G-1 CLIMAX 27 – Day 9 (Results)
Date: July 28, 2017
Arena: Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
FAVORITE MATCH: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Well, look at that, Naito and Ishii produced my favorite match of the night. These two guys are among my favorite guys in the company and I’m glad these two put on another great match in the tournament. Ishii’s victory marks a slight upset, joining Michael Elgin in that respect.
These two have a history: Ishii beat Naito for the NEVER Openweight title; Ishii challenged Naito for his first – and only – IWGP Heavyweight title shot; Ishii beat Naito in the first round of the IWGP United States title tournament. Their matches always produce as their demeanors are complete opposites. This match was another dynamic effort with Ishii playing stone-faced toughman against the charismatic, disrespectful Naito. The finish of the bout went back and forth with Naito going for Destino, but never fully securing the version that would finish Ishii for good. It was exactly how an end of a match should go between guys on a relative same plane: you don’t know when the finish is coming and from whom.
Ishii’s post-match actions made this match better with the crowd absolutely stunned and quiet. While it seemed like Naito would send home the Aichi fans with his trademark phrases, Ishii looked around and walked right to the back. It fits perfectly into the Ishii’s motivations. Here is a man who isn’t about talking or antics. He’s there to beat people up and move forward. Ishii is having a fantastic year – one that may result in an IWGP Heavyweight title shot again down the line.
LOOKING AHEAD: It’s officially that point in the tournament where scenarios are coming into play. Hiroshi Tanahashi leads the way with eight points; six guys have six points; Kota Ibushi collected four points; YOSHI-HASHI with two, and Yuji Nagata pulling up the rear with two points. Each man has four matches to go and it is looking like multiple guys will be eligible come the final day.
WHERE TO GO WITH GOTO: Hirooki Goto is an interesting case. Goto carved out a place in New Japan’s upper class. He made the finals last year and continues to “choke” in big spots. What is the goal for Goto in this tournament? If he makes the finals and loses again, then has Goto really gone anywhere? It’s difficult to book Goto at the moment. He’s great in the ring. Has a decent reaction from the crowd, but it’s hard to find ways to really heat him up in the current climate.
LOLFALEWINS: It’s amazing how important to note Bad Luck Fale’s role in the G-1. His matches will be positioned lower on the league schedule more often than not and his bouts won’t be winning any match of the year awards. But yet, Fale finds himself, again, picking up a massive win. Add Ibushi to the list of guys he’s defeated in the most prestigious tournament in the world, and he did so with probably his best match of the tournament. Fale sits at six points, along with a glut of guys making a run at Tanahashi.
SAD FACE: It’s over. Nagata is mathematically eliminated from contention with his loss to Togi Makabe. His fellow third generation mate Satoshi Kojima will likely suffer the same fate, and it’s disheartening. The third generation will be fazed out, but it’s interesting to see who takes these two spots in the tournament next year with their departures. The third generation set forth and kept the company afloat during difficult times, but it’s time for the fourth generation to take over and elevate NJPW.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid show with the four strong G-1 bouts. It’s sad to think that Nagata won’t be in the running in his final tournament, but he will play spoiler. He’ll win somewhere this tournament, but who will be the unfortunate soul who Nagata beats to prevent him from making the finals.
ENJOYMENT RATING: B+