Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 25: Nights 1 & 2 Review

The 25th Edition of the G1 Climax begins!!

So with the 2016 G1 Climax (the 26th Edition) coming up in just a few weeks, I figured this would be the right time to post my reviews of last year's G1 Climax. I know it's (technically) a year after the fact, but I just haven't had the time to put together reviews of all these shows. Just to give a brief summary of how this crazy tournament works, it's a round robin tournament, where competitors are split into two blocks. Everyone faces each other in each respective block, and then the winners of those two blocks will face off to determine the G1 Climax Champion!! The winner then gets a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title at the annual show in The Tokyo Dome on January 4th. This was the first time that the G1 Climax, in its entirety, was streamed on, which is New Japan's streaming site. Now let's take a quick look at the field...

Block A

Hiroshi Tanahashi
Togi Makabe (NEVER Openweight Champion)
Katsuyori Shibata
Tetsuya Naito
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (NWA World Heavyweight Champion)
Kota Ibushi
Toru Yano
"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles
Doc Gallows (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
Bad Luck Fale

Block B

Satoshi Kojima
Yuji Nagata
Hirooki Goto (IWGP Intercontinental Champion)
Tomoaki Honma
Shinsuke Nakamura
"Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight Champion)
Tomohiro Ishii
"Unbreakable" Michael Elgin 
Karl Anderson (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
Yujiro Takahashi

The participants in the 25th G1 Climax are pretty much the same people who were in the tournament in 2014. The only notable changes were the removal of the Suzuki-gun members (Minoru Suzuki, Shelton "X" Benjamin, Lance Archer, & Davey Boy Smith Jr.), who are now mainly in Pro-Wrestling NOAH, and the additions of Kota Ibushi (who missed the 2014 G1 Climax entirely due to a really bad concussion) and Michael Elgin, the representative from ROH who is making his debut with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Here's a look at the schedule for the 25th G1 Climax:

Now before I dive into these shows, I need to make note of an important change in the format of the tournament. Instead of having shows that are filled with just tournament matches, they're splitting things up. There will be events that have just matches from Block A, and matches that will have just matches from Block B. The rest of the cards are filled out with multi-man tags with the competitors of the other blocks, mixed in with an assortment of juniors and young lions. What I'm going to do with these reviews is focus on just the tournament matches from each night, listing off my star ratings for each tournament match before giving my thoughts on the show as a whole (again, this rating will be just taking the five tournament matches into consideration, and not the undercard tags). Next, I'll show what the standings were at that moment (those will be listed as win-loss-tie). Finally, I'll list off the non-tournament matches from both shows that are worth checking out at the bottom of each post (they'll usually be anything *** or better, but I may throw in a few **3/4 matches if it's something I liked).

NJPW G1 Climax 25: Night 1
Sapporo, Japan 7/20/15

1.) G1 Climax - Block A - IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Doc Gallows vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan: **

2.) G1 Climax - Block A - NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano: **3/4

3.) G1 Climax - Block A - Bad Luck Fale vs. Tetsuya Naito: **3/4

4.) G1 Climax - Block A - "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles vs. Katsuyori Shibata: ****1/4

5.) G1 Climax - Block A - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi: ****1/2

Overall: 7.75/10

The first night of the 2015 G1 Climax got off to an interesting start, to say the least. Going into it, I think it was pretty obvious that Block A was very top heavy, and that was clearly shown on this show. The first three tournament matches were, as a whole, not very good. The official first match of the tournament, Doc Gallows vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan might have already claimed the “worst match of the tournament” award. Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano & Bad Luck Fale vs. Tetsuya Naito were a little better, but still fell below the threshold of being good, with Fale vs. Naito in particular being a little sloppy. Thankfully, the last two matches definitely delivered. While not a MOTYC, the first-time-ever encounter between AJ Styles & Katsuyori Shibata was fantastic. The Main Event, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, was absolutely incredible. These two gave us one of the best matches of the tournament right out of the gate, and it was a blast to watch from start to finish. In terms of results, we really didn’t see any true upsets here. In the end, those top two matches helped raise this show up quite a bit, and prevented the G1 Climax from getting off to a rough start.

NJPW G1 Climax 25: Night 2
Shizuoka, Japan 7/23/15 

1.) G1 Climax - Block B - Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii: ***1/2

2.) G1 Climax - Block B - IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi (with Cody Hall): **3/4

3.) G1 Climax - Block B - Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuji Nagata: ***1/2

4.) G1 Climax - Block B - IWGP Heavyweight Champion "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada (with Gedo) vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin: ****

5.) G1 Climax - Block B - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson: ***3/4

Overall: 7.75/10

This show officially kicked off Block B. Now while none of the tournament matches on this show were as good as the two outstanding matches in Block A from Night 1, the Block B matches on this show were more consistent, as a whole (in my opinion). Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin (who had an impressive showing in a Six-Man Tag on Night 1) was easily the best match on this show. That honestly, isn’t a surprise, as Elgin was looking to make a big impression in his debut with New Japan. Out of the other four tournament matches on this show, the only one that I would say was the outlier, in terms of match quality, was Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi (and I’d put that more on Yujiro than Goto), and even then, I would say it was better than some of the Block A matches from Night 1. Kojima vs. Ishii, Honma vs. Nagata, and Nakamura vs. Anderson were all very good matches. They could have been a little better, but considering that this was a single camera show, with no commentary, in a smaller building, I’m not totally shocked that they didn’t go all-out. The only result that I would call an upset was the Main Event, as Karl Anderson was able to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura, immediately putting the “King of Strong Style” in a hole.


Block A

Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-0-0) - 2 Points
"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Tetsuya Naito (1-0-0) - 2 Points 
Togi Makabe (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Kota Ibushi (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Katsuyori Shibata (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Bad Luck Fale (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Toru Yano (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Doc Gallows (0-1-0) - 0 Points

Block B

Karl Anderson (1-0-0) - 2 Points
"Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Yuji Nagata (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Hirooki Goto (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Tomohiro Ishii (1-0-0) - 2 Points
Shinsuke Nakamura (0-1-0) - 0 Points
"Unbreakable" Michael Elgin (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Tomoaki Honma (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Yujiro Takahashi (0-1-0) - 0 Points
Satoshi Kojima (0-1-0) - 0 Points 

Non-Tournament Matches To Watch

G1 Climax 25: Night 1 (7/20/15) - Six-Man Tag - Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi, & "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Champion "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo): ***1/2

G1 Climax 25: Night 1 (7/20/15) - The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga) vs. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura & Yoshi-Hashi): ***

G1 Climax 25: Night 1 (7/20/15) - Eight-Man Tag - Tomoaki Honma, Mascara Dorada, David Finlay III & Jay White vs. Yugi Nagata, Yohei Komatsu, Tiger Mask & Jushin "Thunder" Liger: **3/4

G1 Climax 25: Night 2 (7/23/15) - Six-Man Tag - NWA World Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Hiroshi Tanahasi, Tetsuya Naito & Mascara Dorada: **3/4

No comments:

Post a Comment