Doc Gallows defeated Katsuyori Shibata in 7:52 via pinfall. A bit surprising they went for this decision. I suppose they wanted Gallows to end on a high note so he isn’t made out to be the weak link of the tag team champions. That being said he put on a more than decent effort here. Shibata was strong in the first half of the tournament but suffered loss after loss in the second half. I suppose the next step for him is finding a tag team partner for the upcoming tag tournaments. Bicycle kick, super-kick and Gallows Pole to finish things. This wasn’t bad by any means, just surprising.
Toru Yano defeated Bad luck Fale in 3:42 via pinfall. Not good but fun, thanks, as usual, to Yano’s antics. The Sublime Master Thief opened his bag of tricks before the bell even started. Fale made a comeback, things ended on the outside where Yano eventually low-blowed Fale and Tama Tonga and made it back into the ring just before the 20-count (yes, it’s not a 10-count in Japan). Silly but when Yano does his stuff, you can’t help being entertained. Fale was mostly protected during this G1, but Yano did pretty well too, with wins over Fale, Shibata, Ibushi and Tenzan. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in feuds against one or more of these four in the coming months.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Tetsuya Naito in 14:14 via submission. Very strong match with a good story. Naito’s heel persona continues to shine as he refused to take Tenzan seriously, mocking and taunting him even when Teznzan was on the offense. Tenzan eventually caught Naito in the Anaconda Vice and made him submit. Even after that, Naito still seemed unimpressed. After an hesitant start, performance wise, Tenzan came back strongly in the later stages of G1. I still expect him to reform his tag team with Kojima in the coming weeks. Naito made great strides and could be a major player again in the coming months, especially since his attitude screams: “I’m up to something”. Expect his Mexican pals to join him soon.
Kota Ibushi defeated Tog Makabe in 9:07 via pinfall. Ibushi needed to redeem himself after his loss against Yano and he did so in spectacular fashion against the NEVER Openweight Champion. Given the spot in which this happened, a Makabe/Ibushi feud seems likely, but Fale and Shibata (who both also own a win over Makabe) might join the fun. It seems NJPW wants to go slowly with Ibushi’s rise to the top but the good news is they DO have plans for him in the future. Good match.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated A. J. Styles via pinfall. Fantastic main event (not a surprise given who’s involved, but still). Pressure was on from the start as both chose a cautious approach before going all out in the second half. But even the slower part was still great, which is saying something about the rest of the match. Ref bump and low blow allowed Styles some advantage but Tanahashi was on fire and returned the favor a bit later. Great back and forth action which kept you on the edge of your seat. Crowd thought it was over when Stiles locked the Calf Killer on Tanahashi, but the veteran fought back and eventually reached the ropes for a huge pop. Both tried to use the other’s finisher with varying degrees of success. Styles got caught while trying to finish things with the Styles Clash and it was Tanahashi who ended things with the High Fly Flow. Great stuff from both here. Watch!
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 14
AJ Styles – 12
Tetsuya Naito – 10
Bad Luck Fale – 10
Katsuyori Shibata – 8
Togi Makabe – 8
Kota Ibushi – 8
Toru Yano – 8
Hiroyoshi Tenzan – 6
Doc Gallows – 6
Analysis: It was close but Tanahashi finally got the better of Styles. For Tanahashi, this will be his fifth G1 final (he won in 2007). As for his chances, it all depends on who joins him in the final. Nakamura is still the favorite to win, but let us not forget it was Okada’s loss against Tanahashi (at WK9) that send the former into a month long (story-line) slump. So a revenge match between Okada and Tanahashi would make sense AND would firmly cement Okada’s position as the present and future for this company. For Styles, all indications are that he will struggle to keep the Bullet Club members on the same page in the coming months. Will he leave the club and turn face? Or will he make some changes within to keep his position secure? Also he hasn’t received a return match against Okada yet, chances are that will come a the next big PPV. All in all, the A Block wrestlers put on a great series of matches and kept us guessing until the very end, so great job by all involved.
In other results:
Karl Anderson, Yujiro Takahashi and Tama Tonga defeated Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma and Mascara Dorada. (Tonga pinned Dorada)
Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Michael Elgin defeated Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Cody Hall. (Elgin pinned Hall) Great to see ReDragon and the Young Bucks back in the mix. Star was Elgin, once again, who is super over with the Japanese crowds. Great stuff!
Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi and KUSHIDA defeated Hirooki Goto, Captain New Japan and Ricochet. (Nagata pinned Captain new Japan) First confrontation between KUSHIDA and Ricochet since the former won the Junior HeavyweightChampionship, and boy, did they leave us begging for more. Ricochet is just so good at everything he does and KUSHIDA is carrying his prestigious title with gusto and confidence. Their upcoming match should be off the charts amazing.
Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazushi Sakuraba and YOSHI-HASHI defeated Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, Matt Taven and Michael Bennett. (Sakuraba made Gedo submit) Now THAT was interesting. CHAOS vs CHAOS with the strange sight of The Kingdom teaming up with Okada and Gedo. Nakamura and Okada did a great job of hyping up their match for tomorrow (not that it was needed, really, but anyway). Maria distracted Sakuraba, which allowed Gedo to go for the Gedo clutch (after a YOSHI HASHI super-kick) which was, in turn, countered into a kimura. Very good and intriguing stuff here.
As you can see, NJPW is already preparing for the post G1 period with the return of several old friends and the arrival of Ricochet. Will be interesting to see what they have in store for us.
Last day of competition for B Block tomorrow with the following matches:
Michael Elgin vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Tomoaki Honma vs. Yujiro Takahashi
Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Goto
Satoshi Kojima vs. Karl Anderson
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada
Everybody is anticipating that one match, of course. Two of the best wrestlers in the world going at it to determine who gets the second spot in the Final. Need I say more? Also could this have repercussions for the future of CHAOS? More than likely. I’m still going for Nakamura, even if a Tanahashi/Okada final would make sense. Goto and Anderson could, technically,, still have a role to play, depending on the results, but I don’t see that happening. NJPW tried some swerves here and there, but B Block was about Okada vs Nakamura from the very start. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In other matches we have a very interesting (and hard-hitting) Ishii vs Elgin. I go with Elgin here to capitalize on his popularity. Honma will want to make it two wins in a row against Takahashi. Goto vs Nagata will be hard-fought as a Nagata win would earn him a shot at Goto’s IC title. Anderson vs Kojima is a battle of great singles wrestlers but also tag team specialists. Interesting given the upcoming tag team tournaments.
Whatever happens, tomorrow should be a great day, and on Sunday we’ll finally know who is this year’s winner. Can’t wait!
Tags: A.J. Styles, bad Luck fale, doc gallows, G1 climax, hiroshi tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Katsuyori Shibata, Kota Ibushi, njpw, Tetsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano