Day nine in the G1 Climax and everyone is knackered. At least I’m knackered, so I can’t imagine how the wrestlers are feeling. Yano’s ballshotting arm must be in agony. Yet, the quality doesn’t seem to be dropping, and while some of the lower card matches are maybe half a pace slower, the wrestling is holding up. It’s got to the point where picking an MVP is near impossible. But that’s a worry for another day, and right now we’re getting down to dishing out some stars.
Togi Makabe defeated Yuji Nagata
This was a continuation of both these men’s stories so far in this tournament. We had Nagata giving it all he’s got to try and get a win but ultimately falling short, while an inspired Makabe was able to use his strength and that lethal King Kong Knee Drop to pull out the victory. Both men have had and will probably go on to have better matches, but this was acceptable. It was a solid exchange between two veterans which ultimately we won’t remember but did what it had to do.
Verdict: Three Stars
Bad Luck Fale defeated Kota Ibushi
This was all about Ibushi trying to find a way to put The Underboss down. He German Suplexed the giant man, he moonsaulted off a balcony and he kneed him square in the head, but none of it was enough to get this behemoth’s shoulders on the mat for three. For his part, Fale tried to play it tactically, aiming to destroy the leg of Kota. Ultimately, though, it was his brute strength that got him through. This is one of the better Fale matches in the tournament so far as Ibushi got a few big spots in. It’s still a Fale match, though, so don’t expect greatness.
Verdict: Three Stars
Hirooki Goto defeated Zack Sabre Junior
When it was announced that Zack was coming in as a Heavyweight rather than a Junior, there was a slight worry that his small frame would see him being treated as the whipping boy of the division. That when it came to blows, he’d always lose. While he ultimately did lose this match, I think it put that idea to rest. He went out there with Goto, a man famed for his hard hitting style, and traded blows with him as equals. I love watching both these men wrestle, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed this. It was a fast-paced fight with Zack trying to tie Goto up and Goto trying to kick him in the face. Simple but effective.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated YOSHI-HASHI
YOSHI-HASHI is a weird wrestler. 99% of the time I couldn’t give two hoots about him, but when he’s in the ring, he rarely fails to deliver. He just lacks that little bit of charisma that would allow him to become a star. This was another good match that nearly reached great but didn’t quite make it. It was the first time Tanahashi’s injury didn’t seem to play into proceedings and the fact he was randomly skinning the cat suggests it can’t be that bad. It also saw Tana show a bit of aggression as he went after HASHI’s leg. It could be nothing, but with Okada taking his place as New Japan’s Ace, it’s up to the former Ace to evolve. I can’t be the only one who thinks a slightly heelish Tanahashi could be a lot of fun.
Verdict: Three Stars
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tetsuya Naito
You have to question Naito’s decision to go after the neck of Ishii. It’s like targeting a one armed man’s missing limb. You cannot kill what isn’t there. Look, you don’t need me to tell you this was a good match. It’s two of the best in-ring guys in the world going at it. Ishii is somehow still not given all the credit he deserves despite getting shitloads of credit while Naito always raises the bar. Like most of his matches it started slow, but when he clicked up a gear, it went all out. Everyone has been focusing on the increasing fallibility of the Rainmaker, but a similar story is being told about Destino. Unless it’s hit perfectly, it isn’t ending matches and Ishii flipping it into a neck breaker was a lovely touch. It also led to a nice little finish as Ishii’s own working over of Naito’s neck allowed him to get the win. Fantastic stuff and in a world without Okada and Omega, Ishii is the best wrestler around.
Verdict: Four Stars
This was solid up until a great main event. Everyone is at the stage where they’re tired and hurting, so it’s no surprise to see the mid-card matches take their foot off the gas a bit. However, no one has slowed down to the point where they’ve become bad. They’re just not incredible.