New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 26 Night 10
August 1, 2016
Takamatsu City Gymnasium

Watch: NJPW World

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YOSHI-HASHI (4) def. Katsuhiko Nakajima (6)

In what could be considered a mild upset, YOSHI-HASHI topped Nakajima in a hard-fought match. YOSHI-HASHI, now nursing bandages around his shoulder. Nakajima pounced on YOSHI-HASHI’s tender shoulder (he’s not nursing bandages around the shoulder). This included multiple kicks to the shoulder, slams against guardrails on the outside and flat-out stepping on the shoulder. This had all the makings of complete Nakajima dominance until YOSHI-HASHI turned the tables with a dropkick to Nakajima’s knees. This appeared fleeting as Nakajima—who is having an impressive, workmanlike G1 so far—appeared to finish off YOSHI-HASHI with a series of stiff kicks followed by a ear-ringing penalty kick. Sorry, not enough. YOSHI-HASHI kicked out of a pinfall attempt and mounted his own comeback fueled by a massive lariat. YOSHI-HASHI got back to work and finally finished Nakajima off with Karma (his new half nelson driver) for the win.

This was a fantastic match but I was a little let down by the controlled offense of Nakajima meaning very little in the last portion of the match. This was one of those situations where Wrestler A has beaten Wrestler B down so much in the early portion of the match, it’s hard to suspend disbelief that Wrestler B (YOSHI-HASHI in this case) could ever find his way back into the match. That’s nitpicking though, this was really good and well worth your time. ***½

Michael Elgin (4) def. Yuji Nagata (6)

Michael Elgin, who is sporting similar shoulder tape as YOSHI-HASHI, continues his impressive G1 run with a solid clean win over Yuji Nagata. Before the bell rang, Elgin had a noticeably massive grin on his face as he waited for Nagata to enter the ring. I’ve said this on podcasts as of late but it’s so awesome to see someone just enjoy the hell out of what they do. Elgin couldn’t be happier in New Japan and seems to have finally made peace with his career as a pro wrestling, something he never seemed to do in America or Ring of Honor. Good for him.

Unlike the previous match, the man who dominated ended up winning as Elgin thoroughly controlled a majority of the match before finishing off the New Japan legend with an Elgin Bomb. This match certainly won’t blow your socks off but it was a short, compact, well told story with the goal (putting Elgin over) achieved nicely. ***

Toru Yano (2) def. Katsuyori Shibata (4)

I’m over Toru Yano in the G1. In prior years, it was a fun diverse, a nice break, a pleasant surprise to shut your brain off for a few minutes, watch him run around the ring and make a mockery of the entire tournament. You needed that break after the intense hard-fought matches. With the output of this year’s tournament not reaching the lofty standards of years prior, these Yano matches merely stick out as a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time. This may have been the pinnacle (or the nadir depending on your interpretation) of the silly Yano shenanigans. Shibata came out like a maniac at the beginning of this match but a few cunning moves from Yano turned the tables. Shibata went for a kick, Yano ducked out of the way and Shibata got tied up in the ropes. Yano then took off a turnbuckle pad and drove Shibata’s face into it. Yano then low-blowed Shibata and rolled him up for the two. Shibata hit another kick but Yano quickly reversed it into another roll-up pin. Ugh. NR

Kenny Omega (4) def. EVIL (2)

Now this is what I want out of a G1 match! From the beginning both men had only one goal in mind — win. Omega started the match off slapping EVIL asking if he needed help waking up. From that point on, these two just went at it with great back and forth action, no man ever gaining too much of advantage over the other. This is the type of performance we’re capable of getting out of Omega every night and EVIL continues to impress in his debut G1. In the end, Omega hit a reverse hurricanrana and the One-Winged Angel for the win. ***¾

Tetsuya Naito (4) def. Tomoaki Honma (4)

The waning fanfare of Tomoaki Honma was on full display for Night 10’s main event. A match similar to this in prior years would have received accolades across the board with a hot crowd pushing both men to excellence. Honma’s never say die attitude would have been on full display and in the end, he just wasn’t enough for the crafty Tetsuya Naito. Instead, what we’re left with this year is a match that felt every bit of the 20-minutes it ran. This dragged and each subsequent Honma comeback felt less enthusiastic. The crowd and most viewers at home had no faith Honma would pull it out and while that was his gimmick years prior, it just feels so lifeless and empty this year, even if the match still delivered.

As mentioned, the match itself, in a vacuum, was good. It’s well worth your time and something you should absolutely watch — an odd juxtaposition to my prior paragraph! Honma took a majority of the offense but refused to go down even a few times standing up to Naito and looking like he may…just maybe have a chance. That was the only sliver of hope he had though, even Honma nearfalls seemed more a formality than an actual chance of him winning the match. Like Honma is want to do, he went for broke with a Kokeshi but it ultimately did him in as Naito capitalized on his missed headbutt with a beautiful sequence of slaps, an enzuigiri and finally a Destino to finish off Honma. ****

Final Thoughts: 

Night 10 of NJPW’s G1 Climax 26 was fairly paint-by-numbers G1 Climax show with every match registering at a “good” level but none reaching great territory.

Current Standings:

Block ABlock B
Togi Makabe  8  Michael Elgin  6  
Kazuchika Okada8YOSHI-HASHI6
Naomichi Marufuji6Yuji Nagata6
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4Tetsuya Naito6
SANADA4Katsuhiko Nakajima6
Tama Tonga4Kenny Omega6
Hirooki Goto4Toru Yano4
Hiroshi Tanahashi4Tomoaki Honma4
Bad Luck Fale4Katsuyori Shibata4
Tomohiro Ishii4EVIL2