night 5.
HIROOKI GOTO (4) DEF. TOMOHIRO ISHII (0)
- Goto and Ishii did not think they should have gone on second, so they tried to steal the show.
- Ishii is now going to have to work to get back in the running to win the block. He noted before the G1 that he’s lost a lot this year. We’ve heard before that the wrestlers only learn their booking before each show, but it will be interesting to see whether Ishii is going to have a comeback story or find himself in the middle of the pack.
- Goto will be strong going into his next matchup with Kazuchika Okada, whom he beat in last year’s G1 but had little success against afterward.
BAD LUCK FALE (2) DEF. NAOMICHI MARUFUJI (2)
- Fale is a surprise star of the early part of this tournament. I enjoyed his opening match with Goto and this was the Match of the Night. He is working hard and coming off like a monster.
- As some predicted, Marufuji showed he fits perfectly in the G1.
- It’s slightly less clear where Marufuji stands going forward than it appeared to be after Night 1. After a convincing win over Okada, Marufuji fell to Fale without him having to use the Bad Luck Fall.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA (2) DEF. SANADA (2)
- I was a little too excited when I suggested SANADA could sweep Tanahashi and Okada to go into his Night 5 main event with Togi Makabe at 2-0.
- Many women love SANADA.
- Okada is the king of using counters and reversals to build a hot closing stretch.
TOGI MAKABE (4) DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI (0)
- Makabe and Goto are the block leaders after two nights.
- Before the finish, the most entertaining part of the match was Makabe demanding, in English, for the ref to “ask him,” and Tana responding, in English, “nope!”
- Tanahashi has the perfect opponent, Tama Tonga, to get back on track on Night 5.
- If you want to look far ahead, a fun fantasy booking scenario would be for Tanahashi’s eventual redemption story to run into Tenzan’s dream run on Night 15.
Night 4 of G1 Climax 26 is on Sunday, July 24, and it features five matches from the B Block, including the top two matches of Tomoaki Honma (2) vs. YOSHI-HASHI (2) and Katsuyori Shibata (0) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (2).