NJPW G1 Climax 25 Night Two Review (07/23/15):
Location: Shizuoka, Japan inside the Twin Messe of Shizuoka
G1 Climax 25 night one was certainly a mixed bag with good preliminary matches and two terrific main events. However, the first three G1 matches left a lot to be desired. Night two had a much better lineup and promised bigger things. While we didn’t get much from the tag matches, the G1 matches were certainly a treat to watch. It is totally worth it to kill your sleeping schedule to get up early, when we get matches like the last three from today.
This show was the first of four hard camera only events. A lot of times when New Japan runs a (with the exception of Korakuen Hall) smaller building, they will just make it a one camera show with no commentary. On one hand, it can make the event feel not as important without the commentary and the various multiple camera shots, but on the other hand, it gives an intimate feeling to the event and you can hear the crowd a lot more.
Match 1: Tag Match: Tiger Mask IV & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Jay White & Yohei Komatsu (Both Young Lions)
Winners: Tiger Mask IV & Jushin Liger (After Hitting the Tiger Driver on Jay White)
This really wasn’t much of anything. Tiger Mask and Liger looked as if they were just going through the motions, while Jay White and Yohei Komatsu got in their big spots. The double Single Crab spot is always one that will get some attention, but this was really just a match. It didn’t help that the crowd totally didn’t care either. **
Match 2: 6-Man Tag Team Match: Captain New Japan, Kota Ibushi (2015 New Japan Cup Winner) & Togi Makabe (NEVER Openweight Champion, 2009 G1 Winner) vs. Cody Hall, Doc Gallows (IWGP Tag Team Champion) & Bad Luck Fale (All Bullet Club)
Winners: Captain New Japan, Kota Ibushi & Togi Makabe (After Makabe hits Cody Hall with the King Kong Knee Drop)
This was better than the first match and everyone played their role here. Ibushi was just here to do his big spots like the standing moonsault at the start and then later a BIG Springboard Moonsault to the outside to take out Fale and Gallows. Captain New Japan contributed pretty much nothing and the other Bullet Club guys did about the same. The match was mainly focused on Makabe and Cody Hall. Makabe got in a few Clotheslines, including the Double Clothesline over the top rope on Gallows and Fale that lead to the flying move from Ibushi. This setup the finish and it was all she wrote. This served the purpose of making Makabe look strong going into his match with Fale tomorrow. Cody Hall has certainly redeemed himself on these two G1 shows and had a good showing here. **
Match 3: Tag Team Match: YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano (Both CHAOS) vs. Tama Tonga & AJ Styles (Both Bullet Club)
Winners: YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano (After Yano rolls up Tama Tonga)
This is the tag match that reminds you that not only are these meant for the opposite block competitors to sort have the night off, but also to create a semblance of build-up for the next G1 show. Most of the action was between YOSHI-HASHI and Tama Tonga, but at least we got AJ hitting one big move, when he hit a Springboard Forearm. Yano’s comedy bits were also toned down, but I couldn’t help but laugh at him getting elbowed from behind and he still does his taunt anyway. Yano was also pivotal in the finish, where he pushed AJ into an oncoming Tama Tonga. Tonga speared AJ and this led to the roll-up by Yano. It might be telegraphing that Yano isn’t going to win tomorrow, but at least we got to see Tama Tonga having a bigger role and I won’t ever complain about that. **
Match 4: 6-Man Tag Team Match: Mascara Dorada (CMLL World Welterweight Champion), Tetsuya Naito (2013 G1 Winner) & Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 G1 Winner) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (NWA World Champion, 3-Time G1 Winner)
Winners: Ryusuke Taguchi, Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (After Taguchi hit a sliding Ass Attack)
Finally, we get something that’s actually pretty good in the undercard. Shibata and Naito have a stare down at the start because those two are having a G1 match tomorrow. Shibata certainly gave off this aura of “I’m not one to mess with.” Shibata then takes Naito down, Naito rolls out of the ring because he doesn’t care, and Shibata says “well, I’ll just sit in the ring until you decide to do something.” Shibata asks for Tanahashi and then proceeds to deliver a Running Knee to Naito that knocks him clear off the apron and sends him flying to the floor. No joke, it looked like Shibata literally knocked Naito into next week. Tanahashi and Tenzan have a decent exchange, which might give you some hope for their match tomorrow as well. Although all I got from it, was that the crowd is going to be split between both guys.
Dorada had a lot of great spots in the match, including his first introduction which led to his Lucha Armdrag and a Tope Con Hilo to the outside on Taguchi. Later Dorada hit a Rope Walk Dropkick, Rope Walk Senton, and a beautiful Moonsault towards the end too. Taguchi did his usual stuff, including a Springboard Ass attack. This match mainly focused on building tension between heel Naito and the ultra-serious Shibata. It accomplished all of this in spades, with Naito later knocking Shibata off the apron, only for Shibata to tag himself in and just go off on Naito with kicks and a Basement Dropkick. I can’t wait to watch their match tomorrow and this match added to that excitement a lot. ***
Before we get to the G1 matches, this would be a good time for a reminder of the participants in each block…
A Block Participants: AJ Styles (2nd consecutive appearance), Bad Luck Fale (2nd consecutive appearance), Doc Gallows (IWGP Tag Team Champion, 2nd consecutive appearance) (All Bullet Club) Kota Ibushi (2015 New Japan Cup Winner, 2nd appearance), Toru Yano (CHAOS, 10th appearance), Togi Makabe (G1 Winner in 2009, NEVER Openweight Champion, GBH, 12th consecutive appearance), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (G1 Winner in 2003, 2004, & 2006, NWA World Champion, 20th appearance), Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Winner in 2007, 14th consecutive appearance), Katsuyori Shibata (3rd consecutive appearance), Tetsuya Naito (G1 Winner in 2013, 6th consecutive appearance, Los Ingobernables)
B Block Participants: Kazuchika Okada (Defending G1 Champion, also won in 2012, IWGP Heavyweight Champion, CHAOS, 4th consecutive appearance), Shinsuke Nakamura (G1 Winner in 2011, CHAOS, 12th appearance), Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS, 3rd consecutive appearance), Karl Anderson (IWGP Tag Team Champion, Bullet Club, 6th consecutive appearance), Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club, 6th consecutive appearance), Tomoaki Honma (GBH, 2nd consecutive appearance), Michael Elgin (ROH, first appearance), Satoshi Kojima (G1 Winner in 2010, 14th appearance), Yuji Nagata (G1 Winner in 2001, 17th consecutive appearance), Hirooki Goto (G1 Winner in 2008, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, 8th consecutive appearance)
G1 Climax Matches All Block B
Match 5: (2010 G1 Winner) Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii (After Hitting a Brainbuster)
They teased locking up and then immediately went to exchanging elbows, which played nicely off of the interactions from night one. Kojima tried to keep Ishii grounded early on, but that ceased to work once Ishii countered with a Powerslam. After Kojima hit his usual big spot with the Machine Gun chops and his elbow off the top, the momentum swung Ishii’s way, but they kept going at it back and forth. Ishii hits a Brainbuster, but Kojima no sells and hits a Lariat. So then Ishii hits a Super Stalling Brainbuster, but it only gets 2. Kojima counters with a DDT and Brainbuster to Ishii, but that doesn’t keep him down. I liked the finish, as Kojima can’t capitalize with a big lariat, so Ishii’s next opportunity doesn’t miss and we get the big Brainbuster to end it. The crowd for this show was really a mixed bag and I felt that they hurt the perception of some of the matches. This is one of those, as they didn’t really get into much. However, this was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t a blow away match by any means, but it had some nice moments and starts off Ishii’s G1 in a great way. *** and ¼ *
Match 6: (IWGP Intercontinental Champion, 2008 G1 Winner) Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club)
Winner: Hirooki Goto (After Hitting Shouten-Kai)
I’ll give Yujiro credit, he really tired here, but I just can’t get into watching him on the offensive. Especially for long periods like what we had in this match. It sort of felt like they did it to give the match more length than it probably needed. I also didn’t understand at all why they were doing this spot where Goto would put Yujiro in a reverse chinlock, only for Yujiro to bite Goto’s thumb twice and then Goto returned the favor a little later in the match. It just came off as weird. This followed the formula of having the heel beat down on the face for a long time. Goto made an impressive comeback with a bunch of counters that led to a Headbutt, a huge lariat, and the Urushi-Koroshi from Goto. Goto then hit the Shouten-Kai and that was all she wrote. Goto gets the expected win and there really wasn’t much to this. ** ¼ *
Match 7: (2001 G1 Winner) Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoaki Honma
Winner: Yuji Nagata (After Hitting a Second Backdrop Suplex Pin)
I’ve made it no secret that I love Honma and the match that was done here played directly to his strengths. Honma was probably the most over guy on the show behind Okada and Nakamura. He got plenty of chants and people wanted to see him win. Honma missed a Kokeshi early and another top-rope Kokeshi later that probably indirectly lead to the finish. Nagata worked on the neck for all of the match between a chinlock, kicks to the head, an exploder suplex into the corner, a big knee lift, and Nagata’s armbar, I mean poor Honma’s neck had to be hurting. Honma had lots of opportunities to counter blows and moves, he also hit two Diving Headbutts in succession for a near fall. He even kicked out of a Backdrop Pin, but fell victim to a second one right afterwards. I really enjoyed this because not only did the neck work prove to be a big factor in deciding the match, they worked the match to give the crowd plenty of chances to believe it could happen for Honma. This is what makes Honma great, because he’s always even with his opponents and even though he doesn’t win singles matches, he does so well that you believe his next match could be the one. Nagata has been complaining about his spot in New Japan for a while now and I think he’s going to be wanting to impress at this tournament. *** ½ *
Match 8: (IWGP Heavyweight Champion, 2-Time G1 Winner, CHAOS) Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
Winner: Kazuchika Okada (After Hitting the Rainmaker Lariat)
Anyone that had doubts about Elgin working in New Japan or any doubts that Okada is as great as everyone proclaims, go watch this match and tell me there was something bad in it. From the beginning this match was centered on making sure Elgin looked like a star. Okada went for an Armdrag and immediately Elgin used his strength to pull Okada back and go for a Powerslam, but Okada countered it into his Snapmare and Dropkick combo. Elgin got in a variety of stuff here. He hit the senton from the second rope with Okada on the apron, he got a very impressive looking stalling suplex, but he also missed his twisting splash. This is what made the match great. Elgin had a counter for a lot of Okada’s trademark stuff and Okada would do the same for some of Elgin’s. So there was this constant doubt that the moves you are used to seeing would happen. The most impressive feat was probably Elgin’s Deadlift Superplex, which he turned into a Falcon Arrow in MID-AIR. Okada counters the Buckle Bomb, so then Elgin hits a Deadlift Buckle Bomb, but then when Elgin goes for the Elgin Bomb, Okada counters it into his Neckbreaker. This countering of moves led all the way up to the finish and it just worked wonderfully. The crowd reacted well to Elgin and since the crowd was behind Okada they were into everything to see what these guys would do next. Eventually Elgin lost as you would expect, but this was very well done and I can’t wait to see Elgin’s next match in a few days. Okada to me is still the best wrestler on the planet and he shows you why here. **** ¼ *
MAIN EVENT: Match 9: (2011 G1 Winner) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson (Bullet Club)
Winner: Karl Anderson (After Hitting a Second Gun Stun)
This match is really based on the psychology of Anderson working on the neck throughout the match. Almost everything he does affects Nakamura’s neck here. It starts early with Anderson against the barricade and Nakamura runs and Anderson does a Fireman’s Carry Neckbreaker sending Nakamura over the barricade as well. This even goes to Anderson hitting a neckbreaker and forcing Nakamura to kick out three different times. It was surprising how much Anderson had control of the match. However, it played well off of their tag match from the night one because Anderson knew to counter the running knee in the corner. He made Nakamura miss that two different times and was able to counter out of that. A lot of what Nakamura did felt like desperation maneuvers, but he’s so effective that it makes you believe he’s right back into the match.
The finishing sequence was great as Nakamura kicks out of the top rope Gun Stun, is able to counter hit a Boma-Ye from the second rope, he goes for another Boma-Ye and Anderson hits a Gun Stun for a near fall. Nakamura is able to partial hit a Boma-Ye, but Anderson kicks out. Nakamura hits the Reverse Suplex and looks all set to deliver the finishing blow, but Anderson is their waiting because he knows it’s coming and gets all of the Gun Stun this time and WINS!!! Great upset to end the first series of matches and it works because Anderson has history with Nakamura and because Nakamura seems to everyone’s favorite this year. Just great stuff and now not only is there doubt that perhaps Nakamura is not just going to run through everyone, but Karl Anderson may be a major dark horse. Anderson proclaimed at the end that he was going to be G1 Champion. Perhaps he isn’t too far off there. ****
Here are the standings after the first round of matches:
A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2 points), AJ Styles (2 points), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2 points), Tetsuya Naito (2 points), Togi Makabe (2 points), Toru Yano, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale, Katsuyori Shibata, Kota Ibushi (All 0 points)
B Block: Karl Anderson (2 points), Kazuchika Okada (2 points), Tomohiro Ishii (2 points), Yuji Nagata (2 points), Hirooki Goto (2 points), Michael Elgin, Yujiro Takahashi, Tomoaki Honma, Satoshi Kojima, Shinsuke Nakamura (All 0 points)
FINAL RATING: 8.0: Even though the crowd was at times very inconsistent and the tag matches were not as entertaining as those in night one, the G1 matches delivered big time with two standout matches and two other very good ones. This event is called the G1 Climax and those matches carry a lot more weight than the other stuff on these cards. I would say if you are pressed for time, check out the last three matches for sure and skip the rest. However, I’d say this was a better overall show than night one. I will see you tomorrow for a review of Night three.