TGP G1 Climax 08.01.17: Spoilers Ahead

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.

As Block A enters its sixth round in Kagoshima, the field is still mired with those looking to break out. For two entrants, their fate is sealed – Yuji Nagata, with 0 points as of yet, is eliminated from making it to the finals, as is, at this point, YOSHI_HASHI. They may soon be joined by Kota Ibushi, who has an outside chance but desperately needs a win to remain in contention. The brass ring is still within reach for the “Golden Star,” but he must get past the “Ace” to be able to grab it.

G1_08.01.17

YOSHI-HASHI, already eliminated, seems to have injury piled onto insult as he opens this round against Bad Luck Fale, who is looking to move ahead. Fale doesn’t seem to take HASHI seriously as the two fight outside and Fale leaves him for dead, wanting an easy night. HASHI won’t go down do easily and shows Fale he still has some fight left in him back in the ring. HASHI’s quickness helps him stick and move as he nearly has the big man beaten with a Headhunter from the top.

HASHI blocks the Grenade but lets go of a sleeper that has Fale down in order to continue his attack. Fale’s size looks to be too much for HASHI to overcome but HASHI uses it to his advantage, rolling Fale up with an inside cradle for a 2-point pinfall. The spoiler of the Bullet Club may have had his tournament chances spoiled after taking HASHI lightly.

In the last round of Block A, Zack Sabre, Jr. lost his outing against Hirooki Goto. He now faces a similar opponent in Togi Makabe, where we’ll see if Sabre learned anything from taking on that style of opponent. Sabre seems to have the upper hand outside the ring, and he may have picked up some tips on how to keep a powerful brawler down as he works on the knee of Makabe. Sabre continues the assault inside the ring, alternating between tying up the legs and pounding on the targeted knee. Sabre trades blows with Makabe, allowing Makabe to gain the upper hand. Sabre retreats back to his gameplan of out-wrestling Makabe, but again Makabe goads him into going toe-to-toe to regain the advantage. Makabe makes a critical error in going for the King Kong Kneedrop – which misses, causing Makabe to land right on the bad knee. It’s elementary when Sabre locks in the submission and gains 2 points when Makabe taps. Smart wrestling such as this keeps Sabre near the top of the block for another night.

The already-eliminated former “Ace,” Yuji Nagata, is in the unenviable position of continuing his tournament against the “Stone Pitbull,” Tomohiro Ishii. Nagata can only hope to dampen Ishii’s chances of moving near the top of the rankings. It doesn’t take very long before a series of armbars gives way to the two exchanging strikes as Ishii dictates the pace. Nagata’s chest is a couple shades of red when he kicks Ishii to the ground. Ishii takes Nagata to the corner and begins taunting “Blue Justice.” Nagata won’t stand for the disrespect and turns the tables, having his way with Ishii in the corner. The two combatants trade suplexes before Ishii, feeling he has something to prove against the legend, throws a series of kicks of his own. Nagata refuses to stay down, even after a superplex from the top by Ishii. Nagata takes his frustration  from this tournament out on Ishii, unloading everything he has after the Fujiwara armbar. Ishii perseveres and does the same, finally pinning Nagata after a Brainbuster for 2 points. Ishii is able to hang on to his spot, but he definitely had to fight for it.

Los Ingobernobles de Japon leader Tetsuya Naito started out this tournament looking like the man to beat. He is now among several tied for second – as is his opponent, Hirooki Goto. Goto is coming in with a win from the last round, while Naito fell to Ishii on that show. Naito is hot from the start, viciously attacking Goto and not giving him any chance to come out of the starting gate. Goto is finally able to mount some resistance, but Naito doggedly pursues his next win, barely giving Goto a chance to breathe. Goto’s slightly larger size and surprising endurance put him in position to regain the advantage and nearly spoil Naito’s chances with a crucial Ushigoroshi.

 

Naito’s slippery resilience allow him to survive and pin Goto after a second Destino for 2 points. Naito remains near the top after a hard-fought battle, though Goto still isn’t too far behind the pack.

The main event of this round sees the IWGP Intercontinental Champion – and current points leader – Hiroshi Tanahashi meet the challenge of the “Golden Star,” Kota Ibushi. Despite excellent performances, Ibushi is in danger of being eliminated from contention for the finals. Ibushi has been all over the world, including WWE. Despite his multifaceted game and many talents, he always seems to come up a bridesmaid rather than a bride. He has a chance here to turn around that reputation – as well as his tournament standing. Tanahashi seems to found a workaround for his torn tricep by attacking an opponent’s limb, forcing the concentration away from his own injury. Tanahashi does this with Ibushi’s leg, a smart move two-fold as this also takes away some of Ibushi’s primary offense. A prolonged attack on the legs doesn’t seem to slow Ibushi down. He is still able to fly, hitting Tanahashi with an Asai Moonsault on the outside at one point. As Tanahashi looks to re-enter, the two trade shots, with Tanahashi using the bad arm. Tanahashi quickly draws attention from this, re-entering the ring by wrenching Ibushi’s knee on the second rope then showing his own aerial attack with a High Fly Flow to the outside. Tanahashi brilliantly takes the gamesmanship one step further, luring Ibushi into a game of seeing who rules the skies. Ibushi, equally adept, switches to using his deceptive strength to overpower Tanahashi, including his patented German suplex from the outside in. Tanahashi rallies back and is in prime position for the High Fly Flow to finish Ibushi off, but Ibushi uses the bad knee to block the attack. After all of the high impact and aerial moves, it is that bad knee directly to the face of Tanahashi that gets Ibushi the pin and 2 points. Ibushi not only remains alive in the tournament, but also creates a four-way tie at the top once again, altering the landscape of Block A.

Block B continues tomorrow in Fukuoka as a handful of eliminated players look to ruin the chances of those in contention and the brash lieutenant of the Bullet Club look to soften up IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada before his rematch with IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  6  Michael Elgin   6  

Hirooki Goto

6 EVIL

8

Tetsuya Naito

8 Satoshi Kojima

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

8 Kazuchika Okada

10

YOSHI-HASHI

4 Kenny Omega

8

Kota Ibushi

4 Juice Robinson

2

Tomohiro Ishii

8 Sanada

4

Togi Makabe

6 Minoru Suzuki

6

Yuji Nagata

0 Tama Tonga

4

Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 Toru Yano

2

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