Friday, July 31, 2015

NJPW: G1 Climax 25 Day 1 & 2 Review

Before anyone points it out, yes, I'm behind. With that being said, I'm formatting these reviews differently as I'm not going to be watching every show in full. It's just too much at this point. I'm essentially going through and watching anything I've been recommended or something that interests me. That's basically the job of a review anyway so I don't think this will alter the effectiveness of this post, especially since I'm only skipping two out of five matches on each night. None the less, here we go!

Day 1: Block A

Hiryoshi Tenzan defeated Doc Gallows

Tetsuya Naito defeated Bad Luck Fale

Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano
I have no clue why I took the time to watch this. I was originally gonna try to watch everything on the shows, but changed to the format I detailed above. I watched this prior to getting recommendations and boy, this was pretty much a waste. Chair & ref bumps and some brawling in the crowd. It went under 10 minutes and wasn't anything to talk about. While this felt like crap to me, someone going back trying to watch the good stuff, I feel like this would've been a nice change of pace for someone watching the show as a whole. Makabe came out on top here.

Match rating - **

AJ Styles vs. Katsuyori Shibata
When the top matches were announced for this year's G1, this one truly stood out. Based off how awesome of a match AJ Styles had with Minoru Suzuki last year, I felt like this could be just as good. From the get go, things felt pretty epic. Styles is on the run of his career and Shibata is someone I've been high on lately. Those two things made for a super enjoyable contest. There were several things I loved about this, the first being Styles having Shibata in the corner only for him to raise up and get right in his face. Styles struck him with an elbow and Shibata jumped right back into his face. They began talking trash and Styles threw another strike. It's still crazy to me how AJ has adapted from junior heavyweight to throwing down with the toughest dudes in Japan and not seeming out of place. They also did some good limb work here with the leg of Shibata being targeted a bit after he went for a kick and nailed the post. Styles would go back to it a few times including going for the calf killer when Shibata got himself out of a Styles Clash attempt. This one only lasted just over 10 minutes, but it was great while it lasted and made me want a rematch between the two. I feel like they could tear the house completely down in a main event slot. In the end, AJ gets the win with a Bloody Sunday followed by a Styles Clash.

Match rating - ***1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi

DUDE! This was so awesome. I heard these guys went all out, but damn. They did just that and then more, in my opinion. The crowd just gradually got more and more into this as the bout went on. By the time I knew it, we were in the midst of a HOT ass sequence featuring big moves and nearfalls that had me nearly jumping out of my seat. I have to mention some things that took place before that though because the early going wasn't dull by any means. No one got a real advantage early on despite Tanahashi doing a bit of damage to Ibushi's right leg. I had to take the time to mention this because it comes back into play later in the match. There were several notable exchanges in the early going, most notably Ibushi knocking Tanahashi off the top turnbuckle and then nailing his signature inside out moonsault. I don't even know when these two kicked into high gear, it just sort of happened and that's how it should be because that's a sign that this entire flowed perfectly together. In some matches, guys will take it slow then BAM! BIG MOVE, NEARFALL, BIG MOVE NEARFALL. Here, they kept a good pace so much so that when they went into the big stuff, it felt natural and was therefore more enjoyable. I thought this one was done and finished after all those false finishes however they were just getting started delivering the goods. Ibushi goes for a paylay kick, Tanahashi catches leg and WRENCHES IT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION AND SLAMS IT TO THE MAT! Back to the leg! That was so brutal! Tanahashi lifts him up and IBUSHI STARTS FIRING AT HIM WITH SLAPS AND STRIKES! Tanahashi fires back and DRAGON SUPLEX!!! 1...2...IBUSHI KICKS OUT! Finally, a high fly flow frog splash puts Ibushi away and Tanahashi advances. What a fucking match. Some other highlights that I didn't mention including a hurricanrana off the top rope by Ibushi, a phoenix splash attempt, and Ibushi german suplexing Tanahashi from the apron back into the ring and dropping him on his head. This is a must see match.

Match rating - ****1/2

Day 2: Block B

It's time for some Block B action. I'll be covering three of the matches. The other two resulted in the following:

Hirooki Goto defeated Yujiro Takahashi

Karl Anderson defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in a surprising upset in the main event

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Satoshi Kojima
I wasn't really expecting much out of this one despite liking Ishii and knowing that Kojima has the abilty to produce good matches. This ended up being a pretty solid little contest. They trade shots for literally like a minute to start things off. After a bit, the fight heads to the outside where something happens that I can't make out due to the hard camera set up for this night of action. The final few minutes featured some nice action and even a few close nearfalls. Decent little match albeit nothing special. Ishii takes the win.

Match rating - **3/4

Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoaki Honma
Sheesh, this hard cam thing is getting a bit annoying at this point. I'm not one to complain a lot, but it's been more noticeable to me than I thought it would be. It almost makes it hard for me to get invested in a match because its just sitting there in the same dull position the entire match. Regardless, this was a fun little match. The crowd was hot for Honma per usual so you know what to expect here. They ran through their stuff in a timely manner. You had a few striking exchanges, an overhead suplex into the turnbuckles, several back drop drivers, and even a fighting spirit spot off a german suplex from Honma. A nice reversal came with Honma ducking a kick, going for a discus lariat, Nagata ducks and floors Honma to the mat and locks him in an arm bar. Enjoyable while it lasted, but not must see viewing by any means. Nagata picks up the win which I did not expect.

Match rating - ***

Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
This was the co-main event and essentially what Styles/Shibata was on Night 1 as the two put on a good match for the slot it was in although they didn't go all out. Elgin made a nice first impression in singles action though, I'd say. The crowd was receptive to his roars and feats of strength. There was an extremely believable nearfall after Elgin hit a top rope inside out falcon arrow where you could tell the crowd thought he was gonna pull the upset on the IWGP Champion. Elgin dominated a decent portion of the contest thanks to the size advantage however he would miss a moonsault off the top rope which allowed Okada to mount some offense back together. I also have to mention a cool exchange where Elgin hit the buckle bomb and went for a powerbomb out of it like usual only for Okada to reverse and hit an air raid crash like manuever. In the end, the tombstone piledriver and rainmaker lariat in succession would allow Okada to pick up the three count over the beast. Good match.

Match rating - ***1/2

Overall thoughts: Out of all these matches, I'd say Tanahashi/Ibushi is the only must see with Styles/Shibata & Okada/Elgin being good matches worth checking out if you're a fan of the men involved. The other matches weren't bad although I felt like I wasted my time because they weren't *great* either. Despite that, I feel like if I was watching these shows as a whole, they would be perfect additions because they were short, action packed and for the most, each provided something different which is what an undercard should do. Anyways, I'm looking forward to catching up on the next few nights of action and I'll likely do a mini-review covering the matches I've been recommended and ones that stood out on paper, just like this, for those as well. Thanks for reading!

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