NJPW Rewind with Radican and Co. podcast companion – NJPW G1 Climax 23: Night 4 report – Ishii vs. Shibata, Ibushi vs. Nakamura

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


Kota Ibushi (art credit Matt Charlton and Sam Gardiner © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

NJPW REWIND PODCAST WITH RADICAN & CO. COMPANION
G1 CLIMAX 23: NIGHT 4 REPORT
AUGUST 4, 2013
BODYMAKER COLOSSEUM
OSAKA, JAPAN

Radican note: This article is part of a series of companion reviews to the NJPW Rewind Podcast with Radican and Co. These will be “retro” style reviews looking back at some of NJPW’s best shows and tournaments of the past decade. NJPW’s G1 Climax 23 from 2013, which had been called by many the best tournament of all time after it concluded, will be covered in-depth for PWTorch readers as if it is happening in virtual time. In addition to full reviews of each G1 Climax 23 show that will serve as a companion to the NJPW Rewind Podcast, I will be doing audio recaps for VIP members for each night of G1 Climax 23 with a rotating series of co-hosts.

(1) TORU YANO (0) vs. YUJIRO TAKAHASHI (6) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH

Takahashi surprised Yano with a dive as he made his entrance. Yano exposed the pads and later in the match, he ran Takahashi into them and rolled him up for a two count. Takahashi ende up shoving Yano into the ref after both men countered low blow attempts. Takahashi had a chair, but the ref took it from him after he recovered and Yano hit a low blow for the win.

WINNER: Toru Yano in 7:00 (2 pts).

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a fine opener. They kept it short and got to the finish without the match dragging.)

(2) HIROYOSHI TENZAN (2) vs. KARL ANDERSON (4) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH

Anderson cut off Tenzan’s signature chop sequence, but Tenzan fired right back with a wheel kick off the ropes. Anderson hit a TKO and the fans gasped at the prospect of Tenzan getting pinned and then exploded when he kicked out. Tezan blocked a Gunstun and turned it into a slam into the Anaconda Vice. Anderson tried to stand up, but Tenzan maintained the hold and slammed him back down to the mat. Anderson went for a Gunstun again, but Tenzan blocked it with a headbutt and the fans went crazy and chanted his name. Tenzan went for the Anaconda Vice side slam, but Anderson countered it into a Gunstun for the win.

Winner: Karl Anderson (6 pts) in 10:00. (***¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was just a blast to watch. Both guys went at it hard for 10 minutes and the crowd badly wanted to see Tenzan win, but Anderson’s counter of the Anaconda Vice slam into a Gunstun was crazy.)

(3) SHELTON “X” BENJAMIN (W/TAKA MICHINOKU) (2) vs. YUJI NAGATA (4) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH

Nagata went up top as he made his entrance and Benjamin surprised him with a superplex for a nearfall. The fans were hot as Nagata tried to mount a comeback. He ducked Benjamin’s spinning kick and hit a wheel kick of his own and the fans fired up. Nagata missed a kick and the crowd roared when he turned it into an ankle lock. Benjamin cranked on the hold and got a grapevine and Nagata tapped.

WINNER: Shelton Benjamin in 8:00 (4 pts). (***½)

(Radican’s Analysis: The crowd made this match even better than it was. This was a nice back and forth match with Benjamin getting the win in the end.)

(4) DAVEY BOY SMITH JR. (W/TAKA MICHINOKU (2) vs. SATOSHI KOJIMA (4) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH

Smith worked over Kojima with some power moves early. Kojima mounted a sick comeback and fended off Michinoku to hit his signature elbow drop for a two count. The fans roared after Kojima decked Smith with a discus elbow to end a big strike exchange. Smith finally caught Kojima off the ropes with a powerslam for a two count. Kojima fired back and hit a cutter and a brainbuster for a two count. Michinoku distracted Kojima and Smith clobbered him from behind. Smith then hit a tiger suplex with a bridge for a nearfall and the crowd gasped. Kojima blocked a clothesline and hit a western lariat to the back of Smith’s head. He then went for a big clothesline, but Smith blocked it so he NAILED him with a left handed clothesline for a nearfall. Smith ate a lariat, but wouldn’t go down. Kojima yelled and went for another lariat, but Smith ducked it. Smith then hit a running knee and the sit out powerbomb for the win.

WINNER: Davey Boy Smith Jr. (4 pts) in 12:00. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This started a little slow, but then Kojima mounted a comeback and the action was awesome. The crowd BADLY wanted to see Kojima win, but he just couldn’t get the job done.)

(5) KATSUYORI SHIBATA (4) vs. TOMOHIRO ISHII (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH

This ruled. That’s all I can say about it. Other than the headbutt spots late in the match, this was an incredible encounter from the start. These two went at it from the opening bell to the finish and the fans were losing their minds every step of the way. The chop vs. kick battle was insane with Shibata taking free kicks on a kneeling Ishii and Ishii hitting huge chops on Shibata with his hands by his sides. The one counts back and forth late were insane. It wasn’t until Ishii hit the Vertical Drop Brainbuster late that the match was over, but even then Shibata kicked out right after the three count. This is worth watching twice.

WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii (4) in 12:30. (****¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: The headbutts were a big issue of concern and took my enjoyment of the match down, but otherwise this was an easy five star match.)

(6) LANCE ARCHER (4) (W/TAKA MICHINOKU) vs. HIROOKI GOTO (4) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH

Archer dominated this match and the pace was a bit deliberate early. It picked up during the second half of the match, but the crowd wasn’t into this encounter like they had been most of the others. Goto got the crowd behind him late with his comeback attempts and he finally caught Archer with the No Escape pinning combination for the win.

WINNER: Hirooki Goto (6) in 8:30. (***)

(Radian’s Analysis: Archer has certainly improved and picked up the paces of his matches to get over in NJPW and land himself an AEW contract recently. This match showed some of the things he did that were more deliberate and took the fans out of his singles matches at times. The early part of this match dragged a bit, but it was really good late.)

(7) MINORU SUZUKI (2) vs. TETSUYA NAITO (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH

Suzuki went after Naito’s leg during the early stages of the match. The crowd was hot behind Naito and didn’t respond well to Suzuki doing some leg lifts in the ring while Naito recovered on the floor. Naito tried to slap Suzuki across the face multiple times, but Suzuki kept shaking them off. Natio finally mounted a comeback and got on track after hitting a dropkick in the corner. Naito went for a dropkick out of the corner, but Suzuki caught it and grabbed a leg submission with a grapevine on the back. Naito went for the ropes, but Suzuki dragged him back to the middle of the ring and applied the submission again. Naito struggled and finally got the ropes and the fans applauded and chanted his name. Suzuki got the choke and eventually went for the Gotch piledriver, but Naito backdropped him. Naito caught Suzuki with a flying forearm and went up top and hit a missile dropkick and the fans fired up. Naito then hit the Stardust Press for the win.

WINNER: Tetsuya Naito (4) in 16:30. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was excellent. Suzuki worked over Naito’s leg the whole match and was one step of him the entire way. The fans were red hot for Naito’s short comeback and in the end Naito got on track and pot Suzuki away. There’s a big contrast between the Naito of 2013 and now. It was jarring to see him get that kind of a response as a straightforward babyface.)

(8) PRINCE DEVITT (W/BAD LUCK FALE) (4) vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH

Devitt hit Tanahashi with his guitar as he was posing on the ropes. He then put on Tanhashi’s entrance jacket and posed on the ropes and the fans booed. Tanahashi fired back and hit a crossbody out of the corner and the fans fired up big time. Devitt eventually went to the floor and Tanahashi white out both Devitt and Fale with a standing High Fly Flow to the floor. Devitt kicked the ref on purpose while Tanahashi had him in a full nelson. Fale then wiped him up from behind. Captain New Japan tried to make the save, but Fale wiped him out and hit a Samoan Drop on Tanahashi. Devitt went to work on Tanahashi and hit him several times with a chair. He then placed a chair over Tanahashi and hit a double stomp off the top. The ref came to make the count, but Tanahashi kicked out. Red Shoes kicked Devitt while both men were down on the mat and the fans applauded.

Tanahashi continued to run wild and he hit a Slingblade and a HFF to the back of Devitt. He went for a traditional HFF, but Fale cut him off. Captain New Japan got up on the apron. Fale dragged the ref into the ropes and Devitt got his knees up. Anderson ran down to the ring and hit a Gunstun and slid out of the ring with the ref distracted. Devitt then hit Bloody Sunday for the win.

WINNER: Prince Devitt (6 pts) in 11:00. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was another really good match. Tanahashi was going to win and the crowd was red hot for him overcoming Devitt’s initial ambush, but ultimately Bullet Club interference was too much for Tanahashi.)

(9) IWGP HVT. CHAMPION KAZUCHIKA OKADA (GEDO) (2) vs. TOGI MAKABE (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH

Okada got the upper hand early and Makabe began favoring his back. Okada dominated for a long period of time until Makabe mounted a comeback. Okada got the upper hand, but Makabe fired back and hit him with a clothesline and both men were down. Okada went for a corner dropkick, but Makabe blocked it and hit a German with a bridge for nearfall. Makabe hit a kneeling powerbomb, but Okada kicked out at the last second and the fans fired up and chanted Makabe’s name. Makabe went for a Spider German. Okada tried to hold on, but Makabe hit it anyway. He went for the King Kong Knee Drop, but Okada got out of the way! Makabe blocked a Rainmaker. He blocked another Rainmaker a short time later and hit a Dragon Suplex with a bridge for a near fall. Okada hit a big clothesline on Okada. He then went up top and hit the King Kong Knee Drop for the win.

WINNER: Togi Makabe (4) in 14:00. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: Just an excellent match with both men going for broke and ultimately Makabe had the answers to what Okada was throwing at him and got the win.)

(10) KOTA IBUSHI (6) vs. IWGP IC CHAMPION SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH

This was an amazing match. Nakamura stayed a step ahead of Ibushi’s high flying for most of the match and it paid off in the end. They had some insane strike exchanges during the match and both men kicked the crap out of each other at times. The crowd heat for this match was insane. The finishing stretch was ridiculous. Nakamura hit two Boma Ye’s out of the corner. Then he hit a traditional Boma Ye and Ibushi kicked out at one and the fans lost their minds. Nakamura then measured Ibushi for one final Boma Ye and it was good for the win.

WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura (4 pts) in 19:30. (****¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: It was amazing to see just how good Nakamura was back in 2013 in NJPW compared to what he’s doing in WWE now. He moved better, was more charismatic, and had a better connection with the crowd. He’s definitely toned things way down in WWE. This performance was a reminder of how special Nakamura is.)

Overall thoughts: (10.0) – It doesn’t get better than this often. I’ve seen some truly great G1 shows, but this was an all-time great show. The crowd was red hot and the matches across the board for the most part were excellent to incredible. Go out of your way to watch this entire show right now on NJPW World. Some of the matches have been released with Kevin Kelly on English commentary.

A BLOCK STANDINGS THROUGH NIGHT 4

Prince Devitt 3-1 (6 pts)
Hirooki Goto 3-1 (4 pts)
Lance Archer 2-2 (4 pts)
Satoshi Kojima 2-2 (4 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii 2-2 (4 pts)
Katsuyori Shibata 2-2 (4 pts)
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 2-2 (4 pts)
Togi Makabe 2-2 (4 pts)
Kazuchika Okada 1-3 (2 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi 1-3 (2 pts)

B BLOCK STANDINGS THROUGH NIGHT 4

Kota Ibushi 3-1 (6 pts)
Yujiro Takahashi 3-1 (6 pts)
Karl Anderson 3-1 6 pts)
Shinzuke Nakamura 2-2 (2 pts)
Yuji Nagata 2-2 (4 pts)
Shelton Benjamin 2-2 (4 pts)
Tetsuya Naito 2-2 (4 pts)
Minoru Suzuki 1-3 (2 pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 1-3 (2 pts)
Toru Yano 1-3 (0 pts)

Contact Sean at radicansean@pwtorch.com Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch.

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