Wow, here we are then. The G1 final. I’ve reviewed every single one of these buggers which I’m quite proud of. In the next few days I’m going to do a round-up of the tournament where I go through every wrestler and talk about how they did, but right now there is only one thing to focus on. The final. I’m not bothering with the undercard because, honestly, fuck the undercard. The only thing that matters is who takes that pretty shitty looking trophy home. Enough talk. Let’s finish this bad boy.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibushi to win the 28th G1 Climax
On one side of the ring, Kota Ibushi. The man who walked his own path, never tying himself down to a company or an ideology. In his corner was his partner, his Golden Lover, Kenny Omega and in his heart was a desire to prove he belonged in the ring with his deity.
Because in the other corner was the man Ibushi refers to as The God. Hiroshi Tanahashi, New Japan’s Ace and the ultimate company man. He strapped NJPW to his back and dragged them into the modern world. In his corner was his friend Katsuyori Shibata, The Wrestler, and in his heart was a desire to prove that he still belonged in the ring with people like Kota Ibushi.
I don’t have many issues finding the words to describe wrestling. Christ, I’m sure a few people would say that I donate a few too many to it. However, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to describe this match. How to capture something that was overflowing with emotion from start to finish. From the second Shibata was shown in Tanahashi’s corner till the bell ringing at the end there was a tear in my eye as these two men gave everything, to a craft they both love.
The story of the action was led by that emotion. In many ways, the ability to control it was what led to Tanahashi’s victory. As we have seen, Kota Ibushi has the ability to switch. To go from Beautiful Magical Elf-Man to a snarling barbarian. When Tanahashi slapped him in the face, that change happened. Ibushi started trying to murder The Ace, dragging his boot across his beautiful features and looking to drive his hands through the face of the man he apparently worships.
Except that might have been a mistake. For suddenly, it was Tanahashi who was firing up. He came roaring out of the corner, shaking with rage. Ibushi kept slapping him, but Tana seemed impervious to it. He was channelling the warrior’s spirit of Shibata, as he shrugged off the blows and began delivering his own. It boiled down to who could survive the incredible toll these two were dishing out on each other.
And the answer was Tanahashi. He took so much. Ibushi dropped him on his head, smacked him in the face and drove his knees into his chest, but The Ace would not stay down. He refused to. Because if anyone deserves the chance to headline the Tokyo Dome one last time it is Hiroshi Tanahashi. He was able to keep fighting, driven by that dream as he climbed to the top for the High Fly Flow. The first time he came down on Ibushi’s back, and he knew it wouldn’t be enough, so once again he made his way to the corner. Then, in a moment of defiance, Ibushi managed to stand up. To stare up at his God before his God came crashing into him once again. There was one more for good luck, but this was already done.
I’m not going to lie, I wanted Kota Ibushi to win the 28th G1. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a wrestler to win more. However, it’s not possible to be a wrestling fan and not adore Hiroshi Tanahashi. He epitomises the good of an industry that is often bad. The heart and the spirit that he represents is everything that wrestling should be, and the greatest wrestling tournament in the world should be won by the greatest wrestler in the world.
Fuck knows whether I’ve got anywhere close to capturing how special this was. Somethings just can’t be bottled. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi are definitely two of those things. If you are a wrestling fan, you owe it to yourself to watch it. To get caught up in the emotion of two men at the height of their craft giving everything they have to it. Fuck me, I really do love this shit.
Verdict: Five Stars
Best Matches Of The Tournament (I couldn’t keep it to three and they are in no particular order)
- Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii – Five Stars
- Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – Five Stars
- Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega – Five Stars
- Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – Five Stars