We’re here again, well-done everyone, we made it to the end alive. Which is frankly more than we might be able to say for some of the competitors (it’s at this point I have to give credit to Bad Luck Fale. At least if you quarter-arse everything, you might well last forever). So there’s only really one match you want to hear about and two post-match angles, so let’s make like Larry the Cable Guy and ‘git er dun’.
I hate myself:
Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks def. Ren Narita & Yota Tsuji // Connors tapped out Tsuji with a Boston Crab
Tiger Mask, Jyushin Thunder Liger & Jeff Cobb def. Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Lance Archer & Taichi) // Cobb pinned Kanemaru off a Tour of the Islands
CHAOS (SHO, YOH & Will Ospreay) def. Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori) // Ospreay pinned Takahashi off Stormbreaker
Toa Henare & Juice Robinson def. Jon Moxley & Shota ‘Shooter’ Umino // Henare pinned Shooter off a TOA Bottom
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI) def. Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Togi Makabe) // SANADA pinned Honma off a Moonsault
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) & KENTA vs Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
FUCK KENTA! Now, we’re not here to talk about the match, which was fine but had a little too much HASHI & Fale content to really be a good match. The running thread of the match was that KENTA never tagged in and when he was about to be tagged by Ishii, he jumped off the apron leaving the pitbull high and dry. Then just as big 141 was starting to pull the match back, KENTA hit a Busaiku Knee and a GTS on him to hand Tonga the victory. From here, the assorted shits, pisstreaks and wankstains that make up Bullet Club did storm the ring attacking Ishii, HASHI and the LA Dojo boys that KENTA fought alongside for so much of this tournament.
That is till KASTSUYORI SHIBATA RAN DOWN AND KICKED EVERYONE’S ARSE. That is till off a flawless hesitation dropkick, he had KENTA in the sleeper till Jado got in some kendo shots to allow KENTA to apply a Sleeper and in doing so bathe in the boos from an audience that would have murdered him for less. This entire segment was flawlessly done with somehow even the middling quality of the tag match helping punctuate it by lulling you into a false sense of ‘who cares?’ The only issue with this is that I love Shibata, I don’t want Shibata to feel pressured to return, even though he looked great here because as much as I love him as a performer, I don’t want him to die. Still, this was how you do a heel turn because frankly, FUCK KENTA!
Winner: Bullet Club
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr) def. Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was very good stuff, a little litigious when it comes to following the New Japan tag formula but very well performed and very effectively advanced the main and semi-main event angles for London’s Royal Quest show. I have to commend Suzuki for his gameplan, take off the G1, come back refreshed, Piledrive Okada, claim an IWGP Heavyweight title shot. Shoot your shot, my dude. Also, Tanahashi hitting a slingblade to break a sleeper was beautiful. Put simply, a fun, little tag match which sets up a pair of very promising title matches.
G1 Climax Final Match: Kota Ibushi vs Jay White w/Gedo, etc
The first-ever New Japan show on US soil was main-evented by Cody challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight title. This was a match that ended up being surprisingly decent by Cody standards but mostly because it was lent an extra degree of tension from everyone worrying that they’d actually have the greatest modern champ beaten by that guy. I was reminded of that match watching Jay White here, a man who despite having every possible opportunity and theoretical tool at his disposal, has never managed to break that 4* barrier. Here we have Ibushi, a man who seems to find a new top to his game every time people think he’s at that top and then Jay White, who literally no one seems to want to win. So when I say this is easily the best Jay White match I’ve ever seen, I’m not sure if that’s because he’s an effective heel or just that by god do I not want to see him main-eventing Wrestle Kingdom any time soon.
That said, there were a lot of positives to this match. If you cut out the perfunctory bullshit club interference and trim it down by about 10 minutes, you’d have a great match. Ibushi is a master at both underdog sympathy and electric intensity when he needs to power up. White can be quite effective at keeping his control sections eclectic and he has on heck of a Uranage slam. It just lacked that magical quality that makes it a ‘big match’. Ibushi has that quality, Tanahashi has it in droves but White just works too much of the same style. For how long he’s been put at the top of cards and for who he’s worked, he should be better.
I think Ibushi putting knife boy in his place was enough good fun to justify the running time, just about but there was something to this match that it was a good main event for any standard show but for the finals of the biggest tournament in wrestling, it wasn’t quite Grade 1. Still congratulations to Ibushi for being the only man to win the G1, BOSJ and NJ Cup. Hope you that the big one home.
All images courtesy of njpw1972.com