Analysis · njpw · Pro Wrestling

G-1 Climax 27 Notebook Days 13-14: Hitting the home stretch

G-1 CLIMAX 27 – Day 13 (Results) and Day 14 (Results)
Dates: Aug 4-5, 2017
Arena: Item Ehime and Osaka Prefectural Gym
FAVORITE MATCH – Day 13: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Bad Luck Fale
Tomohiro Ishii is probably the most overlooked top-flight worker on NJPW’s roster. The guy simply puts on great singles bouts whenever he’s in the ring. Nobody could have foreseen this when he first came along when Riki Choshu when Choshu returned to NJPW after running Fighting World of Japan. Choshu saw something in Ishii, and now it’s truly manifesting itself into something special at the ripe age of 41. Ishii is winning – or part of the winning team – 59 percent of the time in 2017, according to Cagematch.net statistics. The number climbed every year since 2013, when it was a low 45.5 percent of bouts won. Gedo trusts Ishii, and Ishii validates that trust. He’s known for his insane toughness and stoic nature and that plays a valuable role in his matches. If Ishii is in a match, expect it to be hard-hitting and intense.

Against Fale, Ishii always has fun bouts. The size difference makes for interesting exchanges and feats of strength coming from the man affectionately known as the “Stone Pitbull.” Last year’s G-1 bout was capped off by Ishii hitting a brainbuster on the big Tongan, and Ishii repeated the feat again this time with a suplex. Fale got his win back from a year ago, however, hitting Ishii with both a Grenade and the Bad Luck Fall to up his point total to eight.

For Fale, this continues a nice string of decent bouts that highlight the big man’s inconsistency. After a strong Day 1 bout, he’s followed it up with below average matches, followed by a recent string of decent matches. He has Yuji Nagata in his final bout, which would be a perfect Nagata victory spot in his final G-1. Until then, enjoy Fale picking up wins at random places to keep himself as a threat, but not likely to develop anything substantial.

FAVORITE MATCH – DAY 14: Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL
The G-1 Climax can make stars. EVIL is poised to become that after this year’s edition. His match with Okada was a fantastic bout that highlighted EVIL’s potential as a top of the card talent and Okada’s ability to make his opponent look like a million bucks. EVIL picked up the biggest win of his career and second major win of the tournament by defeating the NJPW ace.

Okada could have put himself into a dominating position had he won the match. He entered with 12 points – usually the threshold to advance in this current iteration of the G-1 Climax. Combined with a couple of losses by guys who could have made a run at him, Okada – who had been undefeated up until this match – could all have locked up his spot in the final with a win. Continuing with the trend of all Okada bouts, he was pushed to his maximum limits against EVIL, who threw everything at him, chairs included. Yet this time, Okada couldn’t overcome his opponent as EVIL countered the Rainmaker into EVIL for the win. It’s a spot that has history in the tournament. EVIL hit the exact spot that beat Okada earlier in the tournament against Minoru Suzuki when EVIL countered the transition from the sleeper into the Gotch-style piledriver with EVIL. It’s nice to see continuity in pro wrestling. The biggest question: Will EVIL challenge for the IWGP title if he doesn’t win the G-1? Guess it’s time to wait and see.

A BLOCK THOUGHTS: The Day 13 card was another solid, but nothing memorable night. Nagata vs. Kota Ibushi continued the “Nagata’s Last Run” storyline, while Ibushi marched along with another fine match. The Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. wasn’t anything to write home about, suffering from the Sabre Jr. lack of emotion problem. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Togi Makabe was a good match, highlighting the long history between the two men, but it will be somewhere in the lower end of the G-1’s top 20 bouts.

Naito fans be leery. This is a similar spot he was in last year. He sits a top of the block with Tanahashi with 10 points and a group of guys with eight points. Last year, Naito only needed a draw with Kenny Omega to secure a spot in the finals and fell one minute and 48 seconds short. This year, Naito will be in the position with a win over Makabe and a loss by Tanahashi against Ishii on Aug. 5. If Tanahashi wins and Naito wins, it sets up a winner-take-all bout between the two rivals on the final night. The scenarios will come together more clearly after the Aug. 5 card, so when that takes place, a full breakdown of scenarios will be posted on the Aug. 8 notebook.

For simplicity sake, the only men truly eliminated at the moment are Makabe, YOSHI-HASHI and Nagata. All three still can impact the standings though if they pull off victories in the final two nights.

B BLOCK THOUGHTS: Osaka. Osaka. Osaka. If Tokyo is New York in the NJPW World, then Osaka is Chicago. It was the absolute perfect venue for this card. It might be B Blocks’ most memorable night given the upsets. Satoshi Kojima picked up his first win of the tournament by beating fellow Keiji Muto disciple SANADA; Michael Elgin recovered from his embarrassing loss to Toru Yano with a great victory over Suzuki, and Juice Robinson shocked the world – and himself – with a victory roll win over Kenny Omega. The crowd popped massively for all of those moments, especially Robinson’s victory and EVIL’s stunning accomplishment.

Despite losing to EVIL, Okada is still in control of the B Block, but difficult matches loom. He has Suzuki on Aug. 8, before wrapping up the league stage with Omega on Aug. 12. Okada needs three points to secure advancement to the final, but it will be difficult given the nature of competition. Aside from that, Omega has 10 points with EVIL, but Omega holds the tiebreak due to a the head-to-head victory over EVIL. SANADA and Suzuki each have eight points and their tournament lives are on life support. Elgin, Robinson, Kojima, Toru Yano and Tama Tonga are all eliminated from contention.

ENJOYMENT RATING FOR DAY 13: B-
ENJOYMENT RATING FOR DAY 14: 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-)
Day 11 (Grade
C)
Day 12 (Grade B-)

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