Sunday, July 31, 2016

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Nine Review

NJPW G1 Climax 26 Night Nine
July 31st, 2016 | Gifu Industrial Hall in Gifu, Japan

With eighteen shows in total before the finals, we’re right at the halfway point of the G1 Climax. B Block as mostly outperformed the A Block in my eyes. However, there have been some standout moments for the A Block. Right off the bat, I’ll admit this is one of the less interesting cards with only one real match feeling like one I want to go out of my way to see. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.

A Block: Tama Tonga [4] def. Tomohiro Ishii [4] in 11:00
You’ve got one of the best performers of the G1 so far and the worst so far. I’m so disappointed in Tonga so far. The sound in this arena was strange. Everything had a weird, hollow sound to it and the crowd felt mostly quiet throughout this match. They fought outside a bit before taking it back in and none of it was really that interesting. The crowd popped for a fast paced exchange that saw Tama use his elusiveness to his advantage. Unfortunately, he bumped into Ishii when he was trying to get past him and it messed up the spot for me. Tonga hit the Headshrinker DDT for a near fall, while still doing his best to avoid Ishii’s biggest offense. It all led to a fun exchange in the end where Tama countered a Brainbuster into a Gun Stun before hitting a second one to keep Ishii down. A relatively fine match but again, something with Tonga is just not clicking. He’s not an imposing heel and his matches are always kind of just there. He spoke to the camera on his way out, saying not to worry about him wrestling in his underwear because 95% of wrestlers do that. Okay then. **¾

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [4] def. SANADA [4] in 9:08
I like Fale’s new gimmick of beating up the ring announcer during his introductions. This was an interesting matchup on paper, for better or worse. SANADA got overpowered early and took a powder outside. He then resorted to choking Fale with the baseball bat. Fale took him deep into the audience and dropped a guardrail on him. SANADA just beat the count at nineteen. I’ve talked about how great SANADA’s leap frogs are but watching him cleanly hop over Fale was the most impressive. He also countered the Grenade with a pretty good looking rana. Fale was able to avoid getting put in the dragon sleeper and won with the Bad Luck Fall. Not much here. I was impressed with some of what SANADA did but that’s about it. Fale has been decent in this G1 for the most part actually as well. **½

A Block: Naomichi Marufuji [6] def. Togi Makabe [8] in 10:39
It’s Marufuji and his great G1 run so far against Makabe and his winning ways. I appreciated that this started out violently. I love that Ishii and Makabe, hard hitters, are being taken to the woodshed by Marufuji in the past few nights. It slowed down from being very stiff and moved into a more traditional match. Marufuji hit a dive outside before things went back to a bit of a chop fest. Makabe stopped a high knee with a lariat and got two on a powerbomb. Marufuji began to fire off superkicks and running knees, coming very close to winning. He handed Makabe his first loss with Shiranui. A solid match that would have been better had they kept the pace they began. Outside of the slow points in the middle, this was very good. ***

A Block: IWGP Heavyweight Championship Kazuchika Okada [8] vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [4] in 12:33
I badly wanted to see Tenzan win this. The crowd was chanting for him during his entrance even. Okada played into it a bit, but nowhere near enough. He should have really played up the heel work, which is actually when he’s usually at his best. Okada went for the Rainmaker about halfway through, but Tenzan blocked it with a headbutt and followed with a Samoan drop. Honestly, this was a good match though nothing about it was particularly memorable. They badly needed to play into the heel Okada stuff. Tenzan went for the big moonsault, looking for his biggest win of the tournament. Okada got up and German suplexed him from the top before winning with the Rainmaker. The only real highlight of this was Tenzan hitting a vicious headbutt to block the Rainmaker at one point. Everything else was largely forgettable. I would have had Tenzan win too, setting up a final heavyweight title shot for him at one of the Destruction shows or something. People won’t want to admit it, but Okada continues to be mediocre in this tournament. ***

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [4] def. Hirooki Goto [4] in 17:48
In Goto’s previous G1 main event this year, he and Okada went out and put on one hell of an uninspired effort. The fans were way behind Tanahashi. Goto took early control and though the crowd was interested, none of this felt special at all. They traded stuff for a bit and Tanahashi began to rally. He tried to make the match feel a bit interesting with a High Fly Flow to the outside, so kudos there. They traded blows on the apron all the way up to the count of nineteen before both fell inside to beat the count. Tanahashi missed High Fly Flow inside and Goto ended up coming close to winning. Tanahashi then countered the GTR only to end up in a sleeper hold. Of course, Tanahashi survived it and nailed Slingblade. He came back and connected on High Fly Flow to earn the win. This was lifeless. Outside of the High Fly Flow spot outside and the crowd being good, this was two guys phoning it in. They were carried by the crowd and did nothing of real note. Add in that the outcome was obvious and this just didn’t really deliver. **½

Overall: 5/10. The worst of the G1 shows so far and this score might be generous. This felt like a house show effort from everyone involved. It easily has the lowest ceiling of any show so far and nothing felt like it mattered at all. I believe that Tenzan and SANADA have been mathematically eliminated considering tiebreakers and upcoming matches, which sucks. Especially Tenzan. Why even bother with his final run story to end it here? The rest of the A Block feels so easy to predict. It doesn’t get more lackluster than this entire show. Easy to skip.

Togi Makabe8 (4-1)Katsuhiko Nakajima6 (3-1)
Kazuchika Okada8 (3-1)Yuji Nagata6 (3-1)
Naomichi Marufui6 (3-2)Tomoaki Honma4 (2-2)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4 (2-3)Tetsuya Naito4 (2-2)
Tomohiro Ishii4 (2-3)Michael Elgin4 (2-2)
Tama Tonga4 (2-3)Katsuyori Shibata4 (2-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi4 (2-3)YOSHI-HASHI4 (2-2)
Hirooki Goto4 (2-3)Kenny Omega4 (2-2)
Bad Luck Fale4 (2-3)EVIL2 (1-3)
SANADA4 (2-3)Toru Yano2 (1-3)