TGP G1 Climax 07.27.17: The True Face of Evil

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.

The G1 Climax 27 continues today with Block B heading into round four. The standings here are the reverse of Block A heading into the same round. There are two clear point leaders – IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada and IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega. Minoru Suzuki and EVIL tie for second place while the rest of the field scramble to improve their positions, not keep them intact. It is a day where roles moving forward should be more clearly defined, at least for those struggling to rise.

G1_07.27.17

Juice Robinson and the Bullet Club’s Tama Tonga are among those with just one win to their records so far in the tournament. The difference maker here may be Robinson noticeably limping to the ring on a knee that’s progressively taken more damage as time has gone on. Tonga – in a move that’s part mind-game, part giveaway – immediately shoots for the leg, but Robinson takes him down and takes to wrestling Tonga to the ground. Tonga changes gears and begins assaulting Robinson with his smash-mouth style, but Robinson isn’t afraid to use has bad wheel to deliver some high-impact offense of his own. Tonga paints a bull’s-eye on the bad knee by hanging Robinson upside-down in the corner and going to work. Robinson heroically fights back and finishers are countered like there’s no tomorrow before Tonga is finally able to put Robinson down with the Gun Stun for the pinfall worth 2 points. Robinson, now having to compete from underneath for the rest of the tournament in more ways than one, is visibly upset after the match but is placated by an appreciative crowd applauding his efforts.

The “young gun” of Los Ingobernobles de Japon, SANADA, also sits close to the bottom with 2 points to his name. He’s in position to face the “spoiler” of Chaos, Toru Yano. Look for Yano’s trickery to become a little more desperate as he is also near the bottom. SANADA is aware of this and jumps Yano at the bell, giving him seemingly no time. Yano’s deceit can come from nearly any angle, as SANADA learns after two near-falls. In a call-back to his encounter with Omega, Yano produces the duct-tape from under the ring, but SANADA, showing that he’s been doing his homework, takes the tape and tosses it to the crowd. SANADA’s athleticism allows him to take point, and, in a brilliant bit of trickery of his own, takes Yano out to the entrance ramp and ties his arm and leg together. With no mobility whatsoever, Yano is counted out, giving SANADA 2 more points. The referees are left to free Yano post-match.

The second-place competitors look to break that tie as EVIL is set to look in a mirror. Suzuki was referred to as “Japan’s modern-day Ole Anderson” earlier in the tournament because, in this field, there is simply no one meaner. Suzuki is another legend in this year’s field, not just in wrestling but in MMA as he is one of the founders of Pancrase. Pancrease was a Japanese MMA promotion founded there roughly the same time as the UFC was here in the States. Suzuki’s skill in torturing people morphed from mixed martial-arts to, now nearly 30 years into his fighting career, simply being a surly bastard. That meanness, combined with his toughness, still makes him very dangerous.

Suzuki and EVIL go in hot and head for the floor, where they both excel at beating an opponent down. Suzuki has the edge here, grabbing every chair he can find and wailing EVIL’s back with them, one by one. EVIL is able to recover, but Suzuki shows both his MMA background and his meanness by locking EVIL in an armbar and yanking his thumb back in ways nature never intended. The referee goes down, allowing members of both Suzuki-Gun and Los Ingobernobles to get involved. Suzuki goes for the chair again, but EVIL survives that and Suzuki’s sleeper to his This is EVIL for the 2-point pinfall.

IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada looks to hold on to his lead against another legend that has not had a great tournament thus far in the form of Satoshi Kojima, the only competitor in the block with 0 points to date. Okada reminds everyone he’s the leader of a rulebreaking faction to start when he encourages the crowd’s cheers for Kojima only to go for the sneak-attack at the start. Kojima isn’t having it, though, and soon the two are exchanging blows and holds. The crowd is almost the third man here as they soon to get under Okada’s skin cheering for Kojima. Okada doesn’t help his case much he takes amusement in the referee ejecting Kojima’s second and frequent tag partner, Tenzan, from the ring. Kojima shows how well he knows the champ, countering the Rainmaker and sends Okada outside with his own dropkick to Okada on the top rope. Okada’s skill and perseverance temporarily overcome the onslaught before Kojima again takes control, even hitting with his own move!

Having faced his share of veterans, Okada is able to overcome and win the battle of lariats, pinning Kojima with the Rainmaker for 2 more points. Despite still being in last place, Kojima shows there’s still plenty left in the tank for the rest of the tournament in a great showing.

The main event sees westerners Michael Elgin and US Champion Kenny Omega meet again in a tournament rematch, though not a G1 rematch. After a ladder match for the IWGP Intercontinental Title in June at Dominion, the two clashed again in a first-round meeting for the US Title earlier this month. What’s at stake now is Omega’s pole position and Elgin climbing another rung of the G1 ladder. At the outset, Omega seems to still struggle with Elgin’s power game. Going outside the ring simply exacerbates the problem. Omega is finally able to catch Elgin in foreign territory – off the top rope – and takes over with his high-impact offense. Elgin is able to regain control with some high-impact moves of his own, but another aerial attack fails. Omega has no better luck flying, however, and soon the two are at a stalemate. Omega soars again, but Elgin catches him en route to rallying down the home stretch, but Omega wipes him out with a dive over the top rope to the outside. Back inside, Omega catches his second wind but so does Elgin as the two trade moves and bombs. The battle heads to the apron where Omega looks to put Elgin on the shelf for good, but Elgin turns the tables, powerbombing Omega on the apron of the ring! Elgin goes for another off the top rope, but Omega counters and is finally able to maneuver into position to unleash his most dangerous offense. Elgin is still fighting after 2 V-Triggers, but overcomes a hellacious attack from Omega to avenge his past losses, pinning Omega after a rarely-seen Burning Hammer for 2 points. Omega loses momentum heading into his rematch with the man now atop Block B, Kazuchika Okada.

After a day of rest, Block A returns to action Saturday in Aichi. Despite three clear leaders there now, the field is still open – though a legend may face elimination.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  4  Michael Elgin   4  

Hirooki Goto

4 EVIL

6

Tetsuya Naito

6 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

6 Kazuchika Okada

8

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

6

Kota Ibushi

2 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

4 Sanada

4

Togi Makabe

4 Minoru Suzuki

4

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

4

Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 Toru Yano

2

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