New Japan Pro Wrestling G-1 Climax
Tournament Update 1
This year’s G1 started on 7/20 at 11:00 PST. It will end on 8/16. Not sure on the time for the latter as the August schedule for New Japan World hasn’t been put up. Refer to here for the schedule for the entire tournament. All together, there will be 19 shows airing throughout July and August.
Just to recap, here are the participants from Block A.
AJ Styles: Former TNA world heavyweight champion. Joined New Japan in 2014 and has quickly risen to the top, already a two time IWGP Heavyweight champion, the top belt in New Japan. Leader of one of the top stables in New Japan, the Bullet Club.
Bad Luck Fale: The heavy of the Bullet Club. At 6’4 and 320 pounds, he easily towers those. Very few people have kicked out of the Bad Luck Fall. Also a former Intercontinental champion.
Doc Gallows: Formerly Luke Gallows/Festus in WWE. Often teams with Karl Anderson, and in fact they are the current IWGP tag team champions. Also of the Bullet Club
Hiroshi Tanahashi: Longtime ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Won the G1 Climax tournament in 2007. He’s held the IWGP Heavyweight championships the most times at 7 reigns. He’s been embroiled in a feud with Toru Yano for most of the year, but a decisive win at Dominion means he’s focusing solely on the G1.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Currently, often teams with Satoshi Kojima, and together they are known as Tencozy. Also holds the NWA World Heavyweight championship. He’s no stranger to the G1 as he’s won it in 2003, 2004, and 2006. Although most of the year his collection of injuries have crept up on his work, some of his best matches in the year happen in the G1.
Katsuyori Shibata: Known as “The Wrestler”, Shibata broke into NJPW in 1999, but left in 2004 to freelance and work in MMA. He returned in 2012 and has been well known for his extreme stiffness, pelting his opponents with kicks and strikes that would make anyone cringe.
Kota Ibushi: The “Golden Star” of NJPW was originally scheduled to compete in the G1 last year, but a concussion kept him out of action. Known for his high flying offense as well as his ability to absorb extreme punishment, Ibushi has really broken out since advancing to the heavyweight division, and this just might be the year that he breaks out and wins the tournament.
Tetsuya Naito: The 2013 G1 Climax winner has undergone a dramatic change in appearance in recent weeks, as his colorful red and white garb has been replaced with a black t-shirt and cap. Now part of the CMLL stable Los Ingobernables, Naito looks to secure another tournament win, complete with scruffy beard and heelish tendencies.
Togi Makabe: known as a lover of sweets, Mabake is also known for being another brawler in New Japan, as well as a former IWGP World Heavyweight champion and the winner of the 2009 G1 Climax tournament. His recent battles (more akin to wars) with Tomohiro Ishii over the NEVER Openweight championship have kept him busy for the last few months, so one has to question if those battles have had an affect on him.
Toru Yano: Yano is most famous for using every trick in the book not related to pro wrestling in order to secure a quick, cheap win. Whether it be undoing the turnbuckle pad, using the ref for a distraction or introducing a chair into the match, Yano’s main goal isn’t to have a great match, but rather do anything on Earth to get the win.
Just to recap, here are the participants from Block B.
Hirooki Goto: Current IWGP Intercontinental champion and winner of the 2008 G1 Climax tournament. Goto can best be described as always a bridesmaid but never a bride. While he’s gotten many shots at the IWGP championship, he’s never been able to pull it off and get the big win. The thing he has going for him at the moment is that he’s on a roll, beating Shinsuke Nakamura twice, first winning the Intercontinental championship then successfully defending it against him as well. Perhaps if he pulls it off here he can challenge for the big one at WrestleKingdom.
Karl Anderson: A key member of the Bullet Club and a constant fixture in the tag team divison of New Japan, Anderson looks to try his luck again at the G1. He’s gotten close, losing in the finals of the 2012 G1 tournament, but has never won the tournament outright. Having just won the IWGP tag team championships at New Japan’s last big event, Dominion, momentum is on his side.
Kazuchika Okada: The current IWGP Heavyweight champion. Since his return from his excursion to the United States in 2012, Okada has went from being a Green Hornet rip-off to one of the best workers in the world, having top quality matches with a variety of opponents. He’s also been ultra successful, already winning the IWGP Heavyweight championship 3 times as well as winning the G1 Climax tournament in 2012 and 2014. At 27 years old, he’s far from finishes winning high profile titles. It’s rare for a champion to win the G1, but it’s entirely possible.
Michael Elgin: Representing Ring of Honor, Elgin has been looking to make his mark in Japan for quite some time, and now he’s finally receiving the opportunity by competing in this year’s tournament. Elgin’s style does seem to fit in Japan, but as of right now he’s considered an unknown commodity in this tournament; given the high expectations through recent G1 tournaments we’ll see if Elgin is able to compete with the top athletes in New Japan.
Satoshi Kojima: Kojima is one of the more decorated veterans in the tournament; not only did he win the G1 Climax tournament in 2010, he’s also one of the few who have held both the IWGP Heavyweight championship as well as the AJPW Triple Crown championship. During the rest of the year, he mostly teams with Hiroyoshi Tenzan as Tencozy. But as a singles, Kojima is able to hold his own with the brightest prospects in New Japan.
Shinsuke Nakamura: The Wrestling Observer 2014 Wrestler of the Year has held many titles, including the IWGP Heavyweight championship on 3 occasions as well as winning the G1 tournament in 2011. But in recent years, he’s been the Intercontinental champion, and has established that title as one of the top titles in NJPW, even rivaling the prestige of the IWGP Heavyweight title. Known for his brash attitude and oozing charisma, he is always a favorite in the tournament, and even made it to the finals last year. Perhaps he’ll pull it off again this year.
Tomoaki Honma: Honmamania has reached to new levels in recent years as Honma has gained massive amounts of popularity with the New Japan audience. Known for giving it his all in every match, his win-loss record in the company is quite lopsided, and not for the best. He lost every match in last year’s G1 tournament, but despite this he looks to re-enter the tournament this year and give it his all again.
Tomohiro Ishii: Also another wrestler who has gained popularity in recent years, Ishii has known to be someone who will destroy not only his opponent, but his own body as well. He’s had incredible wars with the likes of Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto and most recently Togi Makabe. His brash style has meant that he’s accumulated many injuries over the last couple of years, but considering he’s spent most of 2014 in bandages, that won’t deter him from destroying himself or his opponent in this year’s tournament as well.
Yuji Nagata: Known as “Mr. Anti-Aging”, at 47 Yuji Nagata is still considered one of the best wrestlers in New Japan, and has been able to hold up his own against younger opponents. Winner of the 2001 G1 Climax and a former IWGP Heavyweight champion, Nagata looks to do it once again. Set to face many top contenders in his block, Nagata looks to, at the very least, retain his title of Mr. Anti-Aging with more spectacular performances.
Yujiro Takahashi: Since breaking out from former No Limit tag team partner Tetsuya Naito, Yujiro isn’t known for his great wrestling skills, but rather for how little his lady friends who accompany him to the ring wear. Joining the Bullet Club last year has gained him some notoriety, winning the NEVER championship, but Yujiro still hasn’t found his niche in New Japan yet. The G1, however, might be a great place to find it.
NJPW 2015 G1 Climax July 20 results
HIROYOSHI TENZAN VS. DOC GALLOWS
What a start. I'm not sure there was a match in the entire tournament last year as bad as this. Crowd was into the idea of G-1 and Tenzan at the start, but once the match got going it got pretty quiet. Gallows beat on him for a while. Tenzan made a comeback but this was not the magic Tenzan of last year. He used the Anaconda Vise, the Anaconda buster and finished with the Anaconda cross for the submission.
TOGI MAKABE VS. TORU YANO
Another bad match. Yano stalled, did some comedy and undid the turnbuckle padding. Both went into the exposed meal. Makabe kicked out of a low blow and backslide. Makabe came back with a clothesline, a Death Valley bomb and the King Kong kneedrop off the top rope.
TETSUYA NAITO VS. BAD LUCK FALE
Another bad match Fale dominated most of the way. He looked heavier and slower. Naito came out with a suit and a blue mask. Fale did a splash but Naito kicked out. He went for the Bad Luck Fall, Naito blocked it and went for a huracanrana but Fale blocked that. Naito used an enzuigri, a reverse atomic drop and got the pin after a cradle that didn't look smooth. Fale didn't look good a all here.
A.J. STYLES VS. KATSUYORI SHIBATA
Very good match. Styles ducked the penalty kick, hit the Pele kick, a Bloody Sunday DDT right on Shibata's head and then got the pin after the Styles clash. Shibata had worked for a choke a few times late. Styles worked on the ankle a lot after Shibata kicked the post when he moved. Crowd was into it late. This wasn't at the level of the classic G-1 matches of the past few years.
KOTA IBUSHI VS. HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Incredible match. In particular the selling by both guys was out of this world. They also pulled out everything in their arsenal and went out there to do a classic match and easily hit that mark and blew past it. Ibushi did his moonsault to the floor. Tanahashi did a high fly flow to the floor. Tanahashi tried the high fly flow but Ibushi got his knees up. All kinds of great moves including Ibushi using a power German superplex which Tanahashi took right on his neck. Ibushi missed a Phoenix splash. Ibushi went for a Pele kick but Tanahashi turned it into a reverse dragon screw. Tanahashi finally won with a dragon suplex and high fly flow. Not sure this match was good for Tanahashi becase Ibushi threw him like a dart into the turnbuckles and hsi neck was jacked. Jay White is icing the neck right now. Crowd is cheering for Tanahashi to do mic work after. This was like a few years ago where Tanahashi would close the show every month with a incredible match, then do the post-match with all the girls cheering for him, doing the air guitar, nobody left and kept cheering and chanting for him.
NJPW G1 Climax 25 Night 2 results (July 23)
Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This was a good back and forth brawl. Ishii held his own here and just pelted Kojima with everything you’d see in a Ishii match - stiff offense, headbutts, lariats and the like while Kojima did his usual comeback routine. Kojima took him out with a lariat at one point and after a while picked him up but he fired back with a vicious headbutt, a sliding D and a brainbuster to win the match. Very good, but not great.
Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi
This was decent, but nothing spectacular. The crowd wasn’t into it at all. A lot of the match was Yujiro on offense, which is fine, but wasn’t particularly exciting. Just missed something that made it stood out or even be that interesting. Thing with these matches is that the fixed camera hurts it a bit and the crowd’s been largely silent tonight. Eventually Goto made his comeback, hit the neckbreaker on the knee and pinned Yujiro after the shouten kai.
Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuji Nagata
The crowd woke up for this one, thankfully. Great match, easily the best of the night so far. Lots of great nearfalls from Honma. Everything just looked crisp and devastating, not to mention the two gel well together. Honma always gets a good reaction when on offense. Problem is, he kept missing kokeshi headbutts from the top rope, and that was his downfall. Nagata laid him out with a HUGE backdrop driver for a near fall. That looked crazy as Honma looked like he landed right on his neck. Nagata then pinned him with another, this time with a bridge.
Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada
Great match. Elgin's style fits perfectly here and looked really good in everything he did, and came off as a powerful, athletic guy against Okada. He was able to get over here with not the best of crowds tonight, so more matches like this and he should be fine. One highlight was Elgin lifting up Okada from the apron, deadlifting him a la Cesaro, then turning it into a falcon arrow on impact for a nearfall. Okada came back and hit the tombstone after Elgin tried to counter, then hit the Rainmaker.
Karl Anderson vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Crowd went back to being largely dead for this. Nakamura kicked out of two stun guns, including one from the top rope. Nakamura went for the boma ye and hit it, then was going for another after a nearfall but Anderson dodged and hit another gun stun for the win in an upset. Good match, but not as good as the previous two matches and the crowd wasn't as into it as other matches.
NJPW G1 Climax 25 Night 3 (July 24)
Doc Gallows vs. Kota Ibushi
Another solid match, pretty good while it lasted actually. Ibushi did his offense and looked good, especially selling for Doc. Gallows looked good here as well. He got nearfalls with one man Magic Killer and a falcon arrow. He went for the Gallows Poll, but Ibushi countered with a hurricanrana, but Gallows grabbed him though Ibushi slipped. They got it together as Ibushi floated over Gallows and rolled him up from behind for the win.
Togi Makabe vs. Bad Luck Fale
This was better than you’d think. Not that it was astounding or anything but it was a good back and forth brawl that didn’t last all that long, making it fine for what it was. It was basically a mean guy match where they traded offense back and forth. Fale won after a Bad Luck Fall by Fale.
AJ Styles vs. Toru Yano
Really fun match. Not that it was the best one of the tournament or anything, but this was really well worked with both guy’s styles blending in perfectly with one another. AJ did all of his stuff and worked hard with Yano, who was here doing his normal routine of using every trick in the book to get a surprise win on AJ. AJ worked on the leg early. Yano mounted a comeback by crotching him. He suplexed him twice into the exposed turnbuckle and hit his powerbomb for a great nearfall. Yano low blowed him and rolled him up but didn’t get it. Yano went for another one but AJ countered into the calf killer and Yano tapped out.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito
This was awesome. Shibata just nailed Naito with some stiff shot after another, continually paint brushing him in the corner with kicks and everything. Naito came back regardless and despite being destroyed came off as a total heel and it was great. Everything they did looked crisp and came off like it meant something. Naito worked on Shibata’s leg for some of the match, but Shibata came off strong and dominant. Naito made a comeback and was plastering Shibata with slaps when Shibata took him down with one of his own, put on a sleeper, and once Naito was subdued nailed him with a penalty kick to win. Easily the best match on tonight’s show so far.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
All that it took for the crowd to completely side with Tenzan was for Tanahashi to slap him on the chest after a clean break in the corner. Crowd was hot for this the entire match. Tanahashi is such an excellent ring general, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone; he totally knows what is needed to have a great match here and he sure as hell did. Really good back and forth match. Tenzan had a few great nearfalls, including having Tanahashi in the anaconda vise and attempting to pin him with a anaconda buster. Tanahashi, however, managed to get the win after a sling blade and a high fly flow.
New Japan 2015 G-1 Climax July 25
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Ishii gained control at the start but Cody Hall, seconding Yujiro, jumped him. Yujiro was in control for a good while and it was nothing special at all. He hit the Tokyo Pimps but Ishii kicked out. Ishii made a comeback and gave Yujiro a big time headbutt. He follows that with a sliding D then pins him with the brainbuster. Nothing really that special, and these two have had better matches together.
Michael Elgin vs. Satoshi Kojima
This turned out to be easily the best match of the night so far. Very good back and forth match between the two, nothing super but a really good match. Elgin continues to thrive here as he was getting over the more he was on offense. At one point Kojima had him wiped out with a lariat, then went for another but Elgin came back with one of his own. Elgin had him in the middle rope and was looking to do something, but Kojima fell off and when Elgin jumped off the middle rope he ate another lariat and was pinned.
Karl Anderson vs. Hirooki Goto
Good match, but not as good as last year’s G1 match they had together. Solid back and forth match for the most part. Goto hit a really cool code red off the top rope at one point for a nearfall. Goto had Anderson laid out with his knee neckbreaker and was about to go for the shouten kai, but in mid air Anderson transitioned into a second gun stun and pinned Goto. Fans were really surprised by the finish, which was really well done.
Yuji Nagata vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This match wasn’t really that interesting until the ending. I don’t know what it is about these two, but something just seems to be missing whenever they’re in the ring together. I don’t want to say that they don’t have chemistry at all, because by the end this was a pretty good match that the crowd got into, but before then I really just wasn’t feeling it. Nagata got the crowd into the match when he got the white eyes armbar on Nagata. He fought him off and went with the boma ye but he dodged. Nakamura eventually hit him with it, then another, but Nagata blocked a third. Nakamura came back with something resembling a boma ye, but pretty much just looked liked a regular kick and pinned him. Ranged into very good territory towards the end, but most of this was just there.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomoaki Honma
This was really good, but didn’t venture into great territory, like most matches tonight. They were on a even playing field as both guys gave a lot of offense to one another. A lot of kokeshis by Honma. Honma was scoring some nearfalls when he went for a top rope kokeshi but Okada moved. They botched a tombstone piledriver attempt but Honma acted quickly and rolled him up for a nearfall. Okada came back with a German and while still holding him, deadlifted him back to his feet and hit the rainmaker for the win. Crowd was really into this when it came to the nearfalls, and made this a really good, but not great match.
New Japan 2015 G1 Climax July 26
Bad Luck Fale vs. Doc Gallows
This wasn't very good. It felt plodding, and a lot of it was on the outside where they threw each other into the barricades. Back in the ring it was mostly just tests of power and not anything particularly interesting. Gallows got out of a Bad Luck Fall, but Gallows escaped and superkicked him. He hit the ropes to do something else but Fale caught him with a grenade and pinned him.
Toru Yano vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Nothing that memorable until the finish, though not for good reasons. Yano did his normal tricks and spent most of the match working over Tenzan, including using wrist tape to keep him out of the ring and stuck to the guardrail. Tenzan made a comeback and stiffed Yano with a headbutt so bad not only did he completely open up Yano, he busted himself open. Yano was bleeding buckets and it was a nasty scene. They went to the finish quickly after with Yano doing the distracting ref/low blow roll up finish, giving him the surprise win.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Togi Makabe
This was good, but felt pretty short. Would have been a better match if a bit longer. Not as intense as other battles either of the two have had in the past. A lot of back and forth offense between these two, and they worked stiff, with lots of lariats and forearm battles. Makabe got a good nearfall after hitting the kneeling powerbomb. Shibata caught him with a sleeper, put him in a seated position then hit the penalty kick to pick up the win.
AJ Styles vs. Kota Ibushi
Amazing match, easily the best this tournament has seen so far. A lot of real good back and forth action here. Crowd really got into it in the end, primarily because some of the back and forth counters were really amazing. These guys have great chemistry. Ibushi went to do his deadlift German suplex at one point but AJ countered like he was going to piledrive him on the apron but Ibushi countered with a hurricanrana to the outside. At one point there was a bunch of amazing back and forth counters I can't even describe which ended with AJ taking out Ibushi with a tombstone for a nearfall. Ibushi also kicked out of the Bloody Sunday DDT. Styles was going for something on the top rope but Ibushi countered with a hurricanrana off the top rope and followed that with the phoenix splash for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Naito stalled a lot early and was a total heel throughout the match, disrespecting Tanahashi many times throughout, including spitting at him. He's really adapting well as a heel. He got the advantage eventually and took out Tanahashi on the outside on top of a table that didn't break. Naito got the heat on him in a slow, methodical madder. Tanahashi made a comeback and went back and forth with Naito. Tanahashi went for two high fly flows but Naito got the knees up after the second. Tanahashi blocked a tornado DDT attempt and hit a spinning neckbreaker. Tanahashi looked to do something but Naito caught him and hit him with what looked like a standing sliced bread #2 for the win. Finish came suddenly and out of nowhere, but this was a really well worked match in terms of telling a story, which was Naito going full fledged heel throughout the match. Second best match of the night under the co-main.
New Japan 2015 G1 Climax July 28
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Yuji Nagata
This started out really slow. Back and forth offense mostly, though some of the time was spent on Yujiro cheating to get heat. Crowd was also really dead for this until the ending where Nagata kept kicking out of Yujiro's nearfalls. He blocked a Miami Shine attempt and went to do something, but Yujiro dropkicked him then gave him the Miami Shine to pin him. Overall, just a match.
Tomoaki Honma vs. Hirooki Goto
Great match with the final few minutes of the match being really awesome. They wailed on each other for a super long time at the start of the match that got the crowd into the match. Honma at one point hit two kokeshis and a rolling neckbreaker for a pinfall. Goto mounted a comeback but Honma started no selling and kicking out at one. Goto however came back with a huge lariat then pinned him with the shouten kai. Crowd chanted Honma's name after the match.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Karl Anderson
Good match. Again this was a situation where the crowd was just kind of dead. They picked up towards the end but Ishii and Anderson had to work hard to do it. Anderson got the heat on Ishii after hitting a backbreaker that supposedly injured Ishii's bad shoulder. They traded a lot of near falls, including Ishii kicking out of a Gun Stun and Anderson kicking out of the sliding D. Ishii finally laid him out with a big time brainbuster for the win.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Kazuchika Okada
Good match. Both guys did a great job of selling, which was one of the key points in the match. Crowd felt dead for this as well at the start. The environment tonight makes this feel like a flat show even though most of the action has been solid to great. Okada was doing his comeback when Kojima stopped him and hit a lariat. He was set to do another when Okada back with a dropkick and went for the rainmaker. Kojima dodged the first time, but Okada immediately transitioned and hit it with his other arm for the win. Overall a very good, but not great match.
AJ Styles- 4
Hiroshi Tanhashi- 4
Tetsuya Natio- 4
Katsuyori Shibata- 4
Kota Ibushi- 4
Bad Luck Fale- 4
Togi Makabe- 2
Hiroyoshi Tenzan- 2
Toru Yano- 2
Doc Gallows- 0
Tomohiro Ishii- 6
Kazuchika Okada- 6
Karl Anderson- 4
Hirooki Goto- 4
Yuji Nagata- 2
Shinsuke Nakamura- 2
Satoshi Kojima- 2
Michael Elgin- 2
Yujiro Takahashi- 2
Tomoaki Honma- 0