Delos Note: Given how the tournament already eliminated competitors from the finals, I will be combining the days for Days 13 and 14, 15 and 16, before doing individual blogs for nights 17-18-19.
G-1 CLIMAX 27 – Day 11 (Results) and Day 12 (Results) – Dates: Aug 1-2, 2017
Arena: Gifu Industrial Hall and Fukuoka Citizen Gymnasium
FAVORITE MATCH – Day 11: Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Heel Tanahashi alert! This is what makes Hiroshi Tanahashi, his fellow NJPW workers and John Cena great. They adapt in the ring based on the environment and work according to what makes the best match possible. It’s always fun to watch Tanahashi work as a heel, especially against Ibushi who is a likable chap.
The pace – a combination of fatigue and the slow-build methodology of NJPW’s main event scene – heightened the drama with both men really playing to their roles well – Tanahashi the heel ace against the hometown hero. The ending saw Ibushi hit the Last Ride, which got a nearfall much to Ibushi’s surprise. In any other environment, it would have led to an other few minutes of action, but this is the G-1 and there are time constraints. So Ibushi ended it with a knee to the face.
FAVORITE MATCH – DAY 12: EVIL vs. Kenny Omega
So ending aside, this match was brutal, intense and easily the best match of the last two nights. Omega proves yet again how great he is, working well with a game dance partner in EVIL.
There’s no reason to hype why Omega is great, so the focus will be on EVIL. EVIL is having a breakout tournament. He’s put on great matches with everyone thus far, proving he’s ready to make the leap from the midcard tag scene to more feature bouts. EVIL got all of his spots in and really had the crowd believing he could upset Omega until the end. Late in the match, the wear and tear started to show as Omega really had to work to get EVIL to the finish. It was a scary moment with EVIL looking concussed and unresponsive to Omega’s attacks. Omega, showing an impressive leg strength, managed to lift up EVIL for the One-Winged Angel, dropping him safely to finish the bout.
“Uncle” Dave Meltzer revealed EVIL’s fine, but until that ending, the match was everything sought in a NJPW main event: intensity, high drama, levels of danger, and violence – EVIL bleeds hardway in the bout and it looks like he’s ready to lose an eye after dropping Omega through a table.
BLOCK A THOUGHTS: Block A has a logjam at the top. It has four guys with eight points and four guys with six points. Yuji Nagata is the only person eliminated; YOSHI HASHI is hanging around with four points, needing to win the remainder of his matches while getting help. It should be noted that Ibushi has wins over three of the four guys with eight points – only Tetsuya Naito (who beat Hirooki Goto to move to eight points in a fine match) managed to beat him. That WILL – not if – impact the final day. It will make the Tanahashi-Naito match interesting.
After losing to Tomohiro Ishii, Nagata will likely not win a match until the final two nights where he will spoil somebody’s chances to qualify for the finals. It is unlikely he will defeat Ibushi, but the matches will Zack Sabre Jr. (who tapped out Togi Makabe) and Bad Luck Fale (who lost to YOSHI-HASHI) provide him the best opportunity to pick up wins in his final G-1. This story resembles the story told with Jushin Thunder Liger in the Best of Super Junior. Nagata should and probably will prevent someone from making the finals, but it’s a matter of when and whom.
Despite having a banged up roster and putting on an incredible year in high-quality matches, Block A’s dramatic slowdown indicates guys saving up energy for the final nights in the Sumo Hall. The pace of matches are slower, building tension between spots and the intensity is dialed back a bit. It makes sense with the types of workers in this block. The hard-hitting Ishii, Goto, Makabe force slower more dynamic exchanges; Sabre’s role as the technical wizard benefiting from elongated submission stretches; Fale works better in slower, shorter matches; Ibushi, Tanahashi, Nagata, and Naito are all capable of working any style, and YOSHI-HASHI is there.
BLOCK B THOUGHTS: While A Block has been the more star-studded block in terms of memorable matches, B Block, armed with the two of the top three workers in the world – Kazuchika Okada and Omega – has some standout performances.
EVIL is one, and his spot among the top of the block shows that. Juice Robinson, as noted before, is having an excellent tournament, and his opponent on Day 12, SANADA, is as well. Both men put on an solid match that kept a simple story told effectively. It will likely not garner much praise due to the one-note nature, but overall, it’s another chapter in the growth of both of these men.
Tama Tonga has been underwhelming this tournament, and I can’t figure out why. It’s frustrating because he’s athletic and has put on good matches before. Hopefully, it’s just a stretch of not clicking. His match with Okada was fine, but it’s nothing that truly displays what Tonga is capable of and what Okada can do. There’s still time for Tonga at 34. He just needs to find that gear. As for Okada, he’s 6-0 and still going strong. Who will pick up the win? That’s for Gedo to know and us to find out.
Yano’s role in the tournament has been to get wins and prevent others from advancing. But his latest scalp is the most bothersome because it highlights a highly criticized aspect of NJPW – the referee. Yano pulled out a play from book of Eddie Guerrero, faking a low blow to get Elgin disqualified. These are the same referees that allow chair shots, aimless brawling and other things, but all of a sudden a disqualification after a low blow. It eliminated Elgin from contention in the dumbest way possible and buried officiating. It’s upsetting.
What else is upsetting? Satoshi Kojima losing to Minoru Suzuki. Like Nagata, Kojima is likely in his last G-1. So he’ll win on the last day against EVIL to keep EVIL out of the finals (assuming EVIL makes it there). As for Suzuki, his matches are easy to grab snacks during the first five minutes of aimless brawling outside of the ring. It really doesn’t add anything other than fill in time and build a character, but Suzuki doesn’t need this aspect to make him dangerous. He IS dangerous just from his reputation, and he’s better than simply garnering heat from aimless brawling and jumping a guy at the bell.
ENJOYMENT RATING FOR DAY 11: C
ENJOYMENT RATING FOR DAY 12: B-
G-1 27 DAY BY DAY RECAPS AND GRADES:
Day 1 (Grade: A)
Day 2 (Grade: B)
Day 3 (Grade: A-)
Day 4 (Grade: C+)
Day 5 (Grade: B+)
Day 6 (Grade B+)
Day 7 (Grade C)
Day 8 (Grade A)
Day 9 (Grade B+)
Day 10 (Grade C-)