NJPW G1 Climax Day 18 (August 12) Review

And the monkey’s neck is broken. Credit: NJPW

We all knew that it would come down to this. There were questions about how they’d do it, but it was written in the stars. Okada vs. Omega III with the winner going to the final. Could they capture the magic of their first two matches with the constraints of a thirty-minute time-limit? Of course they fucking could, stupid.

Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, El Desperado and TAKA Michinoku) defeated KUSHIDA, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Hirai Kawato

Poor Kawato. Credit: NJPW

Standard New Japan opening fare. We had Liger being a perv, Kawato getting beat up and Taichi being, well, Taichi. The only thing worthy of comment is that once again this match was built around the ultimate failure of Kawato’s hot tag. New Japan knows what they’re doing with this kid.

Verdict: Two Stars

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Bullet Club (Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens)

My appreciation didn’t stop him taking a beating. Credit: NJPW

I like Chase Owens. Let’s talk about that rather than another okay match. I’m not alone in saying this but as undercard job guys go he is in the elite tier and I’d take him over either of the partners he was saddled with here. He works his arse off and while he lacks the character to be a big player at the moment he’s a good worker. More Owens, please.

Verdict: Two Stars

Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Takashi Iizuka) defeated Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata

Cheerio Zacky. Credit: NJPW

How do we make Suzuki-gun worse? The return of Iizuka, that’s how. That caused me to be over this match before it had even started. I don’t want to see a man with a tin foil hand barrel his way through the crowd knocking over people’s drinks. New Japan is better than that. You know who else is better than that? ZSJ who proved that during the tournament. The quicker we get to the much wished for Sabre vs. Suzuki match the better.

Verdict: One Star

Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Bad Luck Fale defeated Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Raymond Rowe, Hanson, Ricochet and Katsuya Kitamura)

The moment Taguchi realised he’d made a mistake. Credit: NJPW

Another fun Taguchi Japan multi-man tag match. I know some people hate these but I don’t get that at all and, as I said in the review of the A Block semi, Bullet Club is the perfect foil for the Funky Weapon. The match was built around the Clubs wish to win via moonsault and Taguchi Japan’s attempts to turn the table on them. Both teams were unsuccessful in those endeavours, but Hangman Page did ensure Bullet Club got the W. One final note is that Kitamura appears less like a Young Lion every week, he’s on the fast-track to the big leagues.

Verdict: Three Stars

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi and David Finlay defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi)

Tana was nice enough to help Naito stretch before his big match. Credit: NJPW

Kota’s knee strike has been dubbed Kamigoye and he used it to get the win here. The fact he’s still picking up victories post-tournament is hopefully a sign that he is planning on sticking around. This was another fine multi-man. No one can blame Naito for taking it a little bit easy, but there was a lot of talent in the ring to make up for that. If you’re in a rush, skip it. However, you definitely won’t hate it.

Verdict: Two Stars

Juice Robinson defeated Michael Elgin

What lovely boys. Credit: NJPW

After a middle section heavy with defeats, Juice ends his tournament with three straight wins. Are you watching WWE? This was great, both of these guys are great. I wish Elgin was booked better, but he puts on such incredible matches that I’m not sure if it matters. Who wouldn’t want to see him wrestle? It’s clear he is playing second fiddle at the moment, though, as this was proof that Juice is New Japan’s guy. It was billed as setting up who was worthy of the first shot at Omega’s title and Robinson is the man. He also went out and beat Elgin at his own game, out striking him and hitting Pulp Friction which I don’t think anyone has kicked out of yet. A worthy end for two wrestlers who had fantastic tournaments.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

 Tama Tonga defeated Sanada

Poor Tama, Sanada didn’t have a coat for him to knick. Credit: NJPW

This felt like a match without consequence. They kicked things off by pissing about for a bit as Sanada tried to get the win by using the Paradise Lock on the outside. Tonga tripping on his way back left the ref to pause for an incredibly long time between 19 and 20 before he managed to scramble under the ropes. After all that they got down to business proper and had a solid match. The problem is that Tonga doesn’t seem to have it. His matches have a ceiling and I’d argue that it’s around the Cody mark. I guess there’s still a chance that he could get better, but this tournament seems to suggest that, for the foreseeable future, he should stick to tag wrestling. In contrast, Sanada is ready to go as soon as New Japan decide that it’s time.

Verdict: Three Stars

Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki

This part was fun at least. Credit: NJPW

Can anyone be arsed? I can’t be arsed. Yano pissing off Suzuki is mildly more amusing than him pissing off other people, but it’s still annoying.  Suzuki is sold as basically being the devil’s representation on Earth, and yet, despite having help from his minions, he can’t beat Yano? I get that’s it a light-hearted story, but it doesn’t work for me.

Verdict: One And Half Star

Evil defeated Satoshi Kojima

Evil does some evil shit. Credit: NJPW

Evil comes out of this tournament a very different man from the one who went in. Several big time wins combined with some heroic performances have shown that New Japan is ready to pull the trigger on the nasty bastard. Kojima’s story, meanwhile, has been almost the complete opposite as it becomes apparent that his days as a G1 competitor are numbered. That hasn’t stopped him having some great matches and this was another excellent performance from Cozy. Evil took several nasty as hell bumps which are very admirable, but someone needs to tell him that it’s okay to calm down sometimes. He’s had his injuries this tournament and we don’t want to lose him to a big one. Thankfully, that didn’t happen here and both men capped off strong tournaments with another good match. Sadly, it’s unlikely to be remembered because of what came next.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Kenny Omega defeated Kazuchika Okada

Soooo pretty. Credit: NJPW

You beautiful, beautiful men. Falling out of love with wrestling is easy. The dirge of WWE and the unpleasant nature of some its performers can grind your soul away. If you ever feel that way, then watch Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada wrestle. In a world of whining and hot takes, these two get this shit. In the ring together they create magic and in the third match of their series they tied it up to 1-1-1 meaning we are surely getting one more slice of this wonderful pie down the road.

Unlike their previous two encounters, this one came out of the gate like a motherfucking cannon as it was almost like they went straight back to where they were when the time ran out at Dominion. Both men give off the air of being desperate to defeat the other, to prove they are the best. Kenny attacked Okada’s neck, throwing V-Triggers like his life depended on it. Okada meanwhile was on the defensive, at one point looking like there was no way he could continue. However, you can’t count out the Rainmaker and when he hits that move everything changes.

Kenny Omega had other ideas, though, and wasn’t going to let destiny slip through his fingers for the third time. When Okada’s injuries prevented him from getting the cover, he fired back. Croyt’s Wrath was pulled out of the history books and then for the first time he managed to hit the Ace with the One Winged Angel in the centre of the ring. 1-2-3. This was wrestling.

Verdict: Five Stars

Overall Show

Nice of Kojima to hold the chair for him. Credit: NJPW

This show will, rightly, be remembered for Omega vs. Okada III which it’s pretty clear that I was a fan of. That shouldn’t overshadow some very solid encounters from elsewhere, with Juice vs. Elgin and Kojima vs. Evil being worthy of your time. We now know (okay we knew days ago but play ago) that our final is Kenny vs. Naito and the only real question is can it live up to tonight’s main event. Spoiler: It can. Let’s get excited.

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