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RADICAN'S NJPW REVIEW SERIES: "G1 Climax 24: Night 1" 7/21 - Goto-Makabe steal the show, Styles-Okada, Shibata-Nakamura

Jul 22, 2014 - 10:12:17 PM

By Sean Radican, Torch columnist


JULY 21, 2013

(1) IWGP IC Champion Bad Luck Fale vs. Tomohiro Ishii in a G1 Climax A Block match. Fale dominated early. Ishii tried to take him down, but couldn’t get him off his feet. Ishii finally took Fale off his feet and hit a big suplex that popped the crowd. Fale fired back and hit a splash in the corner and then a big running splash for a 12 count. Ishii countered a suplex and eventually hit a big running clothesline for a near fall. Fale fired back and hit another running splash, but Ishii kicked out again at the last second. Ishii continued to kick out of Fale’s power moves, as he absorbed a spear, but kicked out at once again before the ref could count to three. Ishii slipped out of a border toss attempt and hit a big German. He then hit a sliding clothesline for a near fall and the crowd groaned. Fale blocked a suplex and tossed Ishii head first into the turnbuckle pad in the corner. Fale eventually hit a big clothesline, but Ishii kicked out at one. Both men began exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring. Fale fired up and hit a series of clubbing blows, but Ishii fired back with a headbutt. Fale grabbed Ishii by the throat and lifted him up into a pop up clothesline for a 2 count. He then hit the border toss for the win. Good lord that was awesome.

Winner: Bad Luck Fale

Star rating: (***3/4) – Incredible start to the tournament. Ishii was great here in the underdog role against the bigger Fale. They had some great sequences built around Ishii’s fighting spirit and power late in the match, but ultimately Fale got the win in the end. I really enjoyed how both men came across as bad dudes in this match. It’s something you don’t see in the states where you can sense the power of both men in the ring.

(2) Shelton Benjamin vs. IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champion Doc Gallows in a G1 Climax A Block match. Gallows missed a charge on the outside early and ran shoulder-first into the ringpost. Benjamin slammed his shoulder into the ringpost again, but Gallows fired back and began rearranging the guardrails. He slammed Benjamin into the guardrails and nailed him with a series of punches. Gallows got a chair and slammed it several times over Benjamin’s back. Gallows got back into the ring in an attempt to win via count out, but Benjamin beat the count at the last second. Gallows beat on Benjamin for a long period of time until Benjamin ducked a charge in the corner and hit a release German. Benjamin slipped around Gallows and applied an ankle lock, but Gallows managed to fend him off and catch him with a side slam a short time later for a 2 count. They went to a big exchange of strikes. Benjamin flipped off Gallows and hit a punch, but Gallows lifted him up for a fall away slam for a 2 count. Benjamin fired back a short time later absorbing a splash in the corner and firing back with a big superkick on Gallows as he bounced off the ropes. They went back and forth until Benjamin hit the paydirt for the win.

Winner: Shelton Benjamin – Decent action here, but nothing memorable.

(3) NWA World Tag champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. IWGP Hvt. tag champion Karl Anderson in a G1 Climax B Block match. The crowd was hot for the start of the match and chanted for Tenzan. Anderson tried to get some chants from the crowd, but they wouldn’t oblige. Anderson didn’t break clean after pushing Tenzan against the ropes. He put the boots to Tenzan and nailed him with his signature double chops, which drew some gasps from the fans. Tenzan fired back with a kick and began working over Anderson. Tenzan began nailing Anderson with his signature double chops to the neck and the fans applauded. Tenzan dominated the action until Anderson cut him off with a basement dropkick. Anderson began targeting Tenzan’s leg. He tied Tenzan’s leg up in the guardrail a short time later before nailing it with a running kick. Anderson set up for a powerbomb, but Tenzan countered it into a backdrop.

Tenzan hit a running clothesline in the corner a short time later and the crowd applauded. Tenzan began working over Anderson for several minutes. He went up for a moonsault, but Anderson got out of the way. Anderson fired up and hit a TKO for a near fall and the crowd gasped and applauded. Anderson sold frustration after Tenzan kicked out. Tenzan blocked an ace crusher attempt and nailed Anderson with a head butt. He went up top again and connected with a diving head butt. Tenzan then applied the anaconda vice, but Anderson fought free. Tenzan nailed Anderson with another head butt. The fans fired up and chanted for Tenzan, who hit a side slam. He then applied a chicken wing and Anderson tapped out much to the delight of the crowd.

Winner: Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Star rating: (***) – This was a good back and forth match with both guys trading big moves and counters throughout. Tenzan appears to be getting over with the crowd and they popped for his signature maneuvers. Bullet Club moves to 0-2 for the night with Anderson’s loss.

(4) NWA World Tag champion Satoshi Kojima vs. Yuji Nagata in a G1 Climax A Block match. Both men began exchanging forearms and strikes in the middle of the ring. Nagata began peppering Kojima with kicks, but Kojima blocked a kick and took him down with a running forearm. The action spilled outside and Kojima tossed Nagata into the ring barrier. Kojima worked over Nagata in the corner, but Nagata caught him with a knee to the gut a short time later as he came off the ropes. Nagata grabbed Kojima’s ankle and worked it over on the mat, but he managed to get the ropes. Nagata began nailing Kojima with kicks to the leg in the corner. He then tied Kojima’s leg around the middle rope before dragging him to the middle of the ring and applying the figure 4. Kojima struggled to free his leg, but Nagata held on tight. Kojima finally managed to get the ropes and the fans applauded. Kojima fired back with several hard forearms, but Nagata hit a kick to his leg and he crumbled to the mat. Nagata lit up Kojima with a series of kicks, but Kojima blocked a running boot in the corner. Kojima nailed a pair of big chops and the crowd applauded. Kojima hit the Kobashi style chops in the corner and the fans applauded again.

Kojima went up top and connected with an elbow drop good for a 2 count. Both men went at it again in the middle of the ring. Kojima blocked a kick from Nagata and hit a dragon screw that left both men down on the mat. Kojima got up and hit a big DDT followed by an ace crusher. Nagata slipped out of a brainbuster attempt and hit another kick to Kojima’s leg. He applied another figure 4 on Kojima, who screamed in pain. Kojima sat up and yelled at Nagata, who applied leverage on the hold. Kojima screamed in pain as Nagata worked the hold before he finally got to the ropes and the fans applauded. Nagata hit several kicks to Kojima’s leg, but he managed to block an enzuguri and eventually hit a big lariat that left both men down. Kojima took off his elbow pad and went for a lariat, but Nagata ducked and nailed him with a German followed by a Saito suplex for a near fall. Holy crap! Nagata went for another Saito suplex, but Kojima fought out. Kojima then countered Nagata and hit a suplex that left both men down. Both men got up and began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring. Kojima finally took Nagata down with a huge forearm and both men were down again. Nagata charged at Kojima a short time later, but Kojima finally nailed him with a big lariat for the win.

Winner: Satoshi Kojima

Star rating: (****) – This was an excellent hard-hitting match between these two veterans. Kojima’s selling of Nagata’s work on his leg was excellent. They had some great exchanges leading up to a great finish with Kojima finally putting Nagata away with a big clothesline.

(5) Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano in a G1 Climax B Block match. Suzuki nailed Yano with a kick once he got in the ring and put the boots to him. He got a chair and nailed Yano’s back with it. Suzuki undid the pad in the corner and tossed it to the floor. Yano ended up getting whipped into the exposed turnbuckles twice. A short time later, Yano went for a rollup, but Suzuki escaped and nailed him with a kick. Yano ended up hitting a low blow. He then shoved Suzuki into someone that was on the apron before rolling him up for the win.

Yano held up his DVD after he won the match. Suzuki recovered and pummeled the attendant at ringside before leaving out the back door of the venue.

Winner: Toru Yano – Interesting finish to the match with Yano getting the dirty pin. I don’t see that strategy working for him throughout the tournament, but I could be wrong.

(6) NEVER Openweight champion Yujiro Takahashi vs. 2013 G1 winner Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Climax B Block match. Takahashi got the upper hand after biting Naito’s fingers early in the match. Takahashi mounted a comeback and dropped Naito neck-first over the top rope. He followed up with a big boot a short time later that sent Naito crashing off the apron into the guardrail. Takahashi dropped Naito throat-first over the guardrail and the fans booed. Takahashi continued to work over Naito’s neck back inside the ring after he beat the 20 count on the floor. Takahashi eventually charged at Naito in the corner, but he got out of the way and hit a neck breaker off the ropes. He followed up with a missile dropkick a short time later. Takahashi thwarted a charge in the corner and slammed Naito’s head into the ringpost. He followed up with a belly-to-belly suplex off the top, but Naito managed to kick out. Naito blocked a fisherman buster and went for an enzuguri, but Takahashi ducked and hit a fisherman buster for a 2 count.

The fans tried to rally behind Naito, who ducked a clothesline, but Takahashi slipped behind him and hit a clothesline to the back of his head. Naito managed to catch Takahashi by surprise with a pair of pinning combinations, but he couldn’t put him away. Takahashi bit Naito’s face, but he managed to slip away from him and hit a cartwheel kick. Naito followed up with a German with a bridge for a near fall. The fans fired up as Naito hit a big side slam. He went up top, but missed a phoenix splash. Both men were slow to recover. The fans chanted for Naito as he got to his feet. They began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring. Takahashi caught Naito with a boot to the head. They went back and forth until Takahashi caught him coming off the ropes and flipped him around into a German with a bridge for near fall. Takahashi hit a buckle bomb and finished him off with the Miami shine DVD for the win. Wow!

Winner: Yujiro Takahashi

Star rating: (***3/4) – Excellent action with Takahashi taking several shortcuts from the beginning to get the upper hand. He repeated his cheap tactics throughout the match. They had some great exchanges down the stretch until Takahashi hit his finish.

(7) Hirooki Goto vs. Togi Makabe in a G1 Climax B Block match. They went right at it and began exchanging blows. They ended up down on the mat and both men took turns reigning down blows from the top position. They got up and Goto yelled at Makabe to bring it. They began nailing each other with big forearms until Makabe clotheslined Goto to the floor. Makabe introduced Goto to several different sections of the guardrail before tossing him back into the ring. They began exchanging blows once again in the middle of the ring. Goto nailed Makabe with a huge forearm to get the upper hand before dumping him to the outside. Goto whipped Makabe chest first into the barricade on the floor before tossing him into the ringpost. Goto ended up nailing Makabe with a serious of vicious forearms in the corner before the ref backed him away. Goto slowed the pace finally by grabbing a chinlock.

Goto really wrenched on the chinlock before dropping an elbow down on Makabe’s nose. Makabe began to fire up as Goto nailed him with kicks. Makabe told Goto to bring it and he nailed him with a huge kick. Makabe crumpled to the mat and got up and told him to bring it again. Makabe eventually sat up as Goto was going for a running kick and he nailed him with a huge clothesline and the announcers went nuts. Makabe began peppering Goto with clotheslines in the corner before he mounted him and landed several punches. He followed up with a northern lights suplex for a 2 count. Goto fired back and bounced off the ropes, but ended up eating a huge clothesline for a 2 count. Makabe stalked Goto, but Goto ran around him and surprised him with a big clothesline off the ropes. Makabe took a running kick in the corner followed by a Saito suplex in the corner. They began exchanging blows again and Makabe flipped off Goto. They went to a big exchange off the ropes until Goto caught Makabe with a neck breaker over his knee for a near fall and the fans went nuts. Makabe caught Goto coming off the ropes but he slipped away. Makabe got him the second time and hit a huge powerbomb for a near fall. The fans fired up and Makabe hit a spinning DVD. He went up top for a double knee strike, but Goto got out of the way. Goto recovered and hit a diving clothesline to the back of Makabe’s head. Both men were slow to get up.

Goto lifted Makabe over his head and planted him face-first over hit knee, but Makabe kicked out! Holy crap! The fans went nuts as Goto lifted Makabe up. Makabe slipped behind him and they eventually connected with a clothesline at the same time. Makabe ended up catching Goto with a huge clothesline off the ropes, but he kicked out at the last second. The fans chanted for Makabe, who had a wild look in his eye. He nailed Goto with a clothesline and looked out to the crowd before hitting another clothesline. Goto hugged Makabe’s feet as the ref checked on him. Goto fired up and hit a big headbutt. He then hit the hellavator for the win. Good lord that was awesome.

Winner: Hirooki Goto

Star rating: (****1/2) – This was an amazing hard-hitting match between these two bruisers. They had an excellent back and forth match that built and built leading into the finish. The drama down the stretch was really well executed, especially with the near falls down the stretch and Makabe’s facial expressions as he tried to put away Goto. This is a must-see match.

(8) Tomoaki Honma vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi in a G1 Climax A Block match. They went to a fast paced exchange early on and came to a stalemate, which drew applause from the crowd. Tanahashi teased a clean break before taking a shot at Honma, who ducked and nailed him with a big chop. Tanahashi caught Honma with an elbow in the corner and followed up with a springboard splash for a 2 count. Honma fired back and the fans fired up, but he missed a running headbutt to the mat. Honma ducked a dropkick and went for another diving headbutt off the ropes, but missed once again. Tanahashi went on the attack and began working over Honma. He connected with a 450 off the second rope for a 2 count. They began exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring. Tanahashi sent Honma to the outside with a dropkick and nailed him with a slingshot splash to the floor. Both men went for suplexes as they battled on the apron. Tanahashi managed to bring Honma back into the ring, but he slipped away and connected with a suplex inside the ring and the fans applauded.

Honma fired up and hit a big sequence of moves on Tanahashi capped by a running headbutt and the fans applauded. Honma hit a big DDT and a running neck breaker that was good for a 2 count. They went to a big exchange. Honma ended up no-selling a dropkick from Tanahashi and he got up and connected with a huge clothesline that left both men down. When they got up Honma charged at Tanahashi and hit a big clothesline followed by a brainbuster for a 2 count. The fans fired up behind him as he went up top. He went for a diving headbutt off the top, but Tanahashi rolled out of the way at the last second. Great sequence with the fans really rallying behind Honma. Both men began exchanging blows from their knees. They got to their feet and continued to exchange blows. Tanahashi hit several big blows, but Honma fired up and returned the favor. Tanahashi eventually caught him with a straightjacket German for a near fall and the fans applauded. Honma ducked a clothesline and got a nearfall with a nice pinning combination. He went for a big lariat a short time later, but Tanahashi ducked. Tanahashi managed to hit a big neck breaker and then connected with the high fly flow with the win.

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a really good match with the crowd rallying behind Honma, who looked really good here going at it with the star Tanahashi. They had some really good exchanges down the stretch and the crowd really got behind Honma when he appeared to be in position to win. The fighting spirit he showed down the stretch was well-done. I just wish he wouldn’t use a diving headbutt off the top as a signature maneuver.

(9) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a G1 Climax A Block match. Shibata backed Nakamura against the ropes, but ended up offering a clean break early in the contest. Shibata backed Nakamura into the corner a short time later and slapped him across the face before nailing him with a series of elbows. Shibata set up for a charge in the corner, but Nakamura surprised him with a dropkick. Nakamura then set up Shibata across the top ropes, but Shibata ducked a charge in the corner and dragged Nakamura neck-first over the top rope and to the floor. Shibata nailed Nakamura with a running kick that sent him over the barricade. Shibata dominated the action on the outside before tossing Nakamura into the ring and applying a figure 4. Nakamura managed to eventually turn it over, but Shibata leveraged his weight to get back on his back. Nakamura finally got the ropes to break the hold. Shibata slapped at Nakamura’s head lightly as he got to his feet. Nakamura fired up and they began exchanging strikes after going to head-to-head. Nakamura ended up hitting a series of huge forearms that sent Shibata into the corner.

Nakamura strutted around, but missed a charge in the corner. He quickly got the upper hand and draped Shibata over the ropes before nailing him with a running knee. The action spilled to the floor and Nakamura draped Shibata’s head over the apron before nailing him with a running knee from the floor. Shibata eventually fired back and caught Nakamura with a knee to the gut as he came off the ropes and both men were slow to get up. Shibata got up first and hit a German. He nailed Nakamura with an insane kick to the chest a short time later before nailing him with forearm after forearm in the corner. Shibata then ended the sequence with a huge running dropkick in the corner. Nakamura sold death in the corner after that sequence. Nakamura fired up and they traded big moves before Nakamura connected with a running knee. He then grabbed a sleeper and eventually dumped Shibata to the mat with a suplex. Nakamura set up for a running kick, but Shibata caught him with a big knee and both men were down.

Both men began exchanging strikes before going head-to-head. They jockeyed for position until Shibata got a sleeper. Nakamura looked to be out and the ref checked on him. Shibata let him go and nailed him with a huge kick to the back. Nakamura managed to duck a running kick. He eventually nailed Shibata with a kick off the second rope and a running kick to the side of the head for a good near fall. Nakamura set up behind Shibata, but he got up and nailed him with a dropkick. Shibata hit a back fist, GTS, and a running sick kick for the win.

Winner: Katsuyori Shibata

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was an excellent match to establish Shibata as a force in the tournament. He dominated the entire match with Nakamura getting in some comebacks, but overall unable to finish off Shibata with his signature offense. Keep an eye on Shibata for the rest of the tournament. This was a brutal hard-hitting encounter.

(10) IWGP Hvt. Champion A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) in a G1 Climax B Block match. The fans chanted for Okada before he locked up with Styles. Styles did a Bullet Club pose, but didn’t get much of a reaction. Okada blocked a Styles clash attempt during the early going before both men exchanged counters and came to a stalemate. Styles and Okada went face-to-face and began jawing at one another. They began exchanging forearms. Okada ended a big exchange off the ropes with Styles taking a huge backdrop. Okada put the boots to Styles in the corner. Styles fired back and connected with his signature dropkick off the ropes to ground Okada. Okada rolled to the floor and Styles followed him. Styles hit a slam and jawed at the crowd while strutting around ringside. Styles rolled Okada in the ring and told the ref that he’s a nice guy. He then began working over Okada inside the ring. Okada tried to fire back, but Styles caught him with a finger to the eye. Okada finally caught Styles with an elbow off the ropes and a big kick to the head to get the upper hand as the fans applauded.

Okada set up Styles and nailed him with a sliding kick to the head. Okada set up Styles up top and nailed him with a standing dropkick that sent Styles flying to the floor. They showed a replay of the spot before Okada rolled out to the floor. Okada whipped Styles toward the barricade, but he jumped over it and landed on his feet and posed. Okada then wiped him out with a dive over the barricade and the fans fired up. Styles began crawling back to the ring with Okada already inside. He beat the 20 count, but walked right into a DDT from Okada. Okada grabbed a chinlock/leg submission combination hold. Styles struggled and screamed in pain. Okada wrenched back on the hold and Styles teased tapping before grabbing the bottom rope. Styles fired back and hit a suplex into the turnbuckles. He set up Okada on the top rope before lifting him onto his shoulders in the torture rack. Styles then transitioned the hold into a spinning powerbomb for a 2 count. Styles went for a springboard 450, but Okada rolled out of the way. The fans fired up with both men down.

Both men got up and began exchanging blows. Styles hit a series of kicks and strikes. Okada fired back with an elbow, but Styles hit a Pele kick and went for the Styles clash, but Okada blocked it with a kick to the head. Okada ended up tossing Styles off in the corner and he ran into the ref. Okada followed up with a variation of the air raid crash and everyone was down, including the ref. Okada got up and slammed Styles. He went up top and connected with an elbow drop. Okada then signaled for the rainmaker, but Takahashi ran down to the ring and wiped him out from behind. Takahashi laughed as the crowd booed. Okada eventually fired back and caught Takahashi with a dropkick off the ropes, but Styles immediately hit him with a springboard elbow. Style ducked a rainmaker attempt and hit a German, but Okada got right up only to eat a kick. They went to a big exchange and Okada countered Styles and hit a tombstone. Okada then hit a German with a bridge for a near fall. He finally pinned Styles with the rainmaker for the win. Wow! What an ending.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was a great match between these two. The way Styles carries himself in the ring as a heel right now is unreal. He’s doing the best work of his career. They told a good story here with Okada overcoming the ref bump and outside interference to finally put away Styles. This was a heck of a way to end a great show.

The fans chanted for Okada after the match. He got on the mic and cut a promo. He vowed to win G1 and become the IWGP Hvt. Champion. The fans applauded. Gedo then got on the mic and the fans applauded. He talked up Okada on the mic and said he would become IWGP Champion and win G1. Okada moved his hands around his waist as Gedo talked. Okada then posed as the fans applauded.

Overall thoughts: (9.0) – This was a hell of a show with fantastic wrestling from top to bottom outside of the Benjamin-Gallows contest and Yano’s cheap win. Nagata-Kojima highlighted the undercard with a crazy hard-hitting match and the show closed out with a series of strong matches well-worth going out of your way to check out, especially Shibata-Nakamura and Okada-Styles.

Goto-Makabe had the best match on the card. They had an all-out slugfest that told the best story of the night. Makabe’s expressions and Goto’s selling down the stretch were fantastic.

The level of wrestling on this show was incredible to watch. They set the bar high for the rest of the G1 Climax tournament this year. Shibata looked to get a strong push with a dominant performance against Nakamura. They had an incredible match that is well-worth going out of your way to check out.

The Styles-Okada match was fantastic as well. Styles is carrying himself at another level these days and if you followed his career in TNA and always wondered what his potential was, look no further than this show. He comes off fantastic as a heel and they told a good story to set up Okada getting an IWGP Hvt. Title shot by winning the tournament and finally getting revenge on Styles.

This was a fantastic show and the rest of the tournament is going to have a hard time overcoming night one in terms of match quality. I highly recommend checking out the G1 Climax Tournament on Ustream.

You can purchase the NJPW G1 Climax 24 Tournament on VOD by clicking HERE.


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