New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 26: Night 16
August 10, 2016
Yamagata City General Sports Center – Yamagata, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

We’re in the home stretch of the 26th G1 Climax, and the top contenders in the B Block are starting to make themselves known. Tetsuya Naito came into Night 16 as the only person in the block with 10 Points. Michael Elgin, Katsuyori Shibata, Toru Yano, Katsuhiko Nakajima, and Kenny Omega were all right behind him with 8 Points each. While Naito was pretty much assured to be in contention going into Sumo Hall, those with 8 Points are fighting to keep their hopes alive and stay in sight of the lead.

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Kenny Omega (8) def. Katsuhiko Nakajima (8)

Both men came into this match with 8 Points, and since victory for one would essentially eliminate the other from the running, this was a must-win situation for both Omega & Nakajima. I thought these two had a really good match here. Aside from a nasty Dragon Suplex on the floor by Omega on Nakajima very early on, the match was a little slow to get going, but the pace eventually picked up, and the second half of the match was pretty exciting. This was definitely a better outing for Omega compared to his match with Yuji Nagata on Night 14. As for Nakajima, he continues to be very impressive, and extremely consistent. For me, aside from his opening tournament match against Toru Yano, his matches have all fallen in the ***1/2-**** range. This particular match falls right in-between. He hasn’t had anything that I would call spectacular, but he’s having a lot of very good to great matches, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately for Nakajima, he would fall to Kenny Omega here, which essentially eliminates him from having any shot to win the B Block. ***3/4

EVIL (4) def. Toru Yano (8)

I never would have guessed that Yano would have gone on a four-match win streak. It’s a little crazy, to be completely honest. Fortunately, that string of victories would come to an end here for Yano, as EVIL defeated him a very quick match, which ended going around three minutes or so. I may be the outlier here, but I actually liked this match. People have Yano fatigue, and I totally get that, but Yano matches that are quick sprints, in my view anyway, are the best Yano matches. When the match is short, but is wrestled at a breakneck pace (like it was here), it’s a lot of fun. Yano went to untie the turnbuckle padding before the bell even rang, which led to EVIL charging at him, and then we were off to the races. I think n issue with a lot of the shorter Yano matches we’ve seen in this tournament thus far is that they weren’t wrestled at a quick, frantic pace like this one was (at least, I can’t recall any besides this one). Honestly, I thought this was one of the better “Yano-style” matches we’ve seen in the tournament. Getting back to the result, the referee actually caught and prevented Yano from trying to go for a low blow, which led to EVIL hitting his STO for the win, which pretty much eliminates Yano from contention. **1/2

Tetsuya Naito (10) def. YOSHI-HASHI (6)

YOSHI-HASHI is basically playing the role of spoiler in this match, as Naito tries to become the first person in either block to reach 12 Points. I thought this was a fantastic match! Except for a few slower points here and there, the match had a lot of great back & forth action right from the start. Naito, as always, looked awesome, but once again, YOSHI-HASHI had another excellent performance. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this might have been YOSHI-HASHI’s best singles match ever. It’s very close between this and both of the Elgin matches (which I really enjoyed). What really struck me was the crowd. Even though YOSHI-HASHI had been pretty much eliminated as a potential winner of the B Block, the crowd was still into this match a lot, particularly in the second half. They were just making so much noise in this match, and for me, it added so much to the match. YOSHI-HASHI seems to have really become beloved by the Japanese fans over the course of this G1, and here was just another example. Incredible in-ring action combined with great reactions from the crowd will always make for an awesome match, and that’s what we saw here. Despite his best efforts, YOSHI-HASHI would eventually fall to Destino, and Naito would get the win, moving up to 12 Points in the process. ****1/4

Katsuyori Shibata (8) def. Yuji Nagata (6)

These two had a series of matches back in May & June over the NEVER Openweight Title as part of the “Shibata vs. New Japan Dads” storyline. Nagata, at this point, is pretty much out of contention, while Shibata was looking to keep himself in contention heading into the final B Block show in Sumo Hall on August 13th. I thought this was a pretty good match, but I don’t think it was quite as good as their matches from just a few months ago. The action was very solid throughout, as you would expect from these two, but it just didn’t quite reach the levels of being great (for me, at least). It wasn’t a memorable G1 match by any means (I think even these two have had better G1 matches against each other), but this was still, as I said, pretty good. Shibata’s victory here keeps his hopes of winning the B Block alive. He’ll need one more victory, and then a lot of help. ***1/2

Michael Elgin (8) def. Tomoaki Honma (4)

Honma has lost all of his tournament matches since getting off to a 2-0 start, and has already been eliminated. Meanwhile, after initially starting off 0-2, Elgin has won four of his last five and, much like Shibata, is also looking to keep his hopes alive going into the final night of the B Block with a victory here. These two actually had a great match in Osaka during last year’s G1 Climax, and they followed that up with another great match here! I thought this was fantastic! I know they’ve only had two matches with each other, but I just feel that these two have really good chemistry. There was a ton of great action throughout this match, and the crowd was very much into it (they were actually more behind Honma than Elgin). I could see someone going a tad higher on this than me, but the fact that Honma was eliminated already (plus there’s no aura of him searching for that first win) took the match down slightly for me, but that’s my only real complaint. This match is definitely worth checking out. With this victory, Elgin moves to 10 Points, keeping his hopes alive heading into Sumo Hall. ****1/4

Final Thoughts:

This was a very solid outing from the B Block. I would say it was definitely a step up compared to the A Block’s outing on Night 15. You had two fantastic matches in Naito/YOSHI-HASHI and Elgin/Honma, which are definitely worth checking out. Nakajima/Omega & Shibata/Nagata were both really good, while EVIL/Yano was one of the better Yano matches we’ve seen thus far in this tournament. The results of this show mean that Naito, Elgin, Shibata & Omega are the only ones with a real shot to win the B Block in Sumo Hall on August 13th. While Naito’s path is the easiest (essentially a “win-and-you’re-in” scenario), the other three have to win their matches, but also need help in order to win the block.


Block A

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

Block B

Tetsuya Naito – 12
Michael Elgin – 10
Katsuyori Shibata – 10
Kenny Omega – 10
Katsuhiko Nakajima – 8
Toru Yano – 8
Yuji Nagata – 6
EVIL – 6
Tomoaki Honma – 4