Monday, July 25, 2016

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Five Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Five
July 25th, 2016 | Fukushima Big Palette in Fukushima, Japan

For the fourth straight night, the G1 Climax brings us more action. We’re back to the A Block, where surprisingly, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Togi Makabe stand atop the block, while Hiroshi Tanahashi sits at 0-2. After three straight shows in Tokyo, things move to Fukushima. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.

A Block: Tomohiro Ishii [2] def. Bad Luck Fale [2] in 9:36
These two opened the G1 24 with a pretty solid match. So far, Ishii lost close matches to Hiroyoshi Tenzan and fellow Chaos member Hirooki Goto, while Fale also lost to Goto before beating Naomichi Marufuji. Ishii is a short, stocky fella but he looks like a baby next to Fale. Fale used that size and power advantage to gain control. He hit a Samoan drop but missed a falling headbutt. Who does he think he is, Tomoaki Honma? Ishii brought the crowd to their feet when he lifted Fale for an impressive German suplex. Ishii continued to rally with a string of lariats to knock Fale down. When that only got two, he hit one to a seated Fale for yet another near fall. In the most impressive moment of the match, Ishii hit big ass Fale with a Brainbuster for his first win. One of the best Fale matches I’ve ever seen. They kept it short and sweet, with Ishii delivering top notch selling and impressive power to knock off Fale. Well done with a memorable finish. ***½

A Block: Togi Makabe [6] def. SANADA [2] in 12:25
I’ve tried, I really have, but I just can’t get into Togi Makabe. He occasionally has great matches but he’s kind of just there for me most of the time. It’s also like he and Tama Tonga are competing for worst gear of the G1. Makabe started hot before SANADA turned the tide during a brawl in the crowd. He used his trusty Sting bat to choke Togi out there. SANADA wore him down back in the ring for a while and it wasn’t very interesting. Unfortunately, neither was Makabe’s comeback. I do like how crowds continue to react to SANADA’s easy leap frags because it is quite impressive. SANADA looked for the dragon sleeper, but Makabe quickly turned it around into a Brainbuster. He hit the spider German and King Kong Knee Drop to improve to 3-0. SANADA tried but it really feels like Makabe is going through the motions. I haven’t felt like he’s put in much effort in any tournament match so far. Oh well, he has a match with Okada coming up soon and they have surprisingly great chemistry. **½

A Block: Naomichi Marufuji [4] def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [4] in 12:29
Two veterans of the industry. They were not holding back when it came to laying into each other. Some of the chops Marufuji laid in, both in and out of the ring, were viciously loud. Tenzan took a bit of a beating as this was reaching Okada levels of offense for Marufuji. Tenzan rallied and got two on a backdrop driver. They got into a chop exchange that Marufuji was clearly winning. Tenzan’s chest was burnt red, so he went to Mongolian chops instead. He missed the big moonsault, opening the door for Marufuji to hit a knee strike that got a near fall. Tenzan also missed Koji’s lariat and ate some kicks and another knee before Marufuji nailed Shiranui for the 1-2-3. Good selling from both guys and they came out trying to have a good match. Tenzan’s streak ends at two because the moves that have worked so far (moonsault and lariat) both missed. Fine work. ***½

A Block: Tama Tonga [2] def. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] in 11:10
TAMA TONGA IS STILL WEARING THE STUPID LEGGINGS! He’s been the worst performer of the G1 so far, but now he’s in there with the best, so it was time to put up or shut up. Tonga had some outside help from Yujiro Takahashi very early on in the match. Tanahashi held the shoulder following some wear down work by Tonga. They kind of messed up Tonga’s spot where he slides behind opponents because Tanahashi kept turning too quickly. It led to them awkwardly standing there for a second before Tonga’s dropkick. Once they reached the back half though, this turned around and got better. Tanahashi fired up and was looking to be on the verge of his first win. Tonga got the knees up on High Fly Flow and rolled him up for two. As they got up, Tonga scored with the Gun Stun for the upset. While the match was a bit weird and didn’t click very well, they got the response they wanted. The fans went from gasps to silence as they didn’t believe what they saw. SANADA’s win over Tanahashi felt like a breakthrough performance. This felt more like a loss to begin the turnaround for Tanahashi, who was visibly frustrated and let out a yell afterwards. **¾

A Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [4] def. Hirooki Goto [4] in 16:11
Last year, with Okada as the Heavyweight Champion and Goto as the Intercontinental Champion, they met in the B Block and Goto won. That was the end for Goto, who went on to lose the IC Title, lose his 7th or 8th shot at the Heavyweight Title and lose in the finals of the New Japan Cup (a tournament he owned in the past) before joining Okada and Chaos. He’s like Kevin Durant. He couldn’t beat them, so he joined them. Anyway, this match absolutely felt like two guys going through the motions. The stuff they did wasn’t bad at all, but it just all felt hollow. Most Okada matches feature lackluster first halves, but none of what they did early really meant anything. I had the same issue with Tana/Okada in the Dome earlier this year. As usual, Okada turned it up for the finishing sequence. Goto hit most of his big stuff but before he could hit the YTR, Okada countered and ended up winning with the Rainmaker. Ho-hum. Huge disappointment as these guys really seemed to phone it in. **¾

Overall: 5.5/10. Another middle of the pack effort from A Block after coming out of the gate strong. There are no standout matches but Marufuji/Tenzan and Ishii/Fale are certainly good. Watching Tenzan’s final run and Ishii’s performance in the opener are both worth checking out. Tanahashi/Tonga was okay and the upset was interesting. Makabe/SANADA was really just there and the main event was a massive disappointment considering the high regard that both men are held in.

Togi Makabe6 (3-0)Tomoaki Honma4 (2-0)
Naomichi Marufuji4 (2-1)Yuji Nagata4 (2-0)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-1)Katsuyori Shibata2 (1-1)
Kazuchika Okada4 (2-1)Tetsuya Naito2 (1-1)
Hirooki Goto4 (2-1)YOSHI-HASHI2 (1-1)
Tomohiro Ishii2 (1-2)Katsuhiko Nakajima2 (1-1)
SANADA2 (1-2)Kenny Omega2 (1-1)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-2)EVIL2 (1-1)
Tama Tonga2 (1-2)Michael Elgin0 (0-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi0 (0-3)Toru Yano0 (0-2)

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