Sunday, July 24, 2016

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Four Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Four
July 24th, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

Night four is upon us and the B Block finds themselves in Korakuen Hall again. As is the case with pretty much every B Block card, this is a stacked show, featuring five matches that I’m looking forward to. While I enjoyed night two, some of it felt like a bit of a disappointment due to my extremely high expectations for B Block.

B Block: Tomoaki Honma [4] def. YOSHI-HASHI [2] in 13:08
Fresh off of upsets over Kenny Omega and Katsuyori Shibata, YOSHI-HASHI and Tomoaki Honma did battle here. They began by exchanges chops, setting the stage for some hard hitting stuff. YOSHI wore down Honma, who came back with a suplex. I always get a chuckle out of Honma missing the Kokeshi. Hell, his reaction when he hits it is still pretty funny. In the midst of an offensive flurry, he went for the top rope Kokeshi but missed it. YOSHI came close on a lariat, and then used a sleeper and lungblower to set up the butterfly lock. Honma reached the ropes, so YOSHI nailed a great shoulderbreaker. When YOSHI went for Karma, the move that beat Omega, Honma blocked it with everything he had. He was then able to score with the top rope Kokeshi and earned his third straight G1 win in Korakuen Hall. After an 0-17 run, Honma is 3-1 in his last four G1 matches and 2-0 this year. Good back and forth from both guys. They’re doing the right thing with Honma, having him start hot after so much futility in the past, I just feel like his matches have lost a bit of luster since his first win.***¼

B Block: Yuji Nagata [4] def. EVIL [2] in 10:56
Like the opener, both guys pulled off relative upsets on night one. EVIL looked to also gain some revenge for Nagata beating his Los Ingobernables de Japon partner, Tetsuya Naito, on night two. EVIL attacked before the bell and tossed Nagata outside, but Nagata got back in quickly and took control. That didn’t last long as EVIL used a chair outside and nearly got Nagata counted out. We got a great forearm exchange with Nagata proving again that he can hang with the toughest younger guys. Nagata went after the arm a bit and applied his signature armbar, but it wasn’t enough. In the end, EVIL went for some big blows but Nagata stopped them with slaps and a spinning heel kick of sorts. He followed with one of the best backdrop drivers I’ve seen him hit in years. I would have had that be the finish. Instead, EVIL kicked out before falling to a second backdrop driver. NAGATA AND TENZAN ARE BOTH 2-0! LONG LIVE THE NEW JAPAN DADS! Seriously though, this was another good match. The B Block hasn’t had any stinkers. I liked that it was hard hitting and not too over the top. ***¼

B Block: Kenny Omega [2] def. Toru Yano [0] in 9:07
Kenny Omega still has a top three theme in NJPW. He arrived with spray cans and was accompanied by the perpetually awful Yujiro Takahashi. I admit that I’m not a fan of Omega’s over the top antics and believe it’s one of the things holding him back from being a star. However, in a match against Toru Yano, it works. Yano tricked him on a test to strength to open and had Omega all kinds of confused. Omega’s reaction to the crowd chanting “BREAK” along with Yano was priceless. He was like a child throwing a tantrum. Omega used the spray to take out Yano and gain control. They had more fun spots, including them trading low blows and Omega complaining to the ref about getting hit after doing one first. I completely bought in on a Yano crucifix attempt. Omega kicked out and hit a second running knee to take it. Like most good Yano matches, this wasn’t a technical masterpiece or anything like that. It was just fun. One thing I do wish though is that Omega won is without the spray or low blows. It’s a minor gripe but I don’t want this to be like Devitt’s G1 run in 2013. Devitt was a junior out of his depth and needed the help. They’ve built Omega as a heavyweight and against a guy like Yano, he shouldn’t need much help. Still, they had fun interactions. ***

B Block: NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata [2] def. Katsuhiko Nakajima [2] in 14:09
This is easily my most highly anticipated match of the G1. Not Naito/Shibata (though that should rule), not anything involving other G1 first timers and certainly not Tanahashi/Okada. This is the one I had circled since the blocks were announced. They started by jockeying for position and feeling each other out. Both guys missed some huge kicks early and the sound of just them whiffing was great. Shibata was first to hit some stiff shots, but Nakajima sent him outside and from the apron, kicked at his heavily taped shoulder. Nakajima had a chance at a countout but rolled Shibata back inside. Shibata, selling the shoulder damage, instantly rolled back outside to rest. Nakajima got his first boos when he used Shibata’s own corner dropkick on him. That fired up Shibata who lit Nakajima up in the corner before showing him how the dropkick is really done. Nakajima suplexed Shibata, who got right up and returned the favor like a badass. After eating a running boot in the corner, Nakajima did one right back, followed by a corner German. Nakajima continued to be brash and went for the Penalty Kick. Shibata caught it, so Nakajima fired off forearms but Shibata ate them all. He then knocked him silly with one slap, applied the sleeper and won with the Penalty Kick. This lived up to the expectations. They just went at it and had some awesome moments. Nakajima hitting Shibata with his own offense, Shibata manning up, them yelling at each other while in the abdominal stretch and the finishing sequence were all great. Nakajima looked tremendous and might have won if he wasn’t so brash. ****¼

B Block: Tetsuya Naito [2] def. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Michael Elgin [0] in 22:15
I’d say this is another match I came in looking forward to a lot. Both men have spent the last year rejuvenating their careers. This is Elgin’s first G1 main event if memory serves me right. He overpowered Naito early on and did Naito’s signature “paint me like one of your French girls” pose. Naito quickly realized that he was in trouble so he attacked Elgin’s knee and did his post back. The leg work led to another G1 countout tease. Naito began working a unique knee bar to continue the pressure on the leg. He disrespectfully slapped Elgin around and called for Elgin to hit him back as hard as he could. When Elgin obliged, Naito kicked him in the knee. They began to have an answer for each offensive move the other one tried. Naito kept looking for flash pins so Elgin just hoisted him up and drove him into the turnbuckle with a sick Death Valley driver. He then hit BIG MIKE FLOW but couldn’t cover quick enough to capitalize. Naito had a top rope rana countered into a massive second rope powerbomb yet he still got a shoulder up. Elgin nailed the buckle bomb but Naito tuned the Elgin Bomb into a reverse rana and both men were down. They exchanged shots until Elgin took his head off with a lariat. He went for another Elgin Bomb but Naito slipped free and got in some offense. He went for Destino, only for Elgin to counter, only for Naito to again counter into another knee bar. Elgin nearly tapped, but powered up to attempt a suplex. Naito countered that into a Destino variation and hit a second to keep the IC Champion down. An awesome main event to cap off an awesome show. They wrestled a smart match full of twists and turns. They didn’t overdo the false finishes, had some great counters and good drama down the stretch. You felt the desperation of both men trying to avoid falling to 0-2. I’d say this was just below the Ishii match last year and above the first Omega match in Elgin’s top three NJPW matches so far. A little more selling of the leg and this could have been a classic. ****¼

Overall: 9/10. What a night of professional wrestling. The B Block has now gone two shows and put on entertaining matches each time out. Yano and Omega had a fun outing, while the first two matches (EVIL/Nagata and YOSHI/Honma) were both strong matches. The two main events is where this show really shined though. Nakajima and Shibata had a ton to live up to and they did just that, having the best match of the tournament up to that point. Elgin and Naito closed things on a great note as well. Just a fantastic series of matches.

Hirooki Goto4 (2-0)Tomoaki Honma4 (2-0)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-0)Yuji Nagata4 (2-0)
Togi Makabe4 (2-0)Katsuyori Shibata2 (1-1)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-1)Tetsuya Naito2 (1-1)
Naomichi Maufuji2 (1-1)YOSHI-HASHI2 (1-1)
Kazuchika Okada2 (1-1)Katsuhiko Nakajima2 (1-1)
SANADA2 (1-1)Kenny Omega2 (1-1)
HiroshI Tanahashi0 (0-2)EVIL2 (1-1)
Tama Tonga0 (0-2)Michael Elgin0 (0-2)
Tomohiro Ishii0 (0-2)Toru Yano0 (0-2)

WWE Battleground Predictions

With school, work and the G1 Climax today, I'm pressed for time so here are some quick predictions.

Winners: The Usos

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Winners: Sasha Banks and Mystery Partner

Winner: Rusev

Winner: The Miz

Winner: Sami Zayn

Winner: Becky Lynch

Winners: John Cena, Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady

Winner: Roman Reigns

2016 Prediction Record: 30-18
2015 Prediction Record: 60-35