JULY 27, 2016

Watch: NJPW World

The shocking, upset victories are starting to die down as we approach the middle stages of this year’s G1 Climax. Katsuyori Shibata and Michael Elgin are out to put on a show stopper for the B Block, which has been trailing in terms of match quality compared to the other side of the tournament.

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Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs Togi Makabe, Juice Robinson & David Finlay

I love Nakanishi. He’s stepped it up this year, not to an amazing standard, admittedly, but the added effort is appreciated. Juice gets him in the corner and shouts “SUPER BRAINBUSTER”, as is traditional. Nakanishi slaps the whippersnapper away and bellows “SUPER SPLASH”, with a hint of old man sass before hitting a cross body. This tour has also made me, and many others, fall in love with Tenzan. Not only is he working incredibly hard, but everything about his presence has been elevated. His theme and entrance, even for an opening tag like this, feels so much more epic when you know that it’s going to be one of his last. Kojima hits the Western Lariat on Finlay for the win. **

Post match, Tenzan and Makabe brawl around ringside, spurred on by nothing but grumpiness. No one can pull them apart, until the cool, soft-spoken Nakanishi comes in and convinces them to save it for their block match.

SANADA & BUSHI vs Naomichi Marufuji & Hirooki Goto

Ooh, SANADA vs Marufuji is going to be awesome. It was reassuring to see Marufuji go full on against Bad Luck Fale in what turned out to be one of my favourite matches of the tour so far. Of course he was prepared to go out there and impress against Okada, but he’s doing the same with the guys lower down the card. I also enjoy my head-canon that Marufuji had studied Okada extensively before the tournament, but wasn’t prepared for the unique entity of Fale. I also love seeing him with CHAOS, although I’m not sure why it’s happening, I can’t complain. Goto is here too, he hasn’t had a really superb match yet, but I’m sure he’ll hit his stride. BUSHI gets in with Marufuji, and uses his usual trickery to get an advantage over the heavyweights. He ends up on the receiving end of a Shiranui though, and eats the pin. **1/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA vs Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan

The Captain decided he was going to start this one off against Tanahashi. Laughable under normal circumstances, but considering that Tana just came off a loss to Tama Tonga, my money was on the Cap’n. A catch Captain Bottom (like Rock Bottom, not his butt) makes Liger and Tiger Mask second guess shunning the Captain. Together they take down Tanahashi, and urge CNJ to go top rope. He’s so happy that people like him, that he has to take a moment to take it in, while his allies practically kick him up to the top turnbuckle, to miss his dive. Just like that, the Captain lost all his newfound respect. KUSHIDA hops in and locks in the Hoverboard Lock for the win. **1/2

Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo vs Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga

This was to build the Okada and Tonga match. Despite the names involved, I found it to be the worst of this show’s openers. Bullet Club kill these six man tags, and I can’t get invested in Tama Tonga. On a side note it looks like he’s back to wearing his normal gear, it still looks like pyjamas though so I’m not sure. Yujiro hits Tokyo Pimps on Gedo for a win he didn’t need. *1/2

Yuji Nagata [4] vs YOSHI-HASHI [2]

Hasn’t YOSHI-HASHI been having a good tournament? He’s finally breaking out and the fans are behind him all the way! His Butterfly Lock creates easy, edge of seat levels of tension, especially when the crowd was so into it after the intermission. On my Night 2 review I slated the Nagata Lock, and this submission based match only makes it stand out more glaringly. To his credit, he has been using a Backdrop to finish matches, which is fine. This is another awesome match from YOSHI-HASHI, similar in style to his bout against Omega. He’s been the opening block match on every show so far, and that’s a smart choice seeing as he gets everyone super amped up. Nagata wasn’t ready to put him over just yet though, and finishes him off with a very normal Backdrop. ***1/4

Katsuhiko Nakajima [2] vs EVIL [2]

Last show, we got to see Nakajima face Shibata again and it was great. That was Nakajima’s standout match though, now we’re going to see how he does for the rest of the tournament against people he doesn’t have history / superb chemistry with. This match was an example of him managing to overcome just that. The pacing and build was perfect. What started as a usual boring brawl around ringside picked up into a strong style duel, and the tension just kept climbing. It’s a shame we didn’t get Nakajima in the same block as Fale, because the way he worked away at the legs of EVIL to take him down to his level was just so damn satisfying to watch. Beating EVIL is a good way to generate interest in a future block match against Naito, which should be a good opponent for Nakajima too. The Genius of the Kick hits a Brainbuster for the win. ***

Tetsuya Naito [2] vs Toru Yano [0]

The battle of NJPW’s greatest trolls sounds highly entertaining on paper but it’s always failed to reach the high hopes of fans. This match was too short. Yano was as funny as ever but there wasn’t anything here that played off of Naito’s attitude. Yano said “Break!”, Naito kicked him in the balls, that kind of stuff. Naito took advantage of the low blow and nailed Yano with Destino to get the pinfall. *

Kenny Omega [2] vs Tomoaki Honma [4]

Up until this show, Honma was undefeated. That’s just wrong. I expected a win over Shibata but I’m not a fan of this new, capable Honma. This match may have shown the best work from Omega in G1 so far. He’s doing this thing where he rips up part of the padding and jumps on it with his opponent underneath? What’s the thought progress behind that spot? It sucks. Also what’s with his hair? For ‘The Cleaner’, he sure looks like trash. All of that aside though he’s back to doing his usual awesome suplexes and seems to be working really hard. I just hope that his big matches againt Naito and Shibata really deliver, or this guy is going to slip in the rankings. A One Winged Angel puts away the previously unstoppable Tomoaki Honma. ***

Katsuyori Shibata [2] vs Michael Elgin [0]

I’d say that this main event delivered. There was a lot of brutal spots that Shibata will surely regret in the future, a few new counters, such as Elgin catching Shibata as he went for his corner dropkick and just a fresh match with decent chemistry overall. While both these guys champions, Shibata had the upperhand over the IWGP Intercontinental Chapion in terms of points. It sucks seeing Shibata lose in what I was hoping to be an awesome G1 run, but that’s the way it is. Elgin destroyed him, and may have set up another match in the future, although Shibata could have a long queue of people lining up for a shot at the NEVER Openweight by the end of the tour. While this match was good, it still fails to compare to the A Block main events, or even strong midcard. The B Block shows are becoming largely skippable aside from a few match ups. Really don’t see the point of having Elgin as a champ for the G1, and keeping him so strong. The crowd is always going to love him being him, not him tearing down other fan favourites.

Elgin hits the aptly named Elgin Bomb for the win. ***

Current standings
Block ABlock B
Togi Makabe6

Yuji Nagata

Hirooki Goto4Tomoaki Honma4
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4Katsuhiko Nakajima4
Naomichi Marufuji4Kenny Omega4
Kazuchika Okada4Tetsuya Naito4
Bad Luck Fale2YOSHI-HASHI2
Tomohiro Ishii2Katsuyori Shibata2
Tama Tonga2Michael Elgin2
Hiroshi Tanahashi0Toru Yano0