We’re 80 matches deep into the 2017 G1 Climax, and I have watched and written about all of them. Oh god, please send help. But first, enjoy this look back at nights 13-16 of the tournament!
NIGHT THIRTEEN (A BLOCK)
Kota Ibushi defeats Yuji Nagata
The soothing sounds of Tomoaki Honma’s irreversibly damaged vocal cords accompanied this match on commentary. A fitting choice, as these two are all about irreversible bodily damage.
Kicks, knees, stomps, slaps — there was something for every lover of violence. A double knockdown saw them struggle to rise to their feet, so instead they traded forearms while kneeling. Eventually, they stood back up, where a knee to the head put Nagata down for the count.
Bad Luck Fale defeats Tomohiro Ishii
In a baffling tactical oversight, Ishii decided to combat the giant not by utilizing his usual arsenal of headbutts, but technique. I know, right? Because as expertly executed as his armbar and triangle choke attempts were, it couldn’t stop Fale from dropping him down from orbit with the Bad Luck Fall for the win.
Hirooki Goto defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Is YOSHI-HASHI the Monkey King? I’ve been watching him for a good two years now, and it just dawned on me that that’s what he’s been going for. With a moniker like “Head Hunter” you’d expect some sort of problematic tribal attire, not Sun Wukong cosplay.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never found myself fully invested in him. Or why he never has been able to break into the upper tier of talent, despite being one of the most consistently entertaining guys on the roster. There’s a disconnect. Partly due to that fire hazard atop his head that he calls hair. But many great wrestlers had and have terrible hair. So it’s got to be the confusing persona, right?
But on the other hand there’s Goto, he’s easy to understand. He’s a throwback to the feudal era. Clear as it gets. Yet there’s that disconnect again. Two talented professionals who always deliver, but nobody ever seems to get all too excited about either one.
Not surprisingly, they had a hell of a match. One that saw Goto win with the GTR, and everyone thoroughly entertained. But then ten minutes later, it was a distant memory.
Wait, who was I talking about again?
Tetsuya Naito defeats Zack Sabre Jr.
That scoundrel Naito started the match by spitting in Sabre’s face, causing the knobby-kneed Brit to throw a tantrum outside the ring. Once he stepped back inside, things didn’t get much better for him, as Naito turned him upside down with a Destino for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Togi Makabe
It’s that time of the tournament when everyone is hurting. And in this match Tanahashi was hurting, therefore so was I. Every bump brought a pained grimace to our faces. It was agony for us both.
He did his best to hide it by busting out the occasional air guitar — he’s a kind man, he doesn’t want us to worry. But it was obvious starting from his entrance, all the way until he hit that High Fly Flow for the win, that he was a pained man as well. Yet could it be that’s how we subconsciously like our wrestlers best, in pain? I shudder at the very thought, but secretly believe it may be true…
NIGHT FOURTEEN (B BLOCK)
Toru Yano defeats Tama Tonga
The people of Osaka booed Yano as he made his way to the ring. Osaka people are good people. Sadly, they were not rewarded for their goodness, as Yano hit Tonga with a low blow, and rolled him up for the three count.
Satoshi Kojima defeats SANADA
Nothing on this night made me happier than seeing Kojima stand tall and roar after eating a dropkick from SANADA. Alright, one thing did, and that was watching as Kojima then sent SANADA’s soul into another dimension with a lariat, before pinning the empty husk that was left behind.
And with that, Satoshi Kojima secured his first win of the tournament.
Michael Elgin defeats Minoru Suzuki
Nightmare fuel for those who demand a clean and fair G1 Climax. Much of the match saw Suzuki’s goons take turns cracking Elgin with a chair, while Suzuki himself stepped in only when “Big” Mike was sufficiently beaten down.
The most infuriating aspect of this is that while that string bean Sabre may need the outside help, Suzuki is capable of fighting his own battles. Unfortunately for him, this battle was against someone with the nickname “Big.” And Elgin was certainly big enough to hoist up both of Suzuki’s cronies for a slam, before doing the same to their oyabun for the win.
Post-match — in a controversial move that will surely spurn negative reactions from many — Elgin wagged his finger at an exiting Suzuki and said “cheater, cheater, booger eater.” Harsh words, indeed, but ones that needed to be spoken.
Juice Robinson defeats Kenny Omega
Juice Robinson has this tiny tattoo on his butt that has a habit of peeking out from his speedos. I can’t figure out what it’s supposed to be. It’s very distracting. So much so that it was all I could focus on this match, even when it appeared as if Omega had been possessed by the souls of Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels — no small feat being that both are still alive.
And just when I was finally able to zero in on said tattoo, about to crack its mystery, Omega went for the One Winged Angel, which Juice countered with a roll-up for biggest upset of the tournament. Not to mention the biggest win of his career. The Osaka crowd loved this, almost as much as Juice loves butt tattoos.
EVIL defeats Kazuchika Okada
What kind of a man gazes upon something truly and remarkably beautiful, and is compelled to destroy it? An EVIL man, that’s who. I mean, he struck Okada’s face with a chair not once, but twice. We should be talking criminal charges here. And as if to taunt us, EVIL even gave Okada’s behind a little squeeze at one point.
If it weren’t for the fact that this was the best match of the tournament, I’d be livid right now. It came to an end when EVIL reversed a suplex attempt with an STO for the pin, becoming the first man to beat Okada in nearly a year.
NIGHT FIFTEEN (A BLOCK)
Yuji Nagata defeats Zack Sabre Jr.
This could have been very upsetting. Not an upset, but upsetting. Here we all were, desperate for Nagata to finally score a win, and instead we were going to be forced to watch as some oily pipsqueak made him tap the mat. Probably with the help of a masked dork named after an Eagles song.
But it didn’t go down that way. No, in what is now commonly known (by me) as the “Miracle in Osaka,” Sabre found out what happens when you wander too deep into the woods and come across papa bear. You get suplexed onto your head. Twice. Then you find yourself being Yuji Nagata’s first win in his final G1. Dreams can come true.
Kota Ibushi defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Is YOSHI-HASHI wearing a wig? Just throwing that out there. YOSHI-HASHI dove right in, and proved willing to play Ibushi’s game right from the opening bell. Maybe not the best idea, considering Ibushi’s game often involves tossing dudes head first into the ring post.
But this turned out not to be YOSHI-HASHI’s fate; instead he was merely kneed in the face by the former kickboxer, and put down for the one, two, three.
Bad Luck Fale defeats Hirooki Goto
Fale came to the ring looking like Sinbad just woke him up in a cave. If this year’s G1 has taught me anything, it’s that Fale is one of the most underrated big men in the business. And I love big men. In fact, after the coming nuclear apocalypse, it’ll be men like Fale — and possibly even Fale himself — that will rule the wastelands. So you should learn to love big men too, as you’re probably going to be led around by one on a leash.
I’m guessing Hirooki Goto isn’t too crazy about big men at the moment, as Fale slammed him to the mat with a Grenade for the pinfall. Tough break, but get used to it. All hail Devil Lord Fale, King of the Bad Luck Hemisphere.
Tetsuya Naito defeats Togi Makabe
Speaking of big men who will surely make a pet of the rest of us, Togi Makabe failed in his bid to slap a leash on Tetsuya Naito. Makabe came to brawl, and Naito responded by working over Makabe’s calcified neck in a fruitless effort to break it. But it wasn’t all shattered dreams, as Naito rolled away from a King Kong knee drop to bust out a Destino for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Tomohiro Ishii
My heart belongs in equal parts to three special gentlemen: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. So the fact that they’re rarely better than when trying to destroy each other is a source of many conflicting emotions.
Maybe because deep down in my heart, all I want to see is them push one another to the limit. And that just may be so, as I’ve seen few sights this tournament that have moved me like the image of both men unable to stand at the end of this grueling contest.
It was a High Fly Flow from Tanahashi that got him the win, but it was seeing him battered and having to be held upright to address the crowd that reminded me exactly why he won my heart in the first place.
NIGHT SIXTEEN (B BLOCK)
Tama Tonga defeats Satoshi Kojima
Tonga stole Kojima’s cool sleeveless duster at the start, and slipped it on. Not as sacrilegious as putting on Okada’s coat, but unnecessary all the same. Kojima unleashed his trademark machine gun chops to Tonga’s chest, and made him emit a Prince-like scream. But it sadly wasn’t enough, as Tonga ended Kojima’s night with a Gun Stun for the win.
Juice Robinson defeats Toru Yano
Juice chased Yano underneath the ring, and both men nearly found themselves in a double countout situation. It ended soon after as Juice managed to put Yano down with the Pulp Friction for the pin.
Michael Elgin defeats EVIL
This was all about blunt force trauma. Primarily to the head and neck region. A German suplex to the corner post, a brainbuster off the top rope — it was an endurance test of the human spine. One that couldn’t possibly last forever, and thankfully didn’t, as Elgin powerbombed EVIL to the mat for the win.
Kenny Omega defeats SANADA
An old man was shown sleeping in his chair as SANADA made his entrance. I’ll just leave that there without comment. I will say, however, that he was definitely woken up by the horrified gasps that accompanied an ill-timed Kenny Omega moonsault. One that saw him land sickeningly on the top of his head, and proved the dangers of going for high risk maneuvers as the G1 fatigue settles in.
After Omega assured everyone he wasn’t dead, we were treated to a ridiculously fast-paced match by two of the most explosive athletes in the company. One that raced by almost too fast, as the end came seemingly out of nowhere when Omega backflipped out of a Skull End attempt, and hit the One Winged Angel for the pin.
Kazuchika Okada/Minoru Suzuki: Time Limit Draw
You remember how I said the last Okada match was the best bout of the tournament thus far? Well, I was wrong. This one is the best. Sorry for any confusion that may have caused.
Okada dropped Suzuki’s goons in the opening minutes, then instructed a crew of young boys to carry them back to the lockers. This forced Suzuki to keep things clean and in the ring. What transpired from there was the best wrestling I’ve seen in this, possibly the greatest of G1s, and maybe the best I’ve had the privilege of watching this year.
The blockbuster Omega matches may get all the love, but true connoisseurs of bodily harm prefer the neorealism of his rivalry with Suzuki. The first a deliberately paced lesson in sadism, while this one reimagined the professional wrestling match as heavyweight prize fight.
The end saw the exhausted warriors trading palm strikes, sweat flying with every blow, when Suzuki went for a choke, only to be laid out by a Rainmaker counter. But the shopworn champ collapsed as well, and simply didn’t have the strength to cover the downed Suzuki as the match hit its 30-minute time limit. Both received one point each for this modern classic. Us, a memory that will last a lifetime.
With all others eliminated from contention, Friday will see Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito battle for A Block supremacy. Naito is in the position of going to the finals with a draw, as he has a win over Kota Ibushi, who has the second most points in the block. Hiroshi Tanahashi, however, must win if he wants to advance. It’s all very confusing, I know.
Meanwhile over on the B Block, it’s down to Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega this Saturday. Like Naito, Okada can advance with a draw, while it’s a must-win scenario for Omega. What an exciting time to be alive.
Here’s a look at the points as we head into the final three events:
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 12
Tetsuya Naito – 12
Kota Ibushi – 10
Tomohiro Ishii – 8
Hirooki Goto – 8
Zack Sabre Jr. – 8
Togi Makabe – 6
YOSHI-HASHI – 4
Yuji Nagata – 2
Kazuchika Okada – 13
Kenny Omega – 12
EVIL – 10
Minoru Suzuki – 9
Michael Elgin – 8
SANADA – 8
Juice Robinson – 6
Tama Tonga – 6
Toru Yano – 6
Satoshi Kojima – 2