New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 26: Night 8
July 30th, 2016
Aichi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

The situation in the B Block coming into Night 8 was very similar to what the A Block looked like going into Night 7. A veteran (Yuji Nagata, in this case) was leading the block undefeated with 6 Points, while there was a log jam of guys behind him with 4 & 2 Points. Could Nagata (or somebody else) gain some separation from the rest of the pack, or would others begin to close the gap? Those were some of the big questions coming into Night 8.

Toru Yano (0) def. Tomoaki Honma (4)

Going into this show, I was actually a little surprised that Yano had yet to score any points. I figured that he would have scored at least one point this deep into the tournament. Alas, Yano’s fortunes finally changed, as he picked up his first two points with a victory over Tomoaki Honma. Compared to most G1 matches, this was relatively short (as you would expect with Toru Yano), as the match only went about four or five minutes. Unlike most people, I don’t really mind Yano being in the G1, but I have to say that this match in particular was very lackluster, even for Yano. It was just…incredibly average. There’s really nothing much else to say about this one. **

YOSHI-HASHI (2) def. EVIL (2)

Both men come into this match needing a win to get back to .500. YOSHI-HASHI’s left shoulder was all taped up, so that makes him the second person in the B Block suffering from some sort of shoulder injury (the first being Katsuyori Shibata). I had a feeling that this would be good, but it turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting. These two put on a very good match that was made even better by the crowd reaction, particularly in the second half. You could tell that this crowd was really behind YOSHI-HASHI here (I’m sure a lot of that had to do with the fact that YOSHI-HASHI is from Aichi, the location of this show). They got louder and louder every time YOSHI-HASHI kicked out after a big move from EVIL. These fans wanted the hometown guy to win so badly, and when he finally put EVIL with Karma, the fans exploded! A very impressive performance from both guys here. The combination of a really good in-ring action and a hot crowd made for a great match. ****

Katsuhiko Nakajima (4) def. Yuji Nagata (6)

Nakajima wasted absolutely no time getting this one started, as he attacked Nagata (who comes into this show undefeated thus far in the tournament) while he was making his entrance. I thought this was a great match! The pre-match attack by Nakajima had a lot to do with that, I think, as it really fired up Nagata. There were times that Nagata was just beating the crap out of him. You can tell by his facial expressions that he was pissed that this arrogant prick Nakajima had the balls to disrespect one of his elders. This tension led to some awesome striking and slap exchanges between the two. It added a lot to the match, in my opinion, and it made just so much fun to watch. The crowd was into this one as well, and as a whole, this was just a great match with a lot of really good action between these two. In the end, Nakajima would pick up the win, giving Nagata his first loss of the tournament. With this victory, the Pro-Wrestling NOAH regular is now the effective leader in the B Block, as he now holds a tiebreaker over Nagata. ****

Michael Elgin (2) def. Kenny Omega (4)

These two have been going at it for a few months, first over the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles, and then the IWGP Intercontinental Title, which Elgin won from Omega in a Ladder Match back at Dominion. In a fun little note, Omega actually Too Sweet’ed a baby on his way out to the ring. Elgin, meanwhile, comes out to the ring with his left shoulder taped up as well, making him the third person in the B Block who apparently has some sort of shoulder injury. Yujiro Takahashi attacked Elgin before the bell with Omega’s broom (which Omega telegraphed when he spoke into the camera before Elgin came out), and this allowed Omega to hit a dive on Elgin to take the advantage right from the start. As a whole, I thought this match was awesome! It got off to a bit of a rough start with the pre-match attack by Yujiro, but thankfully, those were the only shenanigans we got. There was some very good action between these two, but things really picked up in the final five minutes with some incredible exchanges, and a great response throughout from the crowd. Some might not like the fact that they both stole each other’s finishers towards the end, but I didn’t mind it at all. It added a lot to the match, and both of those spots got two of the biggest reactions from the crowd. Omega once again showed that he can deliver in serious situations, while “Big Mike”, in my opinion, has been the best performer of the tournament thus far (from a match-quality perspective). His matches always deliver, and that really shouldn’t be a surprise, as he thrives in this environment. Elgin would eventually get the win here, in one of the best matches we’ve seen from the B Block thus far, and it’s certainly a contender for one of the best tournament matches thus far. ****1/2

Katsuyori Shibata (2) def. Tetsuya Naito (4)

These two had a feud last year, which actually started during the G1, where Shibata earned a victory over Naito. While this couldn’t top the awesome Elgin/Omega match that preceded it, I thought this was still pretty great. The contrast of personalities between these two is always fun to watch, and they told a good story with Naito going after Shibata’s two noticeable injuries (his right shoulder & left knee). Personally, I think opinions on this match may vary, depending on what you thought of the long submission sequence that took place about midway through the match. I thought it went a little longer than it needed to, but it did play into each of their respective injuries, so I wasn’t bothered by it too much. Aside from that one minor gripe, I really enjoyed this. Naito continues to be awesome in his role, and despite his obvious injuries, Shibata was still about to put on a great match. Speaking of which, I really hope his injuries aren’t too severe, and he’s able to keep going (based on his comments posted below, it looks like he’s goint to fight through the injuries). Shibata would get the win here after he choked Naito out following a PK, which gets him back to a .500 record. ****

Final Thoughts

Aside from Honma vs. Yano, I thought this was a fantastic night from the B Block. You had an awesome match between Michael Elgin & Kenny Omega, as well as three other matches (EVIL vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Nagata vs. Nakajima, & Naito vs. Shibata) that were all legitimately great, but also managed to be a little bit different from one another. Plus, the crowd in Aichi being into pretty much every tournament match really added to this show as well. As a whole, this was not only one of the best shows from the B Block, but quite possibly one of the best shows of the tournament so far.

Current Standings:

Block A

  • Togi Makabe – 8
  • Kazuchika Okada – 6
  • Tomohiro Ishii – 4
  • Hirooki Goto – 4
  • Naomichi Marufuji – 4
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan – 4
  • SANADA – 4
  • Bad Luck Fale – 2
  • Tama Tonga – 2
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2

Block B

  • Katsuhiko Nakajima – 6
  • Yuji Nagata – 6
  • Michael Elgin – 4
  • Kastuyori Shibata – 4
  • Tetsuya Naito – 4
  • Kenny Omega – 4
  • Tomoaki Honma – 4
  • EVIL – 2
  • Toru Yano – 2