Monday, August 6, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax: Nights 11-15

Unsurprisingly, they had a very good match
Screenshot via DailyMotion
Before getting to the matches I liked best from Nights 11 through 15 of the G1 Climax, a quick word about the shenanigans of the Firing Squad. Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale have both been accompanied by Tanga Roa in their G1 matches. This has led to interference and bullshit of the highest order, with quite a few of their matches ending in disqualifications. Many fans have hated this stuff, claiming it cheapens the integrity of the G1, especially because Tama and Fale don't seem particularly concerned with winning all of their matches. Tama and Fale have even claimed that their Firing Squad doesn't value individual performance, and is instead about a collective effort to run roughshod over New Japan Pro Wrestling.

For me, I totally get the motivation behind having them do this constant interference, and at first it seemed like it would be a welcome change-up during the long grind of the G1. But I have to admit that I'm joining the bookish NJPW nerds in giving this stuff the ol' Thumbs Down. It just hasn't gone anywhere, and it's getting annoying. Tama and Fale's matches are nearly unwatchable, because the drama they build is just going to get spoiled by something stupid. Heel heat doesn't mean anything if babyfaces don't really get comebacks. It's just kinda dumb.

Anyway, that's why neither of them have shown up in my recaps. Let's get to some actual good stuff!

Minoru Suzuki vs. EVIL (Night 11, 7/30)
These guys seem like they truly hate each other, which isn't always a believable thing to get across to the audience. EVIL tore off his own ridiculous outfit in the aisle just so he could get to Suzuki sooner. A wild brawl ensued, with the occasional burst of very good wrestling.

Kenny Omega vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Night 12, 8/1)
You might hear online that this was underwhelming, but don't believe the lack of hype. I loved this because it saw Omega having to deviate from his usual game plan and meet Sabre at his level. Omega got flustered by Sabre's constant reversals, and he had to try different stuff to win.

Kota Ibushi vs. Hirooki Goto (Night 12, 8/1)
Hirooki Goto in general doesn't get enough love from NJPW fandom. He is a big strong man with a good mustache who hits people very hard and screams a lot. What more might you need?? And yeah, this match with Ibushi got the job done quite well.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki (Night 13, 8/2)
Having wrestled two 30-minute time limit draws against each other within the last year, these two are intimately familiar with each other's ability to not quit. In the midst of a brutal slapping, Okada began laughing, smiling and then yelling at Suzuki, "Let's have some fun!" He begged for punches. Okada's descent into madness continues. Luckily, he was right there with a man who has already lost his mind.

SANADA vs. Toru Yano (Night 14, 8/4)
Though it's just a few minutes long and it features much of the standard Yano cheating, this is worth watching for the hilarious ending, in which SANADA puts the Paradise Lock on Yano and attaches him to the barricade, then tapes that barricade to the ring post, then prevents ringside announcer Rocky Romero from assisting Yano, puts him in a Paradise Lock, puts Rocky's headset back on him and then runs back into the ring. Rocky's strangled calls of "HELP MEEEE" will be one of my fondest G1 memories when I look back on this stuff as an old man.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega (Night 14, 8/4)
Oh my goodness. This is the good stuff. Omega got a little cocky and didn't treat Ishii seriously, which is as grave a mistake as you can make in this world. The crowd in Osaka was behind Ishii in a way I'm not sure I've ever heard a NJPW crowd be. By the end of the match, Omega's lower lip was bloodied so badly that he may need a whole lot of stitches. Just an absolute banger, and a contender for best match of the tournament.

Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi (Night 14, 8/4)
Osaka still has a love/hate relationship with Naito, and he does nothing to earn their favor, aside from having a baller match with Ibushi. The only bummer here is that Ibushi dropped Naito on his head so much it was borderline irresponsible. Has Naito learned nothing from the injury suffered by his young son Hiromu Takahashi??

Minoru Suzuki vs. Hangman Page (Night 15, 8/5)
Page took it right to the King and went for a big brawl, which wasn't necessarily a wise plan. But the crowd was firmly on his side the whole way, which should show everyone why he earned a spot in the G1. And the finish creatively came out of nowhere, making a potential star in the process. Man, wrestling is fun.