I’m changing things up this week and I think this new format will make the review articles more accessible and easier to read. I’m also going to begin posting a leader board graphic that will be updated with every article. I hope you like it and that it makes your reading experience more enjoyable.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Bad Luck Fale
Night five’s opening match got the evening off to an impactful start. Usually, Ishii is the intimidating one, unfazed and unaffected by his opponents’ aggression. However, when going against Fale, who towers over him, Ishii played a game and ready David to Fale’s Goliath. The match began with Fale standing silently in the middle of the ring, signaling to Ishii he was ready to begin and the Stone Pit Bull wasted no time, charging at Fale with forearm strikes he brushed off.
Fale sent Ishii into the ropes with forearms of his own and attempted to follow up with running shoulder tackles into the corner but was blocked by two successive Ishii kicks. Ishii’s defense was short-lived though as he was soon overpowered by Fale in the corner who started in with his typical big man moves of midsection corner strikes, overhead fists, and stomps to a prone Ishii. Ishii continued to fight valiantly with chops and forearms but was yet again knocked down by Fale’s clubbing blows and knee lifts to the midsection. It would at times appear he was making headway only to be cut off with a Samoan drop or falling power slam from Fale.
Fale called for his finisher at one point but Ishii was able to reverse it into a huge German suplex that sent both men down to the mat. Ishii was back up first and attempted his sliding lariat but was denied by Fale who grabbed Ishii by the throat, threw him into the corner, then down onto the mat where he followed up with a giant splash off the far side ropes. Adding onto the splash Fale went for a Vader Bomb but was blocked by a raised Ishii foot. Fale then hit a massive lariat that got a two count and began signaling for his finisher. Ishii blocked the first finisher attempt with a series of chops but was caught by a second attempt though he kicked out at two to great applause. Fale then got Ishii up for a crucifix powerbomb, but Ishii slid out and countered with a DDT.
Ishii then went back on the offensive hitting a lariat followed by an enzuigiri and a second lariat for two. He went for the pin again after another sliding lariat but again only got a two count. After an exchange of strikes, Ishii hoisted the giant Fale up and landed his brainbuster finisher to the roar of the crowd. The brainbuster got a three count and delivered Ishii his first win of the tournament.
SANADA vs. MAKABE
Makabe looked to extend his points lead in the tournament against SANADA who lost to Kazuchika Okada after his night one shocking submission upset over Hiroshi Tanahashi. Makabe set a slow deliberate pace, looking to bruise and beat on SANADA early on. The Los Ingobernables standout obliged and took the fight to Makabe on the outside, sending him through the railings and into the crowd where he assaulted him with a baseball bat. Back inside the ring and SANADA was unsuccessful in a pin attempt coming off fairly pedestrian spinning back elbow strike. SANADA looked tired and worn out during this match and never seemed to have much urgency in any of his attacks. This was followed by a succession of rest holds, forearm strikes, and lariats, punctuated by a Makabe power bomb and a brainbuster. Eventually, Makabe landed the Spider Suplex, followed it up with a King Kong knee drop and got the win via pinfall.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Naomichi Marufuji
The pace of this match stood in stark contrast to the one preceding it as the contest of fearsome brutality was built, one vicious strike at a time. Marufuji’s chops echoed so loud I thought the sound would pop my TV’s speakers. His hands sound like whips tearing flesh whenever the make contact and I can’t imagine withstanding one much less the dozens upon dozens Tenzan sustained throughout this match. And that ‘tearing flesh’ is not just imaginative language either; if you watch the match you can clearly see spots of blood all over the area of Tenzan’s chest where most of Marufuji’s chops made contact. Whereas Marufuji had sharp, piercing strikes, Tenzan had dull, thudding impact blows and neither man gave much away for most of the match.
Though Tenzan was able to attack most of it was defense-based as Marufuji’s kicking and chopping onslaught was relentless and Tenzan needed power move counters just to stave off the assault. Tenzan looked to be gaining the advantage at one point when he intercepted a Marufuji knee strike with a headbutt (yes, a headbutt) and attempted to follow it up with his moon sault finisher. Unfortunately, for him he missed and Marufuji finished him off with a bevy of standing kicks capped off by the Shiranui for the pinfall victory. Both men bowed to one another and raised each other’s hand in an admirable show of respect and sportsmanship after the match.
Tama Tonga vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: Tama Tonga
The crowd was firmly behind Tanahashi in this match as you imagine they would be, but even more so given his abhorrent G1 performance so far. Tonga kept up his theme of wearing a different colored gear set for each match of the G1, this time with camouflage face paint and tights. He hit a big spot early on when he nailed Tanahashi with a flapjack across the steel security railing. Tonga then reentered the ring to distract the ref as his Bullet Club ally Yujiro Takahashi ran out to put the boots to Tanahashi as it looked like yet again the New Japan Ace was on the road to another defeat. Sure enough, after getting his knees up to block the High Fly Flow, Tonga hit the Gun Stun (fireman’s carry into a cutter) ala former Bullet Club member, Karl Anderson and the crowd gasped fell silent as the witnessed Tanahashi lose yet again.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
The fellow CHAOS members started off their match slowly with hammerlocks, standing switches and armbar attempts. Goto gained an early upper hand by clotheslining Okada over the top rope and to the floor but Okada was soon back on the offensive, ducking out of the way of Goto’s charging attack. This sent Goto over the railing and Okada followed by setting him up for a hanging DDT to the outside ring area. Back in the ring, the two locked up side by side in a manner I have never seen two wrestlers lock up. They clasped each other hands while interlocking their legs and each seemed to simultaneously be going for an abdominal stretch on the other. It was weird. If you know what that was please leave a message in the comments because I’d like to know.
Okada broke the lockup and landed a bodyslam followed by an over-the-top rope senton from the apron back in and got a two count on Goto. Goto attempted to mount a striking attack but was cut off with a kneed to the midsection and Okada furthered slowed down the match with a reverse chin lock. Okada was moving a medium pace here thinking he had Goto where he wanted him but was rudely awakened by a standing side kick delivered by Goto as Okada came off the ropes.
The remaining match was more of the same as Goto would appear to be mounting a significant attack only for Okada to cut him off before he could ever really get momentum. Okada won a Rainmaker clothesline.