New Japan "G1 Climax 25" Day 1
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Dates: July 20th, 2015
Locations: Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Announced Attendances: 5,490 (Super No Vacancy)

The G1 Climax has begun! This year so that I don't go crazy, I am only reviewing the G1 Climax matches on each card. Let's face it, the mid-card tag matches don't mean anything and rarely have anything interesting happen, so if I am going to keep up with the events and still review other shows as well I am just going to skip them entirely. New Japan starts big, with an event in front of over 5,000 fans and several big matches on top. Some of the matches leading up to it don't look quite as interesting, but you never know. Before we get started, the blocks for the tournament:

Block A Block B
AJ Styles
Bad Luck Fale
Doc Gallows
Hiroshi Tanahashi
Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Katsuyori Shibata
Kota Ibushi
Tetsuya Naito
Togi Makabe
Toru Yano
Hirooki Goto
Karl Anderson
Kazuchika Okada
Michael Elgin
Satoshi Kojima
Shinsuke Nakamura
Tomoaki Honma
Tomohiro Ishii
Yuji Nagata
Yujiro Takahashi

Here are the G1 Climax matches on the card:

- Block A: Doc Gallows vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- Block A: Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano
- Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Tetsuya Naito
- Block A: AJ Styles vs. Katsuyori Shibata
- Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi

Onto the fun!

Doc Gallows vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
They start nicely with a tie-up, Gallows pushes Tenzan into the corner and he gives a mostly clean break. Tenzan goes for a shoulderblock which obviously doesn't work, Mongolian Chops by Tenzan but Gallows shoulderblocks him to the mat. Gallows goes off the ropes but Tenzan chops him in the head and lariats Gallows out of the ring. Tenzan goes out after him but Gallows chokes Tenzan with some rope. Gallows returns to the ring with Tenzan slowly following, and Gallows punches Tenzan into the corner. Body avalanche by Gallows and he chokes Tenzan with his boot. Leg drop by Gallows and he applies a chinlock, but Tenzan gets to the ropes. Headbutt by Gallows and he hits a few elbow drops for a two count. Gallows gets on the second turnbuckle but Tenzan avoids the diving elbow drop, Mongolian Chops by Tenzan, Irish whip to the corner but Tenzan... collapses on the way to the ropes. I think he tripped. Headbutts by Tenzan and he hits a vertical suplex. Tenzan goes off the ropes but Gallows hits a scissors kick, he goes off the ropes but Tenzan knocks him down with a heel kick. High kick by Gallows and he hits a side slam for a two count cover. Gallows picks up Tenzan and he hits the chokebomb, but Tenzan gets a shoulder up. Mongolian Chops by Tenzan and he knocks Gallows to the mat. Tenzan applies the Anaconda Vice, Gallows struggles to his feet but Tenzan hits the Anaconda Buster. Cover by Tenzan but it only gets a two. Tenzan puts Gallows in the Anaconda Max and Gallows quickly taps out! This match is what we call in the States a "hot mess." They were botching little things like chokes and Irish whips (no idea what happened to Tenzan there), and there were no transitions to speak of. Gallows would hit a big move but soon after that Tenzan would hit a big move without blinking an eye, and they just went back and forth. Limited redeemable qualities and not a good way to start things off.

Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano
Makabe shoulderblocks Yano straight away, leading to Yano hiding in the ropes. Yano rolls out of the ring, Makabe chases after him but Yano gets back in. Yano gets a chair but Makabe clubs him, Makabe charges Yano but Yano drop toeholds him into the chair and sneaks in a school boy for two. Makabe rolls out of the ring but Yano goes out too and hits Makabe with the chair. Yano throws Makabe into the crowd and hits him with the chair some more before undoing the turnbuckle pad. He gets back in the ring with Makabe behind him, stomps by Yano and he throws Makabe into the exposed corner. Yano stomps on Makabe but Makabe absorbs the blows and hits a lariat in the corner. Another lariat by Makabe and he hits mounted punches in the corner. Yano pushes Makabe into the exposed corner again, Makabe tries to lariat Yano when he isn't looking but Yano ducks it. Makabe doesn't miss the second time but Yano avoids the next one, Yano charges Makabe but Makabe moves so Yano hits the exposed corner. Lariat by Makabe and he hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Eye rake by Yano, he hits a low blow on Makabe before sneaking in a backslide for a two. Lariat by Makabe and he hits a Samoan Drop in front of the corner. King Kong Kneedrop by Makabe and he picks up the three count! This was better than the last match but that doesn't say much. Yano is more amusing in short bursts so this being a short match worked well, but even though it was short it was still repetitive. And still some shaky transitions since they had to get all of Yano's spots in. It had some amusing moments so I won't complain too loudly even though overall it was not a very good match.

Bad Luck Fale vs. Tetsuya Naito
Fale pushes Naito into the ropes to start but Naito switches positions with him and hits a series of elbows. Fale responds by knocking Naito to the mat and Naito rolls out of the ring to re-group. Fale goes out after him and they battle into the crowd. I guess they didn't watch the last match to know we just saw this. They return after a bit, Fale stomps on Naito and clubs him into the corner. Fale applies the dreaded neck grip, then the even more dreaded double neck grip before covering Naito for a one count. Fale stands on Naito near the ropes, scoop slam by Fale but Naito avoids the body press, elbow by Naito but Fale hits a big boot. Naito dropkicks Fale in the knee twice, he trips Fale and hits his slingshot dropkick in the corner. Naito applies the figure four leglock but Fale grabs the ropes to force a break. Naito kicks Fale in the leg but Fale clubs him and they trade elbows. Kick to the knee by Naito, he goes off the ropes but Fale catches him with a Samoan Drop. Fale charges Naito but Naito avoids his charge and hits a drop toehold. Irish whip by Naito, he goes for Fale's leg but Fale kicks him off. Fale gives Naito a running hug, body press by Fale but it gets a two count. Fale picks up Naito and goes for the Bad Luck Fall but Naito wiggles away. Naito goes off the ropes but Fale levels him with a lariat. He goes for the Bad Luck Fall again but Naito gets away and hits an enzuigiri. Fale kicks Naito in the leg and he applies a modified jackknife hold for a three count! This wasn't good either. I like Naito's new apathetic thing just because it is different but Fale is still a slug so it wasn't a good pairing. It was just slow paced but it wasn't long enough of a match to justify the slow pace. Even the jackknife hold at the end wasn't really applied right, no real reason that should have kept a big man like Fale (that wasn't particularly injured) down. I know the next two matches will be better, but so far this show has been really flat.

AJ Styles vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Here we go, finally something to look forward to. Shibata works a side headlock to start, Styles Irish whips out of it and they both miss attempted strikes. Hammerlock by Styles and he applies a stretch hold, but Shibata reverses it into an abdominal stretch. Styles gets into the ropes and Shibata gives a clean break, chops by Styles but Shibata elbows him into the corner, he goes for a dropkick but Styles springs out of the corner with a jumping lariat. Styles charges Shibata, Shibata drops him out onto the apron and he boots Styles down to the floor. Shibata goes out after him and kicks Styles in the ribs. Shibata kicks Styles over the railing before sliding him back into the ring, but Styles leaves again to re-group. Shibata has to chase after him, kicks by Shibata but Styles ducks one and Shibata kicks the ring post. Styles drops Shibata knee-first onto the guard rail before slamming his leg into the apron. Back in the ring Styles applies the Muta Lock, he picks up Shibata and goes off the ropes but Shibata knees Styles in the midsection. Shibata picks up Styles and hits a few knees, he goes off the ropes but Styles delivers a dropkick. Styles picks up Shibata and chops him into the corner, backbreaker by Styles and he elbows Shibata into the corner. Shibata fights back and elbows Styles into the corner before hitting a dropkick. Shibata picks up Styles and hits a half hatch suplex, cover by Shibata but it gets two. Styles drives Shibata back into the corner but Shibata avoids the jumping elbow, he grabs Styles but Styles hits a vertical suplex into the turnbuckles. Styles picks up Shibata but Shibata blocks the Styles Clash, high kick by Styles and he turns a roll-up into another Styles Clash attempt. Shibata gets out of it again but Styles applies the Calf Killer, Shibata slowly crawls to the ropes and he gets there to force the break. Styles picks up Shibata but Shibata snaps off a Death Valley Bomb. Sleeper by Shibata, he goes off the ropes but Styles ducks the PK. Pele Kick by Styles and he drops Shibata with the Bloody Sunday. Styles Clash by Styles, and he picks up the three count! This was definitely a good match, but not without its faults. Once the match got rolling it was entertaining as they are so smooth and have great chemistry, but it would have been nice if Shibata had sold the leg a bit towards the end as after the Calf Killer it was completely forgotten. These two are good enough wrestlers that they could put on a good match in their sleep, I just wish the leg work hadn't been disregarded and that they had a bit more time. On the flip side it did have some nice little touches and was completely mistake-free (which is a first on this card), so I'd still recommend watching it but don't expect to be blown away. Recommended

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi
Ibushi pushes Tanahashi into the ropes to start the match but he gives a clean break. Tanahashi pushes Ibushi into the ropes next and he slaps Ibushi in the chest before backing off. Tie-up, waistlock by Tanahashi but Ibushi gets out of it. They trade holds with neither getting an advantage until Ibushi drops Tanahashi with a dropkick. Kicks to the chest by Ibushi and he goes for a standing moonsault, but Tanahashi moves out of the way. Tanahashi slams Ibushi's knee into the mat and starts working on the leg but Ibushi fights back with kicks. Tanahashi knocks Ibushi into the corner and he goes for the reverse crossbody, but Ibushi dropkicks him out of the ring. Ibushi runs to the corner, he jumps over the ropes and he sails out onto Tanahashi with a moonsault! Ibushi slides Tanahashi back in and he hits a swandive missile dropkick. Back up they trade elbows, kicks by Ibushi and he hits a corkscrew standing moonsault for a two count. Irish whip by Ibushi but Tanahashi dropkicks him in the knee. Chop block by Tanahashi, and Ibushi falls out of the ring. Tanahashi goes up top and he jumps out onto Ibushi with a plancha, slightly hitting the apron on the way down. Tanahashi gets back in as Ibushi gets on the apron, Tanahashi pulls Ibushi's leg through the ropes and hits a dragon screw followed by a dropkick and another dragon screw. Ibushi finally finds himself back in the ring, Tanahashi goes for the Texas Cloverleaf but Ibushi kicks him off. Kick to the chest by Ibushi but he hurts his own leg in the process. Ibushi and Tanahashi trade elbows until Tanahashi hits a dragon screw leg whip. Texas Cloverleaf by Tanahashi but Ibushi manages to make it to the ropes.

Tanahashi hits the trapped German, but Ibushi kicks out at two. Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Ibushi boots him, Tanahashi goes off the ropes again and this time he hits the Sling Blade. Tanahashi goes up top and he hits a diving crossbody. He goes up again but Ibushi gets his knees up on the High Fly Flow attempt. Back up, kicks by Ibushi and he snaps off a hurricanrana. Ibushi picks up Tanahashi and he darts him head-first right into the turnbuckles. Tanahashi rolls out to the apron but Ibushi grabs him from inside the ring and suplexes Tanahashi back into the ring right on the back of his head. Tanahashi is dying to try to save this show, and its actually working. Ibushi goes up top but Tanahashi rolls out of the way of the Phoenix Splash attempt. Tanahashi recovers and goes up top but Ibushi nails him with a Pele Kick, he then goes out to the apron and delivers a springboard Frankensteiner for a two count cover. Ibushi picks up Tanahashi but Tanahashi snaps off a dragon screw neck whip. Tanahashi goes off the ropes, Ibushi goes for a Pele Kick but Tanahashi catches his leg and hits a modified dragon screw. Palm strikes by Ibushi but Tanahashi hits a dragon suplex hold for two. Tanahashi goes up top and he delivers the High Fly Flow, picking up the three count pinfall! This match was so fantastic, I loved just about every minute of it. I was half joking about them having to save the show but I think with this being a big event they just decided at some point to go all out. There were a bunch of killer moves in this match and beautiful transitions, this could have easily been a title defense, it was that high level. The leg work was constant and played into the ending, Ibushi was seconds from winning a few times so he was always in it, and the pacing was great. Go see this match, these two won't survive the tournament if they keep wrestling like this but it was the perfect way to end Day 1. Highly Recommended

Final Thoughts:

Before I talk about the main event, up to that point this was a disappointing start to the G1 Climax. The problem with having such a wide field is there are simply some not great wrestlers in the tournament so every show will have some clunkers. Shibata/Styles was good of course but I didn't love the structure and it could have used more time. But then the main event happened and blew me away, it is easily one of my top five matches so far this year. If you can overlook the first 90% of the show being disappointing, Tanahashi and Ibushi will likely blow your mind so go see that match post haste. Overall a bit of a downer as generally the first day of tournaments are more entertaining, but at least the main event saved this from being a skippable show.

Grade: C+

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event reviewed on 7/20/15