New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 26: Night 14
August 7, 2016
Act City Hamamatsu – Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Gridlock would be an accurate word to describe how the B Block in this year’s G1 Climax has played out thus far. Going into Night 14, Tetsuya Naito & Michael Elgin stood on top with 8 Points, while Katsuyori Shibata, YOSHI-HASHI, Kenny Omega, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Yuji Nagata, & Toru Yano were all tied with 6 Points. EVIL & Tomoaki Honma, who were already long shots to begin with, were the only two that went into this on the verge of elimination. Could either Naito or Elgin break the 10 Point barrier, or would anyone from the logjam behind them break out to go to the top of the block? Those were some of the big questions heading into Night 14.

Toru Yano (6) def. Michael Elgin (8)

I know a lot of people have grown tired of Yano in this G1, but I thought this was actually an entertaining match. It had it moments, such as Yano trying to overpower Elgin with a handshake, only for it to backfire (how awesome would it have been if Elgin actually got Yano to tap out to a handshake?), and Yano grabbing thin air when he tried to do his signature hair-pull. There was a ton of chicanery in this one, as you would expect, and Yano picked up a huge win over Elgin to move up to 8 Points. So this means that Yano is actually on a four match win streak, after originally going 0-3. I think the bigger issue with this result is that it means that Yano now has victories over both the IWGP Intercontinental Champion & the NEVER Openweight Champion. Now we all know the G1 can be used to set up future title shots, and we know Yano is going to upset people, but does he really need to beat two of your three heavyweight singles champions? It’s not like Yano is actually going to get title shots out of this (does he ever?), so in a way, it seems a little pointless. If there’s a bright side, I did call Yano beating Elgin in my entry for the Voices of Wrestling G1 Climax Pick ‘Em contest, so at least I get points out of this result. **1/4

Katsuyori Shibata (6) def. YOSHI-HASHI (6)

Coming into this show, both men were part of a multi-man mid-pack logjam at 6 Points. I thought this was a pretty good match, but considering how good Shibata is, and how well YOSHI-HASHI has been doing in the G1 thus far, this was a little disappointing. They traded submissions in the middle part of the match, and the action as a whole throughout the match was solid, but I just think it could have easily been better. As I said before, YOSHI-HASHI has been very impressive thus far in the tournament, but his match here against Shibata, while still a solid match, is probably one that you’ll easily forget, especially when you consider the fact that they’re trying to follow a fantastic showing from the A Bloc the night before. The current NEVER Openweight Champion would get the win here, moving to a 4-3 record with 8 Points on the board. ***1/4

Katsuhiko Nakajima (6) def. Tomoaki Honma (4)

After having the lead in the B Block at one point, Nakajima has slipped down the standings a little bit, losing his last two, and falling to 3-3. Honma, meanwhile, has lost four straight after getting off to a surprising 2-0 start. I thought this was a really good match, and easily the best tournament match of the night up to this point. Nakajima is another guy in the B Block who has had some very impressive outings, so it really wasn’t a surprise that he had another strong performance here. As for Honma, even though he’s definitely lost that magic which made his matches so special in the previous two G1’s, we can’t forget that the guy is still a very good pro-wrestler. You can usually count on Honma to have solid G1 match (unless it’s against Yano, of course). There were some really good exchanges between these two, particularly towards the end of the match. Nakajima would eventually get the win to move to a 4-3 record at 8 Points, and shook hands with Honma afterwards. ***3/4

Kenny Omega (6) def. Yuji Nagata (6)

These two were also part of that multi-man logjam at six points coming into this show. As a whole, I’d say this was a relatively solid match, but much like the Shibata/YOSHI-HASHI match from earlier, this one left me a little disappointed. I’m not saying the match was bad by any means, but I was just expecting a little bit more. I think it may have gone a little too long for my liking, plus it didn’t sound like the crowd was into it the whole way through. Again, the match itself was fine. There wasn’t technically anything wrong with it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s an easily forgettable match. Omega would score the win here to get to 8 Points and a 4-3 record. ***1/4

Tetsuya Naito (8) def. EVIL (4)

The crowd got really excited when it was time for this main event. I’m always intrigued to see G1 matches between stablemates, but for me, this was one of my most anticipated matches of the tournament, just to see how it would turn out. The standings in the B Block going into this match actually added a little intrigue for me, as EVIL was trying to stave off elimination, while Naito was looking to be the first person in the B Block to hit 10 Points. When the dust settled, these two put on a great main event, that definitely takes spot for match of the night on this show. It took a little bit to get going, but when it did, the action was really good. Naito, of course, looked great, as he always does, but EVIL was very impressive here as well. The crowd seemed to be behind him at a number of points, especially towards the middle of the match when Naito was working over his legs. This was his big chance to shine, and I think he did very well. The one spot in this match that stood out to me in particular was when Naito reversed an EVIL Bomb attempt off the second rope into a massive hurricanrana, which looked really cool. The only criticisms I have about this match was that it went a little too long (it went just over twenty minutes), and that it looked like Naito had one or two sloppy moments. Other than that, this was a great main event. Naito would eventually get the win after hitting EVIL with Destino. Naito simultaneously eliminates his stablemate, while also becoming the first person in the B Block to reach 10 Points. ****

Final Thoughts:

Night 14 definitely didn’t match the incredibly high standards that were set by the A Block on Night 13 in Osaka. As a whole, this was a relatively solid showing from the A Block. EVIL vs. Naito was easily the best match of the night, and if you’re really pressed for time, then that’s the match to check out. Nakajima vs. Honma was also very good, and another tournament match that I would say is at least worth checking out. As for the rest of the tournament matches, Shibata vs. YOSHI-HASHI & Nagata vs. Omega were both good, but fell below my own expectations. Finally, Elgin vs. Yano had its moments, but I’m sure most people will be really disappointed by the result of that match.

Current Standings:

Block A

Kazuchika Okada – 10
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8
Bad Luck Fale – 8
Hirooki Goto – 8
Togi Makabe – 8
Naomichi Marufuji – 8
Tama Tonga – 6
Tomohiro Ishii – 6
Hiroyoshi Tenzan – 4

Block B

Tetsuya Naito – 10
Michael Elgin – 8
Katsuyori Shibata – 8
Toru Yano – 8
Katsuhiko Nakajima – 8
Kenny Omega – 8
Yuji Nagata – 6
EVIL – 4
Tomoaki Honma – 4