Hey, it’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s G1 climax Climax, day thirteen! We’re in another Bunka today – the Bunka Gymnasium in Yokohama! Onwards!
The show started with an eight-man tag match, as Yohei Komatsu, Jushin Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Satoshi Kojima took on David Finlay, Mascara Dorada, Yuji Nagata & KUSHIDA. Man, that’s some weird teams, almost like they picked them out of a hat or something.
Actually, I guess it’s kind of a Peña special – a Young Boy, a masked man, a light heavyweight, and a heavyweight. No minis or transvestites, though.
Liger and Mascara Dorada started out and did lucha, ending in a dive from Dorada and Liger’s quebradora and surfboard. Komatsu and KUSHIDA came in and made it all fast, Komatsu looking crisp and KUSHIDA being dominant and ouchy. Good stuff.
Dorada tagged back in and he & KUSHIDA did a sweet spot that had KUSHIDA running the ropes a LOT, and then the heavyweights came in for kicks, and forearms, and tiny chops. Nagata stopped Kojima doing his shitty elbow drop with a kick to the face, and they went back and forth. Kojima hit Nagata in his ouchy ribs, hit a Koji cutter and threw the elbow pad away for the lariat. Nagata, though, caught him and locked on the Shirome armbar until it all broke down and the ring cleared.
Taguchi and Finlay were in the ring after the brawl ended, and the Young Boy kept things fast and simple to combat any chance of bumwar. He made a cover but Taguchi’s team came in, broke it, and quadruple-teamed the youngster, Taguchi scoring a nearfall with a top rope bumming. Finlay’s team ran in and it all broke down again, with Taguchi and Finlay left in the ring at its culmination once more.
They traded nearfalls and then Taguchi got the win with a wheelbarrow facebuster. Good opening match stuff.
The Bullet Club were out next, sending out Karl Anderson & Cody Hall to fight Jay White & Michael Elgin. Elgin’s had a good first tour so far, which is strangely heartening to someone who doesn’t really like Ring of Honor.
Elgin and Anderson started out, Elgin getting the better of a strength battel, and winning a posedown. He hit his stalling suplex early, keeping it on despite Cody Hall punching him in the tummy, and got a nearfall. White tagged in and out-flipped Anderson, who simply ran over him and tagged in Hall. Hall hit chops in the corner that White sold like death and then got a nearfall with a bodyslam.
The Bullet Club made quick tags to keep the heat on White, but White got some hope with his sweet dropkick and made the tag to Elgin. Elgin roared in and took it to Anderson – even dumping Hall off the apron – and got a nearfall with a deadlift German suplex. Hall ran in to try and help his teammate but Elgin saw them both off and got another nearfall.
Anderson came back, hitting a Stun Gun for a nearfall, and they went back and forth until Elgin tagged in White. White’s speed was effective against Anderson at first, and he scored a nearfall with a dropkick, but Hall broke it up and dumped Elgin off the apron. The Bullet Club double-teamed White, scoring a nearfall which Elgin broke up, and another which White just kicked out of. White got one of his own with a roll-up before Anderson won the match with a Stun Gun. Enjoyable stuff.
From The Bullet Club to Chaos, and Shinsuke Nakamura, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii versus Captain New Japan, Tomoaki Honma & Hirooki Goto.
Honma insisted on starting for his team, and demanded Nakamura face him. Nakamura was cool with that. They both did their respective trademark starts – flailing arms and missed headbutts – and Nakamura mixed it up a bit with a falling kneebutt. Funny. Captain New Japan tagged in and got the knee treatment from Nakamura, who tagged out to YOSHI-HASHI.
YOSHI-HASHI did little of interest and brought in Ishii, who clubbed the Captain – and his team off the apron. The Captain fought back but Ishii no-sold everything he had and got a nearfall with a suplex. The Captain made his flying shoulderblock comeback and tagged in Goto, who took it to Ishii with kicks. They went back and forth, and Goto got a nearfall with a side suplex.
Ishii won a clothesline battel but couldn’t hit the brainbuster, instead getting hit with Ushigoroshi. Both men tagged out, and Nakamura and Honma came in to renew hostilities. Nakamura did his vibrating leg thingy but missed a knee charge, Honma hit a bulldog but missed a headbutt, and then Honma hit the headbutt! He only got a nearfall, though, and YOSHI-HASHI tagged in.
Honma tagged out to the Captain, and the babyface team triple-team the man in loon pants. The Captain got a nearfall which was broken up by Ishii and the teams brawled leaving The Captain & Chaos in the ring. Despite help from his teammates, YOSHI-HASHI could only get a nearfall, but came back with the senton off the top for the win. Another fun prelim bout.
The Bullet Club returned for the final non-tournament bout, with Yujiro Takahashi (no stripper) & Tama Tonga teaming to take on the Chaos pair of IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada & Gedo.
Takahashi and Okada – a clear fan-favourite – started out, with Okada on top early doors until Takahashi did some dick cheating. Okada came back with some kicks, sending Takahashi outside for some respite.
Gedo and Tama Tonga tagged in and Gedo did his handshake deal, but sadly the referee didn’t get a hug. Then Tonga went for the handshake and Gedo accepted, and then kicked Tonga in the tummy. This time Tonga went outside for a break.
Back in the ring, Tonga took it to Gedo but the veteran went old school and took him down, and Takahashi, too, for good measure. Takahashi pulled Gedo out of the ring – and Tonga knocked Okada off the apron – and they all brawled on the outside. Tonga returned to the ring but Takahashi beat on Gedo some more, throwing him back in on eleven.
The Bullet Club kept the heat on Gedo, Takahashi taunting him into trying a comeback, until Takahashi was the victim of some attempted double-teaming gone wrong and Gedo made the tag to Okada. Okada calmly and confidently went after Takahashi, surviving a bite but falling prey to a suplex which brought in Tama Tonga.
Tonga got a quick nearfall but Okada hit back with a dropkick and tagged Gedo back in. They double-teamed Tonga for a nearfall, broken by Takahashi, and Tonga fought out of the Gedo clutch to score a nearfall with the Headshrinker DDT. They traded a little but Tonga hit the Headshrinker for the win. After the match, Takahashi beat up Okada on the outside. An okay match.
After the interval – yes, that press conference AGAIN on the big screens – it was G1 time, with Bad Luck Fale (responsible for four of the five worst matches on this tour so far) versus Kota Ibushi (who’s been in some of the best).
Fale attacked Ibushi before the bell, and it was a tale of slow clubbing versus fast kicking from the off. You’d like to think even Fale couldn’t have a bad match with Ibushi but he did with Naito, which is almost unpossible.
They brawled into the crowd – slow, plodding, one-sided brawling – and then returned to the ring for more slow, plodding “action.” The referee looked a bit like TAKA Michinoku is all I took away from this bit. Oh, and Fale put on a nerve hold, which my recent basic first aid training taught me is a great way to check if anyone is faking. Hear that, Dana White?
Fale threw Ibushi outside AGAIN for MORE slow, plodding brawling, where Ibushi hit an Asai moonsault for his comeback. Ibushi threw Fale back into the ring and beckoned him up, and then took him down again with a flurry of strikes before a couple of nearfalls from standing twisting presses. He laid in some kicks but Fale caught him for a Samoan Drop and a double down.
Fale hit a corner charge and got a nearfall with a standing splash, before calling for the Grenade, which Ibushi reversed into a rana for a nearfall. Fale set up the Bad Luck Fall, but Ibushi escaped into a rana, which Fale blocked. He sloppily reset the Bad Luck Fall and tossed Ibushi to the mat, covering him for the INFURIATING win. Awful match. Avoid.
Two men who are deliberately annoying, in two different ways, were out next, as Toru Yano fought Tetsuya Naito. Yano was $hilling his Chaos DVDs and Naito had the full suit and mask get-up on, so you know it’s a big match. Yano also brought a chair to the ring.
Yano giggled like an idiot at the sight of Naito, which is a strange way to get a heel over but then Yano giggles at everything. Naito, for his part, stood stoicly in the corner, still wearing his mask and suit, long after the bell. Yano, not wanting to be left out, fetched his robe and put it back on. “Comedy.”
Naito began undressing but Yano rushed in and choked him with the robe, drawing laughter from the idiot crowd. Naito then hit back, kicking Yano out of the ring and resumed undressing. Yano tried to return to the ring but Naito knocked him off the apron and teased a dive, ending up reclining in the centre of the ring. Yano mocked him by reclining on the apron and got kicked to the floor for his troubles.
They fought outside and Naito got sent into the barriers. Yano tried to remove the turnbuckle pad but Naito stopped him and threw him back in the ring. He kept the heat on Yano, standing on his face, and when the referee tried to intervene he got pushed over. And then again. Dick.
Naito whipped Yano into the corner and then paused to pose. Yano removed the turnbuckle pad and suckered Naito into hitting it, twice. Naito came back and hit the in & out dropkick and dicked on Yano some more, but Yano hit a reverse Atomic Drop. Naito hit one back and when Yano was moaning to the ref that he’d been hit in the balls, Naito kicked him – in the balls – and hit Destino for the win. Strangely entertaining. After the match, Naito attacked Yano and also attacked a cameraman on his way back to the back. Dick!
Hmm, from strangely entertaining to “I bet it does nothing for me”, with Hiroyoshi Tenzan versus AJ Styles. Tenzan is like Kojima to me, basically a tribute act now, except I never really liked his schtick in the first place. Styles is Styles.
So this is the two worst hairstyles in New Japan and when that includes Jay White and Tetsuya Naito you know you’re talking BAD. They exchanged holds – and hair pulls – early doors, before Tenzan took Styles down with a shoulderblock and hit those stupid Mongolian chops. He threw Styles outside and went out after him, where they brawled around ringside.
Back in the ring, Tenzan continued to get the shine, kicking and stomping and gurning and boring. Styles came back with some kicks of his own and took Red Shows down for trying to keep him out of the corner. Ref bumps aplenty in the G1 this year.
They went back and forth until Styles locked on the Calf Killer and TenzN quickly made the ropes to escape. Styles went back on the attack with a Figure Four leglock, and Tenzan again made the ropes. Styles stole Tenzan’s Monglian chops, to zero effect, and Tenzan came back with some of his own, with better results. They traded nearfalls, and Tenzan tried for Anaconda Vice, but this time Styles was the rope escapee.
Styles got the heat back after a dropkick, and hit a slingshot forearm but Tenzan blocked it with his head. Tenzan looked to finish it but Styles took his knee out and hit a quebrada. However, Tenzan got his knees up and locked on Anaconda Vice, which Styles stood up and made it to the ropes. Red Shoes tried to force a break, which distracted Tenzan, and Styles takes his eyes. He then locked on a Calf Killer for the win. Oddly structured and a bit dull.
Because you can never get enough of the pissweak nWo, the third G1 match out of four had a Bullet Club member in it, with Doc Gallows fighting Togi Makabe. On paper this should be a HOSS match but Gallows is mostly terrible so who the fuck knows?
The went at it right from the off, HOSSing it up in the most basic of clubbing ways, brawling outside before the match was even a minute old. Is it too much to hope for a double count-out? It appeared so, because Makabe threw Gallows back into the ring, where he got caught by Gallows’s terrible offense, and then kicked outside again and choked and smacked with his own chain. Should of taken the count-out.
More ringside brawling ensued, and Makabe almost got counted out, and then they went outside AGAIN. Fuck this match. Gallows dumped the most plastic ring barrier in the world on top of Makabe, and then a chair, and walked back to the ring, hopefully for good this time. Makabe, meanwhile, crawled on all fours towards the ring, Red Shoes counting ever nearer to twenty…
Ah, fuck, he made it back in on eighteen. Gallows continued to attack, scoring a nearfall with a legdrop, and then wore Makabe down with a headlock, because God knows we’ve had enough excitement so far this match. Makabe fought his way to his feet and elbowed out of the hold, only to get kicked in the head a couple of times, no-selling the effect if not the inertia.
They had a clothesline battel, which Makabe won, but they both went down. However, he fired up and charged the corner, hitting clotheslines and the ten punch deal, before hitting a lariat for a nearfall. Gallows came back and laid in some kicks in the corner, and then hit a superkick for a nearfall. Well, if the Young Bucks ain’t here…
Gallows hit a chokebomb for a nearfall and went for another, but Makabe came back with a clothesline and a Death Valley driver, before hitting the King Kong kneedrop for the win. This was NOT a good match. Fucking Doc Gallows.
Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Katsuyori Shibata versus Hiroshi Tanahashi! This should be aces! Tanahashi had his hair in a high ponytail, like those private school girls you used to fantastise after at the bus stop. They, like good wrestling on this show, seem a long time ago…
They started tentatively, and then exploded into furious matwork, neither able to gain a hold over the other. There’s a fat guy in the front row, sitting with who I presume is his mother. What a small world.
Shibata locked on a wear-down headlock, which Tanahashi fought out of and applied one of his own. There’s holds to be danced in and out of and there’s genuine wear downs. These two ain’t dancing. Shibata reversed into another headlock which Tanahashi switched into a headscissors. Shibata escaped and tried to hit a huge kick but Tanahashi ducked and they reset. Good start, this.
Shibata locked on a calf lock, bridging it back for extra ouch, but Tanahashi flipped it over into a nearfall, and they reset again. This time it was Tanahashi’s turn to slap on a leglock and Shibata made the ropes to force a break. Tanahashi didn’t let him up clean and kicked him on the ropes but Shibata just took it because he is MANLY.
They fought in the centre of the ring, Shibata trying and eventually succeeding to apply the Octopus hold, channeling Inoki, and rolling it through into a Figure Four leglock. Quite the submission battel, this. Tanahashi tried to reverse the Figure Four but Shibata blocked it, and then he tried again but Shibata rolled it through until they made the ropes.
They stood up and Shibata went on the attack, kicking Tanahashi down into the corner and charging in for the low dropkick to the FACE. BUT! Tanahashi got up and took out Shibata’s knee, and they both lay there, holding their respective patella. Shibata tried to kick Tanahashi but got caught and Dragon Screwed to the outside, where Tanahashi followed. They brawled on the barriers and I started getting massive deja vu and willing them back in.
Thankfully, they climbed straight back in (there is a God!), Tanahashi resuming his attack with forearms which Shibata no-sold. Shibata hit back with forearms of his own, and then Tanahashi hit back with some more. Tanahashi charged into the corner for a dropkick but Shibata jumped over him and landed his feet on Tanahashi’s face, then did the dropkick to the FACE which Tanahashi had earlier avoided. Getting ouchier now.
They reset and Shibata went back on the wear down, locking in another Octopus that looked considerably more painful than the last one. Tanahashi made the ropes and hit a slap and they both went down.
They stood up for a forearm and uppercut battel, just beating the hell out of each other. Shibata took Tanahashi down to his arse with a kick and then ran off the ropes for a PK but Tanahashi caught his leg and hit a dropkick to Shibata’s bad knee. He locked on a cloverleaf and tried to sit back into it, but Shibata made the ropes to break the hold.
With Shibata down, Tanahashi went up top for the High Fly Flow but Shibata popped up and dropkicked him, leaving him slumped on the top turnbuckle. Shibata climbed up after him and tried to hit a superplex but Tanahashi blocked it and they had a forearm battel in the sky. Tanahashi won that but Shibata popped back up AGAIN with a dropkick, and then launched Tanahashi to the mat. He ran off the ropes for the PK but Tanahashi hit a desperation slingblade and they both went down again!
Tanahashi was up first, dragging Shibata up with him, and tried for a Dragon suplex. Shibata blocked it and hit a Death Valley driver, and then tried for another but Tanahashi hit a rolling cutter. Tanahashi went up top, hit two High Fly Flows, but Shibata got his knees up for the second, and then locked on a sleeper hold. Tanahashi fought against it, elbowing his way out, but Shibata took him down with two kicks and a forearm to the back of the head. Shibata ran off the ropes for the PK but Tanahashi ducked and rolled Shibata through for a nearfall. Shibata applied a sitting sleeper but Tanahashi rolled that through, too, this time for the win. A wonderful match.
This was a Decent Show. The preliminaries were fine but the G1 matches were largely bad, with only the fun Naito versus Yano and an excellent main worth watching at all. Am I getting burned out? Who knows, but we’ve still got six shows to go!
Block A Standings: Fale 5-2, Naito 5-2, Styles 5-2, Tanahashi 5-2, Makabe 4-3, Shibata 4-3, Ibushi 3-4, Yano 2-5, Gallows 1-6, Tenzan 1-6 (Ibushi, Yano, Gallows & Tenzan are out of the running)