NJPW G1 Climax 22/7/17, The Review

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By Austin Grinnell @WolfmanAustin13

Korakuen Hall

-Six Man Tag Team action gets us started out on night four of the G1 Climax, as CHAOS sends out undefeated Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo to take on the very interesting trios team of Togi Makabe, Kota Ibushi & David Finlay Jr. For any of you fans out there who rely on the English language commentary team of Kevin Kelly & Don Callis, there will only be Japanese commentary available for the show on the 23rd, where we will see Tomohiro Ishii go one on one with Kota Ibushi.

We’re getting a taste of that match here, as both men are trading shots willingly, and Ibushi is able to hold his own, even knocking Ishii to the mat with a big Roundhouse Kick. The CHAOS team has done a good job thus far of keeping Ibushi separated from his corner, working over the Golden Star and softening him up for the match against Ishii tomorrow night.

With the fans firmly behind him though, Ibushi fights off the numbers and gets the hot tag in to Makabe. One of the things that I love about New Japan and most independent wrestling in general, is that quite often, the commentary team and/or the story being told in the ring allows the athletes to have slip-ups or make mistakes. Finlay comes off the turnbuckle with his patented Corkscrew Elbow, but has to connect with his forearm because Gedo was too far away. Kelly & Callis expertly pointed to that as the wily veteran Gedo making a step to his right to try and avoid the move, but still being caught with it.

Little things like that can make a huge difference, and it feels much more human than WWE’s standard “Screw Up Move, Repeat Move Immediately” policy. The end of the match comes as Finlay connects with a Stunner on Gedo, picking up the win for his team. I really enjoy Finlay, and feel like he can do big things if the opportunity presents itself.

Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe & David Finlay Jr d. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo

Match number two of the night pits Suzuki-gun against CHAOS. Tomorrow night, YOSHI-HASHI will take on Zack Sabre Jr in the G1 Tournament, but will get to scout his opponent in a tag team contest here with Jado and El Desperado joining their stable-mates. Don Callis again with an excellent point, bringing up that Sabre wears his traditional red attire when in singles action, but when teaming with Suzuki-gun wears their standard black and white gear.

Jado is in a bad way here, being singled out by Suzuki-gun. El Desperado has been very hot of late, and as much as this match is meant to get us excited for YOSHI Vs Sabre in the tournament, it’s feeling almost like the G1 tag matches are being used to showcase Desperado, who recently made his intentions known to KUSHIDA, wanting a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

Sabre is stretching YOSHI-HASHI beyond the human body’s limit, and while keeping YOSHI busy, allows Desperado to catch Jado with a Spear for a two count. Sabre increases the pressure on YOSHI, and Desperado connects with the Pinche Loco, better known to North American fans as the Angels Wings, and picks up the win, furthering his quest for a title shot, and giving Sabre momentum heading into tomorrow night.

Zack Sabre Jr & El Desperado d. YOSHI-HASHI & Jado

It’s time now for a Veteran/Young Lion Vs Veteran/Young Lion tag team match. “Blue Justice” Yuji Nagata is joined by Tomoyuki Oka against Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuya Kitamura. I expect that tomorrow night will be Nagata’s first win in the G1 Tournament this year, as the Shirome Armbar is perfectly set-up by the torn bicep of Tanahashi.

Tomoyuki Oka has been one of the more impressive young lions in 2017, but it’s definitely hard to ignore Kitamura, with that physique he possesses and the absolutely brutal Knife Edged Chops that give off thunderous thuds that echo throughout whatever venue they happen to be at.

The first real danger for anyone in this match comes as Nagata grabs hold of the right arm of Tanahashi and locks in the Shirome. Kitamura manages to make the save for Tana though, and I think we just saw the foreshadowing for the end of tomorrow night’s tournament match, as there will be no one to save the Intercontinental Champion should Nagata be able to apply that same hold.

Kitamura is getting in some offense on Nagata, connecting with a Spear and applying the Argentine Backbreaker, but Nagata fires back and picks up the victory with a nice Saito Suplex Hold.

Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka d. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuya Kitamura

After being on opposite sides of the ring last night, Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens are joining up with Bad Luck Fale for six man tag team action against Fale’s opponent on the 23rd, Tetsuya Naito and his faction-mates BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi. Naito and Hirooki Goto can both improve to six points in their tournament matches tomorrow night, but Fale is always a tough draw for anyone.

Bullet Club is in control of this one as the action spills outside. Naito is in rough shape after being tossed onto the Samurai TV announce table by Fale, and Bad Luck adds insult to injury by first removing Daryl’s new hair-do, and then completely ripping apart the corner-man for Los Ingobernables, sending Daryl’s fluffy insides all over the commentary area.

I can’t imagine how distraught Hiromu is going to be when this match is over, but he’s got bigger issues to deal with right now, eating boots to the face from Yujiro. Hiromu connects with a beautiful Arm-Trap Dragon Screw Legwhip to create separation before finally getting out of danger.

At the exact moment that I was thinking to myself that Chase Owens always seems to impress me in New Japan, commentary again has a timely bit as Kevin Kelly mentions that Owens always seems to fight his heart out for Bullet Club, because he is never quite sure of where he stands with them, not being consistently used in their home promotion.

The end of the match comes as Naito escapes a Package Piledriver attempt from Owens, and then behind the back of ref Tiger Hattori, Naito lifts Owens into the air and then connects with a Field Goal Kick between the legs, allowing him to roll up Owens nicely for the win. Naito and BUSHI celebrate their victory, but it’s bittersweet for Hiromu Takahashi, as the Ticking Time Bomb is visibly upset at the state of his best friend Daryl.

Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI d. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens

It’s time now for our first of five G1 Tournament matches. Both Toru Yano and Satoshi Kojima enter their second match with zero points, meaning that at least one of these guys is going to walk out of this match with a point or more. Yano gets into the head of Kojima early on by spraying him in the face with a water bottle and then trying to sneak in a quick victory with a couple of roll-ups. Kojima is not happy though, and is putting the boots to Yano now.

Kojima had a very good match on night two against Juice Robinson, but is fired up here after losing that bout. Despite his insanity, Yano is no slouch in the ring though, and he’s giving Kojima some problems here outside of the ring. Yano likes to take advantage of an exposed turnbuckle, and sends Kojima back first into the buckles to wear down his opponent.

Kojima’s channeling his long-time partner Tenzan with some Mongolian Chops here, before sending Yano back first into the exposed buckle with an Irish Whip. Koji goes up top for his patented Elbowdrop, but Yano sees it coming and rolls out of the way before Kojima can even leap. The fight winds up outside of the ring, and Kojima puts Yano down with a DDT on the floor before rolling him back in and connecting with the Elbowdrop.

Huge upset here as Yano manages to score the victory with a School Boy after avoiding two big Lariat attempts, and then connecting with two straight low blows as he used the referee to perfection and get himself two big points in the G1 Tournament.

Toru Yano [2] d. Satoshi Kojima [0]

With two points already, but an injured neck, Juice Robinson doesn’t want to risk a long battle with EVIL here, and he hits a Shotgun Dropkick and the running Cannonball into the corner before EVIL is even ready for the match. Juice keeps up the attack outside the ring, but runs right into a Drop Toe Hold sending him neck first into the guard rail, and there’s EVIL’s big opportunity for the match, as we can no doubt expect him to be looking for the Banshee Muzzle.

The King of Darkness uses Robinson’s dreadlocks to yank back on the neck, and then drive him face first into the mat with a variation on the Curb Stomp. After the opening moments of the match, this one has been all EVIL, but Juice is firing back now with big strikes and a Falling DDT, before connecting with his nice Standing Senton Bomb for a two count.

Robinson pulls out a trick from the Sexy Chucky T bag of party favors, as he connects with the Sole Food before hitting a big Spinebuster. The fans are firmly behind Juice here as he pulls out a Tomoaki Honma-styled Falling Headbutt off the top rope. EVIL may have just killed Robinson though, with a Fisherman’s Suplex into the corner, dropping him on his neck and head.

Juice is back though, avoiding a Lariat from EVIL and connecting with one of his own to devastating effect, before a big Falling Powerbomb for a two count. Neither guy can seem to connect with their respective big moves here, leading to a series where they keep countering each other until EVIL drops Juice on his head with a vicious Tiger Suplex.

Everything is EVIL though, as the King of Darkness finally connects with the STO to pick up the three count and score his first two points of the tournament.

EVIL and Los Ingobernables have been absolutely killing it for New Japan in 2017, and I am happy to see him pick up the win here… but I would regret it if I didn’t point out just how awesome Juice Robinson has been. This match was awesome, and Robinson is showing that he belongs, and proving that he has what it takes to elevate his game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him carrying the Intercontinental or United States Championships within the next year.

EVIL [2] d. Juice Robinson [2]

This is the one I have been most looking forward to, with NEVER Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki taking on my main man SANADA. I am not expecting SANADA to get the win here, because Suzuki is coming into this bout with zero points in the tournament, and a strong showing from SANADA here would be almost as good as a win for his career trajectory. Of course, I won’t be upset if Suzuki falls to the Skull End.

SANADA is coming out strong here, showing a much more aggressive side of him than we have seen since joining LIJ. It’s going to be a delicate balancing act though, as SANADA will need to maintain that pressure on a veteran like Suzuki, but he can’t get too far ahead of himself, because a simple mistake can create the smallest opening, and that’s all Minoru needs to be successful.

Outside the ring, El Desperado, who is the corner-man for Suzuki tonight, is going to work on SANADA while ref Marty Asami is being distracted by Suzuki. The popularity of Los Ingobernables de Japon has the crowd rallying behind SANADA. It also doesn’t hurt that Suzuki-gun is the most villainous group of wrestlers in New Japan today.

Minoru is getting arrogant in there with SANADA, and it may lead to a comeback from the LIJ member, but SANADA’s first attempt at that is met with a huge right hand that just drops him. The second comeback attempt is going better though, as he is using his quickness to go after the knees of Suzuki. SANADA tries for a Paradise Lock, but Suzuki counters into a Cross Armbreaker. Suzuki goes for a Penalty Kick, but SANADA blocks it and connects with a Dragon Screw Leg Whip.

A third attempt at the Paradise Lock finally is successful, and SANADA uses it to plant his boots firmly in the backside of his opponent with a Basement Dropkick. Suzuki is pulling SANADA’s hair inside of the Sleeper Hold in an attempt to keep the move locked in. The transition into the Gotch Style Piledriver doesn’t work though, and SANADA connects with a Saito Suplex, following it up with the TKO for a two count.

A series of reversals out of each other’s submission moves leads to Suzuki finally connecting with the Gotch Style Piledriver, putting SANADA down and out for the win. Despite the loss though, SANADA comes out of this one for the better, having put in a hell of a performance against a guy that is always a top threat in the singles division.

Minoru Suzuki [2] d. SANADA [2]

It’s a battle of Bullet Club in our second to last match of the night, as the Bullet Club Bad Boy Tama Tonga goes one on one with leader and IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega. Omega’s right knee is still going to be a target for Tonga, and Tama is quick to the attack, jumping all over Kenny prior to the bell ringing.

This one is being played up as Tonga being upset with Kenny Omega’s selfishness and association with The Young Bucks as Bullet Club’s Elite. We’ve had a lot of dissension in Bullet Club stories in recent times, but the one constant has been that Adam Cole, Cody and Tama Tonga have all seemed to take issue with Omega and The Bucks trying to separate themselves from the rest of the Club. Tonga himself grabs a mic and basically tells Omega how it is, saying that the Elite is bullshit. Tonga may be getting set up to take over the group, as he continues to spout off his Bullet Club Above All Else mantra.

We’re about five or more minutes in, and it’s just now that Tama Tonga goes to work on the knee of Omega, connecting with a DDT on the leg. I’m not sure that Kenny was ready for the aggression of Tonga, as he is just starting to get in some offense of his own here. Omega gets a near-fall with a Kotaro Crusher, but cannot seem to keep the momentum. Both men connect with nice Hurricanrana’s, with Omega sending Tonga rolling to the floor.

Kenny takes out Tonga and the Bullet Club contingent at ringside with the Rise of the Terminator, but he may be playing to the crowd just a little bit too much here. Despite taking his time though, Omega scores with a Missile Dropkick to the back of Tonga’s head and he is firmly in control, again scoring a near-fall, this time with the Dr Wily Bomb. Tama showcases his defensive wrestling capabilities though, luring Omega in for an attempt at the V-Trigger, and then countering with a big Spear.

Omega goes for a Dragon Suplex, but Tonga counters with a Pele Kick, pulling out some of his lesser used offense. Tonga slips out of an attempt at the One Winged Angel and connects with the Tongan Twist. A Gun Stun attempt is blocked and Kenny winds up hitting two big V-Trigger’s after a Snap Dragon Suplex, setting up the One Winged Angel to pick up two big points, giving him four now to the two that Tama Tonga carries with him to the third night of B Block action.

Tonga and Omega bury the hatchet after the match, but I’m not so certain that the former IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion is going to be satisfied playing second string to The Elite, if Omega and the Bucks continue to separate themselves from the rest of Bullet Club.

Kenny Omega [4] d. Tama Tonga [2]

Tonight’s main event features IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada taking on “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin. Elgin will be looking to pick up two big points after losing his first tournament match to Tama Tonga. More than just picking up points in the G1 and getting on the board, Elgin can make a case here for a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title if he can pick up a win over the reigning champion.

Elgin had a really big year in 2016 with his feud with Tetsuya Naito, but recently has been unable to really claim any momentum. Okada, meanwhile, has been having amazing matches defending his championship. The big question for Okada though, is just how long can he continue at this pace? He’s got to be getting worn down after his wars with Suzuki, Omega and Shibata. Can Elgin take advantage of that tonight and pick up a big win?

Four nights into the G1 Climax and we have yet to see anyone go the distance. With both men seemingly being equal thus far in the main event, I could potentially see this one going thirty minutes. Okada fights off a Dragon Suplex, but winds up being caught with a Straight-Jacket Suplex Hold for a two count. A Bicycle Kick and big Forearm shot look to keep Elgin in control, but Okada catches him with a Flapack to stop the momentum.

After being caught with the Gun Stun out of nowhere off the top rope by Tama Tonga in his first match, Elgin seems to be a little bit more careful when going up top. Okada manages to catch him with the Reverse Neckbreaker to set-up the Flying Elbowdrop. The champ is in control now and calls for the Rainmaker, but Elgin drives him into the turnbuckle to keep that from happening.

Okada comes off the top rope, but Elgin sees it coming and drops him with a Sit Down Powerbomb for a two count. The pace in this match has been slower and more deliberate, but this match up has been great. Elgin avoids the Rainmaker again, connecting with an Enzugiri. Okada just cannot seem to connect with his big finish here, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. One more attempt goes awry though, as Okada gets caught with a huge left arm Lariat from Elgin, who then tries to take off Okada’s head with a big right arm Lariat before getting two and nine-tenths from Red Shoes Uno after a devastating Sit Down Crucifix Powerbomb.

Elgin’s looking for another Powerbomb, but Okada fights his way out of it with everything that he has left. An exhausted Okada walks into another big right Forearm shot from Elgin, calls for the end as he goes for the Deadlift Avalanche Suplex. Okada drops behind him though to stop the attempt. Elgin comes off the top, and this time it’s Okada with the counter, catching him with a Dropkick to the bread basket.

With Okada on the outside of the ring, both men are exchanging Forearm’s on the apron. Big Mike gets the better of the exchange and is going for something on the top, but Okada stops it. Elgin responds in kind with a kick to Okada’s face as the champ looked to be going for something of his own. In the end of the sequence, it’s Elgin with an Avalanche Suplex for another two count.

A Buckle Bomb sets up the Spinning Elgin Bomb, but Okada drops behind Elgin and goes for the Rainmaker again, but Elgin counters with a Pop-Up Powerbomb for another near-fall. Elgin tries for a Burning Hammer, but Okada lands on his feet and hits a sloppy Rainmaker out of desperation, but maintains wrist control and connects with one more.

With five minutes left in the time limit, both men are hell-bent on finishing this one off, but it’s Okada who picks up the three count in the end as he finally manages to hit the Rainmaker to full effect and put away Big Mike. The left hand of Okada looks to be in pain, but the champ still manages to put away his challenger and move to four points in the tournament, while Elgin, despite two very good matches, sits with zero.

Kazuchika Okada [4] d. Michael Elgin [0]

English commentary on the G1 Climax is done until August 11th now, but work of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis has been fantastic of late. Both men seem to be very excited to be a part of New Japan and their continued push towards furthering their product in the west.

Kayfabe Today readers, Mark Worrall be coming at you with his recap of the July 23rd G1 Climax show, but I will be back for the 25th with an Okada Vs SANADA B Block main event.

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