NJPW G1 Climax 26: Day 5

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July 25th, 18:30 from Big Palette, Fukushima

The story so far: Primer, Day 1, Day 2Days 3 & 4.

A Block – Current Standings

  • Goto – 4
  • Makabe – 4
  • Tenzan – 4
  • Fale – 2
  • Marufuji – 2
  • Okada – 2
  • SANADA – 2
  • Tonga – 0
  • Ishii – 0
  • Tanahashi – 0

Here we go…

A Block – Round Three

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Bad Luck Fale

Ishii     Fale

Ishii’s “Stone Pitbull” nickname felt particularly apt here as he was much the smaller competitor snapping at Fale’s heels. After eventually wearing Fale down, Ishii succeeded in hitting a German suplex, but although he managed to block some of Fale’s offence, the big man kept coming back at him. Fale connected with the Grenade for a good near-fall, then Ishii slipped out of the Bad Luck Fall and hit a jumping DDT. Ishii stuck at it with the strikes and hit a couple of lariats for two-counts, then somehow managed to hoist Fale up for the brainbuster and the win. Ishii always seems to find a way to play to his opponent’s strengths and this was a decent match. ***

Togi Makabe vs. SANADA

Makabe     SANADA

Early on it seemed Makabe would try and rile the stoic Sanada, but the Los Ingobernables representative took control after a brawl on the outside then went about his business with the efficiency of a contract killer. Makabe made the comeback with the mounted punches and a Northern Lights suplex for two, but Sanada nailed his leapfrog dropkick, and they slugged it out until Makabe hit a lariat. A TKO from Sanada and German suplex from Makabe both got two, before Makabe used the spider suplex followed by the King Kong Knee Drop to take the win. I don’t know if Makabe’s was knocked loopy at some point, or if it was just selling, but he looked really out of it in the second half of the match. Anyway, he goes three for three. The effort was there, but I wasn’t feeling it. **3/4

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Naomichi Marufuji

Tenzan     Marufuji

The crowd were clearly into the Tenzan story here. Marufuji wore a pad on his elbow and let it be known that it was bothering him, but it didn’t stop him laying in the chops, which were plentiful. In fact, Tenzan’s chest was bright red and bleeding after a couple of minutes – not fun. The veteran locked in the Anaconda Vice after a comeback, but Marufuji powered out and hit a flurry of kicks. A spinning heel kick, backdrop and diving headbutt earned a two-count for Tenzan, then the TTD connected after a back-and-forth, but the moonsault missed the mark. A crescent kick and high knee from Marufuji were followed by the Shiranui, and that was enough for the win. They bowed to each other afterwards and Tenzan left with Kojima, his chest a mess. Tenzan’s really making an effort out there, even if his body’s slowing him down, and this was better than I had expected. ***1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tama Tonga

Tana 2     Tonga

Not for the first time, Tonga came out to silence. He was accompanied by Yujiro Takahashi. Yes. Credit to Tanahashi, he sold like a champ to get the crowd into the match, but while Tonga is impressively athletic, overcoming his perceived lack of threat is not easy. So, yeah, late on Tonga got his knees up on the High Fly Flow and rolled-up Tanahashi for the near-fall, then hit the Gun Stun for… the win? What?! The crowd were stunned. So was I. I fully expected Tanahashi’s comeback to start here, but Tama Tonga had other ideas. **3/4

Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto

Okada     Goto

Goto sent Okada to the outside early on, but the IWGP champ hit a barrier-hung DDT onto the floor to get on top. Back in, he wore Goto down in typically steady style until Goto nailed a kick to start a comeback. A backdrop got two, but Okada hit a flapjack to the stem the tide. A few minutes passed by as Okada eased through his repertoire, before the fight spilled to the outside, where he booted Goto over the barrier and followed with a leaping crossbody. The diving elbow connected in the ring, but the Rainmaker was blocked. Ushigoroshi from Goto and both men were down. Main Event Elbow Battle, won by Goto, but Okada powered out of the Sleeper and for a minute everything was either blocked or avoided. The Dropkick landed, then a sequence of reversals led to Okada hitting the tombstone and lifting Goto back up for the Rainmaker. One, two, three. The first half was as by-the-numbers as you’ll see, which is a shame, because once they picked up the pace this was a lot of fun. The frustrating thing is knowing they’re capable of much more. This was also as clear a sign as any that Goto is firmly a midcarder these days, but there was still part of me that felt he might get the win. It was not to be. ***1/4

Post-match promo from Okada and we’re out.

A Block standings after Round Three

  • Makabe – 6
  • Goto – 4
  • Okada – 4
  • Marufuji – 4
  • Tenzan – 4
  • Fale – 2
  • Ishii – 2
  • SANADA – 2
  • Tonga – 2
  • Tanahashi – 0

Final thoughts: Marufuji vs. Tenzan was the best match, and the main event might be worth checking out if you have the time, but it wasn’t anything special. This wasn’t the greatest show all round, but the bonus with the G1 is that the wins and losses really do matter, not just now, but over the next few months. Tenzan’s work so far has me looking forward to his other tournament matches, whereas Tonga, Fale and Makabe have not done much to warrant their spots. Tanahashi’s third loss in as many matches was a shock, and given his next opponent is Fale, I’m starting to wonder when, or even if, he’ll get a win.

Back on Wednesday for what looks to be a very good B Block show, featuring Nakajima vs. EVIL, Omega vs. Honma, Shibata vs. Elgin, and Yano vs. Naito. See you then. 

Five down, fourteen to go.