Thursday, October 29, 2015

G1 Climax 23 Day Four Review

G1 Climax 24 Day Four
July 26th, 2014 | Akita, Japan

As we continue through the G1 Climax 24, we’ve seen a really good night one and two solid shows to follow but nothing that I would consider spectacular. I have a sense that will change here. The two guys getting the night off tonight are Doc Gallows and Yujiro Takahashi. I’m going to try and stray from play-by-play during this recap to try something different. Let’s see how well that goes.

Block A
Bad Luck Fale (4) vs. Satoshi Kojima (2)

It looks and sound like this will another hot crowd. The early story is that Satoshi Kojima tries to come at Bad Luck Fale with everything he’s got, but is too overmatched by the big man. It takes a miss by Fale to give Kojima any sort of hope. They tease these a few times, which is good as the crowd is firmly behind Kojima and his rally attempts. Kojima is resilient, kicking out of a spear and Samoan drop. Kojima escapes some of Fale’s signature moves and then pulls out the win following a massive lariat.

Winner: Satoshi Kojima (4) in 8:25
A rather solid match here. Bad Luck Fale was once again booked to look like a monstrous force throughout and Satoshi Kojima had to rally to beat him. Things weren’t very exciting when Fale was in control but that was to be expected. They worked a smart match and, while there may have been a better choice for a hot opener, this was fine. **¾

Block A
Davey Boy Smith Jr. (2) vs. Shelton X Benjamin (6)

Both of these guys are part of Suzuki Gun. Thy shake hands but Shelton goes right into a slam. I think that’s cool because it shows that while they get along, this tournament means that much. Taka Michinoku has accompanied both guys throughout and he’s out here to play peacemaker, telling them not to use steel chairs on each other. Interestingly, Davey, the bigger guy, controls the mat while Shelton, the guy with the amateur background, comes back with strikes. Shelton locks in the ankle lock but Davey, like a boss, just stands up with his other leg to counter it into a sharpshooter. The finish comes when Shelton hits some kicks and the Paydirt.

Winner: Shelton X Benjamin (8) in 8:44
Whoa, Shelton keeps winning. I thought this was another good match. Both guys continue to have those, but haven’t produced anything particularly great yet. The fact that their alliance was put aside due to the importance of the tournament was cool and I thought that the shoutouts to Kurt Angle and Bret Hart during that submission spot were really cool. ***

Block B
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4) vs. Minoru Suzuki (0)

At this point, Minoru Suzuki is one of only three guys to not have any points yet. I’ve always heard good things about him but so far, he had a short match with Yano, a day off and a solid match with Goto. Suzuki has control early and goes right to the underhanded tactics, using the ring bell outside. Of everyone in the G1 so far, he’s been the most heelish. Suzuki targets the arm with various holds. So far in the tournament, Tenzan has looked like he’s fighting hard and giving his all to show that he’s still got it. At least that’s how I see it. He rallies at times but never seems to fully overcome Suzuki. He is able to block several piledriver attempts, which is a recurring theme here. Suzuki makes Tenzan tap out for his first win.

Winner: Minoru Suzuki (2) in 11:04 
While he hasn’t had a standout match yet, I’m really enjoying Suzuki heel it up so far. He tried hard for the piledriver here, but Tenzan had it well scouted and he was forced to try something else, which is how he ended up winning. I appreciate little things like that. ***

Block B
Hirooki Goto (6) vs. Toru Yano (2)

Entering this show, Hirooki Goto is one of four undefeated people, along with Benjamin, Okada and Tanahashi. Yano throws his water bottle at Goto, who just fires back and proceeds to kick Yano’s ass. He even stops the turnbuckle spot before tossing him around a bit. It looks like Goto is about to end this quick, but Yano hits him with a low blow and rolls him up to steal another one.

Winner: Toru Yano (4) in 1:21
That Toru Yano is a tricky fellow isn’t he? Normally, it’s hard to rate something so short, but for the time it lasted, I was having a good time. Goto was kicking ass and Yano was his wacky self. **

Block A
Tomoaki Honma (0) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (2)

From the work I’ve seen these two do, things should be about to pick up. As expected, they go into just beating the fuck out of each other and Honma misses a headbutt. Has he ever hit it on the first try? They just continue to batter each other. If you are a fan of manly man type matches where things are just hard hitting and brutal, these two deliver. The crowd is MOLTEN hot and pop hard when Honma nails the headbutt. Ishii sells a DDT here like it killed him. I don’t see many people talk about it, but he’s pretty good at that aspect. Unfortunately for Honma, he misses the top rope headbutt. The reaction for him getting two on a rollup and then hitting a flurry of offense is insane. They go to war with strikes and when Honma survives a lariat, again, the crowd comes unglued. He is unable to survive a Brainbuster though.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii (4) in 12:06 
Once again, these two get together and deliver one hell of a match. This was hard hitting, emotional, featured some close calls and best of all, had the crowd in the palm of their hands. They want to see Honma win so badly and you could feel and hear it each time he got close. They did everything well here, from the selling to the mannerisms to the actual in ring moves, this was great. ****¼

Block B
Lance Archer (2) vs. Togi Makabe (2)

Archer manages to spit a ton of water at the referee and Makabe before the bell. Like, more than Triple H spits in his entrance. A good chunk of the start of the match sees Archer pound on Makabe outside. While I don’t consider him to be the most imposing of big men (similar to Doc Gallows), he plays mean very well. It’s honestly a pretty one-sided math, with Archer really in control. Archer hit one of his signature moves and it looked like Makabe died. His eyes rolled back and everything. He was faking though and attacked a taunting Archer on the top. He then hit the spider German and knee drop to win.

Winner: Togi Makabe (4) in 10:35
I think that Togi Makabe did good work here. He sold well for Archer throughout. While Archer has improved since his days in TNA and WWE, he still isn’t great and having him control the majority of a match isn’t going to make it one that I love. However, credit goes to the finish, which was pretty great. **½

Block A
Shinsuke Nakamura (2) vs. Yuji Nagata (2)

Once the fans see Shinsuke Nakamura on the screen, they go nuts. This starts with the two men feeling each other out, but they seem to know each other so well that they are ready for the moves that the other one tries. When Nakamura gains control, he gets cocky and it angers old man Nagata. That is where things pick up because Nagata goes off on Nakamura, delivering some fun facial expressions in the process. Like, at one point Nakamura kicks him and he just gives him this offended look like “HOW FUCKING DARE YOU KICK ME LIKE SOME LILTTLE BITCH?” Nagata then proceeds to slap the shit out of Nakamura. Nagata goes after the arm, even applying his trademark armbar. Nagata picks up some close near falls that the fans bite on. Nakamura uses his knee to block a suplex and follows with two Boma Ye’s that gets the three.

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura (4) in 11:16
I saw these two have a match a year later in the G1 but it didn’t reach this level. I loved Yuji Nagata just being a complete badass and not taking Nakamura’s shit. Nakamura had to find a way to overcome that and I just thought this worked really well. ***¾

Block B
AJ Styles (2) vs. Tetsuya Naito (4)

These two would go on to wrestle at Wrestle Kingdom 9 a few months later. From the start, AJ Styles targets Naito’s head injury from the previous night. During his TNA run, I always felt that AJ made a far better face, but he’s become so good at playing the heel. Naito hits AJ’s trademark dropkick and even does the pose. Because of that, when AJ actually hits his, Naito flips inside out and it feels earned. Naito starts bleeding from the cut. With everything that AJ does, he just has this asshole look on his face, which is great. Naito has to work from behind because of the blood and it works better here than last night since Styles is a much bigger threat than Yano. Naito continues to try comebacks, but Styles is prepared for them all and stops them with various moves, including a Pele kick followed by Bloody Sunday. We nearly see a super Styles Clash, but Naito escapes and hits a gorgeous bridging German suplex for a VERY close two count. Naito is able to hit the Stardust Press and pin the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

Winner: Tetsuya Naito (6) in 15:55
As I said, I really liked their Wrestle Kingdom 9 match, but I liked this one more. AJ Styles playing the dick heel while also being vicious and attacking Naito’s weakness was so damn good. It was a side of him that wasn’t seen much until recently. Naito has disappointed me since I’ve been watching him as a face, but this was his best performance for sure. The blood added to his resilient performance in a big way. ****½

Block B
Karl Anderson (0) vs. Kazuchika Okada (6)

Here we have a rematch of the 2012 Finals, where Anderson became the first foreigner to make the finals since Rick Rude in 1992. Okada won that one. Anderson attacks before the bell but Okada takes a slight advantage when they brawl outside. A kick changed that and Anderson got in the driver’s seat, leading to a countout tease. Anderson holds serve with Okada making a few rally attempts but something about this isn’t clicking the way I’d hoped. Near the end, I feel like things pick up as they bust out some bigger offense and start countering each other. We see piledrivers, before they reverse each other’s finishers until Anderson scores the pinfall after the Gun Stun.

Winner: Karl Anderson (2) in 12:34
Something about this match just didn’t connect with me early on and I was actually kind of bored. Things picked up down the stretch, which seems to a theme in Okada matches. His end sequences are usually hot. They would have a better match a year later as Anderson’s G1 25 has been better than what I’ve seen of his 24 performances. ***¼ 

Block A
Hiroshi Tanahashi (6) vs. Katsuyori Shibata (2)

Up until recently, I had no clue that there were issues here. Tanahashi had some negative things to say about Shibata in his autobiography and this is their first meeting since then. There seemed to be a buzz in the air for this that other matches tonight haven’t had. Tanahashi is surprisingly the first person to bring the strikes but has to scurry when Shibata tries to murder him. Shibata follows out and beats the fuck out of Tanahashi. It’s like Shibata’s goal in this match is to just obliterate Tanahashi. Pretty much anytime that Tanahashi looks to gain traction, Shibata just takes his offense and comes back with something that looks vicious. When Tanahashi finally attacks the leg, it makes sense because he doesn’t want to get kicked into oblivion anymore. He hits High Fly Flow, but his second attempt is stopped by Shibata’s knees. They go into a strike exchange where Shibata just DESTROYS Tanahashi with one particular blow. That’s part of an excellent finishing stretch that sees Shibata hit a go to sleep and the PK to hand Tanahashi his first loss.

Winner: Katsuyori Shibata (4) in 16:16
This is what I wanted from this match. They had one a year later in the G1 that disappointed me. Here though, it’s more Shibata’s style than Tanahashi’s, which works for the better. The atmosphere was electric as the fans seemed to know that there was tension between the two men and they just went out and made sure to show it during the match. This was intense and worked in a great way. ****½

Overall: 9/10. After the great opening night, the next two nights have been good, but as I stated, I wasn’t blown away. They shut me up here. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the Makabe/Archer match as even the short Yano match was fun. You have arguably the three best matches of the G1 so far in Honma/Ishii, Styles/Naito and Shibata/Tanahashi, plus a really fun Nakamura/Nagata match and more than a few solid to good bouts. An excellent show top to bottom. Also, Shelton Benjamin is actually leading this thing after four nights?

Block A Standings
Shelton X Benjamin 8
Hiroshi Tanahashi 6
Katsuyori Shibata 4
Shinsuke Nakamura 4
Bad Luck Fale 4
Tomohiro Ishii 4
Satoshi Kojima 4
Yuji Nagata 2
Doc Gallows 2
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 2
Tomoaki Honma 0

Block B Standings
Kazuchika Okada 6
Hirooki Goto 6
Tetsuya Naito 6
Toru Yano 4
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 4
Togi Makabe 4
AJ Styles 2
Minoru Suzuki 2
Karl Anderson 2
Yujiro Takahashi 2
Lance Archer 2