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Monday, August 17, 2015

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NJPW G1 Climax 25 Review

By Nathan Neumann 
Twitter @Headliner5

Alright, so I just finished watching the final match of the 25th Annual G1 Climax Tournament between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura and wow, what a match it was. When I was watching what I could from this years tournament, it got me thinking of an article I could do for the site, so here we are with my thoughts on what I was able to watch from this years G1 Climax.

Last year, around this time the 24th Annual G1 Climax Tournament took place and I was able to watch the entire thing. It was a 120 match tournament spanning 12 nights and 2014’s tournament will go down with 1994’s Super J Cup Tournament as the stuff of legend.

That tournament was pretty much my first full on experience with New Japan Pro Wrestling. I mean I would watch random matches here and there, but one day I was sitting around bored and wanted to watch something different, because WWE at the time wasn’t doing much for me (still kind of isn’t) so I figured I would explore other options and I am glad I did. I started watching everything I could from the g124 and twelve days later after making it through 120 matches and having tired eyes, I was in awe of everything I saw.

This year’s tournament was different as I wasn’t able to watch the entire thing as it was 19 days long vs. 12 days long like last year, but I watched what was recommended to me. So I figured I would share some of the matches, so that if you haven’t watched any of this tournament and you want to watch some of it, this will give you an avenue to do so. I’m only listing the matches that you should probably go out of your way to see, but having said that I did watch a lot more from this tournament than just the select few matches that I am going to mention in this article.  Now that we have that out of the way lets get to the point of this entire article with the actual list itself.

Day 5
A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. AJ Styles 

Kota Ibushi was supposed to be in last years tournament instead of Tomoaki Honma, but Ibushi picked up a major concussion and was pulled from the tournament and Honma replaced him at the last possible minute and they didn’t have Honma win a single match.  Ibushi and Styles had a match from earlier this year and while it was pretty good (it featured a Styles Clash spot that still blows my mind), this match blew it out of the water. Great action and a great match between two guys who are both at the top of their game.

Match Result: Kota Ibushi defeats AJ Styles via pinfall after a Phoenix Splash

Match Rating: ****1/2

Day 7
A Block: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kota Ibushi

A great offensive match in the early minutes in this one which featured some great mat wrestling from both. Crowd was super hot for the match before the starting bell, which was great to see. Ibushi stole one of Shibata’s trademark moves during the match when he hit Shibata with the penalty kick, much to Shibata’s chagrin. The entire match was stiff with tons of near falls. At the end of the year, when all of the websites compile their lists, this is one that must be revisited because it was that damn good. The best match of the tournament up until this point.

Match Result: Katsuyori Shibata defeats Kota Ibushi via pinfall after the penalty kick.

Match Rating: *****

Day 13
A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata

Whenever these two have a match, it is always something amazing. It always ceases to surprise me that despite the fact these two apparently hate each other in real life, they have such amazing in ring chemistry and that was exactly what we got here. Two guys who brought their A game and put on one hell of a match. Tanahashi is great despite getting dubbed with the moniker of “Japanese John Cena", a title I don’t think is fair for him to have depending on what you like or if you like John Cena, but if you don’t like Tanahashi than you are probably going to end up hating the end result of this tournament.

Match Result: Tanahashi scores the win via pinfall after a roll up.

Match Rating: ****

Day 17
A Block: AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 

If you think you have seen it all out of these two and their matches together, you are sorely mistaken because this match was arguably the best match between Styles and Tanahashi in their series of matches to date. It featured some great action and it was better than the match where Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles to become the IWGP World Champion. It was also better than their third place match from last year. This is another one of those matches that you have to go out of your way to see because it was phenomenal (pun intended) in every sense of the term.  Seriously, go out of your way to watch this match, you wont be disappointed with yourself. It is must see stuff.

Match Result: Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats AJ Styles via pinfall after a second high fly flow in succession.

Match Rating: ****1/2

Day 18
B Block: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada

In 2014, Nakamura was placed in the A block while Okada found himself in block B and these two met in the finals that year. This year both Okada and Nakamura found themselves in the B block and would have to fight to see who would make it to the finals as the Block B winner. Just like the match that these two had in the finals last year, this match more than delivered. It had some great pacing and is definitely one of those matches that you are going to want to make sure and watch. Seriously these two have never had a bad match and they probably never will, so take my word for it and go watch this match before watching the finals, you wont be disappointed with either choice.

Match Result: Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Kazuchika Okada via submission with a cross arm breaker

Match Rating: ****3/4

Day 19
Block A Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Block B Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
G1 Climax 25 Finals 

I just got done watching this match prior to writing this article, and my god what a great match and what a great way to cap off this tournament. Shinsuke Nakamura made it to the finals of the G1 Climax for the second year in a row, while his opponent Hiroshi Tanahashi, who was in last years match to determine 3rd place, also found himself in the finals. This match was an instant classic as it started out extremely slow with mat wrestling until they started bringing out the bigger moves later on in the match. A well paced match and the crowd was on the edge of their seats for the entire duration of this match. I was hoping that Nakamura would have won, however that wasn’t meant to be as Tanahashi sealed his victory after hitting two high fly flows in succession off of the top rope to put away Nakamura and begin his journey back to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom and perhaps an 8th reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. For Nakamura his handling after this match will be quite interesting due to the fact that he picked up an injury to his elbow mid way through this tournament and had to take a night off before returning. Also as I stated earlier this was Nakamura’s second birth in a G1 Final in two years and like last year, he couldn’t get the job done and came up short. So it will be interesting if they use that story as part of his character development going forward or if they just forget about it, but that remains to be seen.

Match Result: Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall after hitting two High Fly Flows in succession.

Match Rating: ****

That will do it for this special article on this years G1 Climax 25 as presented by New Japan Pro Wrestling. I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed writing it and if this was your first exposure to New Japan Pro Wrestling and the world of Puro, welcome aboard.  Now wrestling goes back to normal as the G1 Climax is over, so now we can torture ourselves with WWE programming once again.

Like I said in the intro to this article, this tournament while it was good for the most part, felt underwhelming at times if you compare it to how amazing last year’s tournament was. This tournament definitely had its high points but had its low points as well, which is to be expected, but I feel like this tournament wont be talked about in the same light as the 2014 tournament, which sucks but at the same time I understand it because 2015’s tournament had some big shoes to fill after last year.

Before I go make sure to follow me on twitter @Headliner5 and make sure to also follow Eyes On The Ring @EyesOnTheRing also visit our facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/EyesOnTheRing and check out the radio show as we bring it to you live each and every Sunday as part of the Elite Podcast Network over at http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com/ElitePodcastNetwork at 11:00pm.  Until then, this has been Nathan saying so long and make sure to keep your Eyes On The Ring!



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