NJPW: G1 Climax Day 17 Review

It’s the final day of Block A action, not to be confused with the final as that’s Monday. While we have five matches on the cards, there isn’t much to play for outside of the main event as Ibushi represents the only man who could contest for Okada’s top of the Block stronghold. Though KENTA could earn himself a RevPro Title shot if he beats ZSJ. Lets find out what happened:

Results:

There were some tag matches that I’d write about but frankly, I’m abusing my powers by saying I don’t care, if you care, go here.

G1 Climax Block A Match: Lance Archer vs EVIL

I like my wrestling like my coffee: big, punchy and made by two men who look like they’re pissed off they couldn’t get time off to go to Download Festival (which I did, if you look over this website, you’ll find a lot of my reviews). Archer has had a mad career resurgence over this tournament and quite frankly if he isn’t contesting for some kind of singles title very soon, something has gone quite wrong. EVIL is one of the most reliable hands in terms of creating midcard excitement and here we had a good confrontation between two men with nothing at stake beyond they both just like punching heads.

While those who like psychology and cerebral wars of intense mindgames might be disapponted, those who just want to see a big lad do an apron moonsault and deliver a pounce to make Monty Brown say “not bad” with a nod of approval, will be satisfied. That said, I don’t understand why Taichi is the one who’s inherited the iron claw off Lizuka as Archer’s EBD Claw choke pin finisher seems like it would make more sense if he was the one sticking a tin foil glove in opponent’s mouths. A good time for people who enjoy good things and a good dynamic to explore away from SANADA and DBS jr.

Winner: Lance Archer

G1 Climax Block A Match: SANADA vs Bad Luck Fale

One week ago today, SANADA pinned Kazuchika Okada. Today, Fale cradled SANADA because NOTHING MATTERS! Jesus Christ, sometimes I wish the Earth were flat so we could push all the useless stuff off the edge.

Winner: Bad Luck Fale

G1 Climax Block A Match: Zack Sabre Jr vs KENTA

This was only the second encounter between these two, the first taking place at a Project NOAH show at Wolverhampton Civic back in May 2011. This was a true battle of the bastards as what this year’s G1 has really made me appreciate is how good both of these men are at being completely and utterly contemptible. But far more than that, this was a match about how much Zack hates all limbs.

Showcasing not only KENTA’s near-peerless striking prowess, Zack proceeded to work a very impressive gameplan, skirting around the man while taking every advantage he could of KENTA’s injured shoulder. Both of these men work a certain style that I can see how it is an acquired taste but really, I struggle to see who couldn’t admire the sheer viciousness displayed here, I haven’t seen this kind of intensity since Ishii vs Cobb, still possibly my match of the tournament (though bear in mind, I’ve been busy, I haven’t seen a lot of Block B). The finish was well done as Zack applied a double-arm stretcher and continued to kick the injured shoulder till Red Shoes did call for a stoppage. KENTA might have gone from a four-match winning streak to a five-match losing one but he still looked incredible here purely for refusing to tap out. Now, if someone can find a way to get KENTA and Ishii in a ring soon, I will give them as much money as it takes.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr

G1 Climax Block A Match: Will Ospreay vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

The Ace hasn’t been able to run at full tank for a while now but even his half tank proved enough to get a corking, little match out of Ospreay. Working a classic ‘last match of the run’ formula, Ospreay just proved that he was able to still maintain his pace this deep into two tournaments in a way I can only find annoying as someone who finds waking up every day increasingly tiring.

That said, the very energy that has propelled Ospreay through these two tournaments has exposed his weaknesses as a performer. Whenever I’ve seen Ospreay live, he has delivered to an exceptional degree, yet for some reason, his particular style always feels too exaggerated on-screen, as if he’s playing to the back of the arena and as a result, it feels too big for the camera. He’s a very strong performer when it comes to understanding structure but even then, here he was trying to match an all-time great and he just seemed like he was over-compensating to match him.

All this said this was probably amongst Ospreay’s top three performances of the G1 and his best since Zackie boy. Tanahashi has a real habit of bringing out the best in his opponents and he did so here, doing enough to make me believe that Ospreay could beat him. I just hope that here, Tanahashi manages to take some time away to properly heal up for once because frankly, I don’t want Tanahashi to feel like he has to work hurt. Ospreay won with his silly Stormbreaker finish. I don’t care what you say, it’s very silly.

Winner: Will Ospreay

G1 Climax Block A Match: Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada

This fucking ruled. I don’t even need to say much about it because it doesn’t take a genius to see this was incredible. Apparently, the match was 25.05 in length but I would genuinely have believed it was closer to 10m as this was just an all-action sprint for the duration. Okada and Ibushi are without a doubt, two of the best in the world and Okada especially isn’t given credit for how well he’s able to flip between face and heel dynamics at a moment’s notice. Often Okada is criticised for running the same match without any real fire but here, he was playing cold and calculated when he was in control but as soon as Ibushi started calling the pace, he matched him for both speed and intensity.

This was a classic final match of a tournament as these were the only two men who could win and no-one could argue they didn’t take efforts to present both men as theoretical winners, though there was a general feeling that Ibushi would be the one to do so, his injuries did make for some increasing dramatic tension. I don’t really know what more I need to say here, this was fucking great. Ibushi won after Okada kicked out of a KamiGoye, made me jump and nearly hit the sodding roof then hit another KamiGoye for the pin.

Winner: Kota Ibushi

4/5 ain’t bad, especially when the 4 ranged from very good to my lord this was great. Get out and see these if you haven’t already because frankly if Jay White ends up in the final, I don’t see how it’s going to top this.

Block Standings:

Block A

Winner – Kota Ibushi – 14pts (7-0-2) – Winner

Kazuchika Okada – 14pts (7-0-2)

Zack Sabre Jr – 8pts (4-0-5)

Will Ospreay – 8pts (4-0-5)

Bad Luck Fale – 8pts (4-0-5)

Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8pts (4-0-5)

EVIL – 8pts (4-0-5)

SANADA – 8pts (4-0-5)

KENTA – 8pts (4-0-5)

Lance Archer – 6pts (3-0-6)

Block B

Jon Moxley – 10 pts (5-0-3)

Hirooki Goto – 10 pts (5-0-3)

Jay White – 10 pts (5-0-3)

Tetsuya Naito – 10 pts (5-0-3)

Tomohiro Ishii – 8 pts (4-0-4)

Jeff Cobb – 6 pts (3-0-5)

Juice Robinson – 6 pts (3-0-5)

Shingo Takagi – 6 pts (3-0-5)

Toru Yano – 8 pts (4-0-4)

Taichi – 6 pts (3-0-5)

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