Katsuhiko Nakajima defeated Toru Yano in 3:51 via pinfall:
Despite both teaming up on Night 1, there was no signs of friendship here as Yano immediately went for his usual bag of tricks, trying to score a surprise win right of the bat. But Nakajima easily countered at first, prompting Yanoi to use his shirt to tie his opponent to the barricade for a seventeen count. Yano then tried to use the ref as a distraction but Nakajima send him flying head-first into the corner and then assaulted him with a barrage of kicks before hitting a Brainbuster for the win. Not really a match, and I guess we’ll have to wait until this Sunday to see the real Nakajima.
YOSHI-HASHI pinned Kenny Omega in 12:16 via pinfall:
Great match as both went all-out from the start. YOSHI-HASHI then quickly installed himself in the underdog position he’s so good at, effortlessly getting the crowd behind him. But, as the match progressed, Omega’s expression told the story, he came in expecting an easy victory and found himself in an increasingly difficult situation as YOSHI-HASHI kept reversing his best moves. Add to that some great back-and-forth and some very intense submission spots and you have your match of the night right there. Finishing stretch was crazy with YOSHI-HASHI reversing the One-Winged-Angel into a DDT before doing a Nakamura tribute, hitting Omega with a BIG knee-strike to the back of the head. Finally YOSHI-HASHI blasted Omega with a modified Michinoku Driver for the HUGE upset. It’s difficult to say at this point whether or not Omega’s loss means something for his future in NJPW, but, whatever the case, it’s safe to say nobody saw that one coming. YOSHI-HASHI, meanwhile is having a really impressive 2016, combining impressive performances with some upset wins. It will be interesting to see how far he can go here.
EVIL defeated Michael Elgin in 10:54 via pinfall:
Another surprise as EVIL confirmed his status as possible outsider by beating the IWGP Intercontinental Champion. A good Big Guy match with lots of ultra-stiff offense and power-moves, a style both excel at. Elgin even borrowed the Frog-Splash from his good friend Tanahashi, a move he calls the Big Mike Fly Flow and that looks damn impressive coming from him. Not to be outdone, EVIL soon blasted Elgin with a sick-looking half-nelson suplex before hitting the STO for the surprisingly clean win. Before the tournament, many were wondering what was next for EVIL. Well, now we know, after this big win he will waste no time before challenging Elgin for the IC title. I do wonder how Omega will react to that, should be interesting.
Yuji Nagata defeated Tetsuya Naito in 15:32 via pinfall:
To be honest, this was something of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t bad by any means, but the pace was simply too slow (excepting the finishing stretch). Naito seemed to work at the same pace as last year, when character development was more important than work-rate. Nothing wrong with that, but, the thing is, Naito’s character is firmly established by now, so , what worked last year doesn’t really work anymore. Nagata didn’t help with submission attempts that seemed unconvincing and even half-hearted at times. The ending stretch was better, with Nagata hitting Naito with a backdrop driver, a kick to the temple and a bridging back suplex for the win. Bit of a surprise here, but the pace of the match didn’t really make this feel as if something momentous had happened. Fireworks were expected between those two, and, well, it didn’t really happen.
Tomoaki Honma defeated Katsuyori Shibata in 11:11 via pinfall:
Another surprising result and another good match, but, much like with Naito and Nagata, something was missing. And the pace was not at fault here, it was more the way Honma was booked. The reason of Honma’s success, as explained before, is the expert way he has been booked as the ultimate underdog, the guy who goes all out but never wins, the Heroic Loser. The crowds love him when he fight on despite finding himself in increasingly hopeless situation and cheer him on after yet another missed Kokeshi before exploding when he finally hits one. Take that away and Honma is really just another wrestler. And that was the problem with this match. Why would the crowd get behind Honma when he suddenly hits his Kokeshi’s right of the start. Add to that the fact that, unlike YOSHI-HASHI who has had a big role in the ongoing and very popular CHAOS vs Los Ingobernables war, Honma hasn’t really been used in any storyline to speak of lately and that EVERYBODY is expecting Shibata to move up the cards after his great and well-received feud against nagata, not downwards for a feud against Honma, on you can see why HonmaMania didn’t exactly go wild for this one. Lesson of the day, when you have an Heroic Loser character on a tournament, DON’T have him win on the first day, it kinda defeats the purpose of the character.
Aside from that, this was an enjoyable main event, let down a bit by contra-productive booking. And yes, that does happen in NJPW too on occasion, WWE doesn’t have the monopole on that.
Conclusion: While a step or two down from the Night 1 event, this was still a very enjoyable offering, with some intriguing results. Nakajima had an easy win and Nagata defeated Naito, although in somewhat underwhelming manner. EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI both scored big upsets, so it will be interesting to see what they will do, going forward. The Honma situation is a bit strange, as explained above, It seems they want him to have something of a run towards the final this year, but I’m not sure how well that will go, remember an heroic loser is only popular if he loses, otherwise he becomes something else, and I’m just not sure Honma can convincingly be anything else.
In other results:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima and Manabu Nakanishi defeated David Finlay, Captain New Japan and Juice Robinson:
Kojima pins the Good Captain for the win.
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, and Naomichi Marufuji defeated Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale:
Good match, it was interesting to see Marufuji interact with Ishii and Goto, who didn’t seem too happy being in a team with the guy that beat their leader on Night one. Ishii had some great exchanges with Fale of all people and Marufuji blasted Takahashi with the Shiranui.
KUSHIDA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask and Jushin Liger:
Average tag match, designed to promote the Makabe/Tanahashi match on night 3. KUSHIDA pinned Tiger Mask for the win.
SANADA and BUSHI defeated Kazuchika Okada and Gedo
Very entertaining match with SANADA and Okada setting up their upcoming match on night 3. BUSHI pinned Gedo for the win, Los Ingobernables continues to dominate CHAOS in the various tag matches.
Next in Block B:
July 24 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo (5:30 AM ET)
BLOCK B: Toru Yano vs. Kenny Omega
BLOCK B: Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito
BLOCK B: Yuji Nagata vs. EVIL
BLOCK B: Tomoaki Honma vs. YOSHI-HASHI
BLOCK B: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Metalhead’s thoughts: Omega vs Yano will probably say much about Omega’s future with NJPW. If Yano steals this one, I’m gonna start speculating about Omega going to a certain North-American promotion (and no, it isn’t TNA). Elgina and Naito have both lost their first match so we should have a very intense clash here. I go for Naito. Nagat vs EVIL should also be interesting, since NJPW does seem to want EVIL pushed towards the next level, I predict an EVIL victory over the legend Nagata. Honma vs YOOSHI-HASHI should be very interesting, if only to determine which Heroic Loser gets a genuine push. I hope it’s YOSHI-HASHI as Honma is in no position to carry said push right now. Finally, Shibata vs Nakajima is one of the dream-matches of this year’s G1. Judging by the result on this night, I go for Nakajima.
Tags: EVIL, G1 Climax 2016, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Katsuyori Shibata, Kenny Omega, Michael Elgin, njpw, Tetsuya Naito, Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano, Yoshi Hashi, Yuji Nagata