Welcome to our coverage of the opening night of the G-1 Climax tournament from Sapporo.
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YOHEI KOMATSU & TIGER MASK & JUSHIN LIGER & YUJI NAGATA VS. TOMOAKI HONMA & MASCARA DORADA & DAVID FINLAY & JAY WHITE
Good opener ending with Nagata pinning Finlay with a bridging back suplex after an overhead belly-to-belly. Crowd was really into Honma early. Everyone came in, did their stuff and looked good. White and Finlay hung with everyone. Dorada came in, did his rope walk and his tope and that was about it. Several near falls. If you watch New Japan regularly you know the drill.
HIROOKI GOTO & CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN VS. YUJIRO TAKAHASHI & CODY HALL
Nothing wrong with the match, but just okay. Hall got a near fall on Goto with a discus clothesline but you knew he wasn't getting the win over him. Goto then pinned Hall out of nowhere with a front rolling cradle. Goto was definitely resting up, as he should be.
KARL ANDERSON & TAMA TONGA VS. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & YOSHI-HASHI
Solid work, nothing spectacular with the predictable finish of Nakamura pinning Tonga after a bom a ye. Some good stuff with Anderson vs. Nakamura. Anderson kicked out of a bom a ye. Tonga sidestepped one and speared Nakamura for a near fall.
SATOSHI KOJIMA & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & MICHAEL ELGIN VS. KAZUCHIKA OKADA & TOMOHIRO ISHII & GEDO
Good match. Okada pinned Taguchi after a dropkick, an elbow off the top and the rainmaker. Okada also hit the dropkick on Elgin. Elgin's big move was clearlier picking both Okada and Ishii up and slamming both at the same time. The most heated stuff involved Kojima vs. Ishii. They brawled a little after the match was over. Gedo had words for Elgin saying "You're next."
Intermission before the G-1 matches start.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN VS. DOC GALLOWS
What a start. I'm not sure there was a match in the entire tournament last year as bad as this. Crowd was into the idea of G-1 and Tenzan at the start, but once the match got going it got pretty quiet. Gallows beat on him for a while. Tenzan made a comeback but this was not the magic Tenzan of last year. He used the Anaconda Vise, the Anaconda buster and finished with the Anaconda cross for the submission.
TOGI MAKABE VS. TORU YANO
Another bad match. Yano stalled, did some comedy and undid the turnbuckle padding. Both went into the exposed meal. Makabe kicked out of a low blow and backslide. Makabe came back with a clothesline, a Death Valley bomb and the King Kong kneedrop off the top rope.
TETSUYA NAITO VS. BAD LUCK FALE
Another bad match Fale dominated most of the way. He looked heavier and slower. Naito came out with a suit and a blue mask. Fale did a splash but Naito kicked out. He went for the Bad Luck Fall, Naito blocked it and went for a huracanrana but Fale blocked that. Naito used an enzuigri, a reverse atomic drop and got the pin after a cradle that didn't look smooth. Fale didn't look good a all here.
A.J. STYLES VS. KATSUYORI SHIBATA
Very good match. Styles ducked the penalty kick, hit the Pele kick, a Bloody Sunday DDT right on Shibata's head and then got the pin after the Styles clash. Shibata had worked for a choke a few times late. Styles worked on the ankle a lot after Shibata kicked the post when he moved. Crowd was into it late. This wasn't at the level of the classic G-1 matches of the past few years.
KOTA IBUSHI VS. HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Incredible match. In particular the selling by both guys was out of this world. They also pulled out everything in their arsenal and went out there to do a classic match and easily hit that mark and blew past it. Ibushi did his moonsault to the floor. Tanahashi did a high fly flow to the floor. Tanahashi tried the high fly flow but Ibushi got his knees up. All kinds of great moves including Ibushi using a power German superplex which Tanahashi took right on his neck. Ibushi missed a Phoenix splash. Ibushi went for a Pele kick but Tanahashi turned it into a reverse dragon screw. Tanahashi finally won with a dragon suplex and high fly flow. Not sure this match was good for Tanahashi becase Ibushi threw him like a dart into the turnbuckles and hsi neck was jacked. Jay White is icing the neck right now. Crowd is cheering for Tanahashi to do mic work after. This was like a few years ago where Tanahashi would close the show every month with a incredible match, then do the post-match with all the girls cheering for him, doing the air guitar, nobody left and kept cheering and chanting for him.
The building was still packed long after the match, like the old days, as Tanahashi left all kinds of women would throw their Tanahashi towels at him (it seemed like every third person had one) and he would wipe his face with the towel and throw it back.