TGP G1 Climax 08.08.17: War of Attrition

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.

In this final week of the G1 Climax tournament, Block B lands in Kanagawa with three clear leaders atop the board. Two others still have an outside chance to upend those spots before this weekend’s shows to determine which will go on to the finals (though some can still look toward future title opportunities after the tournament).

G1_08.08.17

Tama Tonga (4 points) and Satoshi Kojima (2 points) are the first to continue their journeys without being in contention for the finals. Tonga is content at the outset to mock Kojima, including wearing his jacket like he did the IWGP World Champion in their encounter. Tonga is able to dominate Kojima early on, but Kojima is able to tough out the smashmouth punishment from the Bullet Club lieutenant with some power of his own. Tonga opts to wrestle his way out of trouble, but Kojima stays the course and sends Tonga outside. Back inside, it becomes a struggle to hit finishers. Tonga wisely counters the Cozy Lariat by banging on the bandaged arm of Kojima, but Kojima has his left arm to throw another shot. It isn’t as effective as Tonga is finally able to whip around and land the Gun Stun, pinning Kojima for 2 points.

An interesting task awaits Juice Robinson (4 points). Fresh off a win over the IWGP United States Champion, Robinson now has to deal with Toru Yano (6 points) and his bag of tricks. Robinson opens the contest with his typical style, but this serves as a ruse. Robinson shows he has Yano well-scouted when he chases Yano under the ring and back out. Yano, however, has a new toy to play with instead of duct tape – Robinson’s hair, which he ties Robinson to the ring barricade with!

Robinson is able to escape and fight his way through Yano’s many underhanded tactics. Despite every effort (including a low blow) Juice survives the trickster, hitting the Pulp Friction for 2 points after pinning Yano.

After defeating the NEVER Openweight Champion in the last round of Block B, Michael Elgin (6 points) has another interesting opportunity – this time to spoil the tournament hopes of Los Ingobernobles’ EVIL (10 points). Well aware of this fact, EVIL is all over Elgin inside and outside the ring as the match starts. EVIL alternates between chipping away at Elgin’s arm to negate his strength and using his own comparable size to chip away at Elgin with high-impact moves. Elgin’s power soon swings the momentum his way as he looks to beat EVIL senseless, including a German suplex into the turnbuckle. After EVIL recovers, the two bulls charge at each other repeatedly with EVIL gaining a temporary advantage. Elgin switches things around and mows down EVIL in the corner but is still unable to keep him down after a superplex. EVIL’s resilience is a trait that has helped him advance this far, but Elgin is too much to overcome after he pins EVIL for 2 points following a powerbomb. EVIL is taken off the board as the path is cleared for Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega to duel it out for the spot in the G1 finals.

Kenny Omega (10 points) has a chance to secure his tournament chances but will have a challenge ahead as he faces a man with a similar style who has surprised many during this tournament, Los ingobernobles’ SANADA (8 points). To the surprise of no one, the battle is joined outside where Omega hits an Asai moonsault with an awkward landing on the floor, putting himself and SANADA both at risk.

Omega settles for beating SANADA down inside the ring afterward in an effort to temporarily spare himself any further harm. SANADA can play this game also but would rather use his agility to take Omega down before he ties up the US Champion in the Paradise lock. As the match heats up, both men race for the finish looking for their finishers. Omega even pays tribute to fellow Elite compatriots the Young Bucks, landing a solo More Bang for Your Buck on SANADA. Omega is finally able to brilliantly counter the Skull End submission, lifting SANADA for the One-Winged Angel and pinning him for 2 more points. Despite trying to kill himself early in the match, Omega now locks SANADA out of the top spot and establishes his own spot as a potential tournament finalist.

The main event sees IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada (12 points) lock horns with the NEVER Openweight Champion, Minoru Suzuki (8 points) in a rematch from this past February’s New Beginning show. The match (surprisingly) starts inside the ring with Okada and Suzuki in a dead heat before they travel outside. Okada is not only able to get the better of Suzuki but also fend off his Suzuki-Gun cronies before the combatants re-enter the ring. The energy Okada spent on fighting of three men catches up with him as Suzuki is able to mount some meaningful offense inside and out of the ring. Suzuki earmarks Okada’s neck as the object of his brutality, working for the Gotch-style piledriver. The IWGP champion withstands this and does the same to Suzuki heading to the Rainmaker lariat. Suzuki clutches Okada in a submission predicament before Okada cradles Suzuki in a tombstone piledriver. Suzuki reverses a second tombstone, putting Okada’s neck in grave danger. Suzuki presses that advantage with a series of holds and blows all singling out Okada’s neck. The match looks to be elementary as Suzuki looks to end the contest with the Gotch-style piledriver but Okada musters his remaining strength to power out of it and strike back with a dropkick. Okada, refusing to be outdone by any opponent throughout this tournament, goes after Suzuki’s neck but Suzuki is tenacious in his attack, getting the sleeper on Okada. Suzuki’s onslaught isn’t enough to put Okada down as he is able to recuperate to the point of evening the match with Suzuki. The two trade strikes with Suzuki putting his hands behind his back and daring Okada to do his worst. Okada again evades the Gotch piledriver and the two are now locked in a war of attrition. The war continues all the way to the 20-minute time limit as both men rage against each other to a draw, gaining 1 point each.

While Suzuki is now eliminated, he may have cause to justify a match down the road against Okada’s title. Meanwhile, with this and Omega’s win against SANADA, it will be the US (champion) versus the World (champion) this weekend with the winner moving on to the finals. It is also important to note not only the score here, but the records. For Omega to make history, he has to defeat Okada to go into the finals – something he has not been able to do – this coming weekend. To achieve that same feat, Okada does not have to beat Omega, merely survive – which may be a difficult feat given the toll taken out of him here.

The tournament heads into the conclusive weekend at Ryōgoku Sumo Hall starting Friday when Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi do battle to see which of those two men will go on to the finals on Sunday.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

(Eliminated)

 10 Michael Elgin

(Eliminated)

8

Hirooki Goto

(Eliminated)

8 EVIL

(Eliminated)

10

Tetsuya Naito

12 Satoshi Kojima

(Eliminated)

2

Zack Sabre Jr.

(Eliminated)

8 Kazuchika Okada

13

YOSHI-HASHI

(Eliminated)

4 Kenny Omega

12

Kota Ibushi

(Eliminated)

10 Juice Robinson

(Eliminated)

6

Tomohiro Ishii

(Eliminated)

8 Sanada

(Eliminated)

8

Togi Makabe

(Eliminated)

6 Minoru Suzuki

(Eliminated)

9

Yuji Nagata

(Eliminated)

2 Tama Tonga

(Eliminated)

6

Hiroshi Tanahashi 12 Toru Yano

(Eliminated)

6

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One thought on “TGP G1 Climax 08.08.17: War of Attrition

  1. Pingback: TGP G1 Climax 08.12.17: Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Part II | The Gorilla Position

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