NJPW: G1 Climax Day 7 Review

Introduction in which I summarise why you should read below and try not to show that frankly this is a long tournament and we writers are almost constantly very tired. Description of important matches of the day involving key competitors like KENTA and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. Finish on a more informal message like ‘let’s get into it’ before we cut to a picture:

Results:

Shota Umino & Jon Moxley def. Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson // Umino tapped out Tsuji with a Boston Crab

Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi) def. CHAOS (Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto) & Yuya Uemura // Kanemaru pinned Uemura off Deep Impact DDT

Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Jay White) def. Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma & Jeff Cobb // Owens pinned Henare off a Package Piledriver

Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) def. CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii) & Ren Narita // BUSHI pinned Narita off an MX codebreaker

G1 Climax Block A Tournament Match: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale

Zacky boy finally did it! Not only did he get points on the board but he also got a fun match. Well, half a fun match. Zack starting off hot by going straight into a stretcher before Fale remembered he’s a big lad and threw him off. From here, this was basically standard Bullet Club bullshit until at the top of the Korakuen Hall seating blocks, Zack made Fale pass out long enough to sprint back to the ring and get the biggest Kiwi counted out.  Zack was glorious here, working against a heel faction but keeping his character dislikable. Fale, well, at least keeping the match short stopped him getting tired and stopping caring.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr

G1 Climax Block A Tournament Match: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

Archer has been having a surprising career renaissance in this tournament and no one is better at selling an injury like Tanahashi. So this should have been a slam dunk, right? Get Archer to batter around the Ace till he gets a fiery comeback then some kind of fluke finish, good work go home. It’s a shame that this was just fine. While Archer is definitely here to play overall, he seemed to be holding back here, possibly because no one wants to be the man who broke the Ace. It’s not often Tanahashi has a match that I just can’t really recall anything about. Not bad just not great either.

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi

G1 Climax Block A Tournament Match: KENTA vs EVIL

This is, as far as I can tell the first meeting between these two. I hope they meet again soon because this was a pure, shit-kicking joy. This was pure spot-monkey shit as the structure and story were just “fuck it, let’s kill each other.” What is nice is seeing KENTA marry his Puroresu instincts with some of the asshole WWE heelwork he was experimenting in during his later run. Of course, we do have to talk about the big thing from this match, that EVIL is so intense chairs break in his hands before he’s even hit anyone! Wild stuff. I could see a longer programme between these two being a lot of fun and this is a dynamic I want to revisit soon. KENTA won with a GTS for the pin.

Winner: KENTA

G1 Climax Block A Tournament Match: SANADA vs Kota Ibushi

I think we have to sadly accept we won’t have Tanahashi around forever. Luckily, for when we don’t, we’ll have Ibushi for a short while afterwards. The way that Tanahashi mastered the art of building a tournament around an injury, Ibushi has so far managed to change up his game plan in lieu of an ankle injury preventing him from going full Ibushi. As a result, we’ve seen him work a more measured style. Obviously, I hope we can get back to Ibushi flipping off tall things again soon but till then, I am enjoying the way Ibushi is pacing himself during this tournament. This match was essentially a battle of the two best pure athletes in New Japan showing they can slow it down. There are those that suggest this lacked drama but for me, the urgency was still there and the emotion was well laid out with the commentary team really enhancing it, selling the story of SANADA almost holding back out of admiration for Ibushi. There were some awkward moments with this one, it didn’t flow as fluidly as Ibushi’s best work but it was still a very interesting experiment. Ibushi won with a Kamigoye knee.

Winner: Kota Ibushi

G1 Climax Block A Tournament Match: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada

This match was really given the big fight feel and as a result, big match Okada came out to fight. Sadly for Will, this meant having to compare to the greatest big match fighter of our generation and it really did start to show some of the weaknesses in his performance style. I’ve always thought that from below the shoulders, Ospreay is a stunning talent, let down by a complete lack of any acting ability. His hyper-arch mannerisms and grunts (though luckily replacing his classic style of “swear to display pain”) just seem too exaggerated to do more than distract rather than enhance the emotionality. Which is a real shame as he’s developing into a neat-enough wrestler with a strong arsenal. Luckily for him, Okada is more than enough to carry this, putting on an astonishing display, working over the neck to soften it up to set up for the Rainmaker. Coming off a pair of belters from the LIJ boys, this couldn’t help but feel a bit like one big match too many and if it had been trimmed down, might’ve been a very effective main event. Even with this, the desperation of the final five minutes was palpable with Okada looking the most engaged I’ve seen him since the Tanahashi opener.  Okada won with the Rainmaker

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Another good day with two very strong mid-card matches and an enjoyable main event. That said, even with the strong work, G1 fatigue is already setting in. Hopefully, that can be turned around again soon.

Block A Standings:

Kazuchika Okada –  8pts (4-0-0)

KENTA – 8pts (4-0-0)

EVIL – 4 pts (2-0-2)

Hiroshi Tanahashi  – 4 pts (2-0-2)

Kota Ibushi – 4 pts (2-0-2)

Lance Archer – 4 pts (2-0-2

Bad Luck Fale – 2pts (1-0-3)

SANADA – 2pts (1-0-3)

Will Ospreay – 2pts (1-0-3)

Zack Sabre Jr – 2pts (1-0-3)

Block A Standings:

Jon Moxley – 6pts (3-0-0)

Juice Robinson – 4pts (2-0-1)

Shingo Takagi – 4pts (2-0-1)

Tomohiro Ishii – 4pts (2-0-1)

Toru Yano – 4pts (2-0-1)

Hirooki Goto – 2pts (1-0-2)

Jeff Cobb – 2pts (1-0-2)

Taichi – 2pts (1-0-2)

Tetsuya Naito – 2pts (1-0-2)

Jay White loses LOL – 0pts (0-0-3)

Comment