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 undercards. I’m sure there’s some fun tag matches on these shows, but I want to focus on the tournament itself.
Day 4 are all Block B matches. Day 3 was the best day of this year’s G-1 so far. Let’s hope Day 4 can keep that run going. AH FUCK IT! It’s a one camera shoot with no commentary. Well, it’s not beating Day 3 just for that alone.
The crowd is much livelier than Day 2’s one camera, no commentary show – so that’s a major bonus. A hot crowd is always going to help lift these one camera shows and help me get over the lack of dynamic action shots. I know I should just get over this one camera deal, but with a tournament as epic and important as the G-1, I was expecting more. What can I say? I’m a greedy asshole.
Also, this building wasn’t lit that well either. It looked pretty dark and while the ring was fine, I like to see the crowd too. This wasn’t ROH level lighting, nothing is quite that bad. But the lack of a visible crowd presence beyond the first couple of rows did make it look more small time than usual NJPW shows. Still, onwards and upwards. We’ve got some G-1 matches to cover, so let’s do it!
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
You’ve got to give it to Yujiro, he’s really committed to this gimmick of finding the most coked up, skanky looking whores to accompany him to ringside. Tonight’s chick was straight out of stripper casting 101: dead eyed, coked up, disorientated smirk and that weird combination of scary and sexy…with emphasis on the former. I guess she got flashbacks to her day job here, because this was a proper main stage at Susie’s House of Sin performance. The splits, followed by some mat humping in a pair of bikini bottoms so small and tight, I could see her asshole winking at the hard camera. Unfortunately for her, that was the only thing around her that was hard after that performance. How could a woman wearing so little, dancing so provocatively, be so unsexy? A true skill. Well played skank, well played.
Even with the winking asshole of a coked up Japanese stripper on display, it’s difficult to care about anything involving Yujiro and this match was no exception. Even with the ever awesome Ishii in there this was lacking. Yujiro is just so fucking boring to watch and he gets about as much heat as a single candle flickering in the window of a poorly made Arctic hut. He sucks. Ishii did his best, with headbutts, forearms, lariats and all his usual stuff, but I couldn’t get into this one.
Ishii got the win with his usual finish of headbutt to the chest, sliding D lariat and a brainbuster. A basic, average match. Which is Yujiro’s speciality these days.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii
Michael Elgin vs. Satoshi Kojima
Now this was more like it. Elgin is really getting over with the NJPW fans so far in the G-1. I don’t understand why ROH fans give this guy such a hard time, he’s fucking awesome here. Kojima is a bad ass and he’s stepping it up again in the G-1 and these two meshed really well in this match.
Plenty of yelling in this one from both guys, with chops, forearms and lariats galore. Plus the crowd were really into Elgin’s power and deadlift spots. In particular he pulled off a great looking slingshot splash from the apron back in for a good near fall. Kojima did his usual trademark spots of rapid chops in the corner, flying forearm smash in the corner and then the world’s worst looking elbow drop off the top. They had some fun exchanges in the corner with chops and forearm strikes and the crowd were into both guys. Kojima blocked a powerbomb attempt on the apron and hit a nasty looking DDT on the hardest part off the ring. God damn those moves look like they suck to take.
Finish came when Elgin got a great near fall off a lariat of his own. He went to the middle rope, jumped off and ate a massive trademark lariat from Kojima who picked up the win. A really fun matchup of two big bulls knocking the shit out of each other. Elgin continues to impress and should get some wins soon. Kojima is hanging in there and is always fun to watch with the crowd behind him.
WINNER: Satoshi Kojima
Karl Anderson vs. Hirooki Goto
These two have had some great matches in the past. In fact, I think they had a great one in last year’s G-1. This match wasn’t great but it was very good. Anderson is so deceptively agile and athletic for a guy his size; he moves really well and lands some great enziguri and bicycle kicks. Goto is always good to watch and the crowd here were much more into him than on Day 2.
The match was good with Anderson getting a couple of close count out spots early, including one off a big powerbomb on the hardest part of the ring – the ring apron. Did I mention how much those moves look like they suck to take? Did I mention I don’t understand why guys do that when wrestling is a work and fans don’t really react any differently to an apron spot to a mid-ring spot? Probably cause every fucker and his brother does apron spots now and they’ve lost all their effectiveness. Gee, what a shock…
Stupid ass apron spots aside, Goto got a great near fall off a crazy code red powerbomb/sunset flip thing off the top. You know the move, it’s the one John Cena is on a mission to eventually kill someone with. They did some awesome crossing up of spots with each guy coming off the ropes behind the other and going for and missing lariats.
The finish came when Anderson reversed the shouten kai in mid-air into the gun stun (RKO) for the big three count! The crowd were stunned by this one and so was I. That’s two big wins for Karl Anderson so far this year coming over first Nakamura and now Goto. A fun match with a really well worked and surprising finish.
WINNER: Karl Anderson
Yuji Nagata vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Two of my favourite wrestlers facing off in this one, so I had high hopes going in. You’d think with their MMA based offence and charisma that these two would put on classic matches. In the past they’ve never really hit those heights and they didn’t again in this one. Although I enjoyed the match and the finish was cool, I just felt like they both had more to give and they didn’t quite click here.
The pace was slow early, with lots of mat work and arm bar attempts by both guys. You could tell the crowd were desperate for this one to kick into a higher gear and when they picked up the intensity with knee strikes, slaps and forearm shots the crowd responded. It was a pretty even match, with the crowd split seemingly 50/50. There was a bad ass looking German suplex from Nagata, but Nakamura landed on his feet and countered with a big flying kick for a near fall.
The finishing stretch was great, with Nakamura hitting a backstabber, his inverted slam, but missing his boma ye knee strike. Nagata got a close near fall off his back drop driver. Nagata hit a second rope boma ye, went for a third but Nagata caught him with an enziguri. The final boma ye was a bit fucked up and looked like a regular kick but it was enough for Nakamura to get the pin. A fun finishing stretch and the crowd were into it, but the match just felt like it was missing something.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomoaki Honma
This was the main event of the night and the crowd were into this one from the off. Both guys are really over but Honma is always going to get the most love from the crowd. He’s such an underdog and they’re just desperate for him to get a big G-1 win over a top guy. Okada was treated like the superstar he is, but Honma was definitely the crowd’s favourite. Thanks to Honma’s crazy tan, when Okada stood under the bright ring lights next to him, he looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost leaning against a milk bottle. That man was WHITE. So white in fact that Hulk Hogan immediately endorsed him as his favourite wrestler of all time.
This was a really good match. It wasn’t a match of the year candidate like Tanahashi/Ibushi from Day 1, but it was a step up from the rest of the matches on the show. They worked a good quick pace early with both guys getting some offence in. I think Okada hit his draping DDT off the ring barricade on the outside, but couldn’t really see thanks to the shitty one camera shoot. Honman later hit a great looking deadlift vertical suplex and FINALLY hit his falling headbutt for a big pop.
Honma got some good near falls throughout but Okada kept coming back. He timed the use of his drop kicks to perfection to get the biggest reaction from the crowd. Those Okada drop kicks really are awesome. Honma countered a Rain Maker lariat with a flying headbutt for a big pop and got a big near fall of his own with a sit out piledriver looking move, but he missed (of course he did) his diving headbutt off the top. The crowd were going ape shit for all of this.
The finish came when Okada countered a flying headbutt into a sick high angle German suplex, held on and followed up with the Rain Maker for the three count. This was a really good match with a hot finishing stretch and I’d love to see another match between these two somewhere down the line. Honma is still as popular as ever with the crowd and when he finally gets that big G-1 win the roof is going to come off the place.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada
Despite my bitching about the one camera shoot and no commentary, this was a fun show of tournament matches. The lighting wasn’t great but once you get used to these limitations, it’s easy to enjoy matches like this, especially with a lively crowd to bring things up a level. Nothing was off the charts great, but they were solid to good, with only Yujiro’s match with Ishii being below average – but that’s mainly due to Yujiro being the definition of below average. Okada v Honma was the match of the night. A fun show with some decent matches. Day 5 is shaping up to be the biggest show of the G-1 so far, so be sure to check back for that.