New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 7
July 26, 2017
Miyagi, Japan
Sendai Sunplaza

Watch: NJPW World

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As A Block rolls on we’ve had a number of through lines so far.

Ibushi’s emotional (and utterly brilliant) return. Nagata scraping tooth and nail against Father Time to prove he still belongs in his final G1 and ultimately coming up short so far. An even race on top. Makabe overperforming bell to bell. Vile, stuffy murder. YOSHI-HASHI’s hair. Goto continuing to exist. ZSJ’s continued emergence as a singles player.

Many of those stories rolled on in Night 7 as I continue my streak from last year of only reviewing G1 shows that have Tanahashi vs. Goto on top.

The results of the undercard tags, feel free to skip the bunch:

  • Yujiro Takahashi and Tama Tonga def. David Finlay and Juice Robinson
  • Toru Yano and Jado def. BUSHI and SANADA (in a delightfully brief match)
  • Hiromu Takahashi (RIP Daryl) and EVIL def. Taichi and Minoru Suzuki
  • Ryusuke Taguchi and Michael Elgin def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada

Tomohiro Ishii (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2) 

I earnestly enjoy YOSHI-HASHI. After a bunch of NJPW’s resident underdogs have moved up in the world (Ishii included), he’s one of the few left going. And aside from that draping dropkick he does always looking terrible, I buy into him and his 1980’s soap star haircut in that role. It is interesting, though not entirely surprising that Ishii (brilliant fighting from underneath in his own right) could be every bit as compelling as the aggressor in that same formula.

YOSHI-HASHI attempted to go toe to toe, and ill-advisedly headbutt for headbutt, with Ishii but Ishii weathered the storm, survived a Loose Explosion (~!) and put YOSHI away with the brainbuster. A strong match, the crowd bought into YOSHI-HASHI taking it to Ishii. And while come the end of the tournament people will probably be effusively praising Ibushi, Okada and Omega – Ishii will nearly certainly be right there alongside them when it comes to quality. ***3/4

Zack Sabre Jr (6) def. Bad Luck Fale (2) 

Fale is the worst wrestler ever. I hate him. He killed that poor innocent kitten and I will never forgive him. I can’t wait until he faces the only form of justice suitable for such a crime. Blue Justice. ZSJ submitting Tanahashi was about as strong a statement of intent regarding how New Japan plan to position Zack as possible. This match was just as interesting an examination of how they consider him. People like Nakamura, Okada, and Tanahashi have traditionally been positioned to valiantly attempt to slay the giant. Zack meanwhile had to rely on craftiness, moving around Fale looking for pin or submission attempts while hanging off him like a spider monkey. That made for some fun visuals at least here as Zack was attempting to clasp in holds on Fale’s considerable limbs.

In the end, Zack grabbed the win with a flash pin, which while not the same symbolically as making Tanahashi submit, is still a win nonetheless. It feels like they’re positioning Zack to slot straight into Suzuki’s position when the time comes for Suzuki to move on. **3/4

Togi Makabe (4) def. Kota Ibushi (4)

Makabe has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. Both his Ishii and Goto matches delivered, he seems to be moving better and working harder than he has in recent singles. Kota is Kota. A brilliant, beautiful man that I’m incredibly happy to have back in New Japan. And best of all his near two year absence means that all of his matches feel fresh. He’s injected a new energy into A Block along with Zack. This didn’t entirely get there for me – the story of Ibushi trying to match Makabe’s physicality before getting nutty and trying top rope piledrivers only for that to cost him the match was a pretty good one but they didn’t build a tonne of momentum toward the finish. The visual of Makabe rising from the dead on the top rope to nail an unknowing Ibushi with the King Kong Knee Drop was absolutely amazing though. ***1/4

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Tetsuya Naito (6) def. Yuji Nagata (0) 

I have conflicted feelings about how Nagata has been booked in the G1 thus far.

On the one hand, this is exactly how legacy talent should be used. Nagata, as somebody who can still deliver at a remarkably high level, is a useful asset in terms of leveraging his long held cache with the audience to further the people NJPW are actually pushing. That’s how people in this stage of his career should be used. It’s not Nagata’s time anymore. But on the other, considering how Nagata can still deliver, how he is still more than capable of shouldering greater storytelling burden, you just want to see his last G1 mean something. Maybe not a miracle run, but at least a more substantial role.

The emotional beats of Nagata’s matches have been pitch perfect though. Particularly the Tanahashi match where he was fighting, willing himself on to be able to keep up with his younger, longtime contemporary only for him to fall short in the end – his body betraying him. The early stages of this were more Dad Nagata having no time for Naito’s shenanigans – giving Naito disappointed, disapproving looks every time he started acting up only to start beating the hell out of him later.

Nagata was set out to teach Naito a lesson. But try as he might, the younger Naito got the better of him. Naito finished Nagata off with a Destino. It is disappointing that Nagata won’t play a greater role in the mathematics of A Block but so far he’s been carrying his fair share of the emotional heft. The little touches and nuances in his matches so far, with the added context of this being his final G1 and the layered character interactions that have come with that, have been absolutely tremendous. ***3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi (6) def. Hirooki Goto (4) 

Post-Ace Tanahashi can leave me a little cold. It feels like he should have evolved, changed to match his new status—but he hasn’t. His current act is that he continues to pretend to be still be Ace when he has clearly been dethroned. And while he can still deliver bell-to-bell with the very best of them, I’d like to see something different from him. This match suffered a little because of that. It felt a little flat, something we’ve seen a tonne before. The closing few minutes picked up but not considerably enough to compensate for the boilerplate opening exchanges. I’d like to see something more from Tanahashi. Something meaner or angrier. Bitter even. Something. Goto is, and forever will be, just Goto (I’ve been mean to Goto twice in this review even though I really like him – sorry Goto). ***

Final Thoughts:

A disappointing main event means this show can’t really get a hearty recommendation though every match was at the very least good. YOSHI-HASHI vs. Ishii and the lovely story telling beats of Nagata vs. Naito are the essentials from Night 7.