NJPW G1 Climax 26: Day 9

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July 31st, 16:00 from Gifu Industrial Hall, Gifu

The story so far: PrimerDay 1Day 2Days 3 & 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 8.

A Block – Current Standings

  • Makabe – 8
  • Okada – 6
  • Goto – 4
  • Ishii – 4
  • Marufuji – 4
  • SANADA – 4
  • Tenzan – 4
  • Fale – 2
  • Tonga – 2
  • Tanahashi – 2

Here we go…

A Block – Round Five

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tama Tonga

Ishii     Tonga

They kept cutting back to a woman in the crowd who was wearing a Tama Tonga mask. Clearly the face paint and long-jocks combo is working for some. Ishii sold like only Ishii can for Tonga, who once again showed decent intensity but is just lacking something from his game. Ishii made the comeback by reaching into his well of fighting spirit, before a long and entertaining rope-running sequence culminated in Tonga hitting a dropkick. A neckbreaker got a two-count, then the Alabama Slam and TKO had the crowd biting on a near-fall. Ishii powered out of the Headshrinker DDT with a suplex, then blocked the Gun Stun and connected with a powerbomb for two. Lariat for another two-count. Tonga slipped out of the brainbuster and hit the Headshrinker DDT for a two-count only! After a sequence of reversals, Tonga countered the brainbuster to a Gun Stun then nailed a second for the win! Another scalp for Tonga in what was his best performance of the tournament so far. ***1/4

SANADA vs. Bad Luck Fale

SANADA     Fale

Though he was outmuscled at first, Sanada used his baseball bat to get into the match. Fale fought back and dragged Sanada into the crowd before attacking him with a section of the barrier. Sanada made it back to the ring at 19, where Fale stood on him. Impressively, Sanada was able to hit his twice-leapfrogging dropkick and followed with a plancha. He was caught off the top, however, and Fale delivered a splash for two. The Grenade was reversed to a ‘rana, then Sanada hit the springboard dropkick, but Fale responded with a spear for two. Sanada slipped out the Bad Luck Fall for a backslide, but it didn’t get the job done, and Fale was back up to connect with the Grenade and Bad Luck Fall for the three-count. This was interesting to me, because they didn’t really play up to Fale’s strength, nor did they work around Sanada’s Dragon Sleeper. It was mostly an even fight in which Sanada played the babyface, and it wasn’t half bad. **3/4

Togi Makabe vs. Naomichi Marufuji

Makabe     Marufuji

Marufuji’s theme made me feel like I was at a Sunday morning rave. I like it. Makabe wanted to get in a chop battle with Marufuji, and he did pretty well. They did a barrier spot, since every single G1 match needs to have one, then Makabe took control back in the ring. Marufuji came back with the cartwheel dropkick and running plancha, but Makabe cut him off to hit the mounted punches and Northern Lights suplex. Strikes back-and-forth put both men down, then came a Chop Battle, and a low superkick earned two for Marufuji. German suplex from Makabe for a near-fall. Marufuji avoided being put on the top for the spider suplex, but Makabe caught him with a kneeling powerbomb for two. Marufuji nailed a couple of crescent kicks for two, then delivered the Shiranui for the win. Decent match. I am no fan of Makabe’s, but this was a solid effort, the crowd liked it, and Marufuji won – all good. ***

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuchika Okada

Tenzan     Okada

Excellent heat here. Okada sold the Mongolian Chops like a boss, but took the fight to the outside and dumped Tenzan with a barrier-hung DDT. (Tenzan’s back was covered in circular bruises from cupping therapy – I thought you might like to know.) Okada showed good intensity in knocking Tenzan down, then went for the arrogant cover! The principled Red Shoes Unno refused to count. Spinning heel kick from Tenzan, followed by more Mongolian Chops, then a suplex for two and chants of “Tenzan!” from the crowd. A flapjack stemmed the tide, and Okada kipped up after a DDT to hit his jumping uppercut for two. The diving elbow connected and the Rainmaker was signalled. Headbutt from Tenzan to block it, and the mountain bomb put both men down. After an elbow battle, Okada hit a succession of seated dropkicks and the reverse neckbreaker for a two-count. Tenzan fought to block the tombstone, got a clothesline for two, then dumped Okada with the TTD for a near-fall! The Rainmaker was countered to Anaconda Max for two, then transitioned to the Anaconda Vice, but Okada powered out and Tenzan charged right into The Dropkick. The Rainmaker was blocked once more, this time with headbutts, and Tenzan headed up top. Okada pulled him down, however, and hit a German suplex before finally connecting with the Rainmaker for the three-count. After a couple of duff outings, Okada picked up the pace here and Tenzan matched him. Really good match. ***3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto

Tana 2     Goto

I liked how they played on Tanahashi’s confidence here. In the early going he was able to get on a few brief runs of offence, but Goto cut him off the moment he became casual about it. Goto was happy to play the bad guy, and controlled the majority of the match, but his story was that he needed to go higher risk to keep Tanahashi at bay. He launched himself with the lesser-seen plancha and came off the top with a diving elbow, but the Ushigoroshi was countered to a Sling Blade, and Tanahashi – being the lunatic he is – hit a High Fly Flow crossbody from the top-rope to the floor. Goto tried to suplex Tanahashi from the ring to the floor, but they fought on the apron instead and nearly got themselves counted out! The Main Event Elbow Battle continued in the ring, and was won by Tanahashi, who followed-up with the arm-trap German for two. The High Fly Flow missed, and Goto struck with a kick before attempting the GTR. Tanahashi blocked it, but was caught by the Ushigoroshi, and Goto grabbed the Sleeper. The GTR was countered to a spinning neckbreaker, then moments later the Sling Blade, and two High Fly Flows put paid to Goto. Tanahashi’s back, baby! ***1/2

A Block standings after Round Five

  • Makabe – 8
  • Okada – 8
  • Marufuji – 6
  • Fale – 4
  • Goto – 4
  • Ishii – 4
  • SANADA – 4
  • Tanahashi – 4
  • Tenzan – 4
  • Tonga – 4

Final thoughts: I know I’m getting repetitive, but this was yet another solid show topped by a couple of good matches. This actually overdelivered on my expectations and I’d particularly recommend you check out Okada vs. Tenzan. As usual, an hour and a quarter of solid (at worst) wrestling means the G1 portions of these shows are a breeze to watch.

With A Block past the halfway stage, everyone’s still in it. Okada’s into the groove after the Day 1 loss and Marufuji looks like he’ll be there or thereabouts until the last day, but Makabe’s days at the top of the block are surely numbered. I can’t see Fale, Goto, Ishii or Tonga pushing for top spot, although I suspect each of them will prove a spoiler for someone else’s chances. Tanahashi could easily win the rest of his matches, while SANADA has been quietly having a great tournament even if results haven’t gone his way, and I’m willing Tenzan to pick up a couple more wins so he can look back on his final G1 Climax with his head held high.

Back tomorrow for the next B Block show which features Shibata vs. Yano(!) and Honma vs. Naito. See you then. 

Nine down, ten to go.