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Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 5

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The G1 Climax Begins!

Welcome back to Strong Style! This week we begin something very cool as NJPW on AXS TV begins its coverage of the 24th annual G1 Climax Tournament! The coverage of the tournament will take us all the way into August with highlights from the tour.

A little background before we begin. The G1 Climax is a tournament that is held over three weeks or so every summer. The tournament was first held in 1991, but it is a continuing of the tradition of the big annual tournament in New Japan going back to 1974. The competition features the top heavyweight stars competing against each other with the winner becoming the top contender for the IWGP Title (if they aren't champion already). The set up of the G1 Climax is like this: the 22 competitors are split into two blocks, block A and block B. Within each block is a round robin style tournament where everyone faces everyone else for points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss). When all the block matches are complete, the first and second place point holders in each block go on to a single elimination knock-out round, leading to the finals.

Since each night of the tour featured 10 or 11 matches, AXS TV's coverage will bring you highlights of two matches and a full match each week.

Welcome back to Strong Style! This week we begin something very cool as NJPW on AXS TV begins it's coverage of the 24th annual G1 Climx Tournament! The coverage of the tourment will take us all the way into 
August with highlights from each night of the tour.
A little background before we begin. The G1 Climax is a tournament that is held over two weeks or so every summer. The tournement was first held in 1991 but it is a continueing of the tradtion of the big annual tournament in New Japan going back to 1974. The tournament features the top heavyweight stars competing against each other with the winner becoming the top contender for the IWGP Title (if they aren't champion already). The set up of the G1 Climz is like this: the 22 competitors are split into two blocks, block A and block B. Within each block is a round robin style tournament where everyone faces everyone else within their bloack for points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss). When all the block matches are complete the first and second place point holders in each block go on to a single elimination knock out round, leading to the finals.
Since each night of the tour featured 11 matches, AXS Tv's coverage will bring you highlights of two matches and a full match.

With that, here are the participants:

A Block:

Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner)

Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner)

Yuji Nagata (2001 winner)

Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi)

Katsuyori Shibata

Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner)

Tomohiro Ishii

Shelton X Benjamin

Davey Boy Smith Jr

Doc Gallows

Bad Luck Fale

B Block:

Togi Makabe (2009 winner)

Hirooki Goto (2008 winner)

Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner)

Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner)

Toru Yano

Minoru Suzuki

Lance Archer

AJ Styles

Yujiro Takahashi 

Karl Anderson

So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on July 21 2014.

Block A:

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma:

Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog. The announcers point out that Honma is replacing Ibushi who is out of the competition with a concussion. Honma gets a great reaction from the crowd. The picture being painted is that Honma may be the underdog, but he is hanging every step with Tanahashi.

Honma actually dominates and sets up for his falling headbutt finisher, but as usual, he misses. Tanahashi hits a dragon suplex, but Honma kicks out. Honma nearly gets a pin with a roll up. Honma hangs tough, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline and a diving splash to get the win and two points. Brief, especially with the edits, but it got the point across.

Block B:

A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada:

Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well, having beaten Okada. The crowd is FIRMLY behind Okada in this one. Styles is out here by himself while Okada has Gedo in his corner. Okada starts thing off with an awesome dropkick with Styles sitting on the top turnbuckle. They do an amazing spot where Styles is whipped into the ringside barricade, but leaps right over it into ringside, only to have Okada leap over and hit Styles.

Further along in the match the ref is down. Okada goes for the win when Takahashi comes in as expected but gets dropkicked in the mouth for his troubles. They exchange moves including Okada hitting a tombstone out of a styles clash position before Okada decrapitates Styles with the rainmaker clothesline for the win and 2 big points. We get some words from Okada in the ring where he promises to beat Styles of the IWGP title and he will win the whole tournament. Gedo says pretty much the same thing.

We get a few words from Shibata about his mindset going into this match. He talks about how he wondered what the fans would think of their match, and also how much Nakamura had changed since they were together 10 years ago.

Block A:

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata:

The announcers do a great job of explaining how Shibata had left NJPW for over 7 years to go to MMA and various paces while his dojo classmates Nakamura and Tanahashi stayed. The difference in these two is night and day. Shibata  comes out in black tights and no flash. Very much like Dan Severn while Nakamura comes out with his usual flash and posing.

The match starts tentatively as both men go for a classic style lock up.  Nakamura does some clowning, but Shibata makes him pay for it with some kicks. Seeing Shibata going for sit outs and lock ups shows he's had amateur wrestling training up the wazoo. Shibata puts Nakamura in a sleeper and then powers him over the top rope. Shibata's emotionless approach to calmly throwing Nakamura into the barricade and the ring posts is scary. Things slow down as Shibata goes for an early figure four leg lock. They break the hold and we go into Shibata smacking Nakamura around before Shinsuke gets fired up and takes over.

The match is showing that while Shibata is the emotionless badass, Nakamura is every bit his equal and can fight as well. Shibata hits a sweet kick that knocks Shinsuke flat before Shibata hits a hanging dropkick (!). Nakamura goes for his finisher, but his met with a dropkick laying out both men as we go to a break.

We come back as both men exchange forearms again and neither is going down. Nakamura hits two Boom-mae-yae knees to the skull, but Shibata gets up from the pin and then counters Shinsuke's charge with another dropkick. Shibata NAILS Shinsuke with a hell of a kick and gets the pin! Wow, not the result I would have guessed. Okay, now I see why this was made the feature!

Nakamura gives us some words that his loss was a result of bad luck while Shibata doesn't really say much of anything. Badass? Yup. Promo man? Not even close.

We get some studio words from Shibata saying he feels the match got a mixed reaction from fans (Huh? really?) but he's ready for more.

As good a show is this is, watching it you can see the flaw of covering such a big tournament with just a 1-hour show. Each night is going to have 10 or 11 matches (and was 4 1/2 hours long), but really they could only show one full match and only clips of just two others. You miss some of the context here, but since it was only the first day of the tournament, Mauro and Josh didn't have to tell you about how many points each person had or what they had to do to stay in the race. Next week we shall see just how much of the rest of the tournament the announcers explain.

I, on the other hand, don't have to worry about such things. Here is the quick results of the rest of night 1 and the points update.

Block A: Fale beat Ishii, Benjamin beat Gallows, Kojima beat Nagata,  (Tanahashi/Shibata/Fale/Benjamin/Kojima all get 2 points)

Block B: Tenzan beat Anderson, Yano beat Suzuki, Takahashi beat Naito, Goto beat Makabe (Okada/Tenzan/Yano/Takahashi/Goto all get 2 points)

And there you have it. See you next week with more from the G1 Climax 24!

With that here are the participants
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=101&v=EGCsYr4a-3Y
A Block:
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner)
Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner)
Yuji Nagata (2001 winner)
Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi)
Katsuyori Shibata
Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner)
Tomohiro Ishii
Shelton X Benjamin
Davey Boy Smith Jr
Doc Gallows
Bad Luck Fale
B Block:
Togi Makabe (2009 winner)
Hirooki Goto (2008 winner)
Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner)
Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner)
Toru Yano
Minoru Suzuki
Lance Archer
AJ Styles
Yujiro Takahashi 
Karl Anderson
So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma
Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog.
A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada
Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata
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Soul Tsukino
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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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