TGP G1 Climax 07.23.17: Los Indomables de Japon?

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.

Round three for the A Block happens in Tokyo as the action moves from Korakuen Hall to the Machida Gymnasium. The leader of Los Ingobernobles de Japon, Tetsuya Naito, looks to continue his unbeaten tournament streak, but has a tall order ahead of him in the form of the Bullet Club “Underboss,” Bad Luck Fale.

G1_07.23.17

YOSHI-HASHI has been one of the surprises of the tournament thus far. The previously unassuming HASHI opened the tournament by defeating Yuji Nagata before putting in an amazing but ultimately losing effort to Tetsuya Naito. Zack Sabre Jr. followed much the same pattern, submitting no less than Hiroshi Tanahashi on the first night, but was overcome by the buzzsaw offense of Kota Ibushi . Sabre Jr. starts off in his wheelhouse, grappling and picking apart the arm of HASHI. HASHI keeps escaping by way of high-impact offense, but the tenacious Sabre is able to further wear down the arm. When HASHI shows the heart and fire that has carried him this far, Sabre amplifies his offense to the point that he is able to almost literally tie HASHI up like a pretzel, submitting him for 2 points. Sabre continues to confound his A Block opponents with a style none of them are used to, which has served him well thus far and looks to carry him a long way in this year’s field.

Yuji Nagata has been in a slump in his final G1 thus far, having lost both of his tournament matches. He now faces the “Ace,” Hiroshi Tanahashi, which would be a staggering challenge for any average man. However, while both men’s resumes are easily comparable, Nagata has two things in his favor: Tanahashi’s torn tricep and the patented Fujiwara armbar.  The crowd is split in terms of support as the two grapple for position. Tanahashi targets Nagata’s legs to negate his deadly kicks and, while honorable, his frustration at his situation is evident as he slaps Nagata and even mocks Nagata standing on one leg. Nagata won’t stand for this and shows Tanahashi he’s not helpless when he unloads a hellacious striking combination. An even exchange results in Tanahashi’s worst-case scenario – the Fujiwara armbar.

Tanahashi is able to escape, so Nagata opts for high-impact moves. Tanahashi’s primary offense is high-impact however and this initially looks to be a mistake, but Nagata has Tanahashi well-scouted in not wanting to drop a third straight match. Nagata has no choice, however, when Tanahashi scores two consecutive High Fly Flows en route to pinning Nagata for 2 more points. Tanahashi seems to have turned a disadvantage into an opportunity to modify his game while Nagata’s final G1 has yet to produce positive results for the veteran.

Tetsuya Naito already had an impressive record heading into this year’s G1 – his eighth consecutive tournament. Naito went all the way in 2013 and has since collected almost the entire set of championships. Naito is a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Intercontinental Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, and NEVER Openweight Champion. The two former titles came after Naito, sick of being in a slump and watching others take the glory, became a member – then leader – of Los Ingobernobles de Japon. It is that change in attitude that has served his career well. Already an accomplished performer, the “Tranquilo” attitude and will to win at any costs have earned him some impressive victories already in the tournament. However, Naito has literally a huge challenge ahead of him in the form of Bad Luck Fale.

Naito isn’t afraid of the Underboss as he hits Fale before he can enter the ring, only to strike a Tranquilo pose after doing so. Angering a beast like Fale may seem a bad idea, but Naito’s goal is to make the much larger Fale expend some energy and tire the big man out. In doing so, Naito plays the “rope-a-dope” game, taking some heavy punishment before letting his conditioning kick in. Naito is able to stagger Fale with precision strikes and looks to have outsmarted his opponent, but did not count on Fale’s resilience. Fale is able to rally back and shockingly end Naito’s unbeaten tournament streak after pinning Naito with the Bad Luck Fall for 2 points. The unpredictability the tournament is known for strikes again as Naito goes from being the clear leader in the block to now being in a four-way tie for that top spot..

Kota Ibushi and Tomohiro Ishii enter the third round with a split tournament record of 1-1 each. Both are also feared for their strikes, though Ibushi seems to have a more varied offense. In starting off, he’s not too concerned with showing his finesse as he is showing Ishii he can be just as tough as the “Stone Pitbull.” Ishii, however, simply doesn’t care what Ibushi wants to prove. As far as he’s concerned, the prettier the boy, the easier to mangle. It is Ibushi’s athleticism (rather than his finesse) that saves him from a prolonged beating.

Ishii is able to slow down the pace again, however, when Ibushi gets enough confidence back to try and beat Ishii at his own game again. The two continue to punish each other with their respective styles and a little of each other’s. Ibushi is finally able to prove his toughness to Ishii by pinning him after a Last Ride powerbomb for 2 points.

Hirooki Goto and Togi Makabe look to close out the show with a fight. Much like Naito, Goto is also undefeated coming into this match while Makabe has yet to score any points. A standing switch quickly gives way to a contest of which man will be the first to leave his feet, add the answer is Goto. Goto responds by taking things outside for the expected brawl. Goto looks to vary his offense by wrestling Makabe as well as beating on him. Makabe simply asks for more prior to overpowering Goto. Goto is too much of a match for Makabe for this to last long as the two continue to collide, swapping the advantage throughout. Makabe is finally able to secure his advantage as well as his first when after pinning Goto for 2 points after a spider suplex and the King Kong kneedrop.

The tournament action takes a break tomorrow before picking back up on Tuesday, July 25 from Fukushima.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  4  Michael Elgin  0  

Hirooki Goto

4 EVIL

2

Tetsuya Naito

4 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

4 Kazuchika Okada

4

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

4

Kota Ibushi

4 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

2 Sanada

2

Togi Makabe

2 Minoru Suzuki

2

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

2

Hiroshi Tanahashi 4 Toru Yano

2

Advertisements

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.