Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 25: Night 17 Review

It's the first of three straight nights in Sumo Hall, the winner of Block A is determined!

For the final three nights of the tournament, I'm going to revert back to traditional one-show reviews. I'll provide the final standings for Block A in this review, and the finals standing of Block B in my review of Night 18.

NJPW G1 Climax 25: Night 17
Tokyo, Japan (Ryogoku Sumo Hall) 8/14/15

1.) Six-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma, & Mascara Dorada: **3/4

Anderson is facing Kojima the next night, while Yujiro is facing Homna. I thought this was a fine opener. There was solid action throughout this one. Both Mascara Dorada & Tama Tonga, the two men in this match who weren’t in the G1, did a good job here as well. Tama Tonga would eventually get the win for The Bullet Club after pinning Mascara Dorada.

2.) Six-Man Tag – “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin & reDRagon vs. The Bullet Club (The Young Bucks & Cody Hall): ***1/2

Here we have what was essentially a Ring of Honor showcase match (save for the inclusion of Cody Hall). I really enjoyed this match. It was a ton of fun to watch, and packed with action. Elgin, of course, really shined here, while reDRagon & The Young Bucks were their usual great selves. I’d say this was definitely one of the most entertaining non-tournament matches of the G1. Elgin would eventually get the win for his team after pinning Cody Hall.

3.) Six-Man Tag – Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, & IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto, Ricochet, & Captain New Japan: **3/4

Now these two teams are a weird assortment of individuals. Each side has two guys that are really good, but then both have one guy that really isn’t quite good. I’d say this was about on par with the opener. A fine Six-Man Tag Team Match. It did a good job not only building up Goto vs. Nagata, but KUSHIDA vs. Ricochet as well. Nagata used his armbar to tap out Captain New Japan, scoring the victory for his team.

4.) CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazushi Sakuraba, & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Champion “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, & The Kingdom of Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis): ***

This is easily the most interesting non-tournament match of the G1. CHAOS explodes!!!! Of course, Nakamura & Okada are facing off the next night in the match that will determine who wins Block B, but here, they’ve basically split CHAOS in two! The match itself was solid, for the most part. The fact that we had all of these CHAOS guys in one match was fun to see. Sakuraba gets the win for his team.

5.) G1 Climax – Block A – IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Doc Gallows vs. Katsuyori Shibata: ***1/4

We’re now getting into the last matches in Block A. This particular match was another example of a great wrestler (Katsuyori Shibata in this case) dragging Doc Gallows to a good match. Definitely one of the better Doc Gallows matches of the entire tournament, and it’s no surprise that it came against Shibata. Both men had been eliminated from contention by this point, but points were still on the line. Gallows would get the surprising win here over Shibata.

6.) G1 Climax – Block A - Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano: *3/4

Here we have another solid contender for the worst match of the entire tournament. The only saving grace about this match was the finish, as Yano won by count out after hitting both Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga with a low blow. There’s nothing much else to add to this one.

7.) G1 Climax – Block A – NWA World Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tetsuya Naito: ***1/4

I thought this was a pretty solid match. The action was good, and they told a nice story, where Naito kept screwing around with Tenzan, but eventually got his comeuppance, as Tenzan would later make Naito tap out to the Anaconda Vice for the win. Having Tenzan win here against a newly heel Naito was a little odd (and I saw that some people took issue with this), but given that this is probably Tenzan’s last G1 match, I didn’t mind it too much.

8.) G1 Climax – Block A – Kota Ibushi vs. NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe: ***1/4

This was another pretty solid match from Block A. It was a very interesting clash of styles for sure, as the high-flying Ibushi went up against the hard-hitting bruiser Makabe. Good stuff from both guys here. Ibushi would eventually pick up the win, which is a kind of a big deal, as Makabe was the NEVER Openweight Champion. Ibushi might have just earned himself a title shot.

9.) G1 Climax – Block A – “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: ****3/4

The Main Event of Night 17, and the last match in Block A, is a match between two guys who know each other very well. They’ve faced each other three times (G1 Climax 24: Finals as the 3rd Place Match, King Of Pro-Wrestling 2014, & The New Beginning In Osaka 2015), and I believe Tanahashi has a 2-1 lead in this particular series. I thought this was a fantastic match!!! The match started a little slow, but things certainly built and built throughout the match. The action was really good from start to finish, as you would expect, but the storytelling here was just impeccable. The last few minutes were absolutely insane, and serve as proof that Styles & Tanahashi are two of the best wrestlers in the world. In the end, Tanahashi would score the victory over Styles, winning Block A and punching his ticket to the G1 Climax Finals.

Overall: 8.0/10

This show, as a whole, was pretty good, but it was really lifted up by the Main Event. Styles vs. Tanahashi was an absolute classic, and easily the best match they’ve had with each other. The rest of the Block A matches all ranged from good, to average, to bad (that last one really only applies to Fale vs. Yano). The undercards tags were all pretty solid, for the most part. Elgin & reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks & Cody Hall was the best of the bunch, and was probably better than the majority of the G1 matches we got on this show. Now Tanahashi, the winner of Block A, awaits the winner of Block B.

Final Standings

Block A

Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-2-0) - 14 Points - Block A Winner
"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles (6-3-0) - 12 Points
Tetsuya Naito (5-4-0) - 10 Points
Bad Luck Fale (5-4-0) - 10 Points
Katsuyori Shibata (4-5-0) - 8 Points
Togi Makabe (4-5-0) - 8 Points
Kota Ibushi (4-5-0) - 8 Points
Toru Yano (4-5-0) - 8 Points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (3-6-0) - 6 Points
Doc Gallows (3-6-0) - 6 Points

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