Block B Karl Anderson [4 Points] vs. Kota Ibushi [4 Points]
Kota went for his moonsault to the floor early on, but Anderson blocked it and hit a Brogue Kick on the floor. Anderson tried to win by default, but Kota made it back into the ring. Anderson was in control after that though. That didn’t last long as Kota sent Anderson to the floor and hit his moonsault. Back in the ring, Kota got a couple of nearfalls before Anderson hit a leaping knee and a Liger Bomb: 1…2…NO! Kota came back with a high kick, a Liger Bomb, and a Phoenix Splash: 1…2…3!
Wow, this was a rock-solid opener and definitively better than most NJPW openers these days. Despite working the same match for the last six years, Kota Ibushi continues to be a breath of fresh air wherever he goes and whatever he does. Ibushi now has six points. Match Rating: ***
Block B Shelton Benjamin [2 Points] vs. Yujiro Takahashi [4 Points]
This looks dull as fuck on paper. The match was in fact quite dull. Yujiro got control with a tope suicida. Shelton eventually came back and got a nearfall with a bridging German. Yujiro avoided Paydirt, but Shelton then managed to hit a diving blockbuster. Yujiro came back with a Drunk Slam, a bridging German, and a Dominator: 1…2…3
I would say this was the worst NJPW match from 2013 that I’ve seen. Please don’t look up my past star ratings to confirm. They did absolutely nothing of value, and they bored me to tears. Yujiro now has six points. Just the idea of Yujiro being so close to winning this makes me sad in the pants. Match Rating: DUD
Prince Devitt [2 Points] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [2 Points]
Devitt is coming off an awful loss to Lance Hoyt. Ishii is coming off an incredible win over Tanahashi.
Ishii had control early, but Bad Luck Fale put a stop to that. Devitt worked him over after that. The crowd was not “hot” for this exactly, but you can tell they hate Devitt and very much want Ishii to win. Ishii looked to be starting a comeback, but Fale brought him to the floor in plain view of the referee. That was lame. Ishii came back though and hit a senton plancha onto Devitt and Fale. Ishii then hit the FUCKING MACHINE SUPLEX: 1…2…NO! Ishii then hit a folding powerbomb for a much weaker nearfall. Devitt came back with the Pele and a brainbuster. Devitt followed that with a ghetto stomp: 1…2…NO! Ishii came back with a lariat, and then they traded strikes. Ishii won that exchange. There was a ref bump. Ishii hit a saito suplex and a lariat: 1…2…NO! Fale managed to hit Ishii with a chair behind the ref’s back. Devitt then hit the reverse Bloody Sunday for a good nearfall. Devitt followed that with the regular Bloody Sunday: 1…2…3
The dynamic between these two was damn-near perfect. Devitt is the hated foreign heel, and Ishii is the plucky babyface that the NJPW fans are in love with. It’s a shame that Ishii lost a match right after the Tanahashi classic, but Devitt suffering another loss would have been equally disappointing. Devitt now has four points. Match Rating: ***1/2
Block B Minoru Suzuki [2 Points] vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [0 Points]
I need to learn Japanese just so I can sing along with Suzuki’s theme. Tenzan is in desperate need of a win. Meanwhile, I desperately do not want Tenzan to win.
This match quickly ended up on the floor. They brawled a lot. Suzuki got control and brought the match back to the ring. Tenzan managed to make a brief comeback, but Suzuki cut him off with a sleeper. Suzuki then hit some slaps. Suzuki went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Tenzan avoided it and locked in the Anaconda Vice. Suzuki survived. Tenzan went for a moonsault, but Suzuki blocked it. It looked like Suzuki hit a Divorce Court, but Tenzan no-sold it and Suzuki sold it instead. Tenzan then hit a moonsault: 1…2…3
Suzuki threw a hissy fit after the match and hit a young boy. Suzuki is the best.
This was an okay match. Tenzan does not have much to offer anymore, but Suzuki dragged him to a moderately watchable match. The wrong man most definitely won. Tenzan now has two points. Match Rating: **1/4
Block B Yuji Nagata [4 Points] vs. Tetsuya Naito [0 Points]
This is pretty much a must-win situation for Naito.
They traded a lot of strikes. Nagata won their first exchange, but he did not get definitive control of the match. Naito briefly came back, but Nagata Nagata-ed up and hit an avalanche exploder for the first real nearfall. Nagata got Naito in an inverted figure four or something. Naito made the ropes and then made the comeback. They did another strike exchange. Nagata killed him with a backdrop driver. Naito fired back with a sliding kick, a dragon suplex, and the Stardust Press: 1…2…3!
This was a very fun match. There wasn’t a ton of substance, but they worked a brisk pace and kept the crowd engaged the whole time. The result was not really in question, but I was compelled throughout the match. Thumbs up! Naito finally has two points. Match Rating: ***1/4
Block A Kazuchika Okada [0 Points] vs. Lance Archer [4 Points]
It’s a TNA vs. TNA battle!
Okada hit a slingshot plancha early. Archer tried to win quickly by countout, but he failed. Archer worked the world champion over for a while after that though. Okada slowed him down with a flapjack, and he then made a comeback. He went after Archer’s neck as he is wont to do. Okada got the Red Ink, which has to be one of the least successful submission finishers ever. Okada kicked TAKA off the apron. Archer came back with a choke suplex and a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Archer hit the Scorpion Deathdrop for another nearfall. Archer hit a Bubba Bomb for another nearfall. Okada fired back with a dropkick and the Rainmaker: 1…2…3
Much like a lot of Archer’s (and Smith’s) work in NJPW, this was a perfectly acceptable. Archer just does not add anything to any of his matches, and I cannot help but wonder why he of all people is in this spot when there are so many more talented gaijin that could do what he’s doing (but better, obviously). Okada worked a less epic version of his style here. He solely went after the neck, and his finisher targets the neck. Thus, the fact that he did not get a ton of offense did not make his win seem out of place. Okada finally has two points. Match Rating: ***
Block B Shinsuke Nakamura [0 Points] vs. Toru Yano [0 Points]
Both guys are obviously badly in need of a win.
Nakamura buried his face in Yano’s giant breasts early on. As you do. Yano then brought the match to the floor where they brawled for a bit. Yano avoided the Boma Ye and then threw a chair at Nakamura. Crowd brawling. Yano tried to win by countout, but Nakamura got back into the ring. Yano was in control after that though. Nakamura came back with a dropkick and the cocaine shakes. Cue the knee strikes. Yano managed to kick Nakamura in the balls behind the ref’s back: 1…2…NO! Yano got a couple of nearfalls, but Nakamura rolled through a schoolboy and got the Boma Ye out of nowhere: 1…2…3!
This surprised me. They had a good dynamic and really got me invested in a match that I did not care about at all before the match started. Nakamura is not my favorite wrestler, but he’s pretty much automatic these days when it comes to have good matches with everyone. Nakamura finally has two points. Match Rating: ***1/4
Block A Satoshi Kojima [4 Points] vs. Hirooki Goto [2 Points]
Kojima was coming in with a taped-up shoulder, which should make the story of the match pretty easy. Goto got the advantage early on by going after the shoulder. Kojima came back and hit a DDT on the apron. Kojima was in control after that. Goto fought back and got a nearfall with a sunset flip powerbomb. Goto got a few more nearfalls. He eventually put Kojima away with the Shouten: 1…2…3
Well, you would have thought the story of the match would have been easy. They abandoned the arm work very early on for reasons that are not clear to me. Instead, they had the bland match you would expect from these two. Considering I did not care about this match going in, I’m shocked by how underwhelmed I ended up being. Goto now has four points. Match Rating: **3/4
Block A Togi Makabe [2 Points] vs. Katsuyori Shibata [2 Points]
Shibata is so good that I’m interested in a Makabe match.
The match almost immediately led to a double countout, but they both got back into the ring before that happened. They hit each other. A lot. Shibata had the advantage for a bit. He used lots of kicks. Makabe slowed him down with a lariat. Shibata hit a German, but Makabe fired right back with another lariat. Makabe hit a folding powerbomb for a nearfall. Shibata came back with a Go-2-Sleep and a Penalty Kick: 1…2…3
Much like the last match, this was nothing special. The crowd was somewhat invested, but there was a definitive lack of passion in this match. Shibata thankfully has four points. Match Rating: **3/4
Block A Hiroshi Tanahashi [0 Points] vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. [2 Points]
Tanahashi needs a win, and Smith needs to have a great singles match.
Smith’s power advantage was the early story. Tanahashi went for a slingshot plancha, but Smith caught him and sent him into a ring post. He then powerslammed Tanahashi onto a barricade. Smith was in control for a while after that. Tanahashi came back finally with…THE FINAL CUT! I hope he steals more Big Show offense in this match. I hope he hits the Alley Oop! Tanahashi went for the High Fly Flow, but Smith caught him with a superplex for a nearfall. Smith came up selling his neck. Smith got another nearfall with a Drunk Slam. A bridging tiger suplex from Smith got another nearfall. He went for the Liger Bomb, but Tanahashi escaped and hit the dragon screw. They traded forearm strikes. Smith got a nearfall with a lariat. Smith then hit a folding powerbomb: 1…2…NO! The structure of this match is really not putting Smith’s offense over that strong. Smith went for a Liger Bomb, but Tanahashi reversed it into what I guess was a Sling Blade. He then hit a proper Sling Blade and a Florida Key: 1…2…NO! High Fly Flow: 1…2…3!
This was a really effective match in terms of getting the crowd invested in the story (Smith pretty much dominated the match, but Cenahashi is tough and eventually won). While the crowd was not especially hot at the start of the match, once Tanahashi started his comeback, the crowd was in their pocket the rest of the way. This is probably the best Harry Smith singles match I’ve seen in any promotion. Tanahashi finally has two points. Match Rating: ***1/2
After three days of competition, here are the tournament standings:
The 411: This was probably the most inconsistent day of the 2013 G1 so far. While the show had some clear bright spots, there were also a few matches that felt like a complete waste of time. Hopefully, the 2013 G1 does not have a worst match than Yujiro/Benjamin. Ooof baboof.