Hey, it’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling G1 Climax, day seven! We’ve made it to the Fukuoka International Centre, which is as near as you can get to South Korea and still be in Japan. FACTS!
The opener didn’t feature Jushin Liger for the first time this tour, but did still have Tiger Mask IV in it. He teamed with Mascara Dorada against the Young Boy tandem of Hay White & David Finlay. Tiger Mask & Finlay started out, doing basic exchanges, before White & Mascara Dorada came in, and Dorada took control with some lucha. White hit a sweet dropkick to take over, and scored some nearfalls. Dorada made a ropewalk comeback, and tagged out to Tiger Mask.
Tiger Mask scored a nearfall with a backslide, which was broken up by Finlay, and then locked on an armbar, which was broken up by a brawling Finlay & Dorada falling on it. Tiger Mask then hit a Tiger Driver but was too weak to make the cover. Mascara Dorada and David Finlay tagged in, and Dorada got the shine. He went for a moonsault but Finlay got his foot up to block it, and then scored a nearfall of his own. The Young Boys worked Dorada over, with a double-team corner charge for a nearfall, which Tiger Mask broke up before White dumped him out of the ring.
Mascara Dorada hit a ropewalk dropkick, and then made the cover, but White broke it up. Tiger Mask ran in and threw White out of the ring and hit a topé suicida out onto him, and Mascara Dorada hit the screwdriver for the win. Good, basic match.
Next up was Yohei Komatsu, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Ryusuke Taguchi versus the Bullet Club team of Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Karl Anderson & Yujiro Takahashi. This broke down from the off, with the Bullet Club steaming into the home team for a pitched brawl around the ring. Anderson and Nagata were left in the ring and Anderson dominated. He missed a charge into the corner and Nagata took over, laying in some heavy kicks.
Kojima and Takahashi tagged in, and Kojima overpowered Takahashi and wobbled his pecs. Takahashi hit back with a bite, because biting is cool. Kojima tagged out to Taguchi, who came in and bummed Takahashi for a nearfall, which Hall broke up. As revenge, he went to hit a bum splash on Hall but missed, and Hall threw him to the outside, where Tama Tonga beat him up. The rest of the Bullet Club started fighting their opposite numbers, and we had our second rudo breakdown of the young match.
Back in the ring, the Bullet Club did some quick tags to beat down Taguchi. Anderson even hit a bum stroke and then mocked Nagata’s salute. Takahashi came in and Taguchi made his comeback with his bum. His bumback, if you will. He tagged out to Kojima, who hit his tiny chops. God, I hate them. Kojima got a nearfall with that shitty elbow drop, and Takahashi started a forearm battel he couldn’t possibly win so he saved the day by biting Kojima again.
Anderson tagged in and loudly called for a BRAINBUSTER! Kojima blocked it, and then Anderson mimed removing his elbow pad, like what Kojima does. Kojima blocked that, too, and took Anderson down. Nagata tagged in and kicked the shit out of Anderson before missing a charge into the corner. He fought out of a Stun Gun and turned it into an armbar. Cody Hall ran in to make the break and the match broke down, with Nagata left in the ring, alone with the Bullet Club. He shrugged off another Stun Gun and made the hot tag to Komatsu.
Komatsu was ON FIRE! He took it to Tama Tonga, and then all the babyfaces took it to Tonga. Komatsu got a nearfall with a cannonball, but Tonga came back with a flapjack and hit the Headshrinker DDT for the win. Good match.
And so to Tomoaki Honma & Michael Elgin versus Chaos, in the shape of Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI. Elgin and YOSH-HASHI started out in an episode that could well be titled, THE POWER OF ELGIN! He completely overpowered his loon-panted foe, and hit his stalling, squatting suplex. Honma and Ishii came in and they had a looooong chop battel. Ishii got the upper hand but Honma fired up. Ishhi came back but Honma hit a slam and then missed headbutt. Oh, Charlie Brown, will you ever kick that ball?
The Chaos team made some quick tags and got the heat on Honma. Ishii and Honma had a suplex fight, which Honma herked and won. Elgin came in and it was all about the POWER again – he hit a Samoan Drop on both fellas at the same time. Elgin called for the Elgin Bomb to finish it but Ishii backdropped him and they both went down, before they both made the tag,
Honma missed his headbutt again, and YOSHI-HASHI sped things up, kicking Elgin off the apron. Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI made a double-team corner charge and YOSHI-HASHI hit a neckbreaker for a nearfall, but Elgin broke it up. Elgin & Honma hit a double suplex on YOSHI-HASHI and Honma hit his heabutt! Honma and YOSHI-HASHI exchanged nearfalls, before Honma hit a diving headbutt and then a top rope headbutt for the win. Fun match. After the match, Elgin got into it with Ishii, and then with Honma. Testy.
The last match before the interval was Jushin Liger (transplanted from the opener) & Hirooki Goto versus IWGP champion Kazuchika Okada & Gedo, representing Chaos. You know what that means? NO CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN! YES! That’s because Shinsuke Nakamura is injured, although he should be back for day eight’s G1 bout. By the way, if you’re stuck for something to get me for Christmas, I’ll take a coat like Okada’s…
Okada and Goto went back and forth to start, holds and reversals, moves and counters, and into a stand off. They both tagged out and the junior heavyweights did some quick matwork. Then Gedo offered a handshake but Liger waved him off. Gedo shook the ref’s hand and then gave him a hug. He offered his hand again and Liger relented but Gedo thumbed him in the eye. RUDO! Liger hit back with a quebradora and things broke down.
Okada and Goto brawled into the crowd while, back in the ring, Gedo wore down Liger. Chaos made some quick tags to keep the heat on Liger, but Okada missed a corner charge and they both went down. Liger made the tag to Goto, who hit a spin kick in the corner and scored a nearfall with a side suplex.
Okada took refuge in the corner and Goto charged in, but Okada caught him and hit a reverse neckbreaker. He followed up with a DDT and a rising uppercut for a nearfall. Okada went up top but Goto popped up and hit Okada’s Heavy Rain. Okada fired back with a dropkick and they both went down. Liger and Gedo tagged in and things got speedy. Liger got a nearfall with a Thesz Press (!), but Okada came in and things broke down. Somewhere in there Gedo got a nearfall with an inside cradle but Liger got the win with a European clutch. I enjoyed that.
The interval, as is the way with these shows that are multi-cam productions but not actual TV shows, was just a shot of the ring from the hardcam. Dugggggggan.
The first G1 match after the interval was Doc Gallows versus Toru Yano, one of those matches we’ve all been dreading since they announced the line-ups. Gallows came out with Cody Hall, Tama Tonga & Karl Anderson, while Yano came out with a Chaos DVD.
Yano took it to Gallows from the off, with “hilarious” results. They did more “comedy” with a handshake, which Yano sold like death. He came back with a slap to the back of Gallows’s head, and then hid in the ropes, as is his wont. He also hid behind the referee but this was brief respite because Gallows kicked him outside, where the Bullet Club beat on him.
Back in the ring, Gallows continued the beating on Yano. Yano found some brief fire but Gallows resumed the attack. He missed a splash and Yano used that time to remove the turnbuckle pad. Gallows got sent into the bare turnbuckles and they did more “comedy”, the “highlight” of which was Yano grabbing Gallows by the ears. Gallows hit back with a super kick and a splash for a nearfall.
Yano suckered Gallows into the padless turnbuckles again and then rolled him up for a nearfall. Cody Hall got up on the apron and held Yano but Gallows clattered into him. Karl Anderson got in the ring and, while the referee was distracted, Gallows hit a low blow. He & Anderson double-teamed Yano for the win, which somehow wasn’t a DQ. Christ.
A HOSS fight next, with Hiroyoshi Tenzan taking on Togi Makabe. They HOSSED it up on day six in a six-man and they HOSSED it up here, early doors, too. Tenzan hit his Mongolian chops and they went back and forth and it was kind of boring.
They went to the outside and Makabe sent Tenzan into the barriers and the ring post. Back in the ring, Makabe went on the wear down, including the ten punch in the corner. He scored a nearfall with a Northern Lights suplex but Tenzan made a spin kick comeback, and then hit more chops. He actually made a pinfall attempt from a suplex, and I applaud that.
Makabe came back with some brief FIRE! but Tenzan wore him down, with the inevitable side headlock. Makabe stood the headlock up but Tenzan slammed him back down. They went back and forth some more and then had a big forearm battel. Makabe scored a nearfall with a clothesline, then hit a forearm, a fireman’s carry slam, and the King Kong kneedrop for the win. That was slow and not all that great.
Which is something that could never be said about Kota Ibushi versus Katsuyori Shibata. These two TORE THE HOUSE DOWN. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
They started out in a very kicky way, and then did some sweet matwork, to a clean break. Shibata tried to kick Ibushi, who ducked and rolled out onto the apron. They had an exhcnage there and Shibata kicked Ibushi to the floor. He joined him outside and then ran him into the barriers, and then over into the crowd. Well, that escalated quickly.
Back in the ring, Shibata locked on a Figure Four leglock. He kept the heat on Ibushi but the youngster exploded at him. Shibata came back but Ibushi exploded again, with a huge kick into the corner, then hitting forearm after forearm and an even huger dropkick. Shibata didn’t like that and they went head-to-head. Ibushi laid in some forearms and Shibata no-sold them. He hit one forearm back and it looked really ouchy.
He started laying it into Ibushi in the corner. Ibushi got up but got stomped back down and Shibata did the Shinjiro Ohtani facewashing spot. Ibushi’s face was the picture of misery as this plain-clothed lunatic scraped his face over and over again. Shibata furthered that unhappiness with a massive low dropkick, right to Ibushi’s FACE. These guys were really laying it in.
Shibata got a nearfall from a suplex (yes!) and then hooked him in an Octopus hold but Ibushi made the ropes. Shibata hit another kick and Ibushi came back with a dropkick. Shibata rolled outside and Ibushi hit his quebrada off the turnbuckles. Back in the ring, Ibushi laid in the kicks but Shibata no-sold them, even asking for more. He eventually caught a kick but Ibushi came back again with more kicks and hit a standing corkscrew moonsault for a nearfall.
They reset and Ibushi came off the ropes for a kick but Shibata caught him. Ibushi hit some forearms but Shibata came back with another HUGE forearm. Ibushi hit a desperation Pele kick but Shibata caught it and turned it into an STF. Ibushi made the ropes but Shibata hooked on a sleeper and Ibushi looked afeared – with good cause! He made the ropes again.
They traded suplexes, and then Shibata scored a nearfall with another sweet forearm. Ibushi got a nearfall with a kick, Shibata got one, too. Shibata got a nearfall with a lariat, and they both went down. The crowd applauded because all that happened in a matter of seconds.
They went back and forth again, and ended with another double down, both men holding their heads in pain. They began a forearm battel on their knees, and slowly stood up, still trading blows. Ibushi laid in some (illegal) punches and Red Shoes just waved at him, impotently, the shit. Ibushi laid in some kicks, Shibata hit back with a slap and locked on the sleeper, then hit the PK for the win. AWESOME stuff.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, and Bad Luck Fale versus Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi is, of course, New Japan’s John Cena and Cena has been having great matches with unusual opponents as part of his US title open challenge. Can Tanahashi do the same with the worst professional wrestler in the world? In a word, no. But they did have a better match than they had any right to.
Fale came out with Tama Tonga & Cody Hall, because Bullet Club. They started off with every big man/little man match you’ve seen and then Tanahashi got sent outside, where Tonga beat on him. He made it back in on ten and Fale threw him into the turnbuckle, where he’d removed the pad while Tanahashi was outside. And then did it again.
Tanahashi made a comeback after Fale missed a splash. He hit two sentons and Fale hid in the corner. Tanahashi ran in for a forearm but Fale pulled Red Shoes in the way and Red Shoes went down. Yes! Tama Tonga came in and grabbed Tanahashi, Fale charged in and Tanaashi ducked. Fale hit Tonga and then Tanahashi sent Fale to the outside, and hit the High Fly Flow onto the three heels. Captain New Japan was shown on commentary. Commentary we weren’t getting. *shrug*
Back in the ring, they went back and forth some more and somewhere in there Tanahashi skinned the cat. Oh, and Fale went to use his thumb, like an old timey wrestler, except he hadn’t taped it. A few months ago I saw a match where he had taped it but didn’t even try to use it. He’s awful. Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow on a standing Fale, which took him down. He then hit another for the win, but Tonga pulled Red Shoes out of the ring before he could count three. Fucking hell.
Red Shoes made it back into the ring to count a nearfall for Fale, and Tanahashi escaped two Bad Luck Fall attempts, before almost falling to a thumb to the throat and a chokeslam. He kicked out but Fale went up top, sweat POURING off him, and then hit a splash for the win. Yes, Fale beat Tanahashi. Like I said, better than it had any right to be.
Hey, it’s our main event! It’s AJ Styles versus Tetsuya Naito! Naito came to the ring wearing his suit and that silver devil mask. He slowly disrobed and AJ sarcastically applauded him. Epic stalling from a MASSIVE DICK HEEL.
They made a basic start, until Naito went to the outside to stall. Styles goaded him but he didn’t care. Back in the ring, they did some slow exchanges and then Naito exploded. Styles hit back with a dropkick and Naito retreated outside again. This time, Styles hit him with a slingshot plancha.
Back inside again, Styles hit a backbreaker. Naito fired back and stomped Styles, who took him down with headscissors. They went back and forth, back and forth, and Styles tried to suplex Naito out of the ring. Naito blocked it and then hit a neckbreaker on the apron. Back in once more, Naito went on the wear down, holding Styles in a chancery until he made it to the ropes.
Naito used those same ropes to ouch Styles, which is such a dick move. Naito continued to get the heat on Styles before he fired back with some rapid hits & kicks for a knock down. Weirdly, because the Bullet Club are heels themselves, the crowd started chanting for Styles. Because, and I can’t say this enough times, Naito is an epic dick.
They went back and forth some more, with Styles looking to hit the Styles Clash and Naito hitting his draping neckbreaker. Naito had Styles locked in a submission and Styles made the ropes. Naito wouldn’t release the hold but all Red Shoes did was stand with his hands on his hips, looking mildly cross.
Naito put Styles up on the top rope and went for a rana but Styles held on and set up an Avalanche Clash. Naito grabbed the ropes to block it, and they went back and forth some more, ending in a double down. Styles got up first, limping, and Naito went after him, kicking him. Styles kicked back and they both went down again. Now the crowd were chanting for Naito.
They had a forearm battel and Styles exploded with a lariat. Naito got straight up and spat in Styles’s face, and then scored a nearfall with a roll through. Styles hit a Pele kick and set up Bloody Sunday but Naito reversed it into Destino for the win. Not bad, that, not bad at all.
After the match, Naito attacked Red Shoes, and then cut a talky, mostly in Spanish, about Los Ingobernables. I love him.
This was a Good Show. It had (mostly) good matches, with one strong Match of the Year candidate, and brought some life back to a tournament that was dragging a little. Nakamura’s back on day eight, taking it easy against… Tomohiro Ishii. Join me for that!
Block A Standings: Fale 3-1, Naito 3-1, Shibata 3-1, Ibushi 2-2, Makabe 2-2, Styles 2-2, Tanahashi 2-2, Gallows 1-3, Tenzan 1-3, Yano 1-3