TGP G1 Climax 07.26.17: Grounded Speed

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 enters its fourth day of the tournament in a state where it’s nearly anyone’s game. Coming out of the third round, six of the 10 competitors sit tied for the pole position. The remaining four still have a chance to turn the tide as we head into a crucial day for all of them.

G1_07.26.17

YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii are two of the field entrants not tied for that top spot. Both of these men each have one win on the board and are vying to improve their rankings. On paper, Ishii has the advantage in experience and strength, but HASHI has made a great showing thus far even with a losing record. HASHI brings his experience in Mexico with him, which has served him during this run of the G1. Even with a thus-far losing record, HASHI put forth a great effort as he continues to improve and hopefully advance in the field.

HASHI plays to Ishii’s pride early on as he looks to trade strikes and power moves with the superior (in that regard) Ishii. The two spend what feels like weeks chopping at each other before Ishii bowls him over. Ishii pulverizes HASHI in the corner before HASHI switches to using his speed and agility to regain an advantage. HASHI varies his offense between the two mindsets to try and keep Ishii off-guard. Ishii, meanwhile, stays the course, looking to pound HASHI into submission. HASHI’s downfall is that he is too intent – like many others have been – that he is as tough as Ishii. Ishii proves his toughness by withstanding HASHI’s offense and putting him away with a brainbuster for 2 more points after a pin.

No one in this tournament field – from either block – can tie up and torture people like Zack Sabre, Jr. The challenge facing him now is attempting to do so to a mountain in the form of Bad Luck Fale. Suzuki-Gun and the Bullet Club meet here to see who can hang on to the upper tier score. Sabre is all over Fale like a spider monkey at the outset, hanging on to whatever he can. Fale is insurmountable as he takes Sabre outside to work on his back (and bulldoze Sabre’s corner man, Desperado, for sport). Sabre regains his bearings to start striking at Fale to wear him down enough to start going after limbs and holds, smartly targeting the legs to take away Fale’s leverage. Fale overpowers Sabre again, but Sabre is able to show him it’s not just about working a body part. Sabre escapes a chokeslam and rolls Fale up for the pin and 2 points.

Kota Ibushi is among those currently sitting among the top of the field with 4 points, while Togi Makabe has 2. Ibushi’s agility and deceptive strength have kept him above most of the fray; he will need for former to overcome the “Unchained Gorilla.” Makabe is able to send Ibushi to the floor to work him over early. Ibushi perseveres and begins hitting Makabe from all sides, employing his speed to disorient Makabe. Makabe, though, is able to catch Ibushi and use his brawn to even things up. More than once, Ibushi is lured into an exchange of strikes before returning to his quickness for an advantage. Makabe, in a show of bravdo at one point, looks to use Ibushi’s own Last Ride powerbomb to finish him off, but Ibushi fires up and kicks out at 1. Makabe is finally able to overpower Ibushi and pins him after the King Kong kneedrop for 2 points. Makabe regains some momentum as he and Ibushi trade places in the standings.

Tetsuya Naito looks to secure his spot among the top of the field here also, and – judging by the records in the tournament thus far – may be able to do so easily. The two are no strangers to each other, as Nagata holds a 2-1 lead over Naito in G1 matches. Nagata has not made the best showing of his final G1 tournament so far, but this would be a brilliant opportunity to improve both records and remind everyone why he is so highly regarded. Naito and Nagata are evenly matched starting out as their familiarity with each other is played out in front of everyone. Naito gains an advantage and taunts the veteran, who responds by simply kicking the snot out of Naito. Nagata opts to wrestle to keep the dominant position, but Naito’s agility allows him to turn the tide. Naito disrespectfully beats on Nagata, but Nagata answers in kind leading to the Fujiwara armbar. Naito escapes and dips back in the agility well to put Nagata away with the Destino for the 2-point pinfall.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto close the show in another battle of tied leaders. Goto’s resume is nearly as accomplished as Tanahashi’s in his 14 years in the game. That, coupled with Tanahashi’s injury, may give him an edge going into this match. The two men gauge each other to start before Tanahashi opts for finesse. Gogo, not having any of that, dumps Tanahashi outside and begins wrestling both of Tanahashi’s arms out of their sockets. Tanahashi joins speed and impact together to regain the advantage, doing so without trying to use the bad limb. Tanahashi does resort to using the injured arm in his offense and nearly breaks Goto’s jaw doing so. Tanahashi regrets his decision when he misses the High Fly Flow, landing right on the bad arm. The two throw everything they have at each other before Tanahashi is able to score with the High Fly Flow – twice – to pin Goto for 2 points.

Block B enters round four tomorrow in Niigata as two men look to hang on to their tie for first place heading into a much-anticipated rematch with each other.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  4  Michael Elgin   2  

Hirooki Goto

4 EVIL

4

Tetsuya Naito

6 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

6 Kazuchika Okada

6

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

6

Kota Ibushi

2 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

4 Sanada

2

Togi Makabe

4 Minoru Suzuki

4

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

2

Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 Toru Yano

2

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