Hey, it’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s G1 Climax, day nine! And we’ve reached the Aichi Preferctural Gymnasium. No Tiger Mask IV on this show because he has a neck injury, and Jushin Liger had the day off again, weirdly.

The opener match had Tomoaki Honma, Mascara Dorada & David Finlay versus Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA. The sides seemed a little uneven to me, but what do I know? Anyway, surely they can swap around at half-time, can’t they? PLAYGROUND RULES!

Honma and Kojima started out, bulling one another around the ring as if to emphasise that they are heavyweights, unlike the others in the match. Kojima won the battle of strength and wobbled his pecs.

Honma came back, winning a forearm/chop battel, but then missing his headbutt. Taguchi and Mascara Dorada tagged in and things got a bit lucha for a while, with Dorada – as you’d expect from a luchador – getting the upper hand.

Finlay came in and wrestled Taguchi, before tagging out to Honma. “Keep the heat on Taguchi” seemed to be the plan. Taguchi made a bumback and hit a falling headbutt (in your face, Homma!), and then tagged out to Kojima, who hit his tiny chops and shitty elbow combo for a nearfall.

Honma missed his headbutt again but herked Kojima up for the deadlift suplex. He came off the ropes and got hit with a Koji cutter, and Kojima threw the elbow pad away. He went to hit the roaring elbow but Homma met it with a diving headbutt and they both made tags.

KUSHIDA and Finlay came in and sped things up. KUSHIDA got triple-teamed – Honma hit the falling headbutt –  and Finlay got a nearfall. The others brawled on the outside while KUSHIDA made his comeback, and got a nearfall with a moonsault, broken up by Honma. Everyone brawled again and KUSHIDA got the win with his Boverboard Lock submission.

After the match, Honma and Kojima got into it and had to be separated by their teammates. Fun opener.

The Bullet Club came out next, with their smallest (and most Japanese) and tallest (and equal least Japanese) members on parade. Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall took on Michael Elgin & Jay White in what looked to be a more balanced contest than the opener.

The two senior wrestlers started out. Elgin wanted a test of strength but Takahashi just slapped him. Takahashi kept the cheap shots coming but Elgin got (a little bit) angry and threw him out of the ring. He went out after him and threw him back in. Huh. Elgin then herked and tossed Takahashi all around the ring, because he is a mighty little man.

White and Hall tagged in for a classic speed versus strength battle. Hall tried to impose his will on the match but White lit Hall’s chest up with strikes. Takahashi came in and gave Hall a hand, and Hall got his own back, chest-wise, with some meaty corner chops. Hall still moves a little awkwardly but the regular matches are improving him.

Takahashi tagged in and took it to White, like a little dick. He tagged back out and White made a comeback, dumping both heels outside and tagging out to Elgin. Elgin beat on Hall and hit a somersault leg drop while he was draped on the ropes for an ouchy nearfall. The heels tried double-teaming Elgin but he shrugged them off and hit a double Samoan Drop. The crowd liked that.

Hall made a comeback with a discus lariat and got a nearfall, and then called for the Razor’s Edge. Elgin wouldn’t go up and deadlifted Hall into half a powerbomb. The look of “I’m not getting him up!” was unbelievable.

White and Takahashi came in, and White ran wild and fast, but he couldn’t put Takahashi away. Hall tried to interfere but the babyfaces put both heels in crabs. The heels broke out and double-teamed White, Takahashi scoring the pinfall with the Tokyo Pimps. Perfectly acceptable professional wrestling.

New Japan’s other stable (at least while Suzuki-gun are dicking around in NOAH) were out next, with Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI representing Chaos. They were on with Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan or, as I like to call them, Team Duggan. But, for you, I will not Duggan this match… I WILL WATCH IT.

Nakamura, poorly elbow and all, insisted on starting out against Goto. These two got their own entrances so I guess it’s all about them today. They started slow before Goto exploded, albeit in a small way. He tagged out to Nagata, who immediately put the ouch on Nakamura’s elbow. That’s not nice.

Ishii tagged in and took it to old pudgy face, chopping and stomping him in the corner. Nagata stood up and they went at it, slapping and kicking, and Ishii went down. Nagata went after Ishii’s arm, too – I’d watch out if I were YOSHI-HASHI. Nagata locked in the Shirome armbar but Nakamura & YOSHI-HASHI ran in to break it up, allowing Ishii to regain his heat.

YOSHI-HASHI came in and kept the heat on Nagata, tagging out to Nakamura, who did the same, including the vibrating leg thingy. Nagata made a tag out to Goto, who came in and hit Nakamura with some big hits. Nakamura came back, though, with his kneelift in the corner and tagged out to YOSHI-HASHI.

Captain New Japan came in and got an inexplicable pop. His team triple-teamed YOSHI-HASHI but couldn’t put him away. Chaos then triple-teamed the Captain but they couldn’t put him away, either. YOSHI-HASHI & the Captain went back and forth a little more and then the Chaos man got the win with a top rope senton. Another acceptable professional wrestling match.

The final match before the interval was a Chaos versus Bullet Club affair, with IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada & Gedo taking on Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga. Okada, as we know, is one of the finest professional wrestlers on the planet. Gedo, as part of the legendary Team No Respect, is one of the finest rudos. And Anderson and Tonga were also out there.

The crowd chanted for Okada as he started out with Anderson. A fun thing to do with Okada is imagine how badly Vince McMahon would fuck him up. Okada and Anderson went back and forth, with no real advantage, and the tagged out to their partners. I like Tama Tonga. He’s Meng’s kid and that alone earns him a free pass. But he’s also perfectly fine at this wrestling lark.

He took it to Gedo while Anderson fetched a chair from the crowd and threw it into the ring. Anderson sat on it while Tonga stomped Gedo in the corner and then stomped Gedo himself. The referee got rid of the chair and Tonga sped things up on Gedo, scoring nearfalls but not quite able to get that win.

Anderson tagged in and Gedo tried to fight back, getting some hope but not making the tag to Okada. Anderson missed a senton and Gedo made the tag. Okada ran wild on Anderson, hitting a DDT and a corner splash, and locking on a loose Red Ink submission before Tonga broke it up. Anderson came back with a big boot and a neckbreaker for a nearfall before Okada took him down again with that dropkick.

Gedo and Tonga tagged in and Gedo got an immediate nearfall with a jawjacker. Tonga got one of his own with a Tongan Twist and the Bullet Club double- teamed Gedo for another. Gedo fought back, kicking Tonga and Anderson, but Anderson hit a Stun Gun on him, and then one on Okada. Tonga then hit the Headshrinker DDT For the win. Good match, if slight.

The interval was next and, because this was a no commentary show (although still filmed with multiple cameras), nothing happened. Well, I’m sure stuff happened but we didn’t see it.

The first G1 tournament match after the interval was Kota Ibushi versus Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Ibushi, along with Shibata & Naito, has been the star of the tournament so far, and they’re all in the same block. Tenzan is Tenzan and if you like that then you like that.

Tenzan had these weird welts on his back, like he’d been attacked by an octopus. He showed his power early doors, taking Ibushi down with a shoulderblock and then hitting some headbutts. Ibushi came back with a dropkick and Tenzan rolled out of the ring. Ibushi missed his quebrada off the turnbuckles and Tenzan ran him into the barriers a few times, for good measure.

Ibushi made it back in on eight and Tenzan continued his attack. The plaster on Tenzan’s head, covering where he smacked and cut Yano, is distracting. Tenzan continued to wear down Ibushi and scored a nearfall with a spin kick. Ibushi blocked a suplex and hit one of his own to break the pattern. He went up top and hit a dropkick and took over.

Ibushi laid in the kicks, using his speed against Tenzan’s power, which is a bit of a theme today. Tenzan came back, killing Ibushi with clotheslined but only scoring a nearfall. Ibushi found some brief fire again but Tenzan took the win out of those sails with a boot to the gut.

They had a stand up forearm battel, which transitioned into headbutts, Mongolian chops, and kicks, and ended with a backdrop by Tenzan for a nearfall. A BACKDROP. Tenzan locked on Anaconda Vice but Ibushi flipped out of it and got a nearfall with a standing moonsault. Warming up now.

Ibushi went for a piledriver but Tenzan blocked it and hit a backdrop. No cover this time and Ibushi popped up with a kick to the head. A Phoenix Splash later and Ibushi had the win. Decent contest.

Oh, fuck, it’s Bad Luck Fale. Unusually for the Bullet Club, he came out alone to fight Katsuyori Shibata. I hope Shibata kicks the shit out of him.

Fale did everything he could to avoid locking up with Shibata early doors but got caught in a Figure Four leglock and had to make the ropes to break it. Shibata went after him with kicks and strikes but Fale exploded out of the corner with a shoulderblock to take Shibata down. He knocked him to the floor and then went out after him, throwing him into the barriers and clubbing him with forearms. This is already going longer than I’d hoped.

Shibata made it back in on nineteen, and I would have taken the count-out if it meant the match ended early. Back in the ring, Fale clobbered Shibata around but then missed a splash. Shibata paid him back with a low dropkick to the face in the corner, some knees to the midriff, and then locked on a sleeper. Fearful of the eventual PK, Fale broke out of it.

Fale went to hit the Grenade But Shibata kicked his hand and locked on another sleeper. Fale broke it by backing into a corner and then took Shibata down with a lariat. He almost hit the Bad Luck Fall but Shibata reversed it into a third sleeper, and this one was enough to put Fale out for the PK and pinfall. Plodding match which a great finish.

Next up were Fale’s Bullet Club stablemates, AJ Styles and Doc Gallows. With so much to gain from this tournament, inter-stable matches have been spirited affairs so far, and you’d hope that “Better Than Fale” versus “No Emotional Connection” would be no different.

They did a big man/little man start before Styles started to wear Gallows down with quick kicks and strikes. Styles tried a slingshot plancha but Gallows sidestepped it, and then Gallows used the barriers and ring post to do his own wear down. Interestingly, no other Bullet Club members came out for this one.

Gallows got back in the ring and Styles joined him on thirteen. Gallows whipped Styles from post to post, and hit headbutts and elbow drops for a nearfall. He continued to wear down his stablemate until he missed a charge in the corner and Styles took him off his feet. They exchanged blows, five of Styles to every one of Gallows, and Styles took him down again.

Styles hit an awful flying forearm for a nearfall and they went back to trading blows. Styles tried to lift Gallows up for a piledriver but Gallows powered out of it and got a nearfall. He went for another but Styles trapped him in a calf killer and Gallows had to make the ropes. After some more back and forth, Styles hit a Pele kick and then Bloody Sunday For the win. It was okay.

The next match was Tersuya Naito versus Togi Makabe, which scarily meant Toru Yano was in the main event. Naito’s high energy music really doesn’t suit him now and that makes it even better. He came out with his suit and silver skull mask on, because why not?

Makabe had all the look of a man who was not going to take Naito’s shit. Naito stood across the ring from him, only his blinking eyes visible. Red Shoes tried to urge him on but this new Naito resists all urging and slowly undressed down to his wrestling gear. And I mean s l o w l y. The crowd were as incensed as Makabe and Red Shoes and before he’d finished undressing Red Shoes ordered the bell rung.

Makabe finally attacked Naito, still wearing short and trousers, and Naito slipped outside. He ran Makabe into the barriers and returned the ring to finish undressing. Best stripper EVER. Makabe kept trying to get back in and Naito kept knocking him off the apron. Then Naito ran as if to dive but merely lay down in the middle of the ring. Dick.

He went outside after Makabe again and this time Makabe threw him into the barriers. Makabe returned to the ring and Naito broke the count at fourteen but rolled back outside again. He did the same, on fifteen, once more, and Makabe went out after him and got the barrier treatment. Naito rolled Makabe back inside and started to wear him down.

Naito did his Ingobernable pose with his foot on Makabe’s face, and shoved Red Shoes down when he tried to reason with him. Then he locked on a head scissors and wore Makabe down again. Makabe made the ropes and Naito took the full five to break before going back on the attack.

Makabe started begging Naito to attack more, having obviously reached the limit of the shit he would take. Then he hit back, shrugging off forearms and hitting a huge lariat. He followed up with two more in the corner and then hit the ten punch deal and a suplex for a nearfall. Naito came back with a neckbreaker and went up top. He hit a dropkick from the top rope and the in & out dropkick in the corner and then lazily covered Makabe for a nearfall.

Makabe blocked a German suplex and hit back with a powerslam. He tried to hit a powerbomb but Naito blocked it. Naito hit a rana off the top rope and a German suplex for a nearfall, and locked on a Full Nelson, which Makabe forced his way out of. Makabe then hit a powerbomb for a nearfall and a Death Valley Driver to set up his King Kong knee drop, which he missed, leading to a double down.

They both got to their knees and traded blows, and then got to their feet and traded more, and Naito spat on Makabe’s face, which didn’t do anything for his mood. Naito got two quick nearfalls with roll-ups but got clotheslined and German’d out of his boots for a Makabe nearfall. Looking to end it, Makabe took Naito up top but Naito tried to elbow his way out of it. Makabe slammed his head onto the ringpost, splitting him open, and German duplexes him to the mat. He followed up with the King Kong knee drop for the win.

After the match, Makabe threw Naito across the ring and Naito lay there, bleeding and grinning. As he left, Naito beat up David Finlay and spat at Red Shoes. What a dick. An engaging fight, that.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Hiroshi Tanahashi versus Toru Yano! Now these two have history. Yano eliminated Tanahashi from the New Japan Cup with a hair-pull in something of a shock, and they feuded for a bit after that. But, like the worst ex-girlfriend, you’re never truly rid of them, and Tanahashi has to fight the idiot today.

The crowd, obviously idiots, chanted for Yano early doors. They started the same way EVERY Yano match starts and that’s fine when he comes to your town once a year but not when it’s the ninth Yano match you’ve watched in a fortnight.

Then Yano tried to skin the cat – he failed by some way – and I laughed. Damn you, Yano! They brawled for a while on the outside and I love that New Japan ring barriers have a little gate on them, like a garden fence. Tanahashi made the idiot mistake of rushing at Yano as he was stood at the ringpost, Yano moved, and Tanahashi hurt himself. That gave Yano time to, yes, remove the turnbuckle pad and Tanahashi got up close and personal with the turnbuckle when he returned to the ring.

Yano, giggling like a fool, got the heat on Tanahashi, much to the amusement of the idiot fans. Then Tanahashi made his comeback, using Yano’s own bare turnbuckle in his favour. Yano got sent outside and Tanahashi went up for the High Fly Flow but Yano hid under the ring. He came out the other side and Tanahashi baseball-slided him down. Tanahashi then hit a slingshot plancha and they both went down on the ringside mats.

Despite Yano’s best efforts, they both made it back in on nineteen (although nineteen lasted a long time), and Tanahashi went on the attack. However, he missed a senton off the top and almost got rolled up for another shock win. Yano made use of the bare turnbuckle again and hit a powerbomb for another nearfall, the gurned into the camera.

They fought over a backslide and Yano hit a sneaky low blow to win that battle but couldn’t get the pin. Tanahashi then tried to German suplex Yano but Yano grabbed Red Shoes in a waistlock and they both almost went over. Good spot.

Tanahashi went up top but Yano pushed Red Shoes into the ropes and sent him tumbling. Yano sent Tanahashi over the ropes but he skinned the cat and came back in and hit the Slingblade. Then he missed the High Fly Flow and WILL THIS MATCH EVER END?

Yano tried to use a chair but Red Shoes stopped him. Tanahashi Dragon Screw legwhipped Yano, and Red Shoes was still holding the chair and went over, too, flying out of the ring. While the referee was down, Yano used the chair and then tried to powerbomb Tanahashi but he fought his way out and hit another Slingblade. He went up top, hit High Fly Flow, and Red Shoes returned in time to count the pin. That was weirdly entertaining.

This was a Good Show. It didn’t have anything at the level of the past few nights but was pretty fun throughout.


Block B Standings: Shibata 4-1, Fale 3-2, Ibushi 3-2, Makabe 3-2, Naito 3-2, Styles 3-2, Tanahashi 3-2, Gallows 1-4, Tenzan 1-4, Yano 1-4

By Alan Boon

Alan Boon is stranded in provincial suburbia. He escapes by watching men in small pants pretend to fight, and motorbikes racing four laps around a small oval track. He has child- and cat-related insomnia.