NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Seventeen
August 11 2017
We’re back in Tokyo, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. I’m aware that tonight has come down to Naito vs. Tanahashi but for the sake of completion I’ll be keeping tabs on the scores to give you a final table. The tour shows have been neat and tidy and ended in three hours or less but today’s show has a run time of 3.5 hours, which is disappointing. I know they’ve added some extra guys to the tour (Tanga, Page, Bucks, War Machine, Ricochet) but I like my shows concise. And time is at a premium because there’s a show every day this weekend. English commentary returns here with Kevin Kelly and Don Callis returning to the land of the rising sun. Plus they’re joined by Rocky Romero.
Hirai Kawato, Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado
MiSu has been beating the fuck out of Young Lions for this entire tour. Now they have a chance at payback and Oka jumps Suzuki during his introduction! Oh, shit! MiSu is not pleased about that and decides to put a seismic beating on Oka. Kitamura is so badass that he even knocks MiSu backwards with one of his chops. Suzuki wanted to no sell it but he couldn’t! Suzuki slaps him so hard that I can feel it. It’s cool that all the young lions want a piece of Suzuki, for the abuse they’ve suffered. For the most part he’s fine with this, just exacting revenge immediately afterwards. Then Kitamura almost drops him on his head and that’s it. Kitamura is no longer legal but Suzuki seeks him out on the floor and stretches the hell out of him. Despy puts Kawato away and I loved this because Taichi never even tagged in. Plus Suzuki looks the picture of calmness…while punting Kitamura in the face and walking away.
Final Rating: ***
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
Tama vs. SANADA is a match I never knew I wanted until their first exchange with is bonkers. They’re both so fast and so athletic. If Tama could develop an exciting move set he could be a genuine player. He spends too much time doing nothing to remain a heel. GOD look good as a team, and have done since they switched it up a touch. BUSHI gets dropped with the Gun Stun and Tama vs. SANADA’s brief interaction at the start of the match was where it peaked. They needed to create a hook for tomorrow’s match and that interaction was it.
Final Rating: **
EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robinson
Kojima vs. EVIL is taking place tomorrow. Juice’s last match is against Elgin and New Japan don’t care enough to sell us on that bout. They’ll have to get over on the night. English commentary talks about EVIL’s head injury and apparently it was a stinger, preventing his movement. I don’t buy it but he seems to have been fine ever since. Juice is still selling his leg injury but that doesn’t stop him firing up and killing Hiromu with a lariat. The Pulp Friction and resultant pinfall are academic. That lariat was the difference maker. This was solid. Juice continues to thrive under the learning tree of Kojima. I wonder if a jealous Tenzan will go after him? Kojima continues to enjoy himself by mocking EVIL’s beard. Steady on!
Final Rating: **1/2
Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Hangman Page & Chase Owens vs. War Machine, Michael Elgin, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet
War Machine and Big Mike are in Taguchi Japan for the evening and so need goofy shades. Taguchi, for some reason, has a plastic parrot on his shoulder. I don’t need to understand to be entertained. Bullet Club have promised to win via moonsault. The match is segmented with it being silly when the Bucks and Taguchi are the focus and more serious when the others are in. Although Taguchi orchestrates some set pieces too. The action is only interrupted by the occasional pose. When matters turn to a stern nature War Machine are awesome. The frantic pace and mass of ideas and jokes being thrown together turn this into a belting undercard bout. I laugh. I smile. I laugh again. There are silly dives and big strikes. It’s fucking great. If all ten man matches had this level of excitement and craziness they’d be my favourite kind of match. It’s heavily reminiscent of Dragon Gate. Having promised to win with a moonsault the Bullet Club boys all successively miss with moonsaults, causing chuckles throughout the building. 0-5 lads. Naturally Elgin gets the pin because he’s the only guy in the G1. There was a lot of shtick here and I loved the rapid-fire pacing and heavy comedy.
Final Rating: ****
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano
Yujiro has two girls; Muffin Ass and a curly haired lady who does the Nikki Bella turn. This is naturally the hype up the Okada-Omega match, as if that needs any hype at all. I’d be more concerned by placing Okada in the same ring as Yujiro, due to his bad habit of accidentally hurting people. An Okada injury at this point would be bad news for New Japan. Meanwhile Kenny’s only danger from Yano is he might take one in the balls for the sake of comedy. There are some delightful moments. Okada fails to nip up because he’s selling the neck. Meanwhile Omega switches gears as soon as Okada tags in. He’s goofy as shit when Yano is in and it’s like a light switch when Okada comes in. Night and day. Okada’s neck becomes a story in this match, let alone tomorrow’s contest where Okada is surely at a disadvantage. Yano punches Yujiro in the balls to get the job done and ensure Okada’s neck gets some rest. Necessary storytelling aside this was just ‘there’. No need to blow the roof off today. It’s all about tomorrow. It’s almost appropriate the match concludes with two scantily clad women looking concerned while their pimp rolls around in agony holding his testicles.
Final Rating: **1/4
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Bad Luck Fale  vs. Yuji Nagata 
This is Yuji Nagata’s final G1 match. It’s the end of an era. Shimpei Nogami is on commentary for the Japanese team and the entire crowd holds up “Blue Justice” cards. Oh wow.
I have chills.
Romero mentions that Fale was mentored by Nagata in the dojo. Fale is good at concealing the emotion he’s surely feeling. As is Nagata, who isn’t teary eyed on his way to the ring. He’s going out on his terms. He’s happy. Nagata wrestles a smart match, going after Fale’s leg to soften him up and prevent the big moves. He also busts out some delicious counters, like turning the Grenade into the armbar. Nagata just plain outwrestles Fale, going from one submission attempt to another. As if he’s reeling off his Greatest Hits. I pop huge for the Nagatalock, which he hardly ever uses nowadays. At the end of the day it matters not and the old warrior goes down fighting valiantly to the Bad Luck Fall. Nagata looked like he was having fun out there. He had a great tournament, despite his points tally. After the match Fale offers a Too Sweet and Nagata salutes him, drawing a bow from the big man, tears from Nogami and a sea of placards from the crowd. My god, what a great professional wrestler Yuji Nagata has been. Not only that but an inspirational to other younger wrestlers and a symbol of a generation.
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block A
YOSHI-HASHI  vs. Togi Makabe 
Sorry guys but nobody gives a fuck after that last match. You’ve got no hope of following it. Especially as there’s nothing on the line here. Makabe’s popularity covers for this so they’re not wrestling in front of an embarrassing silence. They try to put on a match worthy of the G1 name but it’s a detached affair with YOSHI-HASHI looking particularly distant. He’s not connected with me at all this year, compared to how much I was into his underdog act 12 months ago. Occasionally a stunning impact occurs, usually from a running strike, which they’re both good at. Despite the sluggish nature of the match these moments haul me back in. Even after it picks up there are long periods of inactivity where one guy is lying around on the mat selling. I realise it’s been a tough tour but we’re at the last hurdle here. Might as well goes all out. YOSHI-HASHI looks tough for the most part but when it matters Makabe brutalises him up top and finishes with the King Kong Kneedrop. We’ll call this one a buffer match to recover from all the feels of Nagata’s departure from G1 competition.
Final Rating: **1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Zack Sabre Jr  vs. Tomohiro Ishii 
Sabre has had a good G1. Ishii his usual consistently good showing. Sabre getting four wins was surprising, to the point where he comes into this with parity. This is a huge clash of styles with Sabre a pure technician and Ishii is a battling bruiser. There are crossovers in the skillset. Ishii can wrestle. Sabre can strike. But their strengths are so diametrically opposed it makes for an exciting contrast. I’ve not seen the G1 US shows but apparently they had a decent bout there. The mat stuff is killer. Ishii can roll! Sabre has too much variety for Ishii to completely hang without getting flustered but he can wrestle. Sabre changes tactics and provokes Ishii into chopping him so he can grab the arm from there and do some damage. Sabre contorts that limb in disgusting fashion and the crowd are horrified. Ishii keeps going straight on, attacking Sabre’s shin with his chest.
Sabre’s transitions are beautiful in this. They don’t always make sense but they’re always super smooth. It keeps the normally unaffected Ishii off-balance. Especially as he goes after various body parts and switches from pins to submissions. It’s masterful. Ishii headbutting the buckles to fire himself up after Zack has fucked up his leg is incredible. Nobody does that comeback like Ishii. The mixture of technical wrestling and fiery ‘fuck you’ comebacks is great. Everything I want from wrestling. When Ishii is no selling the leg kicks and then decks Sabre with one chop I am in wrestling heaven. Sabre torturing Ishii and tying him into knots is unreal. Sabre is so convincing that I can buy him beating anyone and that’s despite his size disadvantage.
Eventually the referee makes the decision for Ishii because he cannot escape and he’s just hurting himself worse by not quitting. Massive win for Sabre. Fucking fantastic match up. Sabre finishing on ten points is huge for him but even more so his performances have been stellar. Imagine Ishii coming after the Rev Pro title as revenge? Oh shit!
Final Rating: ****1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Hirooki Goto  vs. Kota Ibushi 
This would have been better off earlier in the tournament when both these guys were still able to make the final. Goto has coasted through half his G1 matches and Kota, while looking great, has spent the whole tournament bubbling under, only setting the world on fire sporadically. There’s no motivation for either guy to turn up tonight. Ibushi’s tournament is hopefully the first step back into regular gigs for New Japan. On his day he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world and this is where he belongs. This is his shop window. His style of wrestling, where he’s not tied to any style and can do everything, is the future of pro wrestling. Get a good rounding in everything and then you can do anything. Everyone fucking hates Goto. Good. They have some nice sequences and they’re both very good at putting high quality together. In particular Kota’s athleticism allows the match to spark. If Goto is left to his own devices the match would be a series of chinlocks leading to a bad finish but if he’s pushed he pushes back. Speaking of bad finishes; the GTR wins this for Goto. Why did he ever change to that shitty finisher? Anyway, Goto wins to deny Kota 12 points but it allows them to have another match down the line. It’ll probably be better than this one. “Is Kota Ibushi sticking around?” asks Kevin Kelly. He’s due a shot at Tanahashi…so…
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block A
Tetsuya Naito  vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 
This is it for G1 Climax Block A. Whoever wins here wins Block A. Naito remains the favourite and Kevin Kelly puts over the VOW pick-em tournament and how many people picked Naito. However…Gedo loves Tanahashi and Tanahashi isn’t done. He is injured though, carrying a bicep tear and struggling through the tournament. The match starts slow but it doesn’t need to be quick as it feels like a big match. Tanahashi has me in bits by trying to get in Naito’s head by slapping him in the face and then playing air guitar. Naito has been so into his mind games over the past year that he’s stunned to be on the receiving end. Naito isn’t completely flustered but it takes him out of his game a little. Earlier in the year they had a double leg match. Naito is smart enough to know he should switch to the arm here. Focus on Tanahashi’s weakness.
Considering he’s an elderly cripple who gets written off every single year Tanahashi is in tremendous condition and is still capable of throwing himself around when it matters. Despite Naito’s rise in popularity it feels like he’s a guest star in Tanahashi World tonight. You’d think that Tanahashi’s bad arm would allow Destino but Tana just overpowers him. The crowd aren’t sure which guy to throw their support behind so opt for switching between the two. I’ve not been as into Tanahashi-Naito as a feud as other top tier feuds for NJPW of late. In particular their WK match. I like this bout but I’m not in love with it. While it has a solid pace and a lively crowd and two larger than life characters there’s a missing X Factor. Naito makes a point of landing on his neck for half of Tana’s offence including a pair of Slingblades. Tana has beaten loads of guys with High Fly Attack/High Fly Flow combo but Naito moves here, reminding us this is a bigger contest than Tana’s run of ‘house show’ squashes. Next is the Cloverleaf, which is how Naito lost his IC title to Tana at Dominion. Naito gets absolutely mangled with it with Tanahashi sitting on his fucking head!
Red Shoes basically tells Naito if you don’t say anything I’m calling it. The same way Ishii was defeated earlier. The story is that Tanahashi virtually exhausted himself trying to get the tap out and Naito survived. This is getting suitably epic as we hit 25 minutes. Naito pulls Destino out of his ass though and gets the pin, thus advancing to the finals.
Final Rating: ****1/2
BLOCK A Standings
Tetsuya Naito 14
Hiroshi Tanahashi 12
Bad Luck Fale 12
Kota Ibushi 10
Zack Sabre Jr 10
Hirooki Goto 10
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Togi Makabe 8
Yuji Nagata 2
I love wrestling. This show had a crazy ten-man spotfest, Yuji Nagata bringing the emotion, Sabre tying Ishii is knots and an epic main event. I have already changed my mind. I want to see all of tomorrow’s show. I hope I have time before Sunday’s early start and the G1 Final.