G1 Climax Day, Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Kita Yell, Results:
Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Captain New Japan, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Tomoaki Honma
This was a decent opener with a really hot crowd, but it felt like it was far too long for what it was. Shibata & Honma hit each other really hard in a preview of these Day 2 meeting on the 22nd in Korakuen Hall. KUSHIDA had some good exchanges with Liger & Tiger. Captain & Nakanishi did their usual thing. It wasn’t pretty. Nakanishi pinned Captain with a torture rack into a neckbreaker.
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Toru Yano defeated Juice Robinson & Satoshi Kojima
This was a showcase for Nakajima. He brought the heavy kicks. He and Kojima went at it as hard as they could. Robinson was worked over after some Yano antics. He got back into it with a great looking capture suplex. Robinson & Nakajima went back and forth with a great battle. Robinson caught him really hard with a heel kick. Nakajima pinned Juice after a PK and a delayed Brainbuster. Nakajima is going to impress in the G1.
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Gedo & YOSHI-HASHI
This was good for what it was. Omega was over the top as usual. Takahashi looked pretty good here for once. YOSHI looked great when he came in off the hot tag and is now being presented as a guy that can get the job done. Takahashi & Gedo had a good exchange at the end of the match. Takahashi got the pin on him with Tokyo Pimps. YOSHI & Omega meet on day 2.
BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito & EVIL defeated David Finlay, Michael Elgin & Yuji Nagata
This was a nice preview of the Elgin/Evil and Nagata/Naito matches on day 2. Finlay was targeted early on by LIJ. Judging by this, Nagata & Naito has the potential to be an early match of the tournament. Elgin & EVIL will be as strong as strong style gets. Finlay attacked BUSHI here late in the match like he owed him money. It was a great showing from the young lion until he was almost decapitated by an EVIL lariat. He was finished off by a diving Codebreaker from BUSHI. After the match Naito locked Nagata in a figure four and mocked his pose.
Block A Matches:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Tomohiro Ishii
What a start to the tournament this was. This was so good. Tenzan walked into his final G1 campaign and scored a big win as the crowd rallied behind him in his quest to have one final big run in the tournament. These guys went to war. Tenzan showed frustration when Ishii got the better of him, almost questioning whether he was still good enough. They brought heavy strikes and lariats, particularly Ishii, who just went all out. Tenzan dished out his fair amount too. The Anaconda Vice and a Tombstone Driver weren’t enough to put Ishii down. Ishii rallied back with a series of lariats, each one the crowd bought as match ending. The atmosphere for this was amazing as Tenzan was positioned as the underdog. They exchanged some sickening headbutts, one of which that looked like it really knocked Ishii out of it. Tenzan hit a moonsault to get a huge win. The crowd went nuts for the win.
Togi Makabe defeated Tama Tonga
This was a really good match and an incredibly impressive G1 debut for Tama Tonga. Tonga has a big chance to impress over the next few weeks and he’s off to a good start. He pulled out some new moves. There was a great sequence where Tonga wouldn’t go down after several lariats and when he did he kicked out at one. The finish came when Tonga blocked the spider German, but Makabe changed things up and hit a belly to belly followed by the King Kong Knee Drop.
Hirooki Goto defeated Bad Luck Fale
This turned out to be a very good match that completely exceeded my expectations. Fale took control of Goto on the floor. Goto fought back into the match and it took him a while for him to finally get Fale off his feet. Fale got some big near falls after a Grenade and a big splash. Goto hit a big headbutt and a big kick, but Fale blocked the GTR. Goto had to weaken Fale with a sleeper before hitting GTR to get the pin.
SANADA defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was an absolutely incredible performance from a very less than 100% Hiroshi Tanahahsi. This was his first match back in the better part of three months after left shoulder and arm problems, problems that he has rushed back from. This was a major upset and the biggest win in the career of SANADA. SANADA rightfully targeted the arm. Later in the match Tanahashi went after a leg. At one point Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow to the floor. Tanahashi survived Skull End, the Dragon Sleeper and a TKO. Tanahashi was caught coming in off a High Fly Flow in a cutter, which was great and SANADA hit a moonsault for the near fall of the match. SANADA followed up with a second and Skull End again for a major submissions win. What a huge result this was. The story of Tanahashi in the G1 may be that of him rushing back from an injury that he has to overcome. This was a major win that SANADA badly needed.
Naomichi Marufuji defeated Kazuchika Okada
This was absolutely amazing. What a story these guys told. This was pro wrestling at its absolute best. Marufuji came into this with a point to prove, and did he ever. The story of this match was that Marufuji was one step ahead of Okada at EVERY turn. Okay just couldn’t get into the match. Okada wasn’t expecting what Marufuji had for him. Marufuji had the perfect game plan and that was to destroy the Rainmaker arm, something that won him the match. This is one of those matches that aspiring pro wrestlers need to watch over and over again. The finishing sequence here was absolutely superb. Marufuji hit Okada with several kicks and knees, and managed to knee the Rainmaker when Okada made one final attempt at it. Marufuji won when he hit the Emerald Flowsion. After that result, Marufuji will likely be in line for an IWGP title shot down the line. Go out of your way to see this.
This was an excellent start to the G1. All 5 Block A matches are worth your time, particularly Ishii/Tenzan, Tanahashi/SANADA and Marufuji/Okada. One down, 18 more to go!
Day 2 takes place on July 22nd.
This show is available now at NJPWWorld.com.