NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Twelve
August 2 2017
We’re in Fukuoka at the City Gymnasium for a thrilling night of Block B action. Block B has been the inferior block of the two but the exceptions have been the likes of Omega, Okada, Elgin and EVIL. With those talents spread thin tonight we’re relying heavily on Omega vs. EVIL, our main event, for in-ring quality.
Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino vs. Katsuya Kitamura & Ren Narita
We have ourselves a pride of young lions. Two big strong dudes and two smaller plucky guys. Kitamura is a beast and he batters his mate Oka with a forearm that’s one of the stiffest I’ve seen on this tour. The G1 tour. The stiffest of all tours. He takes clear exception and mangles Narita with a Boston crab for the submission, bending the poor boy in half. These lads did not go easy on each other. I look forward to a smattering of these tags in various combinations over the next six months or so. All good lads.
Final Rating: **3/4
Kota Ibushi & Tiger Mask IV vs. Yuji Nagata & Hirai Kawato
Tiger Mask is joining the tour here. I really hope Kawato submits him. Instead we get Tiger Mask stiffing the poor boy with kicks. The one roundhouse catches him on the butt of the jaw. It looks he got knocked loopy by it. Ibushi vs. Nagata is taking place on Friday. This is a brief tease of what to expect. Oddly enough I find myself more interested in Kawato, perhaps because I’ve only seen him in tags and he’s a precious young talent. A precious young talent desperately trying to survive being stiff kicked by a wanker like Tiger Mask. The G1 boys take it easy but Kawato gives it everything. Tiger Mask promptly gives him the Tiger Superplex for the win. For once Tiger Mask isn’t a dick about it, releasing in plenty of time for Kawato to land without dying. At the end of the day he just wanted to rough Kawato up a bit. Test his mettle. Kawato is going to be fucking great.
Final Rating: ***
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
CHAOS are really starting to team up now. Goto vs. YOSHI-HASHI is happening on Friday but the lads are sticking together to support Ishii ahead of his match with Fale. Yujiro has a new girl for the event and she looks badly stoned, mouth agape for no apparent reason and having difficulty negotiating the ropes before collapsing into the splits. She looks absolutely wasted. The match is wildly inconsistent. Ishii looks motivated and refuses to sell for anyone but Fale. Goto does nothing. YOSHI-HASHI gets to put Chase away with the Butterfly Lock. This dropped off badly after a feisty start from Big Tom Ishii. The second best part of the match was YOSHI-HASHI getting the fans to touch his stick, the colossal pervert.
Final Rating: *3/4
Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi & El Desperado
As you can probably guess from this Sabre has Naito on Friday in Block action. Sabre has upset a few on this tour (Tanahashi, Fale and Makabe included) and Naito would be quite the scalp. Zack clearly worries Naito as his first reaction is to back away and avoid an armbar. Sabre is the kind of wrestler who can injure you (kayfabe) seriously enough that it’ll cost you a tournament. Sabre seems capable of turning one of NJPW’s brightest into a complete buffoon here, routinely out-wrestling Naito. Taichi pulls off the win by hitting BUSHI with the microphone stand. After the match he tries to pull BUSHI’s mask off and there is some major heat between jobberific Suzuki-gun seconds and Los Ingobernables de Japon. That’s a fine story but I’m far more into Naito vs. Sabre, which could be low key awesome on Friday.
Final Rating: **1/4
Togi Makabe & David Finlay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin Liger
Tana vs. Togi on Friday with Makabe on the verge of elimination. Call me crazy but I’d love to see Finlay pin Liger here. Liger is reaching the end of his usefulness as a worker there are plenty of younger guys who could benefit from getting wins over him while it still matters. He’s definitely winding his career down and called this current period the “final phase of Liger”. Finlay starts off aiming at Liger, then gets ideas above his station and figures he knows Tanahashi quite well. Maybe the Ace will take it easy on him. That works out better than you’d expect although Tana probably didn’t want to take a backbreaker on a meaningless tag. Slingblade and High Fly Flow finish in short order.
Final Rating: **3/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
SANADA  vs. Juice Robinson 
Juice is already out, so this should make this result a no brainer with SANADA hunting Okada and four points behind the champ. Juice has looked good during the tournament and can point to an injured knee, which took place very early in the tour, as a reason for his low points haul. SANADA targets the leg here and the crowd don’t seem as into either man as they have been throughout the G1. There are flickers of underdog love for Juice but the lack of support for SANADA is troubling. Especially compared to Naito’s reaction in Kagoshima last night. The story is easy to follow though, with Juice pulling a full Bret Hart and limping all the way across the ring to make sure even the people in the cheap seats know he’s hurt.
SANADA has become tactically adept and he makes a point of hooking the Figure Four on the floor to try and beat Juice, which is a clever approach and one that got rid of Yano. Maybe the Paradise Lock would have been more sensible in retrospect. SANADA’s athleticism causes Juice all manner of problems, as he’s so immobile. Juice isn’t a complete doormat in this and is able to come up with several tidy counters to avoid SANADA abuse. That leg is always working against him though a chop block sets up the Skull End. Which in turn sets up the moonsault and SANADA gets the win.
Final Rating: ***1/2
MATHS: SANADA advances to eight points and stays one win behind Okada with three matches left. He still needs Okada to lose at some point but if he does, ol’ Cold Skull is there to pick up the pieces. His loss to Okada could prove costly in that respect as he needs Okada to drop two matches. Although with EVIL, Omega and Suzuki in his future it’s not an easy run-in for the champ. Juice, as pointed out earlier, is already eliminated but he’s put in some good shifts and proved he deserved his spot. He’ll come back stronger next year.
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Toru Yano  vs. Michael Elgin 
Elgin’s tournament has been such a contrast. A lack of points but a huge win over Kenny Omega, the only man to do so, and arguably the two best matches in the Block so far. Yano’s tournament has been a disaster by his usual standards. He’s taken a pasting in almost every match and his usual antics have failed. Big Mike plays the part of a slow, dumb guy here while Yano runs through his shtick.
The match ends in the most ridiculous manner with Yano claiming a low blow and the referee believes him! Holy shit, what a lame finish. What kind of official makes that call? Good lord. Elgin’s loss eliminates him from the G1.
Final Rating: ½*
MATHS: Yano was already out but he’s taken Elgin with him. Elgin’s inconsistent tournament ends up with him finished three days early. He will not be best pleased. Thanks to Elgin’s defeat to Kazuchika Okada he cannot get out of Block B. Okada can put it mathematically beyond doubt if he beats Tama Tonga later tonight. Elgin’s head to head failure is already enough though. He’s done.
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Minoru Suzuki  vs. Satoshi Kojima 
MiSu’s two losses were against Omega and EVIL, who are among the front runners in Block B so they don’t look like bad losses. Were he to fall to fellow veteran Kojima, Sith Lord MiSu would almost certainly be finished in Block B. Elgin I can believe at this stage but Suzuki would be a big shock. Especially as he’s been billed as a threat since returning from his run in NOAH earlier in the year. I approve of this match, in theory, as it’s two old blokes beating each other up, one of my preferred forms of entertainment. However it’s also Suzuki-gun and everything they do is a disgrace to professional wrestling. The match rapidly becomes more about Tenzan, outside interference and the incompetence of the referees in this promotion. If they just got in the ring and fought I imagine it’d be a good contest. Maybe Suzuki felt he needed a break, which this whole match is. You can pretty much ignore it until they eventually hit the ring and Suzuki starts to no sell Kojima’s trademarks because he doesn’t think they look painful enough.
If that had been the psychology here from minute one this would have been a great match. Instead one eye is always on Taichi and El Desperado (briefly typoed by this writer as “Ed Lesperado”, which sounds like Ed Leslie in a mask). Taichi even pulls the ref out and keep in mind there was a DQ for far less in the last match. What is Red Shoes playing at? Are we having an off-night for officiating? I don’t which offends me more but it’s probably the juxtaposition of both. Who books two contradictory shitty decisions in back to back matches? Eventually the numbers game is too much and Kojima eats the Gotch Piledriver for the pin. The tiny bit of wrestling in between the bullshit was fantastic. Everything else was fucking terrible. This match needs to get in the fucking sea.
Final Rating: DUD
MATHS: Obviously the result means nothing to Kojima who’s still on zero points. Suzuki meanwhile advances to eight, leaving him a win behind Okada and he still has the champion to face on a forthcoming show.
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Tama Tonga  vs. Kazuchika Okada 
Tama is up to his old tricks by stealing Okada’s gear. He doesn’t have much of a challenge here to have a better match than the last two and yet somehow conspires to have a dour contest with one of the best wrestlers in the world. It alternates between Tama goofing around and them running through perfunctory sequences with nothing attached to it at all. As if they were working in an empty building. It eventually picks up when Tama pulls the Headshrinker DDT out of his ass. It gives Okada a little mountain to climb to come back from the abuse. Part of me struggles to take Tama seriously at this level. He can pull out some nice counters but he’s not particularly good on offence and I don’t buy into his selling. He’s just good at putting the odd sequence together. At this level, that’s not going to cut it. It’s one of the reasons why Yujiro is no longer involved in G1. Okada takes Tama so lightly that he needs one small counter to set up the Rainmaker and that’s it. Almost everyone in this tournament has been taking multiple major shots off Okada to lose. Tama is a level below everyone else and it showed here. If you have a mediocre match with Okada you probably shouldn’t be in the G1. Okada’s win gives him a perfect 6-0 record.
Final Rating: **
MATHS: Okada’s win eliminates Tama from the G1. That should come as no surprise. He was never going to win. Block B is taking definitive shape now with only a few serious contenders. Half the field is out.
G1 Climax 27 Block B
EVIL  vs. Kenny Omega 
This has become a huge match for EVIL and Omega. Okada’s 6-0 record puts the pressure on like nobody’s business. He may have three very tough matches to finish the Block (including both these guys) but he already has twelve points in the bank, which is a very strong position. Even more worrying for them should be that the show has been a creative failure and if this match falls on its face the whole show will have peaked with Juice vs. SANADA. If you need someone to salvage a show Kenny Omega is pretty high on the list of guys you’d want to call. EVIL has a ***1/4 classic with the mats at ringside, attempting to clear a route to the concrete below. Kenny tops that by going ***1/2 with a ringside table, which manages to break at the slightest contact before failing to snap when EVIL is slammed on it. Goddamn unreliable inanimate objects!
With the match threatening to underwhelm Kenny kicks it up a notch and they start to do borderline dangerous stuff with chairs to get the crowd’s blood going. This results in EVIL bleeding from the mouth and attempting to mess Kenny up with his new submission; Banshee Muzzle. Omega decides that murder is perfectly acceptable in the main event of a G1 show and stomps a table through EVIL (yes, really that way around). Both guys take some unnecessary bumps into the apron for the love of the wrestling. EVIL especially is taking a shellacking in this match. As if to compensate Kenny agrees to take the STO off the apron…through a Japanese table, the most notorious of all tables.
It legitimately looks like they were thrown from a moving vehicle. Someone get the jaws of life! EVIL is in a bad way, now bleeding from the eyebrow thanks to the table.
It’s like they’re trying to kill each other to make amends for a shoddy undercard. EVIL looks confused and discombobulated after a knee strike. He looks all fucked up. Glassy-eyed, staring into the middle distance. It doesn’t stop Kenny battering him for the remainder of the match. A V-Trigger leaves EVIL utterly incapable of standing. If the earlier blow knocked him loopy, this is the one popping him on the train to Concussionville. Kenny helpfully knees him in the head a few times, with EVIL clearly hurt and somehow manages to hit the One Winged Angel for the pin. Holy shit, EVIL busts his chops in this match. He worked his ass off even before the shot to the noggin but after that how he made it to the finish is anyone’s guess. Instincts kicked in and Omega tried to nurse him through it but shit, those knee strikes were scaring me. A reminder of how dangerous pro wrestling can be.
Final Rating: ****1/4
BLOCK B Standings
Kazuchika Okada 12
Kenny Omega 10
Minoru Suzuki 8
Tama Tonga 4
Michael Elgin 4
Juice Robinson 2
Toru Yano 4
Satoshi Kojima 0
Okada and Omega are on a collision course. That much is certain. The three guys bubbling just under those gentlemen interest me the most. Could any of them cause an upset? This was a tough show to watch. A lot of the G1 matches were outright bad, which is not in the spirit of the tournament. Sure, they finished strong, but even the main event was blighted by a head injury. If you only pick one G1 show to skip this year, this is a contender but make sure you see the main. EVIL trying to work through a concussion is one of the damnedest things you’ll see all year. Kenny may need to tone down the knees.