G-1 CLIMAX 27 – Day 3 (Results)
Date: July 21, 2017
Arena: Tokyo Korakuen Hall
FAVORITE MATCH: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This match should have happened in the Crusierweight Classic. It should have been one of the WWE’s best matches in the tournament that has quickly faded into a WWE Network show. Ibushi and Sabre Jr. gave Korakuen Hall an amazing match that saw Ibushi never use any of his high-flying spots in this match. Rather it was the striking game that was Ibushi’s highlight and the Last Ride finish. While Tetsuya Naito’s genius falls into being able to adapt his moveset and lay out a match brilliantly, Ibushi’s genius comes in the form being one of the most adapatable and creative wrestlers possible. Ibushi’s ability to work a ground-based match with Sabre proved that he is more than the high-flying star. Ibushi can work any promotion from the wild and crazy world of DDT, to the hard-hitting NJPW World, to the soft-style of the WWE. It’s no question why Ibushi was and is highly coveted by many promotions in the world.
Meanwhile, Sabre came out the match further cementing himself as the most dangerous man in the A Block in terms of how much damage he can do. He went after Ibushi’s neck, which was serverely damaged after Ibushi’s war with Naito a little less than a week ago. Longtime NJPW fans will see flashes of Osamu Nishimura in Sabre. Nishimura worked a similar style as Sabre with Sabre being far more intense, sadistic, and exaggerated in his submissions. But everything from the Japanese Leg Clutch Roll to the Octopus Hold to the ability to hit submissions and nearfalls from any position in the ring adds to being 2017 version of Nishimura, who was a fantastic worker when NJPW’s third generation was running the show. Sabre fits in NJPW, perfectly, and it’s thrilling to see him do his thing in one of the world’s top promotions.
TRANQUILO: Naito continues to prove that his 2016 Tokyo Sports MVP award was no fluke. He yanked a brilliant match out of YOSHI-HASHI, who is the picture of inconsistency. This is not to say that Naito solo carried YOSHI-HASHI. YOSHI-HASHI can hold his own in matches, but this underlies a bigger problem with the headhunter. YOSHI-HASHI suffers from some of the issues that plagued Naito earlier in his career. It’s hard to get behind YOSHI and that’s coming without the resentment of a super push. YOSHI-HASHI is, for lack of a better term, bland. He can be strong worker, but he does nothing particularly well and hasn’t seem to find his niche. It makes sense as to why they tried him out in a match with Minoru Suzuki to see if that’s a style that works for him. He had a good match with Suzuki, but it didn’t do much for YOSHI-HASHI’s development. Essentially, YOSHI-HASHI just has to find something that works for him that will ultimately get the fans behind him long term. While Naito in his pre-G1 interviews mentioned that YOSHI-HASHI needs to hurry up and elevate himself, there really isn’t a rush. Tomohiro Ishii didn’t find his stride until he was 38, giving YOSHI-HASHI nearly three years to do so. So YOSHI-HASHI fans, tranquilo. He has time.
DEMON NAGATA LOOMS: If Nagata is continued to be booked this poorly in his final G-1, fear for whomever he draws in his final two to three bouts. In his bout against Hirooki Goto, Nagata flashed glimpses of the Demon Nagata, which, during his heyday, meant imminent doom for his opponent. Nagata visibly was getting annoyed, pissed off and going into that zone. So if Nagata continues to lose, Demon Nagata may come out and prevent someone from going to the finals. It’s also refreshing to see how a character’s story develops near the end of his career. In Nagata’s case, his once vaunted backdrop hold and exploder suplex meant a surefire victory. Now, it’s a nearfall. After years of conditioning fans, the backdrop hold is tied to Nagata’s glory days. Just once, it would be nice to see him finish a match with it again.
HARD-HITTING AGAIN: Whenever Togi Makabe and Ishii battle, there will be a slugfest, featuring no-sell spots, stiff lariats, chops that look painful, and toughman exchanges. The latest chapter in this well-documented feud saw Ishii pick up a victory and his first two points of the tournament. That’s to be expected from these two, however. They’re going to get into the ring and beat the hell out of whoever they’re up against. Ishii continues to have his best year in terms of performances and looks like he’s only getting better, while Makabe is showing signs of slowing down. It’s crazy to think about as the difference in age is only three years – Ishii is 41, while Makabe will turn 44.
#LOLTANAWINS: Entering his match with Bad Luck Fale, Tanahashi was 1-2 against him in the G-1 Climax. Most would have thought this was a match that screamed another Fale victory, especially with the ongoing storyline of Tanahashi’s busted right arm. So naturally, Tanahashi won his match via countout. Yes, countout. While it’s intended to protect Fale, it makes sense because how else was Tanahashi going to beat Fale? There wasn’t any other realistic way, considering the injury. So this was the perfect spot for the countout victory. Nothing else was really note worthy about it, though.
NJPW vs. UWF-I 2017: SANADA/BUSHI vs. Minoru Suzuki and TAICHI will not surpass the two-star rating in Uncle Dave’s highly respected – or scrutinized – rating system. It did, however, set a unique tone for the coming Suzuki vs. SANADA match. This is another case where you have the young, athletic prospect against the aging sadistic madman. Contrary to the story Kenny Omega told with Suzuki, SANADA isn’t afraid of Suzuki. It will be interesting to see the dynamic between these two. SANADA isn’t on the same level as Omega in terms of storytelling and match quality, so the bigger question: Can these two find a middle that makes their bout entertaining? Here’s to hoping that SANADA dusted off a few Keiji Mutoh vs. Nobuhiko Takada tapes to see how to work their two styles together.
BULLET CLUB INTRASQUAD SCRIMMAGE: Intrastable matches are needed in the G-1 and when Bullet Club is in a match against each other, you can bet there will be a hint of comedy to start. It always starts off with nobody actually wanting to hurt each other. Then somewhere it turns serious. It happened here again. Omega and Tama Tonga set the tone that their B Block match will start intensity rather than “Are you going to lie down for me?” It saw a mean streak in Tonga against the Bullet Club leader, continuing the perceived demise of Bullet Club because Omega may be getting bigger than the Bullet Club itself. Who knows if this seemingly meaningless tag match goes anywhere, but at the very least adds something to the singles confrontation between Tonga and Omega.
GEDO LOSES AGAIN: Gedo took the fall again for his team. Since 2010, Gedo loses – or is part of the losing team – 68 percent of the time. It’s also likely that he’s the one who had his shoulders pinned to the mat or submitted. It’s also unlikely that Gedo figured to be into the decision when it comes to the 32 percent of matches he or his team has won. In fact, Gedo hasn’t had a singles match in 2017 with his last singles match happening on June 6, 2016. Naturally, it’s easy to understand that Gedo is 48 years old and serves as the primary booker of NJPW. So there’s nothing to gain for him winning matches. With that said, it’s quite sad when you see Gedo listed on the team list and immediately think, “Well, he’s probably taking the fall.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: There is absolutely something about the A Block that puts it ahead of the B Block in terms of singles match quality. Maybe, it’s the workers. Maybe it’s personal investment. But there’s clearly something there. That’s not the say that B Block is bad. In fact, the most entertaining undercard matches feature the B Block participants. This should die down as the tournament enters its dog days, but for now, enjoy the top to bottom show quality.
ENJOYMENT RATING: A-