NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Thirteen
August 4 2017
Night thirteen already! Where does the time go? In my case it seems to be shared equally between work, sleep and the G1 Climax. With the odd bottle of red thrown in. You have to live a little. Tonight’s back over to Block A. Incidentally I’ve been gaining my cards this year from “Puroresuspirit.net”. They’re an excellent source for puroresu news and promotions cards ahead of the shows. They had the whole G1 laid out for me, complete with start times (in Japan anyway). Kudos to those boys. They’re doing a fine job. We head over to Block A again tonight. With two points separating the vast majority of the field it is all to play for and wins will start to become very important. Only Nagata is out so far.
Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi
This is certainly something. Tama has Yano in G1 action tomorrow but CHAOS are rocking the group unity thing and backing each other up. This was originally billed as Tama & Yujiro vs. Yano & Jado. The card shuffling is largely due to Jado’s knee injury. Kitamura and Oka are two young talents I find exciting. Is it just because they’re new and different? Or is there more to it than that? Oka already shows some skill in throws and Kitamura is built like a tank. Naturally they lose here, because they’re only young lions but the fact they easily out-performed two established midcarders shows they’re ready for success.
Final Rating: **
Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado vs. Michael Elgin, Tiger Mask IV & Hirai Kawato
I’m starting to dread the presence of SKG. It’s like NOAH all over again. Suzuki vs. Elgin is on Saturday’s card. The match is less interesting now Elgin has exited early from the tournament itself. Again, I’m drawn to the newcomer in Kawato and his interactions with SKG are more interesting than Elgin vs. MiSu. Suzuki tries to lay down a marker with a fierce leglock, roughing up Elgin ahead of their match tomorrow. Despy predictably pins Kawato for the fall.
Final Rating: *1/2
SANADA & BUSHI vs. TenCozy
SANADA has Kojima in the midcard of Saturday’s Block B action. Poor Kojima has been treated like crap during this tournament, losing to everyone. He’s surely not beating SANADA either, which begs the question whether he’ll score any points during G1. He enjoys himself enough here, battering BUSHI and chopping him around the ring. His lariat finish is half-hearted though and I can sense his stinging pride.
Final Rating: **
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Kenny Omega & Chase Owens
Omega looks tired. Maybe he’s selling and working the crowd but it looks like the schedule has worn him down. Chase and Finlay are there to take the pressure off the tournament grapplers. They do this job nicely, allowing Juice and Omega to pick their moments. Kenny, in his ‘not taking this seriously’ t-shirt barely breaks a sweat. Juice gets slightly more into proceedings by doing his Cannonball a few times and hitting Pulp Friction to put Chase away. Clearly Gedo thought Juice needed a win to offset all his tournament losses. It reminds people Juice is capable of winning but it didn’t make me desperate to see Omega vs. Juice tomorrow. Which is a worrying trend of the undercard tags. They’re becoming more and more like filler.
Final Rating: **1/4
EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano
It’s a little worrying seeing EVIL out here just days after Kenny Omega rang his bell during this G1 match. You’d think New Japan could have him sit out of a meaningless undercard tag but here we are. EVIL vs. Okada is the main event tomorrow. Imagine the disappointment if Okada had gotten a forfeit, leaving the main as Omega vs. Juice? Hopefully EVIL didn’t suffer a concussion because he really shouldn’t be wrestling this soon after receiving a serious head injury. That takes away from this pointless match for me. Especially when EVIL takes a DDT for no reason. Somebody get Chris Nowinski on the phone! I can’t tell if EVIL looks shaky after being kicked in the head or whether he’s just selling. Yano mucks about with Hiromu a bit and pulls his hair to get the cheeky pinfall. EVIL’s potential head problems took me completely out of this.
Final Rating: **
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Kota Ibushi  vs. Yuji Nagata 
Kota got the win he desperately needed against Tanahashi, which blew the Block wide open in the process. Nagata is the one guy he should be guaranteed a win over as it’s Nagata’s farewell G1 and he’s losing to everybody. You can see the wear on Nagata is starting to tell. He struggles to get off his feet for even his low dropkick. By comparison Kota can flip for fun. Nagata is best positioned as a weary veteran, willing to fight to his last breath in epic striking duels. He certainly beats the ever-loving shit out of Kota Ibushi and puts him solidly in his place. At least for a time until Ibushi gets all manner of pissed off with the mounted strikes Nagata has been landing all tour. They have a beautiful kick duel, designed to show that Ibushi is every bit on Nagata’s level but also that Yuji isn’t all washed up and has plenty left to offer.
I like that it ends in stalemate. You can say what you want about Nagata but he dogged nothing in his career. He left it all in the ring. He’s going out the same way he wrestled during his entire career. Yuji Nagata is so old he was in WCW. Process that for a moment. He wasn’t even young when he was in WCW. This is another fine showing from Nagata and Ibushi takes some fierce punishment, including a back drop suplex where he lands on his head. Ibushi is able to avoid a second but Nagata survives the Last Ride too. Now Ibushi goes to his new finisher; the Kamigoye (I’ve probably spelled that wrong) knee strike, which was enough to put Tanahashi away and it does the job on Nagata too. It’s an interesting tactic to switch finishing holds in mid-tournament but Kota is a weird guy. This was another good match for Nagata on his way out. He may be starting to lose his edge but what a career he’s had and he’s been consistently great throughout all of it.
Final Rating: ***3/4
MATHS: Ibushi now has two matches remaining; Goto and YOSHI-HASHI. If he wins both he has a shot at tying someone else on 12 points. He’s definitely still in the hunt. Nagata is, of course, long gone.
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Bad Luck Fale  vs. Tomohiro Ishii 
Fale’s role as bridesmaid/monster/spoiler is in full effect here. He can come up short, he can dismantle Ishii or he can simply beat him to stop Big Tom hitting ten points before anyone else. Despite the obvious difference in size Ishii applies the same tactics as always; attempting to chop down this mountain with the edge of his hand. It’s an obstinate approach to pro-wrestling but it’s one that’s been relatively successful for him. It’s convincing too, as he has more energy and drive than Fale so he simply clubs at him until the big man is down. Ishii even shows a little subtlety when Fale threatens to overwhelm him, countering a Grenade into an armbar takedown. It’s the kind of variety some people want from Ishii. I’m happy either way.
Ishii dominates the match with his tenacity so I immediately get a sinking feeling as the habit of match structure during G1 is that one man dominates and then the other wins. One Bad Luck Fall later and I’m vindicated. This was going great until the sudden finish.
Final Rating: ***1/2
MATHS: Fale makes the jump up to eight points. Of the mass of humanity already on eight he’s beaten Naito, Ibushi and Ishii. Fale’s final two matches are Nagata and Goto. If he squeaks past Goto expect a shock Nagata win on the last night to stop Fale’s advance to the finals. Although he can win both, finish on 12 points and still not make it through if Tanahashi, or Sabre, rack up the same points.
G1 Climax 27 Block A
YOSHI-HASHI  vs. Hirooki Goto 
Tacos had a shock win over Fale to stay alive but just barely. Now he battles stablemate Goto and defeat will consign him to elimination (with existing losses to Naito, Tanahashi and Sabre). Even if he wins here he could still be finished tonight if any of those guys win. Unless Naito vs. Sabre goes to a draw he’s screwed. Both these guys are classic beta’s, continually subservient to the CHAOS stars. YOSHI especially although Goto has issues with getting caught in someone else’s shadow. Both guys show minimal character evolution too, which means they’re stuck like this. Tacos gets a surprisingly large chunk of offence during the match and often has Goto in trouble with the Butterfly Lock and cheeky roll ups. When he tries to go head to head he can’t match Goto’s raw power though and the GTR finishes. This was underwhelming. Perhaps because it took on the same format as so many of the tournament matches; one guy dominates, the other guy wins. Perhaps because YOSHI-HASHI has been an also-ran for the bulk of this tournament and he did nothing to change that here. Choking when faced with a chance to overcome Goto and resorting to tactics that caused his defeat and elimination.
Final Rating: ***
MATHS: Goto joins the mass of humanity on eight points. There are now six guys tied for the lead in Block A. Goto’s last two matches are Fale and Ibushi, two other guys sharing that eight point spot. Having lost to Tanahashi and Naito, Goto can play spoiler effectively for others. The only way he wins is if Tana vs. Naito goes to a draw like Okada vs. Tana did last year. Tacos has Ibushi and Makabe. Chances are he eliminates Togi on the last day.
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Tetsuya Naito  vs. Zack Sabre Jr. 
The eight point gang is about to be broken up. Sabre has gained some surprise wins during this tournament but Naito is perhaps a step too far. Zack schooled the Ingobernable one during the undercard tag match on Wednesday, piquing interest in this contest. To restore some semblance of balance Zack is gotten to in the early going by Naito’s antics. Sabre, in response, runs through a variety of torturous submission attempts, freaking out the commentary boys. Sabre has such an array of stretches that he can surprise even the most weathered of journalists. He’s had a stunning G1 and has opened a few eyes to his technical expertise. It’s set him apart and having Zack in the G1 has given the tournament some much needed variety. To see an agitator like Naito be completely dumbfounded by an opponent is good news for the opponent. Regardless of win/loss record Sabre has had an excellent tournament. His slender frame is off-putting to some but when you have that level of technical skill it’s nice to level the playing field by having a weakness. Zack’s lack of power and size allows various opponents to win, even when they’re being tied into knots. Sabre clearly believes in his style and appearance so he’s not changing. Wrestling is changing. Fair play to him for sticking to his guns.
Naito, a tournament favourite, is in real trouble if he loses here and that creates some terrific tension as Sabre continues to contort his body in unnatural ways. The only complaint is that it’s the same structure again; one guy dominates and the other wins that’s been prevalent throughout G1. Sabre seems to have an answer for everything Naito has, countering Destino and Naito’s rollover pin. Naito literally hits two moves in his comeback, the second is Destino, catching Sabre cold. Again, this suffered from one guy dominating and the other guy winning, which has become painfully formulaic. However watching Sabre have his way with one of the most prominent stars in Japan was sufficiently refreshing that I’m prepared to overlook the flaws inherent in the booking.
Final Rating: ****
MATHS: Naito becomes the first man to 10 points this year. Naito’s last two matches are against Makabe and Tanahashi, the two men clashing in the main event and attempting to tie his points tally. Of those on eights points, Naito has only lost to Ishii and Fale. Sabre faces a struggle now. He’s lost to Goto, Ibushi and Naito. He has Ishii and Nagata remaining. Chances are he’ll overcome Yuji to still be in the running on the last day but then lose to Ishii.
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Togi Makabe  vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 
If Togi loses here he’s essentially eliminated as he cannot finish above Tanahashi. Makabe has looked ok in this tournament and, like Sabre, he provides something different. He’s a smashmouth hair-punching son-of-a-gun. However his main event status has little to do with his in-ring ability and everything to do with his popularity outside of wrestling. Tanahashi takes it easy and it feels like a house show main event. Hopefully Tana is leaving plenty in the tank for his remaining bouts. Togi punching his hair is guaranteed to get the Ace upset though. How dare he?
Unlike the rest of the G1 matches this has a distinct 50-50 vibe to the action where both guys get stuff in. Makabe almost wins with the King Kong Kneedrop, Tana moving, and then Togi repays that by avoiding the High Fly Flow. For once on the show the winner is not immediately obvious. They tell a story about big spots and the teasing of them. It allows them to do less and make it mean more. It’s a smartly worked match. Tanahashi never goes all in though and works a less intense match than when it matters. His almost casual last few moves put Makabe down and out. High Fly Flow finishes and Makabe is, perhaps surprisingly, gone from the tournament with two matches left.
Final Rating: ***1/4
MATHS: Tanahashi and Naito share the lead going into the last two matches. If they both win on Sunday they’ll go into their final Block match knowing whoever wins that match wins the Block. However it’s not always that simple. Tanahashi has Ishii. Togi Makabe’s G1 is effectively over. After losing to Tanahashi he cannot finish above the Eternal Ace. That, combined with Naito facing Tana on the final night means he’s done as he trails Naito by four points. Even if he beats Naito on Sunday and stays alive even a draw between Naito and Tana would eliminate him mathematically.
BLOCK A Standings
Tetsuya Naito 10
Hiroshi Tanahashi 10
Zack Sabre Jr 8
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Kota Ibushi 8
Bad Luck Fale 8
Hirooki Goto 8
Togi Makabe 6
Yuji Nagata 0
The undercard tags are a drag and clearly some of the G1 participants are either tired or conserving energy for the latter stages. Several of tonight’s bouts were uninspiring. I can understand Tanahashi wanting to hold back a little and Sabre-Naito stole the show without much effort. Ibushi-Nagata wasn’t far behind in that respect. All of those guys have had really good tournaments. Now we’re into the final stretch hopefully we’ll see some more inspiration, creativity and effort across the field.