TGP G1 Climax 07.21.17: Last Ride of a Legend, Part I

By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor


Welcome to The Gorilla Position’s coverage of this year’s New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax tournament and thank you for joining us. Some disclaimers to get out of the way:

One, if you’re here for play-by-play, star ratings, or discussions about booking or finishes, you’re in the wrong house. What we discuss herein is the nuts and bolts of the tournament in so far as track records, career trajectories, and what it means for those involved. Second, this is a live event, not Game of Thrones. There are spoilers here insofar as results. We’re discussing results and what they mean as well, so if you haven’t watched it on NJPW World yet and want to come back afterward, we’re okay with that.

Block A returns to Korakuen Hall, a historic building for New Japan as a whole as well as the G1 Climax, for a second night. It is a crowd that will play a part in today’s action, beginning with the salute to a legend taking one last ride through the tournament.

G1_07.21.17

Yuji Nagata is a legend in New Japan Pro Wrestling, having been with the company for a quarter of a century. He’s held every title New Japan has to offer (save for the Intercontinental and Jr. Heavyweight titles), but has only one G1 tournament cup to his credit, and that was 16 years ago. It was made known by Nagata that this would be his final G1 Climax tournament, and one of the stories to watch during this iteration is how Nagata makes his final mark. Nagata fell to the quickly rising YOSHI-HASHI during the opening, so he looks to rebound here against another storied performer.

In 2008, Hirooki Goto won his only G1 tournament cup and has been nearly as accomplished as Nagata in his 14-year tenure with the company. Nagata has an appreciative crowd on his side and puts up a vicious fight. Ultimately, Goto perseveres through the legend’s onslaught and scores 2 more points after pinning Nagata off of the GTR. The crowd wanted Nagata to score another win (and don’t be surprised if it happens before the end of the tournament), but it was not to be on this night. Nagata’s excellent performance, even in defeat, shows why the Korakuen crowd was on his side.

Togi Makabe and Tomohiro Ishii both look to rebound from losses suffered during night one. Both men are splitting G1 wins at 1-1, so this is somewhat of a “rubber match” between the two. Neither looks to fall in this crucial match as they charge in with their take-no-prisoners style. The lockup doesn’t last long before “The Stone Pitbull” and “The Unchained Gorilla” are throwing bombs and lariats galore. The name of the game for both men is power, which Makabe is more than willing to display.

It is merely a question of which man can survive so many hard hits – and the answer is Ishii, who scores 2 points and a pin after a brainbuster. Ishii regains some momentum going forward, while Makabe is finding himself in a deepening hole. This is the type of match that can make people question how “scripted” this sport can be.

A match that many salivated for during the WWE Cruiserweight Classic – and for a long time now – happens at the G1 Climax. Zack Sabre Jr. is riding a wave of momentum after a stunning victory over Hiroshi Tanahashi on the first night, while Ibushi gave a valiant but ultimately losing effort to Tetsuya Naito in the main event of that same show. Ibushi wisely begins with a “stick-and-move” style, looking to avoid Sabre Jr’s ground game much the same way Tanahashi attempted to on night one. Unfortunately for Ibushi, he fails much the same way Tanahashi did on night one. There’s only so long Ibushi can run before Sabre has him trapped on the ground, working on the neck that Naito targeted several days ago. Ibushi, however, has shown his ability to withstand more punishment than any man should, and does so here as well. Ibushi powers out of Sabre’s torture and puts Sabre Jr away with a powerbomb, gaining another 2 points from the pinfall. This highly-anticipated match did not disappoint in any way.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is having to continue the G1 at a distinct disadvantage after Zack Sabre Jr. further damaged the torn right tricep at the outset. Not a good position to be in when your opponent is the massive “Underboss” of the Bullet Club, Bad Luck Fale. The wrap on Tanahashi’s arm may as well be a red cape to the bull, as Fale wrings the injury over the top rope before mauling Tanahashi on the outside. Tanahashi is known as the “Ace” of New Japan for a reason. Rather than try to overpower Fale, Tanahashi lures him outside where he hits his signature moves, the High-Fly Flow from the top rope and the Sling Blade from the apron! Tanahashi leaves Fale lying on the outside and beats the referee’s count, taking 2 points and a countout victory to live to fight another day.

Unlike Makabe and Ishii, Tetsuya Naito and YOSHI-HASHI are both coming off of wins from the first night. Though HASHI’s first night victory over Yuki Nagata may be considered somewhat of an upset, it could be said that Naito didn’t so much defeat Kota Ibushi as much as he survived. HASHI is in position to ride that wave to another possible upset and digs deep to do just that, withstanding everything Naito can throw at him. It almost seems that the longer the match goes on, the more resilient HASHI gets. While HASHI has seriously improved his ring skills, Naito is a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion and Intercontinental Champion because, as much as his mind games can rattle opponents, he has the vicious, deceptive power to back it up. Much like with Ibushi, Naito has to hit two Destino finishers to put HASHI away with a pinfall for 2 points. YOSHI-HASHI is showing he’s come a long way, but Naito, odd as it may sound given his resume, is becoming a dark horse favorite to go all the way.

The tournament continues tomorrow when Block B journeys to Korakuen Hall with more players looking to regain or retain momentum.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

 2   Michael Elgin  0  

Hirooki Goto

4 EVIL

0

Tetsuya Naito

4 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

2 Kazuchika Okada

2

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

2

Kota Ibushi

2 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

2 Sanada

2

Togi Makabe

0 Minoru Suzuki

0

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

2

Hiroshi Tanahashi 2 Toru Yano

0

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “TGP G1 Climax 07.21.17: Last Ride of a Legend, Part I

  1. Pingback: TGP G1 Climax 07.22.17: The New(ish) Challengers, Part II | The Gorilla Position

  2. Pingback: TGP G1 Climax 07.29.17: Last Ride of a Legend, Part II | The Gorilla Position