Hi and welcome back to the VultureHound G1 Climax reviews. Last time on G1 Climax, Zack Sabre Jr got crumpled by big Kazu, KENTA killed another one of the greatest in the world and there wasn’t nearly enough Yano. But luckily, here’s B Block to remedy that Yano lack. You know we’re here for reviews, so let’s give you what you want:
Kota Ibushi & Jushin Thunder Liger def. Yota Tsuji & Shota Umino // Ibushi tapped out Umino with a Boston Crab
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI) def. Ren Narita, Toa Henare & Tomoaki Honma // BUSHI pinned Narita with MX
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer & Yoshinobu Kanermaru) def. KENTA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Clark Conners & Alex Coughlin // Kanemaru pinned Conners with Deep Impact
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) // Okada pinned Owens off a Rainmaker
G1 Climax Block B Tournament Match: Toru Yano vs Shingo Takagi
Yano, more YaYES! This was exactly what it needed to be: Yano is exceptional at combining his comedy shenanigans with a more malicious edge and Shingo really brought out the best in him here, presenting a short and sweet battle that had all the classic Yano spots you love plus strike exchanges. The finish as Yano tried to get a Guerrero-style DQ on Shingo only for BUSHI to distract leading to Shingo nailing him with the chair and hitting a Pumping Bomber rebound lariat for the pin was fun but in retrospect is the kind of thing that is somewhat confusing because really, who were were booing or cheering for? Maybe it’s less about clean-cut dynamics and more about sheer fun. This had that in spades. Now go buy Yano’s DVD.
Winner: Shingo Takagi
G1 Climax Block B Tournament Match: Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto
I like Juice, I like Goto, I think they work well together, they both have surprisingly similar styles and are both very effective when it comes to delivering both work-rate and emotion. They’ve had multiple battles before but this was a different Juice, working on another level to the man we’ve seen before. Only two matches in and already Juice is carrying himself in a way that makes me think he might be able to go all the way. Yet, while moment-to-moment I enjoyed this match, it never quite had the fluidity of either men’s best work. It wasn’t lacking for passion or technical skill, it just never quite hit a satisfying stretch in the way of say Juice’s 2017 battle with Omega or Goto’s outings with Ishii. Not bad, just by these two’s standards, somewhat throwaway. Juice got the pin off the Pulp Friction double-arm facebuster.
Winner: Juice Robinson
G1 Climax Block B Tournament Match: Jeff Cobb vs Jon Moxley
Moxley continues to not work the NJPW style and that’s a very good thing. Completely different to everything else on the card, in a relatively brief time, this had amateur wrestling, arena brawls, methodical limb-work and fast-paced strike exchanges. This was just a blast of fresh air. The only real issue was it was so brief, I would’ve liked a few more minutes to let the great work on display really breathe. But more than anything, it’s just a delight to see Moxley so engaged in what he’s doing and Cobb, even if he’s not racking up wins is putting on great performances. The story of Cobb being too much for Moxley to hit the Death Riding swing DDT so he had to hit a Draping DDT for the pin is also exceptional storytelling as it begs the question, what will Moxley be able to do when he comes up against the Stone Pitbull next? Lovely stuff.
Winner: Jeff Cobb
G1 Climax Block B Tournament Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs Jay White w/Gedo
Call Ishii the Takeaway because he delivers. Despite this being the first encounter between the CHAOS original and the traitors of chaos, this was one of the best matches I’ve seen the young Kiwi have and you why that is? It’s because he’s against the best wrestler in New Japan. The reason Ishii is the best isn’t just because of his own performance but because of what he brings out of his opponents, here I don’t think I’ve seen White deliver his offence with his level of crisp brutality before, he was every bit the malicious bastard that you hoped would get dropped on his head by a man with no neck. And get dropped he did.
Of course, I can’t give this full marks, even though I don’t give marks, simply because quite frankly, the Gedo shit distracts from any good work White is doing. That said, this was still a very good, well-built and fought match and the Gedo shit didn’t take all the wind out of the sails. Still, with Ishii going 2-0 I’m pleased that at this early point, they are keeping all the champions looking strong. Well apart from the Junior title but who cares about flippy bois when you’ve got lariat lads?
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii
G1 Climax Block B Tournament Match: Tetsuya Naito vs Taichi
So far, the actual main events of the G1 Climax shows have been good to very good but never the one highlight of the show. This didn’t quite break that record but it certainly continued the level of quality to them. Well, it did eventually. The first half of this match was a little sluggish, Naito seemed like he might be not quite recovered from months of trying to suicide pact his neck with Ibushi and Taichi, well anyone who’s sat through his Best of the Super Juniors runs knows he’s not the guy you go to for tournament consistency. Then Taichi pulled out the Iron Claw of Lizuka and put it on, convulsing like he was filled with the power of Greyskull and this match got crazy.
These men through everything at each other: ranas, reverse ranas, Taichi hit a Ganso Bomb and yet, for some reason continues to use superkicks and last ride bombs instead of moves he makes look better like the aforementioned Ganso or Crucifix Drivers. The thing about Naito is that he is truly the heir to Nakamura’s throne in NJPW because even when he can’t put his all into something, what little he can is still incredibly compelling. That said, I don’t want to see Taichi slipping back into his old ways if for no other reason than for some reason all the other writers here unironically love him and I can not be bothered to hear from them if I slag him off.
Another very fun day of action here in the never-ending tournaments of New Japan. Five entertaining tournament matches and some enjoyable undercard action make for another easily digestible show. If you’re lacking for time, I’d still recommend making time for all the tournament action. If you haven’t already, why are you wasting time reading this and not just watching it? Come on now, go!
Lance Archer – 4pts (2-0-0)
KENTA – 4pts (2-0-0)
Kazuchika Okada – 4pts (2-0-0)
Bad Luck Fale – 2pts (1-0-1)
EVIL – 2pts (1-0-1)
SANADA – 2pts (1-0-1)
Will Ospreay – 2pts (1-0-1)
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 0pts (0-0-2)
Kota Ibushi – 0pts (0-0-2)
Zack Sabre Jr – 0pts (0-0-2)
Juice Robinson – 4pts (2-0-0)
Jon Moxley – 4pts (2-0-0)
Tomohiro Ishii – 4pts (2-0-0)
Hirooki Goto – 2pts (1-0-1)
Shingo Takagi – 2pts (1-0-1)
Taichi – 2pts (1-0-1)
Toru Yano – 2pts (1-0-1)
Jay White – 0pts (0-0-2)
Jeff Cobb – 0pts (0-0-2)
Tetsuya Naito – 0pts (0-0-2)
All images courtesy of njpw1972.com