Views from the Hawke's Nest: NJPW G1 Climax 2014 Blog #1 (Days 1 & 2)
Posted by TJ Hawke on 07.24.2014
Six matches from Day 1 and 2 are looked at!
Here's the dealio. I'm not watching (much less recapping) the entire 2014 G1. The 2013 G1 taught me there is too much filler and too much repetition within the tournament for my liking. Instead, I'm going to be watching some select matches and reviewing them here. I may occasionally do very brief reviews (but no recaps) of matches that I am only slightly interested in (but I haven't decided yet). That means some matches that you all really like get left behind, but I'm not saying every match I skip is bad. It just means that for whatever reason, I was not interested in it. I have decided to try to watch one match from every competitor, which means I'm going to try to watch the best match they have in the whole tournament.
Tomoaki Honma [0 Points] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0 Points]
Not much of note happed in the opening minutes. Honma went for the running headbutt twice early, but Tana avoided it both times. Tana had control for a few minutes. He hit a pescado. Honma came back with a vertical suplex after they battled for a bit in the vertical suplex setup position. Honma then made a comeback. He finally hit the headbutt!!! YAY!!! They went back and forth briefly before they both collapsed. The crowd was completely behind Honma. Honma then hit a lariat and a high-angle brainbuster: 1 2 NO! Honma went for his diving headbutt, but Tana avoided it. They traded forearms. Tana caught him with a strait jacket German: 1 2 NO! Honma hit a dragon screw and called for a lariat. Tana reversed it into a German. Honma no-sold it but then ate the Sling Blade. HIGH FLY FLOW: 1 2 3!
While I will greatly miss Kota Ibushi's presence in the G1, Honma also deserved to be in the tournament. He's a beloved wrestler and puts on fun matches almost every single time out. This match was light on substance but heavy on fun! That's just fine with me! Match Rating: ***1/2
Katsoyori Shibata [0 Points] vs. Shinsuke Nakamura [0 Points]
Shibata went for the Delayed Corner Dropkick of Doom and Destruction early, but Nakamura hit a running boot to the face. Shibata then avoided a corner knee strike. Shibata then dragged him to the floor with a sleeper. Shibata hit a dropkick on the floor and then applied a knee submission in the ring. Nakamura got to the ropes, but Shibata started taunting Naka. Naka did not like that. Nakamura then won a forearm exchange. Nakamura was then in control. Shibata came back with a knee strike and then a big kick to the chest. Shibata RAINED down the forearms and then delivered the Delayed Corner Dropkick of Doom and Destruction. They traded Germans until Nakamura hit a backstabber. Nakamura called for the Boma Ye, but Shibata met him with a dropkick. Nakamura avoided the Penalty Kick and hit a diving Boma Ye! BOMA YE: 1 2 NO! Nakamura called for another one, but Shibata hit a dropkick! Shibata hit the Go-2-Sleep and a Penalty Kick: 1 2 3!
These two had the in-ring chemistry that you would exactly expect them to have. They hit each other hard, and they worked a fast pace for their style. Most importantly, they did not overstay their welcome. I obviously would be up for a rematch in the near future.
I'm expecting Nakamura to win the G1, which means I probably should not be entirely surprised to see him lose this one. NJPW had Naito and Tanahashi lose a lot early on last year before they both made it to the finals. Match Rating: ***1/2
Kazuchika Okada [0 Points] vs. AJ Styles [0 Points]
Okada got the first advantage, but it did not last long. AJ cut him off with a dropkick and a scoop slam on the floor. Okada came back quickly enough. AJ ended up in the crowd, and Okada jumped over the guardrail to hit a cross body. It was sweet. Back in the ring, Okada applied Red Ink. AJ teased tapping, but he got to the ropes. AJ came back with a buckle suplex and then a torture rack bomb. AJ went for the springboard 450, but Okada avoided it. There was a ref bump, and Okada then hit the Air Raid Crash on the thigh. Okada called for the Rainmaker, but Yujiro Takahashi ran in and hit a lariat on him. Gedo did not make the save for unknown reasons. Okada made his own comeback. The distraction allowed AJ to hit a springboard elbow. AJ avoided a Rainmaker and hit a German. Pele Kick. Okada reversed a Styles Clash into a tombstone! What the fuck! Okada hit the prettiest German ever: 1 2 NO! RAIN-FUCKING-MAKER: 1 2 3!
As someone who was trying to lead the campaign that let everyone know how boring their first two matches were, I have to think my praise for the third match should have some credibility. This match was way more fun for a number of reasons. AJ emphasized his heel character more (instead of doing limb work, which he is not good at), which made his heat segment far more engaging. They worked in a number of nifty sequences in spots that the first two matches were in desperate need of. The Bullet Club interference was minimal and actually helped the crowd get invested. This was a big thumbs up main event. If you liked their first two matches, you'll love this. If you were like me and disliked their first two matches, I highly recommend that you check this one out. Match Rating: ***3/4
Yuji Nagata [0 Points] vs. Tomoaki Honma [0 Points]
Honma was very over with the crowd before the match. Nagata did not look impressed with that! Honma called for the headbutt early, but Nagata avoided it. He went right back for it, but Nagata avoided it again. Nagata started going after the left arm. Nagata hit a Kitchen Sink but then fell over, which was kind of sad to see. Honma eventually fired back and hit a suplex. He then hit the headbutt! He seemed so proud of himself. Nagata came back with the eye rollback armbar. Honma survived and hit a Liger Bomb. A brainbuster from Honma got him a nearfall. He went for the diving headbutt, but Nagata avoided it. They traded some heavy strikes. Nagata hit a rebound German, but Honma no-sold it. Nagata then hit a brainbuster for another nearfall. Nagata then hit a bridging backdrop driver: 1 2 3!
Wow, this match got pretty damn heated down the stretch. The only thing about this match that I disliked was that Nagata abandoned his early limb work for the second half of the match. Other than that, this was incredibly enjoyable and recommend viewing for all. Match Rating: ***3/4
Kazuchika Okada [2 Points] vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [2 Points]
Night 1 saw Okada finally defeat AJ Styles, and Tenzan got somewhat of an upset win over Karl Anderson. Someone is leaving with four points! This is probably the only Tenzan match I will watch in the tournament.
The crowd looks ready to get behind Tenzan, which could make this a very fun match. Tenzan had some early momentum, but Okada slowed him down with a DDT on the floor. Okada worked him over after that. Tenzan came back soon enough with a spinning heel kick. Tenzan then made a comeback. Okada came back by going after the neck some more. Tenzan caught him with a headbutt and then a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. Anaconda Vice! Okada tried to stand up, but Tenzan slammed him down for a nearfall. Tenzan then hit a diving headbutt for another nearfall. Tenzan went for a moonsault, but Okada avoided it. Tenzan avoided a Rainmaker and hit a big lariat of his own! Okada came back with a dropkick and a tombstone! RAINMAKER: 1 2 3
Well, Okada is a miracle worker. His basic strategy for every match (work the neck to set up the Rainmaker) gives each of his matches a foundation to build on. The question usually becomes how interesting is his opponent. Tenzan is at the bottom of the list when it comes to that, but he stepped up his game here (possibly knowing he doesn't have many more high profile singles matches in his career). The crowd was really into it, and I ended up enjoying this a great deal more than I expected. Match Rating: ***1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi [2 Points] vs. Doc Gallows [0 Points]
This crowd has been pretty hot, and Tanahashi is hugely over with them. If Gallows cannot have a good match with him here, it's a huge indictment of his abilities. This is probably the only Gallows match that I will watch in the tournament.
Gallows was dominating the early portion of the match. They ended up on the floor. Tana almost won via countout, but that was the only positive thing he managed to do for a while. Tana fought back and the match got more competitive. Tana got his knees up on a Vader Bomb attempt and then made a comeback. Gallows managed to slow him down with a spinebuster variation. Gallows worked him over briefly until Tana hit Sling Blade. He hit a second Sling Blade and a High Fly Flow to the back! He then hit a proper High Fly Flow: 1 2 3!
Tanahashi busted out some gnarly air guitars solos after the match.
When Tanahashi works in front of a good crowd, they are absolutely putty in his hands. This match completely worked (despite being nothing special) as a result. Tana had a similarly structured match with Lance Archer in the G1 last year, but it was in front of a bad crowd and thus was incredibly boring. Anyway, kudos to Tanahashi for pulling out what seemed like a satisfying main event with a limited performer. Match Rating: ***