NJPW G1 Climax 26: Day 15

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August 8th, 18:30 from Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, Kanagawa

NJPW has held a show in this venue, on this date, every year since 1988 – a longer-running tradition than the January 4th show at the Tokyo Dome. That Super Monday Night card was headlined by Fujinami vs. Inoki, this one is headlined by Makabe vs. Goto. Hmm. Let’s get to it!

The story so far: PrimerDay 1Day 2Days 3 & 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11Day 12Day 13, Day 14.

A Block – Current Standings

  • Okada – 10
  • Fale – 8
  • Goto – 8
  • Makabe – 8
  • Marufuji – 8
  • Tanahashi – 8
  • Ishii – 6
  • Tonga – 6
  • SANADA – 4
  • Tenzan – 4

Here we go…

A Block – Round Eight

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Tama Tonga

Marufuji     Tonga

Chants for Tama Tonga, would you believe, and he responded by Gun Stunning Marufuji over the top-rope to send him to the floor. Once Marufuji got back in the ring, he hit the cartwheel dropkick before starting up the chops. A double stomp to the face and seated crescent kick earned a two-count, then Tonga reversed a charge to a flapjack. He ducked a kick to hit a neckbreaker, tried to respond to Marufuji’s chops with elbows, then a long rope-running sequence ended in the Headshrinker DDT. A really awkward exchange culminated in Tonga sort of delivering a spinning neckbreaker, and he followed with the Alabama Slam. A jumping knee from Marufuji got two and the Shiranui connected for the win. Coming off his best match of the tournament, Tonga had moments here where he looked like someone who’s been been wrestling for months rather than years; his timing was off and he rushed spots. However, it was otherwise fine and the crowd was into it. ***

Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA

Ishii     SANADA

Sanada kipped up after a shoulder tackle and immediately tried for the Dragon Sleeper, but couldn’t apply it properly. His next tactic was elbow strikes, which proved surprisingly effective, but Ishii ducked a clothesline to hit backdrop, and followed with a couple of knockdowns. Sanada replied to a vertical suplex with the leapfrog dropkick and a plancha, but was caught up top where Ishii eventually hit a delayed superplex for two. Sanada flipped out of a German suplex and hit a ‘rana and the springboard dropkick before landing a standing moonsault for two. Tiger suplex for another two-count, and into the Dragon Sleeper. Ishii stretched to make the ropes. The diving moonsault missed, then Ishii rolled-through another attempted Dragon Sleeper to hit the sliding lariat. Headbutt from Ishii and the lariat connected for a near-fall. Powerbomb – two-count only. An excellent sequence of counters culminated in the TKO from Sanada for a near-fall, then he applied the Dragon Sleeper in the middle of the ring and Ishii tapped! Really good stuff here. Despite having just beaten the reigning champion, Ishii made Sanada look like a million bucks. ****1/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Tana 2     Tenzan

Tenzan had some early success with the Mongolian Chops, but Tanahashi hit a low dropkick and began to work the leg. Dick move, to be honest, since Tenzan can barely walk as it is. The crowd responded with boos and chants of “Ten-zan!” and Tenzan just about hit a spinning heel kick, then more chops and a suplex for two. Tanahashi was happy to heel it up by using Mongolian Chops of his own, then a flipping senton earned two. Mountain Bomb from Tenzan, and into the Anaconda Vice, but Tanahashi delivered a Dragon Screw to stem the tide. Headbutts from Tenzan and a TTD for a near-fall. He went up top, but the moonsault missed, and Tanahashi scored a German suplex for two. The High Fly Flow missed and Tenzan finally nailed Kojima’s Western Lariat but was slow to cover and it only got a two-count. Anaconda Buster – two-count only. Tanahashi blocked another TTD and hit the spinning neckbreaker, Sling Blade and High Fly Flow for the win. Imagine if Tenzan had still been in the running here. Ah well. Decent match, and the crowd really wanted the win for Tenzan, but the poor guy was struggling here. Matches like this can only make you appreciate what a stellar talent Tanahashi is. ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale

Okada     Fale

If you’ve seen these two wrestle before you’ll know what to expect. Typical monster formula and Okada gets the opportunity to dust off his fiery babyface routine. I kid you not, Fale was getting chants here. The big man dominated, naturally, but the crowd were suitably impressed by Okada’s feats of strength in slamming Fale and later hitting the reverse neckbreaker. He survived the splash and the spear (which looked great, incidentally), then blocked the Grenade to hit The Dropkick. The German suplex landed, but Fale blocked the Rainmaker and connected with the Grenade for a near-fall. He then launched Okada with the Bad Luck Fall and got the three-count! Well, well, well. I thought Okada might lose to one of Ishii or Fale, but not to both. That’s added quite a bit of intrigue to Friday’s show. The match was fine, Okada looked good, Fale was his usual self. ***

Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto

Makabe     Goto

If you were wondering why this is the main event, it’s because Kanagawa is Makabe’s home prefecture. Goto got the early advantage, and worked over Makabe with a chinlock and headscissors before firing away with kicks. Makabe struck back with a lariat, got into his usual run of mounted punches followed by a Northern Lights suplex, then Goto hit a spinning heel kick, backdrop and diving elbow for two. A hesitation allowed Makabe to floor his opponent with another lariat and it was time for the Main Event Elbow Battle. Goto delivered a neckbreaker over his knee, then a front suplex over the knee, and transitioned to a Sleeper, but Makabe pushed him back into the corner and hit a German suplex for two. Up top, and the spider suplex hit the mark, but the King Kong Knee Drop did not. Sleeper from Goto, and Makabe powered out before turning Goto inside-out with a lariat for a near-fall. A charge was reversed to the Ushigoroshi, then Goto nailed the GTR for the three-count. Nothing to get excited about here. Makabe’s out, Goto’s in with a shot. ***1/4

A brief post-match promo from Goto and we’re out.

A Block standings after Round Eight

  • Fale – 10
  • Goto – 10
  • Marufuji – 10
  • Okada – 10
  • Tanahashi – 10
  • Makabe – 8
  • Ishii – 6
  • Tonga – 6
  • SANADA – 6
  • Tenzan – 4

Final thoughts: Historic date and venue, but not close to an historic show.  The Okada loss was notable, and I always enjoy watching Tanahashi work heel, but the clear highlight was Ishii vs. SANADA. Another great match from the Stone Pitbull and SANADA’s adding something new to his arsenal with every show. Whisper it, but they might have someone special on their hands.

A Block’s final round on Friday will see five men challenge for the top spot. If someone else would like to work out the permutations in the comments it would be much appreciated. Here’s the line-up:

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
  • Hirooki Goto vs. Naomichi Marufuji
  • Bad Luck Fale vs. Tama Tonga
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. SANADA
  • Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Back on Wednesday for the penultimate B Block show which features Nakajima vs. Omega, Shibata vs. Nagata and Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI. See you then. 

Fifteen down, four to go.