Here we are then, the final of the 29th G1 Climax. It might not have been the match I wanted, but it’s the one we’ve got, and it’s time to find out who is heading to the Dome. Ibushi or White? The Golden Star or the Master Manipulator? The guy who thinks books can’t be trusted or The Knife Pervert? Time to find out.
I won’t be reviewing the undercard because arsed, but I think there is something we need to touch on, don’t you? MOTHERFUCKING SHIBATA!
With KENTA turning heel on Ishii to join the Bullet Club (which is exciting enough, KENTA vs Ishii? Yes, please) it was Shibata who made the save, running to the ring and giving the man he brought into New Japan a piece of his mind. Well, actually, not his mind. His forearm and then the bottom of his boot. Shibata ripped his top off mid-attack in a moment that screamed, ‘I’m back’.
And, right now, I don’t know if that is the case or not, but it sure felt like it, didn’t it? And if he has been cleared, New Japan just got very exciting. A fit and healthy Shibata is an incredible asset, and the idea of him and KENTA stiffing it out has me, well, the joke writes itself. However, even if this was a one and done thing, it was still an incredible heel turn. KENTA is coming out of this tournament fiery hot, and I’m very intrigued to see what the future holds.
It paled in comparison to all of that, but Suzuki pinned Okada on this show before challenging for the belt. With Tanahashi vs ZSJ all but confirmed for Royal Quest, one suspects that Murder Grandpa’s title shot will be our main event, especially with Suzuki-gun having made the UK their second home in recent years. As someone going to that show, those two matches are perfect booking. They’re not fresh, so the Japanese audience won’t feel cheated, but the chance to see them live still gets me all excited.
Kota Ibushi defeated Jay White to win the 29th G1 Climax
Well, where to start with this motherfucker? The day after Jay White was widely panned (partly for the quality of his match and partly because he was booked to beat Naito) he came out and put on the best match of his career. This was fucking incredible.
And it was incredible because it played into every Jay White trope. He came out surrounded by his Bullet Club cronies, ready to cheat and scheme his way to victory. Except, Red Shoes wasn’t having that. He sent them all to the back and Gedo followed shortly after when he proved incapable of not getting involved. In old Umino’s mind, this was going to be Kota vs Jay.
Jay still had a plan, though. He’d done the work on Ibushi’s ankle yesterday, and when Kota went for the Golden Triangle Moonsault (which he hasn’t hit in ages), White shoved him into the turnbuckle, trapping that leg. From there, Jay got down to business, torturing Ibushi with one evil attack after another. Whether it was wrapping the ankle around a barricade or using the TTO, White was going to rip poor Kota’s ankle apart.
And holy shit, the tension in that arena was incredible. Everyone wanted, no needed, Kota to win this match and every time it looked like White was going to win, they sounded like they were ready to storm the ring. And yea, Gedo ended up coming back down to get involved, but it worked. It worked because they were positioning Ibushi as the ultimate underdog. It was two on one, there were steel chairs, and he could barely walk, but did he die? Never.
It led to a truly stunning final sequence as these two battled between Kamigoye and Bladerunner. At one point, White hit the Bladerunner (and I nearly cried), but he couldn’t make the cover. Then Ibushi connected with Kamigoye and White kicked out. They were dancing on a knife edge, and every time White slithered into position, the crowd let out roars of anguish, but when Ibushi pulled back that leg, it was cheers of triumph.
Eventually, he pulled it back, and it came thudding forward, leaving White down for three and Ibushi standing tall. It also brought to an end a near-perfect match. Not for the quality of its in-ring work, although that was still exceptional, but for its presentation and the story it told. These two crafted something beautiful, and while I wouldn’t want every New Japan main event to look like this, it worked.
So sure, this wasn’t the finish I wanted from this G1, and I still believe with every part of my being that Naito deserves his moment, but Kota Ibushi having his? That’s wonderful too. It’s the Beautiful Magical Elf Man’s turn to go to the Tokyo Dome, and whether he beats Okada or not, the journey to get there has been a shitload of fun.
Verdict: Five Stars
Wow, what a roller coaster of emotions that was. Shibata alone had me in tears, and by the end of the final, I was up and bouncing around my room, punching the air in triumph. I know people are going to quibble about a million things, but if wrestling is making you feel that way, it’s doing something right. Sometimes you need to put selling or long-term storytelling in the bin and just enjoy the moment for what it is. This was a show I will remember for a long time, and I didn’t even watch 90% of it.
Top Three Matches of the G1 So Far
- Kota Ibushi vs Jay White (12/8/19) – Five Stars
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Shingo Takagi (8/8/19) – Five Stars
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi (3/8/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
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