Saturday, November 14, 2015
Just three shows left. That kind of makes me sad. On this show, Shelton X Benjamin and Hirooki Goto have the night off. I still expect another great show from this tournament.
As expected, the crowd is really hot for Honma. Also as expected, Honma misses his headbutt. Twice. They trade back and forth until he finally nails it and then hits a second rope blockbuster for two. I haven’t seen him hit that at all in the tournament, so it’s nice to see new things after ten nights. Kojima hits a diamond cutter/RKO and a Brainbuster for two. Honma stops a lariat with a headbutt and goes up top as the fans come alive. Of course though, he misses. Kojima keeps him winless with a huge lariat.
Fine opening contest. Tomoaki Honma is good for this since the crowd is always super into him. Nothing out of this world, but solid work.
They try to test which guy is stronger, and Smith does a good job in holding his own. Fale throws him around outside before going to my least favorite move in wrestling, the dreaded nerve hold. Smith fights out and shows off some impressive power by tossing Fale around. Smith avoids the Bad Luck Fale and goes for the Sharpshooter, but Fale quickly reaches the ropes. Fale hits a Samoan drop and then wins with the Grenade.
Well Bad Luck Fale has certainly racked up the points hasn’t he? Unfortunately, this was on the lesser scale of his matches as I wasn’t a big fan. It was a good little power battle, but nothing more.
Unlike some other shows, Tetsuya Naito is fairly over here. He starts hot but then Tenzan just takes him down with a neckbreaker. Tenzan pounds away on Naito, with some of the shots being pretty stiff. He stays in control for a bit until Naito starts a rally with a basement dropkick but it is stymied. Tenzan does a weird move off the top that comes off looking very clumsy. Multiple Anaconda Vice attempts are countered and Naito gets close near falls on a bridging rollup and German. He finally gets the three on a successful Stardust Press.
Another match that I wish was better than it turned out to be. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but something about it just didn’t keep me very interested.
This should be an interesting matchup. After the Suzuki/Styles match, I would have welcomed a Suzuki Gun/Bullet Club feud. Early on, Minoru shows that he is the superior mat wrestler, beating Anderson at every turn. He seems to target the arm and applies an armbar on the ropes. Being the vicious bastard that he is, he wraps it around the guardrail at one point. They trade shots inside and Anderson resorts to biting. Suzuki blocks the Gun Stung and nearly kills Anderson with a kick. When they get into another battle of strikes, Minoru does some sick sounding ones. He goes for a sleeper, but Anderson tries to counter into a Gun Stun twice, but Suzuki is ready both times. He runs off the ropes, but right into a Gun Stun.
Fine match here and my favorite of the night so far. I’ve always liked Anderson and Suzuki has really grown on me during this tournament. The strikes were vicious, the arm work was brutal at times and I loved seeing both guys resort to heel tactics. It was one of the occasions where heel vs. heel worked.
Yano jumps Togi at the start, but it doesn’t last long as Togi just levels him. The fight goes outside for a short while, but inside, Yano goes for the buckle spot. Togi catches him in the act and clotheslines him. Yano flips Togi the double bird, which was pretty funny. Makabe misses the knee drop, and Yano uses multiple low blows to steal another one.
The craft Toru Yano continues to find the cheapest ways to win. Some people may not like him getting so many wins but I like it as it makes his matches rather unpredictable. Still, not really a match that would get a high score.
The Bullet Club members are friendly at the bell, but then Takahashi pokes the champ in the eye. AJ gives him one back, which kind of made me chuckle. We get a faux countout spot, reaching 19. AJ’s dropkick is a thing of beauty. Yujiro plays the cowardly heel, begging for mercy, only to sucker Styles in. Surprisingly, it is Takahashi that goes high risk first, with a suicide dive. He is in control for a short while, until AJ does a Russian leg sweep into the corner. Takahashi counters Bloody Sunday with a fisherman buster. They go through an exchange where the Styles Clash is blocked. AJ recovers though with a Pele, a sick Bloody Sunday and the Styles Clash to win.
I like it. This didn’t overstay its welcome and was probably the best Takahashi match I’ve ever seen. Styles has not had one bad match in this entire tournament and delivers again here. The biggest issue was that the crowd was kind of dead throughout.
I’ve made sure to give props to Lance Archer for impressing me in this tournament and he does so again early on here. He seems to like playing the big vicious heel, as he enjoys tossing Okada around outside. He relishes in the trash talk between moves, doing so before hitting a huge slam for two. Okada starts the comeback, complete with elbow drop and Rainmaker pose. It is of course blocked. Okada looks funny as he has to reach way high for a big boot. Archer takes him outside and hits a massive overhead suplex. Archer continues with the high impact offense, hitting a Chokeslam that gets two. The fans bite hard on this near fall. Archer ties for the moonsault but misses and eats a dropkick. Archer still gets him up for his finish but Okada slips out and nails the Tombstone. Rainmaker hits and it’s a wrap.
Not on the level of Styles/Archer, but probably the second best Archer match of the tournament. He got to play the aggressive monster heel and he did so to perfection. Okada having to rally from behind was well done and the crowd completely bought into it.
The fans are very much into Nagata here. There are some serious strike exchanges in the early goings, with Nagata going after the leg before applying a figure four. Tanahashi escapes and goes into his offense with a slingblade. They trade some back and forth until Tanahashi applies an elevate cloverleaf. He misses the High Fly Flow, allowing Nagata to lock in his armbar. More strikes come, which again features Nagata just clobbering Tanahashi. Somehow though, it is Nagata who is bleeding from the lip. Nagata goes for the backdrop suplex, but Tanahashi counters with a rollup for the 1-2-3.
Really good stuff here. Both guys brought their game faces and produced a quality match. I enjoyed seeing a battle of strikes, especially since Nagata was pretty stiff with his shots. I do feel like something was missing to take it this over the top though. I can’t put my finger on what though.
At the time of this writing, the only match from the G1 23 that I’ve seen was between these two. It was incredible and I gave it the full five stars. Like last time, they just beat the fuck out of each other from the start. Even when they both go down, they get right back up in each other’s faces. Ishii hits Shibata with multiple forearms, but one from Katsuyori lays him out for a moment. When Shibata powers up from a kick that Ishii delivers, Ishii voluntarily sits down, giving Shibata a free kick. Shibata does the same back to Ishii, but both men power up until Shibata hits one so sick that Ishii can’t get up. We get a reverse of earlier now, as Ishii eats a bunch of forearms from Shibata, but one from him knocks his opponent down. They destroy each other with forearms, but a lariat and a kick each only get counts of one. There’s a slap from Shibata that sounds like it would kill a man. Shibata locks in an armbar, which is brutal due to Ishii’s injured shoulder. Ishii reaches the ropes and sells it well outside. To even things out, Shibata puts his arm behind his back and gives Ishii free shots as they trade blows. Brainbuster is countered into the sleeper, but Ishii has a counter for that. Shibata lights him up with a slap and a kick, but only gets a near fall. They trade headbutts, including one from Ishii that is ungodly in how it sounds. Shibata somehow survives that long enough to hit the GTS and penalty kick for the win.
My goodness, these two just work so well together since their goal is to just be as brutal and violent as fuck. I don’t think was on the level of their classic the year before, but it deserves a lot of praise. The fact that Ishii, with a recently busted shoulder, was able to go at that level for the duration of this match is one badass thing to do. His selling of the arm, legit or not, was great.
I have no idea why this is the main event. I get that it’s Nakamura but Tanahashi/Nagata or even Shibata/Ishii, considering their match last year, could have gone on last. A bit of a feeling out process here, with Gallows establishing that he is the stronger competitor. He taunts Nakamura in the middle of working him over. Nakamura begins to rally, but Gallows is ready to stop it with a clothesline. Even when Nakamura goes for the Boma Ye, Gallows greets him with a high kick. He hits the Gallows Pole, but Nakamura kicks out. He nails a bicycle kick and goes for a second Gallows Pole, but Nakamura counters into an armbar. Gallows counters that with a powerbomb but Nakamura comes back with a running knee. He follows with a few more and then the Boma Ye for two more points.
A solid match but not really one that I would consider main event worthy. Gallows was fine as the big man, but the outcome of this was never really in doubt, taking out any potential drama.
Overall: Not the best show in this tournament, but again, that doesn’t make it a bad show. The bar has just been set insanely high. The first half of this even if rather skippable, with only Anderson/Suzuki sticking out to me. The second half is where it picks up though, with nothing being under three stars and Ishii/Shibata being a must-see match. Only one more show before the finals!
Hiroshi Tanahashi 14
Shinsuke Nakamura 14
Bad Luck Fale 12
Katsuyori Shibata 12
Satoshi Kojima 10
Yuji Nagata 8
Shelton X Benjamin 8
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 8
Doc Gallows 6
Tomoaki Honma 0
Kazuchika Okada 14
AJ Styles 14
Minoru Suzuki 10
Tetsuya Naito 10
Hirooki Goto 8
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 8
Toru Yano 8
Togi Makabe 8
Karl Anderson 8
Yujiro Takahashi 6
Lance Archer 6