Shibata (art credit Matt Charlton & Sam Gardiner)
NJPW REWIND PODCAST WITH RADICAN & CO. COMPANION (EPISODE 2)
G1 CLIMAX 23: NIGHT 2 REPORT
AUGUST 2, 2013
Radican note: This article is part of a series of companion reviews to the NJPW Rewind Podcast with Radican and Co. These will be “retro” style reviews looking back at some of NJPW’s best shows and tournaments of the past decade. NJPW’s G1 Climax 23 from 2013, which had been called by many the best tournament of all time after it concluded, will be covered in-depth for PWTorch readers as if it is happening in virtual time. In addition to full reviews of each G1 Climax 23 show that will serve as a companion to the NJPW Rewind Podcast, I will be doing audio recaps for VIP members for each night of G1 Climax 23 with a rotating series of co-hosts.
(1) KARL ANDERSON (2) vs. SHELTON “X” BENJAMIN (w/TAKA MICHINOKU) (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH
Shelton Benjamin and Karl Anderson were both on the WWE roster until Anderson got his release recently. Benjamin frustrated Anderson early with his striking. Anderson took shortcuts and went after Benjamin’s eyes. Benjamin blocked a Gunstun attempt and went for Paydirt, but Anderson caught him with a backbreaker. Benjamin got the ankle lock a short time later. Anderson ended up catching Benjamin with the Gunstun for the win.
WINNER: Karl Anderson (4 pts) in 7:00. (**)
Radican’s Analysis: This was a fine start to the show, but the match was nothing memorable between these two.
(2) YUJIRO TAKAHASHI (2) vs. HIROYOSHI TENZAN (0) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH
Takahashi hit a big dive during the early going to wipe out Tenzan. Tenzan mounted a comeback with his signature Mongolian Chops. He eventually hit a headbutt off the tip for a near fall and the fans gasped. Tenzan went up top, but missed a moonsault and the fans gasped again. The fans tried to rally behind Tenzan. Takahashi fired back with a suplex. He slammed Tenzan and went up top and hit a moonsault, but Tenzan kicked out at one! Tenzan got right up only to eat a clothesline. Takahashi went for Tokyo Pimps, but he couldn’t lift Tenzan. He dropped Tezan and hit a moonsault for the win. The finish appeared to be an audible.
WINNER: Yujiro Takahashi in 9:00 (4 pts). (**½)
Radican’s Analysis: The action picked up late nicely, but the botch finish left things ending a little flat, as Takahashi couldn’t hit his finish on Tenzan.
(3) TORU YANO (0) vs. YUJI NAGATA (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH
Nagata and Yano went right at it as soon as Nagata got into the ring. Nagata got the better of Yano and he went to the floor frustrated. Yano got the upper hand and ended up tripping Nagata head first into one of the corners where he had removed the turnbuckle padding. Yano shoved Nagata into the ref and low blowed him. He then got a backslide for a nearfall. Nagata fired back and hit the Backdrop Driver with a bridge for the win.
WINNER: Yuji Nagata (4 pts) in 7:00. (**¼)
Radican’s Analysis: This was the typical Yano style of match. It went a bit longer than some of Yano’s matches in G1 usually go, but Nagata looked good overcoming a low blow to get the win.
(4) LANCE ARCHER (w/TAKA MICHINOKU) (2 pts) vs. PRINCE DEVITT (w/BAD LUCK FALE) (2 pts) IN A G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK MATCH
Devitt cut off Archer early and went after his leg. He made a chopping motion after hitting a sick dropkick as if he were chopping down a tree. Devitt continued to go after Archer’s leg. Archer fired back and tossed Devitt over the top to the floor right into Fale at ringside. Devitt avoided a charge in the corner. He got a chair and Fale distracted the ref, but Archer kicked the chair into Devitt’s head. Archer hit a big F5 that the ref clearly walked right into. Archer set up Devitt between two chairs, but missed a moonsault off the top. Devitt then hit Archer with a chairshot to the back off the top. He put the chair on top of Archer and hit a double stomp off the top through the chair, but Archer kicked out at two and the fans fired up. Devitt slipped out of a Blackout attempt. Archer ran into Fale on the apron and punched him, but Devitt rolled him up from behind for a nearfall. Archer hit a big chokeslam for a nearfall on Devitt a short time later. The fans fired up behind Archer. Taka stopped Fale from interfering again. Archer wiped him out and caught Devitt coming off the top a short time later. Archer ended up hitting the Blackout for the win.
Winner: Lance Archer (4 pts) in 8:00. (***½)
Radican’s Analysis: This was a really fun back and forth match with Devitt relying on outside interference late to get the upper hand. Ultimately Archer had an equalizer of his own in Michinoku and he helped Archer even the odds and get the win.
(5) KATSUYORI SHIBATA (2) vs. SATOSHI KOJIMA (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH
They went right to a hard hitting exchange and Shibata sent Kojima to the floor with a big kick to the chest. Shibtata had a figure 4, but Kojima eventually hit some hard slaps and managed to get to the ropes to break the hold. Kojima hit some machinegun chops in the corner, but Shibata fired back with some brutal kicks to the chest and hit a running face wash. Kojima went for his signature elbow drop, but Shibata sent him off the top to the floor. He caught him with a running kick a short time later. He then hit a big suplex. They brawled on the floor and Kojima hit a big suplex on the floor. He then tossed Kojima into the wall. Shibata left Kojima and made his way back towards the ring. He went to step through the ropes, but Kojima surprised him with a chop block. The fans fired up and chanted for Kojima. Kojima mounted a comeback, but Shibata cut him off and hit his signature corner dropkick. Shibata hit a PK, but Kojima got up and obliterated him with a clothesline! He followed up with a brainbuster. He lifted up Shibata and hit a big clothesline for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Satoshi Kojima (4) in 10:00. (***¾)
Radican’s Analysis: Shibata seemed to have Kojima’s number and he really took the fight to Kojima, but he could not keep down Kojima. The fighting spirit Kojima showed down the stretch was insane. What a finishing sequence!
(6) DAVEY BOY SMITH JR. (w/TAKA MICHINOKU) (0) vs. TOGI MAKABE (2) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH
The action quickly spilled to the floor and Smith booted Makabe over the guardrail and into the crowd. Smith worked over Makabe on the mat and really slowed the pace down after a hot start to the match. Makabe blocked a powerbomb attempt and hit a backdrop. They battled up top later in the match and Smith hit a huge superplex and both men were down as the fans fired up and chanted for Makabe. Smith hit a big clothesline and then hit a sitout powerbomb for the win.
WINNER: Davey Boy Smith Jr. (2 pts) in 10:00. (***)
Radican’s Analysis: The action dragged early with Smith in control, but then the pace picked up and the crowd got behind Makabe, but it was Smith getting the win in the end with the sitout powerbomb.
(7) KOTA IBUSHI (2) vs. TETSUYA NAITO (0) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH
The fans were red hot and chanted for Naito after the opening bell rang. The pace was slow early and then it picked up with a big exchange off the ropes. Ibushi went for a dropkick, but it looked like he threw his knees right into Naito. Naito fired back and hit a basement dropkick. He then hit a running dropkick to Ibushi’s knees. Naito got a trailer hitch submission, but Ibushi got to the ropes. Ibushi mounted a comeback and sent Naito to the floor. He eventually hit the Golden Triangle and the fans went crazy. Naito fired back and went after Ibushi’s leg. He then hit a missile dropkick off the top to Ibushi’s leg. Naito then locked in a Figure 4 and the fans tried to rally behind Ibushi. Ibushi got out of it and both men traded slaps. Naito told Ibushi to bring it and shrugged off several blows. He fired back and then they went back and forth. The pace picked up and Naito hit a flying forearm off the ropes. He then hit a HUGE German with a bridge for a nearfal. Naito went for a dragon suplex, but Ibushi countered it and hit one of his own for a nearfall.
Naito got a couple of pinning combinations and the second one was a super close nearfall. Ibushi kicked out and hit a roundhouse kick to Naito’s head. Ibushi then hit the Last Ride, but Naito kicked out at the last second and the fans went crazy! Ibushi went up top and hit the Phoenix Splash for the win.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi (4 pts) in 13:00. (****)
Radican’s Analysis: This was an amazing encounter with Naito working over Ibushi’s leg and the crowd was rabid for the back and forth action. Ibushi managed to overcome the damage to his knee and he got the better of Naito in the end. Ibushi offered a handshake, but Naito blew him off and sold frustration on the apron.
(8) MINORU SUZUKI (0) vs. IWGP IC CHAMPION SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (0) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 B BLOCK MATCH
Nakamura missed his signature running knee to the gut in the corner and Suzuki got an arm bar around the ropes. Suzuki then tossed Nakamura into the barricade on the outside. Suzuki worked over Nakamura’s arm with a keylock, but Nakamura managed to get to the ropes. Nakamura hit a kick to Suzuki’s head while on his back on the apron. He then hit a big running knee to Suzuki’s head. Nakamura got up on the apron and hit a knee drop on Suzuki’s head. Suzuki struggled, but beat the ref’s count back into the ring. Namaura targeted Suzuki’s midsection with several knees in the corner. He hit several knees to the side of Suzuki’s rib cage on the mat a short time later. Suzuki fired back with a big kick to the head for a two count, but Nakamura surprised him with an arm submission. Suzuki fired back and hit a running kick to Nakamura’s head off the ropes for a two count. Nakamura hit a reverse powerslam and set up for the Boma Ye, but Suzuki surprised him with a dropkick out of the corner.
They went to a big slap exchange. Suzuki ducked a big punch and got a choke. Suzuki let go of the choke eventually and went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Nakamura managed to get out of it. Nakamura slipped away from Suzuki and hit a big dropkick. He then hit a Boma Ye out of the corner. He went for another, but Nakamura went for the choke. Nakamura countered it and got an arm bar. Suzuki rolled over and snapped Nakamura right into the Gotch Piledriver for the win.
WINNER: Minoru Suzuki (2 pts) in 14:00. (***¾)
Radican’s Analysis: This was just a fantastic match with Nakamura working over Suzuki’s midsection and arm and Suzuki trying to get the sleeper/Gotch piledriver combination for the win. The finish was really done and the crowd was hot for this match throughout.
(9) IWGP HVT. CHAMPION KAZUCHIKA OKADA (w/GEDO) (0) vs. HIROOKI GOTO (0) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH
Goto dominated early, but Okada fired back on the floor and hit a draping DDT off the guardrail. Okada then began working over Goto inside the ring. Goto then ended up catching Okada by surprise with a huge clothesline. The fans fired up and chanted for Okada. Both men got up and Goto hit another big clothesline. Okada mounted a comeback and dropped an elbow off the top. He locked in Red Ink, but Goto got to the ropes. The fans chanted for Okada as he maintained the upper hand. Goto tried to avoid a dropkick, but Okada caught him with it. He went for the Rainmaker, but Goto caught him with the Ushikoroshi! Okada went for another Rainmaker, but Goto blocked it with a headbutt. They battled up top and Goto hit an Ushirgoroshi off the top for a nearfall! Goto then hit Shouten Kai for the win. This was incredible down the stretch.
WINNER: Hirooki Goto (2 pts) in 13:00. (****)
Radican’s Analysis: It seemed like Goto had Okada’s number from the start. He avoided the dropkick early and blocked several Rainmers en route to a big win over the champion.
(10) TOMOHIRO ISHII (0) vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI (0) IN A G1 CLIMAX 23 A BLOCK MATCH
The fans fired up huge after the bell sounded for the main event. Tanahashi played air guitar as the fans cheered him. They went at it on the floor and Tanahashi bounced off the guardrail and walked right into a powerslam. The crowd fired up big time after Ishii no sold a series of strikes from Tanahashi and then lit him up with chops in the corner. Ishii went for a kick a short time later, but Tanahashi countered it and hit a dragon screw. They went back and forth a short time later and Ishii hit a German, but Tanahashi got right up and hit a dropkick and both men were down. That was an insane sequence that set the crowd on fire. They went to a big forearm exchange in the middle of the ring. Both men staggered, but Ishii managed to hit a backdrop driver. Both men were down as the fans fired up. Ishii hit a folding powerbomb for a two count.
They got up and went at it again. Tanahashi no-sold a forearm and hit a slingblade. He then hit a straight jacket German with a bridge, but Ishii kicked out at two. Tanahashi went up top, but Ishii crotched him. Ishii then hit a superplex and both men were slow to get up. Ishii hit a big folding powerbomb and the crowd seemed to gasp in disappointment when Tanahashi kicked out. They went back and forth and Ishii hit a headbutt and a big lariat for a super close nearfall. WOW! Ishii had previously countered Twist and Shout, but Tanahashi managed to land it on the second try and Ishii sold his neck. Ishii no-sold a dragon suplex, but walked right into a Sling Blade for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit another dragon suplex with a bridge for a nearfall and the crowd went nuts.
Tanahashi went up top for the High Fly Flow, but Ishii got out of the way and rolled him up with a pinning combination for another super close nearfall. The fans screamed thinking Ishii had won. They got to their knees and butted heads. They then began trading blows from their knees. Tanahashi and Ishii got to their feet and traded bombs as the fans went crazy. Tanahashi hit a big headbutt out of nowhere and went for a dragon suplex, but Ishii hit a backwards headbutt. They went back and forth and Ishii caught Tanahashi with a kick and the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but Tanahashi kicked out! OH MY GOD! Ishii lifted up Tanahashi and hit a modified sit out piledriver for the win. What a match.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii in 18:00. (*****)
Radican’s Analysis: This was just an incredible match. Ishii was on a mission to win and he got nearfall after nearfall before putting Tanahashi away with a sick sitout piledriver. The fans’ rabid reaction to the action really enhanced the match.
Overall thoughts: (9.0) – What a night of action. The fans were rabid from start to finish, but the heat for the Ishii-Tanahashi main event was insane. There was a mix of good to excellent matches on the undercard, but the main event solidified this as a spectacular show.
The theme of the first two nights of the tournament has been upsets. It’s surprising to see big names like Okada, Tanahashi, and Nakamura with no points in their respective blocks, but that’s what the records showed after the first two nights. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the tournament after watching night 2. The crowd energy and match quality was outstanding.
A BLOCK STANDINGS THROUGH NIGHT 2
Lance Archer 2-0 (4 pts)
Satoshi Kojima 2-0 (4 pts)
Prince Devitt 1-1 (2 pts)
Katsuyori Shibata 1-1 (2 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii 1-1 (2 pts)
Hirooki Goto 1-1 (2 pts)
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 1-1 (2 pts)
Togi Makabe 1-1 (2 pts)
Kazuchika Okada 0-2 (0 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi 0-2 (0 pts)
B BLOCK STANDINGS THROUGH NIGHT 2
Kota Ibushi 2-0 (4 pts)
Karl Anderson 2-0 (4 pts)
Yujiro Takahashi 2-0 (4 pts)
Yuji Nagata 2-0 (4 pts)
Minoru Suzuki 1-1 (2 pts)
Shelton Benjamin 1-1 (2pts)
Shinzuke Nakamura 0-2 (0 pts)
Tetsuya Naito 0-2 (0 pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 0-2 (0 pts)
Toru Yano 0-2 (0 pts)
Contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch.