Binge Watching the G-1 Climax: Nights Four and Five

shibata

8/6/14 6:53 A.M.
So here is where we are at. I am three shows down and watched those within 72 hours, but still have NINE to go by the end of Sunday. This kind of made me shake in my boots. Today is a work from home day, which means wrestling will be on one screen the whole day. As a result, the reviews will take a more stream of consciousness style and a few of the nights will be combined for this blog. We will see how far I can get today.

Bad Luck Fale vs. Satoshi Kojima

Kojima should just be in the opening match throughout this tournament. He is great at providing a 8-10 minute match that tells a compact story each time. He fed into Fale’s power moves well throughout this match and showed some veteran tendencies by escaping the Bad Luck Fall with a DDT. Elbow pad gets removed and two lariats are hit for Kojima to pick up the big win. I have been reading voicesofwrestling.com reviews along with mine and this was the first match that I have rated higher than either Joe or Bryan over there as I thought this was a good opener and match overall. ***

8/6/14 7:16 A.M.

Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin has been on quite a roll so far. They shake hands at first but that dastardly Benjamin turns that into a Rock Bottom and follows up with a spin kick to nearly steal the match. A great spot happens next as Smith reverses a Paydirt attempt into an exploder and starts pounding away. DBS dominates this match but Shelton shows some good perseverance and hits the Paydirt to go 4-0. I enjoyed this a lot too as the beginning drew me in and DBS kept stuff intriguing on top. We are two for two for this show. **3/4

8/6/14 7:27 A.M.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Minoru Suzuki

My least favorite match so far but not necessarily a bad one. In fact for the third match of the show, this wasn’t bad at all. The final sequence featuring strike exchanges was great and brutal. Tenzan escaping the choke was done well and Suzuki frantically reaches the ropes when Tenzan locks on the vice. Suzuki resorts back to the choke. Tenzan’s mouth is bloodied and a diving headbutt is missed. Suzuki hits a nasty running kick and then locks on the choke tightly for the tap. This match was simply two veterans knowing what to do to have a satisfactory match and building a story around that. **1/2

8/6/14 7:43 A.M.

Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano

Here is my boy Yano. Goto is wise to Yano and attacks him at the start. He avoids a low blow. Goto hits his clothesline and back suplex and Yano is being overwhelmed. Out of nowhere, a low blow and cradle gets Yano the victory. Tremendous. Yano celebrates like he just pulled off the greatest heist in history. I love this guy and want him to make a deep run in this G-1. This was about as good a three minute match as you are going to have and told more of a story than Fale and Nagata did in night three. **

8/6/14 7:49 A.M.

Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii

This is a rematch of one of my favorite matches of the year so far so needless to say I was hyped for this encounter. Quit trying the diving headbutt Honma. Honma responds with a great chop exchange that results in him being able to hit the headbutt to the delight of the audience. That was a great built to spot and the fight is on. A couple of brutal moves are spliced in between the strikes. Honma lands a DDT that drops Ishii right on the top of his dome and he is having serious neck problems. The lariat and brainbuster combo Honma busts out for a nearfall is beautifully timed by both men and executed to perfection. Another ungodly strike exchange has Ishii gaining the advantage and he hits a thundering brainbuster to take the match. Total slugfest match and a low-end match of the year candidate in my eyes giving us the first great match of the tournament. I don’t know if this was better than their first war but I will gladly take round three between these two anytime. ****1/4

8/6/14 8:05 A.M.

Lance Archer vs. Togi Makabe

The first half of this show was pretty damn good so everyone else on the rest of this show is on notice. Makabe may have found his niche getting dominated as this is two matches in a row where it has worked for me. Archer made his time in control much more interesting than he did in the Anderson match and this match really surprised me by how cohesive and engaging it was. The viewer is waiting for the Makabe comeback and here it comes with him finishing the match off to grab a well earned victory with the top rope knee drop. This show can do no wrong right now. ***

8/6/14 8: 25 A.M.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yuji Nagata

I am sure this match has happened a ton of times before but it somehow felt pretty fresh watching them size each other up in the early going. This match has great pacing switching between grappling and strikes. Nakamura controls most of it and is able to sprinkle in his mannerisms and overall weirdness to keep things fresh. Nagata’s facial expressions have tendencies that annoy me but they work here, complimenting Nakamura. His smile after he goes on the attack is sinister. The build to the finish was done well and they blew through a lot of moves without seemingly doing too much. One aesthetic thing about the building in this show is that the sun sets in the background during this match. Nagata hits a back suplex and I bit on that as the finish. Boma Ye is hit twice and Nagata is extinguished. I really enjoyed this and this card is starting to gain some serious show of the year steam with me. ***1/2

8/6/14 8:47 A.M.

Tetsuya Naito vs. AJ Styles

I am really looking forward to this one. AJ has been flirting with MVP of the tournament so far and Naito has turned in some good performances as well. Even with my expectations going in, this exceeded them. AJ Styles turned in a masterful performance and Naito hung right there with him. Things were humming along nicely but the match takes a significant upswing in quality when Styles opens back up the cut on Naito’s forehead. Styles is ferocious on this cut and mixes in a ton of dickish things to do to keep going back to the cut every time Naito shows some signs of life. Styles just came off a performance looking sympathetic vs. Yano and here he is one of the best heels in the business. The crowd clamors for Naito to make his comeback and when he does, it delivers big time. Tons of struggle going through the finishing stretch. The gasp that the crowd makes when Styles nearly gets middle rope Styles Clash was tremendous. Naito is finally able to win with his twisting splash and the crowd and myself explode in appreciation. Great match. ****

8/6/14 9:15 A.M.

Karl Anderson vs. Kazuchika Okada

Here is Anderson’s chance to show me something. He takes advantage at the onset attacking Okada before he completely enters the ring and mimicking the Rainmaker pose. Okada regains his composure and takes the fight to the outside but he makes a cardinal mistake that Anderson capitalizes on. Anderson looks better here than he has so far in the tournament. He focuses on the face area of Okada and has a ton more urgency than in previous matches. I also think the action on the outside was more important to the overall theme of this match than most so far. Okada gets a measure of revenge by regaining the advantage out there and looks for the Rainmaker. Anderson blocks that and then hits a beautiful top rope neckbreaker. Okada hits a jaw-droppingly beautiful dropkick that is right on the mark. The final sequence looked pretty contrived as it goes through a series of Rainmaker and neckbreaker reversals. Anderson hits a big Ace Crusher and picks up the huge victory to gain some momentum in the G-1. Ho Hum, another really good match and Anderson finally turns in a good performance. ***1/2

8/6/14 9:35 A.M.

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

These two guys don’t like each other. Legit. As a result, most people had this pegged as one of the matches they were most looking forward to throughout the entire tournament. Things open with a tentative start and they ratchet up with some strikes. Shibata takes over with a nasty kick on the outside and hits a suplex on the floor. Shibata refuses to give up his right leg and works out the damage Tanahashi did on it in the early going by kicking Tana right in the face and back. Tana results back to the leg after a German and locks in a Texas cloverleaf. Tana does the double High Fly Flow combo that has worked in previous matches but eats knees on the second one. One more brutal strike exchange for the night has Shibata gaining the advantage. Both competitors are drenched in sweat. One Go 2 Sleep and knockout kick later gives the win to Shibata. This match felt epic and was another bridge between the story of Naito vs. Styles and the brutality of Ishii vs. Honma. What a capper to a great show. ****

Night four thoughts: What a fantastic show. Three **** matches and nothing that was outright bad. This is a show of the year contender and has me pumped for Night 5.

Show finished at 8/6/14 9:59 A.M.

G-1 Climax 2014 Night 5

Night five doesn’t have as many tasty looking match ups on paper as night one and four did but there have been some surprises along the way so far with individual performances so hopefully that trend will continue.

8/6/14 10:31 A.M.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Doc Gallows

This should be a slobberknocker. Again, the size advantage Gallows has is really striking compared to the beefy Ishii. Gallows’ punches look good as well as his forearm shots. Maybe this tournament will be a way to elevate and light a fire under Gallows as he continues in New Japan. We know Ishii can take a beating and now we are finding out that Gallows can deliver one as long as he houses a willing dance partner. Pump handle slam is delivered and Ishii is wiggling in pain. Huge German by Ishii gives him an opening. Bicycle kick and Gallows Pole give us the first really close count of the night. Ishii headbutt! Sliding D! Ishii is able to lift Doc up to a brutal brainbuster and gets the pinfall. New Japan seems to have found a template for their openers as this was another high impact opener featuring good action and didn’t overstay its welcome. ***1/4

8/6/14 10:44 A.M.

Lance Archer vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

These two guys have turned in some good performances in the G-1 so far, especially Tenzan. This match didn’t look like much on paper but after watching the tournament, I am anticipating it. Archer takes advantage and seems a little unstable as he shakes the guardrail and yells at the referee. Tenzan comes firing back and takes out the lackeys at ringside. Tenzan locks on the Anaconda Vice and this one is bound to be over soon. The most appreciative aspect I had in regards to this match was the fact that Archer came back again in a natural way and Tenzan had taken too much damage overall to be able to kick out of the Blackout by Archer. ***

8/6/14 11:01 A.M.

Satoshi Kojima vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Much like Archer vs. Tenzan, this is the other side of these two partners having a singles match that looks better now than three days ago. They produce another good match and this felt like the Kojima performance of the tournament that he has pieced together in his other matches. Really nice delayed vertical suplex by DBS. The finishing sequence has DBS nearly gaining victory but Kojima just being able to escape. DBS busts out some new maneuvers including a tiger suplex. DBS was looking to put two moves together and is able to do that with a powerslam and powerbomb combination. Another good match and we are off to a strong start with night five so far with the first three matches. ***

8/6/14 11:23 A.M.

Yujiro Takahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Yujiro has been bad so far in my opinion and Suzuki isn’t afraid to coast at times. Yeah, my suspicions were correct on this one. Yujiro is probably at this point my least favorite member of the roster as everything he does is so generic. This match also did not benefit from the binge process as I have watched 45 New Japan matches since Sunday night and everything done here felt like it had been done so much better so many times before. Suzuki wins with the choke. *3/4

8/6/14 11:37 A.M.

Toru Yano vs. Karl Anderson

Yano is here to save the day. Anderson attacks ahead of time, puts on Yano’s jacket, and mimics him. Anderson has turned around greatly doing these impersonations. His shrug look of Yano is awesome. He even tears the turnbuckle and throws Yano in giving him a taste of his medicine. I smiled in delight when Yano made his comeback and did the payback into the turnbuckle. The way they worked to the low blow and cradle was hilariously great and sure enough Yano pulls a rabbit out of his hat and wins. ***

8/6/14 12:15 P.M.

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Shelton Benjamin

Shelton is on a roll at 4-0 and Shibata just had the huge win over Tanahashi. Benjamin is showing some aggression I didn’t know really existed when he slams Shibata’s head into the guard rail on the outside and leaves him for dead. Shelton maintains the attack on the inside but slowly and surely, Shibata regains his bearings and comes firing back. A battle results at the finish over the choke of Shibata vs. the anklelock of Benjamin. They both have to keep avoiding each others kicks. Shelton hits a superkick and goes for the Paydirt but it is blocked right into the choke by Shibata. Shelton escapes but eats a kick and gets his first loss of the tournament. One of the more surprising matches of the tournament so far as this was really good stuff that told a complete story. ***1/2

8/6/14 12:57 P.M.

Hirooki Goto vs. AJ Styles

AJ is simply phenomenal in this tournament, no pun intended. Here, he leads Goto through a match that accentuates Goto’s strengths. We had some good chain wrestling to begin and then a big Styles control segment. Mixed in with this was Muta lock and some fun guardrail work on the outside. Goto’s comeback was well done and Styles remained looking strong. Styles is able to put him away with the Styles Clash. This felt like a “traditional” type match more so than any other match in the tournament so far. The versatility and range AJ is showing is astounding. ***3/4

8/6/14 1:51 P.M.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale

I liked the way Tanahashi worked the match vs. Gallows and he turns in a better performance here. Fale has looked winded at times throughout the first five nights but at other times he can look like a monster and mix in some asshole tendencies like standing on Tana’s back. Tana’s strikes looked really impressive and varied in this match with forearms, punches, and sliding kicks. Once he maintains an advantage, he starts chopping down the tree limb that is Fale’s leg. Fale is able to regain the advantage but the framework is there for Tanahashi as Fale is now a step slower. Fale falls to the outside. Tanahashi hits a beautiful frog splash onto the outside. High Fly Flow gets him right into the clinch of Fale. Two Bad Luck Falls give Fale the huge win over the ace, Tanahashi. This was another really good match that helped elevate Fale and showed Tanahashi can do business. ***1/2

8/6/14 3:12 P.M.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomoaki Honma

This would have made Chad’s “most look forward to matches” list. Nakamura finds the most awesome bizarre ways to deliver a knee to Honma. They all look unique and brutal. Honma comes back and is able to rile the crowd up into a frenzy. His diving headbutt into the brainbuster to avoid the Boma Ye was tremendous. Diving headbutt from the top rope misses though. One of these days, Honma. Nakamura preps him up for the Boma Ye, but Honma gets a roll up. Nakamura hits a brutal back kick followed by the Boma Ye to pick up the duke in another great battle. Two great matches in a row for Honma. He has an uncanny ability to make any match feel like a bonafide war and Nakamura was game to follow suit. ****

8/6/14 4:22 P.M.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Testuya Naito

I had their Dome show semi-main as one of the Top 10 New Japan matches of the year so I look forward to what the rematch had in store. This was another well-built match. Okada attacks the bandaged forehead area of Naito and uses that as a target for some of the DDTs and strikes that he throws throughout the match. In fact, Okada took the majority of the match. Naito’s comebacks have been on point the past two nights and he delivers here with great timing and hope moves. Another stunning dropkick by Okada makes Naito’s head snap back. Naito isn’t done yet though and fires back with a spinning kick and the twisting splash is able to avenge his loss from the Dome main event. This wasn’t on the level of that match but it was another really good bout on this card and a good main event moment to end the night. *** 1/2

Night five thoughts: Well, Okada and Tanahashi, the two guys they seem to building a showdown towards, lost here. This show overall was great again besides the Yujiro match. I don’t think this show had any match as good as both Naito/Styles and Honma/Ishii from night four but it did have five ***1/2 + matches and a couple more above ***. This show on its own is sitting in my top six or seven shows of the year easy.

Show finished on 8/6/14 at 5:18 P.M.

Author: Chad Campbell

Chad Campbell is assistant managing editor of Place to Be Nation and co-host of Where the Big Boys Play Podcast. He is waiting for the next Atlanta sports team to break his heart. Send Chad an email