August 16th, 15:00 from Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo
We made it! Nearly a month after the tournament began we’ve reached show no.19. I’ll be reviewing the tournament final, the Junior Heavyweight title match between KUSHIDA and Ricochet, and the Junior Tag Team title match between The Young Bucks and reDRagon.
G1 Climax 25 – Final Standings
- Hiroshi Tanahashi – 14
- A.J. Styles – 12
- Bad Luck Fale – 10
- Tetsuya Naito – 10
- Kota Ibushi – 8
- Togi Makabe – 8
- Katsuyori Shibata – 8
- Toru Yano – 8
- Doc Gallows – 6
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan – 6
- Shinsuke Nakamura – 14
- Kazuchika Okada – 14
- Karl Anderson – 12
- Hirooki Goto – 12
- Tomohiro Ishii – 10
- Michael Elgin – 8
- Satoshi Kojima – 6
- Yuji Nagata – 6
- Yujiro Takahashi – 6
- Tomoaki Honma – 2
Here we go…
Worth mentioning: they did a segment to set up a match between Okada and 65-year old Genichiro Ternyu for November! Madness.
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (c) vs. reDRagon
A totally over-the-top spotfest, with little or no selling and multiple finisher kick-outs, but you know what, I really enjoyed it. After weeks of uber-serious elbow battles a bit of levity is just what the doctor ordered. It retained the merest hint of being a rule-based wrestling match, but was delivered with maximum self-awareness and a wink to the audience. reDRagon hit Chasing The Dragon at 17 minutes to win the match and become the new IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions. If you’re willing to look past the contrivances then this was a fun, if ridiculous, match. ****1/4
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
KUSHIDA (c) vs. Ricochet
It has to be said that Ricochet has added a good bit of swagger to his game since his Lucha Underground exploits. The match was built around Kushida working on Ricochet’s arm in readiness for the Hoverlock, and from that base came the intricate sequences, the innovative offence and – of course – the dives. Late on, Kushida smacked his opponent with a closed fist, drawing boos, but couldn’t take advantage. It mattered not in the end, because Ricochet missed the 630 Splash and Kushida cinched in the Hoverlock, eventually getting the tap-out and retaining the Junior Heavyweight title at 18 minutes. ****1/4
Former G1 winners Masahiro Chono and Keiji Muto join the commentary team to add further prestige to the upcoming main event. Speaking of which…
G1 Climax 25 Final
Hiroshi Tanahashi (A Block) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (B Block)
My word these men worked hard and they looked spent before the match had even begun! Through sheer force of will they raised this to a great match. It wasn’t the best of the tournament – the final rarely is – and there were some undeniably awkward and sloppy moments, but the crowd were with it all the way, going crazy for every near fall. They rightly saved the biggest kick-out of the tournament for this bout and when Tanahashi finally got the three-count at 32 minutes after numerous High Fly Flows it truly felt earned. ****1/2
HIROSHI TANAHASHI is your G1 Climax 25 WINNER
Final thoughts: A great show to cap an excellent tournament. The three matches that mattered all delivered. Recommended.
We are headed for Okada vs. Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 10 and it was ever thus. Really, I think most of us knew that Tanahashi was winning, but New Japan did a fine job is distracting us from what was always the most obvious and logical result.
There will be one more G1 Climax post coming tomorrow – a roundup of the whole tournament. If you’d like to list your top three matches and wrestlers in the comments section below I’ll add them to the piece.
Nineteen down, none to go!