Saturday, July 23, 2016

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Three Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Three
July 23rd, 2016 | Machida Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan

After two nights featuring a plethora of upsets, the G1 Climax 26 moves onto night three and back to the A Block. This isn’t the most stacked of cards but two matches really stick out to me and it’ll be interesting to see if the big names (Tanahashi and Okada) can bounce back after night one. I’d like to point out that I liked the venue as the dark setting felt a bit different, which is good.

A Block: Hiroyoshi Tenzan [4] def. Tama Tonga [0] in 10:31
Though his gear continues to be the worst in the G1 Climax (seriously dude? Leggings? With money on them?), I can’t help but bump to Tama Tonga’s theme. The reaction for Hiroyoshi Tenzan was awesome again. Tonga attacked before the bell to gain an advantage. He continued to pounce and threw Tenzan around outside a bit, leading to a countout tease. He tried to headbutt Tenzan but hurt himself. YOU’RE SAMOAN TAMA! YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE UNBREAKABLE HEAD! THIS GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING WRESTLING HAS EVER TAUGHT ME! They mostly traded stuff after that but it was mostly uninteresting. Tonga went all Roman Reigns with a spear for two. Tenzan stopped a charging Tonga and applied the Anaconda Vise, slamming him for a near fall. A Kojima lariat and moonsault later and Tenzan’s final G1 run sees him start 2-0. Not quite as bad as Makabe/Tonga. Still, Tonga is 0-2 in performances so far. His matches have felt like they’re going 30 minutes and drag on. Just unentertaining until Tenzan got going in the end. **

A Block: Hirooki Goto [4] def. Tomohiro Ishii [0] in 11:49
These two had a ****½ match in last year’s G1 Climax that main evented in Korakuen Hall. This time though, both men are part of the Chaos stable and Hirooki Goto is nowhere near the run he was on success wise last year. Like all matches between these two, I want it to start with them just beating the shit out of each other and they did just that. If I told you these guys were teammates you wouldn’t believe me. They just went to war with lariats, strikes and kicks. Ishii nailed the stalling middle rope vertical suplex for a near fall. However, the best thing for Ishii was his selling again, which is a super undervalued aspect of his game. He hit a vicious headbutt on Goto before falling to the side and wasn’t able to capitalize. Goto got turned inside out by a lariat but kicked out at one! Shortly after, it was Ishii’s turn to kick out at one. Goto made Ishii crumple on a headbutt before hitting a front suplex onto his knee. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. He won after hitting the GTR. A good, hard hitting match between two of the best at that style. It felt like a condensed version of their better outings and never reached those levels. Still, these two could have a really good match in their sleep. ***½

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [2] def. Naomichi Marufuji [2] in 9:37
Bad Luck Fale just completely tossed the ring announcer during his introduction. Marufuji, fresh off of kicking Okada’s ass, sized up Fale and delivered a chop. Fale fired back with a strong right and they exchanged those for a bit. Marufuji took him out with a plancha but then it was time for Fale to get on offense. We got another countout tease after Fale choke tossed Marufuji into the ring post. Marufuji scored on some kicks for a near fall. They totally telegraphed the big man super kick out spot, which was ugly. Fale missed a corner splash and ate a sick sounding knee. I actually rather enjoyed their finishing sequence. Marufuji escaped the Bad Luck Fall (which is a move the crowd treats like death) and fired off more kicks and knees. He also blocked the Grenade with a knee to the arm but got hit with a lariat, splash and then a successful Grenade that ended it. Like Goto/Fale on night one, this was about as good as I expected from these two. There were a few too many telegraphed moments that took me out of it though. **¾

A Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [2] def. SANADA [2] in 13:18
On night one, Okada lost to Marufuji, while SANADA picked up the biggest win of his career, making Tanahashi tap out. These two met in a pretty good match (that Meltzer went way high on) at Invasion Attack. Both guys went for their finishers early but neither connected. SANADA used a chair outside and took control, wearing down Okada inside. Okada went into his typical first comeback with the kip up after a DDT. SANADA showed off his impressive athleticism again, leaping high over Okada twice before a dropkick and plancha to the outside. Okada came back with the diving elbow and dropkick. They went into dragon sleeper and tombstone counters and Okada survived the submission. As usual with Okada, the finishing sequence saw several counters until he won via Rainmaker. This wasn’t bad at all and about on par with their Invasion Attack match. It just felt like most Okada matches. I don’t get the big deal with him. He’s good, but I see some considering him one of the best in the world and he wouldn’t crack my top ten. He peaked two or three years ago. Standard stuff. ***

A Block: Togi Makabe [4] def. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] in 14:05
Here we have two of the most popular guys in all of NJPW. Hiroshi Tanahashi (even though he lost at WK10) is still the ace of the company in my eyes. He’s the benchmark and the best. Togi Makabe is a veteran that has kind of been through it all. They headlined an A Block show last year too and it was pretty good. Tanahashi seemed to grow frustrated early that he couldn’t get the upper hand. That injury and age are really coming into play so far. I love how Makabe just casually flips off Tanahashi before strikes. Makabe had Tanahashi scouted well and even stopped his dragon screw attempts with a forearm. He was also ready for slingblade, countering with a German suplex. They fought up top, always a fun part of Makabe matches. He scored on the spider German and picked up the upset with the King Kong Knee Drop. That was a surprisingly one-sided match at times. Like 2013, Tanahashi gets off to a rough start (he made the finals that year). This was good, but nothing you need to go out of your way to see. ***

Overall: 5.5/10. Easily the weakest night of the tournament so fa. None of the matches were must see and most of it was middle of the pack. If you have to watch anything from this show, make it Ishii vs. Goto. Tanahashi/Makabe and Okada/SANADA were good and I thought Marufuji/Fale was about as good as it could have been. Tenzan tried but Tonga disappointed again. Hopefully, the B Block picks up the pace tomorrow.

Hirooki Goto4 (2-0)EVIL2 (1-0)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-0)Katsuhiko Nakajima2 (1-0)
Togi Makabe4 (2-0)Tomoaki Honma2 (1-0)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-1)Yuji Nagata2 (1-0)
Naomichi Maufuji2 (1-1)YOSHI-HASHI2 (1-0)
Kazuchika Okada2 (1-1)Katsuyori Shibata0 (0-1)
SANADA2 (1-1)Kenny Omega0 (0-1)
HiroshI Tanahashi0 (0-2)Michael Elgin0 (0-1)
Tama Tonga0 (0-2)Tetsuya Naito0 (0-1)
Tomohiro Ishii0 (0-2)Toru Yano0 (0-1)