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Strong Style: G1 is here!

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The tournament kicks off!

Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.

Welp, after a month-long break we are back with the big G1 Climax tournament. If you read my primer last week then you know what is going on. If you didn't, go take a look before reading on and all of this will make a lot more sense.

Tonight we start off the tournament coverage with Block A matches from July 20, 2015, from the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center in Hokkaido Kitaeru.

We start off with a greeting from Hiroshi Tanahashi!

Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale:

Fale's expression in that picture matches mines perfectly when I saw this on AXS TV's schedule. At least this year they didn't hot shot a belt on him to make him look like a bigger threat than he really is. Naito is in a weird "Tranquilo" phase here where he is a lazy, unmotivated tweener who only does anything if he decides he wants to. He is already talking about Los Ingobernobles here, but so far it's just him.

Fale comes down the aisle alone surprisingly. I guess with all the other Bullet Club heavyweights involved in the tournament as well  this would make sense. Naito comes out in a black suit and a silver skull mask. Jim and Josh talk about Naito's attitude change. In short he was getting booed in places like Tokyo and Osaka, so he went for a short excursion in Mexico and when he came back he labeled himself as one of the Ungovernables and talked about "tranquilo" and would stall and walk out of matches if the going got tough.

Naito takes his time getting his gear off and the bell rings. Lock up into the ropes and Naito ducks Fale's strike and starts chopping the crap out of Fale. Fale just runs him over. Naito bails and starts strolling around the ring before Fale goes after him and tosses him around the ringside seats for a while.

We skip ahead, thankfully. Both men are back in the ring as Fale goes for Naito, but Naito lands a dropkick right to the big man's knee. As Fale is on one knee, Naito comes up and slaps him on the head. He goes back for another attack but Fale catches him and dumps him in a Samoan drop and a two-count.

Both get up and Fale goes for the charge but Naito hits a dropkick. With the big guy teetering, Naito grabs onto a toehold to send him down and work on the leg more. Fale has enough and kicks him off before blasting him right to the mat. Fale hits the big splash and gets a two-count.

Big guy picks Naito up and goes for the bad luck fall (razor's edge). Naito smartly wiggles out, only for Fale to clobber him with a clothesline. Fale sets him up for the fall again, but Naito again wiggles out into a roll-up and the pin.

Wait really? The official time was nearly 11 minutes. Not even half of that was shown here. Guess this one really sucked!

Naito backstage gives the press crap making sure they can pronounce tranquillo.

Katsuyori Shibata vs. A.J. Styles:

*drooool* These two have never met before so this is one of those matches fans are really looking forward to. No real storyline here and there really doesn't need to be. Styles is the leader of The Bullet Club but that doesn't play into things much.

This will hopefully be better. Styles comes out first alone. Yay! Instantly this match got a whole lot better. Shibata enters with his usual no-frills power walk.

Bell rings with both men circling ready to go. Shibata goes for a high kick, but Styles back out. Shibata with a side headlock as Josh notices Shibata's right elbow is taped up. Shibata holds on the headlock despite several whip attempts before Styles sends him to the ropes that lead to a few kick attempts from both guys but no hits. Knuckle lock leads to Styles getting a lock on Shibata's other arm. Styles with a surfboard now. Shibata rolls through and back around right into an abdominal stretch! Awesome work there! Shibata gets a waist lock and Styles scrambles to the ropes but Shibata gives a clean break. "Shibata looks like a deadly human being"- Jim Ross. Truer words have never been spoken.

Both guys start open slaps to each other before Styles goes down in the corner. Shibata darts across the ring to set up his hanging low dropkick but Styles leaps right up and follows him and hits a clothesline. Shibata goes to the outside and Styles follows him. Shibata gets the edge and high kicks him right over the metal barrier. Shibata goes back to the ring and Styles follows him but rolls right out. Shibata follows him out and Styles gets to the ringpost. Shibata goes for the kick and Styles ducks! The CLINK of his foot hitting the post is sickeningly loud.

Back from the commercial with Styles over Shibata in the corner with some elbows. Shibata wills himself to stand up and hits Styles down into the corner. Shibata runs across and nails the hanging dropkick, kinda forgetting that he JUST KICKED A RINGPOST. He suplexes Styles down for a two-count. Styles hits a strike but it doesn't do anything as Shibata grabs on for another suplex attempt, however, it is Styles who gets him over.

Styles goes for the stylesclash but Shibata scrambles out of it. Shibata stands up right into an enziguri. He tries for the stylesclash again but Shibata again escapes, only to end up in the calf killer leglock. Shibata gets to the ropes to break the hold. When Shibata gets up Styles hits some strikes on him but Shibata grabs him and dumps him with a death valley driver!

Shibata then locks him in a sleeper and Styles keeps trying for the ropes but Shibata pulls him back. Styles goes for the injured arm with some elbows and momentarily releases the hold. However, Shibata locks in a chinlock with his good arm and bites his own hand to hold on! Styles breaks the contact and then hits the Pele kick. Bloody Sunday DDT! Styles gets the pinfall and 2 points!

Studio words from Tanahashi. He has put away his issue with Yano from last year's tournament and is ready for his comeback. He respects Ibushi and remembers Kota taking Okada to the limit when they met not too long ago.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi:

This was supposed to be one of the dream matches from last year's tournament but Ibushi ended up with an injury and had to withdraw from the tournament. So this is another dream match. Both guys get good reactions coming to the ring.

We come back with the ring of the bell and we get this one underway. Circling around leads into a lock up and a clean break in the ropes. Knuckle lock leads into a grapple into the ropes and Tanahashi gives a small shove. Waistock by Tanahashi but Kota reverses into a knuckle lock and then into an armbar. Hiroshi gets the headlock into a takeover and a quick attempt at a pin before getting up. Hiroshi gets a crowd chant. They circle around again tentatively. Hiroshi gets a headlock and grinds down before Ibushi shoots him off and Hiroshi runs him over. Kota gets up and shoots the ropes, leapfrogs over Hiroshi then dropkicks him. Kota lays in with some hard kicks. He strikes Hiroshi down and tries for a kick but Hiroshi ducks, and rolls away from a moonsault. Kota's got some knee issues from hitting the mat and Hiroshi goes right for it.

Hiroshi keeps up with kicks to Ibushi's knee and quad muscles. Hiroshi gets a leg lock on Kota's injured knee. Kota is SCREAMING but he gets to the ropes. Kota gets up and surprises Hiroshi with a stiff kick. He tries another but Hiroshi blocks it and drives the elbow into the injured leg. Kota sends Hiroshi into the buckle but gets an elbow for his effort. Hiroshi goes to the ropes, but Kota catches him with a dropkick and ends the ace outside the ring. Kota lines things up and executes his golden triangle moonsault to the outside!

Kota is up and shakes out the injured knee as he rolls Tanahashi into the ring. Kota climbs to the ring apron and when Hiroshi looks up he gets hit with a HIGH springboard dropkick from Ibushi. Serious airtime for that! Both guys get up and start in with the duel of elbows and palm strikes. Kota lands some sidekicks before launching a standing dropkick. Kota gets back up and Hiroshi just nails him in the knee. Kota turns in pain and Tanahashi chop blocks him! Damn dude, you are the good guy! Kota rolls out of the ring but Tanahashi goes up and lands a cross body outside the ring! Hiroshi gets in and as Kota gets caught in the ropes, Hiroshi whips his bad leg three times on the ropes in a row! Hiroshi lands another dropkick to Kota's bad leg but when Hiroshi bounces off the ropes for a strike he runs right into an Ibushi side kick!

Out of commercial both guys are slow to get up. Trading strikes now. Not quite the hits someone like Ishii or Makabe would throw, but they are going for it. Tanahashi ends that duel with a kick to the bad knee  Kota counters with a bunch of kicks before Hiroshi hits another screw leg whip. He then locks in a cloverleaf leglock. Kota gets into the ropes and stands up right into a waistlock and German suplex from Hiroshi. Hiroshi goes for the slingblade but gets a kick for his trouble. Undeterred he tries again and actually hits the slingblade into a two count. He tries for the high fly flow, but Kota gets up and gets a cross body for that. Hiroshi goes up again and flys right into  Ibushi's two knees. Both up as Kota hits rapid fire strikes and kicks into a frankenstiener and then Kota launches him right into the corner face first. That couldn't have felt good. Hiroshi rolls to the apron.

Kota comes over and grabs Tanahashi over the top rope for a suplex attempt and actually gets him up and over! Wow, that was impressive. Kota goes for the pin but only gets two! Kota tries for a powerbomb but Hiroshi counters. He goes for a punch but Hiroshi ducks it but Kota hits another strike sending Tanahashi to the mat. Kota goes up and tries for a phoenix splash but Hiroshi moves and Kota lands right on his knees. Hiroshi goes up for the flow but Kota jumps up with a kick. Kota nails the frankensteiner off the top rope but Hiroshi kicks out!

Kota drags Hiroshi up for the powerbomb again but Hiroshi flips out and nails the neckbreaker. Kota tries for a kick but Hiroshi catches his leg into another leg whip. They exchange strikes back and forth before Hiroshi hits the dragon suplex for two. Hiroshi scrambles up top and hits the high fly flow and gets the pin and 2 points!

Kota struggles up and bows to Tanahashi out of respect before rolling out of the ring. Hiroshi grabs the mic. He thanks the crowd and says he's going to win the G1 climax.

Backstage Kota says it was an unforgettable match and he accepts the loss. Hiroshi says that as long as Ibushi is there, the future of wrestling is bright.

Studio Tanahashi words now and he admits that the header into the turnbuckle still gives him problems in his neck but that he would fight Ibushi again.

Opening match aside, this was a fun way to kick off the tournament. The latter two matches were really good and set things up well for the rest of the tournament to come.

In Block A matches we didn't see from this show: Hiroshi Tenzan beat Luke Gallows and Togi Makabe beat Toru Yano. So our points standing in block A have Tanahashi,Naito, Styles, Tenzan, and Makabe at 2 points with the others goose egg. But this is only the first day. 

Next week we have two episodes of tournament coverage for you! We will see you then!

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Soul Tsukino
Soul TsukinoContributor   gamer profile

Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more + disclosures


 


 


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