Hello and welcome to another edition of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Tonight we once again have two big hours as we wrap up the A block in the G1 26 tournament. We are at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo on August 13, 2016 and Day 17 for tonight's night of action!
But first, let's see where we are in the points total.
So this is how it works out with the matches tonight
For Tanahashi to win the Block: A win
For Okada to win the Block: A win, Fale loss (or tie), Goto win (or tie)
For Fale to win the Block: A win, Marufuji win (or Tie), Okada win (or tie)
For Goto to win the Block: A win, Tanahashi/Goto tie
For Marufuji to win the Block: A win, Fale loss, Okada win (or tie)
We are greeted by Hirooki Goto!
A Block: Sanada (6 points) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4 points)
Both men have been eliminated already so this is just for pride, mostly on Tenzan's part. Both got big victories early but dropped off in the tournament and so here we are.
Sanada wanders out by himself in his cold skull mask and baseball bat, looking like something from those old cyberpunk biker gangs from anime of long ago. Tenzan comes out next with Satoshi Kojima in his corner.
We are pressed for time so we cut right to the bell ringing and the lock up. It goes nowhere. Seconds lock up and Tenzan gets him to the ropes. He feigns for a clean break but instead goes for his Mongolian chops! Sanada ducks out of those and lands a kick and some shots to the back. He locks in a headlock but Tenzan shoots him off. Shoulderblock does nothing. Tenzan tells the youngin' to try it again and Sanada obliges. Stalemate again. Sanada stomps his foot and tries to shoot him off the ropes but Tenzan reverses it and runs over Sanada with a shoulderblock. He then lays in those Mongolian Chops that drive Sanada outside.
Tenzan goes outside but Sanada slips inside. Tenzan tries to come back in but Sanada smacks the ropes giving Tenzan a low blow. Tenzan rolls outside where Sanada runs him into the barrier and then drives the ball bat into him!
Back from the break as we skip ahead a little with both guys back in the ring. Sanada goes to whip Tenzan into the buckle but Tenzan reverses it. Sanada leaps over the ropes in the corner and then springboards back in with a dropkick. Sanada lands the standing moonsault for a cover of two. Sanada picks him up and lands a side suplex for another two count. Sanada immediately locks in the dragon sleeper to try and finish it, but Tenzan hits a jawbreaker to get out of the hold. Both get up and Sanada hits an enziguri but Tenzan just shakes it off. Sanada scoops him up in a fireman's carry and into a cutter! Pin attempt gets two as Kojima is going ballistic at ringside for his buddy.
Sanada scoops up Tenzan and slams him down before going up the buckle and trying for the moonsault. Tenzan moves and Sanada lands awkwardly on his feet before falling over. Tenzan whiffs a clothesline and Sanada gets a waistlock and a suplex into a bridge, but only gets two. Sanada locks in the dragon sleeper again but Tenzan rotates out of it and turns it into a scoop slam. He drives Sanada down in a tombstone! Tenzan tries for a cover but only gets one. Tenzan slams Sanada down and goes up as he tries the moonsault! Tenzan misses though and splats on the mat.
They get up and Sanada lands a dropkick but Tenzan just yells at him! He gives Sanada and headbutt and a Mongolian chop. Sanada tries to fire back but he just grabs his own shoulder as Tenzan keeps working in him. He hits four headbutts before clotheslining Sanada to the back of the head. He points to Kojima and lands a running clothesline to the front before going in for the pin. Two count only. Tenzan locks in the anaconda vice lock. He picks Sanada up and lands the buster but the pin only gets two.
Tenzan goes for the slam but Sanada stands out of it. Tenzan gets him up anyway but Sanada floats through it and locks in the dragon sleeper! Tenzan struggles and gets his foot on the rope to break. Sanada slams him down and goes for the moonsault. He lands with both knees to the torso! Pin attempt gets two. Sanada goes right back to the dragon sleeper again as Tenzan is in the middle of the ring now. He finally taps out.
We cut to a little later as the crowd is chanting for Tenzan and he takes a bow and shakes Kojima's hand.
Backstage he sad it just wasn't his G1, but it was both he and Kojima than made him fight on. Kojima thanks him for showing his spirit today and Tenzan tells him that he gets dependant when Kojima says that. Kojima was the only one who listened to him. he says he is the worst, but Kojima is the best partner he could have and thanks him as both are fighting tears now.
A Block: Tomohiro Ishii (6 points) vs. Togi Makabe (8 points)
Again, both guys are eliminated. These two have hated each other for years after the breakup of G.B.H. and have met plenty of times in some real beat downs.
Ishii is out first and he is looking to do damage as always. Togi is out next and he is in the same mood as always. We quick cut as they get their gear off.
Bell rings and they go right into the bull of a lock up. Ishii lands a chop and soon they are exchanging hard chops back and forth, back and forth. Ishii goes down but he comes back with a chop right to the throat. Wonder how none of these guys have killed anyone doing that. Seriously, I damaged my voice box as a kid going throat first into a metal bar (watch those drawstrings on your coats kids!) and that took a week to recover from. Ishii throws a shot right to Togi's head and here we go back and forth with the chops and strikes now. They beat each other senseless for a while before Makabe is down first. Ishii picks him up and sends him down in the corner as he is chopping him right in the throat! Togi is down on the mat face first as now Ishii just paws at him with a few kicks and tell him to get up.
Togi pulls himself up and begs Ishii to keep hitting him. The Stone Pitbull does just that and keeps hitting him. Togi finally counters with a strike of his own and pops up and runs over Ishii with a shoulderblock. Makabe runs him over with a big clothesline and then hits him with a forearm but Ishii just tells Togi to hit him harder! Togi hits him harder but Ishii just hits him right back and now they are both down.
We come back from the break as both guys scrape themselves from the mat. Ishii scoops Togi up onto the top rope and nails the avalanche brainbuster for a two count. He picks Togi up and goes for a big clothesline but Togi ducks it. Ishii grabs a waistlock and lands a big suplex and holds on to get a second one! Togi is stumbling around and Ishii nails him with a standing enziguri! Ishii rams into him with a big clothesline but that just makes Togi mad as he comes back with a big strike and now they are going back and forth again with hard chops and axhandle strikes. Makabe hits him in the gut and gets in a big powerbomb but can't make the cover.
Both guys are hurting but Ishii drags him up and gets a rear waistlock but Togi headbutts him to get out and hits a bunch of clotheslines right in a row. Ishii remarkably stands back up after all this. Togi hits another clothesline and a German suplex with a bridge but can't get the pinfall. Togi scoops him up backward on the top turnbuckle and delivers the spider suplex! He climbs up to deliver the king Kong knee drop but Ishii moves! As they get up Togi charges but gets met with some kicks for that. They meet with running clotheslines that go nowhere before they just start headbutting each other Ishii gets in a running clothesline for a two count. He hits the sliding low clothesline and still only gets a two count. He finally nails the brainbuster and scores the victory!
We are back from commercial with some studio words from Goto. He knew he had to win here, even if it would take some work to move on. He says the smaller the opponent is, the better for him and his power moves so thinks works out well for him.
A Block: Hirooki Goto (10 points) vs. Naomichi Marufuji (10 points)
Both guys have a good chance of taking this thing but they have to get by each other first. As we've seen, both men will tear you up and not stop until the match is over so I am looking forward to this one!
Marufuji comes out first wearing the GHC title that is once again, pretty much ignored. For him to win the block he has to win here, Bad Luck Fale has to lose, and Okada has to win in the second hour to win by competition tie breaker. Goto the warrior is out next as he marches to the ring. For him to go to the finals he has to win and the main event would have to go to a tie since both guys beat him in earlier matches. Tie breakers are a bitch sometimes.
The bell rings and the crowd is chanting for something but I'm not sure what. They lock up and Goto immediately pushes Marufuji back in the ropes. he gives a clean break up Marufuji lands a high kick right to Goto's mouth. Goto retaliates with a headlock and gets shot into the ropes, but runs over Marufuji with his shoulder. Marufuji gets up as Goto hits the ropes and gets a leapfrog but doesn't get the armdrag. Goto rebounds off and hits Marufuji with a clothesline to send him outside the ring. Goto goes out after him and delivers an elbow to the back of Marufuji's neck and a kick. He tries to whip Marufuji into the barrier but Marufuji reverses is. Goto stops short but Marufuji comes flying over and drives Goto's head into the barrier! Marufuji tosses him into the ring and goes for a cover but only gets an one count.
Marufuji locks in a chinlock now. Goto gets his foot on the rope and breaks it. Marufuji stands him up and lays in a shot right to the chest. They exchange big chops back and forth before Goto goes down. Marufuji lands some weak kicks to Goto's head before locking in a chinlock. Goto once again gets to the ropes for the break and Mary goes right back to the chops. He pulls Goto out of the corner and locks in a standing chinlock with an arm trap on Goto. Goto gets to the ropes for a break. Marufuji lands a chop but Goto fires back with more chops and is getting angry. Marufuji lands more chops but Goto just wants him to hit harder! Marufuji lands more chops before a running hip attack. He tries for a suplex but Goto blocks it.
Goto gets him up but Marufuji slides out and lands a chop to the chest. He hits the ropes but Goto delivers a strong side kick to knock him down. Goto lays in some forearm shots before whipping Marufuji into the buckle and lands a spin side kick in the corner and right into a side suplex. Goto lands a running clothesline in the corner and then goes up! He lands a big elbow and gets a two count on the pin attempt. He scoops Marufuji up for a fireman's carry but Marufuji escapes that. Goto elbows him and sends him into the ropes but Mary counters with a dropkick leading Goto to roll outside the ring. Mary gets a running start and launched over the top rope to splash onto Goto!
We come back from break as both guys are on the floor. Marufuji picks him up and lays in some chops. Goto grabs hold and whips him into the barrier but Marufuji blocks himself and sneaks up on the ring apron as Goto rolls back into the ring. Marufuji springboards in with a big dropkick to get a two count. They are back on their feet as they exchange strikes now. Marufuji with his chops and Goto with his forearms. Goto gets the better of it but he goes to the ropes and Marufuji counters it. He goes to the ropes again and Mar counters it again. He tries a waistlock but it is broken by Marufuji who lands a kick right to the mouth! Marufuji goes for a big spin kick but Goto catches him by the back of the head and drives Marufuji down onto the knee backward.
They both struggle to get up and Goto goes for the running strike but Marufuji moves and lands a bicycle knee to the jaw. Mary goes for sliced bread but Goto pushes him into the corner. Marufuji comes back with kicks right to Goto's head. Marufuji goes for sliced bread again but Goto grabs a waistlock and tries for a suplex but Marufuji elbows out. He lands some kicks but goes for a bicycle knee and Goto just headbutts him out of the air! Goto hits the ushigoroshi and goes for the cover but only gets two! Hew picks Marufuji up for the GTR but Marufuji counters out and lands a kick to the jaw. Marufuji lands another kick and then a bicycle knee for the cover but only gets two. He goes for sliced bread but Goto counters it into a sleeper hold! Marufuji tries a shoulder roll but Goto hangs on! Goto picks him up and lands the GTR and scores the pin!
Backstage Marufuji is disappointed for not winning but still made a good showing for the NOAH fans. Goto says we will have to wait and see what happens now.
Studio words as he said he just had to wait and see. He felt a lot more at ease with things after joining CHAOS and for the G1 so he was in a good position.
In action we did not see, Bad Luck Fale lost to Tama Tonga so Fale is eliminated from winning block A.
We get a graphic for Jan Ross, Jim Ross's dear wife who passed away this past week from injuries from an auto accident.
We are greeted by Tanahashi.
Studio words as Tanahashi talks about tearing the muscle in his arm and making the comeback. He had a slow start to this tournament but bounced back. He like Nagata now as he is 40 and Okada is only 29.
A Block: Kazuchika Okada (10 points) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (10 points)
And it all comes down to this. The two biggest names in New japan right now fighting it out in the final match of block A. With Marufuji and Fale out, a winner here gets the block. A tie and Goto takes it.
Okada comes out first with Gedo in his corner as we are going the full hour for this one. Okada is the champion here but the belt is not on the line. Tanahashi comes out next and unlike last time, he actually looks awake this time around. Gear comes off and we go to break.
Back as the bell rings. Lock up. Okada gets the armlock but reversed into a headlock and takeover. Okada breaks and the crowd chants for both. Lock up again and Okada gets him into the ropes for the chest pat break, but Tanahashi reverses and goes for the same, but Tanahashi slaps him in the face! Okada gets a shoulder tackle and a leapfrog. Okada goes into a roll up and gets a neckbreaker and a missile dropkick! He lands the big elbow and calls for the rainmaker early! He goes for it but Tanahashi gets the small package! Two count. Dropkick right to the knee by Tanahashi. He bumps his head landing though and rolls outside. Okada goes out and just rolls him back in, though. He slams Tanahashi down and gets in a slingshot senton. Cover only gets one. Okada sits down and hooks Tanahashi's legs and picks him up in a pendulum pin attempt and Tanahashi keeps having to fight to keep his shoulders off the mat. Okada makes a traditional cover and gets a one count. As they get up Tanahashi lays in some shots but Okada shoots him into the ropes. He tries the big boot but Tanahashi catches the foot. Okada punches out. Tanahashi tries a big boot but Okada catches it. Tanahashi hits again and Okada tries the foot and Tanahashi dropkicks him right in the knee. Tanahashi goes to work on the leg with kicks and stomps on the thigh before locking in a shinlock before Okada gets to the ropes.
We come back from break Tanahashi working the leg more and locks in an Indian deathlock. Okada lands some chops. JR asks why America doesn't do Tournaments this way, sadly he knows the answers to that. JR helped book Starrcade 1989 and he even couldn't keep track as he was broadcasting it at the time. Both guys get up and Tanahashi gets Okada in the corner. Tanahashi comes running out and gets a body dropped by Okada. Running forearm by Okada as he lands a back elbow. Okada gets a corner whip and lands a back elbow into a DDT. He gets the rolling forearm but only gets two. Okada locks in red ink! Okada is screaming for Tanahashi to submit but Tanahashi crawls over to the ropes and breaks the hold. Kick to the knees but Okada gets in the forearm. Okada goes for the elbow but Tanahashi moves. Both guys down. Back up as they fire forearms back and forth. Kick by Okada. Whip by Tanahashi but charge misses. Okada sets him up and lands the big dropkick to send Tanahashi to the floor! Tanahashi into the barrier and Okada goes for the running boot but Tanahashi catches it and ties him up on the barrier and gives him the dragon screw! Now both legs are hurting. Tanahashi rolls back into the ring and goes up top and lands the high fly flow to Okada on the floor!
Back from break with both on the floor. Tanahashi rolls in first as Okada is in bad shape but Tanahashi goes out and breaks the count. Okada catches him and gets the tombstone! Tanahashi is out! Count goes on but Okada rolls in at 17. Tanahashi gets in at 19. Okada on the apron and goes for the big dropkick but Tanahashi moves and gets in the screw leg whip on the right leg, then gets another on the left leg! Tanahashi tries for the cloverleaf but Okada gets to the ropes before the hold is on. Tanahashi gets some kicks and goes for the ropes but Okada catches him and goes for the tombstone but Tanahashi kicks out of it. Okada gets him up for heavy Rain but Tanahashi counters! Tanahashi locks in a suplex and a bridge but Okada kicks out. Tanahashi goes up but Okada hits him with a forearm. Okada goes up. Okada tries for something but Tanahashi keeps fighting. Tanahashi hammers the forearm and Okada falls off. Okada counters the high fly flow attempt and lands a couple of dropkicks to the face. He goes for the rainmaker but Tanahashi lands the slingblade!
Back from the break as we are told we only have less than 8 minutes in this match left. Tanahashi goes for a charge but Okada scoops him onto the apron. They exchange forearms back and forth Okada goes for the boot but Tanahashi catches the boot and gets the dragon screw on him. Tanahashi hits it again! Tanahashi comes back in and locks in the cloverleaf. Tanahashi keeps pulling him away from the ropes but Okada powers out. Okada and Tanahashi exchange strikes Okada whips in but misses the dropkick. Tanahashi whiffs the slingblade. Tanahashi goes up and hits the flow onto the back! He goes up for a second one but Okada gets his knees up!
Both guys get up and Tanahashi tries for a dragon suplex but Okada counters into a tombstone but Tanahashi counters and lands the tombstone! Tanahashi gets in a neckbreaker and goes for the flow again but Okada counters with the dropkick! Okada misses the rainmaker and Tanahashi lands a slap but Okada lands the suplex. Okada tries the rainmaker but Tanahashi counters with the slap. Rainmaker hits it but Tanahashi counters into a suplex as time is running out! Okada gets in the tombstone but can't get the pin! Tanahashi counters the rainmaker into a slingblade as he goes up and lands the body press and he goes up again as we are less than 10 seconds! He lands the hit and goes for the cover as the time runs out! 1 point each as Goto wins the block! Both guys and the ref are exhausted! Wow, what a final for the block.
We come back from break with both guys still scraping each other off the mat. They both need help getting out of the ring and the crowd applauds both men.
Backstage Okada is disappointed. He knows he still has to defend the belt and the next step is the Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi is on the floor. He thinks he didn't recover fast enough and that cost him the tournament. The truth is he just returned from the injury and was going to celebrate by taking the block. Goto asks if anyone thought he'd take the block He will show everyone the world of Goto.
In the studio, Tanahashi talks about the match being a great deal of pressure. He wanted to set things clearer. He wanted to show every move hand meaning and could connect. He was disappointed in losing even if it wasn't injury free. He still got his confidence back.
A big time 2-hour block here with 4 great matches. I don't blame them for not showing the Fale/Tonga match as not only would it have made things more confusing, but doesn't sound like it was very good anyway. They got the point across and did a decent job explaining it.
Next week we find out who faces Goto in the final!
Before we split there are a few more things I'd like to touch on.
First a shout out to Mauro Ranallo who has been under doctors orders this week at home. Hope to hear back from you soon boss. Smackdown isn't as fun without you!
And also in an update to our friend Tomoaki Honma who was injured very scarily in a match earlier this month. We finally got to hear from the big guy himself when he released this statement from the hospital:
Hi everyone, it’s Kokeshi.
First of all, I want to apologize for causing everyone so much worry after what happened at the match in Okinawa.
Jado’s DDT that match was definitely the hardest one I’ve ever felt. After it hit, I noticed I couldn’t feel anything below my neck. I could hear everyone rush to my side, but I couldn’t hear my own voice. I tried to speak, but nothing…Then little by little, things went black. “Ahhh, guess this is what it’s like, crossing the river Styx,” I thought. That’s when I heard a voice calling me. It was an enlightening experience to say the least.
I’ve been able move my feet and hands quite a bit since then, but currently I’m still paralyzed from the neck down. So the staff is kindly typing this journal entry for me. While my body may be what it is now, I’m getting better day by day. I’ll focus on my rehabilitation and be back in the NJPW ring for sure. Nothing can quell this burning desire I have to get back in there.
Pro wrestling is not broken or at fault here. This was simply an accident between two professionals.
I don’t know if you read these journals, and I don’t know if I should say this or not… but I’ll say it anyway: I’m coming back stronger than before, tanner than before, more oiled up than before! You’ll see me standing before you Jado, so just you wait!
I won’t lose, ever! I’ll be back in the ring to tell you all, “Kokeshi is happy! All together now, let’s be happy!”
May the gods bless the Kokeshi with a speedy and full recovery!