New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 2
July 21, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Undercard/Prelim Results

  • EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi def. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
  • Minoru Suzuki & Taichi def. SANADA & BUSHI
  • Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi def. Tama Tonga & Chase Owens
  • Michael Elgin, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & Gedo

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Hirooki Goto (4) def. Yuji Nagata (0)

The term Strong Style gets misappropriated far too often these days. Too often what’s described as Strong Style is the furthest thing from its actual definition (as laid out beautifully by Connor Dunphy in a column on this very website).

This match, inside a raucous Korakuen Hall, was Strong Style at its finest. Strong kicks, thunderous slaps, a fist or two thrown in for good measure, disrespect, obedience and ultimately the better man, the stronger wrestler prevailed.

From the opening bell this match felt like a war.

Nagata took advantage early rallying behind a crowd that wanted nothing more than to see Blue Justice pick up a victory in his very last G1 Climax. Over the course of the match though, Goto, once thought to be an ace in training and a succession plan to a post-Nagata New Japan Pro Wrestling, started working Nagata over. Little by little Goto seized control of the match. Then he got a little too cocky, a little too big for his britches. Goto, fully in control of the match, decided to have a little fun with the veteran Nagata, playfully slapping the downed Nagata him in the head.

Big mistake.

The tone, the look and the match changed at that moment. The crowd gasped. Nagata’s face immediately turned to that of pure disdain. Nagata sprung to life and started hitting a barrage of stiff kicks, strong slaps and even a few knuckles just to let Goto know he wasn’t playing around. This offense had the Korakuen crowd going absolutely nuts rallying behind their former and maybe, just maybe, current hero. This felt a lot like the Kazuchika Okada/Nagata match from G1 Climax 25—one of my favorite matches in 2014.

Dad Nagata is a playful guy, someone who is willing to have some fun, smile and just enjoy life. If you disrespect him, though, particularly if you’re one of his underlings, watch out. Nagata is not to be disregarded.

Ultimately, though, the spry 38-year-old Goto emerged after slowly Nagata’s furious attack with a stiff headbutt. Realizing he shouldn’t play around any longer he immediately hit Nagata with the GTR for the win.

In a touching moment, Nagata left the ringside area to a thunderous chant of “Nagata! Nagata! Nagata!” ****

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tomohiro Ishii (2) def. Togi Makabe (0)

Time heals all wounds. Two years ago, over the course of nine months, these two battled over the NEVER Openweight Title four times (three of the matches saw title changes as well). The novelty had worn off and the still hard-hitting matches had become wrought and mundane. Great another headbutt. Cool a stiff clothesline. Chop to the throat, yeah, yeah, yeah. Everything in moderation.

With that period in the rearview, a match between these two felt fresh and more than that, it showed just how great these two can be against one another. Those matches in 2015 were good, just overdone but tonight showed why NJPW kept going to that well.

This, like Nagata/Goto, was an absolute war. 15 minutes of grunting, slaps, chops and lariats. That’s the only way to truly describe it. Spending time talking about the deep mid-match psychology is worthless, this was too bulls sprinting at one another trying to knock the other out. There was no higher art to this match, no nuance, no “little things” just two monsters trying to prove who was the strongest. ****

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Kota Ibushi (2) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (2)

Two men who were pigeonholed as juniors in NJPW went out defied the critics on this night having an incredible match that likely won’t be atop anyone’s Match of the Year lists but one that we’ll remember for a long time.

While I preferred the brutality of Sabre’s opening night match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, this match had plenty to love.

The lines were clearly drawn throughout with Ibushi being the fast, high-flier and Sabre being the grounded submission expert. Time and time again Sabre would cut off Ibushi’s heroics with a beautiful, out-of-nowhere counter and transition into a submission hold. Ibushi worked as someone who was completely frazzled and completely off his game. Halfway through Ibushi had to abandon the flying and return to his kickboxing routes.

Still, Sabre had him beat numerous times but Ibushi, by the skin of his teeth, would reach the ropes or slide out of the ring at the perfect time.

The closing stretch of the match saw Sabre go for the triangle choke one too many times as Ibushi—now fully aware of Sabre’s gameplan—deadlifted ZSJ and hit a beautiful Last Ride Powerbomb for the win. ****¼

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) def. Bad Luck Fale (2)

Fale came into this match with a 2-1 advantage of the ace Tanahashi all-time in the G1 tournament. Fale picked up surprising wins in both 2014 and 2015 before falling to Tanahashi at last year’s tournament. Tanahashi would tie things up with the countout win, a fun match with an interesting, unique finish.

Similar to previous Tanahashi/Fale matches, Fale controlled much of the pace wearing Tanahashi down with his innovative big man offense. Tanahashi continued to play up his injured biceps which only helped enhance the damage Fale was inflicting. You could sense that Tanahashi wanted to reverse a move or get the momentum back but just never could down one arm. The pace at times, was very slow, almost too slow and that ultimately hurt the match in totality.

However, the finish nearly made up for it. Tanahashi started his rally doing a really fun one-armed skin the cat to get back into the ring, he then got Fale outside and hit a gorgeous High Fly Flow to the floor. Tanahashi sold it almost as much as Fale grabbing at his injured biceps. At the count of 15, Fale started making his way into the ring looking back at his fallen opponent. Tanahashi recovered, climbed to the apron and hit a sick-looking Slingblade to Fale on said apron. This caused Fale to tumble back to the outside while Tanahashi slid into the ring at 18. Fale got up but it was too late, Red Shoes counted 20, called for the bell and Tanahashi squeaked out with a win.

The match itself had me bored at times but the finish was super innovative and a lot of fun. ***

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tetsuya Naito (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2)

The result was in little doubt however most will be surprised at how even the match was. Obviously, as a G1 Climax main event in Korakuen you knew this wouldn’t be a 5-minute squash by Naito. Still–in a lot of ways to Naito’s credit—YOSHI-HASHI felt like a real threat multiple times throughout this match and even looked like he may pull off the huge upset.

YOSHI hit a Swanton (sorry, Loose Explosion!), he hit Lariats, he put him in the Butterfly Lock. YOSHI-HASHI emptied his entire clip in trying to defeat the Los Ingobernables leader. One of the coolest aspects of the match was the crowd slowly but surely getting behind YOSHI-HASHI. What started as an almost 100% Naito crowd—with multiple NAITO NAITO NAITO chants throughout the match—went 50/50 and even at a point majority YOSHI-HASHI. That’s a testament to both men’s incredible work.

Even knowing that Naito was probably going to pull it out, the Korakuen faithful couldn’t help but get sucked into the underdog story of YOSHI-HASHI.

YOSHI-HASHI literally gave Naito everything he could. When he went for Karma one too many times, Naito reversed it into a Destino. YOSHI-HASHI kicked out but for all intends and purposes was done. Naito hit another Destino and finally put YOSHI-HASHI away. ***½

Final Thoughts:

I’m a hard marker and still gave three matches **** and the rest ***+. That should be enough to tell you how good NJPW’s G1 Climax 27 Night 3 was.

VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Contest: