NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Ten
July 30 2017
We’re in Gifu, Japan. The action switches back over to Block B this fine Sunday afternoon with Kazuchika Okada sitting pretty atop the Block after Michael Elgin’s victory over Kenny Omega on Thursday. All Okada needs to do is not lose and can even afford a draw with Omega on the last night of G1 and he’s in the final. If he slips up Omega is breathing down his neck. Just one win adrift. As is EVIL, who’s been on a terrific run since losing to stablemate SANADA. Incidentally this being night ten, we’re at the tipping point. When this show is over G1 is more than 50% complete!
Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens vs. David Finlay, Katsuya Kitamura & Tetsuhiro Yagi
No Muffin Ass for Yujiro so he settles for molesting women in the crowd. He’s living the Tokyo Pimp gimmick. Fale is wrestling YOSHI-HASHI on Tuesday but apparently Tacos doesn’t care about that and is elsewhere, backing up his boy Ishii. Yagi is yet another in the conveyer belt of talent to emerge for the New Japan Dojo. They’re producing frightening volumes of talent right now. I’ve never known them produce so much high quality young talent in such volume before. They’re going to run out of places to send these guys on excursions. Kitamura is looking muscular. Look at his delts*! Fale mops the floor with Kitamura, which is a pity. That’s a potential money match for me. Finlay gets worked over a lot, considering he’s the mentor figure in this one, before Yagi tags in to make the ‘save’ and gets pinned with Chase’s package piledriver.
Final Rating: **
*I have no idea what delts are. I’m fairly certain I don’t have any.
Zack Sabre Jr & El Desperado vs. Togi Makabe & Shota Umino
Sabre has Makabe on Tuesday. Togi’s smashmouth style is a major contrast to Zack’s technical expertise. Sabre has a jolly good time torturing Umino. I really hope New Japan have him teach some of this shit at the dojo. It’s invaluable for youngsters to learn about different styles. That’s the whole point of the excursions. The match goes a lot longer than I was expecting, although Umino takes the bulk of the contest with Makabe resting on the floor. Sabre holds him at bay while Despy gets the submission from Umino. Lots of heat here and Makabe took the night off.
Final Rating: **
Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka
Ishii has Nagata on Tuesday. Given his victory over Naito last night and Nagata’s tired campaign, it looks likely that Ishii will continue his winning ways. Traditionally their matches have been excellent hard-hitting affairs. YOSHI-HASHI’s campaign to not be taken seriously this year continues with him being Ishii’s second, rather than a threat to Fale. His Headhunter t-shirt is rubbish too. An absolute debacle. One of the worst wrestling t-shirts I’ve seen in years. Nagata can’t help himself here and takes a big chunk of the match, duking it out with Ishi in the process. It’s not an ideal situation for a tiring aging competitor. Meanwhile Oka bullies YOSHI-HASHI, bowling him over with shoulderblocks and hurling him around at will. It’s a further sign that Tacos’ star has waned badly this year and especially during this tournament. His only major offensive work in this match is hooking the Butterfly Lock and tapping Oka at the finish.
Final Rating: **1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kota Ibushi & Hirai Kawato
Tuesday’s main event is a tantalising Tanahashi-Ibushi contest in Kagoshima. Tanahashi is prepared to let us wait for that and generally spends this match posing and hanging back while Taguchi puts in the legwork. Tanahashi has become an expert in picking his moments to excel. I am fine with that because when he does select a match to put in everything it’s fucking incredible. It’s notable that he’s had a solid run in G1 this year without putting in much effort. The best is to come. These are teases of that here, when Tana can be bothered. It’s notable that Ibushi goes about half strength on his kicks during a strike duel. Kota, by comparison, takes at least one bump directly on his neck. After the teasing is complete ‘Gooch and Kawato tag back in and Taguchi gets the win after some delightful teases of an upset. Kawato has been looking very good during these undercard tags. This was easily the best undercard tag on this show. Tana may have just been here teasing but it whet my appetite for his match with Ibushi nicely.
Final Rating: ***
Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto & Gedo
Jado was originally in this match up but he’s injured (stupid Paradise Lock) and Gedo is taking his spots. Naito must surely see this as a chance to eliminate Gedo and reduce Okada’s chances of winning G1. Or maybe he doesn’t care. He’s a bit of a nihilist.
Gedo does the handshake gimmick and actually fairly shakes hands with Hiromu. Then he pokes him in the eye and punches him twice. When you’re an all-time great at cheating you’ve got to keep people on their toes. Naito got asked about Goto and his response was dynamite. He called Goto a “disappointment” had “lost all sense of presence” and was “not even worth talking about”. He moved on to the building in Kagoshima stating “the building is more interesting than Goto is”. This is why Naito is so popular in New Japan right now. Not only does he speak the truth but he doesn’t even begin to sugar coat it. It’s raw. If Goto had any sense of pride these words would fire him up. But it’s a nothing midcard tag so Goto goes through the motions, like he always does. A bit of fire here could have made their Kagoshima match unmissable. Instead it serves to remind me why it’ll exist in the shadow of Tanahashi vs. Ibushi. Goto is probably the most frustrating wrestler in the world. Here he’s outshone, easily, by a motivated Hiromu Takahashi. He puts Gedo down for the submission win. Naito seems impressed.
Final Rating: **1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
EVIL  vs. Toru Yano 
This is a typical opportunity for Yano to play spoiler with EVIL in touching distance of Okada. Yano’s very existence allows the likes of EVIL to remain bubbling under while the real stars get the wins. Yano is an absolute clown here, not taking himself even remotely seriously. EVIL gets catapulted into the buckle and low blowed but he then counters Yano into the STO and wins in about a minute! That was not what I expected from this match. EVIL getting the big Yano conquering push! Meanwhile Yano has only won one of his opening five matches, one of his worst G1 performances. If Okada wins tonight, he’s actually eliminated from the G1. In fact if Okada wins tonight he eliminates three potential winners in one go (Yano, Kojima and Juice).
Final Rating: *
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Minoru Suzuki  vs. Tama Tonga 
Tama once again jumps Suzuki before Kaze ni nare peaks, this time decking El Desperado and stealing the SKG flag to hide behind. They head into the crowd for a lengthy brawl, which culminates in MiSu punting two different young lions in the groin for no reason. This results in many Japanese fans scrambling for safety. It’s an interactive fan experience! If we’re sticking to the rules they should both be counted out but MiSu is having so much fun that I can’t tell him to stop and neither can the ref.
The one positive of the match having such a heavy crowd brawl structure is that it’s tonally different to every other match in G1 this year and benefits from being memorable. Sadly the match doesn’t go anywhere with MiSu causing a ref bump and them heading back outside. With the ref down Tama has the match won with the Gun Stun, escaping a Gotch Piledriver to do so. It’s a rough break for the Tongan, who caught MiSu in a rare moment of lapsed concentration. The ref recovers but so does Suzuki, who downs Tama with the Gotch Piledriver. MiSu had to win here. It’s clear Tama has no chance of winning G1 but Suzuki genuinely has a shot at doing so. The best part of MiSu’s win is ensuring Kaze ni nare peaks and this time using the natural crescendo of the song to bash a young boy with a chair.
Final Rating: *3/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
SANADA  vs. Michael Elgin 
This is probably the hardest match to pick the winner of in G1 so far. I had SANADA going deep into the tournament but if he loses here he has very little chance of progression. Meanwhile Elgin headlined the last Block B show and beat Kenny Omega. It would be anticlimactic to have him lose in his next contest and slide into a losing record.
There is not the urgency nor passion here that you’d expect from the G1. Perhaps fatigue is a factor for both, wrestling a series of big matches in close proximity. Both guys are not particularly emotional during matches. SANADA in particular. That makes it tough to get into. The crowd feel this too and there’s a disconnect between the work and the audience. Luckily the athleticism of the two men can overcome the cold nature of the work. SANADA flies around like a loon and Elgin naturally overpowers him. The super falcon arrow, commencing on the apron, shows Elgin’s incredible strength. He barely even strains. SANADA must weigh 240lbs. The finish shocks me as SANADA pulls out the win with a moonsault. Elgin’s victory over Omega looks a little hollow now but presumably they’ll have a big singles match at some point to justify it.
Final Rating: ***1/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Satoshi Kojima  vs. Kenny Omega 
Kojima continues to be blanked after four matches. Even if he wins here he’s likely to be eliminated from the tournament tonight.
Kenny doesn’t take this too seriously, laughing at Kojima’s attempts at a dive, which he moves out of the way of. He’s not impressed with Tenzan being at ringside either and hits him with a pescado. Not so Tenzan now are we? Demote that man to Ninezan. Omega takes it easy for the most part, wanting Kojima to be a competitive opponent. Kenny’s usual wild approach is reduced to lots of striking and stand up, which Kojima is good at. Kenny wrestles half the match in his shirt and at a reduced pace. Got to save energy for Wednesday’s main event against EVIL, which is increasingly becoming a battle of the two contenders beneath Okada. This is a solid match but Omega wrestles will within himself. Kojima is starting to show the signs of age. He’ll be 47 before the year is out and only has a few of these tournaments left in him. If he can age on a par with evergreen Nagata. It’s sad to see Kojima getting old but it happens to us all. Omega picks his spots and wins casually with One Winged Angel. This was solid, as I said earlier, but nothing more. Tenzan looks very upset at ringside, knowing this loss leaves Kojima at 0-5 and in danger of suffering the same ignominy as Tenzan himself; being excluded from G1 altogether. This year’s contest is effectively over for him at this point as he can no longer better Okada.
Final Rating: ***1/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Kazuchika Okada  vs. Juice Robinson 
Juice has used this first G1 as a learning experience. He’s got one win and has looked plucky and gutsy working with injuries for the other matches. Okada is a hill he cannot climb at this stage of his career. The Rainmaker has been absolutely perfect so far going 4-0, the only unbeaten man in the G1. Should he triumph here he eliminates Juice from contention and also dumps CHAOS stablemate Yano in the process.
The set up is there for Juice to get a hugely dramatic upset win. Okada can afford one loss at some point and whoever gets the win is practically guaranteed a title match. Juice has that grassroots support. Okada makes a point of taking his legs away, a strategy that’s worked for several wrestlers on this tour. Okada has Red Ink and any wrestlers reduced mobility will result in openings for the opponent. Juice is further handicapped by taking a few savage bumps including a nasty looking backdrop on the apron. It’s the hardest part of the ring! Okada generally wears Juice down, dominating the contest and forcing the underdog to fight from underneath. Juice briefly teases Pulp Friction at one point but the match is structured to make him look like a loveable loser, rather than an unlikely winner and teases of his victory seem unlikely to come to fruition. Juice is a wholesome boy and this whole tournament has shown that he’s capable of stepping up to compete in NJPW. However the IWGP title is way above his current station and everyone knows it. Okada is almost aimless in battering Juice with a few warm up Rainmakers before finishing him off. A good showing from Juice, for sure, but a routine victory for Okada compared to the strife he faced in other matches.
Final Rating: ***3/4
The standings after tonight reveal the strength of Okada’s win. With one massive lariat he’s dispatched three wrestlers from this years G1. Juice, Yano and Kojima are all finished. Okada’s dominant 5-0 start has been too much for some of the competitors. In the three that have departed we’ve not lost too much. Juice is too inexperienced, Kojima too old and Yano too much of a goofball. None of those guys was coming close to winning. Gedo is just being straight up about their chances of being a star at the beginning of 2017. At the top end, Omega stays in touch and EVIL is in contention, which sets the table nicely for their clash on Wednesday. Suzuki and SANADA are still at the races. Tama and Elgin must fight and claw for every point if they’re to stay involved.
BLOCK B Standings
Kazuchika Okada 10
Kenny Omega 8
Minoru Suzuki 6
Tama Tonga 4
Michael Elgin 4
Juice Robinson 2
Toru Yano 2
Satoshi Kojima 0
Probably the weakest G1 show from this year but it’s a low point before we get back on track on Tuesday. The Tuesday card is suitably strong that it’ll make this forgettable show disappear into the mists of time quickly and quietly. Along with all those Okada sent to the showers with their tails between their legs.