Cubed Circle Newsletter 200 – G1 Climax 2015 Concludes – Also, Important Base 10 Matters
This is our 200th newsletter, meaning that we have been publishing this newsletter for well over 200 weeks now. We have a giant issue this week, as we look at not only the final nine nights of the 2015 G1 Climax, but also SummerSlam, Takeover Brooklyn, NXT from this week, and RAW with the return of Sting and the Dudley Boyz! This year’s G1 Climax has concluded, but we will be back next week with an overview of the tournament, and to commemorate the tournament, as well as our 200th issue, we will be releasing a handy G1 Climax 2015 guide, with all of the reviews and analysis bundled into one handy PDF in the next few week’s at www.cubedcirclewrestling.com.
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
G1 Climax 25 August 5th 2015 Night 11
Iwate Industrial Bunka Center Apio, Iwate
Of all the G1 shows thus far, night 11 had to have featured the most minimal set-up, with but a single hard camera and very little in the way of lighting by company standards.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1-4) and Bad Luck Fale (3-2) started the G1 portion of the show off with what was almost certainly one of my least anticipated matches of the tournament. The match spilt to the floor fairly quickly with Tonga landing some cheap shots behind the referee’s back. What followed was what you would expect from Tenzan, who at this stage has greatly limited mobility, and Fale, who generally needs someone that can bump around for him. Tonga interfered some more, Fale escaped an Anaconda Vice and ended up pinning Tenzan with a splash off the top – realistically Tenzan would have exploded upon impact had he taken the Bad Luck Fall. * ¾
Katsuyori Shibata (4-1), in one of the stranger clashes of style we have seen in the past several weeks, worked opposite Toru Yano (1-4). Shibata went for an armbar, but was rolled up for a fluke victory in a finish that he sold with utter amazement, and eventual regret and embarrassment. ** ½
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-2) and Doc Gallows (1-4), the later of whom amazingly main evented a G1 show several years ago, were up next. It was easy to glaze over the work in this match, as was the case in the prior three matches in one of the weaker of all the G1 cards this year. Both men worked very hard, however, as they almost always do. Tanahashi kicked out of a chokeslam for a big nearfall, and Gallows got his knees up off of a HFF. The crowd popped a second major time for a jack-knife nearfall, after which Tanahashi emerged victorious with a roll-up. ***
In the third Bullet Club match of the night, AJ Styles (3-2) attempted to take the factions score for the night to 2-1, against Togi Makabe (3-2). Styles went for a springboard off of the guard rail early, but was thwarted both times before being thrown into the post head-first – thankfully, his head did not burst open as Naito’s did during a similar spot days prior. Then again, Styles didn’t headbutt the post with all his might either. Late into the match Styles landed a highkick, which is somewhat new, before landing a Styles Clash, which means certain death, for the victory. *** ¼
Then in the main event, and in my view a battle of two of the very best performers in the tournament, Tetsuya Naito (3-2) wrestled Kota Ibushi (3-2). As always, Naito took quite some time to disrobe. Naito took a little too long this time around, and was dropkicked in the back by Ibushi on the floor. Back in the ring Naito retained his advantage from the outside, until Ibushi made a fiery comeback with a strike flurry. Ibushi landed his standard, albeit still impressive, moonsault to the floor. Ibushi tried for a dragon suplex from the very top, but had it countered into a reverse frankensteiner! Ibushi rushed forward with a killer German suplex and then landed a reverse Styles Clash, which could have been the finish. Naito avoided a phoenix splash for a double down. The pair traded elbows and chops, to which Naito replied with spit to the face. Unfortunately, Naito landed a sloppy looking liger roll, which broke the match’s momentum somewhat. Regardless, the Naito win streak continued with Naito pinning Ibushi with his standing sliced break. Naito stomped Ibushi and assaulted Red Shoes in the post match. This was the only match on the show worth going out of your way to see. *** ¾
G1 Climax 25 August 8th 2015 Night 12
Act City Hamamatsu, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
Michael Elgin (3-2) and Yuji Nagata (1-4) faced off in the first G1 match of the night, a bout that a year and a half ago would have seemed like a quirky FirePro match, and frankly, still is. Elgin’s delayed vertical suplex spot got a great reaction, as did his “come on, hit me!” routine, albeit mixed with a few chuckles. Nagata avoided Elgin’s corkscrew, which set up for the Demon Armbar. Elgin grabbed a super fast deadlift into a falcon arrow from the top for two. Elgin fought for the buckle bomb, but Nagata fought against it landing an exploder into the corner. Elgin pinned Nagata with a powerbomb following a buckle bomb in what started as unintentional, albeit entertaining, comedy for this crowd, but ended a very good match and another growing experience for Elgin. *** ½
Everyone’s favourite loser, Tomoaki Honma (0-5) worked opposite Karl Anderson (3-2) in the match that followed. Honma was laid out by Anderson with no help from the Club, only returning to the ring at a count of nine. Few things can get a crowd as excited as the potential of a Honma victory in modern pro-wrestling, and somehow, despite the fact that this was a small show bearing only the minutest of chances of a Honma victory, this crowd still hung onto their hope, and the resultant match was a very good one. *** ¼
Hirooki Goto (4-1) and Satoshi Kojima (2-3) were next. Kojima attempted to engage Goto in a forearm battle, but was dropped with a single shot from the IC champion. Kojima came back with a DDT on the apron, but was later cut off with a large Goto lariat. Goto followed with a sunset powerbomb from the top and a brainbuster for a double down. Kojima kicked out of a facebuster but immediately took the Shouten Kai for the finish. ***
Shinsuke Nakamura (4-1) was paired with former CHAOS stablemate, Yujiro Takahashi (2-3) in the semi-main. Takahashi, the man who can neutralise even Shinsuke Nakamura’s charisma, took Swagsuke to the outside for some elbow work. It was boring and not terribly worth while. Takahashi kicked out of a Boma Ye, as does everyone it would seem. He then landed a second after a short reversal exchange for the victory. ** ¾
One of the better sounding match-ups of the entire tournament, IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada (4-1) versus Tomohiro Ishii (4-1) was our main event. Unfortunately, much like Shibata/Ibushi this match was not booked in Osaka, Tokyo, or Hiroshima, where it would have been much hotter. This would have been my choice for a Korakuen Hall main event, given Ishii’s popularity in that building. Ishii almost beat Okada via cont-out, although it didn’t seem that many bought it as the finish. Okada called for Ishii to bring it with blows in the corner. Ishii, after standing with Okada in an exchange dropped the champion with a German suplex for a double down. Okada looked to trade forearms with Ishii once more, but was dropped fairly quickly. Okada avoided a sliding D, but was clobbered with a lariat of death moments later. Ishii then landed the sliding D for a good nearfall. They had a fantastic counter battle, which ended in a Rainmaker to close out a mediocre show. *** ½
G1 Climax 25 August 8th 2015 Night 13
Yokohama Prefectural Gymnasium, Yokohama, Nakagawa
This was a multi-camera shoot. Strangely, announcers could be heard in the background during quieter moments every now and again, but there was still no truly audible commentary.
Kota Ibushi (3-3) and Bad Luck Fale (4-2) worked the opening match in the second portion of this Yokohama show. This was far more a Fale match than an Ibushi one, with Fale dropping Ibushi on the outside and working his usual plodding style. Ibushi countered an attempted spike with a hurricanrana/roll-up combo for two. Ibushi kicked out of the spike chokeslam. He then looked to counter the Bad Luck Fall with another hurricanrana, but was pulled back up. Fale hit the Bad Luck Fall for the finish. ***
In a match that a few months ago would have garnered no interest from me what so ever, Tetsuya Naito (4-2) was booked opposite Toru Yano (2-4). Yano sprayed Naito, still wearing his mask with a water bottle, to no reaction from Naito. Yano ran to the floor and donned his own walkout jacket. Naito feigned a dive, but instead, summersaulted in the most athletic manner possible into a swimsuit pinup pose, head in palm – a new signiture. Yano did the same on the apron, which was tremendous comedy. Naito was the serial rule breaker this time around, as he threw the non-Red Shoes referee down to the mat before strangling and clawing at Yano. The loveable heel, Yano, removed the buckle sending Naito hurtling into it face first. Naito pinned Yano with his sliced bread thing and then tore into Yano\s face before being pulled off by Jay White and Sho Tanaka. He gave the referee an armbreaker of all things for good measure, and then dropkicked the poor guy to the outside. Naito is a great man, and had Yano’s best match of the G1 thus far. *** ½
In a rematch of one of the better Tenzan matches of the last several years, and one of Styles better matches during his entire NJPW run, AJ Styles (4-2) battled Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1-5). These two, once more had phenomenal (oops) chemistry, with Styles yelling at Tenzan to bring it. When AJ was interviewed on Wrestling Observer Radio last year prior to the G1, I found it astonishing that he looked forward to working Tenzan more than almost anyone else, but matches of this sort are a clear demonstration as to why. Tenzan yelled for no reason, “Oh my God, man!”. Styles bullied Tenzan some in the corner before kicking him in the leg. Styles ran into Red Shoes and yelled “Get out of my way! What are you, stupid? Baka [idiot] !”. I would have been a bigger fan of the bump had Naito not laid the previous referee out, but Red Shoes was up pretty quickly. Styles yelled “come on Tenzan”, and Tenzan whispered “shut up!”. Tenzan, mouth bloodied, began his comeback with Mongolian chops. Even with Tenzan’s fire there was still a strong pro-Styles contingent. Tenzan went up top for a moonsault, but had his arthritis-ridden knees clipped again. Tenzan eventually tapped to the Calf Killer in a very good match, albeit one not nearly as good as their match of the year candidate in 2014. *** ¾
Togi Makabe (3-3) and Doc Gallows (1-5) were up next. Gallows strangled Makabe with his chain – the usual shenanigans followed. Realistically, there shouldn’t have been so much chaos one match after another, as from watching the first four matches on this car one would think that this company greatly overdid brawls on the floor and weapon shots. With that being said, Gallows most certainly brought the intensity on the outside, throwing barricades and cursing fans. Gallows bludgeoned Makabe with some stiff high kicks. Makabe pinned poor Gallows with the King Kong Knee. On the bright side, Gallows has looked better in this tournament than he may have ever looked. ***
Our main event was a one-night re-ignition of one of the best programs of 2014, in Katsuyori Shibata (4-2) versus Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2). They did some slick, albeit fairly simple, chain wrestling early. The crowd reacted well to a ducked PK from Shibata. There was a perfect spot with Tanahashi moving his eyes up and down upon an opportunity for a clean break – he decided to chop Shibata really hard. Shibata out-grappled Tanahashi, locking in a knee-bar, before transitioning to the figure four. Tanahashi finally escaped and landed a swift dropkick to the knee, which of course meant that it was dragon screw time! Tanahashi landed a repeated series of forearms, but was dropped with a single shot, Tanahashi, the patron saint of the Church of “please don’t hit everyone so hard”, unloaded with super stiff elbows before being dropkicked to death. Shibata locked in a modified octopus hold, landed a big kick, had it caught, and then was slapped very hard. A strike war ensued. Shibata looked for the PK, but had it caught and was dragon screwed. Tanahashi locked in a high angle clover leaf, but Shibata willed his way to the ropes. Tanahashi went up top, but was caught with a dropkick. They had a war on the top rope, and Shibata was knocked down, but shot back up looking for a PK, which resulted in another double down. Tanahashi landed a high fly flow to a standing Shibata, but Shibata got the knees up and locked in a sleeper. Tanahashi fought out but took a series of kicks to the head for two. The closing sequence was tremendous, with Tanahashi looking for a bridging cradle, but almost being caught in a sleeper, then Shibata locked his sleeper in, but only to have it countered into a roll-up for the victory. **** ½
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 9th 2015 Night 14
Korakuen Hall, Bunkyo, Tokyo
I usually skip to the G1 matches, but during intermission clips were shown from Yano’s new DVD. I had very little idea of what was going on, but it began with Yano explaining to the other members of CHAOS, what I can only assume was his DVD game-plan. This was at a time when Takahashi was still I member of the stable. Captured on video here was the magical moment where Nakamura took pictures of Ishii sleeping and posted them on Facebook. There was a bath house scene where Okada washed Gedo’s back! There was some kind of censored scene with Ishii apparently swearing and having his language bleeped. Jado, Gedo, and Yano then sneaked into HASHI’s room and put him in a crossface! We even had a school scene with a musical featuring Sakuraba, Jado in a school girl outfit, and Ishii in Samurai garb! This was amazing!
This was the first show with commentary in quite some time.
Karl Anderson (4-2) battled fellow gaijin Michael Elgin (4-2) in the first Korakuen match of this year’s tournament. Elgin’s dubbed music is great and should be made his official theme everywhere. Elgin kicked out of an Anderson powerbomb. Elgin clobbered Anderson with lariats, but was caught with a reverse gun stun and fisherman’s over the knee neckbreaker for two! Anderson kicked out of a top rope falcon arrow and signalled for the buckle bomb, but Anderson got out of it. Elgin laid out Tonga and Gallows, who he then powerbombed Anderson over the top rope onto the other members of the Bullet Club at ringside. Elgin looked to pick Anderson up, but was gun stunned for his efforts. *** ¼
The second G1 match on the card was a veteran’s bout of Satoshi Kojima (2-4) and Yuji Nagata (1-5). Nagata did his usual armbar and dragon screw spots. Both men worked hard, but there was most certainly something missing here, as there seemed to be with Nagata and Kojima throughout the tournament. Nagata pinned Kojima with a backdrop. ***
Not even the champion of the Earth, Kazuchika Okada (5-1), could get my excited for a Yujiro Takahashi (2-4) match, even after the wacky CHAOS video that aired during intermission. Hall laid Gedo and Okada out on the outside as Yujiro hugged Red Shoes in a use of smoke and mirrors that didn’t improve the match one iota. They went to Takahashi’s valet for comment on commentary. Okada kicked out of Miami Shine as Takahashi’s valet did her best to look concerned. There was then a second ref bump with Hall running in after laying Gedo out. Hall lariated Okada and Takahashi made the cover for a second big nearfall. Okada won soon after with the Rainmaker. **
Next was the much hyped Shinsuke Nakamura (5-1) versus Tomoaki Honma (0-6) bout! Honma landed some big chops early, but was met with a big running knee to the gut. Honma struggled, but eventually managed to lift Nakamura up for a brainbuster. Honma took some punishment and responded with a defiant slap. Honma blocked a Boma Ye with a slap and cut Nakamura down with a lariat and brain buster for two. Nakamura Came back with a Boma Ye from the second rope for a double down. Honma ducked repeated Boma Ye attempts, landed his Kokeshi and the Bernard driver for two! Nakamura avoided the Kokeshi, and took a Boma Ye for two! Nakamura went for a Boma Ye, but Honma ran at him with a huge headbutt before taking the Boma Ye to conclude Shinsuke’s best G1 match up until this point. Although, given the calibre of Honma and Nakamura as workers this was a disappointment. ****
NJPW, recognizing the significance of what was my favourite match of 2014, booked Hirooki Goto (5-1) and Tomohiro Ishii (4-2) in the main event of this Korakuen show! Goto violated the unified rules of mixed-martial-arts, landing a 12-6 elbow leading into a furious forearm war. This was a forearm exchange that went long enough to bring the crowd up, down, and then back up again. Goto chopped Ishii seemingly as hard as he could, shots that Ishii ate and dished out. Ishii stood on Goto’s head, but Goto gave Ishii the stare of death after a slap. Ishii then ran at Goto head first, a shot Goto completely no sold! Ishii landed a top rope brainbuster for two. Ishii sold a lariat like death and then came back for another lariat exchange. Both men refused to fall, although Ishii was on the verge and dropped with Goto’s third attempt. These two ran the ropes, ducked, and landed lariats. Goto lost control of Ishii during a sunset powerbomb spot before taking a big headbutt. Another lariat war followed. Goto kicked out of a lariat at one! Ishii landed his over the knee neckbreaker and a sliding D for two! Goto landed a top rope over the knee neckbreaker but Ishii still kicked out to the delight of a rumbling Korakuen. Ishii kicked out of a headbutt at one. These two attempted to smash their own, as well as each others, brains out with headbutts until Goto landed the Shouten Kai for the win! **** ½
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 11th 2015 Night 15
Korakuen Hall, Bunkyo, Tokyo
There was no commentary on this show for no discernible reason.
Tetsuya Naito (5-2) was screamed at by Doc Gallows (1-6) saying “take that sh** off your face a**h***”. Gallows screamed in Naito’s face for refusing take his pants off in a timely fashion. Naito feigned a dive again before going into model mode, to which Gallows yelled “what is that?”. Naito threw the referee to the floor and spat in his general direction. There have been far too many referee bumps lately. Then in a surprise finish Gallows pinned Naito followed a chokeslam from the top, moving him to but 2-6. Gallows, whilst far from my favourite in-ring performer in New Japan, has been a consistently entertaining character for quite some time now. ** ¾
Katsuyori Shibata (4-3) battled the soon to be deceased Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1-6) in the next match. Death due to Shibata, obviously. Amazingly, Tenzan dominated the early portions of this match, taking Shibata to the floor. Shibata locked in a figure four before brutally face-washing over Tenzan’s cut and kicking him in the face. Shibata didn’t lay his kicks in too hard on poor Tenzan. Tenzan landed his anaconda vice slam, and locked in the submission for an unfortunate victory, moving Shibata, one of the best talents in the company, to 4-4. ***
In a match that Kota Ibushi (3-4) pretty much had to win tournament wise, he battled Toru Yano (2-5) in what I thought would be a match to demonstrate how he could work any style. In what is becoming a yearly tradition, Yano earned an unneeded quick pinfall victory in less than two minutes with Kenta Kobashi on commentary. * ¾
AJ Styles (5-2) and Bad Luck Fale (5-2), opponents for the night, entered together along with the rest of the Bullet Club in an interesting moment. They teased the finger poke of doom spot, which detracted even further from this well below par G1 show. Fale kicked out, Styles yelled at him, and then apologised, looking for the too sweet, but then poked him in the eyes. Fale threw Styles to the floor and the rest of the club was very upset at this altercation. Anderson called Styles an “a**h***”, to which Styles responded, “stop calling me names, okay”. The rest of the club tried to minimise all possible damage, removing chairs from teammates hands, and preventing dives. Fale was on the war path and Anderson yelled “Run, AJ, run!”, as they brawled into the stands. Fale looked to Bad Luck Fall Styles into the crowd , which brought Anderson, Doc, and Tonga close to the point of tears. Fale looked for the Styles Clash, but then rolled Fale up with his feet on the ropes. This was one of the most entertaining comedy matches of the year, and whilst it was misplaced on a card such as this, everyone involved was great here, with Styles and Fale hugging it out in the post match. *** ¾
Hiroshi Tanahashi (5-2) despite this being a non-title match, entered before the NEVER Openweight champion, Togi Makabe (4-3) here, which can be seen as a testament to the degree of importance with which NJPW views its belts. There was a fun spot early with Tanahashi slipping behind Makabe as to pull back on his knee, which he worked over for the entire match. Makabe took some heavy elbows, winced after being kicked in the knee, but then came back with a series of lariats. Tanahashi got this crowd to love Makabe, such was the strength of his subtle heel work. Tanahashi pinned Makabe with a high-fly-flow moving to 6-2. ****
This was one of the lesser G1 shows of the tournament.
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 12h 2015 Night 16
Korakuen Hall, Bunkyo, Tokyo
Entering together like Styles and Fale the night prior were Yujiro Takahashi (2-5) and Karl Anderson (5-2), who went straight at it with a forearm exchange in the most exciting Takahashi has looked in months. Styles played the role of Anderson yesterday preventing a dive, and yelling “he is family” at Anderson. The Bullet Club should only work each other from now on, as these two matches were fantastic. Anderson, even after taking a big low blow, managed to land a gun stun for the victory, and lay on his back selling his groin after the match. Takahashi got on his knees after the match and yelled “I’m sorry”, Anderson got on his knees too and they hugged each other. Long live the Bullet Club. ** ¾
Michael Elgin (4-3) and Hirooki Goto (5-2) were up next. Amazingly, Elgin was the more over of the two early on. Goto took a Death Valley driver on the apron! Elgin threw Goto around for a fantastic reaction – Korakuen chanting “Elgin! Elgin!”. Elgin took a headbutt, but rose back up to cut Goto off with a lariat to a rumbling reaction. Goto kicked out of a top rope deadlift superplex. Elgin made it out of a roll-up and then engaged Goto in a lariat battle. Goto rolled Elgin up with his Goto Shiki for the victory. Goto lifted Elgin’s hand in the post match. ****
Shinsuke Nakamura (5-2) and Satoshi Kojima (2-5) were booked in an interesting match-up we haven’t seen for some time. Nakamura dominated Kojima early, landing knees as well as his guillotine knee-drop on the apron. Somewhere in the first four or so minutes of the match Nakamura cut his eyebrow, as he played an ever-cockier subtle heel. Nakamura didn’t even attempt a cover following a second rope Boma Ye and then landed a knee to the head for what wasn’t even bought as the closest of nearfalls. Kojima unloaded with lariats dropping Nakamura with a big one for a count of two. Kojima escaped an armbar and landed a giant lariat, which he believably sold the arm for. Nakamura landed a Boma Ye to a standing Kojima for the win moving him to 6-2. *** 1/4
IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada (6-1), battled Korakuen favourite Yuji Nagata (2-5) in the semi-main event of the evening. Okada teased a clean break, but Okada heelishly elbowed Nagata. Nagata’s evasion of a simple lariat got a giant reaction. Nagata unloaded with strikes to the delight of Korakuen. Okada landed a DDT on the floor which made an awful thud. Okada got some great heat from landing repeated boots to the gut of Nagata, which Nagata sold masterfully. Nagata laid it in with some stiff forearms. A big forearm battle followed, which Okada won. Nagata locked in the Demon armbar. Nagata followed with repeated stiff kicks to the chest. Nagata went for an armbreaker, Okada looked to counter it into a Rainmaker, but Nagata responded with a kick instead. Okada kicked out of a backdrop to massive rumbling. Okada dropkicked Nagata into the turnbuckle before both men fought for a gut-wrench, a battle which Nagata won. Okada took a leaping high kick, but responded with a dropkick to the chest and a tombstone. Nagata then fell to the rainmaker, putting Okada at 7-1. This was the best Nagata match in a year, easily – a fantastic performance from both men. **** ½
Tomoaki Honma (0-7) and Tomohiro Ishii (4-3) was our main event! Ishii didn’t even give Honma enough time to pat his head before leaping back up to his feet following a lariat. Ishii stood and took some big slaps before levelling Honma with one of his own. Ishii kicked Honma on the mat to which Honma responded with a deadlift vertical suplex for one of the biggest pops of the night! Ishii landed some hard forearms and called for more, dropping Honma with a single blow. A lariat war followed for a double down. There was a chop battle that went for an outrageously long time. Ishii too won this battle. Honma kicked out of Ishii’s superplex. Honma ducked a sliding D, froze and then looked for a Kokeshi, which Ishii avoided. Honma then landed a spike DDT keeping Ishii on his head for several moments, which, as you would expect, Ishii sold like death. They went immediately to a battle of lariats, which Honma got the better of thanks to his earlier spike DDT. Ishii kicked out of the Bernard driver, but Honma missed the Kokeshi from the top. Honma then missed a flying headbutt into the corner, but landed a headbutt right into the arm of Ishii, which clearly hurt Honma’s head more than Ishii’s arm. Regardless, Honma kicked out of a lariat at one, and a sliding D at two. Honma unloaded with slaps, took a shot, fell, but popped back up with a headbutt, Honma then landed a crazy sliding headbutt D for a massive nearfall. Honma took a leaping high kick to his bleeding mouth but then landed a middle rope diving headbutt, running headbutt, and top rope Kokeshi to which David Finlay Jr marked out. This was the finish, Honma got his big win! This crowd chanted “Honma! Honma!” to his theme in the post match. Fantastic stuff here, absolutely fantastic. In the raspiest smoker voice Honma cut a post-match promo with everyone still in their seats like he was Tanahashi. This was one of the best wrestling moments of 2015 thus far. **** ¾
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 14th 2015 Night 17
Sumo Hall, Sumida, Tokyo
Production values were expectedly the highest they had been for the entire G1 at Sumo Hall, unfortunately, there were visible empty seats, even towards the front, with much of the metal seating visible. This show drew 5658 fans.
Katsuyori Shibata (4-4) and Doc Gallows (2-6) began the G1 portion of the first of three Sumo Hall shows. Gallows landed a chokeslam on the apron. Shibata raked his boot across Gallows face early, Gallows responded, but took the dropkick in the corner, a move that he was smart enough to put his hands up for. Shibata kicked out of a sitout powerbomb, a move that Elgin has helped a lot to get over. Gallows escaped a triangle and landed repeated kicks and a tree slam for the win. POOR SHIBATA. ** ¾
Toru Yano (3-5) inexplicably sprayed Bad Luck Fale (5-3) with his water bottle in perhaps the worst match on paper of the entire G1. Fale used Yano’s DVD as a foreign object, and Tonga than broke Yano’s merch! Fale teased a Bad Luck Fall into the crowd. Yano outsmarted Fale winning via count-out and then running away as Fale smashed a few things. This didn’t overstay its welcome, it could have gone shorter though. *
Tetsuya Naito (5-3) got his same heat with the mask gimmick against Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-6) in Sumo Hall as he had at Korakuen and elsewhere. Naito used his jacket to taunt Tenzan like a bull and then did his feign dive spot. Naito made use of the always effective Mongolian chop theft spot for some easy heat, but was cut off with a headbutt. Tenzan locked in the anaconda vice, but Naito fought out and landed an enzuigiri and deadlift German suplex. There was quite the sloppy rear-naked choke spot, which led to Tenzan landing a headbutt and locking in another anaconda vice for the submission in a dull match that went too long. Tenzan kicked Naito in the post match, and was spat at in return. ***
Kota Ibushi (3-5) had another opportunity to demonstrate his versatility against Togi Makabe (4-4). Ibushi landed some kicks to the chest, Makabe called for more, but took some shots to his injured thigh, before landing a series of lariats. Shibata landed on his feet off of an attempted spider suplex. Ibushi looked for a deadlift, but then cut Makabe off with a high kick and landed the phoenix splash for the win. *** ¼
AJ Styles (6-2) and Hiroshi Tanahashi (6-2) as far as points and the evolution of the tournament went, was far and away the most important match of the night, as it would decide who would progress to the finals. Styles tapped Tanahashi on the face and told him to bring it. Tanahashi tapped Styles on the cheek this time around and took Styles to the mat. Tanahashi began to work over the legs of Styles landing repeated splashes and stomps to the knee, interspersed with leg locks and the like. Styles began to work over Tanahashi’s leg in turn, yelling “how does it feel”. Styles went for a springboard, but was promptly pushed to the floor where he took a high fly flow with super height. Styles made it back in at 19, unfortunately the count out spot had already been teased throughout the evening, and been paid off. There was an unnecessary ref bump. Styles landed a low-blow to a modest amount of boos. Red Shoes was backup in time for Styles to lock in the calf killer. Tanahashi kicked out of a facebuster at two for a great nearfall. Tanahashi went for the Styles Clash, Styles escaped, but Tanahashi then landed it for an insane nearfall. Styles got his knees up off of a high fly flow and landed one of his own for two! Tanahashi caught a pele and landed a dragon screw setting up for the standing high fly flow and the standard variant for the finish. Tanahashi gave Styles a symbol “three” in the post match with both men on all fours. Styles walked off to applause. **** ½
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 15th 2015 Night 18
Sumo Hall, Sumida, Tokyo
Notes from the Undercard:
reDragon worked opposite Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu in a unique and exciting matchup. Tanaka had a Boston crab locked in on ‘O Reilly and refused to break. Fish unloaded with slaps on Komatsu who wouldn’t die, that was until he was killed with a flying dropkick on the apron, and that was only for a few moments. They pinned Tanaka with chasing the dragon moment later, as expected. *** ½
The Bucks attacked in the post match, which led directly into a Bucks versus White and Finlay match. Bucks won with the indie taker, and assaulted White and Finlay in the post match, which led to a reDragon revenge run-in setting up the next night’s match. Well, this was like two weeks worth of angles in a single night.
In the G1 portion of the card Tomoaki Honma (1-7) worked Yujiro Takahashi (2-6) in his first post-victory G1 singles match, as well as his last, for 2015 at least. Of course, this was the least interesting of all the Honma matches we had seen in this year’s G1. Takahashi pinned Honma in a miscarriage of justice. ** ½
Michael Elgin (4-4) had his final G1 match in a New Japan run better than realistically anyone could have expected, against Tomohiro Ishii (4-4). Following a forearm battle Elgin proceeded to punch Ishii in the eye! Ishii took a big German suplex into the corner and a splash to the same result. Ishii got Elgin up for a delayed vertical suplex! Elgin nearly knocked Ishii through Ishii (not a typo) with a lariat. Elgin landed repeated lariats, Ishii no sold and then dished out the same punishment to Elgin to a great response. Elgin then dropped Ishii with a forearm, and landed some rolling Germans! Ishii took the apron death valley driver into the guard rail. Ishii kicked out of a Michinoku driver from the top, and landed a reverse piledriver for a double down. A super stiff forearm battle ensued, with Elgin landing a back-fist and Ishii an enzuigiri. Elgin kicked out of a lariat at one and a sliding D that followed! Elgin landed a powerbomb, went for another, but landed an enzuigiri instead, which Ishii responded to with headbutts! Ishii pinned Elgin with a delayed brainbuster! **** ¼
Hirooki Goto (6-2) and Yuji Nagata (2-6) battled in a match that Goto would have to win to progress. Nagata took a big kick to the midsection and rolled to the outside. Nagata pinned Goto with a backdrop to conclude a fairly unremarkable match. ***
In the semi-mainevent on the evening Karl Anderson (6-2) and Satoshi Kojima (2-6) faced off, in another match that Anderson would have to win. Gallows, wearing sunglasses, looked flashy, before landing cheap shots on the floor. They teased a double count out on the floor. Kojima pinned Anderson with a big lariat. ** ¾
The main event was to decide the second participant in the G1 Climax 25 finals on Day 19. Heading into the tournament it was one of my most highly anticipated match-ups, Kazuchika Okada (7-1) versus Shinsuke Nakamura (6-2), a rematch of last year’s finals. Okada gave Nakamura the usual clean break, to which Nakamura responded with a cheesy grin and elbowed Okada as hard as he could. This led into an athletic exchange. Okada landed his DDT on the outside. Okada looked to be winding up for chops in the corner, but instead landed repeated forearms and did Nakamura’s vibrations to boos, which he has been embracing over the past couple of nights, working subtle heel. Nakamura came back with a kick and giant running knee to the chest. Nakamura did his vibrations and began to land a flurry of knees to a grounded Okada. Nakamura stomped on Okada’s toes for the advantage in a forearm battle, although Okada still managed to plant him with a flapjack and DDT. Nakamura responded with his knee to the mid-section in the corner for a double down. Okada landed his belly to back over the shoulder over the knee backbreaker and heavy rain both for two. Nakamura landed a back-cracker and reverse powerslam setting up for an attempted Boma Ye. Okada kicked out of a second rope Boma Ye. Nakamura went for another Boma Ye had it countered into a magistral cradle, leading to a dropkick to the floor! Nakamura landed his tombstone on the outside! Nakamura looked as though he was going to be counted out, but was thrown back in by Okada, which should play into storyline should this program continue to the Dome. Nakamura blocked the rainmaker with a high kick, Okada went for a backslide, but had it countered with a Boma Ye for a double down. They began to trade forearms, Nakamura threw, was too tired to connect, but then unloaded with a flurry. Okada took a knee to the gut and axe kick again for two! The Boma Ye is essentially the shining wizard number two. Okada kicked out of a death valley driver and went for the Boma Ye again, praying, but had it countered with an amazing dropkick, so beautiful that Red Shoes made the out of the part motion with his hands. Okada knocked Nakamura’s mouth piece out with a Rainmaker, Okada looked to finish him as he had in 2014, but had it countered. He landed a German, had it countered, then landed a tombstone, but had the second rainmaker countered into an armbar and then a triangle! Okada clasped his arms, but had the armbar inverted for the submission in an outstanding G1 semi-final. The booking of this finish was out of this world, as the armbar and rainmaker teases in the third match will be insane. Nakamura did a fist bump with Okada in the post match. **** ¾
NJPW G1 Climax 25 August 16th 2015 Night 19
Sumo Hall, Sumida, Tokyo
New Japan’s second biggest show of the year opened with a bizarre segment featuring, of all people, ROH booker Hunter ‘Delirious’ Johnson. He was masked, and speaking somewhat normally, albeit with a very disconcerting bad Japanese accent. There was a translator, so the point of the accent was lost completely on me. The fans didn’t know quite what to make of this, although chanted ROH before and after his segment. He threw a ROH t-shirt into the crowd afterwards.
The opening match was the standard opening trios bout of David Finlay, Mascara Dorada, and Ryusuke Taguchi, versus Jushin Thunder Liger, Yohei Komatsu, and Sho Tanaka. I will never quite understand why, Dorada, surely one of the top three or four juniors in the entire company has been forever relegated to opening card matches. Taguchi pinned Komatsu with a flying hip attack in a good opener, but one that as I could have assured you going in, didn’t surpass a level of mild forgettable fun. ***
They then grouped most of the veterans together for TenCozy and Captain New Japan versus Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, and Jay White. TenCozy tagged in Captain New Japan, which almost never results in anything good . White tapped to the anaconda vice. **
Michael Elgin versus YOSHI-HASHI, your bizarre random CAW selection match for the evening was next. Elgin landed his standard assortment of power moves all to good reactions, as HASHI fought from underneath. HASHI kicked out of the avalanche death valley driver, and even attempted his swanton. Elgin pinned HASHI with a sitout powerbomb. ***
Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi, and Bad Luck Fale entered with a leopard woman, complete with tail, were out for a match against the CHAOS team of Toru Yano, Kazushi Sakuraba and Tomohiro Ishii. Very little of any great substance arose from this hodgepodge of a stable battle. Ishii pinned Tonga with a brainbuster. ** 1/2
In a pairing of six of the best performers of the 2015 G1 Climax, Kota Ibushi, Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto faced Tomoaki Honma, Tetsuya Naito, and Togi Makabe. Shibata staring Makabe and Naito down from his side of the ring got a big reaction, as did Honma’s clean break, and Naito’s cheap shot from behind that followed. Honma managed to restrain Shibata, which bled into Naito’s heat on Goto. And what fantastic heat it was, with Naito running back and knocking Shibata off of the apron repeatedly and just getting heat from breathing. Naito toyed with Shibata a little too long, as was then torn down by Goto who made a super hot tag to Shibata who ran wild on Naito to “Shibata” chants. Shibata took several strikes to the face in the corner, smiling in response. Ibushi was very good alongside Makabe and Honma. Honma and Ibushi went at it, as Naito was mauled by Shibata out on the floor. Ibushi pinned Honma with a phoenix splash. Shibata had to be pulled off of a Naito in the post match, Makabe off of Ibushi. Makabe went after Ibushi but was “knocked out” with a series of palm strikes and a high kick. Both Tetsuya Naito/Shibata and Ibushi/Makabe could be fun programs for the coming months, as the scene of Shibata sitting legs crossed arms folded as Naito did his pose on the apron and threw stuff around was money, as was the brawling here. ***
Genichiro Tenryu and Gedo spoke in an unexpected segment. Okada was brought down and said a few things to pop the crowd. Sumo Hall was popping left and right and they had a face off. Okada apparently said that Tenryu is likely that he wasn’t around during Tenryu’s era. These two will battle on November 15th at Sumo Hall in what will almost certainly be one of the more memorable matches of 2015.
In a match announced during the original G1 card and date releases, reDragon challenged the Young Bucks for their IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles. There was a lot of comedy and numbing flying early, with the Bucks being over the top entertaining heel goofs. Then things got bizarre, as Cody Hall put ‘O Reilly on his shoulders and ran off with him to the back and through the curtain, before coming back, with ‘O Reilly nowhere to be seen. The Bucks had the heat on Fish for quite some time, as he even attempted to make a one man comeback laying both men out. ‘O Reilly appeared from the back and evaded Hall and wrecked shop. Bucks landed a 450 splash on ‘O Reilly. Fish foiled the Meltzer driver, which allowed ‘O Reilly to land repeated butterfly suplex and a double team DDT for two. Repeated belts shots behind the referees back with a distraction assist from Cody Hall followed allowing for the bucks to land the Meltzer driver on Fish, which he kicked out of! ‘O Reilly spat at the Bucks, but ducked a double superkick, which resulted in Hall taking it. Nick ducked another kick, but Matt set up for a Meltzer driver on the floor, but instead Fish and ‘O Reilly landed Chasing the Dragon on the floor. Nick kicked out of a top rope death valley driver, but they then landed Chasing the Dragon in the ring for the win. Even with all of the overbooked shenanigans in this match, this was still a significant improvement over the same generic three-ways we had been getting every week. ****
One of the very best juniors in the world in KUSHIDA, and Ricochet had a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship. There were some amazingly athletic exchanges early. Ricochet landed his insane hilo over the post to the floor! Ricochet brought the aggression on the outside. KUSHIDA fought for a Kimura, in ring, but Ricochet managed to evade. KUSHIDA caught Ricochet mid-splash in an armbar! They traded strikes on their knees, and worked up to their feet for an eventual double down. Ricochet landed rolling northern lights suplexes for two! KUSHIDA avoided a 450, but was then decked with a right fist to boos. Another set of super fast paced exchanges followed. Ricochet landed one of the best shooting star presses you will ever see, went for the 630, but KUSHIDA avoided, and locked in his Kimura for the submission! Ricochet raised KUSHIDA’s hand in the post match. ****
The semi-main event was a strange mix of teams captained by G1 A and B Block runners up with Kazuchika Okada and THE KINGDOM of Mike Bennett and Matt Taven with Maria Kanellis versus AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Tama Tonga. The majority of the match featured very little of note. Although there was a memorable comedy spot with Maria distracting both Anderson and Styles on the apron, with Styles and Gallows dancing and preventing Gallows from striking Maria – this gave the babyface side the advantage. Interestingly it looked like they were going to the finish with Styles and Okada with some repeats of their monumental exchange from earlier this year. And, it just so happened that Styles pinned Okada with the Styles’ clash, setting up another match between the two later on in the year. *** ¼
Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh were brought out, albeit with dubbed theme music, and their comments, together with Nogami’s were played over the house mic. The camera shots of the crowd revealed super no vacancy.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi then entered for the finals of the 2015 G1 Climax tournament. Historically I haven’t been a fan of the Nakamura/Tanahashi pairing, and was particularly disappointing with their Dome match and rematches that followed. With that being said this match felt very big coming in, although, a first time Styles/Nakamura meeting could have very well captured the same feeling. Tanahashi yanked at Nakamura’s arm early. “Tanahashi” chants bled into calls for “Shinsuke”. They did some of the expected big match NJPW chain wrestling early. Interestingly, after taunting and working a subtle heel role Tanahashi began to work on the knee of Shinsuke and not his elbow, at least early. This makes sense, as Nakamura’s key offence is leg based, and Tanahashi’s best submissions also focus on that region. Tanahashi teased the vibrations in the corner, but then decided against it. He was then high kicked to death from the top rope to the floor. Nakamura cheekily booted a kneeling Tanahashi in the face, which fired the A block winner up, to an extent that he was able to prevent the corner vibrations. Nakamura went for it again, but was countered into a dragon screw in the ropes. Tanahashi then landed his high fly flow to the floor! Tanahashi was booted to the outside for a count of 18. A furious forearm battle followed. Nakamura landed a sloppy looking back-cracker, and powerslam. Nakamura had a Boma Ye countered as Tanahashi continued to work over his legs, as he had still, more than mid-way through the match, failed to land a single Boma Ye. Tanahashi missed a high fly flow, which allowed Shinsuke to land a gigantic Boma Ye to the back of the head, but failed to capitalise, due to the damage done to his knee. Nakamura landed his leaping Boma Ye and looked for a third, but had it countered into a neck-roll clutch. Tanahashi took yet another Boma Ye for the count of two, Nakamura’s first post-Boma-Ye pinfall attempt. Nakamura took a sling blade and high fly flow in a standing position and one to the gut for two! Tanahashi slapped Shinsuke, but Nakamura responded with just a stiff punch to the face and followed with a falcon arrow for a double down. Sumo Hall was behind Shinsuke. There was another war of a forearm exchange. Nakamura threw what looked to be his last shot, and then dropped. He took Tanahashi to the ground and bombarded him with knees. Tanahashi countered one into a dragon screw, Nakamura slapped away, but Tanahashi didn’t break and landed it. Nakamura looked for the ankle lock with Tanahashi rolling in and out of the ropes. Tanahashi escaped by stomping Nakamura in the face. Shinsuke exploded with a Boma Ye! Still only two! Nakamura took Tanahashi to the top rope where the pair battled with strikes and slaps! Nakamura refused to fall, but eventually dropped at the same time as Tanahashi looked for a high fly flow. Nakamura kicked out of a dragon suplex that followed! Nakamura took a high fly flow to the back, and one to the front for the win! This means, of course that we will, in all likelihood, see Tanahashi/Okada once more at the Dome. It should be noted that there were Nakamura fans crying in the crowd. Nakamura offered Tanahashi a handshake in the post match and lifted his generational rival’s hand as Mutoh and Chono looked on. The question must be asked that had Nakamura not injured his elbow, would he have won this G1? Regardless, this was an outstanding match and my second favourite match of the tournament behind Ibushi/Shibata. **** 3/4