While I usually just block off July/August so that nothing can get in the way, John Moreland was in town last night so I had to get out of the house. As a result, I missed Night 6 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 26 and got one show behind. But fear not: I’ve caught up and this post will examine both Nights 6 and 7. Since I’m covering two shows, I’m going to temporarily abandon the usual format of breaking the show down by individual matches and instead focus on the bigger pictures from each block. In case you’re new to this feature, read on to see what storylines are emerging and how each night’s results have affected the larger tournament picture. Let’s see What We Learned.
B BLOCK – NIGHT 6
- After three cards, Yuji Nagata (6) is the block leader.
- Nagata picked up a win over YOSHI-HASHI (2), who has impressed much of #wrestlingtwitter but mostly leaves me bored with his utter lack of charisma.
- B Block continues to be the obviously lesser block. While there is much more depth in this year’s G1, the loss of several elite talents has severely limited the potential for truly high level matches.
- Katsuhiko Nakajima (4), who has exemplified the good, not great essence of this G1, is on Nagata’s heels and he will have a shot at Blue Justice on Night 8.
- Toru Yano (0) is an even fresher breath of air due to this year’s lack of snowflakes. The shows can really drag on, one three-star match after another, but Yano’s matches always deliver in their own way.
- Tetsuya Naito (4), the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament, is only two points behind Nagata but is part of a huge mass in the middle of the block. Someone will need to separate himself.
- Tomoaki Honma’s (4) push has killed him. His matches aren’t as good and the crowd isn’t as into him. Perhaps he can regain some of his fun mojo against Yano on Night 8.
- It’s too early to tell what Michael Elgin’s (2) story is. He beat Katsuyori Shibata (2) but lost to EVIL (2) and Naito. I expected him to be very protected. We will find out whether the EVIL loss was the start of a pattern.
A BLOCK – NIGHT 7
- Despite the fact that Togi Makabe leads A Block with 8 points, the story of the block will clearly be Hiroshi Tanahashi’s (2) comeback. After going winless in his first three matches, Tanahashi finally secured a victory by defeating Bad Luck Fale (2). He faces Hirooki Goto (4) on Night 9.
- Makabe’s time in the sun is about to end. I was a little sad to see him put a huge roadblock in the middle of Hiroyoshi Tenzan’s (4) dream run but his sins will be repaid. Makabe’s next two matches are against Naomichi Marufuji (4) and Kazuchika Okada (6). Of course, Okada must lose at least once more for the Tanahashi story to play out, so Makabe could stay in the running but I think it’s unlikely.
- Night 9 will tell us whether it is SANADA (4) or Bad Luck Fale that is going to settle into the lower part of the block. Fale is normally protected and SANADA appears to be a guy Gedo likes a lot but Night 9 could be bad for one of them.
- Marufuji’s loss to Tomohiro Ishii (4), in a great match, makes me more confident Makabe is about to lose his next two matches. Marufuji’s win over Okada nearly guarantees that the NOAH star will ultimately be a factor on the last night of A Block and, at 4 points, he can’t afford to fall much more behind.
- Tama Tonga’s (2) win over Tanahashi will ultimately only have meant something for Tana. Tonga went back to losing, this time to Okada, which he will hopefully continue to do when he faces Ishii on Night 9.
I have cleared my busy social calendar to be back for Night 8 of the G1 Climax 26, which is on Saturday, July 30. It features five matches from the B Block. It should be one of the better B Block cards, featuring Naito vs. Nakajima, Omega vs. Shibata, and a rematch from last year’s 4-star G1 Final affair, with Michael Elgin taking on YOSHI-HASHI.