TGP G1 Climax 07.30.17: Chaos and Disorder

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 B enters round five today in Gifu. A clear leader has been established in the form of IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada, with two others trailing him in a tie for second. IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega looks to build momentum after suffering his first tournament loss to Michael Elgin, while the other man in second place is a surprise showing given his history.

G1_07.30.17

Last round, EVIL met a man who truly may be that in the form of Minoru Suzuki and came away victorious, surprising some who have followed the former Takaaki Watanabe. EVIL has been in the sport a scant six years, two of those spent as a young boy before being sent on excursion to the United States, where he had an unspectacular run in Ring of Honor. Watanabe returned home, tired of the criticisms of underperforming. Of all the members of Los Ingobernobles de Japon, he may have been the most susceptible to Tetsuya Naito’s persuasion. The two had the same criticisms in common and began lashing out at the wrestling world in frustration. This change in attitude has seen EVIL not only rise in the ranks, but has had a great effect on his ring skills to the point he now sits tied for second in Block B.

Whereas EVIL met evil two days prior, he now meets the ultimate trickster, Toru Yano. EVIL goes for the attack before the bell and Yano is desperate to unload every trick he has. EVIL overwhelms Yano, overcomes his trickery and pins him with the This is EVIL STO for 2 more points. EVIL is so determined to make his name during this tournament that there’s a good chance it took longer to read this paragraph than it did for the match itself to actually happen.

The aforementioned true face of evil – and the leader of Suzuki-Gun – makes his way to face the brash lieutenant of the Bullet Club, Tama Tonga. Suzuki and Tonga both hold 4 points. Suzuki looks to continue his reign of terror while Tonga is taking the opportunity to break away from the pack and establish himself not only as a major player but the potential leader of the Bullet Club.  Simultaneously disrespectful and treacherous, Tonga follows Minoru Suzuki out with the Suzuki-Gun flag, hiding behind it before sneak-attacking Suzuki.  

Enraged, Suzuki takes Tonga for a tour of the arena, beating on him the whole way. The younger Tonga retaliates and the two brawl all over, letting their emotions control the tempo as they use anything they can get their hands on as weapons.   The mayhem even continues when the two finally take the action to the ring and the referee takes the brunt of their exchange. Tonga gas Suzuki pinned off of the Gun Stun, but no referee is available to make the count. Tonga’s brashness betrays him and Suzuki shows his experience edge over Tonga when he counters a second Gun Stun into a sleeper and transitions to the Gotch-style piledriver, pinning Tonga for 2 points.

Michael Elgin and Los Ingobernobles’ young gun SANADA are also in the 4-point range with Elgin bringing the momentum from his defeat of the IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega. SANADA’s athletic ability vs. Elgin’s raw power should be a sight to behold. That pattern takes shape immediately as SANADA looks to start out with a quick kick, but Elgin lights him up before holding SANADA in suplex position for several days. Elgin gestures SANADA to re-enter, almost daring him to come back in. SANADA does and soon uses his quickness to take Elgin off his base and work on Elgin’s legs to take away the power base. Elgin overcomes and continues to mow down the smaller SANADA but makes the mistake of going to SANADA’s territory on the top rope. SANADA makes his own error in judgment in trading shots with Elgin but is able to recover by displaying his deceptive power. The two are evenly matched going into the stretch. Elgin relies on his power, suplexing SANADA from the outside in(!). SANADA is able to switch gears and lock in a dragon sleeper before going back to his strengths. The moonsault from SANADA finishes off Elgin as he scores 2 more points from the pin. SANADA becomes the next to start breaking away from the pack while Elgin’s momentum stalls.

Bullet Club leader needs to regain a footing in the top spot after falling to Elgin two nights ago. Kojima faces the same predicament Yuji Nagata did yesterday – win or be eliminated from final contention in this year’s G1. With less to lose, Omega doesn’t seem to take Kojima as seriously. This could also be part of Omega’s psychological strategy as he also taunts Kojima’s second (and TenKoji tag partner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan outside the ring.

 

The plan seems to work as Kojima rushes outside only to be slammed against the apron by Omega. Back in the ring, Omega keeps the pressure on the back and shoulders of Kojima. Kojima is able to bounce back and take the battle to the corner where he turns Omega’s chest a beet shade of red with his infamous chops. The two struggle atop the corner and Omega is able to take Kojima down to the canvas from on high. Kojima refuses to stay down and targets Omega with the lariat, but Omega blocks, damaging Kojima’s bandaged arm. Kojima is relentless in his assault on the US Champion, but Omega is finally able to end the battle, pinning Kojima with the One-Winged Angel for 2 points. Kojima, like Nagata, is now mathematically eliminated from reaching the finals of this year’s tournament. Omega, meanwhile, is tracking well toward his rematch with the current points leader.

The youngest entrant in the tournament, Juice Robinson, now has before him his biggest opportunity to prove himself in his entire career – as CJ Parker or Juice Robinson – against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and one of the best wrestlers in the world in the modern era (not to mention the current Block B points leader). Okada is willing to give the youngster his due at the outset in a feeling-out process, but soon the champ has Robinson on the ground. Robinson then takes Okada down and the contest heads outside, escalating quickly. Okada heads back inside, content with putting the youngster in his place (and over the ringside barricade). Robinson’s fighting spirit keeps showing its head, but Okada is quick to regain control each time. After Okada ties up Robinson’s legs with his own to try and force him to give up, Robinson realizes he has to pull out all the stops. Robinson attempts to suplex Okada outside, but Okada turns it around and backdrops Robinson on the apron. Okada looks to finish the fight in the ring, but Robinson digs down and asks for seconds. Okada’s cockiness almost costs him as Robinson powerbombs Okada and stacks him for a near-fall. Okada’s ring presence makes the difference as he catches Robinson mid-finisher and snaps off a German suplex before unloading the Rainmaker lariat for the pin and 2 more points. While Okada’s dominance is without question at this point in the tournament, Robinson again shows the fire that put him in the field. Despite his record and point standing, Robinson has proven he belongs in the G1 Climax.

The roster is off tomorrow. Block A will see action on August 1 in Kagoshima as a six-way tie for second should yield a challenger to Hiroshi Tanahashi’s top position.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  6  Michael Elgin   6  

Hirooki Goto

6 EVIL

8

Tetsuya Naito

6 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

6 Kazuchika Okada

10

YOSHI-HASHI

2 Kenny Omega

8

Kota Ibushi

2 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

6 Sanada

4

Togi Makabe

6 Minoru Suzuki

6

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

4

Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 Toru Yano

2

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