TGP G1 Climax 08.12.17: Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Part II

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’s final round commences in Ryōgoku Sumo Hall. Much of the field is eliminated and may be taking the opportunity to look further into the future after establishing themselves as contenders. Two men vie for a spot in the finals, with one facing nearly impossible odds should he attempt to make history.

G1_08.12.17

Michael Elgin (8 points) was eliminated from the G1 in controversial fashion but has made the most of his tournament experience in other ways. Elgin holds a win over the IWGP US Champion and the NEVER Openweight Champion – both of which came during this tournament. Robinson, meanwhile, has shown the world here that his days as CJ Parker are far behind him as he has put everyone in his way on notice, including the US Champion, whom he also defeated during this tournament. The two Westerners start respectfully as Robinson uses his (slight) agility advantage to out-wrestle Big Mike at the start. Once the battle heads toward strike territory, however, Elgin’s power takes the lead. Robinson runs at Elgin continuously, knowing he has to use all of his body to wear down an oak tree. Robinson keeps building momentum to take Elgin down, but Elgin keeps catching and grounding Robinson with pure strength. Robinson surprises Elgin (and many others) with his own strength, powerbombing Elgin out of the corner. Robinson hopes this is enough to stun Elgin for Pulp Friction, but when it’s not Robinson powers up again, lifting Elgin way up for a gutbuster. It is Elgin’s turn to surprise Robinson, catching a cannonball attempt in the corner for a pair of powerbombs. Robinson rolls Elgin up to survive, nearly scoring a flash pin. Robinson outmaneuvers Elgin in a series of counters and lands a straight right hand that could be heard herein the States en route to finally landing Pulp Friction, pinning Elgin for his final 2 points. A show of sportsmanship happens afterward, but the championship picture is definitely shaken up coming out of the G1.

Los Ingobernobles’ SANADA (8 points) is another star who has grown his stock in this year’s tournament with wins over both men in the previous match. Tama Tonga (6 points) looked to make more out of this tournament and out of his position in the Bullet Club before Omega put a halt to that. Tonga, however, has also beaten both men in the prior match. A contest of showmanship between SANADA and Tonga starts the match, but it’s not long before the rulebreaking ways of both men lead them to dirty pool. Tonga attempts tying SANADA up in his own Paradise lock, but SANADA takes Tonga outside to show him how it’s done, hoping for the countout win. Yujiro Takahashi and Tonga’s tag partner and brother, Tanga Loa, free him in irreverent fashion to ensure Tonga can continue.

Back inside, underhanded tricks and flash give way to athleticism as both now try to out-perform each other in more meaningful ways. The two battle outside and both are nearly counted out again after battering each other senseless. Back in the ring (barely in time), both men swap finishing move attempts before SANADA counters a Gun Stun into the Skull End submission. SANADA adds insult to injury and lands his own Gun Stun which Tonga kicks out of. A series of counters leads to Tonga showing SANADA how the Gun Stun is done as he pins SANADA for 2 points, tying him to end his tournament run.

Toru Yano’s (6 points)  tricks have allowed him a surprising run in this year’s tournament. Here, he may need then to simply survive the NEVER Openweight Champion, Minoru Suzuki (9 points). Suzuki’s not having any of Yano’s tomfoolery, jumping Yano before the bell and taking him outside for Suzuki-Gun lackey Taichi to have his way with him also. Suzuki presses the assault before bringing Yano back in. Yano hires for the turnbuckle pad but Suzuki avoids contact with the exposed steel to fish or more punishment. Suzuki’s strategy of overwhelming Yano to take his trickery out of the equation is paying dividends. Yano recovers enough to try and tape Suzuki’s legs but Suzuki again escapes. At the referee takes a dive, Suzuki tapes Yano’s legs en route to a straight mugging. Suzuki distracts a recovered referee so Taichi can continue the damage with a chair, but Rocky Romero runs from the commentary table, having had enough of Suzuki-Gun’s sadism. This allows Yano to tie Suzuki up straitjacket style and pin the NEVER Openweight Champion for 2 points. Yano plays spoiler on his way out of the G1 but there is a new battle emerging between Suzuki-Gun and Chaos as Romero may have a price to pay for evening the odds.

EVIL is another man who’s turned being eliminated from G1 contention into contention for gold, having beaten no less than Kazuchika Okada earlier in the tournament. Satoshi Kojima (2 points) has fared about as well as his legends counterpart in Block A but hopes to go out on a high note here. EVIL is not permitting this at the outset as he evades a dive over the top from Kojima and batters Kojima on the outside. Back in the ring, EVIL employs his size advantage to flatten Kojima to the mat. Kojima rises and pays homage to his partner and corner man, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, with a set of Mongolian chops. Kojima’s trademark machine-gun chops in the corner follow suit as he continues his comeback. The fight goes to the apron as EVIL looks to end Kojima, but Kojima’s killer instinct takes hold as he DDTs EVIL on the apron! EVIL recovers and resumes his onslaught inside, but Kojima refuses to surrender. EVIL turns away from his finisher to trade lariats with Kojima – a bad move against someone so well known for them. EVIL headbutts his way out of the freight train of lariats and is able to land the This Is Evil STO, pinning Kojima for 2 more points and finishes an impressive tournament run in 3rd place.

It was January of 2016 when Kenny Omega (12 points) destroyed AJ Styles and wrested control of the Bullet Club. Often overlooked, Omega also took this time to leave the light heavyweight division as he challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental title. Omega, despite calling himself one of “The Elite,” would not win a heavyweight championship in New Japan until last month when he captured the new IWGP United States Championship. Omega looks to take his place among the current Pantheon, but has had a major obstacle in the form of current IWGP World Champion Kazuchika Okada. Omega and Okada have met twice this year, resulting in a loss for Omega at Wrestle Kingdom in January and a draw between the two at Dominion in June.

Okada (13 points) stands atop the mountain as the IWGP World Champion and the points leader in Block B. Throughout the G1 Climax, Okada has set out to prove he is the best in the world, without question, by outdoing his opponents at their own game. Okada’s confidence has become his Achilles heel, his body unable to keep up with the rigors of his ego. With a loss to EVIL and a draw against Minoru Suzuki in the home stretch, the battle-torn champion now faces his greatest adversary this year. The advantage Okada has here is that he simply needs to survive. Omega has to do the impossible and defeat Okada in 30 minutes or less to go to the finals, whereas all Okada has to do is simply not lose. However, should he win, Okada will set a G1 points record – another accomplishment to add to his resume as the best wrestler in the world today.

Both men start out of the gate on fire, looking to score their finishers and end this. Okada is the first to hit a trademark move, dropkicking Omega off of the top turnbuckle to the outside where he keeps the pressure on with another trademark move – a dive to Omega over the barricade.

 

Omega recovers from the early blitz and chases the neck of Okada that has been such a problem for him in the last few matches. Omega extends his range to the back, thinking ahead to the One-Winged Angel that he has hit on Okada only once (which Okada only survived by being close enough to the ropes to break the count in June). The bandaging around Okada’s neck is gone, providing less protection to the weakened area. Omega pours it on and goes for a piledriver to intensify the advantage but Okada is able to escape with his life. Okada responds in kind, paying attention to Omega’s neck. Omega works back into a position of advantage but Okada dropkicks him out of the sky and to the outside. The move proves to be a costly mistake as Omega spikes Okada on his bad neck with a reverse Hurricanrana on the floor!

 

Trainers check on Okada to see if he can continue, but Omega realizes he needs to put Okada down, even if it means career-threatening damage. Omega scores the Dragon suplex on the apron and a neckbreaker on the outside, but Okada’s pride overrides the damage as he kicks out of the brutal assault on the neck. Omega smells blood as he hits a succession of knees to the face. Okada weakly battles back as the quiet Sumo Hall crowd realizes this one may only be a matter of time. Omega clubs at the neck but Okada catches a V-Trigger attempt and hits the tombstone piledriver, capitalizing on his own neck work earlier. Okada has to end this and looks for the Rainmaker, but Omega is able to hit the V-Trigger. A second reverse Hurricanrana attempt from Omega becomes a German suplex from Okada. Both men are looking to not only win, but save their careers at this point. Okada is finally able to score the Rainmaker, but Omega survives this and a second one. On a third try, Okada is caught and put on the receiving end of a series of German suplexes before Omega hits another reverse Hurricanrana, the move that may make the difference in Omega’s attempt to finally put the World Champion away after trying to destroy his neck. The efforts continue with a double-underhook piledriver but Okada still refuses to stay down. After such a concentrated attack on the neck, it is the V-Trigger and the One-Winged Angel – landed dead-center of the ring – that sees Omega achieve the goal of finally overcoming Kazuchika Okada as he pins the World Champion, securing the Block and his spot in the finals with 2 more vital points.

In 24 hours, the tournament concludes in Sumo Hall as Kenny Omega moves on to face Tetsuya Naito. The ultimate battle between Los Ingobernobles de Japon and the Bullet Club will decide the winner of the 2017 G1 Climax tournament.

Current standings

Block A

Block B

Bad Luck Fale

(Eliminated)

 12 Michael Elgin

(Eliminated)

8

Hirooki Goto

(Eliminated)

10 EVIL

(Eliminated)

12

Tetsuya Naito

(Winner)

14 Satoshi Kojima

(Eliminated)

2

Zack Sabre Jr.

(Eliminated)

10 Kazuchika Okada

(Eliminated)

13

YOSHI-HASHI

(Eliminated)

4 Kenny Omega

(Winner)

14

Kota Ibushi

(Eliminated)

10 Juice Robinson

(Eliminated)

8

Tomohiro Ishii

(Eliminated)

8 Sanada

(Eliminated)

8

Togi Makabe

(Eliminated)

8 Minoru Suzuki

(Eliminated)

9

Yuji Nagata

(Eliminated)

2 Tama Tonga

(Eliminated)

8

Hiroshi Tanahashi

(Eliminated)

12 Toru Yano

(Eliminated)

8

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