Saturday, July 30, 2016

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Eight Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Eight
July 30th, 2016 | Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Aichi, Japan

Following a night off, the G1 Climax is back for B Block action. Yuji Nagata has come out strong, starting 3-0, while Toru Yano sits winless at 0-3. Guys like Katsuyori Shibata and Michael Elgin, two of NJPW’s reigning champions, have only two points so far. Things are kind of up in air heading into night eight. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.

B Block: Toru Yano [2] def. Tomoaki Honma [4] in 4:23
Usually by this point, Yano has scored one or two fluke wins and Honma would be winless. Instead, Yano is struggling and Honma already has his most G1 points ever. Honma was hot early so Yano went to remove the turnbuckle cover. Honma’s reaction to Yano turning around and seeing him was classic. He went for Kokeshi so Yano rolled to the ropes and it was “BREAK” time. Just as Honma started really going, Yano scored with a slingshot. It looked terrible and led to a shit ref bump. Low blows and a rollup from Yano got him his first two points. Typical Yano stuff. **

B Block: YOSHI-HASHI [4] def. EVIL [2] in 12:50
The battle between Chaos and Los Ingobernables de Japon wages on! This felt like a fight from the start as they brawled to the outside. EVIL did his ring post/chair spot but I feel like it has looked worse and worse as the G1 has gone on. He took control for a while after that until YOSHI countered a suplex into a neckbreaker. YOSHI kicked EVIL and it seemed to really stun him. He got two on a powerbomb with a bridge, but EVIL was quick to rally. He hit some big offensive moves though he couldn’t quite keep YOSHI-HASHI down. YOSHI did an awesome job of reversing the STO into the butterfly lock. EVIL made it to the ropes and they began to exchange blows. EVIL kicked out of a swanton bomb, but wasn’t able to do the same when hit with Karma. This started a bit slow but really, really got going as things progressed. It was stiff and had some really good near falls near the end. ***½

B Block: Katsuhiko Nakajima [6] def. Yuji Nagata [6] in 12:32
Though it is his fist G1, Nakajima has been one of the MVPs, having a fun match with Yano, great one with Shibata and good one with EVIL. Meanwhile, veteran Nagata enters in first place. Nakajima has been a babyface for the most part, so it was surprising to see him jump Nagata before the bell. He beat Nagata up outside, leading to the best countout tease so far. Nagata started to teach the youngster a lesson, so Nakajima answered with stiff kicks and some leg work. Watching him find new ways to land a kick was great. Like he did against Shibata, Nakajima was brash enough to do Nagata’s own finisher on him. Nagata got his armbar locked in but Nakajima survived. They spent the next part of the match slapping the shit out of each other. Nakajima kicked out of a backdrop driver and blocked a second. He went back to the leg, before nailing a penalty kick and Brainbuster to hand Nagata his first loss. Nakajima continues to be awesome and Nagata delivers again. Playing the brash youngster has been a great role for Nakajima in both the Shibata match and this one. Gedo NEEDS to find a way to book him more often. ****

B Block: IWGP Intercontinental Champion Michael Elgin [4] def. Kenny Omega [4] in 16:38
This is the third match between these two in 2016. Their first was great and the second, a ladder match on a bigger show, was an overly long outing that never lived up to the first. During Michael Elgin’s entrance, Yujiro Takahashi showed up to attack him, but he’s useless so Elgin shrugged it off. Only when Omega launched himself outside did it have any effect. Again, Elgin was quick to turn it around and kick Kenny’s ass in and around the ring. They began to trade big offense with neither gaining a clear upper hand. Elgin popped up instantly after taking a dragon suplex, so Omega hit a second and reverse rana for a near fall. In the finishing stretch, Omega nailed a buckle and Elgin Bomb and, after kicking out, Elgin did the One Winged Angel for a near fall. Elgin eventually connected on the Elgin Bomb himself for the win. I’d say this wasn’t bad, but it felt like they tried too hard to have an epic. It needed to feel organic, like their Road to Wrestling Dontaku match. I also wasn’t a fan of the finisher stealing late. Still good, but far from the great they were clearly looking for. ***¼

B Block: NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata [4] def. Tetsuya Naito [4] in 19:24
My two favorite wrestlers in NJPW. They had an awesome match in last year’s G1 Climax. Shibata came in with a bad shoulder and knee, both taped up. Naito nonchalantly avoided contact early, so Shibata charged and kicked him in the face before launching into the guardrail three times outside, each one seemingly more vicious than the last. Naito was able to counter one and start sending Shibata into the railing. Naito held serve and Shibata was hurting. Shibata fired up as Naito threw forearms at him. Once Naito spat at him, Shibata beat his ass, similar to last year. Naito began to work the injured leg of Shibata with a modified figure four that Shibata somehow turned into a painful hold on Naito. Once that was over, these two just traded stiff shots. An angry Shibata threw the referee down, nearly leading to his downfall as Naito kicked him low and rolled him up for two. Naito applied a knee bar, which had the added benefit of Shibata’s injured knee to add to the drama. Shibata fought free and slapped the taste out of Naito’s mouth before locking in the sleeper. Naito fought but started to fade. Shibata hit the PK and went back to the sleeper until Naito passed out. Awesome match between two of the best. They went hard and sometimes, I just want to see two guys beat the hell out of each other. Shibata’s injuries played into the match perfectly and made his win more dramatic. ****¼

Overall: 8.5/10. After a disappointing night six, B Block rebounds with a really strong night eight. Yano’s match was again the worst of the night, but it was kept short and to the point. Omega and Elgin had a good match despite trying to have a classic. I liked the battle between EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI as well. The two matches that really stood out were Nakajima/Nagata and Naito/Shibata. Both are among the best of the tournament so far and are must see.

Togi Makabe8 (4-0)Katsuhiko Nakajima6 (3-1)
Kazuchika Okada6 (3-1)Yuji Nagata6 (3-1)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-2)Tomoaki Honma4 (2-2)
Tomohiro Ishii4 (2-2)Tetsuya Naito4 (2-2)
Naomichi Marufuji4 (2-2)Michael Elgin4 (2-2)
Hirooki Goto4 (2-2)Katsuyori Shibata4 (2-2)
Tama Tonga2 (1-3)Kenny Omega4 (2-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi2 (1-3)EVIL2 (1-3)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-3)Toru Yano1 (1-3)