By Big Red Machine
From July 30, 2016
NJPW G1 Climax 26: Day 8 (7/30/2016)- Aichi, Japan
DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. RYUSUKE TAGUCHI- 6.25/10
This was a hell of a lot better than I was expecting a veteran vs. young boy opener to be. Finlay looked great. He stole Taguchi’s butt-based offense in the beginning, which pissed Taguchi off. They had two or three really good false finishes, to the point where you actually bought one of Finlay’s.
CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN, MANABU NAKANISHI, & SATOSHI KOJIMA vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, & Tama Tonga)- 4/10
Bullet Club jump the babyfaces to start things off. The match was just… there.
JUICE ROBINSON & KUSHIDA vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & BUSHI)- 5.5/10
KUSHIDA stole the “sleazy Kyle/Davey” spot from PWG, substituting his kimura for the usual armbar. The match was mediocre.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, HIROYOSHI TENZAN, TOGI MAKABE, JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER, & TIGER MASK IV vs. NAOMICHI MARUFUJI & CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & Gedo)- 6.75/10
A very fun match with a bunch of big names.
BLOCK B MATCH: Toru Yano vs. Tomoaki Honma- 0.5/10
It’s a match-up of two guys who do the same exact spots every single match. Maybe this could have worked earlier in the tournament, but at this point I’ve seen these two do these same exact things so many times over the past two weeks that I was bored the whole time.
BLOCK B MATCH: YOSHI-HASHI vs. EVIL- 7.25/10
EVIL uses a chair in front of the referee with no DQ. Twice. Other than that, this was pretty great. I liked that they gave these two up-and-comers appearing in their first G1 the time to go out there and have a great match together.
BLOCK B MATCH: Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima- 6.5/10
Nakajima attacks Nagata as he is getting into the ring, so he’ll be playing the role of the heel tonight. That made this have to be more of a slugfest than the grappling encounter I was hoping for.
BLOCK B MATCH: Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin- 8.25/10
Yujiro did not accompany Omega to the ring like he usually does. This is because Bullet Club set a trap for Elgin, with Yujiro attacking him with a broom on his way down the ramp. Elgin managed to recover enough to stagger Yujiro with a pair of well-placed punches, but this allowed Omega to dive onto Elgin… which apparently officially started the match, even though Elgin had not yet been in the ring.
Elgin’s arm was taped up so Omega worked it over. Elgin sold well, they had a lot of great nearfalls in here, and a couple of moves you don’t usually see out of Omega. These two have been positioned as stars on the rise this year (Omega more so than Elgin, but Elgin’s been getting over since his debut last year, and was definitely helped by first being Tanahashi’s tag team partner and then by Tanahashi’s injury opening up the spot for Elgin to win the IC Title at Dominion), but they’re also both gaijins, so I was very curious as to how the crowd would react to them in here, alone, with no gimmicks or titles on the line. The crowd was completely into the match and cheered about as much for Elgin as you’d hear for pretty much anyone other than Tanahashi, so that’s a very good sign for both guys.
BLOCK B MATCH: Tetsuya Naito vs. Katsuyori Shibata- 8.25/10
This match was a tale of two stories. The technical story, with Naito working Shibata’s leg and shoulder (both which he worked over in their match at the last show) and the clash of personalities between men who hate each other. As far as being a character, this was Shibata at his absolute best.
A pretty great show from New Japan. The one truly bad match was very short, the undercard was fine, and the top two matches were among the best we’ve seen in the tournament so far.