Day 11 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament, the G1 Climax 27, has an incredible main event as Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on Kota Ibushi. Four more matches from the A Block of the tournament are also on the card: YOSHI-HASHI will face Bad Luck Fale, Zack Sabre Jr. will contend with Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata will go to war with Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto will get in the ring with Tetsuya Naito. The first half of the match, as always, will be competitors from the B Block in various tag team matches before their tournament matches tomorrow.
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): arguably two of the best wrestlers on the planet (or, perhaps, one in the past and one in the present), this was everything you’d expect. Tanahashi played the bad guy, which he seems to be doing more and more lately, as the crowd rallied behind Ibushi. Sharp kicks, tight submissions and some huge vertical high-flying were the highlights of this match, worthy of being the main event
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): an early bad landing from Goto worried me, but I should know better than to doubt one of my boys. Naito has been a little bit sloppy lately, and I can admit that it is his opponents who have made the matches so good, but thankfully this was no exception. I’ll admit this might be mostly because of how much I enjoy Goto (and I miss Shibata 😦 ) but this was lots of fun
+ Yuji Nagata vs Tomohiro Ishii (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): gosh darn Ishii’s kicks could level a building, I reckon. This was slow paced, but incredibly stiff from both men. with several sequences that left me mouth-open in awe at the punishment they could take but keep on trucking – I know it is all “fake”, but you can’t fake the amount of sweat that flies off you when you get kicked in the chest. Some very rare Ishii emotion was fantastic, and this was an incredible match. Ishii is having one of the runs of the tournament
+ Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Kenny Omega) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi): I am really looking forward to Omega/EVIL. This was a lot of fun, with Takahashi getting some time to shine, as well as the two G1 opponents. Poor Hiromu seems to be over the loss of Daryl, at least
+ Taguchi Japan (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & SANADA): I think BUSHI and SANADA is the best two-man pairing for LIJ, as they jsut compliment each other so well. I know I’ve said this before, but Juice and Finlay make a good team, too, and if they broke away from the Taguchi Japan label, I could see them as future tag champs, especially as Finaly bulks up a bit more. This was relatively short, but everyone looked good
+ Hirai Kawato & Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Taichi): oh man, Taichi is a jerk. But dam if he didn’t draw the crowds ire as he copied Tenzan and Kojima’s moves. Suzuki is just the best at being a crazy old guy, and Kawato had a few really good spots against the very experienced bad guy team. I liked this more than I thought I would
+ Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Michael Elgin vs Shota Umino & Katsuya Kitamura: “experience versus exuberance” was the theme here, as the smaller guys – Umino and Liger – used their speed to try to counter the power of the larger men – Elgin and Kitamura. I am such a sucker for big boys trading power moves, so Elgin/Kitamura going back and forth was right up my alley
– Togi Makabe vs Zack Sabre Jr. (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): this match was just not good. It never felt important, and Sabre’s signature lack of selling any offense really made both men look bad, before a frustrating ending left a bad taste in my mouth. Wasted potential, maybe, otherwise I am just sick of Sabre in Japan
– YOSHI-HASHI vs Bad Luck Fale (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): despite my confusion about his character (read below) this was an average match for YOSHI-HASHI and the big bad Bullet Club underboss. I’m not sure what to make of Fale, who demolished Ibushi but was rolled up by Sabre (but Sabre had already submitted Tanahashi? The G1 is confusing sometimes), but he works best when he can lob the juniors around, something he wasn’t doing here to YOSHI-HASHI
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga): another take it or leave it Yano match, and this time I just wasn’t’ into it. Tama Tonga stole the show early, as he also stole his opponent’s jackets, but unfortunately that was the highlight. Hopefully the Tama/Okada G1 match tomorrow is better than this made it appear to be
> I’ve enjoyed YOSHI-HASHI in the tournament so far, but I still don’t entirely understand his character. He is still relatively new in the wrestling game (not a decade yet), and a quick Google tells me he is a Sun Wukong type character (that is, the Chinese Monkey King) – maybe I just don’t get it. He does have a fantastic entrance theme, though
Should you watch this event: A noticeably much quieter crowd did little to mar an otherwise mostly good show for wrestling. After Day 10 was split in terms of tag team matches, this was a show of really good tag work, especially from the young lions of New Japan. Unfortunately, the first two of the G1 matches were not to my liking, but thankfully the final three were.