Hey folks! The G1 Climax is entering the final stretch and I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of the matches that have happened since the last time I wrote one of these (and also make sure to check out the first and second if you missed them) to let you know if they're worth your time or not. I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the dudes in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases (sorry, fans of Goto and Okada!), of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Night 16 (B Block, August 10th)
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kenny Omega (3): Being the opening match of the G1 portion of the card, they took it maybe a bit easier than I would have liked to see this match go, but they brought some fire by the end of it (them head kicks from Nakajima-- vicious!) and it's not a bad watch by any means.
EVIL vs. Toru Yano (1): EVIL fends off the sublime master thief handily for the most part and the finish is weird. Pass.
Tetsuya Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI (4): YOSHI-HASHI really lays it all on the line here, knowing that this is his only hope of making the finals. Good stuff.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata (4): He might have earned the third man's respect, but Shibata's been dealing with shoulder issues all tournament and Old Man Nagata's a submission expert. Three guesses what the story is here folks. If you were into their matches for the NEVER Openweight Championship, this is very much in the same vein as those.
Michael Elgin vs. Tomoaki Honma (3): Honma has the crowd all the way behind him here, both because of the losing streak he's finally on and this being his home prefecture. Big Mike is, well, big and strong and dominant. It's not quite a must-see, but still a fine match.
Night 17 (A Block, August 12th)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. SANADA (2): Tenzan trying his best to go out on a high note here, and SANADA makes a good effort to oblige him, but there's only so much you can do. Surprisingly hot towards the ends even under those constraints and with both men out of contention, though.
Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii (3): If you happen to have caught any of their series over the NEVER title, you know what you're getting here. I think this one is actually technically above the baseline they set while they were feuding, however. Not essential, but not bad.
Bad Luck Fale vs. Tama Tonga (3): Shades of last year's excellent AJ Styles match, with Tonga refusing to lay down for Fale. Fale just chucks Tonga all over the place in response, including a Bad Luck Fall to the outside(!), but Tonga refuses to die. Good match, may well be Tonga's best of the tournament (turns out working that far underneath is almost as good to him as going fast), wouldn't necessarily put it on the must-watch list.
Hirooki Goto vs. Naomichi Marufuji (4): Marufuji really doing the lord's work here, giving Goto an awesome match here. Think I liked this better than literally any non-Shibata matchup for Goto just about ever. A slam dunk for fans of the man,
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (5): Like, look. It's a half hour Okada/Tanahashi draw. Either that sentence is going to ignite the fires of excitement in your heart or make you want to run for the hills. But even if it fills you with dread, give this one a chance, because it's pretty great. Sure, there are nits to be picked, Okada's leg salesmanship wavers between "Hey, he's doing good today!" and "Dragon screw? What dragon screw?", but overall, it's one of the best matches of the tournament.
Night 18 (B Block, August 13th)
Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuji Nagata (4): Lo and behold, Honma, on the last night of block competition, looking for one desperate win to affirm his own potential as a contender, and it's a compelling match! Who'd have thought it?
Toru Yano vs. YOSHI-HASHI (3): Chaos-on-Chaos violence! This one changes a bit depending on how you watch it, folks. On Japanese commentary, it's an average Yano match. Some shenanigans, some chicanery, it's fun but unless you're really into the sublime master thief, not really essential. But with English commentary from Steve Corino, Kevin Kelly, and Rocky Romero, it's nearly a must-watch. Act accordingly!
EVIL vs. Katsuyori Shibata (4): EVIL just goes to town on Shibata's injured shoulder here. Another top shelf Shibata match and one where EVIL definitely lives up to his promise.
Michael Elgin vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (4): Elgin's injured pec is the story here, as Nakajima just lays blow after blow into it trying to sap the big man's strength. But Big Mike is sturdy, and it inevitably becomes more about who can deal the most damage per blow than about wearing a limb out. Good stuff.
Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito (5): Naito's war on knees continues! Omega's taking him really seriously, though, thank god, so we get a real all-out war here. Powerbomb over the barricade and into a table, springboard turning senton past the commentary desk, dragon suplex on the apron, crazy finisher counters like taking One-Winged Angel into an inverted short legscissor or Destino into a wheelbarrow Tombstone, you name it, it's here. Awesome, awesome match. Go watch it!
Night 19 (Finals, August 14th)
David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask (2): Pretty standard opening match stuff here. Pleasant to watch if you're catching the whole show, entirely unnecessary if you're just looking for highlights.
Chaos (Gedo & Jado) vs. Hunter Club (Captain New Japan & YOSHITATSU) (2): Yoshi's bargain basement HHH gimmick is always kind of fun, but there's just not much here. Not quite a hard pass, but pretty close.
Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) (4): It's a damn good clubberin', this one. Might have enjoyed this more than any of GBH's tag title matches, in fact, and Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI make a pretty good team of their own.
NOAH (Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya, & Maybach Taniguchi) vs. New Japan (Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Katsuyori Shibata, Manabu Nakanishi, & Yuji Nagata) (5): It's all fun and games while the NOAH guys wail on the 3rd Generation dudes, but then Shibata comes in and just freight trains 'em, including literally the stiffest headbutt I've ever seen. Shibata straight up busts himself open, it's gross but strangely compelling. Good stuff from everybody, the NOAH guys all got to show their stuff, and the post-match brawl is incredible enough that I'm bumping it up to the full must-watch.
Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (c) vs. Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (IWGP Tag Team Championship) (2): As has been the story of the Briscoes' IWGP Tag Team Championship reign thus far, this match is all on them, doubly so because Jay gets busted open early on, driving much of the drama. Alas, it runs a bit too long and has a bit too much Yujiro for Dem Boys to bear it on their shoulders to anything resembling a recommendation.
Jay Lethal (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima (ROH World Championship) (3): Kojima not just trying to win the ROH title for himself here, but also for his good friend Tenzan, to end TenCozy's G1 on a high note. Unfortunately he can't do that in a kayfabe sense, but he has a good match with Lethal here that heats up towards the end. Just shy of a full recommendation here.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, & Michael Elgin vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) (3): A fine eight-man tag for the second half of the card, nothing too special but well-executed.
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Roa) vs. Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) & Naomichi Marufuji (1): Thoroughly average, there's not much here at all, even if you're a bigger Okada fan than I. Hunt down a gif of Tonga dodging a long string of Marufuji kicks, and pass on the rest.
Hirooki Goto vs. Kenny Omega (G1 Climax 26 Finals) (5): Look, it's the finals. Odds are you should probably take a look even if the match sucks, but fortunately this one is absolutely a worthy follow-up to the two block deciding matches. Watch it!
There you have it, folks.
That's the whole 2016 G1 Climax in the bag. Not the greatest edition of the tournament ever held, but it had its moments, and hopefully these posts helped put those moments in front of your eyeballs.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.