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RADICAN'S NJPW G1 CLIMAX: NIGHT 11 REPORT 8/8 - Smith-Tanahashi, Ishii-Nagata MOTYC, Okada-Suzuki

Aug 9, 2014 - 6:54:14 PM

By Sean Radican, Torch columnist


AUGUST 8, 2014

(1) Shelton Benjamin vs. Tomoaki Honma in a G1 Climax A Block match. The fans chanted for Honma before the match began. Honma tried to get a couple of quick pins on Benjamin during the early going. Honma sent Benjamin to the floor and nailed him with a diving headbutt off the top to the floor. Benjamin took an awesome bump taking the headbutt. Benjamin fired back and sent Honma crashing off the apron to the floor with an elbow. Benjamin then lifted him up and dropped him back-first over the apron. Benjamin hit a big power slam on Honma after he barely beat the 20 count on the floor. Honma sold his back as Benjamin worked him over. Honma fired up after taking several forearms from Benjamin. They began exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring, but Benjamin caught Honma with his signature spin kick. Benjamin went for the pay dirt, but Honma blocked it with a jumping headbutt. The fans fired up as Honma took Benjamin down with a clothesline and hit his signature running headbutt. Honma then went up top for a diving headbutt, but Benjamin got out of the way. Benjamin went for the pay dirt once again, but Honma caught him with another pinning combination for a near fall. Honma took a huge superkick and then the pay dirt and Benjamin got the 3 count.

Winner: Shelton Benjamin

Star rating: (***1/4) – This was short, but the action was good while it lasted. Honma tried to get some quick rollup wins on Benjamin several times, but once again his diving headbutt off the top did not connect. I’m hoping he at least gets a win on the final day of the tournament.

(2) NEVER Openweight Champion Yujiro Takahashi vs. Toru Yano in a G1 Climax A Block match. Takahashi attacked Yano once he got into the ring. He took Yano’s DVD and stomped on it several times. Takahashi tried to get a low blow and nearly accidentally hit the ref when Yano shoved him towards Takahashi. The ref went after Takahashi and Yano took over the turnbuckle padding. Both men took turns running into the exposed turnbuckles. Takahashi got the upper hand and used his boot to choke Yano on the mat. Yano managed to grab the ref and hit a low blow, but Takahashi kicked out at one. Yano yelled at the ref and Takahashi shoved him into the ref. Takahashi then hit a pair of low blows for the win.

Takahashi revealed he was wearing a protective cup after the match.

Winner: Yujiro Takahashi – Apparently Takahashi is the smartest man in NJPW

(3) Lance Archer vs. Hirooki Goto in a G1 Climax B Block match. Archer charged at Goto, but he pulled the ropes down on him and Archer spilled to the floor. Goto followed up with a springboard splash and the crowd fired up. Archer fired back on the outside and sent Goto over the barricade with a running boot to the head. Archer hit his signature shoulder tackle out of the corner once they got back into the ring, but was slow to cover and only got a 2 count. Goto tried to mount a comeback, but Archer took him down with a running kick to the head for a 2 count. Goto finally caught Archer with a big running clothesline a short time later to take him down and the fans fired up. Goto fought off a choke attempt and nailed Archer with a headbutt. He then lifted Archer onto his shoulders and hit him with a neck breaker over his knee. They battled up top a short time later, but Archer managed to backdrop Goto to the mat. They went back and forth and Archer caught Goto with a big choke slam for a near fall. Archer set up for the blackout and hit it for the win.

Winner: Lance Archer

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a really good match. Goto simply couldn’t match Archer’s power and had a hard time using his striking and power game to get the upper hand. Archer has put together a nice overall body of work with his matches during the block portion of the tournament.

(4) IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson vs. Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Climax Block match. Anderson attacked Naito as he posed on the turnbuckles. Anderson hit an apron bomb on the floor a short time later. Anderson cut off Naito as he tried to get back into the ring and eventually tossed him into the ringpost and Naito fell to the floor. Naito got into the ring at 19 and Anderson went back on the attack. Anderson mocked Naito’s pose and bounced off the ropes, but Naito rolled out of the way of a senton attempt. Naito nailed Anderson with a flurry of offense and finished it off with a missile dropkick off the top. Naito went for a slingshot dropkick in the corner, but Anderson caught him and hit a F5 for a 2 count. Anderson went for a powerbomb a short time later, but Naito countered it into a hurricanrana. He followed up with a slingshot dropkick in the corner a short time later. Naito followed up with a super hurricanrana and hit a German with a bridge for a 2 count. Naito went up top a short time later for the star dust press, but Anderson rolled out of the way. They began exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring, but Anderson nailed Naito with a sliding kick and a big DDT. Anderson set up for the stun gun, but Naito countered it and got a rollup for a 2 count. Naito went for a flying forearm, but Anderson caught him with the stun gun as he came off the ropes for the win. That was pretty sweet.

Winner: Karl Anderson

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a really good match with Anderson jumping Naito at the beginning and putting a beating on him before Naito mounted his comeback. Anderson has picked up some nice wins in this tournament and for Naito, it has been an up and down journey through G1, although his matches continue to be really good.

(5) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata in a G1 Climax A Block match. Nagata offered a clean break early and Ishii slapped him in the face. Nagata took a series of blows and kicks and looked at Ishii like he was nuts. Nagata and Ishii began exchanging forearms. Nagata lit up Ishii with a series of kicks to the legs and chest and Ishii went down. Nagata told Ishii to bring it and shook off several forearms. Ishii fired back with a series of big slaps to the face. Nagata staggered into the corner, but didn’t go down. Nagata fired back with a series of slaps of his own. Both men then began exchanging slaps to the face. The fans fired up as both men absolutely tagged each other with slaps. Nagata finally went down like a pile of bricks after a huge slap from Ishii. Ishii took a huge kick to the chest and told Nagata to bring it. Ishii took another kick and staggered around and told Nagata to bring it again. Ishii staggered into the corner and took a series of forearms from Nagata. Ishii caught a running kick in the corner and began tagging Nagata with forearms and chops. Nagata caught Ishii with a kick to the head, but Ishii no-sold it and ran right into an exploder.

Ishii fired back a short time later and swatted away a kick before nailing Nagata with a German suplex and the fans applauded with both men down. Ishii and Nagata went up top and Ishii held up Nagata for a delayed vertical suplex and the fans went nuts. Ishii appeared to hurt his injured shoulder hitting the move. They began exchanging forearms once again in the middle of the ring. Nagata fired up and tagged Ishii with some huge forearms. He then snapped Ishii’s injured shoulder over his own shoulder and Ishii screamed in pain. Nagata went for an exploder off the top, but Ishii fought it off. Nagata teased falling to the mat, but held on to the ropes. Ishii then hit a headbutt and followed up with a big powerbomb after slipping under him for a 2 count. Nagata went for an exploder, but Ishii countered it into a DDT. Nagata then caught Ishii’s arm as he went for a sliding clothesline and applied his signature arm bar as the fans went nuts. Nagata rolled his eyes into the back of his head before applying a cross-arm breaker on Ishii’s injured shoulder. Ishii struggled as the fans chanted his name and finally managed to get the ropes.

Both men began exchanging forearms again a short time later while yelling at each other. Ishii nailed Nagata with a huge slap at one point. Nagata fired back a short time later with a spinning kick that took Ishii down. Nagata followed up with a brainbuster, but Ishii kicked out at the last second and the fans applauded. The fans chanted for Ishii, who blocked a Saito suplex attempt. Nagata hit a kick to Ishii’s injured shoulder, but Ishii no-sold a kick to the head and nailed Nagata with a headbutt. Ishii hit Nagata with several forearms and bounced off the ropes, but Nagata nailed him with a slap. Ishii blocked a kick and hit a headbutt. Ishii then nailed Nagata with a huge clothesline for a nearfall. Ishii followed up with a sliding lariat to the back of Nagata’s head. Ishii then hit a brainbuster for the win. Wow! What a match.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii

Star rating: (****3/4) – This was an incredible match. For Nagata to be able to perform at this level at his age is amazing. Ishii is an absolute beast for putting on a performance like this given his shoulder injury. They set the crowd on fire with some downright nasty strike exchanges and built to an incredible finish. These two came off as legit crazed tough guys during this match.

(6) Katsuyori Shibata vs. IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champion Doc Gallows in a G1 Climax Block match. Shibata got the upper hand early after hitting Gallows with a knee to the gut. Shibata nailed Gallows with some light slaps and he fired back with some big thrusts. Shibata slipped out of Gallows’s grasp a short time later and nailed him with a running boot that sent him flying over the ropes to the floor. Gallows whipped Shibata into the guardrail and he went over it and into the crowd. Gallows then dropped Shibata back-first over the apron. Shibata countered a running boot attempt and grabbed a sleeper, but Gallows countered it into a side slam. Shibata managed to hold on to the sleeper and Gallows got the ropes. Shibata began nailing Gallows with a series of forearms in the corner. He then nailed Gallows with his signature missile dropkick in the corner. Shibata got a choke sleeper a short time later and Gallows began to fade, but he managed to fight out of it with a knee to Shibata’s head. He then took Shibata down with a big clothesline as he came off the ropes. They went to a big exchange in the middle of the ring. Gallows slipped out of a GTS attempt and hit a pump-handle slam. He followed up with his signature spinebuster for a near fall. Gallows then hit a sit-out double arm choke slam for the win (Gallows poll).

Winner: Doc Gallows

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was really good. I was a bit surprised by the result given the run Shibata has had in the tournament, but they put together a good big man vs. small man match and Gallows came out on top in the end.

(7) IWGP IC Champion Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a G1 Climax A Block match. Fale countered Nakamura’s signature boot choke during the early stages of the matches and eventually clotheslined him off the apron to the floor. Fale whipped Nakamura with his belt on the outside until the ref took his belt away. Nakamura took a beating for a long period of time, but finally fired back and hit a spin kick to Fale’s head. Fale tried to charge at Nakamura a short time later, but he nailed him with a flying kick. Nakamura then did his signature boot choke a short time later. He draped Fale over the turnbuckles and strutted across the ring before nailing Fale with a running knee to the gut for a 2 count. Fale fired back and they began exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring. Fale eventually got the upper hand and hit a big suplex. He followed up with a big splash, but Nakamura managed to kick out. Nakamura blocked Fale’s pop-up thumb spike and went for a suplex, but Fale wouldn’t go up. The fans fired up as both men went for suplexes. Nakamura finally hit a face buster and a big knee strike. Fale ducked the Boma Ye and hit the pop-up thumb to the throat for a near fall. Wow!

The fans chanted for Nakamura as Fale went up top. Nakamura nailed him with a running kick. He then hit a superplex on Fale and the announcers went crazy with both men down on the mat. Nakamura set up for the Boma Ye, but Fale nailed him with a spear. He set up for the border toss, but Nakamura fought out of it as the fans fired up. Nakamura grabbed a sleeper and hit a back stabber before applying the sleeper again. Fale eventually got to his feet and drove Nakamura into the corner, but Nakamura nailed him with a flying knee off the turnbuckles to the back of the head. Nakamura went for the Boma Ye, but Fale blocked it. Nakamura countered Fale and hit the Boma Ye, but he kicked out at 2. Nakamura hit a second Boma Ye for the win. Good lord what match!

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

Star rating: (****1/4) – Excellent match between these two with Nakamura coming from behind. They had some really good near falls down the stretch. The spot where Fale countered the Boma Ye was fantastic. This was a lot of fun to watch. Nakamura was on fire in this match. If Tanahashi loses, that would mean Nakamura would win the A block.

(8) IWGP Hvt. Champion A.J. Styles vs. Togi Makabe in a G1 Climax Block B match. Styles told Makabe he isn’t that tough and told him to go for a shoulder tackle. Makabe sent Styles flying into the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Styles went for a leap frog a short time later, but Makabe caught him and hit a powerslam. Makabe went for the punches from the mount in the corner, but Styles dumped him to the floor. Makabe tried to whip Styles into the barricade a short time later, but Styles jumped over the barricade and nailed him with a springboard forearm. Styles got some cheers from the fans and he told him he didn’t need them. One kid was yelling at Styles and he said, “Shut up, kid.” Styles took control of the action back inside the ring and began working over Makabe. Styles began working over Makabe’s injured jaw with a chin lock. Styles hit his signature dropkick a short time later and posed for the fans. Makabe fired up and told Styles to bring it. Styles hit a big forearm to Makabe’s jaw and he dropped down and then fired up and told Styles to bring it. Styles continued to fire up after Styles would hit him with big forearms. Makabe fired back and sent Styles down with some big punches. Makabe hit a pair of big running clotheslines in the corner and then hit his signature punches on the turnbuckles. Styles caught Makabe by surprise with a chin breaker and nailed him with a series of strikes and kicks before taking him down with a clothesline.

Styles went for bloody Sunday, but Makabe blocked it and hit a northern lights suplex for a near fall. Styles went for his signature combination of kicks and strikes again, but Makabe ducked the clothesline and took down Styles with a clothesline of his own. Styles fired back a short time later with a belly-to-back suplex for a 2 count. The fans chanted for Makabe with Styles in control. Makabe blocked the Styles clash by going down to one knee. Styles went for a leap frog a short time later, but Makabe caught him with a powerbomb for a 2 count. Makabe put Styles on the top turnbuckle and went for the spider German. Makabe hit the spider German and Styles went flying all the way to the other side of the ring. Makabe slammed Styles and went up top for his King Kong knee drop, but Styles rolled out of the way. The fans chanted for Makabe with both men down. Styles caught Makabe with a Pele kick. He set up Makabe on the top turnbuckle, but Makabe fought him off. Styles caught him with a Pele kick up top and transitioned him right into the Styles clash for the win. Wow! What a finish.

Winner: A.J. Styles

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was another excellent match on the card. Styles continues to be incredible in this tournament. He worked over Makabe’s jaw early, but Makabe fired up and mounted a comeback. The spider German Styles took down the stretch looked really vicious. The finish was so smooth with Styles nailing Makabe with a kick up top and he fell right into position for the Styles clash.

(9) Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi in a G1 Climax A block match. The fans chanted for Tanahashi during the early stages of the match. Smith lifted up Tanahashi as he was going for an arm bar and placed him over the top turnbuckle and gave him a little shove before backing off. Tanahashi did the HBK pose of the turnbuckles. Tanahashi went for a springboard splash, but landed on Smith’s knee. Smith flexed to the crowd, which got a mixed reaction. Tanahashi hit a flying forearm, but Smith didn’t go down. Tanahashi kicked Smith’s leg and a second flying forearm to take him down. Tanahashi hit a dragon screw on Smith’s leg a short time later. Smith tried to toss Tanahashi over the ropes, but he held on and used his legs to send Smith to the floor. Tanahashi went up top, but Smith ran away. Tanahashi then set up and nailed Smith with a sliding dropkick and followed up with a slingshot splash as the fans fired up. Smith fired back on the floor and caught Tanahashi with a powerslam. Smith tossed Tanahashi back into the ring and covered him twice for a pair of two counts.

Tanahashi tried to fire back, but Smith caught him with a running knee to the head out of the corner. Smith signaled for the finish, but Tanahashi hit a chin breaker. He bounced off the ropes, but Smith caught him with a big boot. Tanahashi countered Smith and hit a spiral tap. He caught him with another spiral tap off the ropes for a 2 count and the fans fired up. Tanahashi went up top, but Smith ran into the ropes to crotch him. Smith set up for a superplex and hit it. He immediately covered Tanahashi as the announcers freaked out, but he kicked out at the last second. The fans chanted for Tanahashi. Tanahashi fought out of a powerbomb, but ended up connecting with a leg capture powerslam for a near fall. Smith hit a tiger suplex with a bridge and Tanahashi kicked out at the last second again as the fans gasped. Smith signaled for the end, but Tanahashi slipped out of a powerbomb attempt and rolled him up for a two count. Tanahashi ended up on top of Smith and rolled him up for a near fall. Tanahashi went for a hurricanrana, but Smith countered it into a powerbomb for the win. Holy crap!

The crowd seemed shocked at the result. Tanahashi screamed in pain as he was helped to the back. They announced that Nakamura was the winner of the A block.

Winner: Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Star rating: (****) – What a showing from both men as Tanahashi sold Smith’s power throughout the match and the crowd desperately wanted him to mount a comeback. Tanahashi never really got out of the gates and Smith’s power was ultimately too much for him. This puts Nakamura in the finals.

(10) Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada in a G1 Climax B Block match. The fans chanted for Okada after the opening bell rang. Okada backed Suzuki into the ropes and offered a clean break. Suzuki grabbed an arm, but Okada quickly got to the ropes. Suzuki caught Okada in an arm bar using the ropes for leverage, but the ref’s count forced him to let it go. He dragged Okada to the floor and then nailed him with a running kick on the apron. Suzuki tied up Okada’s arm in the guardrail and wrenched on it before nailing it with a kick. Suzuki went after Gedo briefly, but let him go. The action ended up back in the ring and Suzuki grabbed a cross-arm breaker using the ropes for leverage. Okada fired up and pointed to his arm. He took a kick to the arm and hit a forearm, which caused him to collapse. Suzuki then nailed him with a big kick to the chest before grabbing a combination leg/arm submission. Okada quickly got his foot on the ropes. Okada eventually fired back and hit a DDT and the fans fired up. Okada tossed Suzuki to the floor and nailed him with a huge running kick against the guardrail. He tossed Suzuki back into the ring and began working him over. Okada went up top and hit an elbow drop, but sold his arm. He did his rainmaker pose, but Suzuki popped up and wiped him out. Okada went for a dropkick as Suzuki popped off the ropes, but Suzuki ended up holding the ropes to avoid it. Suzuki then nailed Okada with a series of kicks to his arm before applying a cross-arm breaker, but Okada quickly got to the ropes.

The fans chanted for Okada and they began exchanging forearms. Suzuki suddenly took Okada down and applied an arm bar. Suzuki brought Okada to the middle of the ring and really wrenched on his arm. Okada teased tapping, but held on. Suzuki dragged Okada to the middle of the ring again and really wrenched on the hold. The announcer freaked out and the fans began chanting for Okada. Okada finally managed to get to the ropes to break the hold. Okada countered Suzuki and grabbed a version of the STF. Suzuki was able to quickly get to the ropes. The fans fired up and Okada hit a big suplex for a 2 count. Okada continued to shake his arm as the fans chanted for him. Okada whipped Suzuki towards the ropes, but he collapsed. Okada went to bounce off the ropes, but Suzuki nailed him with a dropkick and stuck out his tongue. Suzuki went back after Okada’s arm. Okada tried to fight him off, but Suzuki grabbed a sleeper. Suzuki turned Okada over for the neutralizer, but Okada dropped down to one knee. Suzuki hit a huge knee to Okada’s head and went for the move again, but Okada countered it into the emerald frozien neck breaker. The fans really fired up and chanted for Okada as both men were slow to get up. Both men began exchanging blows from their knees. Suzuki no-sold a forearm. They got to their feet and continued to exchange forearms. Okada told Suzuki to bring it. They grabbed each other’s hair. Suzuki told Okada to bring it after he hit him with a forearm. Suzuki laughed after Okada hit him with a big forearm. Okada hit a big uppercut and then a dropkick to the back of Suzuki’s head. The fans fired up as the announcers freaked out.

Suzuki blocked a tombstone attempt and they exchanged counters. Suzuki went after Okada’s arm and bounced off the ropes. Both men went for tombstones and Okada finally lifted him up and spiked him to the mat. This is amazing. Okada signaled for the rainmaker, but Suzuki blocked it with a kick and nailed Okada with a series of strikes and dropped him with an overhand right. Suzuki then charged at Okada, but ate a dropkick and then the rainmaker for the win. What a match.

After the match, they announced that Okada had won the B block and the fans applauded. They announced that Okada would face Nakamura in the finals. The third place match will feature Styles vs. Tanahashi.

Okada cut a promo after the match. The fans applauded and he gave the mic to Gedo. Gedo said it would be Nakamura vs. Rainmaker in the finals and the fans applauded. He said Okada would win and Okada posed with one arm as he was still selling the arm that Suzuki worked over.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Star rating: (****3/4) – This was an amazing match with Suzuki working over Okada’s arm the entire match. They had some incredible exchanges down the stretch. Suzuki firing up and dropping Okada with a series of strikes capped by a right that dropped him was incredible. This was simply amazing.

Overall thoughts: (10.0) – This was simply an amazing show with Okada advancing to the finals as expected, but Smith broke the pattern of Okada and Tanahashi mirroring each other throughout the tournament with an upset in the semi-main event. Nakamura, who lurked right behind Tanahashi the entire tournament, now advances to face Okada for a shot at the IWGP Hvt. Championship at Wrestle Kingdom in January.

The quality of action up and down the card was incredible. The first half of the card was bolstered by an incredible MOTYC between Ishii and Nagata. They had an incredible hard-hitting match with Nagata targeting Ishii’s injured shoulder throughout the match. The crowd was red hot and there were some fantastic with two legit tough guys going at it. It’s amazing that Ishii was able to put on a performance like this after separating his shoulder.

The second half of the show was incredible. Nakamura-Fale and Styles-Makabe were both excellent matches. The twist came when Smith beat Tanahashi in another excellent match. The fans were rabid in their support of Tanahashi as Smith used his power to overwhelm him the entire match before eventually countering a hurricanrana into a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Smith’s win put Nakamura in the finals of the G1 tournament.

The main event was incredible. The fans were red hot for Okada and Suzuki targeted his arm throughout the entire match. The exchange where Suzuki decked Okada with a big overhand right down the stretch was incredible and Okada firing back and finishing him off set the crowd on fire.

The only letdown of the night was Honma not getting a single win in the tournament, as Benjamin beat him in the opener, but this was a really good show that set up an incredible G1 Final show on Sunday. This was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and it was the best show of the entire tournament thus far.

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