Block B Yujiro Takahashi [8 Points] vs. Yuji Nagata [8 Points]
Yujiro did a long promo with his valets.
I believe both of these men have a chance to tie for the points lead in Block B. I’m not sure if either man has a chance to win the tie breaker though.
Nagata started the match briefly in control, but Yujiro cut him off the dastardly heel tactic of a tope suicida. Nagata came back. They traded forearms. Nagata avoided the Dominator and locked in the eye rollback armbar. Yujiro survived that, but Nagata then killed him with a release German, spat out blood, and hit a saito suplex for a nearfall. Nagata then hit an arm-trap exploder: 1…2…3!
This was just a delightful opener. Yuji Nagata is still so fun in the ring. I’m officially going to be offended if he doesn’t get a shot at Okada in 2014. Nagata ended the tournament with ten points. Match Rating: ***
Block B Minoru Suzuki [10 Points] vs. Toru Yano [6 Points]
Suzuki was looking deadly during his entrance. If he wins, he becomes a potential winner of the tournament.
Why do I have the feeling a giant miscarriage of justice is about to happen? Suzuki went after him right away. Yano managed to send him into a barricade, and he then exposed a turnbuckle. Suzuki got the advantage by going after the left knee. Yano briefly came back, but Suzuki cut him off again. Yano grabbed on to the ref to save his skin from the Gotch Piledriver. They traded pinning combinations. Yano avoided a slap and got one last pinning combination: 1…2…3!
Suzuki had the perfect look on his face, and Yano then crawled to the back and shilled his DVD some more.
This was one of the better comedy matches I’ve seen from NJPW. Though it would be more accurate to say that the match did an amazing job to use comedy to tell a story. Yano was completely out-matched, but his comedic heel shtick ended up getting him the win. Yano finished the tournament with eight points. Match Rating: ***1/2
Block B Shinsuke Nakamura [10 Points] vs. Shelton Benjamin [8 Points]
Shelton attacked Nakamura while he posed during his entrance. Shelton was in control for a bit, but Nakamura came back with his knee strikes and cocaine shakes. They went back and forth for a while. Nakamura hit the backstabber and then the funplex. He called for the Boma Ye, but Shelton avoided it. Nakamura hit a diving Boma Ye. He went to the top rope, but Shelton leaped up and suplexed him to the mat. Shelton hit a diving blockbuster for a nearfall. Shelton got the ankle lock. Nakamura escaped, but he then ran into the Paydirt: 1…2…3
This crowd is RED hot. This was easily Shelton’s best match of the whole tournament. I credit the crowd and Nakamura more than him, but it does deserve note that he worked well here. Shelton finished the tournament with ten points. Match Rating: ***1/2
Block B Tetsuya Naito [8 Points] vs. Karl Anderson [10 Points]
I believe Naito goes on to the finals if he wins this match. Actually, Anderson will move on to the finals too if he wins. Anderson looks deadly serious right now. He lost in the 2012 finals. The crowd was very much behind Naito.
Anderson hit a pump kick that sent Naito to the floor. Anderson was in control until Naito hit a swinging neckbreaker. Naito made a comeback. The crowd was really behind him. Anderson briefly cut him off, but Naito once again made a comeback that the crowd completely supported. Naito hit a German and went for the Stardust Press, but Anderson avoided it. Anderson hit a big pump kick. Anderson bit Naito’s thigh to avoid a super ‘rana. Anderson then hit a super TKO: 1…2…NO!!! Anderson then hit the sitdown Tombstone: 1…2…NO!!! This crowd. Naito avoided two Gun Stuns and then got the Koji Clutch! Anderson had to tap out!
After the match, I believe the commentator announced that Naito had moved on to the finals.
This crowd had given the wrestlers the perfect environment so far. The wrestlers are not doing overly complicated matches, but they are doing their job perfectly. This was just another example of just that. Anderson was a hated rudo. Naito was a beloved tecnico. The crowd knew the winner was going on to the finals. It was awesome. Naito and Anderson finished the tournament with ten points. Match Rating: ****
Block A Davey Boy Smith Jr. [10 Points] vs. Lance Archer [6 Points]
The Killer Elite Squad EXPLODE! Pass.
Archer got the first advantage. He hit the Undertaker Old School spot. Smith came back with a snap suplex and locked in a sharpshooter. Smith hit a chokeslam. Archer came back and hit a moonsault onto Smith’s knees for a nearfall. Smith hit a bridging Tiger for a nearfall. Archer hit a Bubba Bomb for a nearfall. They went back and forth for a while longer. Archer mercifully ended my suffering with a Blackout: 1…2…3
I’m sure there are a fair number of people who a lot more enjoyment out of this one. I did not enjoy it at all, but the crowd at least seemed fairly into it. Archer finishes the tournament with eight points. Match Rating: **
Block A Prince Devitt [8 Points] vs. Togi Makabe [10 Points]
Devitt came out with a stuffed monkey’s head. I was wondering if this was some bizarre racist thing, but then I remembered that Makabe’s nickname is “The Great King Kong” or something like that. Devitt then wore the head, because he’s a wrestling god. Bad Luck Fale attacked Makabe before the bell. Makabe quickly came back on both of them. Fale baited Makabe to the floor, and then Devitt pounced. Devitt was in control for a bit, but Makabe eventually made a comeback.Devitt tried to use a chair, but Makabe just punched right through it and then hit Devitt with the chair. Makabe sent Fale packing. Devitt avoided a diving knee drop and then hit a Ghetto Stomp. There was a ref bump. Fale hit Makabe with a chair and then a Samoan Drop. Devitt then hit Makabe repeatedly with a chair. He stacked three chairs on his chest and hit a Ghetto Stomp: 1…2…NO! The crowd really rallied behind Makabe. Devitt speared the ref, but Makabe then gave him a lariat/powerbomb combo. The crowd counted to three. Fale gave him the Samoan Spike. Two refs came out. Devitt hit Bloody Sunday: 1…2…3
Like a number of other Devitt matches in the G1, the interference became over the top and too much for me. I hope they get back track on that soon because the Bullet Club interference was initially perfectly done. Now, it’s not working for me and bringing down good matches. Both men finished the tournament with ten points. Match Rating: **3/4
Block A Kazuchika Okada [9 Points] vs. Satoshi Kojima [6 Points]
Okada baited Kojima to the floor and gave him a hanging DDT off the barricade. He tried to win by countout. Kojima made it back in, but Okada hit a sliding kick and immediately gained complete control of the match. Kojima fought back and hit the Kobashi chops. Okada cut him off with a neckbreaker. Okada called for the Rainmaker, but Kojima fought back with Mongolian Chops. Okada sold them like death. They went back and forth. Okada avoided a lariat. Kojima avoided a Tombstone. Kojima hit an Ace Crusher. They did a reversal sequence that saw Kojima reverse a Rainmaker into a lariat! Okada ran into another lariat: 1…2…3! Kojima eliminated Okada!
This was golden. Kojima had nothing to fight for except respect, and Okada had his shot at the finals on the line. Kojima won clean as a sheet in a red hot match. On top of that, this set up a future IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between the two, and I am now way more excited to watch that. Kojima finished the tournament with eight points. Match Rating: ****
Block A Hiroshi Tanahashi [9 Points] vs. Katsuyori Shibata [10 Points]
The winner of this match will go on to face Naito in the G1 Climax finals. Hype.
Shibata caught him with a slap to the face. HYPE. Shibata missed a bit wildly with a couple of early kick attemps. Tana fell to the floor. Shibata really dominated the early portion of the match. He hit the delayed corner dropkick of death AND doom. Tana finally came back with a couple of dragon screws. They traded strikes. Tana hit a headbutt. Shibata came back with a headbutt of his own. OUCH. WHY! Shibata got his knees up on a High Fly Flow and then locked in the sleeper. Tana managed to fight out of it, but Shibata locked it in again. Shibata managed to hit the Penalty Kick and then called for Go-2-Sleep. Tana reversed it into a small package: 1…2…3! WOW!
Tanahashi was dead after the match. Shibata was furious that he got caught in the pinfall. It’s perfect. Shibata was the better “fighter,” but Tanahashi just managed to get the victory by using a WRESTLING hold. NJPW, you are my one, true wrestling love. The crowd was great for this, too. Tanahashi wins Block A. Match Rating: ***3/4
Kota Ibushi, Akebono, & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI)
The greatest trios team of all time.
The match was chaotic and just very, very amusing. Iizuka’s feud with the NJPW commentator is a feud of the year contender. Ishii and Ibushi had a match while a lot of…chaos…happened on the floor. A trios match broke out. Ibushi was worked over by CHAOS. Akebono made a hot tag. Sakuraba tagged in and did lots of kicking. More…chaos ensued. Sakuraba eventually locked HASHI into a kimura, and he tapped out.
Ishii and Ibushi continued to fight on the floor. Afterwards, the three heroes and the NJPW commentator that gets beat up all the time raised each other’s hands in the ring. Heroes. All of these men.
This was some wacky, wacky fun. Two HUGE thumbs up for this one. Match Rating: ***1/2
The 2013 G1 Climax Finals Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Things started a little slowly. Tanahashi went after the injured right leg. Will Naito sell the leg well? He started to, at least. Tanahashi started to relentlessly stomp the injure leg. Tanahashi does not mess around when he sees an opportunity to exploit a weakness. I love it. Naito then made his comeback like nothing was up. Ruh roh. Naito, Ibushi, BxB Hulk, and John Cena are the Mount Rushmore of not selling a leg. Tana managed to kick out the injured leg to slow him down. Tana then hit High Fly Flow to the floor. They traded a lot of forearms. They seemingly botch a double crossbody spot or something. Tanahashi got a nearfall with a Florida Key. Naito avoided the High Fly Flow. Naito got a nearfall with a bridging German. Naito then hit Gloria, but Tanahashi avoided the Stardust Press. Naito started selling his injured knee like mad after that crash and burn. Tana hit a couple of dragon screws and then locked in the cloverleaf. Tana had it really deep. Naito survived and got a Koji Clutch. Tana almost passed out, but he survived. Tana reversed a super ‘rana and hit a Styles Clash! HIGH FLY FLOW to the back! He went for a second one, but Naito got his knees up. His injured knee! Naito charged, but Tana kicked out the injured leg. Naito hit the Sling Blade!!! Bridging Dragon from Naito: 1…2…NO!!! Geeeeeezus. Naito then hit Gloria and the Stardust Press: 1…2…3!!!
First off, there is no denying that this was a great match and a great finale to the G1. However, there are several negatives that stuck out to me. For one thing, Naito just refusing to sell his leg in transitions and comebacks was just infuriating. He didn’t ignore his leg all the time, but he ignored it enough that it bothered me. In a completely unfair criticism, I also need to point out that it was hard to enjoy the journey of Naito when you know that his push to the Wrestle Kingdom “main event” completely flopped. He’s a talented performer, but he’s not IWGP Heavyweight Champion material right now at all. Match Rating: ****1/4
The 411: The G1 Climax was a great tournament that peaked on the very last show. I would say the big weakness of the tournament was that Naito's knee injury should have been more important in the matches. He also should have sold his knee better when the knee injury story was a part of the match. That would make his victory all the more sweeter. Did his victory still work? Absolutely. It just could have been better.