The G1 continued along today from the Gifu Industrial Hall, in Gifu, Japan. Today’s card featured two rather unique matchups as SANADA faced off against The Underboss Bad Luck Fale, and The Stone Pitbull Tomohiro Ishii met Tama Tonga.
Tama Tonga (2) def. Tomohiro Ishii (4) [***1/4]
Bad Luck Fale (2) def. SANADA (4) [***1/2]
Naomichi Marifuji (4) def. Togi Makabe (8) [***3/4]
Kazuchika Okada (6) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4) [***1/2]
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) def. Hirooki Goto (4) [***1/2]
Tomohiro Ishii (4) vs. Tama Tonga (2)
In what should be considered a coming out party for the Bad Boy Tama Tonga, has turned into the let down of G1 thus far. After a sub-par match ending in defeat against Okada, It’s becoming clear that he is not ready for the singles spotlight.
Well, this is Tongas third try at a quality match with another one of New Japan’s top talents. Early on Ishii and Tonga traded shots, until Tonga hit a Hurricanrana sending Ishii to the floor. The fighting continued on the outside where Tonga would throw Ishii into the barricade. The fight on the floor did not last long; they returned to the ring where Ishii made a comeback and began beating down on the Samoan. The crowd seemed firmly behind the stone pit bull, I can’t blame them, Tonga has not deserved much applause to this point. Back to the action, Tonga went for what looked to be a terribly executed sleeper; Ishii countered hitting a deadlift suplex. The two traded offense, Tonga hit the ropes attempted the gun stun, was continually blocked but eventually connected on his fourth try hitting Karl Andersons Gun Stun for the win. This marked Tama Tonga’s second win, I know I constantly put down Tonga, but he showed improvement in this one.
SANADA (4) vs. Bad Luck Fale (2)
Listening to Tonga’s podcast, Fale stated that he had quit drinking, which may be why he has shown some improvement as of late. Fale has been one of the surprises of the tournament thus far, most recently putting on a stellar match with Hiroyoshi Tanahashi.
If I had to guess, I would say this must be the first time these two had met in singles competition. The two squared off in the center of the ring, where Fale tossed SANADA across the ring. SANADA is a big guy, but Fale made him look like a rag doll. To no surprise at all, the action quickly went to the outside, and yup, you guessed it SANADA tossed Fale right into the barricade. In basic attitude era fashion, the two came out into the crowd fighting out by the entrance, in which Fale whipped a barricade down on top of SANADA. The competitors returned to the ring, where Fale continued to dominate. I’ve enjoyed how New Japan has booked Fale as of late. Fale called for the grenade, missed; SANADA countered hitting a Hurricanrana. SANADA’s offensive spurt was short-lived, as Fale quickly recovered hitting the Grenade, proceeded to finish him off with the bad luck fall for the three count. Fale yet again wrestled another quality match; my hope is they continue to book him this way even after the G1 is over.
Togi Makabe (8) vs. Naomichi Marufuji (4)
I had high hopes for this match, as this contest featured two seasoned veteran’s who always seem to put on a show. The biggest surprise of this year’s G1 thus far is Togi Makabe who comes into day nine in sole possession of first place with 8 points. Marifuji a man known for his kicks, quickly connected with two big boots to the face of Makabe. If only he weren’t facing Makabe, who seemed unfazed by the boots. From there the two looked to be in a shoot fight as they were both laying into each other with vicious slaps. Makabe got sent to the floor where he was met with a plancha, they quickly returned to the ring but not before they worked in a barricade spot. Marifuji began hitting Makabe with some hard kicks, but the unchained gorilla replied with a lariat sending his opponent to the mat. Makabe went to the corner looking to finish Marifuji off, but he escaped connecting with a knee to Makabe. Marifuji continued his offensive assault with more kicks to head, finishing Makabe off with the sliced bread for the pinfall victory.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4) vs. Kazuchika Okada (6)
The crowd seemed thoroughly behind Tenzan right from the start. After a series of Mongolian chops, the match went out to the floor. Gedo watches his booking at work as Okada was whipped into the barricade, making that four straight matches with the barricade spot. Out of nowhere, it seemed Okada, recovered using the barricade as leverage to hit an elevated DDT. Which is funny because I continually make the comparison between Okada and Randy Orton, who also utilizes the elevated DDT. As the action returned to the ring, Okada continued on offense. After a power slam followed by an elbow drop, Okada called for the Rainmaker. Tenzan dodged but was unable to capitalize as the IWGP champion seemed to be connecting on all cylinders in this one. Okada again called for the Rainmaker missing yet again as Tenzan connected with a series of headbutts. That would be about it for Tenzan’s offense, as Okada made the comeback and on his third try hit the rain maker. The victory moves Okada into first tied with Makabe. I was fully on board with Tenzan making a run in this year’s tournament but after three straight losses he is quickly falling out of contention.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) vs. Hirooki Goto (4)
After starting out the tournament 0-3, Tanahashi was able to pick up his first two points following a victory over Fale. Currently positioned at the bottom of block A Tanahashi had a huge matchup against Hirooki Goto on day 9.
Right from the onset of the match Goto began targeting the injured arm of His opponent. I’m glad to see the injured arm has played a factor in each of Tanahashi’s matches thus far, nothing bothers me more than an opponent ignoring the injury. As you may have guessed the fighting went to the floor, where the night capped off with a fifth straight barricade spot, then the action returned to the ring. The two combatants traded shots until a hard forearm from Tanahashi sent Goto to the mat. From there Goto seemed to take over, hitting a lariat that sent Tanahashi to the outside followed by a plancha. Goto went for the Ushigoroshi that was blocked and reversed into a sling blade by Tana. Tana hit a deadlift German for a near fall, tried the high fly flow but failed. Goto locked in a head lock that Tana reversed into a sling-blade. Tanahashi headed to the top rope hitting the high fly flow, giving him his second straight victory.
Show Grade: B-
Final Thoughts: Another solid show from the A block, but none of the matches stood out to me as a must watch. Block A gets a few days off, returning August 3rd from the Kagoshima Arena.