The G1 Climax rolls on with a pretty interesting A Block night. While Okada is saddled with the seemingly forever mediocre Tama Tonga and Tanahashi gets his yearly Fale match, Goto/SANADA and especially Ishii/Marufuji sound like they could deliver, while Tenzan looks to continue his dream final run against the unbeaten Togi Makabe. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.
I’m loving the reactions that Tenzan has been getting so far. This run really is great. Makabe is 3-0, but hasn’t been lighting the world on fire so far. Makabe clubbed away at Tenzan in the early goings. No Satoshi Kojima with Tenzan during his entrance, but he was at ringside during the match. They traded chops and you could still see marks on Tenzan’s body from Marufuji’s chops. My favorite thing about Makabe is his random maniacal laugh. Tenzan fought off the spider German and hit a diving headbutt for two. He went right into the Anaconda Vise though Makabe got free. Makabe avoided the Koji lariat and hit his own. After surviving some headbutts, Makabe scored with the King Kong Drop to remain undefeated. I would have had Tenzan go over here. To have his great run include him stopping a winning streak would have been great. Anyway, this was the best work from Makabe so far. They worked at a good pace, had a hot crowd and some really good exchanges. I’m just not a fan of Makabe being 4-0. I wanted him to finish with 8-10 points.
SANADA’s already had the big tests of Tanahashi and Okada, but Goto is a pretty big one too. Add in their built-in rivalry from Chaos vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon and this has a little more juice to it. SANADA tried to the dragon sleeper within the first five minutes, but Goto had it scouted and countered. He did manage to apply it two minutes later only for Goto to reach the ropes. They fought up top, where Goto nailed his sunset flip bomb for a near fall. Both men began to counter each other until Goto tried a sleeper. SANADA got out and tried a rollup for two. They went back to a big series of knowing what the other would do and then SANADA got two on a TKO. He immediately applied the dragon sleeper, but Goto refused to tap out. SANADA released the hold and scored with a moonsault for the 1-2-3. This was another good match. They did a fair amount of counter wrestling and doing that for their finishers made sense since the GTR and dragon sleeper start in similar ways. I liked Goto not giving up and SANADA having a plan B for that situation. Makes him look extra dangerous.
This ranked high on the A Block matches I was excited for. I love that we’ve gotten a badass Marufuji in the tournament so far. He stood right up to Ishii like this was going to be a war. Marufuji couldn’t knock Ishii down with a shoulder block, so he hit the ropes about seven times to quickly keep trying. Ishii bent, but never broke and then knocked him down with one. Ishii was just manning up and taking some of Marufuji’s brutal chops. This just in, Tomohiro Ishii is manlier than all of us. They engaged in a chop war that saw Ishii kind of regret doing it. He’s Ishii though, so he fired up and started LEANING INTO the chops. Marufuji reversed Ishii’s stalling superplex and hit a nice superkick for two. He went for Shiranui but Ishii countered it into his own Emerald Flowsion! They battled with Ishii’s lariats against Marufuji’s superkicks and high knees. Ishii won out with a lariat that turned him inside out and then won the match itself with a Brainbuster. I thought this was great. They delivered the kind of match I wanted. Marufuji lit Ishii up with brutal chops and Ishii was his manly self. Both guys make a strong case for MVP of not just their blocks, but the entire tournament thus far.
A guy wrestling in leggings beat Hiroshi Tanahashi. That’s gotta be a low point for Tanahashi. Anyway, Tonga looked to do what SANADA couldn’t and that’s beat Okada right after. They started with a quick pace, which really seemed to work to Tonga’s strength. He nailed a big Gun Stun on the ropes and then dropped Okada on the guardrail, leading to our first countout tease of the night. It usually comes much earlier. Inside, Okada took over for a bit before they started trading stuff. Tonga busted out the headshrinker DDT and continued to mostly elude Okada. I will admit that his sliding behind people stuff can be cool. Finally, he came off the top and got caught with a German that led to the Rainmaker. Fine match and the best performance from Tonga so far. There’s just something about him that is uninteresting, which sucks because his mannerisms and antics can be unique. Good match but nothing more. This is not the breakout tournament Tonga has needed and, outside of night one, Okada has been very mediocre.
Only Tanahashi can enter a show on the seventh night and headline despite the two guys involved having a combined two points. In the past two G1’s, Fale has beaten Tanahashi and did so again in the New Japan Cup earlier this year. Fale did his usual power stuff and threw the guardrail on Tanahashi a few times in the crowd, looking for an easy countout win. Tanahashi fought from behind and is still very capable of getting the crowd to rally behind him. He did a good job of showcasing his desperation for a win and got his first after a backslide. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really anything new. They’ve wrestled so many times in the past two years and there’s only so much they can do together. Add in the fact that Tanahashi’s win was blatantly obvious since I didn’t see him losing three straight years to Fale and definitely didn’t see him starting 0-4 this time around.
Overall: For the most part, this was a good show. Nothing on the card was particularly bad and everything got at least three stars from me. While good, a lot of it still managed to feel like it fell rather flat. Tonga/Okada was pretty good, as was the main event. The first part of the show is better with solid showings from the first two matches and a great outing between Marufuji and Ishii.
|Togi Makabe||8 (4-0)||Yuji Nagata||6 (3-0)|
|Kazuchika Okada||6 (3-1)||Katsuhiko Nakaima||4 (2-1)|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||4 (2-2)||Kenny Omega||4 (2-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-2)||Tetsuya Naito||4 (2-1)|
|Naomichi Marufuji||4 (2-2)||Tomoaki Honma||4 (2-1)|
|Hirooki Goto||4 (2-2)||Katsuyori Shibata||2 (1-2)|
|SANADA||4 (2-2)||YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-2)|
|Tama Tonga||2 (1-3)||EVIL||2 (1-2)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||2 (1-3)||Michael Elgin||2 (1-2)|
|Bad Luck Fale||2 (1-3)||Toru Yano||0 (0-3)|