Powell’s 7/15 NJPW G1 Climax Tournament Day 2 review: Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi, Hirooki Goto vs. Sanada, Juice Robinson vs. Tama Tonga, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano in B-Block matches


By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Day 2”
July 15, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan at Ota City General Gymnasium
Broadcast live on New Japan World

Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, and Rocky Romero were the English commentary team.

1. Hangman Page and Chase Owens vs. Michael Elgin and Shota Umino. Late in the match, Page performed his shooting star press off the apron onto Elgin. In the ring, Owens performed a Jewel Heist clothesline on Umino and pinned him.

Powell’s POV: A good, quick paced opening match that previewed Page vs. Elgin on Monday without involving them in the finish.

Hangman Page and Chase Owens beat Michael Elgin and Shota Umino.

2. Evil and Bushi vs. Yoshi-Hashi and Sho. Evil put Show in the Banshee Muzzle and got the tap out win for his team. Kelly said Hashi would have 24 hours to figure things out because his G1 run hangs in the balance. He also noted that Evil wasn’t showing any signs of ill effects coming out of his loss to Elgin. The broadcast team spoke of how the wrestlers need to put their losses aside and move on in the tournament.

Evil and Bushi beat Yoshi-Hashi and Sho.

3. Minoru Suzuki and El Desperado vs. Togi Makabe and Toa Henare. Late in the match, Henare got a near fall off a shoulder block from the ropes on Suzuki. With Makabe and Desperado at ringside, Suzuki caught Henare in a sleeper from behind and then immediately released it and performed the Gotch piledriver for the win. Suzuki and Henare grabbed each other and had an intense staredown as a preview for their match on Monday. Suzuki choked out a young lion afterward. Suzuki went to ringside and kicked the barricade in front of the English broadcast team. “Oh, Jesus Christ!” Kelly exclaimed while Callis hilariously screamed like a little girl while rushing away from the scene. Callis returned after Suzuki left and scolded the interpreter for not helping out. Hilarious.

Minoru Suzuki and El Desperado defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare.

Powell’s POV: Suzuki didn’t play up the big knee injury he suffered during the match against Hiroshi Tanahashi on night one of the tournament. By the way, some of my favorite moments in pro wrestling today involve the English broadcast team cowering in fear whenever Suzuki approaches their table.

4. Kazuchika Okada and Gedo vs. Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale. Loa took out Gedo with a Tongan Driver and scored the pin. Afterward, Fale tried to perform a Bad Luck Fall on Okada through a table at ringside, but Okada slipped away.

Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale defeated Kazuchika Okada and Gedo.

Powell’s POV: A nice set up match for the Okada vs. Fale on Monday. We’re seeing a lot of that on the undercard and it’s making these matches feel more relevant than a lot of the undercard tag matches we get on other shows.

5. Jay White and Yoh vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and David Finlay. White targeted the right knee of Tanahashi. Callis said he would be stupid not to go after it. At ringside, White viciously slammed Finlay’s back into the edge of the apron and the guardrail repeatedly. Inside the ring, Finlay came back with a uranage backbreaker and then tagged in Tanahashi, who performed a cross body block on White and then slammed him. Tanahashi performed a summersault senton off the middle rope and got a two count on White. Tanahashi avoided a Blade Runner and then performed a dragon screw leg whip. White came back with a nice Saito suplex. Later, White hit Tanahashi with a chair at ringside a couple times. He handed the chair to Yoh in the ring. Yoh teased using it and then threw it down only to turn into a stunner from Finlay. Kelly pointed out that White could have broken up the pin and chose not to. “Because the kid didn’t listen to him,” Callis said.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and David Finlay beat Jay White and Yoh.

Powell’s POV: White continues to shine. I can’t say enough good things about how quickly he’s gone from feeling flat as a character to becoming one of my favorite performers to watch this month.

6. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano in a G1 Tournament B-Block match. The tag team wrestlers threw punches at one another early on. Kelly noted that Yano has stopped cheating. Yano performed a nice sequence early on that caused Kelly to ask what happened to Yano. A short time later, the wrestlers fought near the broadcast team. Romero sold a back injury. Callis said it was the first bump that Romero had taken in two months. Funny.

Kelly noted that Ishii and Yano were in opposite blocks in the past G1 tournaments. He noted that they had not finished no more than two points apart from 2013 through 2017 in the tournament. Yano picked up a good near fall after Ishii went face first into the corner and was rolled up. Later, Yano went for low blows a couple of times, but Ishii avoided them. Ishii ended up catching Yano with a low kick and then rolled him into a pin for the win. Kelly questioned afterward whether Yano would abandon his plan and go back to his old ways.

Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yano in a G1 Tournament B-Block match.

Powell’s POV: Yano was really fun here and not in his traditional comedy way. Rather, he worked a mostly straight forward style and performed a lot of moves we normally don’t see from him. He had several really good near falls that the fans reacted to. It’s nice to see him shake things up.

7. Tama Tonga (w/Tanga Loa) vs. Juice Robinson in a G1 Tournament B-Block match. Kelly noted that Tonga beat Robinson in the G1 last year. Late in the match, Robinson got a two count after suplexing Robinson onto his knees. Robinson picked up another near fall and then signalled for his Pulp Friction finisher. Loa stood on the apron. Robinsons tossed Loa into the ring and hit him with several punches, including one with his bad hand. Robinson went for his finisher, but Tonga slipped out and hit the Gun Stun for the win. Robinson had a cut on his cheek afterward.

Tama Tonga defeated Juice Robinson in a G1 Tournament B-Block match.

Powell’s POV: It’s odd to see a guy coming off a major heel turn require a distraction to save him from losing a match. I’m sure there will be a lot of second guessing over Tonga not getting a clean win coming off his big turn on The Golden Elite at the G1 Special in San Francisco. It’s worth noting that the finish protected Robinson, who just won the IWGP U.S. Championship on that same show. More importantly, it’s not about where Tonga is today but rather where he is at the end of the tournament. In other words, they still have plenty of matches and time to elevate Tonga and thus it’s wise to wait until we reach the end of the tournament to assess where things stand.

8. Hirooki Goto vs. Sanada in a G1 Tournament B-Block match. Kelly noted that Sanada defeated Goto in the 2016 G1 tournament. Late in the match, Sanada applied Skull End. Romero noted that both men were sweaty and that would make it difficult for Sanada to keep the hold applied. Sanada eventually gave it up (or Goto slipped out) and then raced up top for a moonsault, which Goto avoided.

Both men got up and Goto turned Sanada inside out with a lariat. Goto went for a kick that Sanada blocked. Sanada rolled up Goto into Skull End again. Goto escaped and they jockeyed for position. Goto caught Sanada with a headbutt and then hit a reverse GTR. Sanada rolled up Goto for a good near fall. Kelly noted that Jushin Liger was on Japanese commentary and thought it was a pin. Goto escaped Skull End again and hit another reverse GTR and followed up with the GTR for the win…

Hirooki Goto defeated Sanada in a G1 Tournament B-Block match.

Powell’s POV: A strong match. I’m not crazy about seeing Goto escape Skull End so many times, but the broadcast team did a good job of setting it up by talking about how difficult it was to maintain the hold.

9. Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Taka Michinoku) in a G1 Tournament B-Block match. Kelly said it was the third meeting between Ibushi and Sabre. He said Ibushi won their G1 tournament match last year, but Sabre won the next match in the New Japan Cup tournament. Sabre frustrated Ibushi with various submission holds. Ibushi had flurries of strikes, but Sabre controlled the bulk of the early offense.

Later, Sabre threw a couple of good leg kicks. Ibushi fired back with several of his own at the encouragement of Sabre, who caught the last one yet ended up taking an open hand the chest that knocked him down moments later. Romero noted that the ringside doctor was keeping a close eye on the leg of Ibushi. The wrestlers ended up on their knees. Sabre slapped Ibushi a couple times. Ibushi stood up and they exchanged hard slaps. Ibushi went for a backslide, but Sabre hooked his legs on the ropes. Ibushi released him and then kick his back.

Ibushi performed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Ibushi set up for the Kamigoye, but Sabre was able to block it twice with knees to the inner thigh of Ibushi and rolled him into a pin for a two count. Sabre went for a triangle. Ibushi powered him up for a powerbomb for a two count just before the 20-minute mark. Sabre applied the octopus. Ibushi powered out and went for a move, but he fell into the ropes with Sabre in the air. Callis said it was because Ibushi’s injured knee wouldn’t support the weight. Ibushi hit a dragon suplex and blasted Sabre with a kick to the head.

Ibushi lowered his knee pad and signaled for the Kamigoye, but Sabre avoided it and rolled him into a pin for a two count. They jockeyed for position and Ibushi performed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count, then stood up and hit the Kamigoye and got the pin. Ibushi slapped hands as he limped to the back. Once he walked through the curtain, he collapsed to his knees.

Kota Ibushi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in a G1 Tournament B-Block match.

Powell’s POV: I can’t help but laugh at fans who can’t enjoy Sabre because they feel he is too thin to be believable. I guess those fans forgot or didn’t see the early days of UFC when we learned quickly that a skilled smaller man can take out a big man. Furthermore, no one seems to gripe about Ibushi’s body type being an issue even though it’s very similar to that of Sabre. Would it be nice to see Sabre fill out? Sure, but I can’t believe there’s so much debate about his believability when he makes everything look so damn good. Anyway, this was a fantastic match and easily the best of the night so far. I’d love to see those two have a real program with something at stake. That was terrific and I love the post match selling of Ibushi to put over the damage that Sabre caused during the match.

10. Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Tournament B-Block match. Kelly noted that this was a meeting of the last two G1 Tournament winners. Naito defeated Omega in the finals of last year’s tournament. Romero also noted that they are the two most popular wrestlers in the company. Kelly recalled Omega saying that the foreign wrestlers work harder than the Japanese wrestlers do, and that the Japanese wrestlers seem to be coasting. Kelly said Naito responded by saying that if Omega’s comments don’t bother him and the Japanese wrestlers then there’s something wrong with them. Naito also said he is better conditioned than Omega.

Several minutes into the match, Omega kicked Naito through the ropes and he ended up on the other side of the guardrail. Omega performed an awesome springboard cross body block over the barricade and onto Naito. Omega dragged Naito over the barricade and rolled him back inside the ring. Omega went up top, but Naito recovered and crotched him. Naito went up top with Omega, who slipped under Naito and dumped him face first on the top turnbuckle. Omega followed up with a snap dragon suplex and a gut wrench powerbomb for a two count.

Omega went for a V-Trigger, but Naito avoided it and went for a suplex, but Omega landed on his feet. Moments later, Omega connected with a V-Trigger. Omega set up for his One Winged Angel finisher, but Naito countered with a reverse huracanrana. Naito performed a top rope huracanrana and hit Gloria. They had a sequence where they ran the ropes and Omega eventually caught Naito with a V-Trigger. Omega hoisted up Naito, who countered into Destino. Naito went for another Destino. After some jockeying for position, Omega hit an inverted piledriver for a good near fall.

Callis questioned how you could wrestle again after a war like this. “There just going to have to do it eight more times,” Kelly said. Omega performed a V-Trigger to the back of Naito’s head in the corner and then placed him on the top rope. Omega went up behind him and set up for a Dragon Suplex, but Naito avoided it. Omega went for the One Winged Angel from the ropes, but Naito slipped out and powerbombed him from the ropes. Naito performed Destino for an excellent near fall. Naito went for the move again. Omega avoided it, but Naito countered into a uranage and went for Destino again. Omega avoided it and went for a V-Trigger, which Naito blocked and then slapped Omega. Naito went for his finisher again, but Omega countered into an inverted powerbomb for another excellent near fall.

Omega picked up Naito and performed a Jay Driller piledriver for another great near fall. Omega showed frustration over not putting away Naito. The fans chanted for Naito. Omega performed a V-Trigger and then the One Winged Angel for the win.

Kenny Omega defeated Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Tournament B-Block match.

After the match, two of the young lions helped Naito to the back while Omega celebrated his win. Omega delivered a promo in Japanese and commended Naito for winning the tournament last year. He said it’s too bad that Naito didn’t follow up by winning the title, and he said it’s too bad he didn’t really bring it tonight either. He added that there’s always next year’s G1 Tournament. The fans were laughing and clapping. Omega closed with with his standard, “Goodbye and goodnight, bang.”

Omega’s post match press conference was also shown. He spoke in Japanese and then switched to English. He spoke about the quality of the tournament matches and said he doesn’t care if a fan picked another match as their favorite because all of the matches were so good. He said he hopes the fans stick around through the end to see him hold up his title belt and “that ugly ass trophy.” He said he would win the tournament and pick his opponent and he thinks the fans know who he will choose.

Powell’s POV: I’ll admit it, I don’t know who Omega’s character would choose if he wins the tournament. Ibushi? Tonga? He’ll face both men in this tournament. He seems to have made peace with Cody. He just beat Naito. A rematch with Okada? I suspect the answer is obvious to some of you, so feel free to help me out with this one in the comments section.

This was a wonderful main event that actually exceeded my high expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rematch at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4. Putting over Omega in this match is logical given that storyline possibility and because he’s the new top champion in the company. I love that they kept the war of words between Omega and Naito alive via Omega’s post match promo. It would have been a letdown if Omega had simply praised Naito after the hard fought match.

Overall, a very good show with a pair of top notch matches to close the show. Really, each of the tournament matches were entertaining, and I enjoy the way the undercard matches felt more meaningful because they previewed or told a story related to the A-Block tournament matches on Monday. If you are pressed for time, then definitely catch the main event, but I would also try to find time for the semi-main event.

Kelly, Callis, and Romero form a rare three-man broadcast team that actually works in pro wrestling. Kelly does a great job with the play-by-play, Callis is always an entertaining color commentator, and Romero provides sports-like commentary similar to what you would hear from a former fighter adding commentary to a UFC fight. Unfortunately, Callis is headed back to North America, as Kelly said he and Romero would handle it from here. I’m not sure when Callis back, but I hope we’ll hear him again as we get deeper in the tournament.

The scoring for the round robin tournament is two points for a victory, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. In the A-Block, Makabe, Page, Elgin, Tanahashi, and White all have two points, while Yoshi-Hashi, Fale, Evil, Suzuki, and Okada have none. In the B-Block, Ishii, Tonga, Goto, Ibushi, and Omega have two points, while Yano, Robinson, Sanada, Sabre, and Naito have none.

The tournament will continue on Monday morning in Hokkaido with the following A-Block matches: Michael Elgin vs. Hangman Page, Yoshi-Hashi vs. Evil, Togi Makabe vs. Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White.

Get ready for tonight’s WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view by watching Will Pruett’s brief preview video below, and you can also go further down the page to listen to Jason Powell’s predictions on the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast, which also features an interview with Impact Wrestling voice Josh Mathews.


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