SEAN RADICAN’S G1 CLIMAX 26: FINALS BLOG
AUGUST 14, 2016
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
What a journey this has been. 18 nights of action are in the books and once again NJPW has provided one of the most satisfying and emotional wrestling tournaments of all-time. The storytelling in this tournament, the twists and turns, and the amazing matches have put a smile on my face for the last month. Goto sneaking into the finals from the A Block and Omega coming out of nowhere from a booking perspective to beat Naito, who many considered to be the favorite, was unexpected and incredible to watch unfold.
These G1 tournaments truly make wrestling feel like the sport it should be worldwide. It’s always bittersweet when the last night of G1 arrives since I began covering this tournament back at G1 24. Every year I have been able to suspend my disbelief and engage in the storytelling. Perhaps G1 26 has featured the greatest storytelling I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to see what this show has in store for wrestling fans.
This show features a full camera shoot and English commentary from Steve Corino, Kevin Kelly, and Rocky Romero live at Sumo Hall.
(1) Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay vs. Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV. Taguchi was dressed like a lounge singer when he made his entrance. Finlay and Taguchi jumped their opponents before the bell rang and ran wild during the early going. The match settled in with both teams going back and forth. At one point, Finlay and Taguchi hit a pair of hip attacks to Tiger’s head at the same time. Finlay got a near fall on Tiger a short time later, but Liger made the save. Tiger eventually pinned Finlay with an avalanche tiger suplex.
WINNERS: Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV
Star rating: (**1/4) – This was a fine way to open the show.
(2) Gedo & Jado vs. Yoshitatsu & Captain New Japan. Captain New Japan got overwhelmed during the early going after taking a flurry of double team maneuvers. Jado got a crossface on Captain New Japan, but Yoshitatsu made the save when it looked like he was going to tap out. Both teams went back and forth. Jado got captain in the crossface once again and Yoshitatsu wasn’t around to make the save this time around and he tapped out. Yoshitatsu left the ring without Captain after the match.
WINNERS: Gedo & Jado.
Star rating: (*3/4) – This was short, but fine for what it was.
(3) GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI). Ishii and Honma had a big chop battle during the early going. Honma finally took down Ishii with a shoulder tackle and hit the diving kokeshi off the ropes on the first try! Honma got cut off and Ishii went after his broken rib. Makabe got the hot tag and ran wild. He eventually caught Ishii with a big clothesline for a 2 count. Honma tagged in a short time later and hit two diving kokeshies on HASHI for a near fall. Honma took a kick from HASHI, but hit a leaping kokeshi. He went for a tombstone on HASHI, but he countered it into a rollup for a 2 count. Honma took a series of moves from Ishii and HASHI, but Makabe came out of nowhere to make the save! HASHI caught Honma with a huge lariat and hit the pump-handle driver variation for the win.
WINNERS: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASIH
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was short, but fun while it lasted with Honma on fire with a variety of kokeshies before he got finished off in the end.
(4) Team NOAH (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taniguchi & Masa Kitamiya) vs. Team NJPW (NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi) in a Eight Man Tag Match. NOAH cleared the apron and isolated Tenzan inside the ring. Shiozaki and Maybach hit a tandem neck breaker on him for a near fall. Shibata finally got the hot tag from Tenzan and he went to town on Shiozaki. They eventually went back and forth trading big chops. Shibata fired back and told Shiozaki to bring it. Shiozaki hit a Saito suplex, but Shibata fired back with a German. Shiozaki then decked Shibata with a western lariat. WOW!
TEAM NOAH isolated Shibata and Nakajima hit a PK< but he kicked out at 2! Nakajima went for the vertical brainbuster, but Shibata decked him with a headbutt. He ended up splitting his own head open and Nakajima collapsed to the ground. Shibata is INSANE! Nakanishi capped a big sequence with a spear on Nakajima, but he kicked out at the last second. Nakajima eventually hit the vertical brainbuster on Nakanishi for the win.
Shibata ran back into the ring after the match and went after Nakajima. Several people tried to separate them as they traded forearms. The fans chanted for Shibata. Both men escaped and Shibata caught Nakajima with a running boot. Everyone tried to separate them again. Shibata then went after Shiozaki and nailed him with a running kick. Shibata hit several headbutts on Shiozaki as well. Holy s—! Shibata stood on the turnbuckles and glared at team NOAH. He motioned for them to get out of the ring. The fans booed as Team NOAH was announced as the winners. Shibata walked to the back bleeding from the forehead. Nakajima posed on the turnbuckles and glared at Team NJPW as they left the ring. It looks like we have potential matches with Shibata defending the NEVER Openweight Championship against Nakajima and Shiozaki.
WINNERS: Katsuhiko Nakajima & Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taguchi & Masa Kitamiya
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was a solid tag match, but the post-match activity and the rage of Shibata was the big story here.
(5) IWGP Hvt. Tag Team champions The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe) vs. Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi). Takahashi made an entrance with four girls. He looked like The Godfather. The Briscoes went right after Takahashi and Page. Both Briscoes hit dives to the floor during the early going. The action spilled back into the ring and The Briscoes worked over Page. Takahashi grabbed a belt and distracted the ref. Page then hit Jay with a belt shot for a 2 count. Jay came up bleeding after the belt shot. Mark finally got the hot tag from Jay and ran wild. Mark went up top and pushed him to the apron, but Mark landed on his feet. Mark eventually hit the Cactus elbow off the apron to the floor on Page.
Both teams went back and forth on the outside. The cameras missed Page hitting his flipping clothesline over the guardrail and onto Mark. Takahashi began working over Mark inside the ring once the action settled down. Mark finally hit a big suplex on Page to cut him off after taking a sustained beating. Jay got the hot tag and ran wild. Jay hit a big DVD on Page on the apron. The Briscoes went for the doomsday device, but Takahashi slipped away and shoved Jay into Mark. Takahashi hit a fisherman buster on Jay and tagged in Page, who slowly went after Jay. They began exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring.
Page finally caught Mark with a big DDT for a near fall. Mark took a big tandem neck breaker from Takahashi and Page, but Mark kicked out at the last second. After some back and forth action, The Briscoes hit the doomsday device on Page for the win.
WINNERS: Mark & Jay Briscoe to retain the IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Championship
Star rating: (**3/4) – Solid match, but it lacked the spark necessary to make it exciting. The action dragged at times and there’s just not a whole that there with Page and Takahashi as challengers.
(6) ROH World champion Jay Lethal vs. Satoshi Kojima (w/Tenzan) in an ROH World Championship match. The announcers discussed Lethal’s desire to get revenge on Adam Cole for shaving his head. Corino said if Kojima wins, the match at the ROH PPV next weekend becomes a Three-Way match. Lethal hit an inside out dropkick that sent Kojima into the barricade. Kojima ducked a charge in the corner and nailed Lethal with his machine gun chops. The fans fired up as Kojima went on the attack and dropped an elbow off the top for a 2 count. They went to a big exchange and Lethal hit a belly to back suplex. He held on and hit another. He held on and went for a third, but Kojima escaped only to walk into a sloppy Lethal combination. Lethal went up top and hit hail to the king. Kojima kicked out at 2 and the fans fired out.
Lethal set up for the Lethal injection, but Kijima hit a backdrop and followed with an ace crusher. Kojima hit a series of Mongolian chops on Lethal and the fans fired up. He then applied the anaconda vice as an ode to Tenzan. Lethal got to his feet and fought out of the hold. Kojima hit a brainbuster, but Lethal kicked out at 2. Kojima set up for a lariat, but Lethal blocked it with a kick. Kojima finally turned Lethal inside out with a western lariat for a near fall. Lethal went for three dives, but Kojima hopped into the ring on the third attempt. They went back and forth and Lethal went for the Lethal injection, but Kojima blocked it with a lariat. Lethal grabbed the ref and hit a low blow. He then hit the Lethal injection for the win.
WINNER: Jay Lethal to retain the ROH World Championship
Star rating: (**3/4) – The match lacked a spark. The fans fired up when Kojima was on the attack. It was odd for Lethal to have to cheat to beat Kojima after getting a series of clean victories over big name opponents and essentially wrestling like a babyface in ROH. It was an odd way to set him up as a sympathetic character heading into his match against Adam Cole.
(7) IWGP IC champion & CMLL Liga Elite World champion Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi & IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion KUSHIDA & Juice Robinson vs. L.I.J. (Naito & EVIL & BUSHI & Sanada). The fans were jacked up for Naito when L.I.J. made their entrance. The fans fired up with a huge Naito chant when he started the match against Tanahashi. Naito teased locking up with Tanahashi, but tagged in Sanada. Sanada caught Tanahashi with his signature dropkick during the early going. The action broke down and L.I.J. went on the attack. KUSHIDA got isolated inside the ring and BUSHI choked him with his shirt. KUSHIDA took a beating for a long period of time. At one point Naito spit at Elgin on the apron.
KUSHIDA finally made the hot tag to Elgin, who ran wild on Naito and his crew. Elgin hit a big release German and the fans fired up. Elgin got EVIL and Naito on his shoulders and he hit a double powerslam. WOW! He then dumped Sanada and BUSHI over his head a short time later. Elgin then called out Naito by hitting his pose before hitting a HUGE clothesline in the corner. Elgin hit a big slingshot to send Tanahashi flying into Naito, but L.I.J. broke up the pin. Naito finally cut off Elgin with a tornado DDT.
The action broke down and EVIL hit a fisherman buster on Robinson, but he kicked out at 2. EVIL went for a STO on Robinson, but Tanahashi nailed him with the sling blade! Sanada then got the skull end on Tanahashi, but Elgin broke it up! Robinson got isolated again and EVIL hit the STO (EVIL) on Robinson for the win.
Naito taunted Elgin after the match. He lightly kicked Elgin out of the ring and kicked his belts to the floor.
WINNERS: Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI & Sanada & EVIL.
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a really good tag match. It was filled with some fun back and forth action and the crowd was engaged throughout.
(8) CHAOS (IWGP Hvt. champion Kazuchika Okada & GHC Hvt. Tag Team Champions Toru Yano & Naomichi Marufuji) vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) in a Six-Man Tag match. Yano wanted a clean break, but Loa nailed him with a running kick. Fale was shown tossing Gedo on top of Okada on the outside after the action broke down. Yano took a beating from Bullet Club inside the ring. Yano finally cut off Tonga and tagged in Marufuji. Marufuji and Tonga had a super-fast exchange that ended with Tonga hitting a dropkick. Loa hit a big spinebuster on Marufuji a short time later, but he managed to kick out at 2.
Okada got isolated and took a combination of moves, but Marufuji and Yano made the save. Loa hit a Samoan drop on Okada for a near fall. Okada hit the too awesome dropkick on Loa and followed up with an elbow off the top. He signaled for the rainmaker, but Fale cut him off. Okada sent Fale to the floor with a big clothesline. He then hit the rainmaker on Loa for the win.
Okada called out Fale after the match. He then turned his attention to Marufuji and the fans fired up. He asked Marufuji if he wants a shot at the best title in the world. The fans fired up and Marufuji got on the mic and asked the fans if they wanted to see the match. The fans fired up at the question. Marufuji accepted and offered a handshake. Okada teased a handshake and walked right by Marufuji and posed with the title. WOW!
WINNERS: Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano & Naomichi Marufuji
Star rating: (**3/4) – There wasn’t a lot to get excited about here, as there weren’t many storyline implications, but it was nice to see Okada get a decisive win. The action was fine. The post-match angle with Marufuji and Okada was a good way to set up their match.
Masahiro Chono came out to commentate the main event with the Japanese commentary team. The fans gave a huge ovation to the 5 time G1 Champion. Chono was interviewed by the commentary team.
A video package aired recapping the last two nights of action that gave us the winners of the A and B block.
(9) A Block Winner Hirooki Goto vs. B Block Winner Kenny Omega in the G1 Climax 26 Finals. The fans were fired up for the start of the match. Omega could become the first westerner to win this match. He is the first Canadian to make the finals. Omega set up for The Terminator dive, but Goto got into the ring and nailed him with a kick to his injured leg and the fans booed. Corino mentioned that Goto is 0-8 in IWGP Hvt. Championship matches. Romero said usually the fans don’t boo Goto like this because of his fighting spirit.
The fans booked as Goto continued to go after Omega’s leg. Omega fired back, but Goto ended up clotheslining him over the top to the floor. Omega fired back and hit a moonsault off the barricade, but it appeared he hurt himself in the process. Omega hit a slam on the apron and rolled into the ring. The ref’s count reached 19, but Omega broke the count and hit an apron bomb. Goto managed to get back into the ring at 18. Omega then went to work on Goto back inside the ring. Rick Rude and Karl Anderson are the only two westerners to make the finals. Omega hit a big bulldog, but he only managed to get a 2 count. They went back and forth and Goto caught Omega with a big clothesline and both men were slow to get to their feet.
Goto hit an elbow drop a short time later, but it was only good for 2. The fans continued to back Omega, who fired back and hit a Finlay roll/moonsault combination for a 2 count. Goto fired up as Omega nailed him with strikes. Goto told him to bring it and Omega nailed him with a chop. Goto told Omega to bring it and Omega raked his eyes. The fans booed. Goto tried to surprise Omega wth a clothesline, but Omega slipped around him and hit a dragon suplex. Omega then hit The Terminator dive and the fans fired up. What a gorgeous dive that was on replay. Omega went up top and hit a huge dropkick to Goto’s back. Omega was favoring his leg at this point. Omega and Goto went back and forth. Goto caught Omega off the ropes and hit him with a neck breaker over his knee! WOW! The fans fired up with both men down on the match. The fans started a chant for Goto. Goto wiped out Omega with a clothesline on the apron. Goto hit a super neck breaker over his knee of the top for a near fall a short time later. HOLY S—!
Goto went for a choke and Omega began to fade. Goto then went for the GTR, but Omega fought out of it. They went back and forth and Goto got the choke again. Goto went for a German, but Omega landed on his feet. Omega sold pain, but hit a huge knee lift. He then hit a neck breaker over his own injured knee and the fans fired up. OMG! Omega hit another huge running knee. He set up for the one-winged angel, but Goto fought out of it into a choke! Omega drove Goto into the corner, but Goto grabbed the choke again. Omega began climbing the ropes as Goto choke him. Omega climbed all the way to the top. He then launched himself off the ropes backwards. OH MY GOD! It looked like Omega landed right on the back of his head. That was INSANE!
Both men were down on the mat after that spectacular spot. Omega got to his feet before the 10 count. Both men began trading bombs. Omega lifted Goto and hit the last rites powerbomb for a near fall. That’s Ibushi’s move! WOW! Corino said Omega and Ibushi are not as close as they used to be. Omega went up top and followed with Ibushi’s signature phoenix splash, but Goto got out of the way! MY GOD! What an incredible sequence! Goto fired up for his signature kick. He nailed Omega, but he kicked out at 2. They went back and forth and Goto hit a big spinning face buster for a 2 count. WOW!
Omega sold his leg after kicking out. The fans fired up as well. The fans chanted back and forth for Omega and Goto. Goto set up for the GTR, but Omega hit a knee strike. Omega hit another knee strike a short time later and a dragon suplex for a near fall. WOW! Omega went for another knee, but Goto blocked it. Omega hit several knees, but Goto turned him inside out with a lariat. WOW! Goto then hit the shouten kai, but OMEGA KICKED OUT! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? The fans fired up huge and Goto roared. They went back and forth and Omega hit bloody Sunday! WOW! Omega then hit the Styles clash. WOW! Omega rolled Goto over for the cover but he kicked out. Omega then hit the one winged angel for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Kenny Omega to win G1 Climax 26
Star rating: (****3/4) – The first half of the match was a little slow. Then the second half really set the crowd on fire. This was an incredible effort from both men. Omega sold his leg throughout the match. Then the final stretch was amazing with Omega kicking out of shouten kai and bringing back the ghosts from the past that he talked about on Twitter hitting the moves of Ibushi, Devitt, and Styles down the stretch. What a moment. Omega is the first westerner to win G1.
After the match, Bullet Club came out to celebrate with Omega. What a moment. The post-match ceremony took place. Omega took place. Omega was given the G1 flag, but he dropped it and waved the Bullet Club flag instead. Omega got on the mic and said before G1, people said Bullet Club was over. Omega said the Bullet Club isn’t ever over because it’s for life. Omega said some people wondered if The Elite are over. He said The Elite aren’t over because without The Elite wrestling is boring and sucks. Omega says on days like today, happen once in a lifetime. He said don’t be afraid to dream and reach for the stars. The fans applauded. Omega said right as your about to reach for that dream, someone like him will swoop in and take it for him. Omega said it’s because he’s better than all of them, but he wrestlers for them.
Omega said this is for the wrestlers. He said he knows the wrestlers in Orlando are watching. Omega shouted out Okada. Omega said he’s never wrestled Okada, so that is the likely scenario. Omega then spoke in Japanese and the fans gasped. The fans then applauded. Omega continued to speak in Japanese. Corino said he was crapping on the fans and they love it. Omega then signed off with his signature gun pose. Silver confetti then fell from the sky onto Omega.
Omega cut a post-match press conference with a ton of F-bombs. He referenced L.I.J. merch outselling Bullet Club merch in NJPW, but not worldwide. He was asked about Ibushi, but he said no comment. He talked about never wrestling Goto before, but he beat him up with knees and made his chin weak before finishing him off with the one winged angel. Omega said he was going to take an H bomb and sleep all the way home. They cut away from the press conference and went back to the announcers.
Overall Thoughts: (9.0) – The undercard didn’t provide a lot of excitement, but this show was all about the incredible culmination of the tournament. The most important items on the undercard looked to be the setup of several title programs. It looks like Shibata will be defending the NEVER Openweight Championship against Shiozaki and Nakajima. Later in the show, a program between Elgin and Naito appeared to be set up for the IWGP IC Championship. Finally, Okada set up his first upcoming title defense against Marufuji.
The Goto-Omega match was simply amazing. The first half was a bit slow to get going, but they really began to build a nice story with Goto working over Omega’s leg and Omega channeling the ghosts of NJPW past. They built the match up to some amazing near falls. Omega’s kick out of the shouten kai was incredible and Goto was never able to hit the GTR.
Overall, this was an incredible tournament. Omega winning the whole thing is shocking and historical. I didn’t see him winning it this year, but NJPW is going all-in on Omega and it’s fantastic to see him transition from a comedy wrestler with tremendous talent to main event heavyweight.
I think this just might be my favorite G1 to date. This tournament really picked up during the second half and when they got to the final three days at Sumo Hall, the wrestling was simply incredible. Do yourself a favor and at the very least watch the tournament matches from the last three and the Omega-Goto final.
It’s so gratifying to see someone like Omega given the ball to run with. This should make for an incredible journey to G1. Gedo has really shaken up the booking and I’m really interested to see just who is in that Tokyo Dome main event this year.
FINAL G1 CLIMAX 26 STANDINGS
WINNER: KENNY OMEGA
A Block Standings
Hirooki Goto (6-3, 12 pts) (A BLOCK WINNER)
IWGP Champ Kazuchika Okada (5-3-1, 11 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (5-3-1, 11 pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (5-4, 10 pts)
Bad Luck Fale (5-4, 10 pts)
Togi Makabe (4-5, 8 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (4-5, 8 pts)
Tama Tonga (4-5, 8 pts)
Sanada (4-5, 8 pts)
Tenzan (2-7, 4 pts)
B Block Standings
Kenny Omega (6-3, 12 pts) (B BLOCK WINNER)
Naito (6-3, 12 pts)
IWGP IC champion Michael Elgin (5-4, 10 pts)
NEVER Openweight champion Shibata (5-4, 10 pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (5-4, 10 pts)
Toru Yano (5-4, 10 pts)
EVIL (4-5, 8 pts)
Yuji Nagata (3-6, 6 pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (3-6, 6 pts)
Honma (3-6, 6 pts)
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