New Japan Pro Wrestling: G1 Climax 25 Night 14 Review
Location: Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan, inside Korakuen Hall
New Japan is now firmly entrenched in Tokyo for the final six shows of the tour. They are sold out and the first three shows, including this one, take place in the legendary Korakuen Hall. After the previous night’s main event thriller, this card looks extremely solid. We could finally have the potential for a show of the year contender when this one is done, if all the matches pan out.
We finally return to the full New Japan production, with announcers, dubbed music, the multiple cameras, the big fight feel from the crowd, and even Gedo and later Toru Yano on commentary. Hopefully, it stays that way for the rest of the tour. Could we be in store for the first of six of the greatest nights in the history of our sport? Well, I don’t think we need Tony Schiavone to tell us that NJPW is about to make everyone’s butt come out of their seat.
Match 1: Tag Team Match: Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club) vs. Jay White & David Finlay Jr. (Young Lions)
Winners: Bullet Club (After Tonga Hits Headshrinker DDT on)
Literally, this match was Jay White gets beat up by both Fale and Tonga, Finlay makes the save with a Hip Toss, big running elbow, Tonga hit his three big moves in succession and it was over. Young Lions look good, Tonga keeps winning and we move on. ** ¼ *
Match 2: Tag Team Match: Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS) vs. (CMLL World Welterweight Champion) Mascara Dorada & Kota Ibushi
Winners: YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano (After Loose Explosion Swanton on Dorada)
This was a fun comedy match to get some heat behind the Ibushi vs. Yano match happening on Tuesday. Yano takes off the turnbuckle pad and rams Ibushi into it, YOSHI-HASHI does it as well. Ibushi fires back and even rams Yano into the exposed buckle. Dorada comes in with a quick Springboard Crossbody, a Springboard Elbow, and gets the Super Arm Drag too. Ibushi gets in his Springboard Moonsault to the outside to take out Yano. YOSHI-HASHI has his Powerbomb pin thwarted by Ibushi, but he quickly gets Dorada down for that Loose Explosion and it is over. The match kept moving, each person got their moment, and YOSHI-HASHI keeps winning in these tag matches. ** ¼ *
Match 3: 6-Man Tag Team Match: Tetsuya Naito, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Captain New Japan vs. AJ Styles, (IWGP Tag Team Champion) Doc Gallows & Cody Hall (All Bullet Club)
Winners: Bullet Club (After Gallows Pole on CNJ)
Honestly, it is hard for me to take too much out of matches with a bunch of Bullet Club guys. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but when you have Naito who is in “I don’t care” heel mode and two guys like Taguchi and Captain New Japan against them, you know the result before it even starts. I mean these tags don’t matter to begin with, but still. Bullet Club do their usual thing of attacking before the bell to gain an early advantage. Except in this match, they pretty much kept it the whole way because Naito tagged in and then quickly tagged Taguchi back into the match. Gallows, AJ, and Hall all had their time beating up Taguchi, with Gallows having a hilarious moment where he Uppercuts Taguchi’s ass and then puts him horizontal on the top turnbuckle and then Headbutts Taguchi’s ass multiple times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone willingly do that before. Naito cleans house and then tags in Captain New Japan. CNJ does a few of his super stops, but eventually just eats a Gallows Pole and that’s it. ** ½ *
Match 4: Jushin “Thunder” Liger, (NEVER Openweight Champion) Togi Makabe & Katsuyori Shibata, vs. (NWA World Champion) Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion) KUSHIDA
Winners: KUSHIDA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (After KUSHIDA pins Liger with Japanese Bridge Pin)
We might have just seen the best tag match of the entire tour right here. This had everything that you want in a six man tag. There was already tension between some of the guys because they had already wrestled previously. Then you had the pair offs with the guys wrestling on Tuesday, plus Liger and KUSHIDA and it created a wonderful mixture. Not to mention, you had three faces having to play the role of heels in the match and it somehow works. Makabe and Tanahashi had a small interaction at the beginning, but things ramped up immediately when Shibata was tagged into the match. These two wrestle for a bit, going off their match from Night 13. Before Tanahashi could tag in Tenzan, Shibata booted him off the apron. At least Shibata keeps things consistent in these tag matches. Tana would tag in Tenzan, who was very bothered by what Shibata had just done to him. Tenzan gets in some Mongolians and Shibata counters with the Basement Dropkick. Liger comes in and works on the leg, Shibata continues that with a Figure 4 Leglock, which I appreciated because it shows they’ve been paying attention. Even though it is broken up by Tenzan’s team members, once Liger no longer stands in the ring on guard that is. No one ever thinks to do that, but Liger did it here, and it was really a little thing that made the match mean more to me.
Makabe and Tana would face off again allowing Makabe to get his Lariats and 10 punches. The finale had a very Western feel to it, which again resonated with me a lot more than the usual “it all breaks down, guys pair off, and you are left with just two guys in the ring.” KUSHIDA and Liger are the legal men. KUSHIDA blocks Liger’s Frankensteiner and turns it into the Hoverboard Lock, so Shibata comes in and puts a sleeper on KUSHIDA. Tanahashi gives Shibata a Slingblade. Makabe takes out both Tana and Tenzan with a Double Lariat. Liger almost wins it with a Palm Strike for a near fall because KUSHIDA is distracted. KUSHIDA would get the pin, but this felt important, it felt like the guys cared, and the finish was much different than what usually happens in New Japan tags. You see this “finisher fest” all the time in WWE tags, but not here. We got previews for the two big matches on Tuesday and KUSHIDA looks strong in the end too. *** ½ *
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 B Block
Match 5: Karl Anderson (8 Points) (Bullet Club) vs. Michael Elgin (8 Points) (ROH)
Winner: Karl Anderson (After Hitting Stun-Gun in the middle of an Elgin Bomb)
Tama Tonga and Doc Gallows came to the ring with Karl Anderson here, so you know there are going to be some shenanigans. However, even with the help, Anderson wanted no part of Elgin at the start. The crowd was firmly behind Elgin here and once again he looked like a star, as if he’d been here for years. Elgin would get ahead early catching Anderson for a Front Slam and doing the Stalling Suplex that felt like he held him up there forever before bringing him down. The crowd just ate that up with a spoon. Anderson would quickly try to calm things down with his patented, “knock your opponent off the apron into the barricade” spot. Anderson would hit a Liger Bomb for a 2 count, but was swiftly knocked off the top rope by Elgin. Elgin would get an Enziguri, a Codebreaker, and a Deadlift German that had the crowd gasping at his strength. Anderson works on the neck with his Package Neckbreaker for a 2 count, but gets a bit too over confident with a big uppercut to Elgin, only to have to eat a HUGE Lariat from Elgin. Elgin follows it up with his Deadlift Falcon Arrow spot that makes the crowd go absolutely nuts. The Bullet Club sensed things were getting sour for their stablemate so Tonga and Gallows both get on the apron. Elgin takes them both down and then Powebomb tosses Anderson into them on the outside and the crowd roars in approval. Anderson would block the Elgin Bomb, but Elgin went for it again, and Anderson turned it into a Gun Stun in mid-air for the win. Fantastic stuff between these two. They kept things moving and Elgin getting to take out the whole Bullet Club by himself, did him a world of good. I think we knew this would be as close as Elgin would get in the standings, but they sure did make everyone think Elgin had one hell of a chance to win. *** ¾ *
Match 6: (2010 G1 Winner) Satoshi Kojima (4 Points) vs. (2001 G1 Winner) Yuji Nagata (2 Points)
Winner: Yuji Nagata (After Backdrop Pin)
These two exchange blows for quite a while to start, showing everyone that this thing was serious, especially since Kojima quickly went for some rib shots and chops to the chest. He got the Machine Gun Chops in here, along with the two elbows. Nagata rolls out of the ring and they have the doctor out checking on him. Kojima immediately goes out and was having none of it, whipping Nagata hard into the barricade. You felt the pain in Nagata’s chest in your living room, as the sound from the barricade reverberated around Korakuen. Seriously, I think I felt a pain my chest watching Nagata go through that. Kojima would continue going back to the ribs, as Nagata started to mount a comeback with a Big Boot, an Exploder, and a Rope Assisted Neckbreaker for a near fall. Kojima fired back with a DDT and a Koji Cutter. The elbow pad comes off and they head towards the finish, as Nagata is just holding his ribs. Nagata with kicks, sees his Backdrop countered, but he counters Kojima’s Lariat into the White Eyes Armbar, which is a nice call back to the tag match. Nagata tries to wrench the arm, but Kojima with a Lariat using the other arm for a near fall. Nagata would block a Lariat attempt twice with his arms and then NAIL the Backdrop Pin for the win. This was just a smart battle between two veterans. They could have just slept walk through their match, but they went out there, kept telling the story with Nagata’s ribs, and Blue Justice was served in the end. Nagata is now equal on points with Kojima for the tournament too. *** ¼ *
Match 7: (IWGP Heavyweight Champion, 2-Time G1 Winner) Kazuchika Okada vs. Yujiro Takahashi (4 Points)
Winner: Kazuchika Okada (After Rainmaker Lariat)
Yujiro is out here with his main squeeze Mao and she would actually play a small role in the match, as the main announcer Nogami would interview her ringside while the match was happening. They intermittently had another announcer call some of the matches with Yano and Gedo. Okada would control early with a few things, namely a Chinlock that he synched in pretty snug on Yujiro. Yujiro goes outside to get some TLC from his lady, as she put the thumbs down when Okada was beating him up on the outside. Cody Hall would attack Okada and even Gedo to some sinister heat. Mao became overjoyed when she saw her man Fisherman Suplex Okada onto the floor. Yujiro would control for a bit, but Okada came back with a Swing Neckbreaker, some Lariats, and the DDT and Kip Up. He Dropkicked Yujiro out to the floor, whipped him into the barricade and then kicked him over the guardrail. Cody Hall would get in the way and get kicked over too. Okada then flew over the guardrail and into the first row of seats with a Crossbody onto both men. You don’t see major champions doing that every day. We’ve seen Okada do it before in this tournament, but with this crowd this felt like a huge deal.
Okada tries to put in Red Ink, but it gets blocked, and Yujiro would control with his Flapjack into the ropes and a Samoan Drop. Yujiro would have the Tokyo Pimps blocked, but he got Okada down and hit the Miami Shine. We had a crazy near fall here, as I think everyone around the world bought it. Okada is simply the master when it comes to kicking out at 2.9, it also makes a world of difference when Yujiro actually cares about what he’s doing. Okada comes back with his Neckbreaker and he prepares for something else, but Yujiro pulls poor Red Shoes in the way and the referee goes down. We have a total Western run-in, with Cody Hall taking down both Gedo and Okada. He nails Okada with the Discus Clothesline and Yujiro gets another near fall, as Gedo pulls Yujiro off Okada to break up the pin. Hall gets taken out and Okada cleans up with the Rainmaker for the win. With Yujiro, all the interference works because it has been a theme in all his matches that Cody Hall gets involved. This time they went the extra mile to make it seem like Yujiro could actually beat Okada, but in the end he succumbed to the Rainmaker and that was all. This was just barely a little better than Elgin’s carry job of Yujiro earlier in the tournament. *** ½ *
Match 8: (2011 G1 Winner) Shinsuke Nakamura (8 Points) (CHAOS) vs. Tomoaki Honma (0 Points)
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura (After Boma-Ye)
This was just intense and the crowd absolutely adores Honma in Korakuen Hall. As I mentioned previously, these two have had a lot of interactions in tag matches over the last few months and each time it involves Nakamura not taking Honma seriously. This was the layout of this match early on as well, even though Honma hit a chop at the start to tell Nakamura he wasn’t playing around. Nakamura controlled early with Knees on the outside and a few submissions working on the neck including a simple Front Facelock and he also hit another Kokeshi Knee Drop, just like in the tag match on Night 13. Honma made a small comeback, but he missed the Kokeshi. Nakamura tried to control again, but after missing the Vibration Knees, Honma made his big comeback with the Face Crusher, Kokeshi and Blockbuster for a 2 count. Honma goes for the brainbuster, but Nakamura blocks with a Wheel Kick to get some breathing room, as the match is already taking a toll on both men. Honma slaps the crap out of Nakamura, so Nakamura returns with some knees, a Front Suplex, and he goes for a Boma-Ye, but Honma blocks it and hits the Brainbuster for a near fall.
Honma goes for the Fire Thunder Driver, but Nakamura gets out and hits a Second Rope Boma-Ye, but Nakamura is so exhausted he can’t make the cover. I just love the fact that there’s selling for that. Nakamura hits the Axe Kick, but can’t get Boma-Ye because he runs into a Rocket Kokeshi. Fire Thunder Driver for a massive near fall. Honma goes for Top-Rope Kokeshi, but Nakamura moves and hits Sliding Boma-Ye for another near fall. My goodness these are coming fast and furious here. Nakamura can’t believe he didn’t put Honma down. Honma comes back with a HUGE Rocket Kokeshi that knocks Nakamura to another side of the ring, but when he goes for a final Kokeshi, he’s met by another Boma-Ye and we finally get the end. This was wonderful. Honma made Nakamura have to take him seriously, he made him have to pull out all the stops, and as I sit here shedding a tear for my beloved Honma, I can’t help but be proud. Great action from both men and certainly the best match either man has had in this tournament. **** ¼ *
Match 9: MAIN EVENT: (IWGP Intercontinental Champion, 2008 G1 Winner) Hirooki Goto (10 Points) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (8 Points) (CHAOS)
Winner: Hirooki Goto (After Shouten-Kai)
I think I might have just witnessed Mortal Kombat happen right in front of my PC screen. I mean these two went at it and then some. I loved every second of it and I feel for those women crying in the front row for Ishii afterwards. This was all heart, all brutality, but it never lets you down. Unlike the last Makabe and Ishii match at Dominion, this always felt intense and they logically went from one thing to another. They never went too long on just crazy stiff spots and it made it even more enjoyable that each man was fighting for their life because whoever lost here was surely eliminated. The best thing about this, is that Ishii came ready and he had a counter for everything. I love it when you can tell they are going the extra mile to feel like they studied their opponent and know what they are going to do.
This was the meaning of epic from the start, as after some holds from Goto, they got into this massive elbow, chop, and slap fest. After even more blows we finally get a move, which is Ishii hitting a Suplex. Ishii blocks the Rolling Kick with a Dropkick and then hits one of Goto’s signatures, the Backdrop Suplex. This wouldn’t be the last time we would see Ishii go to that well in this match. Superplex by Ishii gets a 2 count. They start going for the throat literally with Lariats and Goto gets his own Backdrop Suplex. Ishii counters the Urushi-Goroshi into a German Suplex beautifully. After a few counters of the close-up Lariat, Goto hits the Urushi-Goroshi, which makes the crowd go nuts in amazement. Goto would go up top, but stopped by Ishii, they trade blows, and an Avalanche Kaiten (Code Red) by Goto for a near fall. Goto goes for the Discus Lariat but Ishii blocks with a Headbutt, they have a Lariat standoff that sees both guys go loopy, and eventually Ishii wins out, but Goto kicks out at 1. Ishii hits an Urushi-Goroshi, which makes the crowd go nuts and a Sliding D for a BIG near fall. Goto with a block of the Brainbuster for a Lariat that knocks both men down. Goto hits the Super Urushi-Goroshi for the near fall. Ishii blocks the Shouten-Kai with a Headbutt, but eats a Lariat, to which Ishii kicks out at 1. A few more Headbutt counters eventually lead to Goto hitting the Shouten-Kai for the HUGE win.
Goto has the only win against Okada in this tournament, so if he were to win out and Okada and Nakamura draw, he wins. This was awesome on all levels and I enjoyed this I think even more than any of the Ibushi matches from the A Block. For that reason, I have to be equal and give it perfection since I did it with Shibata vs. Ibushi earlier. I don’t know how Korakuen Hall is still standing after Goto and Ishii just tore it down.*****
Here are the standings after fourteen nights of action…
A Block: Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, AJ Styles, and Bad Luck Fale (10 points), Katsuyori Shibata and Togi Makabe (8 points), Kota Ibushi (6 Points), Toru Yano (4 points), Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Doc Gallows (2 points)
B Block: Kazuchika Okada (12 points), Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson, & Shinsuke Nakamura (10 Points) Michael Elgin & Tomohiro Ishii (8 points), Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Yujiro Takahashi (4 points), Tomoaki Honma (0 points)
FINAL RATING: 9.0 This is now the best night of action of the entire tournament. The final six matches are all worth watching, but you have to check out the final two for sure. Elgin vs. Anderson was also special and worth your time as well. It looks like the B Block was just pacing themselves until they got to the big shows to finally deliver a terrific show. Seriously, go watch Nakamura vs. Honma, serve yourself some dessert and be ready to enjoy Goto vs. Ishii right after it. The A Block might have had a really great main event in Night 13, but they are going to have a mountain to climb if they want to top this. The G1 Climax takes a night off on Monday and then they return with two consecutive nights of action on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ll see on Tuesday for thoughts on Night 15.