(By the time you read this, the tournament will be over and there will be a winner. If, like me, you are still behind and have not seen any spoilers, this is a review for the last day of the A Block.)
The winner of the A Block will be decided on this, day 17 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) G1 Climax 27, with a main event of Tetsuya Naito versus Hiroshi Tanahashi set to crown the A Block champion. Although they cannot win, four more matches will also take place, as Kota Ibushi faces Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii battles the submission master Zack Sabre Jr., Togi Makabe and YOSHI-HASHI fight it out, and finally old Blue Justice, Yuji Nagata, gets in the ring with the massive Bad Luck Fale. For the first time this tournament, other NJPW wrestlers such as War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe), the Young Bucks, Rocochet and Tanga Roa (rejoining his brother Tama Tonga) will rejoin the tour list.
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): as much as I love the match between Naito/Tanahashi from Dominion, earlier this year, this proved that sometimes less is more. Back and forth action, an incredibly hot crowd and a definitive winner of both the match and the A Block; this was great
+ Kota Ibushi vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): god damn I loved this. A favourite in Goto, and one of the best in Ibushi just beating the crap out of each other, and using some of the best ‘fighting spirit’ spots I’ve seen in a long time. May have been Goto’s best match, and Ibushi’s second-best (not quite as good as Day 1 against Naito)
+ Yuji Nagata vs Bad Luck Fale (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): this was Nagata’s final ever G1 match, and god damn it was something special. Fale is not the most talented guy, and Nagata is getting on in years,, and both are obviously very tired. But despite all that, the huge crowd support, Fale’s imposing figure and Nagata refusing to go out without giving it his all was just amazing to watch. This was fantastic, especially in the post-match
+ Taguchi Japan (Michael Elgin, Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi) and War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) vs Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Cody, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson): Big Mike was the only one on his team not in the War Machine facepaint: Mr No Fun Allowed, apparently. TJ ran a train on Matt Jackson (in a phrase I regret writing down) before some simple yet effective Taguchi comedy brought a smile to my face. There were dives, topes and -of course- super kicks galore, which made for a really fun match
+ Juice Robinson & Satoshi Kojima vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi): damn son, EVIl hits like a truck, Kojima slaps like a machine gun and Juice hit perhaps the best Powerbomb since Kane was learning how to hit the Last Ride. And Hiromu, poor broken Hiromu, is great as ever. This was really good
+ Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & SANADA): gosh it’s good to see Tama back in a tag team; I think he works better as a tag guy, but damn if his sections against SANADA here weren’t great
+ Hirai Kawato, Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi): I feel sorry for these young lions, even when they look like Kitamura, just for having to get in a slap fight with Suzuki – and Suzuki was the highlight here. He looks a million bucks before his battle with Toru Yano tomorrow, and none of the young lions look bad at all. I don’t think Taichi event got in the ring, either, which is always a plus
– Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr. (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): even the slightest chance of Ishii turning Sabre into a puddle on the ring mat made this worth watching, and the end result was interesting, if not very good. Ishii makes all the strikes of his opponent looks great, but Sabre’s submissions didn’t quite work on the shorter, stocky frame of Ishii
– Togi Makabe vs YOSHI-HASHI (G1 Climax 27 A Block Match): I’m not the biggest fan of either of these two, and to me this was easily the worst match of the tournament matches. Neither guy looked overly impressive, and there was nothing to keep my interest – no favourites, no final tournament match, and no chance of winning
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi): this was the lest-good of the tag matches so far, but it is clear they are saving any real Okada/Omega interactions for their match tomorrow. This match was not good, but I have faith that tomorrow it will be great
> YUJIRO HAD TWO “special women” WITH HIM OH LORD SAVE ME
Should you watch this event: My expectations were not low for this show, but I was expecting to want to just skip the tag matches so I could get through the tournament results. That was simply not the case, as almost all of these were worth seeing, and everything had something worth watching. Naito/Tanahashi and Ibushi/Goto were great matches, and Fale/Nagata brought out some unexpected emotions in its aftermath.