7/18 NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 – CALDWELL’S Complete Live Report



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New Japan G1 Climax Night 1 Results
July 18, 2016
Hokkaido, Japan
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

It’s live. G1 Climax 2016 kicked off with a hype package recapping top tournament winners from the past, including young Tanahashi, young Okada, and young Nakamura.

1 — HONMA & IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion KUSHIDA & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN vs. NEVER Openweight champion SHIBATA & TIGER MASK & JUSHIN LIGER & NAKANISHI — eight-man tag match

Shibata and Honma started the match with a barrage of physicality to resume their recent feud. They apparently wanted to get in a good amount of punishment and break a sweat to prepare for their B Block kick-off on Night 2. That was a stiff start, then the Jr. Hvts. took over for a bit. Team Honma took over on Liger and tagged in everyone except for the poor Captain, who begged for a tag, but they all ignored him.

Captain finally got that tag and it was against Shibata, who no-sold some forearms. Then, Shibata just smashed Captain to the mat with one blow. That was excellent. The match broke down into a wild brawl, then Nakanishi finished the Captain with a torture rack neckbreaker for the pin and the win. Post-match, Shibata and Honma continued their fight. Save it for the B Block.

WINNERS: Team Nakanishi at 11:41. A really fun opener with some great Shibata-Captain and Captain-his team interactions. Shibata really stood out juxtaposed to the rest of the seven wrestlers.

2 — SATOSHI KOJIMA & JUICE ROBINSON vs. KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA (NOAH) & YANO

Big spotlight on Nakajima during pre-match introductions coming over from NOAH for the G1 tournament. Yano brought one of the GHC Hvt. Tag Title belts with him after successfully defending with Naomichi Marufuji over the weekend. Satoshi Kojima, who gave up his G1 Climax spot to Tenzan, was joined by Juice Robinson for this tag match.

The match was about Yano picking on Juice with his goofball heel tactics and Kojima making Nakajima pay some dues coming over to New Japan. Nakajima found himself in the ring with Juice, so he landed a kick strike into a brainbuster suplex for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Team Nakajima at 9:23. Basic tag match getting over Nakajima’s finisher in a tag setting before the B Block begins.

3 — GEDO & YOSHI-HASHI vs. BULLET CLUB (KENNY OMEGA & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI)

Omega addressed the elephant in the room of Gedo sporting a giant James Harden-like beard by grabbing it and tugging early in the match. Gedo cursed, then took punishment from Yujiro. Gedo turned the tables and teased stomping Yuijiro in his groin, but he opted to be a gentleman. That got him nowhere, as the Bullet Club’ers took over the match and worked over Gedo.

The match broke down a few times with all four men spending time in the ring. Yujiro eventually hit Tokyo Pimps on Gedo for the pin and the win. Afterward, Omega celebrated with Yujro as YOSHI-HASHI headed to the back with Gedo.

WINNERS: Bullet Club at 10:10. Interesting dynamic to this match. Not particularly memorable, but fine continuing to build to the second-half of the show.

4 — IWGP IC champion MICHAEL ELGIN & YUJI NAGATA & DAVID FINLAY vs. L.I.J. (NAITO & EVIL & BUSHI) — six-man tag match

The match built to a Nagata hot tag to punish Naito and teach him lessons in respect. Elgin then tagged in and battled EVIL, nailing him with a Falcon Arrow for a two count. That was the last chance for Elgin’s team, as Finlay tagged in and took a triple-team beating after L.I.J. subdued Nagata and Elgin.

BUSHI finished Finlay with a leaping codebreaker for the pin and the win. Post-match, L.I.J. inflicted a post-match beat down on Nagata, who sold a leg injury after the match. Naito did his trademark pose in front of Nagata to disrespect him.

WINNERS: L.I.J. at 12:06. Basic tag getting over L.I.J. as a disrespectful heel faction and getting sympathy on Nagata.

*** Intermission ***

5 — HIROYOSHI TENZAN (w/Satoshi Kojima) vs. TOMOHIRO ISHII (CHAOS) — G1 Climax A Block match

Kojima accompanied Tenzan to ringside to signal his official blessing giving up his G1 Climax spot to Tenzan. Right at the outset, this had a big-fight feel kicking off the tournament. Tenzan did his signature chops to the shoulders and Ishii sold a legit injury, drawing in the ref. Tenzan did not appreciate the ref’s involvement, so he tossed him aside and continued punishing Ishii.

This turned into a very physical fight with both men no-selling to show toughness. Ishii nailed a big lariat for a close two count that got the crowd amped up. The battle moved to the top turnbuckle, where Tenzan won the exchange, then nailed a Kokeshi-like diving headbutt from the second rope. Tenzan followed right up with an Anaconda Vice, which he turned into a lift-up slam for a close two count.

The crowd was fully-engaged after the big nearfall for Tenzan. Tenzan tried a top-rope move, but Ishii caught him with a running powerbomb. Both men sold exhaustion recovering in opposite corners. Ishii followed up with a big lariat, but only got a two count. Sliding lariat followed. Another close two count. Ishii couldn’t believe it.

The two Hvts. came face-to-face for a big tough-guy battle. Ishii rocked himself going for headbutts to Tenzan, who no-sold and landed a headbutt to the chest. Tenzan followed with the TTD, but Ishii kicked out of a pin. Tenzan wanted a top-rope moonsault, and he connected. Cover, and it was good for the pin. Tenzan belongs.

WINNER: Tenzan at 14:10. What a match to kick off G1. That just felt big-time with the legacy star Tenzan and the next-generation Hvt. star Ishii battling in classic strong style fashion. Nice story to kick off the tournament of Tenzan wanting to prove that he can still hang and Kojima giving him the spot to prove himself. (***1/2)

6 — TAMA TONGA (Bullet Club) vs. TOGI MAKABE — G1 Climax A Block match

Before the bell sounded, Tonga tried to charge Makabe, but Makabe saw it coming and clotheslined him. Cue the bell. Tonga then controlled the action until Makabe got a second wind and started no-selling Tonga’s attack. Tonga survived the follow-up attack from Makabe, then beat down Makabe for a second time.

Makabe and Tonga came to their feet smashing each other with standing lariats, with Tonga trying to show that he could hang with the larger, more physical Makabe. Tonga took Makabe to the top turnbuckle looking for a high-impact move, but Makabe blocked and nailed an overhead slam. Makabe then nailed a top-rope King Kong knee drop for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Makabe at 10:38. Basic singles match where the decision was never really in doubt. Tonga got in a lot of offense to retain some credibility in a tournament where he’s there to take losses. (**1/2)

7 — HIROOKI GOTO (CHAOS) vs. BAD LUCK FALE (Bullet Club) — G1 Climax A Block match

This was two big bulls colliding in the middle of the ring. Fale got the upper hand early on with a big knock-down shoulder tackle. Fale then knocked Goto to the outside and Goto sold a left knee injury. Fale promptly whipped Goto into the guardrail. Goto made it back into the ring at 18 for the match to continue.

Fale continued punishing Goto with methodical offense, never leaving his feet. Fale suplexed Goto like Brock Lesnar, getting one back for Mark Hunt. Fale continued to use his size advantage on Goto, then he landed a big splash for a close two count. Fale followed with a spike thrust slam for a two count. Fale tried an Outsider’s Edge to finish Goto, but Goto slipped out the back door and kicked Fale hard in the chest.

Goto managed to hop on Fale’s back and put him in a tight sleeperhold. Fale sold losing consciousness, but he held on. Goto then nailed his GTR lariat and covered the bigger Fale for a three count.

WINNER: Goto at 9:20. Pretty much the same as Makabe-Tonga paving the way for the double main event. (**1/2)

8 — TANAHASHI vs. SANADA (L.I.J.) — G1 Climax A Block match

Tanahashi returned from injury to face the former TNA wrestler, transformed into a dark “Cold Skull” member of Naito’s L.I.J. faction. Sanada got the early advantage with Tanahashi selling rust after being away for several weeks. Sanada targeted his attack on Tanahashi’s left arm/shoulder.

After knocking Tanahashi into the guardrail on the floor, Sanada nailed a beautiful dropkick back in the ring. Very impressive. Sanada went back to wearing down Tanahashi. Tanahashi finally had enough and smashed Sanada with a flying forearm strike.

Sanada countered a running clothesline with a TKO for a two count, then tried a Dragon Sleeper, but Tanahashi blocked. Sanada quickly switched to a body scissors sleeperhold and Tanahashi’s arm dropped once, two, and almost three times to end the match. But, ref Red Shoes ruled that Tanahashi still had life and Tanahashi eventually reached the ropes for a break, relieving the crowd of their concern.

Sanada waited for Tanahashi to recover, then he put Tanahashi in Dragon Sleeper position again, but Tanahashi reversed into the Slingblade for a two count. Tanahashi followed with a Tiger Suplex with a bridge for a two count. He then sprung to the top turnbuckle for High Fly Flow, but Sanada popped to his feet and intercepted with a mid-air cutter, Randy Orton style. One, two, and so close to a three. Sanada did not linger and quickly nailed a moonsault for a two count. And another moonsault. Dragon Sleeper re-applied in the middle of the ring. Major jeopardy for Tanahashi. He eventually had to tap out, giving Sanada a huge career victory.

WINNER: Sanada via submission at 19:30. That was huge for Sanada’s career, even with Tanahashi being a wounded top star returning from injury. Sanada was great here and Tanahashi got sympathy to build up his comeback attempt as the tournament unfolds. The transformation of Sanada continues. (***1/2)

9 — IWGP World Hvt. champion KAZUCHIKA OKADA (CHAOS) (w/Gedo) vs. NAOMICHI MARUFUJI (NOAH) — G1 Climax A Block match

And now for the surreal sight of Naomichi Marufuji in New Japan’s G1 Climax tournament. Marufuji was out first before the money dropped to bring out Okada, who wore two robes to the ring to signal this is big-time. Cue the bell and the feeling in the building was strong. The crowd was partial to Okada representing New Japan against NOAH. The initial feeling-out process resulted in a Rainmaker teaser and Marufuji teasing martial-arts kicks that sent Okada scurrying to a neutral corner. Big stare down.

Marufuji got the first big advantage of the match nailing a leaping strike to Okada’s left elbow, sending The Champ reeling to the outside. On the floor, Marufuji ran Okada shoulder-first into the ringpost. Okada rested on the outside for a while trying to recover, then made it back into the ring at 12.

Back in the ring, Marufuji worked on Okada’s arm/shoulder as the crowd chanted Okada’s name. Marufuji then stood up Okada and absolutely blasted him with a chop. And again. And a third time. Okada recovered in the corner, where Marufuji delivered consecutive chops to the chest. Marufuji followed with a leaping elbow strike in the corner. And, Okada responded with a back body drop to get a breather.

Okada responded with a big lariat for a two count as his chest turned red from the slaps. Marufuji answered with a knock-down clothesline sending Okada rolling to the floor. Marufuji then slingshot down onto Okada’s lft arm to inflict more punishment. Okada was a mess with the injured elbow and ripped-up chest.

Back in the ring, Marufuji continued to take apart Okada’s elbow/shoulder. Gedo became concerned at ringside, so he tried to rally support for The Champ. Okada eventually reached the ropes to get another breather. More chops from Marufuji. Suddenly, Okada nailed a flapjack off the ropes to get an opening.

Okada got fired up when Marufuji went back to the chops, drawing in the crowd. Another big chop. Okada stood up and asked for more, so Marufuji gave him some more. Big dropkick from Marufuji sent Okada reeling to the floor. Marufuji then flew over the top rope with a big splash. Okada was just not in a good place.

Back in the ring, Marufuji nailed Okada with a dropkick to the head for a close two count. Marufuji did a throat-slash wanting to end Okada, but Okada pushed him away into a backbreaker. Okada then climbed to the top and nailed a leaping elbow drop. Okada leaned against the ropes, then did the Rainmaker Pose for the hard camera. Big zoom out.

Okada didn’t have much life to execute the Rainmaker lariat, though, after Marufuji’s sustained attack. Marufuji nailed a martial-arts kick, then another one, but he ran right into Okada’s textbook dropkick. Okada slowly lifted up Marufuji looking for the Rainmaker, but Marufuji ducked. Okada answered with a German Suplex, then tried the Rainmaker, but Marufuji kicked him in the injured arm. The crowd was going nuts with Okada in trouble. Marufuji cradled Okada and lifted him in the air for his Emerald Flowsion finisher. It was good for a three count.

Post-match, Marufuji celebrated the big win as Okada was helped out of the ring selling the effects of the beating he took. The crowd was sympathetic towards Okada as he was helped to the back. Meanwhile, Marufuji received a round of applause for his efforts. Marufuji took the mic for a show-closing speech to the crowd. New Japan cut to fans holding up Pro Wrestling NOAH banners in the stands. Marufuji bowed to all sides of the ring before leaving with his GHC Hvt. Tag Title belt.

WINNER: Marufuji at 19:08. Another stunning result seeing Tanahashi and Okada go down in back-to-back matches to kick off the tournament. Marufuji was just excellent making his mark in this tournament. So crisp and fluid in the ring. And, just like Tanahashi, New Japan generated plenty of sympathy for Okada in defeat to set up his comeback as the tournament unfolds. (****)

The New Japan World broadcast continued to a backstage press conference interview with Marufuji reacting to his win over Okada.

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