Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 25: Finals (Night 19) Review

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shinsuke Nakamura do battle in the Finals of the 25th G1 Climax!!!

NJPW G1 Climax 25: Finals (Night 19)
Tokyo, Japan (Ryogoku Sumo Hall) 8/16/15

Before the show, we get an in-ring promo from Delirious. Yes, you read that right. Delirious, from ROH, in a New Japan ring. He breaks out of his usual blabbering and rambling trance to cut a promo in broken English about ROH’s relationship with New Japan. He then announces that ROH would be coming Japan in 2016.

1.) Six-Man Tag – Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, & David Finlay vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Yohei Komatsu, & Sho Tanaka: ***

We officially kicked off the show with a Six-Man Tag involved some of the juniors and a number of young lions. I thought it was a fine opening match. There was some solid action, and all six guys got a chance to shine. The team of Dorada, Taguchi, & Finlay would get the win here.

2.) Six-Man Tag – NWA World Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzam, Satoshi Kojima, & Captain New Japan vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, & Jay White: **3/4

My interest in one of these multi-mans always falls a little bit when I see either Manabu Nakanishi or Captain New Japan in a match. For what this was, it was a fine Six-Man Tag. There was some reasonably decent action in this match. The team of TenKoji & Captain New Japan scored the victory in this one.

3.) “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. YOSHI-HASHI: ****

Here we’re getting a break from the multi-man tags to see a singles between YOSHI-HASHI and #BIGMIKE. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this match going in (I figured it’d be a showcase for Elgin) but it ended up blowing away my expectations. This match was great!!! Elgin, once again, looked very impressive, but YOSHI-HASHI stepped up in a big way, and this was probably his most memorable singles matches in a very long time. There was a lot of very good action throughout this one. Eventually, Michael Elgin would indeed pick up the win. #BIGMIKE has been fantastic in this year’s tournament. He could easily be one of the MVP’s of the tournament, and has definitely earned himself a spot on the roster.

4.) Six-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Kazushi Sakuraba): *1/2

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about this match. It had the tough task of following a surprisingly great Michael Elgin/YOSHI-HASHI match. Plus, this match just wasn’t that good to begin with. Take my word for it, you’re not missing much. CHAOS wins. You can definitely skip this match.

5.) Six-Man Tag – IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, & Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito, NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe, & Tomoaki Honma: ***1/4

Now this is a Six-Man Tag that I was looking forward to checking out! I really like the idea of a Shibata/Goto/Ibushi trio. A pretty solid Six-Man Tag here. Not only was the action solid, but there was a lot going on here, feud wise, as you had the budding NEVER Openweight Title program between Makabe & Ibushi, as well as the growing feud between Shibata & Naito (their interactions in particular were great). In the end, the team of Shibata, Goto, & Ibushi would pick up the win here.

Up next, we had intermission, where Wrestle Kingdom 10 at The Tokyo Dome was officially announced. Then, from out of nowhere, Japanese Wrestling Legend Genichiro Tenryu came out to ring. He was going to be retiring from wrestling in a few months (November 15th, to be specific) on a special retirement show. He basically calls out Okada & Gedo and challenged Okada to a match at his retirement show on November 15th. Okada accepts his challenge, and it looks like the dream match has been set!

6.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – The Young Bucks vs. reDRagon: ****

Of course, these two teams have a very storied history. They had three great matches in ROH in 2014, including a legitimate MOTYC at ROH/NJPW War Of The Worlds 2014 in New York City. They also had another tag team encounter earlier in 2015 at ROH’s 13th Anniversary Show. While this wasn’t nearly as fantastic as some of their previous matches, this was still a great match, and another illustrious chapter in their feud. Great action from both teams in this one, as you would expect. Eventually, reDRagon would score the victory to recapture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!

7.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – KUSHIDA vs. Ricochet: ****1/4

These two met in the Finals of the 2014 Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament, which Ricochet won. That’s the basis for this title shot. Similar to reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks, this wasn’t the best match these two have had, but this was still a pretty fantastic match! There was some awesome back & forth action between both guys in this one. KUSHIDA & Ricochet are just so good, that it’s almost impossible for them to have a bad match. This was so much fun to watch. In the end, KUSHIDA would get the win, retaining his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title in the process.

8.) Six-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Champion “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, & The Kingdom of Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis): ***1/4

Now here’s a match that we (feasibly) could see in ROH, but I think The Kingdom being partnered with Okada would definitely confuse some people here in North America (given that Okada was going to be cheered no matter what, while The Kingdom are heels. Regardless, this was an entertaining Six-Man Tag. There was some good action mixed in with some comedy (mainly involving Maria Kanellis, Karl Anderson, & AJ Styles). The big moment, however came at the end of the match when Styles pinned Okada to win the match for his team. Obviously, this sets up a IWGP Heavyweight Title match down the line.

9.) G1 Climax – Finals – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: *****

These two have clashed numerous times in the past. Their most recent exchanges came in 2014, when they first fought over the IWGP Intercontinental Title, before they met in that year’s G1 Climax. Of course, the winner of the G1 Climax gets a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Wrestle Kingdom 10. I thought this was a fantastic match!! This was really a case of the tournament peaking right at the Finals. These two poured their hearts & souls into this one, and not only was it the best match of the tournament (just barely though, because there were a number of awesome ****3/4 matches), but it might have just been the best match these two have had together. The action was great, as you would expect from two of the best wrestlers in the world, but the storytelling was superb as well. The crowd in Sumo Hall was so into this match. It was unreal. The last few minutes were absolutely insane, but eventually, Tanahashi was able to score the victory, winning the G1 Climax for the 2nd time!!

Tanahashi did shake hands with Nakamura after the match. Then we got into the trophy presentation for Tanahashi. There was actually a funny moment, as Tanahashi was celebrating with a G1 Flag, when the flagpole actually snapped in half. I believe he was able to put it back together, and continued his celebration.

Overall: 9.0/10

For the most part, this was a pretty fantastic show. I really like how they included other things on here besides the G1 Finals, like the two matches for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title & IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. I think both of those matches really added to the show. We also had a surprisingly great singles match between Michael Elgin & YOSHI-HASHI. Some of the multi-man tags were good, and did feature builds towards future matches (Okada/Styles, Ibushi/Makabe, Naito/Shibata), though some of those multi-man tags weren’t that good. Of course, the G1 Climax Finals were fantastic, as Tanahashi & Nakamura put on a match for the ages! I’m sure it’ll be remembered as one of the best G1 Climax Finals in the history of the tournament.

As far as the tournament as a whole goes, it was a very interesting one. The new format prevented any Show of the Year Contenders (like we saw in 2013 & 2014) from happening, and I don't think it would say it's better than those tournaments. It's very close, but I just don't know if I could put this above the 23rd & 24th G1 Climax. That being said, we still saw some awesome matches in this tournament!! There were plenty of fantastic matches sprinkled throughout the tournament, but the last several shows were some of the absolute best. This tournament truly climaxed on the final night, with the incredible Tanahashi/Nakamura Finals. Another excellent G1 Climax from New Japan, and I can't wait to see what the 2016 G1 Climax brings!! 

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