Hello everyone and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we got a double shot of action as we continue our look at the G1 tournament 26. Last week we took a look at the first night of action from Block A. This week we get our first look at Block B and our second hour looks at some BIG matches from Block A. So let's get things started!
Hour 1: July 22, 2016, Koruken Hall, Tokyo. G1 night 2.
Since this is the first night of Block B. No one has any points.
We are greeted by Yoshi-Hashi
Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Yuji Nagata
Naito is the leader of Los Ingobernables and the winner of the G1 in 2013 while Yuji represents the older generation guys, having won this tournament in 2001. Naito can bring the explosive and quick offense, but his "tranquilo" often means he wastes time, while Yuji has the experience and has a style that will stretch Naito to the limit.
Since we are at the Sumo Hall, the entrances are real short. Naito comes out in his white suit and Skeletor Mask while Yuji marches right to the ring. Bell rings and while Yuji is ready to fight, Naito, of course, hangs around the ropes and dicks around. JR mentions that Yuji is 48 years old at this point.
We finally have a lock up. Naito gets the waistlock but Yuji counters right around into and armbar then into a full nelson back into a wristlock. Naito flips out of it and reverses but Yuji counters out with a kick. Naito gives Yuji the Nagata salute, but Yuji just gives it back to him. They square off and Yuji gets a Greco-Roman lock but Naito backs into the ropes. Yuji gives him a clean break and Naito smirks at him. as they come into the center, Yuji lands a few kicks to Naito's knees, but Naito kicks him in the guts, hammers on him, and then rakes the eyes. As this is going on JR is rambling on about their haircuts. Naito whips Yuji in and goes for a clothesline but Yuji ducks it. Nagata fakes a leap and spooks Naito but Yuji lands a low kick to the leg. Nice.
Yuji shoots the ropes but Naito nails him with a dropkick to the leg. Naito slips out to the floor and grabs Nagata's leg, snapping it on the apron of the ring. Naito then sends Yuji to the metal barrier. Naito hooks the leg on the barrier and goes to work on it as honest to god JR is rambling on about going to school with Abe Lincoln and Steve Douglas. I swear he just doesn't care anymore. Naito lands a dropkick right to the side of Yuji's knee.
We skip ahead as both guys are back in the ring. They are exchanging forearm shots before Naito scoops him up and drops Yuji down to his knees. Naito bounces off the ropes but Nagata catches him in a big suplex throw! They get up and Yuji just lays in the sidekicks, driving Naito into the corner. Yuji lands some stuff forearm shots before sending Naito to the opposite corner and a high boot to the face. Yuji catches him with an exploder suplex and goes for the cover, only to get two. Yuji tries for a suplex but Naito dead weights him. Yuji tries for a kick but Naito kicks him in the leg first. Naito starts slapping Yuji in the head for some stupid reason. He rebounds off the ropes but Yuji tries for a kick only to get caught. Naito lays in some forearm shots of his own. Yuji just answers back with a bunch of teeth rattlers of his own but Naito counters with the shot to the knee and then a neckbreaker. Naito goes out to the apron and climbs up top and lands the missile dropkick and goes for the cover, but only gets a two count.
Back from commercial, as Naito gets some weak head kicks just to be a dick. Nagata whipped into the corner and Naito gets in his trip dropkick combo and actually lands Gloria but Nagata kicks out. Nagata counters and gets the white-eyes armlock. He then rolls Naito over and locks in the armbar but Naito gets to the ropes. Hard kick by Nagata. Another kick. Nagata wrenches the arm again but Naito just spits on Yuji. You don't do a vet like that! Yuji tosses him into the corner and just kicks the hell out of him. Naito catches the legs into a victor roll into a kneebar! Yuji is fighting it but he gets to the ropes!
Naito is almost smiling now. He kicks the knee a bunch of times but Yuji keeps fighting. Naito lands an enziguri and a high forearm. he goes for destino but Yuji counters it. Nagata gets in a suplex. He goes for the cover but Naito kicks out. Yuji tries the side suplex but Naito counters. They exchange forearm shots and palm strikes but Yuji gets the side suplex and cradle but Naito kicks out! Yuji goes for the big kick but misses. Naito goes for a big kick but misses! Yuji locks in the side suplex and gets the win for 2 big points!
Block B: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma
Shibata is the NEVER Champion here and is known for being an ass kicker. Honma is, of course, the lovable loser who lives and dies by his kokeshi headbutt. However spotty his record is, especially in the G1 tournaments, Honma will give you a fight and never give up.
We get the quick intros as Honma is out first. Shibata is the NEVER champion but doesn't even come out with the belt. Bell rings and the run right into each other and starts launching bombs! Forearms and uppercuts flying away. Honma goes for the headbutt and misses. Shibata launches a kick but misses. Shibata with a snapmare and into a chinlock. Shibata locks in a leg scissors. Honma gets to the ropes and breaks, but Shibata lays in some stomps. Honma crawls to the corner. Shibata lays in some slaps and that just fires Honma up! He grabs Shibata and starts laying in forearms but then starts stomping a mudhole in him in the corner. Shibata bails out of the ring.
Honma follows him out and throws him right into the metal barrier. He throws him into it again and then lands a running clothesline to send him over the top. Honma goes back in the ring as the count starts, but decides better and goes back out to bring Shibata back in the ring. he wants to win!
Honma lands some chops on the seated Shibata but he just brushes them off like nothing. Another chop and Shibata actually dares Honma to hit him harder. Honma actually aims some strikes right to the throat now but Shibata just decks him and sends Honma down. He whips Honma into the buckle and starts throwing forearm strikes. Shibata tries the whip but Honma reverses it and hits a clothesline. Honma tries the whip but Shibata reverses it and follows up with a running boot to the head. Honma shakes it off quickly and hits Shibata with a straight headbutt. Shibata stumbles back and Honma hits a running headbutt.
We return from commercial to have both guys get to their knee and start a forearm duel. They get up and standing but keep going back and forth until Shibata gains the advantage. Shibata gets an underarm choke and latches on with a body scissors. Crowd cheers for Honma as he gets up and muscles Shibata into a tombstone piledriver! Wow! Both guys need to ropes to get up as Honma charges first right into a knee to the gut. Shibata tries the cover but gets two.
Shibata gets in a suplex but Honma is right back up and lands a big clothesline! Honma lands the headbutt off the ropes but cover gets two. Tombstone piledriver by Honma, but Shibata gets right back up. Honma lands a neck breaker. He goes up top for the big one and lands the kokeshi! He makes the cover and gets the three count! Two points for Honma! Shibata rolls out of the ring clutching his shoulder in pain. Honma actually goes out and brings him back in the ring for a handshake but Shibata isn't having any of that and gives Honma a glare. Honma just tosses him right back out again.
Honma grabs the mic. He tells Shibata to clean out his ears and listen. Just because he won once, this isn't the end. He wants a title match. He says there is nothing wrong with a lucky guy winning the G1. Kokeshi is happy!
Studio words from Yoshi as he is my favorite guy in NJPW right now actually. Hope to see big things from him someday. He was surprised that he got in as he was not told until the announcement for the participants. We see some clips of him from the press conference. Kenny is his kind of opponent. Powerful and explosive.
Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kenny Omega
Yoshi is considered a junior member of CHAOS, being that he came into the group as Okada's tag team partner and still learning his craft. He will put on a good show, even if he really hasn't broken through to be a big star of his own yet. Omega is the leader of the Bullet Club and recently held the Intercontinental Title. Yoshi has a big hill to climb here, no doubt about it.
Kenny comes out first and he has a broom in hand because he's "The Cleaner". Josh makes a reference to Perry Saturn's WWF run when he carried a mop. It gets even more bizarre when JR goes on to say the difference was, Saturn's mop had a name (Moppy) and Omega's does not, so Omega can't sell any T-shirts or gimmicks about it. I am not making this up. However, it is also noted that Kenny is out here alone. JR speculates that it's because Kenny thinks Yoshi isn't worth it, but as I have said before, the guys in the G1 typically don't have flunkies outside to interfere for them to make the matches better. Yoshi makes his entrance and JR and Josh talk abut how much Yoshi is the underdog here.
The bell rings and a Kenny chant starts up almost immediately. Kenny himself even seems surprised. Once the chant dies down we have the lock up. Ken gets the wristlock and a few slaps right away. Omega gets another wristlock but Yoshi counters with a few forearms but Ken gets in a shot. Headlock by Kenny. Omega sent into the ropes and they criss-cross with leapfrogs and cartwheels before Yoshi gets in the big armdrag. Kenny slides outside to the floor but Yoshi hits him with a sliding kick that sends him into the barrier. Yoshi whips him into the guardrail hard. He tries it a second time but Kenny blocks it and sends him into the ring apron a few times before driving him into the metal barrier. Kenny then pulls up the floor mat and dumps it on Yoshi before scrambling up to the top rope and diving off with the double stomp! Yoshi gets the mat off himself but doesn't roll into the ring until the count of 18.
Omega is right on top of Yoshi with a cover but only gets a two count. He picks Yoshi up and slams him to the mat and hops up to the middle turnbuckle and gets a moonsault for another two count. Kenny lands a takeover and a middle rope moonsault for a two count. He pulls Yoshi into the corner and chokes him with the boot. Chop to the neck and then an elbow by Omega. Kenny whips him into the buckle hard. Kenny tries to charge but Yoshi counters with a kick. He tries to get something going but Kenny stops that with a few forearms. Kenny tries for the piledriver but Yoshi counters that and tries again to launch offense but Kenny ends that with some chops. Kenny whips him into the ropes and tries for a clothesline, but Yoshi ducks it and lands his running blockbuster!
We come back from the commercial as Yoshi lands an elbow and then a running elbow in the corner. Yoshi gets a neckbreaker on Kenny and goes for the cover, but only gets two. Yoshi tries for a slam but Kenny gets out of it and they both hit the ropes but Kenny gets in a superkick to stun Yoshi. Kenny gets in a snapdragon suplex and then hits another one! He deadlifts Yoshi up on his shoulders and gets in the big powerbomb! Yoshi kicks out of the pin, though. Omega is ready to finish him off but Yoshi escapes his grasp and hits a clothesline. Yoshi scoops him up and gets in a big powerbomb into a cradle, but again only gets two.
Yoshi slams Omega down and goes up the ropes. He tries for a Swanton but Kenny gets his knees up to counter. Kenny throws a few knee strikes and goes for the one-winged angel again but Yoshi slides out from a roll up to get a two count. Kenny scrambles to get the angel in again but this time Yoshi counters it into a DDT! Yoshi scrambles back up the ropes and nails the senton this time and gets a close two count.
Yoshi locks in a neck lock of sorts and Omega has to scramble to get to the ropes. As they get up Yoshi locks in the waist and tries for a suplex but Kenny counters out with some back elbow strikes. The grip is freed and Kenny lands a stepping knee strike right to Yoshi's jaw. Kenny whips him into the ropes but misses the clothesline. Yoshi comes out and hits the axe bomber! He tries for a sleeper hold on The Cleaner and tries for a pin but Kenny kicks out again. Yoshi then picks the cleaner up and looks to get a pump handle slam but instead drops him on his head in a new move called "karma"! He covers and gets the three count! Two big points for Yoshi-Hashi!! He gives a small Nakamura pose as he has his hand raised.
Backstage Yoshi says that no one expected him to win over Kenny Omega. People now know he can fight and is not just there to make everyone else look good. Things will change now for him. He's had his new finisher stored up for a while but used it as a surprise for Omega.
Studio words from Yoshi as he says that everyone though Omega would win but things turned out differently. He learned his new move in training with the other CHAOS guys and that Okada and Ishii thought the move would serve him well. He did the Nakamura tribute because Kenny beat Shinsuke in his last match and he thought it fitting. He says that New Japan was like a big swamp full of talent. If you didn't fight you would be sunk. He fought hard to get this spot in the G1, and he would keep fighting.
In other G1 matches, we didn't see Katsuhiko Nakajima beat Toru Yano and Evil pinned Michael Elgin.
So on this first day for Block B, Evil/Nakajima/Honma/Nagata/Yoshi get two big points while Yano/Elgin/Naito/Shibata/Omega have zip.
We are onto hour two! We jump WAY ahead as we are at day 13 (day seven for the Block A guys) of the G1 taking place on August 6, 2016, at the Osaka Prefecture Gymnasium in Osaka!
Since we've jumped so far ahead in Block A, here is how the points stand up.
The "ace" of New Japan takes on the GHC Champion of NOAH. Tanahashi has the G1 edge as he has won it in 2007 and 2015. Tanahashi has been having shoulder issues while we saw last week Marafuji dominated Okada. After Hiroshi lost his opener, he lost twice more before pulling out 3 wins in a row to get back in the race. Marufuji enters this with a record of 4-2 so he is still in it as well.
Marufuji enters first still with his GHC belt. He is ready to go. They actually acknowledge it this time. Tanahashi comes out next again with no bandage on the shoulder. He honestly looks like he hasn't slept as he seems to just go through the motions and doesn't put as much effort into his entrance.
Bell rings and there is a stare down. Lock up and backed into the ropes. Tanahashi gives him a clean break but Marufuji tries for some kicks but Tanahashi blocks them. Lock up again as Tanahashi gets a waistlock. Marufuji gets inside for the leg takedown and goes for an ankle lock but Tanahashi rolls onto him and gets a leg scissors. He nearly gets a triangle but they break cleanly. Lock up again as Tanahashi gets the headlock. Marufuji shoots him off and gets hit with a shoulderblock. Tanahashi gets a waistlock but Marufuji counters but Tanahashi gets the leg trip and pulls him into the corner and snaps the leg on the post. That escalated quickly. Hiroshi locks in a leglock and cranks on it before letting go. He lands some kicks to the leg a few times. Ace isn't messing around tonight!
Back from the break as Tanahashi is standing tall. He slams Marufuji's knee down onto his own leg before going into an Indian deathlock. Marufuji lands a few chops to the chest but Tanahashi isn't breaking the hold. Marufuji gets to the ropes to break. Tanahashi to the apron and goes for the legs whip but Marufuji lands the knee! Marufuji to the apron and piledrives him right on the apron!
We skip ahead with both guys back in the ring as Marufuji chops Tanahashi. Whip in but Tanahashi gets the forearm! He lands some elbows and strikes. He gets the big slam and hits the middle rope senton. Cover gets two. Tanahashi goes to whip Marufuji in but Marufuji counters and lands a dropkick. Tanahashi to the apron again and tries to leg whip Marufuji again but Marufuji counters into a dropkick! Marufuji lines up for a dive but it lands awkwardly for both guys as he looked to be avoiding the metal barrier. Tanahashi throws him into the barrier but Marufuji blocks and slips in the ring and catches Tanahashi with a dropkick back in the ring. Marufuji for the cover but gets two. They exchange chops back and forth and both guys' chests are beet red! Marufuji gets the advantage and begs Tanahashi to chop him some more! Tanahashi gets in the forearms. Marufuji tries a spin kick but Tanahashi catches it and lands the leg whip!
Back from the commercial, both guys struggle to get up. Tanahashi misses a knee in the corner and Marufuji lands a step-up knee strike. Marufuji lands a superkick but only gets two. He tries for sliced bread but Tanahashi counters. He lands a few kicks but Marufuji goes for it again but Tanahashi drives him down with a downward clothesline. Never seen that counter before. Tanahashi gets the german suplex but only gets two on the bridge. Tanahashi lands the slingblade clothesline as he goes up for the body splash but Marufuji lands the mid-air dropkick to the stomach! Marufuji lands a spin kick right to the face but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin attempt. Marufuji locks up a fisherman's buster but Tanahashi counters into a neckbreaker! Marufuji lands the kick to the face but Tanahashi lands the slingblade! Back and forth action! He goes up and lands the body splash to put him down. He goes right back up and lands the high fly flow to get the three count! THAT was a match!
Tanahashi grabs the mic and says he is finally back in Osaka. He's had a slow start in the tournament but is right back in the thick of it.
Studio words from Ishii. He had a reputation of losing and things hadn't gone well. He wants to see how good Okada has become. He had to win though and was willing to knock him out on the outside to win any way he can.
CHAOS explodes as it's big bruiser takes on the kingpin and IWGP world Champion. Okada has the edge here as he has won the G1 in 2012 and 2014. Ishii needs a win as he is only 2-4 at this point and a loss here would pretty much eliminate him. After losing to Marufuji on the first day, Okada went on to beat his next five opponents to take the lead in block A.
Ishii comes out first and looking to do some damage. Okada is out next as we get an update on the points of these two. Gedo is out with him. Okada won five in a row leading to this match as if Ishii was behind the 8-ball already. Barnett makes a point that while Okada is on a winning streak, he could be really beaten up and trying to hide it.
Bell rings and Ishii stands strong. Lock up as Okada gets him right to the ropes, chest pat but Ishii glares at him. Teammates or not, don't mess around with Ishii. Okada gets a headlock but Ishii hits a tackle and goes for the cover. He lands the short clothesline and goes for the brainbuster early but Okada gets out and goes for the rainmaker. Ishii ducks that and scoops Okada up and hits a shoulder breaker. Okada rolls outside. Ishii rolls out on the other side but walks around. Ishii takes hold but tosses him right back in. Surprise. Headbutt right to the ear. Not a surprise. Chop by Ishii and another big chop. A third big shop! Okada comes out with forearms. he tries to go to the ropes but Ishii gets the scoop slam!
Back from the break, Okada is down. Ishii gives some petty kicks to the head. He kicks Okada and lands a chop just to wake the champ up for more fighting. Okada dares Ishii to hit him again! Okada gets floored by more chops but gets up with some forearms, but Ishii gets in the headbutt and lands chop after chop on Okada. More headbutt to the ear. Okada comes back with forearms but Ishii stops him. Whip in the ropes and Okada gets the boot and then the flapjack. Forearms by Okada. Ishii tries to whip but Okada ducks and gets another forearm. He gets the shotgun kick and goes for the cover but doesn't get it. Okada sends him to the corner and gets a kick and a DDT. Okada gets in an elbow and goes for the cover and gets two. Slam on Ishii and he goes up for the Randy Savage elbow but Ishii gets up and goes for him. Okada leaps over but Ishii grabs him into a backdrop suplex.
Ishii drags him to the corner and chops the chest a bunch of times. Okada counters with some forearms and then sets Ishii up on the top turnbuckle. Okada is able to launch his high dropkick and catches Ishii in the chest. Ishii falls off the buckle but something catches and he is hung there for a few seconds before falling to the floor. Okada sends Ishii into the barrier and then lands a running kick to send Ishii out on the bare floor. If that wasn't enough Okada grabs hold of him and drags him over the barrier for a hanging DDT.
Okada however, returns the favor from earlier and makes sure to toss Ishii back in the ring at the count of 16. Okada gets the slam and goes up for the elbow and lands it! Rainmaker pose and Ishii jumps up with a chop right to Okada's throat! Told you, don't mess with Ishii! He hits the neck again with a chop and a release German suplex. Ishii gets the running clothesline in the corner and gets a powerbomb! Cover but Okada kicks out! Ishii goes for a running clothesline but Okada gets the foot up. Ishii goes for another clothesline but Okada scoops him up and hits the F-5!
We come back from an ill-timed commercial as both guys are trying to get up. Boot by Okada and Ishii doesn't care. He lands the headbutt. Okada tries to go for the tombstone piledriver but Ishii isn't going to budge. Okada whips him and tries for the dropkick but Ishii holds on to the ropes with Okada crashing to the mat. Ishii lands his own standing dropkick! He sets Okada up on the buckle. He goes up top and lands the superplex! Cover only gets two! Ishii lands the sliding lariat and cover only gets two! Ishii gets up and goes for the brainbuster but Okada counters with the knee. Okada tries a strike but Ishii counters but Okada hits the dropkick to the back! Cannonball dropkick sends Ishii down. Okada lands the sliding dropkick. Another and another. A fourth one, cover only gets two as Ishii kicks out! Okada scoops up for the tombstone again but Ishii blocks it by grabbing the knee pad and stomps the foot. He lands some forearms and whips Okada in, but Okada lands the big dropkick! Rainmaker misses and Ishii gets in the enziguri! Ishii tries the clothesline but Okada ducks. He goes for the rainmaker but Ishii tries his own. Okada ducks and Ishii lands the headbutt. He tries again for the Tombstone but Ishii can't be picked up. Ishii scoops him up and lands the tombstone of his own (and damn near kills Okada doing it). He lands the clothesline. Cover only gets two! Ishii lands the brainbuster and scores the win! Two big points for Ishii!
Backstage Okada says he got beat. He thought adding Goto to CHAOS would add strength but looks like it wasn't needed. Ishii says that this win keeps the dream alive and that is all he has to say.
Studio words as Ishii says that during the match it didn't matter if it was Okada or not. He felt how strong Okada had become as champion. He had barely hung on but got the win. He has to be aggressive in the matches he has left if he hopes to win.
In Block A tournament action from this night we didn't see: Tama Tonga beat Sanada, Bad Luck Fale beat Togi Makabe, and Hirooki Goto beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan.
So Block A points are: Okada: 10 points, Tanahashi/Makabe/Fale/Marufuji/Goto: 8 points, Ishii/Tonga: 6 points, Tenzan/Sanada: 4 points.
Some great action from both shows. While the first hour seemed rushed, the matches were still good. The second hour was unbelievable as both matches delivered. But once again, as I say every year, the G1 shows the weakness of these shows as while the action is good, trying to follow these long points driven tournaments are insane. The announcers do an admirable job keep up with the scoring, but to big of leaps just don't make this format work for it, especially with Jim Ross rambling on about mops and t-shirts.