NJPW G1 Climax Night Eighteen
August 12 2017
We’re in Tokyo for the middle night of three in the Ryogoku Kokugikan. This is the final night in Block B but we’re down to Omega vs. Okada. The winner will meet Tetsuya Naito on Sunday. Which, provided I wake up on time, I’ll be watching live.
KUSHIDA, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Hirai Kawato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku
KUSHIDA and Kanemaru join the tour today. Kanemaru strolls out here swigging from a bottle of whisky, showing how seriously he’s taking this. Kanemaru used to be so fucking great. I miss that guy. As per usual Suzuki-gun stink the joint up and it’s left to Liger to salvage anything watchable. Desperado, clearly influenced by seconding Sabre Jr actually wants to wrestle and goes to the mat with KUSHIDA. Kawato is again one of the most entertaining wrestlers in a match with loads of established guys. He goes right after Desperado and I’m begging Gedo to put Kawato over Despy one of these days. He loses to Angels Wings again here. Post Match Despy smacks KUSHIDA with the junior title, as if he’s somehow now considered a title challenger. I’m not buying it.
Final Rating: *3/4
Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Muffin Ass has a Bullet Club temporary tattoo on her buttock causing Don Callis to delve into his repertoire of perversity. Ishii looks pissed off about losing to Sabre via referee stoppage. He’d rather die than tap out. All of CHAOS were in G1 so logically their team will win with relative ease. Especially as the high man on the Bullet Club team is Tanga Loa. Chase Owens ends up being the stand-out in the match, taking it to Goto and pissing him off. A fired up Goto is a tremendous sight. Unfortunately Chase is so low on the totem pole that Goto only hits a few moves before GTR and we’re done.
Final Rating: **1/4
Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata vs. Zack Sabre Jr & Takashi Iizuka
Iizuka is back. I have not missed him. Pairing him with Sabre must be some sort of rib. Zack finds his entrance hilarious yelling “come on, mate” as he wonders across the building. Iizuka broke his ankle back in April and this is his first match since then. Nagata vs. Sabre is great and they carry on right where they left off in their Block match. I get the feeling Zack agreed to be in Suzuki-gun so he didn’t have to wrestle Iizuka and Taichi. Sabre trying to get out of various Nagatalocks is beautiful. I could watch them wrestle for hours. It’s a shocking outcome too with Iizuka using the Iron Glove on Nagata and ZSJ picks up the pin with the PK. I guess Iizuka has been missing for months but jobbing poor Nagata outside of a tournament match? That’s uncalled for.
Final Rating: **1/2
Cody Rhodes, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page & The Young Bucks vs. War Machine, Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi & Katsuya Kitamura
Cody claims they’re finishing with a moonsault in 8-10 minutes. “I think you’re supposed to kayfabe” says Romero.
The latest ‘let’s see how silly this guy looks in Taguchi Japan’ is Kitamura. He looks fucking ridiculous. I love this group. They don’t have an official roster, just a bunch of pals that Taguchi keeps convincing to be on his five-a-side team. Taguchi Japan vs. Bullet Club was a tonne of fun yesterday. Ray Rowe gets in the first chuckles by hitting a backbreaker followed by a gutbuster on everyone only for the following member to save from a powerbomb. It’s a funny spot.
The BC boys go early on the moonsaults and pay for it. They all get stacked up and Hanson goes up for a moonsault only for Fale to play spoiler. That’s the way the match is. Lots of comedy and teasing of unreal spots before someone heels it up. Hangman Page puts Kitamura on his melon head with Rite of Passage and that gets it done. No moonsault and this was nowhere near as good as yesterday but it was still good fun.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & David Finlay
Tana must be upset that Naito has elevated himself into the Tanahashi spot by being a complete dick and yet being embraced by the fans in the process. It’s almost impossible to process that this is the same Naito who won G1 as a babyface four years ago and got demoted from top spot at the Tokyo Dome because no one cared about him. It turned Gedo into an ultra-cautious booker and Naito into a prick. Tana and Kota are both looking for revenge on Naito, after losing to him in the G1 and trailing in his Block winning wake. While that stuff is all good the major highlight is BUSHI taking it to Ibushi and Kota needing Tana to save him. Some of the impacts on BUSHI’s stuff is sensational. After Finlay runs in Kota puts BUSHI away with Kamigoye. This was brisk.
Final Rating: **1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Juice Robinson  vs. Michael Elgin 
Don Callis makes me laugh by comparing Elgin to Ted Arcidi and Tom Magee. Tom Magee! The weird thing is, he’s right. Those guys were bodybuilders and muscle monsters, just like Elgin. Powerlifters. But Elgin has the agility of a ballet dancer along with that 550lbs bench. Elgin has been established as a big deal but his tournament has been inconsistent. Regardless of whether he can do cartwheels and sentons off the apron. Juice meanwhile has been getting through this tournament on pluck and moxy. The match feels slightly important as neither guy wants to lose their last match. They’re both eager to leave a lasting impression of their 2017 G1 campaign. Both have had big upset wins. They both upset Omega. As long as Elgin can control the pace he’s fine but Juice is desperate to avoid the big power moves and continually squirms out. So while Elgin dominates, by and large, he doesn’t hit anything overly impactful. Juice is the first guy to hit a powerbomb, which you could have gotten some long odds on in Vegas. Elgin has sickeness up his sleeves though and he catches Juice on a Cannonball! Elgin does things that are unthinkable. Juice is all about the speedy counters and he catches Elgin a couple of times for near falls (combined with all the counters he’s managed during the match) before catching Big Mike with Pulp Friction. Juice has improved during this tournament as he has done all year. This was Juice’s third stunning upset. When you keep winning it becomes less of an upset. After this G1 we’ll have to start paying attention to the Juicemeister. “Time to go balls deep in some beautiful Japanese women” says Robinson on his way out. Oh my.
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
SANADA  vs. Tama Tonga 
I didn’t give two figs about this match until they showed me some tricks during the tag yesterday. They’re both very fast and hyper athletic.
Both guys start in t-shirts, which is concerning. They immediately start running the ropes with panache and both guys remove their t-shirts. It’s on chaps! They do a lot of mirror stuff, which is partially Tama doing his mimicry gimmick and partially that they’re the same wrestler. Tama makes me chuckle by trying to do the Paradise Lock, failing dismally, and looking around for help from Milano Collection AT. SANADA does the Paradise Lock on the aisle and Tama barely beats the count, in sensational fashion, falling over the rail in the process. It’s one of the most enjoyable Tama matches in the tournament until Tanga gets involved and ruins it. They have a couple of great sequences left, including SANADA stealing the Gun Stun but it doesn’t quite live up to the hype from yesterday. Tama, as he has done all tournament, struggles to hang with his opponent but catches a Gun Stun to finish on eight points. Disappointed that SANADA lost but it’s been long apparent they’ll be holding off on his push. I was expecting it this year. There were many flashes of excellence here but the interference was very disappointing. Suzuki-gun have been fucking around all tournament, which is completely unwelcome. Bullet Club doing it too is annoying.
Final Rating: ***1/2
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Minoru Suzuki  vs. Toru Yano 
These two feuded forever. Suzuki must have been happy to go to NOAH to get away from the son of a bitch but Yano was actually sent to NOAH for a while, perhaps as a rib.
MiSu is like an elephant. He never forgets. He jumps Yano before the water spit. Speaking of interference; Taichi is out here again cheating. How dare you sully the purity of the Grade One! Yano tries some of his goofier stuff but it backfires horribly on him. Suzuki uses the wrist tape against him and ties YTR up. Then he beats the shit out of him. Rocky Romero gets sick of the interference, and it’s about goddamn time someone did, and runs him off. This does beg the question – why would you involve yourself intentionally in a Minoru Suzuki contest? Yano ties Suzuki up with tape, low blows him and gets the roll up for the pin. I guess technically this was a match. I remain staggered at how consistently awful Minoru Suzuki’s matches have been during G1. Thank Christ for that Okada bout where Suzuki-gun got kicked out. Suzuki’s post match rampage where he destroys all the Young Lions with chairs and freaks out a cop on his way to the back is quite the display.
Final Rating: ½*
G1 Climax 27 Block B
EVIL  vs. Satoshi Kojima 
I thought EVIL would be alive up to this point to potentially play spoiler. Especially after beating Okada. It would have given this match a little extra spice for certain. Instead we’re all just waiting around for Kojima to pull off an upset, which before tournament began wouldn’t have been considered that great of an upset at all. Both these guys have been good throughout G1. They don’t spare the horses here. It’s wall to wall effort from the opening bell. Kojima looks almost as motivated as Nagata was during the G1. Like Nagata the years have not been kind but he’s not lying down and taking it. EVIL has taken a few lumps, mostly from Omega, during G1 but Kojima tries to one-up Kenny here with a sickening DDT on the apron, which EVIL headspikes. EVIL, who allegedly suffered a stinger against Omega, is in danger of another here, clearly struggling with circulation to his fingers. As the match progresses and EVIL somehow battles on it becomes an intense hard-hitting battle loaded with near falls. If one guy in particular has had their stock rise during G1 it’s EVIL. He’s stepped up, especially in his big matches and looks like a star in the making. Finishing third in a G1 Block is pretty good going. He adds Kojima to the list of scalps with the STO.
Final Rating: ***3/4
G1 Climax 27 Block B
Kenny Omega  vs. Kazuchika Okada 
Here it is! Omega-Okada III. Whoever wins takes the Block and faces Naito. However, it should be notable that if it’s a draw Okada advances and Omega hasn’t been able to beat Okada in an hour, let alone the 30 minutes we have in store here. However Okada comes into this match with a neck injury. He’s been healthy in his previous two title defences. They start so fast and go hard after the big spots, both hoping to finish quickly. While both the previous matches were long and started slow they still ended up where they start this one. They know each others big spots. It does feel like they start the match with the hot stretch from the draw.
Another reason for these two to finish fast is that Naito has a day extra rest. A shorter match could benefit the winner, as Naito wrestled a tough 25 minute contest. It’s been ten years since a reigning IWGP champion made the G1 final. That was Yuji Nagata. It was ten years ago. Now Nagata is retired from G1. The schedule of a champion makes the G1 tough, especially as everyone guns for you. Omega not only guns for Okada and pushes him to his limits but also targets the injury with almost all his offence, switching around some of his existing moves. Okada is a specimen though and the way he dropkicks Omega out of the air when he’s attempting a springboard is amazing. But Kenny’s immediate response is a Poison Rana on the floor. On the floor! Okada is a big man too.
When Okada starts moving Kenny hits the dragon suplex on the apron and Okada lands neck first on the edge of the apron. That is a fucking harsh bump. I’ve seen people get seriously hurt by accidentally landing on the apron (it ended Ricky Steamboat’s career). To see the top guy in a company take a bump that sick is testament to his guts. Or perhaps the stupidity of modern wrestlers, prepared to risk it all for the snowflakes. Killing the Biz? Nope, just killing each other’s necks. Okada always has something left in the tank though. He blocks the V-Trigger. He blocks the One Winged Angel right into a Tombstone. After the spot on the floor New Japan sent a trainer out to check on Okada though and he remains at ringside, ensuring Okada isn’t seriously injured. Omega switches his arsenal again, escaping the Rainmaker with the STO, exactly how EVIL beat the champ.
We hit twenty minutes with Okada hitting the Rainmaker to keep Kenny at bay but unable to get the pin. Kenny does majestic work in keeping his offence completely unpredictable. The mixture of strikes, dives and sly roll ups. It’s an attempt to not only damage Okada’s neck but keep him unprepared for the next assault and the one after that. Okada has developed an unpleasant habit of spamming the Rainmaker; a move that previous occurred only once and always finished the match. He was great at protecting it. But he hits the move three times here and doesn’t pin at all. Always in search of one final showy Rainmaker to finish. Omega dips into his bag of tricks when Okada escapes One Winged Angel, countering right into Croyt’s Wrath. Okada’s neck continues to trouble him and One Winged Angel gets the pin. It’s the first time he’s ever hit One Winged Angel on Okada and it’s the first time he’s beaten Okada too. No coincidence. I’m shocked we didn’t go to a draw here but the win means it’s Omega vs. Naito for the right to face Okada at Wrestle Kingdom. Post match Kenny Omega makes a point of cutting his promo in Japanese.
Final Rating: *****
BLOCK B Standings
Kenny Omega 14
Kazuchika Okada 13
Minoru Suzuki 9
Michael Elgin 8
Toru Yano 8
Tama Tonga 8
Juice Robinson 8
Satoshi Kojima 2
While the undercard on this show was nowhere near as good as yesterday’s you can quite happily skip the fucking job lot of it and absorb yourself in the third part of the almost perfect trilogy of Okada-Omega this year. It broke Meltzer’s ratings system, it hasn’t broken mine. ***** is the best match of that kind and that’s exactly what all bastard three of their matches have been. This one was spectacular for myriad reasons. Okada’s neck, the pursuit of the One Winged Angel, the counters, the familiarity, the insanely dangerous apron spots and the feeling that despite Kenny winning this isn’t over. Omega has won here, against an injured Okada, but now he has to beat him for the title and that is a lot harder.