My Take On 7.30.14: Csonkas NJPW G1-Climax Tournament Match and Show Ratings (Days 1-5)
Posted by Larry Csonka on 07.30.2014
411s Larry Csonka shares his thoughts on the first five days of the 2014 NJPW G1-Climax Tournament, with complete match ratings and scores for each individual show
Welcome back to the latest edition of My Take On. It's the most wonderful time of the year, TOURNAMENT TIME as New Japan Pro Wrestling presents the 2014 G1-Climax Tournament. I caught most of last year's shows, and most regarded that as one of the very best tournament ever. It was hard to disagree with that, as there was a TON of great wrestling on the shows. For 2014, what I decided to do was catch all of the shows (unlike last year) because the price was too damn good to turn down, and offer up my match ratings and a brief write up of the shows. I will do this in three parts, shows 1-5, and shows 6-10, and then shows 11 & 12, along with some other special stuff thrown in for the wrap up column (best matches list, best performs list and so on and so forth). I hope that this is something that you enjoy.
As a reminder, the ratings for an individual show is not a basic "how good was the show" number like a TV show, as I have always felt that a PPV is very different from a regular show. I have always judged PPV on how they built to a match, the match quality, crowd reactions to matches and angles, the overall booking, how the PPV leads into the future, PPV price and so on and so forth. I have added this in here for an explanation since so many have asked, and I have previously discussed it on podcasts. I understand that this may seem different, but that is how I grade. Obviously your criteria may be different.
G1 Climax Block A: Bad Luck Fale  beat Tomohiro Ishii  (9:39) with the Bad Luck Fall. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Shelton Benjamin  beat Doc Gallows  (8:54) with the Paydirt. [**]
G1 Climax Block B: Hiroyoshi Tenzan  beat Karl Anderson  (10:11) with the Anaconda Max. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block A: Satoshi Kojima  beat Yuji Nagata  (11:27) with a lariat. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Toru Yano  beat Minoru Suzuki  (2:15) with a side cradle. [NR (under three minutes long)]
G1 Climax Block B: Yujiro Takahashi  beat Tetsuya Naito  (13:54) with the Miami Shine. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Hirooki Goto  beat Togi Makabe  (11:37) with the Shouten Kai. [***½]
G1 Climax Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi  beat Tomoaki Honma  (11:01) with the High Fly Flow. [****]
G1 Climax Block A: Katsuyori Shibata  beat Shinsuke Nakamura  (15:27) with a PK. [****¼]
G1 Climax Block B: Kazuchika Okada  beat AJ Styles  (18:03) with the Rainmaker. [****¾]
Quick Thoughts: This was a tremendous show to kick off the year's tournament, one of the nest of the year PPV wise. It's like a PPV opener, you hope that they didn't do too much too soon, but overall you cannot complain about the match quality that we got on the show. The first five matches were perfectly fine and set the stage well for the beginning of the tournament, and then it turned into an awesome New Japan show with the final five bouts ranging from good to amazing. The usual suspects (Tanahashi, Nakamura and the guys they worked with) brought the goods and made sure that you would remember the show when all was said and done. The Styles vs. Okada match was amazing. Okada has been delivering in big time matches for some time, and while I thought some may have oversold things, this was one of Styles' best performances. The match was laid out so well, they played off of the other matches they have had, and in the end Styles lost nothing but Okada came away looking better than ever. So far my prediction of Okada defeating Styles was right on, now Nakamura just needs to win the whole thing. This is a must see show, and one of the very best PPV events of 2014. You can't ask for a better way to kick off the tournament.
G1 Climax Block A: Tomohiro Ishii  beat Satoshi Kojima  (12:27) with a brainbuster. [****]
G1 Climax Block A: Shelton Benjamin  beat Bad Luck Fale  (5:55) with the Paydirt. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block B: Hirooki Goto  beat Yujiro Takahashi  (10:31) with the Shouten Kai. [***¼]
G1 Climax Block B: Tetsuya Naito  beat Lance Archer  (8:39) with an inside cradle. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Yuji Nagata  beat Tomoaki Honma  (15:11) with a backdrop hold. [***½]
G1 Climax Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura  beat Davey Boy Smith Jr.  (13:37) with the Boma Ye. [***¾]
G1 Climax Block B: AJ Styles  beat Toru Yano  (9:53) with the Styles Clash. [***¼]
G1 Climax Block B: Kazuchika Okada  beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan  (12:51) with the Rainmaker. [***¾]
G1 Climax Block B: Togi Makabe  beat Karl Anderson  (8:44) with a King Kong kneedrop. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi  beat Doc Gallows  (11:14) with the High Fly Flow. [***]
Quick Thoughts: Overall this show felt similar to the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Finals event, lots of good wrestling, but nothing that was overly amazing. The Juniors show had a MOTY candidate, while this one lacked that. Ishii and Kojima stole the show for me, and Kojima proved that there is still some magic when the G1 comes around in his boots. Shelton Benjamin inexplicably continues to win, which is something I just don't get. Davey Boy Smith Jr. had a damn fine match with Nakamura, but despite that fact, he is still missing something and has been for the last two years. He's a great mechanic, but that's going to be his role in wrestling. AJ Styles, after a career performance on day one, once again was on as he pulled a valuable match out of Yano, and again, made his opponent look great. Okada did Okada things, because he kicks ass. Anderson and Makabe was perfectly acceptable, but the worst thing on the show for me. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Doc Gallows was a "good," but disappointing main event. With this being the G1, and a PPV event, I expect more out of my main events. This was Doc Gallows' chance to make an impact against one of the very best in the world, and he really offered nothing special during that chance. This was a very consistent show up and down the card, was a good follow up to the opening night, was easy to watch and for a "B Show" came off very enjoyable. This ended up being a much better follow up than expected, and the tournament is off to a good start. Minus Shelton Benjamin winning matches. Seriously.
G1 Climax Block A: Doc Gallows  beat Tomoaki Honma  (7:37) with the Gallows Pole. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block B: Lance Archer  beat Karl Anderson  (7:35) with the Blackout. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Hiroyoshi Tenzan  beat Yujiro Takahashi  (11:16) with the Anaconda Max. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Shelton Benjamin  beat Tomohiro Ishii  (8:11) with the Paydirt. [**½]
G1 Climax Block B: Tetsuya Naito  beat Toru Yano  (9:11) with a Stardust press. [***¼]
G1 Climax Block A: Davey Boy Smith Jr.  beat Katsuyori Shibata  (9:42) with the Bulldog bomb. [***¼]
G1 Climax Block A: Bad Luck Fale  beat Yuji Nagata  (10:57) with the Bad Luck Fall. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Hirooki Goto  beat Minoru Suzuki  (7:03) with the Goto Shiki. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi  beat Satoshi Kojima  (13:01) with the High Fly Flow. [****]
G1 Climax Block B: Kazuchika Okada  beat Togi Makabe  (14:49) with the Rainmaker. [****]
Quick Thoughts: Night three of the G1 was easily the weakest show of the bunch thus, far, but was far from a bad show. Once again, the show up and down the card felt strong, with the matches coming off well and nothing being "bad". That's the main thing for me; there is nothing bad that makes you angry on the show wrestling wise. From a booking standpoint, I have to question the booking of Shelton Benjamin. I have no idea what NJPW sees in the guy right now. He generally walks through his matches and gets by on his god-gifted athleticism, which he still has, but he looks unmotivated at times. Benjamin is a case of wasted potential, because if he worked half as hard as NJPW books him, he'd be awesome. As I said, the first eight matches worked well as a fine undercard, but the co-main events are what secured the rating for this show. In typical NJPW fashion, you got a solid to good undercard, and the top matches carried it. While not MOTY candidates or anything, Tanahashi vs. Kojima and Okada vs. Makabe were great matches. Kojima is busting his ass this year, and really proving me wrong, which I am happy to say. Tanahashi and Okada are just part of the three headed monster (with Nakamura) that always deliver for me. So again, while the weakest of the three shows, it was still good and an enjoyable event. If you had to pick and choose though, this would be the one to skip thus far.
G1 Climax Block A: Satoshi Kojima  beat Bad Luck Fale  (8:25) with a lariat. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block A: Shelton Benjamin  beat Davey Boy Smith Jr.  (8:44) with the Paydirt. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Minoru Suzuki  beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan  (11:04) with a sleeper hold. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Toru Yano  beat Hirooki Goto  (1:21) with the Akakiri. [NR (under three minutes long)]
G1 Climax Block A: Tomohiro Ishii  beat Tomoaki Honma  (12:06) with a brainbuster. [****½]
G1 Climax Block B: Togi Makabe  beat Lance Archer  (10:35) with a King Kong kneedrop. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura  beat Yuji Nagata  (11:16) with the Boma Ye. [***¾]
G1 Climax Block B: Tetsuya Naito  beat AJ Styles  (15:55) with a Stardust press. [****]
G1 Climax Block B: Karl Anderson  beat Kazuchika Okada  (12:34) with the Gun Stun. [****]
G1 Climax Block A: Katsuyori Shibata  beat Hiroshi Tanahashi  (16:16) with a PK. [****¾]
Quick Thoughts: The fourth show of the 2014 G1 Climax was a tremendous event, and another show of the year candidate. Again, I felt that this was a very New Japan card. The first four matches were perfectly fine, and I felt set the stage well for the bigger second half. Toru Yano's victory over Hirooki Goto in under 90-seconds was another reminder of how these matches are unpredictable, and also Yano's second quick, out of nowhere victory of the tournament. He got Minoru Suzuki on night one. Anything can happen in the G1, brother! Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma was fantastic, and a bit better than the match they had at the NJPW Dontaku 2014 event. Nakamura vs. Nagata was a lot of fun, not great, but spirited and nothing to complain about. Styles vs. Naito as also another quality bout, I loved that AJ attacked the bandaged head of Naito almost right away and that really helped the match. Naito was automatically a sympathetic figure, and Styles was hated. I enjoyed this, but slightly question Styles losing here. I know that the champion always drops some matches to set up challengers, but I think they need to be more careful than they may normally be with Styles. But that's just me. The one thing is that Styles is simply thriving now that the NJPW audience knows him and that he has committed to the heel role. Also...
While he has been booked poorly, Karl Anderson is still awesome and showed that in his match with Okada. These two know each other well, they work together well and their finishers (stun gun and Rain Maker) allow for fun counters and reversals. Tanahashi vs. Shibata was outstanding, and a true MOTY candidate. Tanahashi has been quiet in 2014, working in the IC and Tag Title ranks, and to most has been completely forgotten about in terms of WOTY discussions. But now the G1 has arrived and BOOM; Tanahashi is back to being absolutely awesome. You keep hearing about him getting older, his body breaking down and working through injuries, but you'd never know it so far in the G1. The match was just scintillating; it felt like a HUGE match up, not just a tournament match, but also a marquee match anywhere in the world. When all is said and done, NJPW delivered their second awesome show of the tournament, and a second show of the year candidate. The first four matches are fine, but the magic happens during the final six matches, with four being **** or more, and another coming close. This is right there with Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2014 for show of the year.
G1 Climax Block A: Tomohiro Ishii  beat Doc Gallows  (8:11) with a brainbuster. [***½]
G1 Climax Block B: Lance Archer  beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan  (10:44) with the Blackout. [***]
G1 Climax Block A: Davey Boy Smith Jr.  beat Satoshi Kojima  (11:30) with the Bulldog bomb. [***½]
G1 Climax Block B: Minoru Suzuki  beat Yujiro Takahashi  (8:39) with a sleeper hold. [***]
G1 Climax Block B: Toru Yano  beat Karl Anderson  (5:46) with the Uragasumi. [**¾]
G1 Climax Block A: Katsuyori Shibata  beat Shelton Benjamin  (14:01) with a PK. [***¼]
G1 Climax Block B: AJ Styles  beat Hirooki Goto  (14:58) with the Styles Clash. [****]
G1 Climax Block A: Bad Luck Fale  beat Hiroshi Tanahashi  (12:27) with the Bad Luck Fall. [***¾]
G1 Climax Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura  beat Tomoaki Honma  (10:19) with the Boma Ye. [****½]
G1 Climax Block B: Tetsuya Naito  beat Kazuchika Okada  (13:54) with a Stardust press. [****]
Quick Thoughts: Day five ended up being another kick ass how overall for New Japan. The format this year is not only helping the performers and viewers, but is also simply allowing the show quality to be better. Once again, there is nothing bad at all on this show. While not as good as night one or four, which were awesome, this show is a balanced one, delivering quality up and down the card and the last four matches being the NJPW special. That means taking a good show and making it great with those final matches. The first six matches were all good, with Davey Boy Smith Jr. picking up the big win on Kojima and Shelton Benjamin's perfect run ending. AJ Styles continues to do AJ Styles things, and continues to show his evolution into a spectacular, all around performer. Bad Luck Fale defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in a huge win for Fale. Fale did well here, but this was a Tanahashi match designed to get the most out of Fale and they succeeded. Not a MOTY, but the match was really good and like Nakamura, Tanahashi made Fale look great. I love Tomoaki Honma's performances, the valiant fighter who keeps coming so close, but still falls without losing the support of the fans. He's either going to get a huge win to ruin someone's finals chance, or go on a run in the next portion of the tournament and it will be great. His match with Nakamura was the best on this show for me, and just a great effort from both men that had me glued to the screen due to the pacing and energy they worked with. Naito vs. Okada was a very good main event, and while not the match of the night, was certainly main event worthy. Okada, in my opinion, has been having the overall best tournament match wise, and more and more is appearing to be the man for the promotion and I love it. They have also done a good job in getting renewed interest in Naito with the wins over Styles and Okada, and that is vital in the booking of the tournament. This was another great show, and at this point, I am very glad I made the decision to go all in for the 2012 G1.
And there we have it with part one of my look at this year's G1 Climax tournament. I am personally enjoying the set up this year, with the way the tournament has been set out and the shows being spaced out. I know that it has been reported that the performers are much happier this year with the schedule, because they get some time to recover and won't burn out as quick. For me, as much as I love NJPW and the tournament, it is easier to cover the way they are doing things this year and I personally appreciate it. Also, the shows have been tremendous overall thus far. I hope you enjoyed my first look at the tournament; there will be more to come
411's TJ Hawke is also blogging on various parts of the tournament, and you can check out his thoughts here and here.
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Larry Csonka is a Pisces and enjoys rolling at jiu jitsu class with Hotty McBrownbelt, cooking, long walks on the beach, Slingo and the occasional trip to Jack in the Box. He is married to a soulless ginger and has two beautiful daughters who are thankfully not soulless gingers; and is legally allowed to marry people in 35 states. He has been a wrestling fan since 1982 and has been writing for 411 since May 24th, 2004; contributing over 3,000 columns, TV reports and video reviews to the site.