NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Seven
July 26 2017
We’re in Sendai at the Sun Plaza Hall for exhilarating action from Block A. It’s a tight block, which is looking tough to predict. At the moment, unlike the two-horse race in Block B, six gentlemen share the lead with a 2-1 record. We’re also previewing tomorrow’s Block B action with an assortment of tag contests. As for the climax of this evenings grappling arts; Goto is on last again. It would have made more sense if he’d won yesterday and topped the block solo.
Bullet Club (Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
The babyfaces are both regulars in Taguchi Japan. That’s their connection. Juice faces Tama tomorrow in perhaps the least star-studded match of this years G1 but honestly, that’s praise rather than criticism. The field is excellent this year and my least favourite participants are all still good. Remember when Yujiro got in this thing every year? We’ve come a long way, baby. Juice is still nursing a badly injured leg, which I’m aware is a work but if he was shoot injured he wouldn’t be wrestling in pointless tags….so why is he wrestling in pointless tags? Let’s retain a measure of realism. He even starts here, the total melt, allowing Tama freedom to assault his injured limb at his leisure. Hell, he attacked Kenny Omega’s injured leg. What do you think he’ll do to you kid? Just let Fit’s boy do the legwork while you chill on the apron. It’s Finlay who eats the pin, after Juice has his leg firmly worked over, making his situation in the tournament worse.
Final Rating: **
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Toru Yano & Jado
SANADA faces Yano in his rest match tomorrow. Yano’s Albert Einstein t-shirt is some excellent merch. I’d snap one of those up in a New York minute if it was on New Japan’s Euroshop. Yano brings a new level of trolling by pulling the t-shirts over his opponents heads, low blowing them both and rolling up BUSHI for the pin in about 30 seconds. All while Jado is trapped in the Paradise Lock! Yano celebrates the win and walks to the back before realising Jado is still stuck! Jado is all ‘why did you just leave me there?’ and Yano is all “we won”. Shrug!
Final Rating: MAXIMUM TROLLING
EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi
Suzuki vs. EVIL should be decent. EVIL hits hard and has size but lacks experience. Suzuki is likely to put him in his place but it should be a fun journey. MiSu sets off early by stabbing EVIL in the eye with a pen. Holy shit, this guy! Sometimes he crosses lines with such extreme verve that he’s without peers. He’s channelling that 80s Memphis ‘anything goes’ aspect of pro wrestling but with UWFi shoot style grappling and strong style strikes. It’s the Perfect Storm. EVIL refuses to allow Suzuki to overwhelm him here, which is a good sign for tomorrow. He pulls that stupid ‘cut throat’ taunt though, which is guaranteed to get him hurt. Why would you ever taunt MiSu? It’s guaranteed to upset him and you don’t want to upset Suzuki. The important people tag out and my God Hiromu Takahashi is over big time. For him to have had that impact in such a short space of time is great news for his future in NJPW. He takes an amazing bump off Taichi’s superkick. Hiromu promptly steals Taichi’s mic stand, hits him with it and steals his finisher for good measure. I love this guy! EVIL looked good in standing up to MiSu, getting the veteran somewhat testy with his behaviour and Hiromu was awesome. One of the young lions makes the stupid mistake of trying to drag MiSu away and he’s clobbered with a chair for his troubles. Why do the young lions go anywhere near Suzuki? Madness!
Final Rating: ***
Michael Elgin & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kenny Omega & Chase Owens
Elgin vs. Omega is the main event tomorrow night. Big Mike has had a rough start to his G1 campaign; facing Okada and Omega in his first four bouts and losing to Tama Tonga in a match he dominated. This is another one of those matches that Omega doesn’t take seriously at all. He must love being able to switch gears and do ten minutes of comedy with Yano or Taguchi when G1 is such a punishing tournament. This is the secret. Be able to do both. Even Big Mike is in good spirits and mimics Taguchi’s hip attack. Not only that, he takes it to Omega with his own game; launching a flying rana at last year’s G1 winner. Elgin is a man of many talents, hidden behind a hulking wall of muscle. A wall that Chase Owens cannot climb. The Elginbomb finishes off the junior BC member and gives Elgin bragging rights before tomorrow’s clash with our Kenneth.
Final Rating: **3/4
TenCozy vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
This is the final undercard tag, pitting Okada against his G1 opponent tomorrow; Kojima. Satoshi has been blanked thus far and I don’t see much hope in him scoring his first points against the IWGP champion. The crowd is in favour of Kojima defeating Okada and lets the champ know about it. Hatred is part and parcel of success. Not everyone is happy with their incumbent top guy, whoever it is. It’s Gedo who takes the beating here though, ensuring Okada stays relatively fresh for tomorrow. Gedo’s tag into the match even accelerates the conclusion, leaving him prone for the lariat and giving both guys a nice rest ahead of tomorrow. Kojima barely broke a sweat.
Final Rating: **
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Tomohiro Ishii  vs. YOSHI-HASHI 
Both the CHAOS lads have had slow starts (1-2). They neglected to battle each other to set the table for this match too so it’s a case of ‘may the best man win’. Considering Ishii has superiority and beat Okada in last years tournament it feels like a no brainer. Ishii immediately suckers YOSHI-HASHI into his kind of match; a barrage of forearms. If it continues along those lines there really is only one possible winner. Tacos needs to better utilise his speed and unpredictability and instead he’s content to be smashed in the face repeatedly, which says a great deal about his character. He’s too sweet to be a professional wrestler. This pseudo sport takes the YOSHI-HASHI’s of this world, chews them up and spits them out. Tacos attempts the Kawada kicks and Ishii’s response is a glare that I read as “what the fuck do you think you’re doing?” YOSHI-HASHI gets more joy than you’d expect going toe to toe but he rarely modifies his approach to exploit Ishii’s weaknesses. Sometimes he tries and Ishii simply shuts him down. Like when Tacos attempts Karma and Ishii is having none of that. As YOSHI-HASHI gets more desperate his tactics fall more into line with what Ishii wants. Like a desperation headbutt leading to Ishii battering him with one of his own. The brainbuster rapidly follows and Ishii wins a hard fought bout over his CHAOS running buddy. This was very friendly with YOSHI-HASHI being nice enough to barely attempt to win. Solid action but tactically YOSHI-HASHI walked into a brick wall and was content with it. YOSHI-HASHI makes a point of selling the finish huge. He stays down for ages and is rolled out of the ring by young boys.
Final Rating: ***3/4
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Zack Sabre Jr  vs. Bad Luck Fale 
I am convinced that Sabre has already racked up the majority of his points and wins. He’s been designed as a technical threat but one that can be overcome with raw power so he’s not winning this. The ring announcer forgets himself and Fale murders him during the announcements. The announcers talk in hushed voices afterwards, suggesting they’re afraid Fale will come for them next. Sabre keeps Fale unbalanced early doors, using that technical skill to go after a variety of submissions. Fale shrugs that off. Plan B is to have Desperado attack but Fale twats him too. Fale is a tough obstacle for any G1 participant, both in terms of kayfabe victory and the more artistic side. Zack tries to make his assaults on Fale unpredictable and varied to keep Fale, and the crowd, on their toes.
For a while it’s fun but the crowd lose interest in the idea pretty quickly. Sabre keeps chipping away though, attempting an array of submissions until he gets Fale so unbalanced that he rolls him up for the cheeky win. I did not expect this, at all. It’s one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far. On his way up the ramp Zack says “that was for you, Daryl”, referencing Hiromu Takahashi’s stuffed cat. Naito will be upset that Sabre claimed revenge for his stablemate when he himself got beaten.
Final Rating: ***1/4
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Kota Ibushi  vs. Togi Makabe 
Togi took three matches to get off the mark but he’s coming off a big main event win over Goto. Ibushi has proven throughout this tournament, so far, that’s he capable of standing toe to toe with the hard hitters and surviving. Togi has seen this and takes a different route, heading outside of the ring into a territory that better suits him. The guardrails, aprons and ring posts are Togi Makabe’s friends. Once he’s worn Kota down outside he can take over with his fists in the ring. But Kota Ibushi is tough as nails and totally unpredictable. He’ll switch from those stiff kicks to a backflip in an instant. That’s how he’ll overcome this hair punching bastard. Makabe only has one tactic and that’s his smashmouth offence. He’s like Ishii in that respect and it’s relatively easy for Ibushi to suss him out. Makabe is straightforward, coming at you directly. Kota pulls out super ranas out of nothing. Makabe only has an opening when he provokes Kota into stand-up. Those kicks might hurt but they’re easy to see coming. They end up battering each other, with Makabe having to overcome some stern tests of his ability to absorb punishment.
Ibushi makes one fatal error and that’s leaving Makabe unsupervised on the top rope. The result is a King Kong Knee to the back of his head, which he never recovers from. Makabe dumps him on his neck and heads up for a second King Kong Kneedrop and that gets the upset pin. The more I think about Ibushi in this tournament, the more I think they’re not doing Omega-Ibushi at this point. They put them in separate Blocks for a reason. That’s coming later.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The recovering Tomoaki Honma, on his way back from injury and guesting on commentary, is pleased with the outcome!
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Yuji Nagata  vs. Tetsuya Naito 
Would be a stretch for Nagata to get the big win here? He’s been blanked so far and it looks as if the treatment will continue. New Japan’s message to the elder statesman that his time is up. If there is to be a sympathetic win for the old-timer it’s unlikely to come here, against one of New Japan’s hottest properties. That said Nagata has a 2-1 record against Naito in G1. History is on his side. They do some tidy near misses in the early going, with both men keen to show they know their opponents moves.
Obviously Naito takes the piss with it. That’s what he does. Nagata has a big advantage on striking as his kicks are so hefty. It’s similar to the advantage that Ishii had over YOSHI-HASHI but unlike Tacos, Naito isn’t willing to stand there taking the abuse. He’ll find ways to avoid it and to change the pace of the match to suit him.
And then my uncle just lost his shit and beat that punk kid to death. There’s nothing like one man kneeing over the bloodied remains of his opponent. Naito is prepared to risk paralysis here to make sure Nagata has a good final G1 match with him, taking multiple bumps on his neck and getting folded up like a concertina. I love that Naito’s pride forces him to go toe to toe with Nagata, out of sheer respect and I love that it nearly costs him the match. Nagata almost wins with an armbar but Naito gets out and Destino puts the old man away. He put up a valiant fight though and this was great. I worry about Nagata. He looks pallid and exhausted after the match. It took a lot out of him.
Final Rating: ****
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Hirooki Goto  vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 
Tana’s entrance gives me one of my favourite moments of the G1 so far when he sings the lyrics, which is just “go Ace” and gets it wrong, singing when no lyrics are present. Oops. Rock star! Never mind Tanahashi, your hair is fucking immaculate mate.
Whoever wins here will join Sabre and Naito on six points atop Block A. Everyone overlooks Goto but he’s capable and has a ready made target in Tanahashi’s injured bicep. That’s the focal point of the match and Tanahashi is both incredible at selling and equally so at overcoming adversity and fighting back. Tanahashi looks really energised in his comebacks. G1 lights a fire under him that isn’t present the rest of the year. It’s like he hibernates, partially, for six months of the year. The energy of Tanahashi rubs off on Goto, who looks determined to put Tanahashi down and claim a major scalp. Tana already has one loss and they heavily tease another here. Tana develops a special defence against GTR, although if anyone could sell the move and make it look devastating it would be Tanahashi. High Fly Attack sets up the High Fly Flow and Tana breezes past Goto. This was the Tanahashi Show. He was magnificent here. The timing on everything was perfect.
Final Rating: ****
A glimpse at the standings reveals Block favourites Naito and Tanahashi tussling alongside surprise Block co-leader Zack Sabre Jr. The British Invasion continues! Poor Yuji Nagata continues to be blanked in his final G1, which is perhaps not a surprise. The rest of the field is bunched up.
BLOCK A Standings
Zack Sabre Jr 6
Tetsuya Naito 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi 6
Hirooki Goto 4
Bad Luck Fale 4
Kota Ibushi 4
Tomohiro Ishii 4
Togi Makabe 4
Yuji Nagata 0
I must admit I was fairly zoned out during a huge chunk of this show. A combination of work (the actual day job) and repeated exposure to the same wrestlers over a short period of time. Main event was ace though and I thought Naito-Nagata was really good too.