G1 Climax 2009 Selected Matches
Brian has so graciously downloaded as much of the epic G1 as possible, at my request, and I'm looking forward to digging into all of it and watching another installment into this grand series.
1) A Block: Giant Bernard v. Tajiri- 3
2) B Block: Manabu Nakanishi v. Takashi Iizuka- 2
3) A Blck: Togi Makabe v. Takao Omori- 3
4) A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Giant Bernard- 4
5) B Block: Hirooki Goto v. Manabu Nakanishi- 4
6) B Block: Yuji Nagata v. Takashi Suguira- 6
7) A Block: Masato Tanaka v. Tajiri- 3
8) B Block: Yuji Nagata v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan- 5
9) A Block: Toru Yano v. Takao Omori- 4
10) B Block: Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Hirooki Goto - 4
11) B Block: Takashi Iizuka v. Takashi Suguira - 3
12) A Block: Masato Tanaka v. Hiroshi Tanahashi - 6
13) Semi-Finals: Shinsuke Nakamura v. Hiroshi Tanahashi - 7
14) Semi-Finals: Togi Makabe v. Takashi Suguira - 5
15) Finals: Togi Makabe v. Shinsuke Nakamura - 7
First bout felt really Smackdown 03-ish, as I'm sure these two collided many times. Bernard's slow offense felt like a cop out, you believed he could win anytime and was purposely dragging the match on, helped by Tajiri's really enthusiastic selling. Ending came together nicely though and saved this from being a total dud. Iizuka has the apperance of one of those old Japanese masters with the long ass beard; unfortunately he didn't have much to provide here. 2 lame crowd forays didn't help matters and his strange Metal hand felt like a prop from a Flash Gordon serial. Nakanishi has lost mobility in recent years and his clotheslines felt 2nd rate after watching any random NOAH show. I wasn' t bowled over with this one, felt like they were just doing it to get through it, not a lot of emotion. Makabe frustrates me, he wants to play this big tough monster, but his offense isn't particularly strong here and he stays on the defense a lot of this match. Omori whipped him up pretty good but didn't even look his best, as he was a violent prick later against Tanaka. Surprising finish though. Here's another match I wasn't overly impressed with, Tanahashi has his character down for sure, but seemed to be playing plucky babyface using pescados and flying clotheslines but all in a laze fare way. Bernard is a gargantuan to these guys, and he knows how to get a lot of mileage out of his size. Bernard ramming Hiroshi into post outside was egg-smelling lame. Best part of match for me was Tanahashi selling a back shot he'd taken from a Bernard forearm, he had a very Stallone-esque look of agony on his face, and I mean that in a good way.
Goto is a very enjoyable watch for me, he's intense, brings the hurt on all his moves and can hang with nearly everyone in the promotion. Here Nak is slow moving as a sloth but everything he does looks good except his knockoff clotheslines. Goto can bring the fire out of any dying match and has to at points. Nothing to write home about. Nagata gets pure enjoyment out of kicking people really hard, and Suguira is up for the challenge. The strikes alone here were enough to make you shiver, but both guys utilized head dropping suplexes and submissions really well too and it all flowed really well into a nice big frappe of action. From what I've seen, Yuji is one of the workhorses of this tournament. The two Japanese stalwarts from the ECW days put together a nice little match with some interesting reversals and I loved, loved, loved Tajiri's animated sell of the Diamond Dust. Tanaka splinters a table underneath Tajiri for good measure and this felt like it aired on TNN in 1999. Other than that, this is pretty forgettable. And please get Jado and Gedo off my screen. Tenzan is the injured old veteran desperately trying to hang on in these matches, as he merely tries to survive Nagata's onslaught which is furious. He has no qualms about brutalizing the injured shoulder with kicks that could break down the Great Wall as well as shoulder locks and armbars. Tenzan's comeback gets them off their chairs but it's apparent his best days are behind him as he can't compete with Nagata's furious attack.
This wasn't Omori's best showing, whose as Hot and Cold as that childhood game. Yano comprises one of the 3 fucker-arounders during this tourney (others being Iizuka and TAJIRI) where he's constantly dragging matches outside for a brawl or using an object. Omori didn't have the fire to fight back on him much so Yano used his size accordingly. It's obvious Tenzan's using the magic shoulder tape to keep himself together so much that his comeback before the finish makes you feel sorry for him that he has to perform it. Goto's game and hits hard and sells hard but there's some awkward transitions between these two, not sure if they've worked a lot in the past. Suguira has transformed himself into a brutal ass kicker through most of this and Iizuka continues to use weird gimmicks, including a steel grill that he gnashes into people's foreheads with. His matches all follow same formula of him throwing them around in the crowd, then using strange weapons, then getting his ass handed to him back, followed by prompt DQ or weapon backfire, same story here. Tanahashi and Tanaka both worked hard here, but there was an element missing to turn this into a classic; Tanahashi is good at bringing matches into deeper waters w/o putting crowd to sleep but he has a real lackadasical attitude
in spots. Tanaka plays tough warrior who comes close to winning well and pours on the elbows, which still look sad compared to Misawa's even in 2009. Some good near falls provide the backdrop for the last seven minutes or so, but there's no one spot that will make this stick out in several years.
Now our Semi's, the chemistry between Nakamura and Tanahashi is enough to blow up a science lab, he makes Tanahashi feel like he's in a fight for his life so you don't see the laziness when they work. Nak's subdued violent outbursts are wonderfully pulled off and feel like the Japanese version of the psycho Orton role. They blow through the matwork stuff and the slaps to get to the meat of the match which is big moves done in big ways to help win the match. Nak's armbar is one of the niftiest submissions you'll see in the ring these days and it's so quick, always dazzling. Tanahashi needs to add some color to his moveset, wonderful finish and hurty bump from the top with the Death Valley Driver, Hiroshi's best tourney match. You know this one will leave chests redder than hamburger meat. But once you get past the couple really heated exchanges there's not a lot more to sink your teeth into. I think both men work better with more experience opponents, so it feels like they're trying to do a famous match they saw once instead of working the match. Makabe's sick bloody face has highlighted this whole tourney and finally he's getting babyface sympathy for it. Suguira is no Kawada, even though he hits hard he can't pull off the emotional part his role is here. And our finals, another Nak showcase, brutal kicks, surgeon like knees, all around top notch stuff. He roars like a lion at one point, his hair tousled and dripping, you think he may actually bite Makabe's jugular. Makabe is actually accomplished on the ground and their mat exchange, not sure whether it's the crowd reaction or what, but has precision and they're trying to win early with holds. Nak's arm bar before the 5 minute mark is fucking beautiful stuff and I loved when he kicks Makabe's hand to sink it in. Finish showed that Togi Makabe had arrived, showing passion and enthusiasm, but his kneedrop needs some pow! Over all this was a great tournament and to see it only months after it happened is a rare treat.