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.
Third, you may have noticed throughout the Gorilla Position’s coverage of the tournament that all that has been discussed are the matches pertaining to the tournament itself. The same applies here. There is only one match to be reviewed and discussed today – the finals of the G1 Climax 27 tournament.
It all comes down to this. The G1 Climax tournament ends today in Ryōgoku Sumo Hall as the leaders of Los Ingobernobles de Japon and the Bullet Club collide for the second year in a row. This time the winner will walk away with the G1 trophy and a shot at the IWGP World Championship in January. It is a familiar battle with more than glory and potential gold on the line.
One year ago, Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega both occupied Block B of the tournament. Both men had established themselves as the clear leaders of their respective factions. Both men stood tied in points at 12 each as they headed into the final round. Once the dust was settled, Omega had moved into the finals as a win over Naito in the final round settled the tie. Ironically enough, both men do battle one year later for the finals of the tournament – not just a block – tied once again, this time at 14 points each.
Omega’s defeat of Naito last year led him to the finals where he defeated Hirooki Goto en route to winning his first G1 tournament. The journey was another step in Omega shedding the light-heavyweight division and skyrocketing to the main event picture in New Japan. Winning the tournament put him in position to challenge Okada for the World title in January and again in June, with Omega coming up short both times. Omega would finally overcome Okada to land him here against Naito in only their second meeting.
Omega looks to make legitimate history as the first gaijin to win back-to-back annual tournaments. Naito’s disdain for the fans he feels failed him has led him full circle to winning them back on his own road to redemption. For both men, the gold at the end of the rainbow is literal in the form of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. To achieve what they feel is their respective destinies, both men need to walk out of Sumo Hall as the winner of the G1 tournament. But only one can. And now we find out who.
The Bullet Club is known for its contempt for Western tradition but Los Ingobernobles carries its hatred for everyone. The ideology illustrates Naito’s first moments as he opts to frustrate Omega out of his game first by spitting on him then with the Tranquilo pose. Naito wants to show Omega at the outset he could give a damn about Omega’s bid to make history. Omega is already angered as Naito follows outside, but Omega knows too much is at stake. He is not afraid to risk injury (like he did against SANADA) by springing off the barricade at Naito to score the first early big hit. Fortunately, Omega’s landing this time is much smoother.
Naito uses intelligence rather than wild abandon to chase his dream. Naito paid attention to the prior night’s match and knows that Okada already softened up Omega’s neck just 24 hours ago. Naito draws his bull’s eye and bounces Omega’s head and neck off the apron, then the floor outside.
Omega targeted Okada’s neck last night, now it’s Naito’s turn to target Kenny’s neck. #G127
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) August 13, 2017
Back in, Naito continues the march to Destino with a seated dropkick to the back of Omega’s head. Naito dives to Omega outside then goes for blood – and maybe a career. Naito takes him to the announce table and piledrives Omega. They miss the table as Omega looks to be in grave danger.
— LARIATOOOO!!! (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017
Back inside, Omega’s desire is evident as he continues against Naito, though favoring his head. Omega turns his attention to Naito’s neck and bad shoulder with a submission before turning up the impact. Omega knows that, if he survives, the One-Winged Angel is key. Naito is rendered desperate by the blitz and is now in survival mode, but cognizant enough to keep his focus. Naito keeps on Omega’s head with trademark offense, but Omega rallies back by throwing caution completely to the wind. Risking his own body (and neck), Omega charges at Naito with a somersault dive outside. The risk pays off as Omega is able to keep the pressure on inside with a missile dropkick.
Omega feels the end is nigh and attempts the V-Trigger, but Naito staves him off by going back to the head and neck. Naito gets overconfident, though, and pays for it as Omega lands the V-Trigger knee but Naito lives to fight on. Naito desperately hits another DDT and escalates with Gloria. Naito feels it is time for Destino, but Omega turns the tide, trying to concuss Naito. Both combatants battle at the top of the turnbuckle and Naito’s head is rammed into the top of the post. Naito escapes certain doom with a Hurricanrana off the top. Naito sets Omega back up and scores a reverse Hurricanrana, but Omega keeps coming back for more!
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 13, 2017
Naito misses a critical aerial move, affording Omega the opportunity to keep on the neck with another piledriver. A straightforward knee connects three times on Naito as Omega, satisfied with his work on Naito’s head, now looks for a knockout. The fans are behind Naito as he refuses to stay down, even if he’s out on his feet. Naito is finally able to get Omega with Destino, but Omega won’t let history slip away that easily. Omega moves in for the kill, but Naito escapes with a killer move of his own – a second Destino!
Omega is still alive, as is Naito. They weakly trade show in the center, both now going on pure instinct. Omega is the first to go for an actual move, bit Naito still has his faculties about him, knowing this has to end.
And it does.
After surviving a brutal attack on the neck and shoulder, Naito is able to take advantage of the damage done by Okada the night before. Naito maneuvers Omega into the Destino, then a second one to finally pin Kenny Omega to win the G1 Climax 27 Tournament.
The result comes as a surprise to many as Omega’s run this year up to this point has been unstoppable. With his win over Okada last night, Omega looked to be a lock to make history. But Destino stood in his way. Tetsuya Naito, on his own road back to the top, wins his second G1 Climax tournament four years after his first. In-between, Naito has fallen and risen, angrier than ever. In the eyes of the fans, he can no longer be denied. He simply had to prove that to himself as well.