New Japan Pro Wrestling: G1 Climax 25 Night 11 Review

New Japan Pro Wrestling: G1 Climax 25 Night 11 Review

Location: Iwate, Japan, inside the Iwate Industrial Bunka Center Apio

After two shows that have been just good, but not great, could the A Block return things to the high standard of the G1? Well the main event certainly looks like it could do that, but the rest of the G1 matches are setup much like Night 9. They could either wind up good or we could get some duds because of the level of discrepancy between say a Tenzan and Bad Luck Fale, or a Gallows and Tanahashi. I guess all we can ask is for them to continue to be consistent.

This is the third single camera show of the tour and it is similar to another one we had before, where the crowd is kept pitch black and the ring is the only thing lit in the arena. Even though it doesn’t match the big feel of the G1 tournament, it will have to be up to the performers to fill that void.

Match 1: 6 Man Tag Team Match: Yohei Komatsu (Young Lion), Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima vs. (CMLL World Welterweight Champion), Michael Elgin (ROH), & (IWGP Intercontinental Champion) Hirooki Goto

Winners: Hirooki Goto, Michael Elgin, & Mascara Dorada (After Dorada Hits Dorada Screwdriver on Yohei)

This was a basic six man tag match where everyone was paired off against one another. Kojima and Goto some of their signature stuff in, Elgin gave Nagata a stalling suplex after both his tag partners couldn’t stop Elgin, and that was the extent of their interactions. Dorada and Yohei came in, Dorada hit a Springboard Crossbody, which was really nice looking. Yohei got in a running elbow and Necklock Suplex for 2. They had a few nice counters, but eventually stuff broke down and the Dorada Screwdriver was enough for the win. Not really a whole lot of note in this one. ** ½ *

Match 2: Tag Team Match: Tomoaki Honma & Jay White (Young Lion) vs. Cody Hall & Karl Anderson (Bullet Club)

Winners: Karl Anderson & Cody Hall (After Gun Stun on Jay White)

The crowd was really into Honma here, as Honma did his usual stuff and some funny stuff with Anderson early where Anderson acted like he was going to do a Kokeshi, but he did a Back Splash instead and missed. Jay White probably had the strongest showing with his basic offense, but he got to kick out of the TKO Gun Stun and got the crowd behind him during the heat segments. The guys worked hard, Cody Hall still does a mean Discus Clothesline, and it went longer than I thought it would. ** ¾ *

Match 3: Tag Team Match: Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)

Winners: Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (After Ishii Hits Brainbuster on Tama Tonga)

This actually was fun in spots, but it felt long in others, especially when Yujiro had this heat segment where he worked on Nakamura’s arm for what felt like a very long time, even doing it on the outside. I know these tag matches are meant to setup stuff for tomorrow night, but my goodness, less is more when it comes to Yujiro. Tama Tonga did look good in there as usual and even did a Cross Rhodes on Ishii, which I don’t think I’ve seen him do yet. Ishii looked good getting the hot tag and Nakamura seems to be healing more and more by the day. Nakamura and Ishii had three cool tag team moves. They did a Reverse Double Suplex spot, Nakamura had Tonga up for a Fireman’s Carry and transitioned it right into a Suplex from Ishii and a Boma-Ye and Sliding D combo was very nice. Ishii hit the Brainbuster for the win. If you can grin and bear the boring Yujiro stuff, this is a fun tag match to watch. ***

Match 4: 6 Man Tag Team Match: (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion) KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Captain New Japan vs. (IWGP Heavyweight Champion) Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, & YOSHI-HASHI (All CHAOS)

Winners: Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, & YOSHI-HASHI (After Okada Hits Rainmaker on Captain New Japan)

I’m kind of sad we didn’t get anything between KUSHIDA and Okada here. It feels like a missed opportunity honestly. Anyway, when you have Taguchi and Captain New Japan on one team I think we know what’s going to happen here. There was some funny stuff at the beginning with CNJ wanting some of Okada and Okada obliging with a swift Boot to the face. There was a heat segment on Taguchi, which the crowd bought into and cheered for Taguchi to get the tag to KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA had the best offense with his Kartwheel Dropkick to Gedo, hitting a standing Moonsault, then hitting a Double Standing Moonsault to both Gedo and YOSHI-HASHI. Then to top it off he hits a Moonsault off the top rope on Gedo as well. Captain New Japan did get Okada back, as Taguchi and KUSHIDA held Okada down for him to hit his Diving Headbutt. Okada would basically come in and clean house after that and take out CNJ for the win. This was fun and had the right amount of comedy and some good spots to be enjoyable. Even though you knew who would win, the action was constant enough that it makes you forget about the obvious. ***

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 25 Matches: All A Block

Match 5: (NWA World Champion, 3-Time G1 Winner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2 Points) vs. Bad Luck Fale (6 Points) (Bullet Club)

Winner: Bad Luck Fale (After Top Rope Splash)

Oh boy, as someone put it on twitter this was like two big turtles going at it. Tenzan just has no mobility and due to Fale’s increasing size he really doesn’t have any either. This was as basic as a match gets. Mongolians, Lariats, elbows, and the like filled up the time. We did get the Rolling Wheel Kick from Tenzan and Fale was able to break the Anaconda Vise, but this was a slog and I almost fell asleep at one point. Tama Tonga got involved to keep Tenzan from hitting the headbutt off the top rope at one point too. I think we should just move on from this. *

Match 6: Katsuyori Shibata (8 Points) vs. Toru Yano (CHAOS) (2 Points)

Winner: Toru Yano (After a surprise Roll-Up)

Wow! Yano pulls off the big upset against someone that was sure to pummel him into oblivion. In fact, that’s precisely what Shibata did at the start because Yano decided it would be a smart thing to throw water at Shibata before the bell. Shibata proceeded to take Yano’s jacket, whoop Yano in the corner, put Yano’s jacket over his face, and Basement Dropkick him to hell. Yano got two close roll-ups, but Shibata kicked out. Yano did his break routine, but Shibata was having none of it and elbowed him and booted him off the apron. Yano rammed Shibata into the barricade twice. Shibata would get the sleeper in, but Yano made the ropes. So, Shibata gets pissed puts in a Fujiwara Armbar, but Yano counters it for the UPSET WIN. This was short, but everything was to the point and the surprise shocked everyone. This made total sense as no one was expecting Yano to win and it creates space for everyone to be even closer in the standings when this night is over. ** ½ *

Match 7: (2007 G1 Winner) Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 Points) vs. Doc Gallows (2 Points) (Bullet Club)

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi (After a Roll-Up)

This was kept on the short side thankfully and what we got wasn’t really that bad. Gallows controlled a lot of the match with basic offense, work on the outside, and such other things. Tanahashi grabbed his sliver of hope when Gallows missed a second rope Elbow. The one spot that could have been really cool was botched by Gallows when he couldn’t keep control of Tanahashi for a Chokeslam as Tanahashi was coming down from the top rope. He had to bring Tana down and then back up for the move. Gallows would hit his One Man Magic Killer for a near fall, but the crowd bought the Jackhammer as a possible finish. Tanahashi would win thanks to countering the Gallows Pole into a roll-up. The strategy was to make Gallows look strong and have Tanahashi escape with the victory. The idea worked and the crowd was behind Tanahashi, but it certainly wasn’t the prettiest match you’ll ever see. ***

Match 8: (2009 G1 Winner, NEVER Openweight Champion) Togi Makabe (6 Points) vs. AJ Styles (6 points) (Bullet Club)

Winner: AJ Styles (After Styles Clash)

I guess every match tonight is going to have someone going into the barricade. At least they got that out of the way early as Makabe and AJ even took it into the crowd. This match was also sort of weird because there were times when the crowd seemed into AJ when Makabe was dominating and then when AJ went on his heat portion, the people were cheering for Makabe as you would expect. The great way about how AJ has been booked in the G1 is he hasn’t needed interference from his Bullet Club mates for help. So, people can just admire his work and we’ve heard AJ be cheered heavily already in other matches.

The match picked up when Makabe made his comeback with his usual Lariats and 10 punches in the corner. AJ’s Suplex in the corner reversal that he did here looked nasty as well. AJ goes for another Tornado DDT, but Makabe countered it into Northern Lights Suplex. AJ goes on the apron and hits the Springboard DDT, but can’t get the Styles Clash. AJ was also able to counter the Spider German and hit a Springboard Forearm for a near fall. Makabe nails AJ with a Lariat, hits a Powerbomb, but AJ moves and avoids the King Kong Knee Drop. AJ counters a Lariat with the Pele and gets the Styles Clash for the win. The match was pretty good and they worked a nice bigger man vs. smaller man dynamic. Shibata’s loss earlier has now left the door open for everyone to pick up points and tie him for the lead in the A Block. *** ½ *

Match 9: MAIN EVENT: Kota Ibushi (6 Points) vs. (2013 G1 Winner) Tetsuya Naito (6 Points)

Winner: Tetsuya Naito (After The Destino)

Due to Naito continually attacking Red Shoes, which I wonder why he continually seems to be assigned to Naito’s matches, Red Shoes gets fed up with Naito taking forever to take off his entrance attire and calls for the bell early. Ibushi isn’t happy about it either, but he just pisses off Naito and they take it outside where Ibushi gets whipped into the barricade and they brawl into the crowd as well. I get they are trying to sell that each of these matches are supposed to be between guys that want to win at all costs, there has to be something besides going to the outside and doing a near count-out spot in every single match. Naito starts working the neck with a Nasty Neckbreaker on the ring apron and he keeps working on it throughout the match as well. Ibushi would eventually get back into the match and hit his Corkscrew Moonsault for a 2 count. Naito comes back by PLANTING Ibushi with a Tornado DDT, hitting a Dropkick off the top rope, and going right into his patented Corner Dropkick. Naito spits on Ibushi after this and Ibushi counters with a Running Rana that sends Naito to the floor so Ibushi can do his Springboard Moonsault on the outside.

Something people have said about Naito for a long time, but we never really saw with his babyface persona was that he really understands psychology. Naito would showcase that here by immediately going into the Puma Blanco submission that really forced Ibushi to have to use everything he had to get to the ropes. After that move, we just get a big series of huge moves that work together all the way to the finish. Naito hits a Reverse Rana off the top rope, a Reverse DDT, and a German Suplex almost all in one sequence.

Then Ibushi is able to counter Naito with an Umori Driver and a Last Ride Powerbomb, but he misses the Phoenix Splash, thus doing even more damage to the neck. They get into an elbow exchange that really sells how much they’ve been through in the match. Ibushi flips out of a Dragon Suplex, but Naito hits a Rolling Kick, gets the Dragon Suplex, and then hits his finisher for the win. A really great match that puts all of Naito’s heel character together. Ibushi is also really the first that has gotten the most of out of Naito since introducing the personality change too. I really enjoyed this and maybe it wasn’t this absolutely epic encounter, but the intensity between the two that started in the tag match last night, carried over here and it was palpable throughout this. Terrific stuff here and it pushes this show into a different category. **** ½ *

Here are the standings after eleven nights of action…

A Block: Katsuyori Shibata, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, AJ Styles, and Bad Luck Fale (8 points), Kota Ibushi and Togi Makabe (6 points), Toru Yano (4 points), Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Doc Gallows (2 points)

B Block: Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii (8 points), Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson and Shinsuke Nakamura (6 points), Michael Elgin, Satoshi Kojima and Yujiro Takahashi (4 points), Yuji Nagata (2 points), Tomoaki Honma (0 points)

FINAL RATING: 5.0 Unlike yesterday’s show, the undercard can be completely skipped here. The first G1 match is a total stinker and even though the Yano and Shibata match served its purpose, it was still really short. Tanahashi vs. Gallows was awkward, but still decent. Even the match between AJ and Makabe really wasn’t anything too memorable. The one match to watch from this show is the main event. Naito’s heel character is a joy to watch with each outing and Ibushi continues to get the best out of anyone he performs in the ring with as well. Really at best, maybe a two match show.

The tournament takes a night off before heading into the weekend with three nights of action. They will hit Hamamatsu first for B Block action on Night 12 with a tasty main event of Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kazuchika Okada, which also serves as the last single camera show of the tour. A Block action returns as their last stop on the tour before heading to Tokyo takes New Japan to Yokohama for a big one that could determine everything in the A Block between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata. The first of the three Korakuen Hall shows, is on Sunday with a double main event of Shinsuke Nakamura against Tomoaki Honma and Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii. So, by the time we hit the next off day on Monday they will be officially in the home stretch. I’ll see everyone at some point on Friday with my thoughts on night 12.

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