G1 CLIMAX 25 TOURNAMENT NOTES – DAY 3.
Here are my notes from each day of the NJPW G-1 Climax Tournament. These are for people new to NJPW and current fans. So don’t get too annoyed if I keep explaining who certain people are – it’s for the benefit of those annoying noobs. I’m kidding, I love you NJPW noobs too. Also, I’m only watching the tournament matches and not the undercard. I’m sure there’s some fun tag matches on there, but I want to focus on the tournament itself.
Day 3 are all Block A matches. After the shitty crowd for Day 2 and the one camera shoot with no commentary, I was hoping Day 3 would prove to be a bit more exciting and watchable. It’s not that I hate the one camera, no commentary shoots, it’s just they really limit my enjoyment of the shows. It’s weird too, because even though I don’t understand Japanese, I’d much prefer to hear the commentary than just the crowd.
Thankfully we’ve got a full camera shoot and a really lively crowd for Day 3. Although to be fair, there’s been better atmospheres in a morgue compared to the Day 2 crowd, so these guys don’t have to work hard to be better than Day 2. Still no commentary, even though I saw Jushin Liger at ringside, but let’s not get greedy here folks – we’ve got more than one camera and a noisy crowd. Two out of three ain’t bad.
One thing to point out that caught my eye immediately, apart from how cool this little building looked, was the weird 1970s looking washing machine that was set up in the aisle. I’m sure someone will explain what it actually was, but I did keep expecting some students to jump out the crowd, load it up with their crusty bedsheets and fire in a load of spare change to get it working. Anyway, weird old school washing machines aside, there’s some G-1 matches to talk about, so let’s do it!
Doc Gallows vs. Kota Ibushi
As soon as I saw this match I feared the worst. I just don’t get Doc Gallows. I mean he looks the part, he’s does some good stuff and works a big man style which stands out in NJPW. But he’s just so cartoony and over the top with everything he does. He toned it down a bit here, but he still screams 1980s WWE mid card heel…maybe that’s what he’s aiming for. If it is, he nailed it. The crowd never really seem sure how to respond to him either, it’s usually with mild apathy, as was the case early on here.
Ibushi is just tremendous. I first saw him on a ROH show back in around 2007 (I think) working against El Generico (who I believe is related somehow to NXT’s Sami Zayn). I was blown away by Ibushi then and he’s only got better as the years have passed. He’s become a much more experienced and smarter worker, but retained all of that amazing stuff he did in the early days. Now he just knows when to use and it makes for some truly outstanding matches. If I wasn’t so sure they’re going with Nakamura winning the G-1 this year, I’d put my money on Ibushi. He’s a joy to watch and every time he steps into the ring with a main event guy he delivers – just check out Day 1 against Tanahashi for proof of that.
This was classic speed vs. power match and it was a ton of fun. The crowd loved Ibushi and he sold most of the way for Gallows. In fact it was 90% Gallows on offence and Ibushi sold like a mother fucker for him. Made him look great. Ibushi fired back with a Pele kick and his trademark moonsault to the floor, and even busted out a German suplex on the big man! The finish was a slight botch, but covered well so most people wouldn’t notice. Ibushi got the win with a sunset flip type roll up from the powerbomb position. A fun match, pretty quick, with a basic lay out. It was a good win for Ibushi and Gallows didn’t stink the joint up as much as I expected.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi
Togi Makabe vs. Bad Luck Fale
The best thing about this match was it was short. Which it needed to be because Fale sucks. Makabe isn’t the miracle worker that Okada and Nakamura are (both got a good match out of Fale – which in itself deserves some sort of bonus from the NJPW brass). Fale is so fat and slow these days. When he first came in he was green as an Irishman’s teeth, but at least he looked the part. Now he looks like an out of shape bouncer, who lumbers around the ring slowly as others work around him. At least the chain swinging mad man that is Togi Makabe had the force of personality to carry this one.
There was some in crowd brawling, some lariats, some no selling by Makabe that the crowd loved. Then Fale got the win by blocking Makabe coming off the top for his big knee drop and taking him out with a spear and his Bad Luck Fall (Razors Edge) finisher. Mercifully short and not as bad as it really should have been.
WINNER: Bad Luck Fale
AJ Styles vs. Toru Yano
AJ is such a fucking star in NJPW these days. A combination of great booking and his out of this world in-ring performances in last year’s G-1 and while IWGP Heavyweight Champion, have cemented his place in the big four of the company. He carries himself like such a star and the crowd reacts accordingly. There’s a small part of me that just wishes all those asshole TNA fan boys that buried him and wrote him off when he wouldn’t re-sign with TNA could be forced to watch AJ in NJPW and realise he’s so much better than TNA deserved and that he’s proving all those idiots wrong. I’m sure they’d just say that people were hating on TNA and that AJ leaving them was actually a plus for the company cause it freed up some money for Bully Ray to be paid to work taping, becoming the GM and then leave during the following taping…in summary – fuck TNA fan boys, fuck them in their stupid asses. Where was I? Oh yeah.
Toru Yano. What a pasty, tubby, unlikeable little fucker this guy is. And WHAT A HEEL! In all honesty, I don’t really like Yano’s act. It’s fun and can be funny, at times, but mostly he just makes me feel seasick when he moves and his body wobbles all over the place. But he is a fun act in NJPW and he brings something different to the shows and in pro wrestling different is good.
You know what to expect from a Yano match – chair shots, exposing the metal turnbuckles and low blows. Plus weird facial expressions and things yelled in Japanese that always makes the fans laugh. This match had all that, plus AJ Styles working with Yano to make this a damn fun little match. Complete comedy and shenanigans and not your usual super serious G-1 stuff – which was a nice change of pace. AJ got the win by blocking a low blow, a roll up of sorts happened and then he tapped Yano out with the calf killer.
WINNER: AJ Styles
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito
From the silly plunder and giggles of Toru Yano, to the ass kicking seriousness of Katsuyori Shibata. Shibata or ‘The Wrestler’ as he likes to be known is one of my favourite guys in NJPW. He works such a stiff, believable style, with tons of MMA influences thrown in. This is a guy who wears black boots, black trunks, comes to the ring and tries to slap or kick your fucking head off. Naito is in the middle of a heel turn and so this match was never going to have the fun and games of Yano and Styles. Instead it was two super serious, semi depressed looking guys, beating the ever loving fuck out of each other. I loved it.
Naito was fucking around at the beginning with a metal Terminator mask he stole from HHH’s ring entrance playset at WM this year. And he was wearing a suit – which he wouldn’t take off when the match started. So Shibata beat the shit out of him for it. It was glorious. Naito finally took over on Shibata and managed to get out of his suit and then shit was on! Naito worked the legs. Shibata beat the shit out of him with forearms, kicks and some brutal paint brushing in the corner. Basically kicking, stamping and standing on Naito’s head until the ref pulled him away. So good.
Naito had a cool ankle lock/standing calf killer submission hooked in and looked like he might get the win. When Shibata broke it Naito made a mistake no man should ever make – he bitch slapped Shibata. This resulted in Shibata slapping the taste, teeth and tongue out of Naito’s head, before hooking on a choke, putting him to sleep and then caving his chest in with his running PK kick for the 3 count! As decisive a finish as you’ll see and one that had me marking out like a little bitch. Shibata is just the greatest. Naito as a heel has a ton of potential. Great match.
WINNER: Katsuyori Shibata
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Some people call Tanahashi the NJPW version of John Cena. That isn’t meant as an insult, it’s simply because he’s the top star in the company. While the two are wildly different performers, where they do have similarities is that they both draw majorly from the young and female demographics. Where they differ is that when Cena works in front of a crowd that turns on him he usually just ignores them, Tanahashi works much smarter. Which is exactly what he did here.
He was up against Tenzan, who was a big name in the past, a former IWGP Champion, G-1 winner, and is highly respected by the older fans. Plus he has a fucking sweet mullet and everyone should respect the mullet. Anyway, early on it was clear that a lot of fans in the building were rooting for Tenzan. So Tanahashi slapped his chest a few times on the breaks to work as a subtle heel, which the crowd reacted to and loved Tenzan even more. Tanahashi, safe in the knowledge the kids and chicks will still cheer him, was able to work a little different for a different section of the audience to improve the match for them and get Tenzan over more in the process. THAT is why he’s thought of as such a smart worker.
Well, that and the fact that he’s just a total ring general. He worked the perfect match with Tenzan, who is broken down and can’t keep up with Tanahashi in full flow. So the match was a step slower, more mat based and worked within Tenzan’s physical limitations. Tenzan blocked a High Fly Flow (frog splash) with his bad knees and it looked like it hurt him more than Tanahashi. Tenzan got the anaconda vice on (that’s who CM Punk swiped that from) and even hit the anaconda buster (which is what Nicki Minaj calls her asshole) but Tanahashi kicked out. The finish came when Tanahashi hit his spinning neckbreaker, slingblade (that’s who Finn Balor swiped that from) and then hit the High Fly Flow for the three count. A decent match given Tenzan was involved and the crowd where hot for everything each guy did. Tanahashi is such a great worker and such a star. A fun end to a damn fun show and run of matches.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi
This show kicked Day 2’s ass, and not just for the hot crowd, multiple camera shoot and weird 1970s style washing machine. All the matches in the tournament delivered. All of them were entertaining. They were all different in style and pacing, and they all went just the right length of time. Match of the night was Shibata vs. Naito which is worth going out of your way to watch. A damn fun show. Next stop, Day 4…surprisingly enough.