NJPW G1 Climax Night 1
July 18, 2016
Watch: NJPW World
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center – Hokkaido, Japan
New Japan Pro Wrestling kicked off its G1 Climax tour with Night 1 in Hokkaido main evented by Naomichi Marufuji vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada.
Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Captain New Japan, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Tomoaki Honma
This was much better than expected. This was the opener of the entire tour so motivation seems to be at an all time high in these prelim matches. Everything about this was awesome. We got a preview of Night 2’s B Block match between Katsuyori Shibata and Tomoaki Honma, with intense sequences. Shibata got his kicks in and Honma got a Kokeshi in. Captain New Japan … got in, eventually. Captain got flailed around after realizing he just isn’t good enough to be apart of the G1 in any capacity. KUSHIDA and Liger tore it up, extending their mini-feud to prelims. The Super J-Cup is also starting soon so it is smart to pair them up. You know a match was better than expected when Tiger Mask does a suicide dive. Nakanishi pinned Captain New Japan after a Hercules Cutter.
Juice Robinson & Satoshi Kojima vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Toru Yano
What a weird time to be alive. Robinson seemed more polished than usual. Kojima, even though he lost his G1 spot to his best friend Tenzan via voluntary means, is extremely fired up on the undercard. Nakajima made his return to a New Japan ring for the first time since 2004. Toru Yano hit all the usual spots and the crowd fell for all of it (as per usual, which is weird to think, but perfectly formulaic). Toru Yano is the current GHC Heavyweight Tag Team champion so it was funny to see “Team NOAH” technically. The two face each other on Night 2. Nakajima pinned Juice after that damn awful brainbuster finisher.
Gedo & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Kenny Omega
This match was not normal for aplenty reasons. The main ones being that Yujiro wasn’t terrible and YOSHI-HASHI is actually working the tournament this year. Only one tag every two shows for YOSHI now. Even if the match was entirely uneventful, Kenny Omega beefed up the comedy even more, playing up his character which is always fun to watch. Gedo is always consistent in these meaningless (for the most part) tags. “Mr. ROH” Yujiro Takahashi pinned Gedo after a beast looking Tokyo Pimps. YOSHI-HASHI faces Kenny Omega on Night 2. Why not give Kenny the pin, I have no clue.
David Finlay, Michael Elgin & Yuji Nagata vs. BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito
This wasn’t very good. It also wasn’t a CHAOS vs. LIJ tag as I’m always fit to the mold on that match tour. However it was still solid. Elgin and EVIL hossing it up in preparation for their Night 2 match was enjoyable at least. The weakest chair on head spot came out of it though! Nagata and Naito were also paired up, as they face on Night 2. It was more of a one-ups manship battle between them than actual in ring interaction. It’s smart to save a lot of it for the match, but in other cases it pays off to have insane sequences in these tags. Finlay and BUSHI were both the highlights of the match. They faced off a lot of the time and BUSHI’s entrance was amazing (mask, baseball jersey added to the vibe). This wasn’t even the best match on the undercard. BUSHI pinned Finlay after a top rope codebreaker. Finlay kicked out of the grounded one which added to the excitement.
(G1 Climax A Block) Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tomohiro Ishii
I am sitting here completely enamored by what just happened. What the hell. These two just had a ****+ match. (I gave it ****1/2, even.) From start to finish this could be a main event anywhere anytime and be put over as such. This was THE OPENING MATCH OF THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT. What started out as Tenzan holding his own quickly transitioned into Ishii the bully. However the match kept fluctuating in brilliant ways. Ishii’s selling of the Mongolian chops were some of the best ever for the move. Ishii sold his shoulder like death. He kept pace but had to take breaks to heal his in-match injuries. As selling should be. The added drama with Kojima ringside, leading to him screaming “TENNNZANNNNNN!” as well as the crowd continuing to lose their shit as the match got more intense made this just that good. I can’t pick out a flaw in this match. The story ended up being that Tenzan couldn’t quite finish Ishii off. When he went for the moonsault the first time it ended up turning into an insane top rope crash. Ishii sold that like death too. Through perfectly timed near falls and wonderful balance came the incredulous finish. Tenzan hit the moonsault and pinned Ishii! 1-2-3 and the arena goes insane. What. A. Match.
(G1 Climax A Block) Tama Tonga vs. Togi Makabe
You already know the deal with this match. However, what you may or may not know, is that this was the ugliest fashion battle ever. Tama came out in the autumn Modern Warfare 2 camo. I later found out they were literally $30 leggings. Makabe wore Okada-esque pure ugly glittery trunks. Most of the match saw Tonga working over Makabe, throwing some wrenches at him like hurricanranas. Makabe fought through, fought back and we saw a good finish. The two fought on the top rope to see if Tama would get extend German’d off the top or Makabe would give in to backlash. Makabe was able to chuck Tonga off and pinned him after a King Kong Knee Drop. Completely average as expected. The finish elevated it a bit to me though. Tama, please change your freaking gear. Also, if you do, do not go back to the bulletproof vest.
(G1 Climax A Block) Hirooki Goto vs. Bad Luck Fale
My god. We just roll on with the greatest collection of matches ever. This was slightly above average, sorry Big Dust. This was still worked in a manner that didn’t make Fale look like a terrible wrestler. Goto actually put in a performance he should be proud of considering the circumstances. He worked from under and tried his best(?) That’s all that happened. The beast dominated the whole way through, only to be triumphed. Goto kicked out of the Samoan Spike and picked up his momentum. No Bad Luck Fall was hit and Goto managed to trap Fale in a sleeper. Goto pinned Fale after the GTR. Nothing to complain about.
(G1 Climax A Block) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA
This was a damn good professional wrestling match. It followed the traditional Tanahashi format but picked up steam and transitioned into “oh my god, holy shit, what the hell, how is this so good?” territory! At first both guys picked a limb. SANADA got Tanahashi’s left arm and wrenched in for a good few minutes. Tanahashi was on the prowl and proceeded to dragon screw SANADA’s legs. The match was evened out. Tanahashi hit a high fly flow on the outside and that launched us into the last 5-10 AMAZING minutes. The way the SANADA win was set up was incredible. This is how you put over a still-new roster member. Tanahashi continued to fight. He kicked out of everything. He stayed in the skull end in one of the best submission spots of 2016. The crowd was all in on the action and so was I. Tanahashi hit a few key moves of his own but SANADA stayed in. Moonsault. Nope. SANADA CAUGHT TANAHASHI WITH A CUTTER IN MID-AIR FOR THE HIGH FLY FLOW. STILL FREAKING NO. Another moonsault. NO. HE LOCKED IN THE SKULL END AGAIN! TANAHASHI TAPS OUT. What a freaking match. Right on par with Ishii/Tenzan and something I’d once again throw 4+ stars at. I love the G1.
(G1 Climax A Block) Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is a match some have been waiting to see. Me? Not so much. A lot of people know I am not the target audience for this match. That’s the downfall of checking out Wrestling With Words for your G1 coverage! I am NOT a Marufuji fan and never have been. I don’t see anything in him. He his bum levels bad to me. However, this match was fine. Consider that a milestone put over from me. I can see why people got hyped because of the action and crossover. This won’t be my finest day for main event analysis. I’ll admit I was checking out my phone a bit more than usual. Marufuji chopped Okada’s chest beat red which was admittedly awesome. We got some fun sequences and that’s about it. The rest I don’t remember because the hate seeped through. The finishing sequence saw the side superkick be hit (and not whiffed) and a Ko-oh hit. Marufuji pinned Okada after a Pole Shift.. This sets up an IWGP Heavyweight title match down the line. Alright stuff.
Night 1 of the G1 Climax was a success. We got two awesome 4 star plus affairs in Tenzan vs. Ishii and Tanahashi vs. SANADA. SANADA was put over like a million bucks and Ishii put over Tenzan like a million bucks. Those are the two matches worth going out of your way to watch. Makabe vs. Tonga was average as all hell, Goto vs. Fale was surprisingly solid in a good way and you know my thoughts on the main event. The booking tonight was the right decision the whole way through. Stay with Wrestling With Words for audio and written coverage of the 2016 G1 Climax.
Naomichi Marufuji (2), SANADA (2), Hirooki Goto (2), Togi Makabe (2), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2), Tomohiro Ishii (0), Tama Tonga (0), Bad Luck Fale (0), Hiroshi Tanahashi (0), Kazuchika Okada (0)
B Block N/A till Night 2