TGP G1 Climax 07.25.17: Young Gun Rising

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.

After a (probably much needed) day off, the G1 continues today from Fukushima with Round 3 of Block B. We’re entering a time when point totals will start to matter much more. For guys like Michael Elgin and Satroshi Kojima, this is the time to put some points on the board. A desperate battle between those two to escape last place leads off today’s action.

G1_07.25.17

Kojima starts out attempting to show his own power against Elgin, which may prove to be a mistake against one of the strongest men on the NJPW roster. Kojima quickly realizes this and reverts to chopping down the oak tree. Elgin makes the adjustment and starts throwing hands as well, including a forearm that nearly knocks Kojima silly. Kojima takes to the skies after recovering from the attack, pulling out every trick he can think of to keep from remaining in the basement. Only one man can come out ahead, however, and it is Elgin after he hits Kojima with the Elgin Bomb for 2 points off of the pinfall. Kojima dug deep here and put in a great effort to keep up with the younger Elgin. He will have to dig deeper for the remainder of the G1 to be able to make a good showing.

Next up is a meeting between Los Ingobernobles de Japon and the Bullet Club. Both Tama Tonga and EVIL have points on the board, but need to improve their scores. You may expect 2 members of disrespectful factions to tear into each other, and that’s exactly what happens right from the opening bell. EVIL even takes it to the level of earning his name.

Back in the ring. Tonga takes over and looks to frustrate EVIL much the same way he did Elgin in round one. Even after fighting on the outside and with that same strategy against a similar opponent, Tonga is still outmatched. EVIL withstands everything Tonga has to offer and then some. After a near-endless string of counters and counter-counters, pins Tonga for 2 more points after reminding Tonga Everything is EVIL (aka hitting the STO).

Poor Juice Robinson is about to enter hell.

While he and his opponent both sit with 2 points each, the man across the ring is one of the meanest in the territory – Minoru Suzuki. Robinson also has to contend with Suzuki’s MMA background, which should compound the challenge ahead of him. Suzuki may not even need to rely on that; he’s perfectly happy taking Robinson outside at the outset and torturing the young man in the arena (which almost feels like a Suzuki trademark at this point). Robinson gives a courageous effort, but Suzuki is just too much to overcome at this stage. Suzuki locks in the sleeper before the Gotch piledriver puts Robinson away for the 2-point pinfall.

The Bullet Club and Chaos meet again. Before his vaunted rematch with Chaos leader and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega has to first contend with Toru Yano. Omega looks to hold on to his lead in the tournament heading into that vital match against Okada and not fall prey to the tricks of the spoiler. This is almost undone from the opening bell,. As Omega falls for one of the oldest tricks in the book – the DVD case full of powder?!

Omega seems to be obsessive about being the best, taking it to a level of wanting to beat everyone at their own game. Here, he seems to want to out-trick Yano. The two go through a magician’s bag of sleight-of-hand silliness before Omega finally resorts to his proper game. Omega takes 2 points after hitting the V-Trigger on Yano, who falls to the outside and – with his feet tied to the ropes, courtesy of Omega earlier – gets counted out.

The main event of this show sees the other tournament leader on a collision course – Kazuchika Okada – do battle with the young gun of Los Ingobernobles, SANADA. Though still sitting on only 2 points, SANADA may be a player to watch in the future. One of the younger competitors in the tournament, SANADA still brings six years of experience from All-Japan Pro Wrestling. While a member of Los Ingobernobles, his in-ring ability is what has shined throughout this tournament so far. Even in losing, SANADA has looked excellent against his opponents and only looks to get better. Here, he faces the ultimate test against IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada.

Even Okada knows better than to take the rising star lightly, looking to hit the Rainmaker lariat very early. SANADA seems to be able to out-maneuver the champion in most instances. While Okada is able to get in some fair shots, SANADA is able to keep pace with – and in some cases, out-pace – the champion. Both keep having to hit bigger moves, dig deeper, and survive more as the contest escalates. SANADA puts in an amazing show against the champion, but ultimately goes down after three (!) Rainmaker lariats from Okada, who scores a hard-earned 2 points from a pin. Though SANADA’s standing remains the same, it has to be noted that he took Okada nearly to the limit in an excellent showing.

Block enters round four tomorrow in Miyagi, where the direction of several contenders will may be decided in a crucial day of action.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  4  Michael Elgin   2  

Hirooki Goto

4 EVIL

4

Tetsuya Naito

4 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

4 Kazuchika Okada

6

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

6

Kota Ibushi

2 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

2 Sanada

2

Togi Makabe

2 Minoru Suzuki

4

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

2

Hiroshi Tanahashi 4 Toru Yano

2

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