Justin C Note: We’d like to thank Matt for helping out with coverage of the G1 Climax. He will be rotating with me when it comes to coverage for HTCWrestling. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattEderer and also read all of his reviews on his site here: https://medium.com/@TheSpoilerRole
Dave Meltzer, the most prolific wrestling writer who ever lived and the Adam Schefter of oily dudes pretending to fight in their underpants, just said that Night 3 of the G1 blew away any Wrestlemania.
While I think that’s needlessly hyperbolic, and almost proves Dave’s alleged anti-WWE bias (X7 of course was up there, people sleep on Mania XIX to this day, four 4* matches at least on that one, etc) the fact remains that these G1 shows are absolutely must-watch for fans of professional wrestling. Even the run of the mill shows. Case in point:
G1 DAY 5 — Don’t Drink and Drive
Zack Sabre Jr vs. YOSHI-HASHI
You know, with the amount of times he’s been powerbombed, you would think Zack Sabre Jr would just stop using the triangle?
The standard Zack Sabre Jr match, this was. Not a bad thing, a fine and slick technical opener. Zabre Jr gives you a match that is exciting, while not being so spectacular that it detracts from the remainder of the show. He can work a style and a pace in the opening match that makes him stand out from everybody else, while not detracting from the overall presentation of the card. He also happens to be a main event talent in the ring, and can dial it up when need be. Seems like a really valuable tool to have as a booker. ZSJ is a guy whose stock has risen notably in only three matches. Not only has he basically guaranteed himself an IC Title shot with his win vs. Tanahashi, but his match vs. Ibushi was so great that you have to think we will be seeing that match again. Those two rematches alone constitute a mini-singles push I think.
YOSHI-HASHI is actually a rare case of a guy who may be hurting himself. That’s too harsh, but young Mr. Hashi might be typecasting himself. His main event vs Naito to me suggested that he wasn’t quite ready for the main event.
Call it somewhere between the awesome Juice/Kojima match and the slightly less awesome Suzuki/SANADA match.
WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr.- 3.25*
Yugi Nagata vs. Stupid Sexy Tanahashi
My god, the hair on this man
Awesome little match here, easily the best Nagata has looked to this point, both in real life and in kayfabe. He was moving fast, looking really sharp, and connecting with an awful lot of serious moves that almost put Tanahashi away. It honestly felt like Tana was in trouble here. I quite liked how they were able to portray Nagata as a real threat while keeping Tana strong at the end.
Two old dogs who have undoubtedly tangled dozens of times before, doing that dance one more time. Really good, smart, veteran match, one that felt familiar without being played out.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi- 4.25*
Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale
THE DARYL TAKAHASHI REVENGE MATCH!
In case you missed pro wrestling twitter yesterday, Bad Luck Fale killed a stuffed cat, and people are pissed off about it.
The story of this match is that Hiromu Takahashi’s lovely plush animal toy thing got destroyed by Bad Luck Fale, and Takahashi and Naito are partners, so now, THIS IS A BLOOD FEUD.
Tetsuya Naito’s character is, at this moment, in a pretty interesting place. My interpretation: he is outwardly dick and a heel, except the fans love him, and even though he’s a dick, he is secretly kind of a babyface in his heart? If that makes sense? For example: pretending not to care about the IWGP IC title, literally throwing it around and breaking it, but also fighting nearly to the death over it. Or, him actually showing solidarity to his friend by attacking Fale before the bell even rings here.
Or, maybe Naito was jumping the big man early to get the win, and it had nothing to do with Takahashi at all. Maybe he’s just a dick. New Japan leaves that much open for interpretation.
After a very exciting start, this one slowed down just a touch. The same thing happened in the Tanahashi match, but they had a really amazing ending stretch and a borderline classic finish to boost it up (I’m not joking, read my review of it here).
Not as clever and intricate as Tanahashi vs Fale which was sneakily one of my favorite matches of the tourney so far, but kudos to Naito for pulling an above average match out of Fale. He did what he could.
WINNER: Bad Luck Fale- 3*
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kota Ibushi
Great match, but they have had superior matches and will again in the future, I am sure. Ishii and Ibushi could wrestle on every show for the remainder of time and it would be worth watching.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a fight. This was a really good, hard hitting wrestling match. Both guys took some incredible bumps here, including Ishii’s fabulous rubber ball superplex where the other guy bounces up high high into the air somehow. And lariats. Many lariats. Lariats to and lariats fro, for days, as far as the eye can see.
Ibushi has now had three different kinds of matches in this tournament, and all three have been at least 4.25*. I would say he is safely the MVP of the G1 right now. He has been put in a great position to succeed when you look at his opponents, and he may level out a bit as he runs into the Fales and YOSHI-HASHIs of the world. But so far, Ibushi has got to be the best wrestler in the tournament.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi- 4.25*
Hirooki Goto v. Togi Makabe
Solid match here. This essentially was the main event because Togi Makabe is a local boy, from the outskirts of Tokyo. The fact that he came out last, and he was 0–2, and that Goto/Makabe was the main event, kind of let you know that something strange was about to occur here.
This was a solid hard hitting match, and the crowd was really strongly behind Makabe. The fact that the ending was never in question really hurt the match. Also hurting the match: the fact that it was Makabe vs Goto.
Note: Read that last joke in a Norm McDonald voice for maximum impact
No I kid, a good hard hitting brawl between two really solid brawlers. Watch this for sure if you’re the person out there who just fuckin’ loves Makabe and Goto. A shade under 4 stars, was just lacking a certain something for me, but was still a very good match.
WINNER: Togi Makabe- 3.75*
A BLOCK STANDINGS
Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi, Bad Luck Fale, Kota Ibushi: 4 POINTS
YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe: 2 POINTS
Yuji Nagata: 0 POINTS
I would say this was the weakest show of the tournament so far. Pretty wild that you can use the word “weak” to describe a show with two 4.25* matches on it, but there you go. Check out Ishii/Ibushi and Tana/BLUE JUSTICE Nagata if you want to see some high quality professional rasslin.
DEFINITELY WATCH RIGHT NOW
Ibushi/Naito — Day 1–4.75*
Elgin/Okada — Day 4–4.5*
ZSJ/Ibushi — Day 3–4.5*
PROBABLY WATCH AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE
Ishii/Ibushi — Day 5–4.25*
Juice/EVIL — Day 4–4.25*
Ishii/Makabe — Day 3–4.25*
Nagata/Tanahashi — Day 5–4.25*
Omega/Suzuki — Day 2–4.25*
Tanahashi/ZSJ — Day 1–4*
Ishii/Goto — Day 1–4*
Tanahashi/Fale — 4*
Naito/YOSHI-HASHI — 4*
EVIL/Sanada — Day 2–4*
Omega/Tama Tonga — Day 4–4*
Juice/Kojima — Day 2–3.5*
YOSHI-HASHI/Nagata — Day 1–3.5*
WATCH IT MAYBE IF YOU LOVE THESE GUYS
Goto/Makabe — Day 5–3.75*
Goto/Nagata — Day 3–3.5*
ZSJ/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 5–3.25*
Tama Tonga/ Michael Elgin — 3*
Naito/Fale — Day 5–3.25*
Suzuki/SANADA — Day 4–3*
Kojima/Yano — Day4–2*
Okada/Yano — Day 2–2*
Day 4 Undercard – The Death of Darryl Takahashi 😦
Makabe/Fale — Day 1–1*
Yano/Kojima — Day 4–1*