G1 Climax N6
July 21 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. It feels like this whole tournament is happening in Tokyo! Tomorrow is also in Tokyo before we hit the road and visit Niigata on Thursday, followed by Shizuoka on Friday. Hosts are Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton. The latter being a dude off Twitter @reasonjp who’s written a few books on New Japan. He’s doing the translation gig tonight.
Michael Elgin & Ren Narita vs. YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
Elgin vs. Tacos is tomorrow so Big Mike lays down a marker by chopping the shit out of the poor bastard. YOSHI-HASHI doesn’t look right. He’s not looked right since the powerbomb spot vs. EVIL. His strikes look so tentative and it’s getting to the point where NJPW should probably hook him from a few shows. SHO puts Narita away. Apart from the, clearly injured, YOSHI-HASHI this was fine.
Final Rating: **
EVIL & BUSHI vs. Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa
The Firing Squad appears to be going by Bullet Club OG’s now but they’re wearing Firing Squad tees. Fale vs. EVIL is tomorrow. Can’t wait for Fale to get disqualified again.
EVIL has a new scythe that has an evil eye light in it. It’s pretty evil. Fale decides he’s going to do most of the match out in the crowd, which he might as well because no one gives a fuck at home so he might as well give the fans in attendance a show. Tanga doesn’t seem to rate BUSHI, because he’s small, and Apeshit finishes. Of all the throwaway shit the undercards have this was one of the worst. Firing Squad are the shits.
Final Rating: *
Jay White & YOH vs. Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado
Chris Charlton says he paid MiSu off as he helped sponsor his anniversary show so he might not hit him. And it works! MiSu strolls past and murders a young lion instead. Jay vs. Suzuki tomorrow with Switchblade currently 3-0.
Jay is not intimidated by Suzuki but he plays it cool by refusing to get in the ring and throwing poor YOH to the wolves. Suzuki kills the poor kid and stomps on his head. Jay has done a great job on his character this year and his chicken act in the undercard tags has made perfect sense. He’s a cerebral character, unwilling to go toe to toe with bigger, stronger, tougher opponents. Which makes him unique in NJPW. He absolutely bullies Despy here and uses the abuse to play mind games with MiSu. Normally Suzuki doesn’t get frustrated but Jay’s refusal to face him in a straight up fight has him vexed.
Jay refuses to help at the finish and YOH eats the Gotch Piledriver. Is Jay scared of Suzuki or is he exploring ways to exploit Minoru’s temper?
Final Rating: **3/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay vs. Hangman Page & Chase Owens
Hangman has his other big match tomorrow versus Tanahashi. He looked great against Okada. I like that they’re giving him some early chances to prove himself. He certainly delivered against Okada.
This is a little light-hearted with Chase putting Tana’s air guitar under the ring and there being a sign of mutual respect between Tana and Hangman. If Tanahashi thinks you’re good then you’re pretty much set. Chase has pretty good chemistry with Tanahashi too. Page hitting the Afterburner on Finlay just as he turns into it is absolute magic. One of the best spots of the entire tour. Rite of Passage finishes Finlay. This was good.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
I spend most of this match enjoying a delicious BLT. Meanwhile Okada’s new entrance music stinks and Gedo actually carries the action here by doing comedy with Toa. Kevin Kelly’s assertion that Okada is carrying those balloons due to a Japanese traditional of releasing balloons during the 7th Inning stretch is good info. It also implies that Okada is taking a breather in his career during this G1. Makabe puts Gedo away with the King Kong Kneedrop.
Final Rating: **
Toru Yano  vs. Kota Ibushi 
Technical master Yano returns here with sublime roll ups trying to get a cheeky flash pin. Kota Ibushi’s response is incredibly irresponsible dives. The one flip to the floor is crazy. Yano’s ‘no cheating’ approach doesn’t extend to exposed buckles and all the buckles get exposed here.
Yano tapes Ibushi’s hands together but that’s doesn’t alter his offence in any way. He just carries on flipping with his hands tied. Yano hits a low blow, chopblock and a roll up finishes. Yano resorting to his old antics gets the win! Utterly terrific sprint. All of Yano’s best work crammed in with a bunch of Ibushi craziness.
Final Rating: ******************* (I honestly can’t figure out a rating for this but it was good)
SANADA  vs. Zack Sabre Jr 
Sabre has tape on his left elbow, which is new. SANADA is one of the best technicians in NJPW and Sabre finds himself struggling with the basic holds with SANADA’s technique and strength. The back and forth technical stuff in this is fucking incredible. SANADA didn’t live up to his technical billing in the New Japan Cup but he’s clearly come out to prove his worth here. The idea being he learned from wrestling Zack earlier in the year and has come in prepared.
SANADA isn’t as good at technical wrestling as Zack but he’s good enough that it provides him with openings and he does have superior power. The counters are just incredible and as it seems that Zack has outfoxed SANADA, escaping another Skull End he’s countered in the leg clutch and SANADA gets his own for the pin! A shock! Sabre outwrestled.
Final Rating: ****
Juice Robinson  vs. Tetsuya Naito 
Naito went after Juice’s broken hand yesterday, making him the first person Juice has wrestled that’s mean enough to do that. He does it again here, actually eliciting boos from the crowd. The best of this being Juice trying a tip up in the corner and Naito taking the hand out. Everything Naito does is modified from hitting the torso, like he usually does, or the face and it’s all aimed at the hand. It would be nice if the hand story became Juice’s overarching storyline during G1. I mean, it is RIGHT THERE.
Naito even has a secondary plan where he tries to bait Juice into punching him with the injured hand, which would be a DQ. Juice has to battle his own body and his desire to get revenge. Naito is so persistent in going after that hand too. It’s so great. Juice gets to show a lot of heart and spirit in fighting back against the odds. Not only is he battling a main eventer but doing so with a handicap. Naito resorts to some of his more complex counters, which Juice isn’t quite as capable of executing as Kenny Omega was but the heart makes up for it. Juice Robinson being the same guy that lost to Kevin Owens on his NXT debut does not compute anymore. The dude is completely different in every way. Destino finishes after a great series of counters. This was fucking wonderful.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Kenny Omega  vs. Tama Tonga 
I have to go to work but I got to see this while I was getting ready. Hence the lack of play by play. I’m not into the Bullet Club thing and it worsened again here with them all jumping in there pre-match and then Tanga coming back out and interfering later. Tanga is late on the key chair spot here and Kenny also doesn’t bother selling the knee after he’s jumped by Tanga Loa. I’m also mad that Page and Owens ran out here pre-match but when Tanga returns nobody bothers helping. The biggest problem is that Tama is all mad at Kenny but his match is all about Tanga Loa. Red Shoes gets all salty about the Tongans behaviour so Tama hits the Gun Stun on him. That’s the DQ. Bye Tama. This was hilariously bad, just like all the Firing Squad stuff. Red Shoes took a hell of a bump on the finish.
Final Rating: *1/2
Hirooki Goto  vs. Tomohiro Ishii 
Ok, with the bullshit out of the way let’s get to the good stuff. Ishii and Goto are teammates in CHAOS but are both the ‘don’t back down ever’ kinda wrestlers. But have a similar smashmouth approach and when challenged Goto is spectacularly good. Ishii is the kind of man to push him. There aren’t many conventional holds here. It’s just two dudes running headlong into each other.
Ishii’s smack talk is my favourite. He doesn’t say much but it gets the opponent fired up. It’s all “come on”, “is that it?” and here “what’s the champion gonna do?” If you’re looking for psychology the basis is ‘who is tougher?’ Who can take the most abuse and come back? There’s nobody better at this than Ishii. He may not do a lot of different styles but the Ishii Match is fucking great every time. I love the way they both no sell lariats. That just sums this contest up. No quarter given. 100% intensity from the opening bell. No rest. No letting up. At ten minutes in they both collapse. It’s that kind of match. It’s the kind of match that makes ten minutes feel like a long time, in terms of selling, and yet those ten minutes just flew by. While it does slow down a little it’s only so they can sell the impact of the moves getting bigger. The strike duels in between are still sensational. Vertical drop brainbuster puts Goto away and the passage of time was so weird that I had to look up the time; 18 minutes. It felt emotionally longer.
Final Rating: ****3/4
This might be my favourite night of this years G1 so far. Yano/Ibushi was such a great match. They did all kinds of shit in 8 minutes. Both guys are crazy in their own way. SANADA/Sabre was a terrific display of mat wrestling. Naito/Juice was the big main event style match with the huge finishing sequence. Ishii/Goto was the balls to the wall war. Only Omega/Tonga didn’t do much for me and at least that had the storytelling for anyone who gets invested in stuff that way. There was something for everyone here. I appreciate the variety. Even the undercard tags had a nice mixture of character stuff, comedy and even a crowd brawl. A smorgasbord of pro wrestling.
Kenny Omega 6
Kota Ibushi 4
Tomohiro Ishii 4
Tetsuya Naito 4
Tama Tonga 2
Hirooki Goto 2
Zack Sabre Jr 2
Toru Yano 2
Juice Robinson 0
With three matches gone the Block is starting to take shape. Tama’s apparent disinterest in winning matches and Juice’s injury have left more points on the table than usual. Omega has gone 3-0, which I’m a little surprised at. The variety in this Block is very satisfying. It’s definitely the Block I’m more invested in.