G1 Climax Night 14 Recommended Viewing
By: Matt Ederer
At least once a season in the NFL, there seems to be a week where all the good players play poorly and all of the good teams lose. There’s no science behind it, nobody is sure why it happens, but the Wonky Week is real, and its power to ruin gambler’s lives is undoubted.
G1 Climax Night 14 was NJPW’s Wonky Week. This was a show full of legitimately shocking results. Though the actual in-ring action was not the strongest of the tournament in terms of pure bell-to-bell rasslin, the excitement and unpredictability of the finishes more than made up for that. If you are going on pure star ratings, Night 14 is pretty safely the worst show so far, and will easily be the worst one of the tournament unless something goes wrong. We’re nearing the home stretch now, and the last three shows are always typically great.
All five of the finishes popped the crowd really hard here though, and we got a lot of work done for the future in just three hours tonight. This was an important show, and it nailed what it attempted to do to such a degree that you really can’t call it “bad”. This was a show of upsets to set up the next few months until WK12. We have a pretty clear picture of some matches we are gonna see until then. We have been spoiled with match quality so far this month. I am totally OK with telling a few stories here and there, rather than constant balls-to-the-wall action.
New Japan Wrestling is smart, classic wrestling presented with a modern feel . It’s growing, and that’s really nice to see. This is a great wrestling company and they deserve to be huge.
G1 Climax Day Fourteen
Tama Tonga v Toru Yano
Tonga busted out the facepaint tonight, which is always fun.
I actually think the facepaint tonight was a tool to hammer home the opening visual. Tonga made his entrance first, and Toru Yano second. With us assuming Tonga was in the ring, the creepy face-painted Tonga emerged from the darkness behind Yano, as Yano walked down the ramp. Genuinely a very cool visual.
Then, Yano noticed this terrifying man creeping behind him, and ran away. Tonga proceeded to chase Yano around the ring for like, two full minutes, Yackety Sax style. That was less cool.
This was the exact match you would expect from two of the more, shall we say goofy wrestlers on the NJPW roster. Tonga’s character is half scary, half goofy. Tonga is a nasty and mean dude, but he also is the guy who stole Okada’s jacket in their match for funsies.
If you’ve seen Tonga and Yano before, you have seen this match before. Better than the absolute worst stuff of the tournament by a shade maybe.
SANADA vs. Satoshi Kojima
Kojima finally pulls out a win against the young, brash SANADA. Kojima has had better matches, but I loved how much of a bad-ass he came across as in this one. Especially after the lariat to end it. It was as though for a couple minutes, the old Kojima was back, a champion who comes in and handles his business. Tenzan’s reaction and the crowd’s reaction really helped make this as well.
SANADA is close. He’s almost there. The sky is the limit for this guy. That is both his gimmick, and a true meta thing that you can see for yourself. I think while NJPW is telling this story that SANADA is still putting the pieces together, he’s the perfect guy to lose this match to a Kojima. Kojima gets a win he needs, and he can give it back to SANADA down the line, when it may mean something. Fabulous.
Great booking, solid little match.
Minoru Suzuki vs. Michael Elgin
Didn’t much care for this one. I am a big time Suzuki fan and apologist, but this was everything that people dislike about Suzuki. Tons of interference, slow brawling, lots of weapon shots, some slow walking around the ring, and hey have some more interference.
By the end of this, it picked up big time. This match felt like two different matches sewn together in the middle. The first part, with Suzuki dominating Elgin on the outside while his lackeys helped out/cheered on? Wasn’t the greatest. The second part, where Big Mike overcame the odds and ran roughshod on those three fools was actually pretty fun and rewarding.
Call it an average match. Below avg first half, with an above avg second half. Another fun result, and another important win to set up a big title match down the road. Suzuki will likely be defending that NEVER title to Omega soon. More on that later.
Important note though: this was a bad loss for Minoru Suzuki in the standings. With his loss here, and an Omega win in the following match, Minoru Suzuki would be eliminated.
Juice Robinson vs. Kenny Omega
Lol. Kenny Omega dominates this match for the entirety of it, slips on a banana peel, and Juicey Juicey baby is victorious.
In-ring, this was a fine match, might not even qualify as a top 30 G1 match by the time it’s all over though, in this crazy tournament. The match quality has just been through the roof. The moment after the bell was awesome though, Juice being so proud/shocked by himself that he was visibly beaming and audibly swearing. Juice might the best babyface on earth at this moment. He just bleeds that Sami Zayn/Tye Dillenger innate babyface quality. How and why did NXT cast this guy as an annoying hippy heel?
For a second, Juice seemed like *the* breakout star of this G1 Climax 27. He’s scored wins over Kojima, and now Kenny Omega, easily the biggest win of his career. He’s got a 4* match with the champ Okada, and an even better match than that vs EVIL. He has clearly set up a big US title match with Omega, which could probably happen on American soil. What a huge night, month, and life decision to come to Japan it has been for Juice. I cannot possibly gush enough about this guy, it’s just so awesome to see someone pick himself off of the scrap heap and become such a positive light in wrestling. By all accounts, Juice Robinson is actually one of the most humble, hardest working and nicest people in the wrestling business.
Another fun fact: with this loss, Kenny Omega’s back was against the wall. If Okada were to win his upcoming match, that would mean Okada would have a 4 point lead on Kenny with two days remaining in the block. Omega would have to win out, and Okada would have to lose back-to-back matches to for Omega to qualify.
EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada
lololololol. Wellp, good thing EVIL wasn’t hurt after that Kenny Omega match.
So. We saw the biggest upset of the G1 so far in Juice vs Omega, and the biggest win of Juice’s career. Fast forward 20 minutes and what do you know, there’s a new Breakout Sheriff in town. EVIL comes from nowhere to shock the world, pinning the champ Okada. I think, and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but this is the first time in over a year that Okada has lost a 1–1 match.
Juice Robinson was an underneath guy who has solidly broken into NJPW’s midcard. However, EVIL is a midcard guy who has exploded into the main event scene over the course of the last month. Due in great part to his highly developed sense of EEEEEEVIL!!!~
Evil has a move called the Darkness Falls, which is a fireman’s carry into a sit out powerbomb, like a backwards AA or something. In an attempt to both prove that he is EVILLLLLLL, and also kill the IWGP champion live on NJPWworld.com, EVIL hit his Darkness Falls, onto Okada, onto a pile of chairs on the outside.
I frankly think that a move like that shouldn’t be kicked out of. It should probably lead to an injury, in storyline. That was truly devastating. Thankfully, it wasn’t kicked out of. Awesome match here, one with another shocking result. This instantly surpassed the previous match to become the most surprising upset of the tourney.
Incredibly impressive performance by both guys, especially considering the shape that EVIL looked to be in two days ago after his match vs Kenny Omega. This started slow and wasn’t perfect, it had a few bad, awkward moments (such as the rainmaker dropkick, took about an hour to pull off, I feel like Okada should have given up). Still, EVIL has more than proven himself worthy of a bump up the card. We will be seeing this match, for the IWGP Title, main event a show in the near future, you can be sure of that. Possibly one of the upcoming Destruction shows in September.
THE TOP TEN
- Ibushi/Naito — Day 1–4.75* — BOMB FEST~!
2. Kojima/Okada — Day 8–4.75* — Great story-driven match. Okada is on record saying that the old men shouldn’t be in the G1 Climax anymore. Kojima is already eliminated, but a win v. the champ would guarantee a title shot and basically be a tournament win of its own. No extended finisher sequence either, it was awesome without being over the top. Probably the last great match of Satoshi Kojima’s career.
3. Elgin/Okada — Day 4–4.75* — Big Mike’s matches sometimes feel like too much. Between the apron moves, the powerbomb fests, and the insane backfists, stuff always tends to get lost in the shuffle. This was an amazing Elgin match though, perhaps my favourite performance of his career. Every move meant something, everything felt like it was sold and it advanced the plot of the match, and Big Mike’s power came into play for some unique and spectacular counters. I may have underrated this.
4. ZSJ/Ibushi — Day 3–4.5* — The CWC final we needed, but not the one we deserved.
5. Elgin/Omega — Day 8–4.5* — They have had superior matches. Recently. This summer, in fact. Still, awesome stuff here between two good Canadian boys here in the G1 there, eh?
6. Nagata/Tanahashi — Day 5–4.25* — The best Nagata matches are those where it feels like old man Nagata is a threat. We got a nice taste of Heel Tana!~ here as well. Awesome match. Still want to rewatch this one.
7. Ibushi/Nagata — Day 13–4.25 * — Nagata is not willing to go down easy, but father time is unbeatable. Awesome little match, loved the display of sportsmanship after the fact, and the look on Nagata’s face post-match. Just really good stuff here. This is what the G1 is all about.
8. Omega/Suzuki — Day 2–4.25* — Style clash, but one that really worked for me. This was a really nice mix of the typical Omega match and the typical Suzuki match, maybe heavier on the Suzuki side. Trying a reverse rana on ol’ Minoru was maybe not the best idea.
9. EVIL/Okada — Day 14–4.25* — EVERYTHING IS EVILOO
10. Ishii/Ibushi — Day 5–4.25* — They have had superior matches, but I could watch Ishii v Ibushi on every show ever and not tire of it.
PROBABLY WATCH AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE
Ishii/Nagata — Day 11–4.25* — Nagata is awesome. Just still a mighty fine worker at 49 years of age. A really good “I am tougher than you//I DISAGREE SIR, IN FACT I AM THE TOUGHER” back and forth match.
Omega/EVIL — Day 12–4.25* — PLZ DONT BE DEAD EVIL :( If I were booking NJPW, I would send EVIL home for the tournament and maybe the summer. After that blow to the head, with the losses of Shibata and Honma this year, I think it paints a pretty bad picture about NJPW to have him wrestle. He was on the next show in an undercard tag! Why? But I’m not a doctor, what do I know? With how EVIL’s next show turned out, I guess I understand why he had to stick around.
Ishii/Makabe — Day 3–4.25* — Surprisingly great brawl. Makabe is a brawler, and only a brawler, but he can have a good match with the right opponent. Usually, a brawler.
Juice/EVIL — Day 4–4.25* — Best match of either guy’s career up to this point. They may have both topped it later in the tourney, depending on how you feel about Juicey v Okada. But this was that G1 match that comes out of nowhere to surprise you.
SANADA/Okada — Day 6–4.25* — The Ace vs a true up-and-comer. SANADA is not quite there yet, but he’s close. He has all the tools, but hasn’t quite built the shed. The champ Okada also has all the tools, and has built a beautiful mansion atop Ace Mountain. Or something.
Ibushi/Tanashi — Day 11–4.25* — Victim of my own expectations here. I expected match of the tournament and maybe year, got a really decent match that was a little disappointing. Tanahashi’s selling and heeling is always a treat though. Worth watching.
Naito/Ishii — Day 9–4.25* — If you like this one, you’ll love their match from Feb 2016.
Omega/Kojima — Day 10–4.25* — Really solid match, just wish that it wasn’t so one-sided. The “old ass man” story that NJPW likes to tell is much more effective when the old ass man in question is a threat.
Tanahashi/Makabe — Day 13–4* — Hot hot take: Hiroshi Tanahashi is a good pro wrestler. Makabe as a pure worker, in terms of timing, presence, execution, etc etc, kicks the pants off of the Big Cass-types of the world. So even though most of Makabe’s stuff isn’t exactly exciting, he hits it with such impact, and it is sold so well and presented at such times of the match, that Makabe looks like a real threat. Also, the guy throws a hell of a powerbomb, and the Spider Suplex is one of the coolest moves in the history of wrestling. I digress.
Tanahashi/ZSJ — Day 1–4* — Awesome technical chess match, classic example of “working the arm”.
Ishii/Fale — Day 13–4* — Perfect length, great closing stretch, awesome display of what makes Tomohiro Ishii one of the most underrated wrestlers in the history of the business. Best Fale match I have ever seen, but that is an extremely low hurdle to clear. I have yet to see Fale v Okada from earlier this year, and missed pretty much every Fale v Nakamura match.
Tanahashi/Fale — Day 3–4* — Not as good a match as Ishii v Fale, but maybe the best count-out in the history of pro-wrestling?
Omega/Yano — Day 6–4* — While we are hyper-bowling, maybe the best comedy match in the history of pro-wrestling?
WATCH IT IF YOU LOVE THESE GUYS
Naito/ZSJ — Day 13–4*
Kojima/Elgin — Day 6–4*
EVIL/Sanada — Day 2–4*
Ishii/Goto — Day 1–4*
Goto/Nagata — Day 3–4*
Okada/Juice — Day 10–4*
EVIL/Suzuki — Day 8–4*
Okada/Tonga — Day 12–4*
Goto/Tanahashi — Day 7–4*
Nagata /Naito — Day 7–4*
Naito/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 3–4*
Omega/Tama Tonga — Day 4–4*
Suzuki/Kojima — Day 12–3.75*
Goto/Naito — Day 11–3.75*
Goto/Makabe — Day 5–3.75*
Nagata/Makabe — Day 9–3.5*
Juice/Kojima — Day 2–3.5*
Juice/Omega — Day 14–3.5*
ZSJ/Goto — Day 9–3.5*
YOSHI-HASHI/Nagata — Day 1–3.5*
Goto/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 13–3.5*
Kojima/Sanada — Day 14–3.5*
Juice/SANADA — Day 12–3.5*
EVIL/Tonga — Day 6–3.5*
Makabe/ZSJ — Day 11–3.5*
Makabe/Ibushi — Day 7–3.5*
Ishii/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 7–3.5*
Fale/Ibushi — Day 9–3.5*
Day 4 Undercard — The Death of Darryl Takahashi :(
WATCH IT IF YOU’RE MAKING A YOUTUBE COMPILATION OF THESE GUYS
ZSJ/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 5–3.25*
Suzuki/Tonga — Day 10–3*
Tanahashi/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 9–3*
SANADA/Yano — Day 8–3*
Fale/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 11–3*
Tonga/Juice — Day 8–3*
Suzuki/Juice — Day 6–3*
SANADA/Elgin — Day 10–3*
Tama Tonga/ Michael Elgin — Day 1–3*
Fale/ZSJ — Day 7–3*
Suzuki/SANADA — Day 4–3*
Naito/Fale — Day 5–3*
Okada/Yano — Day 2–2.5*
Elgin/Suzuki — Day 14–2.5*
EVIL/Yano — Day 10–2*
Elgin/Yano — Day 12–2*
Tonga/Yano — Day 14–1.5*
Makabe/Fale — Day 1–1*
Yano/Kojima — Day 4–1*