NJPW G1 25 Special Part 1
Katsuyori Shibata vs AJ Styles A Block
This match on the first day is something else. 2014's opening day had my favorite NJPW match of the year, which was AJ vs Okada. Shibata has a pretty heavily taped arm, so we'll see how that affects him throughout the tourney. Poor Shibata. Not only is his arm already fucked up heading into the match, but he fucked up his leg when he accidentally kicks the ring post with a loud thud. Sounded like his ankle bone hit. AJ stays on the leg, and Shibata doesn't have much opportunity to throw forearms or kicks. He still tries to throw them, but they don't have the impact they normal do. Shibata fights out of the calf killer only to get his bad arm soccer kicked while holding the rope. Oh shit, DVD OUTTA NOWHERE. Shibata holds a rear naked choke WITH HIS MOUTH because he can't hold it with his bad arm. What a bad motherfucker. Bloody Sunday sees Shibata land directly on his head. Styles Clash for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi Block A
Also a day one match. Ibushi had what I think was the MOTY with Nakamura at WK9 in January, and now he gets to prove he can hang with another one of the top guys in NJPW. Should be dope. Especially since neither guy is injured heading into this. Tanahashi doesn't give a clean break early in the match. One of my favorite things about Tanahashi is he really knows when to turn up the dicky heel aspect of his personality when it is clear the audience wants to root for the other guy. Tanahashi focuses on the leg of Ibushi, trying to keep him grounded to prevent the high flying flippy flops. Pretty solid strategy. It doesn't work, though. Ibusha gonna fly. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. Tanahashi doubles down on the knee work, starting with a wicked low dropkick. Ibushi refuses to give up, throwing bombs at Tanahashi. The crowd is hot as shit for him to get the win. Tanahashi barely survived and got the win with the High Fly Flow. Hot ass match. Ibushi should be a break out star in 2016 as long as he stays healthy. Seemed like he was on that path in 2015 until hurting his back.
Kazuchika Okada vs Michael Elgin Block B
I still can not figure out how Elgin ended up being the big outside talent to make it to the tournament, especially not after the horrible match he had with Tanahashi at the ROH show. Yet here we are, and the Japan crowd seems to have taken a liking to him. I guess they're starved for big ass Americans (Canadian, but you know what I mean) wrecking shop. This is what the gaijin force has come to: Gone are the days of Brody and Hansen. Now you get Elgin, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega. NJPW wanted the 25th G1 to be the biggest ever, so they spread it over more shows, meaning some of the shows would be one camera shoots with no commentary. It didn't make sense to me, since it makes all those matches look like meaningless house show matches. I don't understand why Elgin does so many top rope flippy moves if his whole gimmick is that he's super strong. It's not like they're done as big moves or anything. Just standard things he does like he'd do a body slam. He gets a ton of offense (too much, imo), but still goes down to the Rainmaker.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Karl Anderson Block B
Anderson has lot to prove, considering he's been in generally shitty tag matches for like 2 years now. Fuck Doc Gallows. He's even worse than Anderson, and I hate the Egg. Anderson focuses on the neck, presumably setting up for the Kanyon Cutter. It pays off, as Anderson gets a huge upset win with a Kanyon Cutter. BANG! Really a nothing match, but Anderson getting the win is pretty giant, especially in Nakamura's first match. It wasn't like Anderson won after 7 matches. This is Nakamura at his freshest. Would you believe that, 9 months later, both guys would be in WWE, yet Anderson is the one in the main event scene on Raw while Nakamura is wrestling in front of a couple hundred people in Florida?
Katsuyori Shibata vs Tetsuya Naito Block A
Naito is such a lazy piece of shit that he doesn't even bother to take his suit off. He takes so long that Shibata keeps beating his ass for it. Naito continues the leg work started by AJ. Shibata seems to really not like Naito. Just wants to beat the shit out of that lazy fuck. Being such a dick even for him. It's wonderful. This was much better than the Shibata/AJ match, which was most definitely disappointing considering the two involved. Shibata appears to be going for the "injured guy showing his true grit" as a tournament long storyline. Injured arm, injured leg, still knocking the shit out of dudes. This had a lot of hatred. After knocking the shit out of Naito, Shibata gets the win with a huge PK.
AJ Styles vs Kota Ibushi Block A
9 months later, AJ is main eventing PPVs with Roman Reigns, while Ibushi is showing up for NXT cruiserweight tournaments that has WWE promoting PROGRESS and Reve Pro shows. What a strange time. Ibushi seems to have AJ's number tonight, on the mat, at striking (and he kicks the shit out of AJ), and in speed. AJ is really just amazing. He can make the most basic of moves look absolutely brutal, both when taking them and delivering them. He focuses most of his offense on the back of Ibushi. There was a wacky spot of AJ countering the deadlift super German suplex into a tombstone off the apron, which was countered into a headscissors off the apron instead. Imagine someone doing a tombstone off the apron. It's had to have happened, right? And I don't mean Taker off the apron into a casket. I mean to the floor. The thought makes my knees hurt. After fighting off the Styles Clash for the whole match, Ibushi scores a huge win with the Phoenix Splash. Some hot shit in this, friends.
Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi Block A
Glad Naito ascended to his spot as top heel of NJPW instead of Kenny Omega. Like Shibata, Tanahashi is very annoyed at how long it takes Naito to undress, even though his gear is tear-away. Hey, fuck off, Cesaro. Stop stealing shit from Japanese dudes that are better than you. First you tried to be Suzuki. Then you started taking Okada spots. Now you're stealing Naito's entrance. Fuck off. Things get heated very early on in this. Naito's lazy piece of shit deal is so enjoyable. The less he does, the better. I'd like to see him just lay out on the floor for a 20 count and stay there for the rest of a show. A neckbreaker on a table happens. I'll let you guess if the table broke or not. From that point on, Naito works the head and neck and is just a general sack of shit. It's amazing how often fans turn on someone, and turning that guy heel will get the fans back on their side again. Naito is the best example since Rocky Maivia He was the super white meat face that got pushed too hard too fast and the crowd turned on him, so he became a lazy sack of shit who spits and cheats and now they love him again. Fickle ass wrasslin fans all over the world. Shout out to Naito's koppo kick. After a very back and forth match with a lot of spitting, Naito gets the win with the Destino, a move he created specifically as a counter for the Rainmaker.
Katsuyori Shibata vs Kota Ibushi Block A
In a perfect world, Shibata wouldn't be a physical wreck coming into this, and this would be a wonderful "no nonsense dude kicks the shit out of a flippy pretty boy" type match. But since he is injured, things might not turn out that way. Ibushi has also taken a few levels up in general cuntiness, so this could be a very different match than it would have been a year prior. Ibushi brings the dick, hitting Shibata's own corner dropkick. It just pissed him off. Shibata just gives his harder. Yes, I am aware of the homoerotic nature of this writing. It is what it is. No judgments unless Michael Hayes is involved. Shibata is mostly amused with with Ibushi's kicks. Ibushi is not amused at getting blasted in the face. With an elbow. Oh shit, you ever see someone counter a Pele kick into a STF? That was some mean shit. This is a FIGHT and it is pretty dope. Shibata wins with the PK.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Shinsuke Nakamura Block B
Things to expect: Lots of knees, a few strike battles, Ishii to appear to break his neck. Ishii hammers Nak for the first few minutes. Coming into this, Nak's elbow is heavily wrapped, and Ishii's knee is taped up. This kind of feels like house show Nak, and in general I'm completely over Ishii's matches. If you enjoy their previous matches, you'll probably enjoy this. It didn't do much for me. Nakamura wins with the Bomaye.