NJPW G1 Climax 27
July 27 2017
We’re in Niigata, Japan for night eight of the G1. It’s back over to B Block this evening where the duo of Omega and Okada are running riot. Each with a 3-0 record. Only Kojima has failed to get off the mark from the rest, creating a cluster of wrestlers with 1-2 and 2-1 records. Should the trend continue throughout only a couple of hangers on will keep pace with Omega & Okada and eventually even they will fall away.
Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Zack Sabre Jr & El Desperado
Zack has Goto on the next Block A show but can’t be bothered with roughing him up so instead he’s here to teach the young lions some new stretches. Ren is the skinniest of the new class but he’s wiry and eager. Zack plays with him, like a cat would with an injured bird. Umino fairs slightly better and I’m not convinced Sabre is taking this seriously. The big news is that New Japan have so much depth in their current crop of Young Lions that they’ve got years of talent on the conveyer belt. What will they even do with them all? Despy eventually gets the submission win. Sabre was so nice here. Virtually refusing to remove a limb and beat someone to death with it.
Final Rating: **1/4
Yuji Nagata & Hirai Kawato vs. Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi
Nagata vs. Makabe is two veterans eager to smack the shit out of each other. It should be a feisty contest on Saturday. They hold back a little here, to save something for their actual match. Nagata is not in a position where he can go hard every show. He’s capable of standing and trading with Togi in the middle of the ring though and that will be the base of Saturday’s match so it works admirably as a preview. Kawato gets to look decent here, getting near falls and even a near submission on Taguchi.
He eventually falls afoul of the anklelock and has to tap. Meanwhile Nagata and Makabe are still thumping lumps out of each other. The table is definitely set for Saturday’s clash.
Final Rating: **3/4
Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens vs. Kota Ibushi, Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura
Ibushi has Young Lion assistance ahead of his clash with Fale on Saturday. Oka and Kitamura may be inexperienced but they have plenty of size. Although not the size of Fale. My favourite part of this match is Fale throwing Ibushi into the rail and a fan realising their Naito bear is under the rail. The speed that she snatches that thing up is incredible. Fale has developed a reputation for destroying property and dreams. Chase puts Oka away here in a fast-paced but relatively uneventful match. Fale vs. Ibushi was barely teased, apart from Fale throwing Kota around on the floor to keep him out of the match. Chase’s package piledriver on Oka was sick by the way. “Kitamura hits so hard” says Chase on his way up the ramp.
Final Rating: **
Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo
Naito has Ishii on Saturday. Jado was originally due to tag with Ishii here but I must have missed an announcement regarding his status. Gedo and the LIJ boys have a contest regarding cheating. Gedo may be a teacher of such dark arts but LIJ have a numbers game and a mixture of speed and understanding. LIJ are almost telepathic when it comes to tagging together. Gedo ends up getting outsmarted by BUSHI and rolled up for the pin. Naito and Ishii dished out plenty of abuse to each other but their match is likely to hit another level. It’s probably my most anticipated match on Saturday.
Final Rating: ***
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
Tana has YOSHI-HASHI and for some reason Goto finds hanging around with Tacos more important than preparing for his own match. Maybe he’s annoyed that Tana beat him yesterday? Who knows.
I’d be upset that despite Tana working his ass off for three big matches his hair still looks immaculate. That is a world champion hairstyle and no mistake. Tanahashi usually takes this matches easy so Finlay happily takes the bulk of the workload and it’s in their interaction that YOSHI-HASHI finally looks good. Meanwhile Goto wipes out Finlay with GTR for the win. This was really solid. Goto and Tanahashi were continuing their match from last night and Tacos vs. Finlay was good stuff. YOSHI-HASHI has a brief chat with Tana post match where he shows his wonderfully low-key personality off. It’s not intimidating.
Final Rating: **3/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Tama Tonga  vs. Juice Robinson 
These are basically ‘also rans’ in this block. It’s a good debut experience for Juice and Tama, in his second G1, is trying hard to establish himself. They’re both around the same place in the pecking order of New Japan. The different maker is likely to be Juice’s ‘injured’ knee. Tama makes a point of not taking Juice seriously and targeting the obvious weakness. Juice has to fight against the tide of leg pain and Tama’s sneakiness. Despite the injury Juice is able to block or counter the Gun Stun several times. Given that leg weakness, it’s a stretch to believe him capable of such antics and I much prefer the counter into the roll up over the power-out. Tama catches him blindside with the Gun Stun after softening him up with the Headshrinker DDT and the Tongan advances to four points. Juice’s injury is becoming the focal point of his story but not because of submissions but rather because of how it gives his opponents an easy out to counter him. I’d prefer it if Juice had been made to tap out, especially by Minoru Suzuki. We know he wants to win and he’s showing great guts but sometimes you have to submit. Especially when logic dictates. I’m still not sure why they opted to switch from his bad neck, in the early rounds, to a knee injury but it is essentially working.
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
SANADA  vs. Toru Yano 
Yano goes through his array of antics and SANADA is aware of them, attacking first and spotting the exposed ring post coming. Even so Yano still has a large bag of tricks.
Not all of them work in his favour and the roll of wrist tape, which he used on Omega, is thrown into the crowd by SANADA. Cold Skull’s approach is one of the smartest Yano has come up against in G1 this year. Yano is forced to resort to his cheeky roll ups! Yano being forced to wrestle is exactly what SANADA wants as he surely feels he can win that way. SANADA takes heed of Omega’s count out win and goes one step further by producing wrist tape and hooking the Paradise Lock on top of it for the count out victory! Genius!
Final Rating: **1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
EVIL  vs. Minoru Suzuki 
With boy guys on four points the winner of this will join Omega & Okada on top of Block B. At least until their respective matches take place. EVIL gave a good account of himself against Suzuki in tag action yesterday so there is an expectation that he can match up to one of the toughest men in pro-wrestling. Suzuki has not forgotten and goes after EVIL’s eye with a pen. When EVIL mounts his comeback and does the ‘slit your throat’ deal with his thumb you can sense Suzuki is going to kill him, like he did with AJ Styles for the Bullet Club gesture.
— The Tag Rope (@tagropemag) July 27, 2017
The match takes a turn when Desperado jumps in there. LIJ are prepared for this and BUSHI runs in for the save. Then Hiromu to stop Taichi. Once they’re allowed to settle back into the wrestling it becomes a business of who can put the other away the quickest. Suzuki counters the STO once but the second time he gets caught coming out of a sleeper and EVIL gets the huge win!
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Satoshi Kojima  vs. Kazuchika Okada 
Kojima is 0-3, Okada is 3-0. This should be a no brainer. Even without the scoreboard to remind people how far advanced in this promotion Okada is compared to the veteran Kojima I’d be leaning heavily towards Okada. But you never know in pro-wrestling. Anything can happen. Okada is not the babyface in this match, I can say that safely. People are eager to see Kojima get the win and Okada takes it one step further by going after Tenzan because he’s not happy with him being at ringside and the cheering going against him. It’s the work of a petulant brat, rather than the IWGP champion but Okada knows how to behave based on differing crowd reactions and he certainly nails his heel persona in this one.
It gives the match the appropriate balance with Okada allowing Kojima massive sections of rest while he draws the required heat to permit it.
— John.gif (@DK1105) July 27, 2017
What a gigantic knobhead he can be. It reminds me he has this in his locker, when needed. Even the Rainmaker Pose draws heat in this match and Okada loves it. His face is a picture as he breathes in the boos, jeers and catcalls of the provinces. It sets the table for Kojima’s comeback and his near falls. The crowd wanted Kojima to win anyway but Okada’s behaviour just amplifies their desire to see him beaten and knocked down a peg. Eventually Okada overcomes Kojima’s comeback and batters him with the Rainmaker for the win. Okada’s heel work in this was priceless.
Final Rating: ****
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Michael Elgin  vs. Kenny Omega 
Kenny has to play catch up after Okada won the last match. Meanwhile Elgin is certainly no pushover despite his 1-2 record.
As soon as Omega emerges through the curtain Elgin never takes his eyes off the Cleaner. It’s an intensity that Omega will have to match if he wants a vital win. The personalities may be hugely different but they’re both determined to overcome the other. Elgin through his power game, Omega by being quicker and harder to predict. It makes for a good contest, which is often the case when world’s collide. Elgin’s strikes have gotten progressively better since starting with NJPW and they’re a highlight here. Omega’s strikes are varied but in terms of stand-up, he can’t compete with Elgin’s quality. Those knees are fantastic but they don’t count. Elgin’s chops and elbows are all on point. Omega also has to compete with Elgin’s power and his throws and suplexes. But he can counter those with his speed, high spots and risk-taking. That doesn’t always pay off against Mike, who’s capable of stopping high spots in mid-spot with his sheer strength. Kenny is sufficiently sudden to sneak by Elgin’s raw power. There are instances of Elgin shutting Omega down and they follow a similar pattern. When Omega takes too long and gets too close to Elgin, Big Mike makes him pay. Omega, as a character, has a tendency to be a bit goofy and that, combined with his love of taunting, gets him into trouble. Omega also has a chip on his shoulder and when he’s outdone by Mike in the striking department it bothers him and he goes back to try and beat him again, the same way, and is punished for it. Elgin, to his credit, pulls out some wicked counters to shut down Kenny’s biggest dreams. A reverse rana to escape One Winged Angel and a powerbomb on the apron to avoid a rana to the floor. Big Mike dreams big too and attempts an Elginbomb off the top rope, which would certainly end the match. Omega nearly kills Elgin with a Jay Driller (the old Pedigree setup but it’s actually a piledriver) to the point where I think the match is over. That’s a lot of weight to be landing on that big dome. Omega has to survive a barrage of offence including the Elginbomb.
Both guys take such sickening bumps that you’d think the tournament depended on the outcome of this match. Omega repeatedly lands on his neck and Mike bang on the top of his head at least two times. Burning Hammer! Omega loses! Elgin wins! Holy shit. I was not expecting that.
Final Rating: ****3/4
A quick gander at the Block reveals the implication of Omega’s defeat. Okada can now make the G1 final as long as he continues along this path. Omega isn’t done though. He’s only one win behind and he’s yet to face the Rainmaker one-on-one. That’s left for the final night. But now the room for error has greatly diminished. He cannot afford another loss if Okada remains squeaky clean.
BLOCK B Standings
Kazuchika Okada 8
Kenny Omega 6
Minoru Suzuki 4
Tama Tonga 4
Michael Elgin 4
Juice Robinson 2
Toru Yano 2
Satoshi Kojima 0
A solid card, as always, but go out of your way for the main event. It’s possibly the best match in G1 so far this year, maybe out-shined slightly by Naito-Ibushi but certainly in that ball park and a cut above everything else. People were praising Elgin-Okada but this was so much better. Elgin has proven himself to be a genuine main event star during 2017. I’m glad he’s been able to cement that here, especially if he’s the only man in the Block who gets over Kenny Omega.