TGP G1 Climax 08.02.17: Narrowing The Field

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.

Round six of the tournament has arrived for Block B today in Fukuoka. Unlike the four-way quagmire that now exists at the top of Block A, there is one clear points leader with everyone else fighting for scraps and three competitors mathematically eliminated from the finals.

G1_08.02.17

One of the eliminated, Juice Robinson, may have trouble with the experience that Los Ingobernables de Japon’s SANADA brings into the match. With the two having similar styles, they may be evenly matched otherwise. This is seen at the outset as the two trade holds and strikes at a pretty quick pace. SANADA brings Robinson outside and starts his work on Robinson’s damaged left knee. SANADA continues the attack in the ring, willing to take no chances on being eliminated himself. Robinson is using his slight size advantage, hitting SANADA with impact moves to try and put him away. SANADA returns to the knee and locks Robinson in the figure-4, but Robinson reverses it to take away SANADA’s own ability to fly. The two roll back outside with the hold still in place. SANADA quickly breaks the hold and scampers inside for the countout, but Robinson is right behind him.The two trade big moves with Robinson making every attempt to his his finisher and SANADA escaping each time. SANADA is able to secure a dragon sleeper before putting Robinson away with a Moonsault and a pinfall for 2 points. SANADA is still in the game, while Robinson is still willing to fight despite being unable to qualify for the finals.

Michael Elgin is well within range to make it to the finals and is the second tournament entrant facing one who is already eliminated but is known for spoiling the chances of others, Toru Yano. Yano already holds a win over Elgin in G1 competition. Yano starts off trying to match power with Elgin (?!) before Elgin also turns tables and beings untying a turnbuckle pad the same time as Yano (!). Elgin soon goes with what he knows best and overpowers Yano. Elgin is not only smart enough to avoid an exposed corner but also smart enough to avoid a low blow from Yano. Elgin looks to deliver one of his own in retaliation, but is stopped by the referee. Falling into Yano’s trap proves costly as Yano turns the tables and pulls an “Eddie Guerrero,” dropping and complaining to the referee that Elgin had dealt an illegal blow. The prior near-infraction is enough for the referee to call for the bell, disqualifying Elgin and awarding Yano the match.

A correction has been made to the standings below, as Elgin has 4 points in the tournament, not the 6 previously reported here. Same with SANADA, who now has 8 and not the previously reported 6. We apologize for the error and bring it up because this means that, with today’s loss, Elgin is also now eliminated from contention for the G1 finals. Yano has been referred to previously as the “spoiler of Chaos” for a good reason, and this is a prime example.

Minoru Suzuki (6 points) isn’t about to have his tournament spoiled, walking into his match with Satoshi Kojima (0 points, eliminated). Desperado is there as his backup, but Hiroyoshi Tenzan is there as Kojima’s, (seemingly) neutralizing Desperado. The match quickly heads outside where Tenzen heads off Desperado, but Suzuki is able to manipulate the referee – and Tenzan – out of range so Desperado can work over Kojima outside. Back in the ring, Kojima takes offense to all of this and mows down Suzuki in the corner. The two tough legends trade blows mid-ring before it’s Suzuki mowing down Kojima with a Penalty Kick. The two are back to trading blows again and clear the floor for another impromptu match between Tenzan and Desperado. Once that fight is over, Suzuki is able to take control, hitting Kojima with the Gotch-style piledriver and scoring 2 points from the pin. For kicks, Suzuki and minions Desperado and Yoshi Tatsu (yes, that one) lay the boots to Kojima.

Kazuchika Okada (10 points), not in the main event, is still in the position of defending a very important lead in the tournament. His challenger here is the Bullet Club lieutenant Tama Tonga, who’s been out to prove his worth at top of the heap in New Japan. This is certainly a proving ground to do so – and a desperate one, as Tonga faces elimination should he lose here to the IWGP World Champion. The ods are already against him, as Okada holds a 1-0 record against Tonga in G1 competition. Tonga attacks before the bell, but then lets his brashness overcome him, donning Okada’s jacket and doing the Rainmaker pose in the corner. As one could imagine, Okada doesn’t take this lightly. Rather than take the bait and let his anger give way to error, Okada carefully punishes Tonga. The battle goes outside then back in, where Tonga is able to regain an advantage. For each high-impact move, however, Okada is able to answer with one of his own. Tonga’s cockiness is countered at each turn by Okada’s intelligence and ability. Tonga is able to show some brilliance of his own, working several counters by Okada into a devastating DDT that almost ends the match. Tonga’s mistake is in not varying his game; he keeps going for the Gun Stun, a move Okada has very well-scouted. Okada is able to counter this time and time again, finally doing so with a Rainmaker lariat to pin Tonga for 2 more points. Okada stands tall in many more ways than one and, as a bonus, eliminates Tonga in the process.

IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega and Los Ingobernobles’ EVIL are two people many thought at this stage would not be tied for second at 8 points each. Many pegged Omega to go all the way in a sweep, while an inverted ratio of fans saw Evil scoring this high at this juncture. The two meet here to break the tie. The match quickly heads outside as both rulebreakers look to do serious harm to one another. EVIL escalates things by pulling back the protective mat outside, only to be slammed on it for his efforts. Omega rides the momentum back inside, targeting the softened back of EVIL with hard-hitting, precision offense. EVIL retreats to the outside again and grabs a chair, but is again made to pay for raising the stakes when Omega kicks the chair into EVIL. Omega  responds in kind, stomping a table on EVIL to do more damage. Omega then sets up another table, but this time it is he who pays for going beyond the bounds of competition.  

(On a side note, New Japan officials should look into how Michael Elgin was disqualified for a low blow, but Omega and EVIL – as well as many others throughout the tournament – are able to use anything that isn’t nailed down on the outside of the ring and not be penalized for those infractions.)

Back inside, EVIL has Omega in a compromising submission, but Omega evades disaster by making it to the ropes. Omega recovers and hits a V-Trigger, nearly knocking EVIL unconscious. Omega shows his strength by lifting EVIL up for the One-Winged angel, pinning the larger man for 2 points. Omega pulls ahead as the clear second-placeholder – right behind Okada as the two continue the course toward their much-vaunted rematch on the penultimate night of the tournament.

The G1 Climax continues Friday in Ehime as Los Ingobernobles and Suzuki-Gun clash to see which faction can retain a top spot in the tournament.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

  6  Michael Elgin

(Eliminated)

  4  

Hirooki Goto

6 EVIL

8

Tetsuya Naito

8 Satoshi Kojima

(Eliminated)

0

Zack Sabre Jr.

8 Kazuchika Okada

12

YOSHI-HASHI

(Eliminated)

4 Kenny Omega

10

Kota Ibushi

6 Juice Robinson

(Eliminated)

2

Tomohiro Ishii

8 Sanada

8

Togi Makabe

6 Minoru Suzuki

8

Yuji Nagata

(Eliminated)

0 Tama Tonga

(Eliminated)

4

Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 Toru Yano

(Eliminated)

4

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