RADICAN’S NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 Review – Marufuji vs. Okada main event, SANADA upsets Tanahashi, Tenzan!

G1 Climax 2016 logo (c) New Japan Pro Wrestling


RadicanSean_profileRADICAN’S G1 CLIMAX 26: NIGHT 1 BLOG
JULY 18, 2016

I’m only watching the Block action once again this year for my G1 Climax coverage. I will also include a guide at the end of each show I review with recommended matches if you’re only looking to watch the best action from each show.

(1) NEVER Openweight champion Shibata & Tiger Mask IV & Jushin Liger & Nakanishi beat Honma & IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion KUSHIDA & Taguchi & Captain New Japan vs. NEVER Openweight in a eight-man tag match

(2) Katsuhika Nakajima & Toru Yano beat Kojima & Juice Robinson.

(3) Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi) beat CHAOS (Gedo & YOSHI-HASHI).

(4) L.I.J. (Naito & EVIL & BUSHI) beat IWGP IC Champion Michael Elgin & Yuji Nagata & David Finlay.


(5) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (0) (w/Kojima) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (0) in a G1 Climax 26 A Block match. Tenzan was fired up early and took Ishii down with a big shoulder tackle when he came off the ropes after a hard-hitting exchange. They went to another exchange and Tenzan sent Ishii down after a series of Mongolian chops. Ishii got the upper hand and grounded Tenzan. He peppered him with light kicks to the head and Tenzan fired up. Ishii kept hitting Tenzan with big forearms, but they only seemed to wake him up. They went back and forth and Tenzan grounded Ishii with a spin kick. Tenzan no-sold a power slam later in the match and hit an exploder. Ishii then got right up and grounded Tenzan with a lariat! WOW! Ishii went to town on Tenzan in the corner with chops and forearms. These guys are tagging each other!

They went at it up top and Tenzan eventually came down off the top to the mat with his knee on Ishii’s head. He then went up top and hit a diving headbutt, but Ishii kicked out! Tenzan applied the anaconda vice a short time later. Ishii got to his feet, but Tenzan held on and slammed him down to the mat for a near fall. Kojima was shown urging Tenzan on. He went up top, but Ishii cut him off. Ishii went for a running powerbomb and nearly dropped Tenzan, but held on and tossed him across the ring. Ishii hit a huge lariat on Tenzan, but he kicked out at the last second. The fans went absolutely crazy. Ishii hit a sliding lariat, but Tenzan kicked out. Holy s—! MY GOD TENZAN WON’T STAY DOWN!

Ishii lifted Tenzan for a brainbuster, but Tenzan blocked it. Tenzan and Ishii began trading headbutts. They then hit headbutts at the same time. Ishii hit a headbutt and staggered. Tenzan took an enzuguri to the head and no-sold it. He then sent Ishii down to the mat with a double chop. Tenzan then hit a tombstone variation, but Ishii kicked out. Tenzan went up to and connected with a big moonsault. The fans applauded and it was good for the win. WOW! What a way to start the tournament!

WINNER: Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2 pts.)

Star rating: (****1/4) – What a match! These two had an incredible hard-hitting encounter. The fans were red hot behind Tenzan, who is playing this up as his last ride in G1. Man the presentation between the announcers and the hot crowd here was great. The only uncomfortable thing about this match was the dueling headbutts spot.

(6) Togi Makabe (0) vs. Tama Tonga (0) in a G1 Climax 26 A Block match. Tonga took control early. Makabe got dumped over the guardrail on the outside and made his way back to the apron only to take a draping neck breaker for a 2 count. Makabe mounted a comeback and eventually caught Tonga with a big clothesline off the ropes. Tonga suddenly ran all around Makabe and caught him with a head scissors takedown. Tonga methodically worked over Makabe. The fans rallied behind Makabe. He traded blows with Tonga in the middle of the ring.

They began trading forearms and the pace increased. Makabe hit a big clothesline and Tonga kicked out at 1. Tonga then hit a big running forearm and Makabe kicked out at 1, but both men stayed down after. Makabe cut off Tonga as he went up top. Tonga tried to block a spider German, but Makabe kept going for it. Tonga finally fended Makabe off, but He popped up and hit a spider belly-to-belly off the top. He then hit the King Kong knee drop for the win.

WINNER: Togi Makabe (2 pts.)

Star rating: (**1/2) – The crowd was flat for this match. Tonga is going to have a tough transition being considered as a threat here after being mostly part of tag teams on the undercard for most of his NJPW career.

(7) Hirooki Goto (0) vs. Bad Luck Fale (0) in a G1 Climax 26 A Block match. Fale knocked out the ring announcer while he was announcing him, which was pretty funny. Goto went after Fale’s arm during the early going. Fale struggled, but managed to get to the ropes. Goto went up top, but Fale fired back and clotheslined him to the floor. Fale put a beating on Goto on the floor, but he managed to beat the 20 count. Fale methodically worked over Goto inside the ring. He hit a big slam and made the cover for a 2 count. Goto fired back and finally knocked Fale down with a running clothesline off the ropes.

Fale hit a big splash in the corner. He then hit a big running splash, but Goto kicked out at the last second. Fale set up for the grenade and hit it, but Goto kicked out at the last second. Goto managed to slip out of the bad luck fall. He then hit a big headbutt to the chest. He nailed Fale with a huge kick to the chest. He set up for the final cut, but Fale countered it. Goto then slipped around Fale and grabbed a sleeper. Goto let go of the hold and hit his final cut variation for the win.

WINNER: Hirooki Goto (2 pts.)

Star rating: (**1/2) – This is just about what you would expect from these two. They can have great matches with the right opponent at times, especially Goto. When they’re wrestling each other, you don’t expect anything memorable.

(8) Hiroshi Tanahashi (0) vs. SANADA (0) in a G1 Climax 26 A Block match. This was a big match for SANADA with a surprising result. Sanada worked over Tanahashi’s shoulder for the bulk of the match. Tanahashi took a sustained beating before mounting a comeback. He hit the high fly flow to the floor at one point. Later in the match, Sanada got a dragon sleeper with a back mount, but Tanahashi managed to get to the ropes.

After some really good back and forth action that really got the crowd going, SANADA got the back mount dragon sleeper with the hooks in once again and Tanahashi was forced to tap out much to the surprise of the fans. This was a really good match and a stunning result that sets up SANADA as a big threat going forward into the tournament.


Star rating: (****) – Excellent, star-making performance early in the tournament for SANADA.

(9) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) (0) vs. GHC Tag Team Champion Naomichi Marufuji (0) in a G1 Climax 26 A Block match. Marufuji worked over Okada’s arm during the early going. He put Okada’s foot between the guardrails and applied pressure on it using his foot. Marufuji tagged Okada with some chops. Okada finally hit a big backdrop to get a breather. The fans fired up and Okada went on the attack once he got to his feet. Okada favored his arm, but continued his onslaught and hit a big diving uppercut on a seated Marufuji for a 2 count. Marufuji fired back and hit a slingshot double stomp to the floor on Okada’s arm, which was braced on the apron. OUCH! He then slammed Okada’s arm into the ring apron a short time later.

Marufuji bent Okada’s arm at a bad angle back inside of the ring before stomping down on it. Gedo sold anxiety on the floor as Marufuji really went to town on Okada’s arm inside the ring. Okada struggled in an arm submission, but managed to get to the ropes. The fans fired up and chanted for Okada. Okada finally hit a flap jack and both men were down on the mat once again. They got up and began trading chops. Marufuji hit several HUGE chops and stood over Okada. Okada fired up, but Marufuji grounded him with a huge chop. Marufuji sent Okada to the floor and wiped him out with a huge flying body press. Marufuji set up for slice bread, but Okada countered it into a neck breaker over his knee!

Okada dropped an elbow off the top and sold his arm before hitting the rainmaker pose. Marufuji blocked the rainmaker and they went back and forth. Marufuji went for sliced bread again, but Okada placed him up top and hit him with his signature dropkick! He then lifted Marufuji out of the corner for a tombstone, but he fought out of it and hit several big kicks. Okada then caught him with a too awesome dropkick coming off the ropes! HOLY S—!

Okada went for the Rainmaker, but Marufuji ducked it only to eat a German. Okada rolled through into the rainmaker, but Marufuji nailed him with a series of kicks and a big knee lift to the head. He then lifted him up and hit the Emerald Flowsion for the win!

Marufuji cut a show-closing promo while holding the GHC Hvt. Tag Team strap. The fans seemed receptive to what he had to say.

WINNER: Naomichi Marufuji (2 pts.)

Star rating: (****1/2) – Amazing match with Marufuji was dominant here at times. This was a great way to make an outsider look strong coming in from NOAH. He picked apart Okada’s arm and constantly managed to counter the rainmaker down the stretch with some gorgeous looking kick combinations. This is a stunning result and Marufuji will definitely be getting a shot at the IWGP Hvt. Championship in the fall/winter months.

Overall Thoughts: This was a great start to G1 26. You had two huge upsets with SANADA beating Tanahashi and Marufuji beating IWGP Hvt. Champion Okada. Those two stories were shocking! The opener with Tenzan beating Ishii after Kojima gave him his spot in G1 was another surprise and sets up Tenzan for what looks like a strong final G1 run this year.

It’s really cool to see the shakeup from the booking team in NJPW here. There’s a huge turnover this year in terms of who is in the tournament and right on the first night, SANADA and Marufuji, who haven’t been in G1 in recent years, both get huge upset wins to turn the tournament on its head on the first night.


(5) Tenzan vs. Ishii (****1/4)

(8) Tanahashi vs. SANADA (****)

(9) Marufuji vs. Okada (*****1/2)


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