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Gonna be a fairly brief intro here as I have to run to work early this morning, apologies. If anybody wants to pay me money to write these, I will happily quit my job yesterday for you 🙂
NOTE: If you’re my employer, I’m totally just kidding about that last part, classic absurdist humour lel.
Surprisingly good show. This one really over-delivered. I would call it maybe the 3rd best G1 show so far, just behind the super balanced Day 3, and the really watchable and top heavy Day 8. Four matches at 4* or higher, impressive matches from Makabe and Fale, and a really fun ZSJ v. Tetsuya Naito match.
G1 Climax Journee Treize
Kota Ibushi vs. Yugi Nagata
The old man Nagata in his final G1, winless but proud, vs the hot young newcomer (who has been around since like the mid 00’s, but you feel me).
At one point, Nagata, frustrated with his tournament and life and the general flow of time, stands over Ibushi, stomps the *shit* out of this dude and slaps him in the face. Ibushi calmly stands up, kicks Yugi a few times and mows him down. This leads to the classic strike exchange which we have come to know and love from NJPW, one that went to a pretty cool little stalemate. Thought that was a great way to both get into and out of the strike exchange.
Really solid match here. Probably the best “opener” of the G1 matches so far. Some great nearfalls, a good little story on display with Ibushi standing tall vs the old gatekeeper, and a satisfying conclusion.
Also a true thing: at 7:25 in the morning EST, with my entire house asleep, I shouted YES and threw my arms in the air when Nagata kicked out of the sit-out Last Ride powerbomb. It was involuntary. Sorry if that woke ya up dudes.
Point is, this was dope.
Nagata is not willing to go down easy, but father time is unbeatable. Awesome little match, loved the display of sportsmanship after the fact, and the look on Nagata’s face post-match. Just really good stuff here. This is what the G1 is all about.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi-4.25*
Bad Luck Fale vs. Tomohiro Ishii
God, Tomohiro Ishii is so good. Ishii rarely gets to play fiery babyface fighting from underneath, but holy crap is it fun to watch when he does. Ishii is simply a tremendous wrestler: literally a world-class seller, amazing striker, awesome at putting together matches, and you can add “awesome 1980s WWF Superstars babyface” to that list too.
I’ve written before about the idea of carrying a match, and how, unless it’s like HBK vs Sid or something, it’s fairly tough to see really who is carrying what. We really don’t know shit as fans, is my general thesis there. Having said that, this was HBK vs Sid. Except tonight, the part of Shawn Michaels was played by a 5’8 Japanese guy who rarely leaves his feet.
Ishii took Fale by the ear and dragged him KICKING AND SCREAMING to a very good professional wrestling match. Shocked to say it, but I liked this almost as much as Ibushi v Nagata. Awesome match. Though it’s a low bar, this is probably my favourite Fale match ever. I can’t think of one I liked more, and I definitely can’t think of another Fale match that held my attention start to finish. It’s hard not to glance at the phone at least once when Fale is out there.
Perfect length, great closing stretch, awesome display of what makes Tomohiro Ishii one of the most underrated wrestlers in the history of the business. Best Fale match I have ever seen, but again, that is an extremely low hurdle to clear. I have yet to see Fale v Okada from earlier this year, and missed pretty much every Fale v Nakamura match.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii-4*
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hirooki Goto
Not much to say here. It’s possible I did not give this match the justice it deserved. It’s hard not to get burnt out on these G1 shows if you’re watching them all in rapid succession. Though the work on display is always pretty good with Goto, this one didn’t really hook me. It’s hard to establish any kind of emotional connection with a Goto match. Not sure what it is.
Actually, I liked this more than I expected to. But still, nothing I will particularly remember fondly or even retain a memory of in a few weeks. I barely remember how it ended and I’m not even through this paragraph yet. Oh yeah, the GTR. Goto had my favorite finisher in wrestling, the motherfucking SHOUTEN, but changed it recently to this thing, the GTR. I assume because the SHOUTEN looks like it could kill you and probably can, and the GTR looks like it can kill you but it is “safe” (well, safer). But let me tell ya, pals, when Goto wins with that GTR instead of the Shouten, the only thing SHOUTEN is me, amirite?
Sorry, both for that joke and this picture of a truly terrifying man
A solid match, but unless you just adore both guys it’s nothing you need to see.
WINNER: Hirooki Goto- 3.5*
Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This was everything you wanted and needed out of ZSJ vs Naito. Fast-paced, straight forward, 1v1 wrestling match between two wrestlers who are very good and very different. ZSJ is a unique talent, Naito is a unique talent, and together they created an interesting little match. It was like a technical wrestling match at 1.25x speed. Quite liked this one.
Naito is a dick
WINNER: Tetsuya Naito- 4*
Togi Makabe vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Also quite liked this match. Tana brought a backpack full of effort.He was bumping on the floor, flying around, and just generally working his ass off .
You know, Togi Makabe has actually had a really solid little tournament. Fun matches against almost everybody but Fale. He put up 4.25* vs Ishii, close to a top 10 match of the tourney. He had a good main event v Goto, and an even better one here vs Tanahashi. Having said that, you wouldn’t exactly say Makabe carried any of those matches. Looked like Tana did really well to get a solid main event match out of MEAN GUY!~! Makabe.
Makabe doesn’t have the most interesting offense in the world — he’s a punch-kick guy with some really nice big power moves. In NJPW, it stands out worse than it would in WWE. But, Makabe as a pure worker, in terms of timing, presence, execution, etc etc, kicks the pants off of the Bigg Cass-types of the world. So even though most of Makabe’s stuff isn’t exactly exciting, he hits it with such impact, and it is sold so well and presented at such times of the match, that Makabe looks like a real threat. Also, the guy throws a hell of a powerbomb, and the Spider Suplex is one of the coolest moves in the history of wrestling. I digress.
Hot hot take: Hiroshi Tanahashi is a good pro wrestler. I’m not sure if Okada or Tanahashi will turn heel in the coming months, but I think one of them definitely should. Either one could nail that role.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi-4*
A BLOCK Standings
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito 5-2-0 10 points
Hirooki Goto, Bad Luck Fale, Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Zack Sabre Jr. 4-3-0 8 points
Togi Makabe 3-4-0 6 points
YOSHI-HASHI 2-5-0 4 points
Yuji Nagata 0-7-0 0 points
-Nagata, Hashi and Makabe are all officially eliminated from contention
THE TOP TEN
1. Ibushi/Naito — Day 1–4.75* — BOMB FEST~!
2. Kojima/Okada — Day 8–4.75* — Great story-driven match. Okada is on record saying that the old men shouldn’t be in the G1 Climax anymore. Kojima is already eliminated, but a win v. the champ would guarantee a title shot and basically be a tournament win of its own. No extended finisher sequence either, it was awesome without being over the top. Probably the last great match of Satoshi Kojima’s career.
3. Elgin/Okada — Day 4–4.5* — Big Mike’s matches sometimes feel like too much. Between the apron moves, the powerbomb fests, and the insane backfists, stuff always tends to get lost in the shuffle. This was an amazing Elgin match though, perhaps my favourite performance of his career. Every move meant something, everything felt like it was sold and it advanced the plot of the match, and Big Mike’s power came into play for some unique and spectacular counters. I may have underrated this.
4. ZSJ/Ibushi — Day 3–4.5* — The CWC final we needed, but not the one we deserved.
5. Elgin/Omega — Day 8–4.5* — They have had superior matches. Recently. This summer, in fact. Still, awesome stuff here between two good Canadian boys here in the G1 there, eh?
6. Nagata/Tanahashi — Day 5–4.25* — The best Nagata matches are those where it feels like old man Nagata is a threat. We got a nice taste of Heel Tana!~ here as well. Awesome match. Still want to rewatch this one.
7. Ibushi/Nagata — Day 13–4.25 *
8. Omega/Suzuki — Day 2–4.25* — Style clash, but one that really worked for me. This was a really nice mix of the typical Omega match and the typical Suzuki match, maybe heavier on the Suzuki side. Trying a reverse rana on ol’ Minoru was maybe not the best idea.
9. Ishii/Ibushi — Day 5–4.25* — They have had superior matches, but I could watch Ishii v Ibushi on every show ever and not tire of it.
10. Ishii/Nagata — Day 11–4.25* — Nagata is awesome. Just still a mighty fine worker at 49 years of age. A really good “I am tougher than you//I DISAGREE SIR, IN FACT I AM THE TOUGHER” back and forth match.
PROBABLY WATCH AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE
Omega/EVIL — Day 12–4.25* — PLZ DONT BE DEAD EVIL 😦 If I were booking NJPW, I would send EVIL home for the tournament and maybe the summer. After that blow to the head, with the losses of Shibata and Honma this year, I think it paints a pretty bad picture about NJPW to have him wrese. He was on the next show in an undercard tag! But I’m not a doctor, what do I know?
Ishii/Makabe — Day 3–4.25* — Surprisingly great brawl. Makabe is a brawler, and only a brawler, but he can have a good match with the right opponent. Usually, a brawler.
Juice/EVIL — Day 4–4.25* — Best match of either guy’s career up to this point. They may have both topped it later in the tourney, depending on how you feel about Juicey v Okada. But this was that G1 match that comes out of nowhere to surprise you.
SANADA/Okada — Day 6–4.25* — The Ace vs a true up-and-comer. SANADA is not quite there yet, but he’s close. He has all the tools, but hasn’t quite built the shed. The champ Okada also has all the tools, and has built a beautiful mansion atop Ace Mountain. Or something.
Ibushi/Tanashi — Day 11–4.25* — Victim of my own expectations here. I expected match of the tournament and maybe year, got a really decent match that was a little disappointing. Tanahashi’s selling and heeling is always a treat though. Worth watching.
Naito/Ishii — Day 9–4.25* — If you like this one, you’ll love their match from Feb 2016.
Omega/Kojima — Day 10–4.25* — Really solid match, just wish that it wasn’t so one-sided. The “old ass man” story that NJPW likes to tell is much more effective when the old ass man in question is a threat.
Tanahashi/Makabe — Day 13–4*
Tanahashi/ZSJ — Day 1–4* — Awesome technical chess match, classic example of “working the arm”.
Ishii/Fale — Day 13–4*
Tanahashi/Fale — Day 3–4* — Not as good a match as Ishii v Fale, but maybe the best count-out in the history of pro-wrestling?
Omega/Yano — Day 6–4* — While we are hyper-bowling, maybe the best comedy match in the history of pro-wrestling?
WATCH IT IF YOU LOVE THESE GUYS
Naito/ZSJ — Day 13–4*
Kojima/Elgin — Day 6–4*
EVIL/Sanada — Day 2–4*
Ishii/Goto — Day 1–4*
Goto/Nagata — Day 3–4*
Okada/Juice — Day 10–4*
EVIL/Suzuki — Day 8–4*
Okada/Tonga — Day 12–4*
Goto/Tanahashi — Day 7–4*
Nagata /Naito — Day 7–4*
Naito/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 3–4*
Omega/Tama Tonga — Day 4–4*
Suzuki/Kojima — Day 12–3.75*
Goto/Naito — Day 11–3.75*
Goto/Makabe — Day 5–3.75*
Nagata/Makabe — Day 9–3.5*
Juice/Kojima — Day 2–3.5*
ZSJ/Goto — Day 9–3.5*
YOSHI-HASHI/Nagata — Day 1–3.5*
Goto/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 13–3.5*
Juice/SANADA — Day 12–3.5*
EVIL/Tonga — Day 6–3.5*
Makabe/ZSJ — Day 11–3.5*
Makabe/Ibushi — Day 7–3.5*
Ishii/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 7–3.5*
Fale/Ibushi — Day 9–3.5*
Day 4 Undercard — The Death of Darryl Takahashi 😦
WATCH IT IF YOU’RE MAKING A YOUTUBE COMPILATION OF THESE GUYS
ZSJ/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 5–3.25*
Suzuki/Tonga — Day 10–3*
Tanahashi/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 9–3*
SANADA/Yano — Day 8–3*
Fale/YOSHI-HASHI — Day 11–3*
Tonga/Juice — Day 8–3*
Suzuki/Juice — Day 6–3*
SANADA/Elgin — Day 10–3*
Tama Tonga/ Michael Elgin — Day 1–3*
Fale/ZSJ — Day 7–3*
Suzuki/SANADA — Day 4–3*
Naito/Fale — Day 5–3*
Okada/Yano — Day 2–2.5*
EVIL/Yano — Day 10–2*
Elgin/Yano — Day 12–2*
Makabe/Fale — Day 1–1*
Yano/Kojima — Day 4–1*