Tuesday, November 10, 2015
More than halfway through the tournament, New Japan somehow either continues to top themselves or at the very least, maintain the very high level of this thing. From what I’ve seen, Osaka is a pretty great crowd usually and the card looks good, telling me that this show should deliver again. Two Bullet Club members, Karl Anderson and Bad Luck Fale, have the night off here.
Out of the gate, Tomohiro Ishii came out firing, setting the tone for what would be a hard hitting fight. Each shot from both guys was pretty damn stiff. Ishii is well known for this but I give Davey Boy Smith Jr. a ton of credit for holding his own. Both guys busted out cool suplex variations. The hot crowd added a ton to this. Smith nailed an absolutely beautiful German suplex for a close near fall before doing the same with a tiger suplex. The finish came as Ishii busted out a damn rana to counter a bomb. He followed with a lariat for a near fall that the fans bought into. A Brainbuster put away Smith in a great match.
I did not expect that. I knew that Tomohiro Ishii has been delivering and that Smith has been consistently good, but this clicked in a way I didn’t expect. It was hard hitting, had a red hot crowd and was just all around awesome. The best Smith match I’ve ever seen. Seeing Ishii hit a rana was pretty sweet too. Ishii injured his shoulder during the match, but soldiered on.
A quick attack started this match, which, as expected, wasn’t very long. It featured the typical Toru Yano shenanigans including the turnbuckle spot. It was funny to see Yano steal Tenzan’s trademark chops. It was different than when, say, AJ Styles did it as it was more fun here. The finish was cool as Yano had his low blow attempt blocked and he was put in the Anaconda Vice. He got out, they did a slight ref bump and then Tenzan turned the tables by hitting Yano with a low blow before applying the Vice and winning.
Fun little match here. It was kept short and did the job of acting as a cool down after the hot opening contest. The finishing sequence helped me bump up the score a bit.
Right from the get go, you could tell there would be a fair amount of counters in this. Shelton caught an early kick and slapped on the ankle lock. He also had the backdrop very well scouted, reversing two of them, one into a DDT and the other into another ankle lock. Nagata was ready for Shelton’s finish as well, turning Paydirt into the armbar. All of this was pretty damn good. There were a few more ankle locks attempts until Nagata put him down with a crossface finish.
I’ve seen people pretty split on this online. Some people loved it and some people found it boring. I really enjoyed it and the series of counters. Shelton using the ankle lock throughout the G1 has been cool and I’m glad it played a part in this. I also like how he had the backdrop scouted so well that Nagata had to find another way to win.
Honestly, this match was kind of just there. I watched it but most of it wasn’t memorable. Granted, it was actually rather solid. Doc Gallows normally isn’t very exciting, but was better than expected here. Satoshi Kojima bumped well for Gallows’ offense throughout, helping him look more like a monster than some. Gallows survived a Brainbuster and blocked the big lariat, but couldn’t continue to do so. He would eat a vicious lariat from Kojima that ended things.
Better than I expected, but still nothing great. It was a solid match that again, was kept rather short and sweet. They didn’t overstay their welcome and worked about as a good a match as I expected from them.
After starting 3-0, Hirooki Goto has hit a rut and lost a few in a row. The crowd was really into it from the start. They were very much behind Goto, which kind of forced Tetsuya Naito to act a bit heelish. That made it fun for me because I love heel Naito in 2015. I wonder if his dick tendencies here were part of the eventual decision to turn him. Goto pounded on Naito and they tried to build to a Naito rally. He did so, but the crowd wasn’t behind him in the way they wanted. The counters that both guys pulled out were great, including a particular one where Goto stopped a trademark corner dropkick of Naito’s. Naito took a risk with the Stardust Press and paid for it when he missed. Goto nailed Shouten Kai and ended his losing streak.
This is one of those cases where I love the time that G1 matches get. This was brisk and they packed a ton into their twelve minutes, meaning that everything they did mattered.
TNA! TNA! TNA! Anyway, throughout this tournament, AJ Styles has been incredibly versatile. That happened again here as he played right into Lance Archer’s strengths. Styles bumps like crazy for Archer, in the best possible way. It really hammered home the point that Archer was a monstrous threat, which he himself has done a good job of during the tournament. Styles used a favorite of mine, the ring post figure four and then focused on the leg. I always appreciate when the smaller guy goes after the leg. Archer kept things simple throughout, relying on just throwing AJ around and allowing AJ to make sure the bump looked vicious. He did reach into his bag of tricks by trying a moonsault, which is impressive considering his size. He missed it though, leading to the finish, where AJ made him submit to the calf cutter.
Far better than I ever thought it would be. I’ve gone on record in saying that I don’t particularly enjoy Lance Archer, but this just clicked. I liked the big man/little man dynamic and loved that the leg work played into the finish. It also made sense because Archer was too big to hit the Styles Clash, so AJ had to pull something else out to win.
This absolutely worked in the sense that it felt way different than everything else on the card tonight. They just had an intense brawl that spilled all around the ring and involved weapons. Makabe went after the leg and applied a figure four variation. He was more seated instead of laying and Suzuki would try to sit up but get slapped back down. Each shot was pretty damn brutal. Suzuki reached the ropes, but the brutality didn’t stop. Suzuki straight up punched Makabe, hit a kick and locked in Saka Otoshi for the win. Makabe was turning colors from the hold.
These are two of the baddest dudes in the G1, so their match being this style was very fitting. As I noted, I loved that this had a different feel to the rest of the card as the best cards usually give you a little bit of everything. I dug the finish of Togi passing out instead of submitting since he is too much of a badass to tap.
Going into this, I knew it would be awesome and it delivered. The crowd is always molten hot for Tomoaki Honma. The start of this match was intense, as Shibata beat the fuck out of Honma with some shots, only for Honma to just scream at him and take it like a man. The mixture of the hot crowd with the vicious hard hits of the match made for something really enjoyable to watch. Near the end, Shibata hit a sick slap on Honma but Honma came right back with that headbutt. Honma caught the Penalty Kick attempt so Shibata lit him up with slaps only for Honma to hit one major one of his own that took down Shibata. Shibata then finally won with a GTS and PK, ending a fantastic match.
The more I watch Shibata, the more I like him and I can honestly say the same for Honma. The fans just eat up everything Honma does and they buy into the possibility of him winning, hook, line and sinker. He did have some really close calls here too. I feel like I’m going to have bruises just from watching this. It was two guys who didn’t let up and worked the whole match at a fantastic breakneck pace.
Takahashi attacked Okada during his entrance. This allowed him to be in the driver’s seat far longer than I expected. Okada did a good job in selling Yujiro’s offense and there have been more than a few upsets in this tournament, but I never believed the outcome of this match was in doubt. Takahashi did a good job of avoiding some of Okada’s signature moves and then hit Tokyo Pimps for two but I never bought it as the finish. Okada would counter a buckle bomb with a rana before going into his finish. Dropkick, tombstone and Rainmaker ended this.
I thought this was a fine wrestling match but it did nothing to stand out on this crowded show. Maybe on a different card it would have come off better, but I never fully got into this.
Earlier in the year, these two headlined in the Tokyo Dome, which was won by Tanahashi. Their rematch at Invasion attack was won by Nakamura. They went in knowing each other very well and played right into that, with neither man gaining a clear advantage. It seemed like they might be heading into time limit draw territory early on due to the slow pace, but that picked up quickly. Tanahashi stole Nakamura’s signature corner move/taunt only for Nakamura to turn it around. Nakamura had a cool submission applied, only for Tanahashi to find a way to counter it into the cloverleaf. In the best spot of the match, Tanahashi countered the Boma Ye into a dragon screw, only for Nakamura to spin out of that and hit one anyway, for an incredibly close near fall. Tanahashi then pulled out the win with an O’Connor roll.
I’ve seen three matches between these two and they always manage to deliver. This felt different than the other two. They knew that were going less than 20 and made sure to work within those confines. I liked them playing off their past and some of the near falls were great. I love that the finish came on a rollup, since in the past, it has taken so much for these guys to beat each other, that if the match had to go under 20, it should end with something like that.
Overall: Somehow they keep either topping themselves or equaling their already amazing efforts. This show was fantastic, featuring four matches that clock in at over four stars. Again, there was nothing bad on this show, the incredibly hot Osaka crowd and the performances of nearly everyone made this another special show. I don’t see how they could possibly keep up this pace.
Katsuyori Shibata 10
Hiroshi Tanahashi 10
Shinsuke Nakamura 10
Satoshi Kojima 8
Yuji Nagata 8
Shelton X Benjamin 8
Bad Luck Fale 8
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 6
Doc Gallows 4
Tomoaki Honma 0
Kazuchika Okada 10
AJ Styles 10
Tetsuya Naito 8
Minoru Suzuki 8
Hirooki Goto 8
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 8
Togi Makabe 6
Lance Archer 6
Toru Yano 6
Karl Anderson 6
Yujiro Takahashi 4