With three A Block nights in the books, all the potential, realistic scenarios are starting to be revealed. 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 5 saw that Gedo still had at least one big surprise left for us. Let’s see What We Learned.
TOMOHIRO ISHII (2) DEF. BAD LUCK FALE (2)
- There are no points in the G1 for great performances. Bad Luck Fale has been one of the best in the tournament so far but here he sits with 2 points.
- Ishii carries even those who don’t need carrying. Fale continued his streak of very good matches here but this one was almost completely due to Ishii, whose elite selling took the bout to another level.
- Fale seems to be establishing a pecking order. Goto kicked out of the Grenade on Night 1; Ishii kicked out of a Grenade here. On Night 3, Fale beat Naomichi Marufuji with a Grenade. In New Japan, these things are rarely coincidental.
- Fale needs a win, but his Night 7 opponent is Hiroshi Tanahashi.
TOGI MAKABE (6) DEF. SANADA (2)
- Togi Makabe is all alone in first place with 6 points.
- At least once every Makabe match, I will think he is bleeding from his mouth before I realize it’s his mouth guard.
- Makabe’s A Block spot will be on the line on Night 7 against the Hiroyoshi Tenzan dream run.
NAOMICHI MARUFUJI (4) DEF. HIROYOSHI TENZAN (4)
- The dream run will not be an undefeated one. Sure, it seemed unlikely but I would have liked to have seen that particular intrigue drag on a little longer.
- Even if you chop Tenzan till he bleeds, he won’t back off even once.
- Marufuji will give us a better understanding of the overall pecking order when he takes on the Stone Pitbull Tomohiro Ishii on Night 7.
TAMA TONGA (2) DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI (0)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi is the last A Block competitor with 0 points. Clearly, Tanahashi is being set up for a huge comeback story.
- The most points Tanahashi can now accrue is 12. That means Okada has to lose at least one more match for their matchup to be meaningful on the final night of the Block.
- Tonga is capable of working hard but even when motivated and in the ring with an all-time great, he still couldn’t produce a really good match.
- The rest of Tanahashi’s road is so fascinating. To run the table, he’ll have to get through Fale, Goto, Ishii, Marufuji, Tenzan, and, finally, Okada. I can’t wait.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA (4) DEF. HIROOKI GOTO (4)
- Even in the G1, not everything can deliver.
- It’s officially hard to take Goto seriously on the IWGP Heavyweight Championship level. Sure, he’s never really gotten it done on the big stage, but another G1 win over Okada would have given Goto just enough juice the next time he gets a shot.
- Okada’s next match is against Tama Tonga; it’s difficult to imagine Tonga getting two wins of that magnitude in a row.
We (and the wrestlers) finally get a night off! Night 7 of G1 Climax 26 is on Wednesday, July 27, and it features five matches from the B Block. The match most worth looking forward to is Katsuyori Shibata (2) vs. Michael Elgin (0).