I’m not entirely clear on the math, but it’s possible by the end of Day 16 there will be a big logjam at the top, or a simple, two person slot for the chance at the finals. Either way, heading into Day 16 my gut feeling is that Shinsuke Nakamura will come out of Block B and face AJ Styles in the G1 Finals. But, I am still trying to find a way to convince myself that Goto can find a way to come out of this Block.
Yujiro Takahashi (2-5, 4 Pts) v. Karl Anderson (5-2, 10 Pts) [Block B]: I’m not sure about this match. It was really tough coming off the great AJ/Fale match from Day 15 to come up with something that would be more interesting. I like that they didn’t try, and really played this straight, with AJ Styles just yelling about how certain things were not appropriate from outside the ring. Anderson was pretty good here carrying the action and even Takahashi had a couple moments where I thought he seemed competent. You forget sometimes that Takahashi has amateur wrestling experience and is actually a pretty talented guy. At the end of the match Anderson hits the Gun Stun for the pin, and suddenly you get the idea of where things are headed on Day 16.
Hirooki Goto (5-2, 10 Pts) v. Michael Elgin (4-3, 8 Pts) [Block B]: The bell rings and Elgin chants break out. He’s literally more popular than the guy I picked to win the G1, and the current IWGP IC Champion. At one point during this match Elgin hits a death valley driver on the ring apron and the crowd doesn’t so much as cheer, as they gasp and then laugh — that’s the impact that Elgin has had on these Japanese fans, they’re in awe of how well he’s assimilated into their little world. I feel like a broken record at this point but every one of these Elgin matches has been better than the last. His style has fit perfectly into the G1 and he has meshed with everyone. The only bad Elgin match so far as been the Nakamura match, and that’s because it never happened. The crowd absolutely supports Elgin to a shocking degree. Watch this match, skip to the last 4 minutes or so and listen to the crowd as Elgin does the deadlift super-plex into the Falcon Arrow, the crowd is electric! Goto winds up getting a quick pin, which deflates the crowd a bit because they were so into Elgin, but it makes sense, if you’re going to make Day 18 matter, Goto and Anderson both need 12 points, Anderson just got his, now Goto has hit. The potential for a four way tie is real, it’s damn real. After the match the crowd chants ELGIN! ELGIN! ELGIN! Elgin holds Goto’s hand up, and the crowd is kind of sad — like they were genuinely upset that Elgin didn’t beat Goto.
Satoshi Kojima (2-5, 4 Pts) v. Shinsuke Nakamura (5-2, 10 Pts) [Block B]: I have a confession to make — I have not been thrilled with Nakamura’s work during this G1. I know he’s working hurt, and I suspect that’s caused some of what I’m feeling, but I’ve been nonplussed by him all tournament. This match sticks out because the crowd was *so* good during Elgin/Goto and they were kind of asleep for this match. This match was completely fine, but it was nothing more then that. Nakamura won, because of course he did – and while Kojima has been having some good matches in the G1 this year, this wasn’t anything to write home about. At this point Nakamura, Anderson and Goto all have 12 points, I believe that if Okada wins here, it sets up a crazy scenario on Day 18 that we’ll talk about at the end of the day.
Yuji Nagata (2-5, 4 Pts) v. Kazuchika Okada (6-1, 12 Pts) [Block B]: How does Yuji Nagata have a match of this quality in his arsenal at age 78 (estimated?) The early part of this match I kind of thought dragged, and at points I found myself thinking that they were going too long — but things changed towards the end, the crowd became consumed by the war they were watching and suddenly they booing Okada and cheering Nagata and the whole atmosphere switched. I never really thought Nagata would win, but boy there was a moment when Okada was locked in the Nagatalock that I found myself thinking “this might actually happen.” Of course it didn’t, Okada survived the assault by Nagata, hit the Rainmaker and pinned Blue Justice. After the match Nagata got a well deserved ovation from the crowd. The crowd was great throughout this match and they loved Nagata, and he deserved it — he was absolutely on point throughout this match, great strikes, great action. I really liked what these two did, even if I thought it might’ve been a bit long.
Tomoaki Honma (0-7, 0 Pts) v. Tomohiro Ishii (4-3, 8 Pts) [Block B]: At one point during this match the whole world broke and got stuck on repeat and Ishii and Honma exchanged chops for about 2 minutes straight. It was impressive, and equally brutal. In a match that featured a 2 minute straight exchange of chops, that wasn’t even the most brutal sequence — that award would go to the slaps in the face, followed by Ishii headbutt, followed by lunging, jumping, Honma headbutt right on the button. Seriously this match was straight brutality from the beginning but towards the end it started getting downright crazy, and the jumping headbutt right on Ishii’s chin was the highlight of that exchange. Unfortunately after a string of headbutts that were all equally stiff, Honma fell just short and Ishi — wait, what?! You mean….HONMA WINS!!!!! HONMA WINS!!!! It happened, Honma hits the Kokeshi and PINS TOMOHIRO ISHII. The crowd goes wild, they’re jumping in the aisles at Korakuen Hall, and I am literally yelling HONMA WINS at my computer screen. The feel good moment of the G1, and Honma becomes the final competitor in the tournament to secure 2 points.
Final Thoughts: So here’s how I see it breaking down. Okada and Nakamura will face each other on Day 18, if Okada wins, he wins Block B and moves into the Finals. However, if Nakamura wins he’s in the cat bird seat. EXCEPT, that if Nakamura wins AND Karl Anderson and Hirooki Goto both win, you’ll have four people tied with 14 points, and all four will have wins over each other to completely complicate the tie breaker. I have no idea how it’ll work. We could actually see a four person, sudden death tournament to determine who wins Block B, AND THAT WOULD BE AMAZING! I might be wrong about that match, I genuinely don’t think it matters because I don’t see it becoming a thing. I do think that it’ll be Nakamura coming out of the Block, so however that needs to happen, they’ll find a way. This day was excellent though — Elgin/Goto was great, Okada/Nagata and Honma/Ishii were both very good, and Honma getting the win was the feel good moment of the G1.
Standings (Through Day 16)
Kazuchika Okada (14 pts)
Shinsuke Nakamura (12 pts)
Hirooki Goto (12 pts)
Karl Anderson (12 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (8 pts)
Michael Elgin (8 pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (4 pts)
Satoshi Kojima (4 pts)
Yuji Nagata (4 pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2 pts)