Friday, July 24, 2015

New Japan continues a weekend of excellence with Night Three of the G1 Climax!

Things kicked off with the regular prelims, all designed to preview some fights for tomorrow night. I of course forgot to set my alarm, so I missed all but the end of the final battle between the CHAOS unit of Okada, Nakamura and Gedo and the team of Nagata, Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi. It was a pretty solid match and Honma even got a rare win over Gedo.

Image credit: NJPW.
The G1 tournament matches for night three kicked off with Doc Gallows and Kota Ibushi. Gallows worked the match at his pace, landing one big move after another on Ibushi. But much like night one, Ibushi showed a lack of selling for much of the offense against him, but at least it took a flash pin to get the win.

I expected Togi Makabe and Bad Luck Fale to be Fale's best match of the tournament, but instead I got a painful disaster that makes me want to continue calling him Fail instead of Fale. (I would be less frustrated if Tama Tonga couldn't fill his role just as easily.) Fale hit his big finish (which looks like he's messed up the Border Toss) for the win.

AJ Styles and Toru Yano wrestled a fun battle which was surprisingly more compelling than I expected. Yano brutalized Styles, even hitting him with a chair at one point, but the ref stopped Styles from retaliating the same way. But after several minutes out of control, Styles was able to turn things around and hook in a vicious heel lock to make Yano tap. In doing so, Styles becomes the first person in the G1 with 4 points.

Tetsuya Naito again wore his business Skeletor attire, but this time he kept it on a bit longer as Katsuyori Shibata attacked. Shibata was all attack in this match. Even when Naito turned the tables, Shibata just kept fighting from the bottom. In something you only see with Shibata, a sleeper actually set up the finish, as Shibata weakened Naito down to his knees before delivering a final PK for the win.

Shibata did a lot of variations of this. Credit: NJPW.
The main event pitted the aging Hiroyoshi Tenzan against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi and Tenzan have decent chemistry in the ring, but Tanahashi is always hurt when he has to work with a slower opponent. Tenzan doesn't have the detriments Yuji Nagata does, but he is still probably a bit too old to be working the G1. But the two men put on an acceptable if somewhat dull main event. Sadly, it might have been a bit easier to watch if it hadn't followed such an amazing semi-main event. Tanahashi walked out with the win and into better main events coming soon.

Night three was a bit weaker than the previous night, but the Styles/Yano and Naito/Shibata matches still delivered some good fun.

The B Block returns tomorrow at 5 am Eastern for night two. It is currently listed as a fixed camera show like their first night, but as night three had that listing and proved to be a two camera job, hopefully that remains true for this one as well. Honma versus Okada is the night's main event and probably match of the night, but Satoshi Kojima and Michael Elgin could give a good showing as well.

A Block's next appearance is Sunday at 5 am and it should be one of the best nights of the show. Makabe/Shibata, Ibushi/Styles and Tanahashi/Naito are all massive matches and having them all on one night may mean some lackluster A Block shows ahead. But Sunday morning will be a true highlight of the tournament.

I will be back on Monday with coverage of both shows, but go over to the NJPW World sign-up (in English) if you want to not miss the action.

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