New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27: Night 14
August 5th, 2017
Watch: NJPW World / View Updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings at voicesofwrestling.com/forum
We’re now on the home stretch of the 2017 edition of the G1 Climax. Only a few more shows remain before the tournament returns to Tokyo for three straight nights in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. Of course, the G1 Climax wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Osaka, and that’s the city that played host to Night 14 of the tournament, which featured matches from the B Block. Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega have been the dominant forces in this block thus far, coming into Osaka with records of 6-0 and 5-1 respectively. Would they be able to continue their dominance, gapping the rest of the field in the process? That was the big question coming into Night 14, but before we get to the tournament matches, here are the results from the undercard:
- Chase Owens def. Katsuya Kitamura
- Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, & Taichi) def. Yuji Nagata, Shota Umino, & Tetsuhiro Yagi
- The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tomoyuki Oka)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & BUSHI) def. Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask IV, & Hirai Kawato
- CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, & David Finlay
The most noteworthy item on the undercard was that the first non-tournament singles match of the entire tour took place, as Chase Owens defeated Katsuya Kitamura in a fun *** affair that went just under five minutes. While the outcome was never it question, the fact that Kitamura was given a non-tournament singles match during the G1 Climax, in Osaka (the biggest market New Japan runs outside of Tokyo), speaks volumes about how the company feels about him right now. It’s been pretty clear right from the start that New Japan has big plans for Katsuya Kitamura (as well as Tomoyuki Oka) and this was just the next step in his evolution as a pro-wrestler. Even though Kitamura lost, he looked impressive in defeat, and for a young lion, that’s exactly what you want to see.
Toru Yano (6) def. Tama Tonga (4)
One of the most surprising aspects in the early stages of the B Block was that Toru Yano was having longer matches that expected. Of course, all of them involved the comedy that Yano is famous for, but we we’re seeing a lot of those shorter bouts that he’s known to have in the G1. Well, that streak didn’t last very long. Yano’s last three tournament matches (against SANADA, EVIL, & Michael Elgin) have all been on the shorter side, and he extended that streak of shorter bouts to four with a victory here over Tama Tonga (who busted out his traditional face paint for, I believe, the first time on the entire tour) in just over three minutes. The comedy started before the bell even rang, as Tama Tonga (who had entered first) ran out through the crowd, snuck up on Yano during his entrance, and chased him around the ring.
We did get to see the wrist tape come into play, as Tama Tonga tied Yano to the guardrail in an attempt to get the count out win, but Yano used scissors to break free and managed to beat the count. Yano would end up getting the win after his signature “distract the referee/low blow/rollup” finish. This one really doesn’t deserve a rating since these two barely touched each other, but from a pure entertainment standpoint, it was one of Yano’s best matches of the entire tournament. Tama Tonga deserves some credit as well, as he served as a great foil here to the “Sublime Master Thief”. N/R
.@YTR_CHAOS WINS!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/vt2CYNaRcm
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017
Satoshi Kojima (2) def. SANADA (8)
Even though he had suffered a loss to Okada back on Night 6, SANADA came into Osaka as one of the few competitors left in the B Block that still had a shot of catching the top two. Unfortunately for SANADA, his hopes of potentially winning the block took a massive hit here, as Satoshi Kojima scored the victory to pick up his first two points of the tournament. This was a great match that featured exciting moments throughout. The first half of the match featured a very fascinating story, as both men essentially mirrored each other. SANADA stole Kojima’s machine gun chops, and Kojima got payback shortly thereafter. One would hit a brainbuster or an inverted atomic drop, and other would respond with the same move. They even mirrored each other during the opening exchange. The story they told in this one was certainly different from anything we’ve seen in the tournament thus far, and it helped set up a really entertaining closing stretch.
I know a lot has been said about Kojima having the exact same overall story in the B Block as Yuji Nagata in the A Block, but regardless of whether this is Kojima’s last G1 or not, his situation is a little different, in my view. When I was filling out my pick ‘ems for the Voices of Wrestling G1 Climax Pick ‘Ems contest, I had a really hard time picking out where exactly Kojima would get his wins. In all honestly, Kojima’s losing streak might simply be due to the fact that his best shots to win were late in the tournament anyway (I had him getting off to at least an 0-4 start in my pick ‘ems), but that’s just my view. Results aside, Kojima continues to have an underrated tournament. Aside from his bouts with Yano on Night 4 (which was boring) and Suzuki on Night 12 (which was really bad), he’s had nothing but ****+ matches, and this bout continued that trend. ****
WESTERN LARIAT!!!!!! @cozy_lariat WINS!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/NXt2uRoT3l
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017
Michael Elgin (6) def. Minoru Suzuki (8)
You know this match was in trouble right from start when both El Desperado & Taichi were with Minoru Suzuki at ringside. While Suzuki came into this bout still within striking distance of the top two, Michael Elgin had been eliminated from contention on Night 12 in a horrible match with Toru Yano that featured an awful DQ finish. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, there was a ton of interference almost immediately. Initial attempts by El Desperado & Taichi to get involved eventually led to Suzuki brutalizing one of Elgin’s arms with a chair. He then gave Elgin some chair shots to the back, but of course, a DQ wasn’t called. El Desperado & Taichi would get involved again later, this time in the ring itself, but Elgin was able to send them packing. In the end, Elgin was able to overcome all of this bullshit to get the win, bringing his total up to six points. If it weren’t for some of the exchanges we saw in the ring itself, this match would’ve been a complete train wreck like Suzuki’s bout against Kojima on Night 12. At least in this case, it led to the crowd really getting behind Elgin, who ultimately thwarted Suzuki and his minions. While the stable does have a people in it that I enjoy watching, I am completely over Suzuki-gun.
The bullshit in almost all of his tournament matches has just been too much. At this point, I’m hoping Gedo brings a version of Dragon Gate’s Unit Survival Race to New Japan so Suzuki-gun can go away forever. In any case, the match itself was still solid, and with his victory, Michael Elgin earns himself a shot a NEVER Openweight Title, which I presume will be a headline bout during the Destruction Tour in September. If that match happens, I really hope Elgin takes the title from Suzuki. ***1/4
ELGIN BOMB!!!! @MichaelElgin25 WINS!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/Ay0gNHtfwP
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017
Juice Robinson (4) def. Kenny Omega (10)
Despite coming into this match with a 5-1 record, Kenny Omega was in a very tough situation. With Okada being undefeated in the tournament up to this point with a 6-0 record, Omega couldn’t afford another loss. Meanwhile, Juice Robinson had already been eliminated, but he was still looking to get a few more wins to add to his point total in his first G1. I had a feeling this was going to be good, but it ended up being an awesome match that saw one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, as Juice Robinson picked up the victory over Kenny Omega! There was good action throughout (especially in the second half), and the story of this one revolved around Juice’s knees, which have been injured for a few weeks.
Omega relentlessly attacked the knees in various ways, both inside and outside of the ring, but Juice showed a ton of heart, and never gave up, despite all of the damage he was taking. Even when the intensity picked up in the closing stages, Juice managed to hang on, and even had Omega rocked on a few occasions. Both men also played their roles very well, particularly Juice, who has become an awesome babyface in the last year. The finish came when Juice counted a One Winged Angel attempt into a cradle pin for the win, and the fans in Osaka (as well as the commentary team) erupted.
I feel like this has been said several times this year already, but this was the biggest moment of Juice Robinson’s career. It was pretty awesome to see the reactions of everyone involved, from Juice, to Omega, to even Red Shoes, who initially seemed shocked that Juice actually won. Getting such a big win in the G1, over a guy like Kenny Omega, was truly a special moment. Juice has been doing a great job in his first G1, and this was definitely one of his best matches (right up there with his bouts against Kojima, EVIL, & Okada). Obviously this win will have huge ramifications for later in the year, as this win essentially guarantees Juice a shot at the IWGP United States Title. While this probably won’t be in that upper echelon of bouts in this year’s G1 Climax, it will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest moments in the tournament. ****1/4
OH MY O_O JUICE! JUICE! JUICE! @_juicerobinson_ #G127 #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/WP0d0R1P0n
— John.gif (@DK1105) August 5, 2017
EVIL (10) def. Kazuchika Okada (12)
To be completely honest, it’s amazing that EVIL was even in this match, after it appeared that he got legitimately knocked out towards the end of his bout against Kenny Omega on Night 12. Speaking of Kenny Omega, with his loss to Juice Robinson in the prior match, Okada was in a perfect position to extend his lead and potentially solidify his spot in the G1 Finals. However, in an upset that managed to top the one that occurred in the match prior, EVIL scored a huge win over the Okada, giving the IWGP Heavyweight Champion not only his first loss in the G1, but also his first clean loss since last year’s G1 Climax. Even though there were a few slow points in the opening stages, the match was pretty fantastic from start to finish. There were some good back and forth during that first half of the match, but the real turning point came when EVIL blocked Okada’s running dive over the barricade by throwing a chair full force at this face. This was soon followed by EVIL hitting Okada with Darkness Falls on the outside onto a pile of chairs. Once they made their way back to the ring, they put together an amazing closing stretch with cool moments, good counters, and exciting near falls.
Okada did hit the Rainmaker twice, but instead of going for the cover, he elected to hit the Rainmaker again. This would lead to his downfall, as EVIL hit his STO for the victory. The fact that EVIL was the one that ended Okada’s nearly one year undefeated streak just goes to show what the company thinks of him. He’s definitely earned himself a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title, which (if I had to guess) would be a King Of Pro Wrestling in October. It’s crazy to think that I saw this guy in ROH, first at War Of The Worlds 2014 (when he still looked like a young lion) and again at War Of The Worlds 2015, where he looked like a Hirooki Goto knockoff, but with different colors. It’s incredible to see just how far he’s come in the last several years, and the fact that I got to see that evolution in personal was pretty cool. As for the match, it was fantastic (like I already said). Okada’s tournament has been stellar (no surprise there), but when you really look at it, EVIL’s had a fantastic tournament as well. His future in New Japan is definitely bright, which I guess is ironic, since he is the “King Of Darkness”. ****1/2
OH MY WORD!!! @151012EVIL BEATS OKADA WITH A STO!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/STByiMC3ie
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017
For the most part, this was a great showing from the B Block. It was certainly a strong rebound after they had arguably the worst show of the tournament in Night 12. This was definitely a night of upsets (some bigger than others), with EVIL, Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, & Satoshi Kojima getting huge victories at the expense of guys like Okada, Omega, Suzuki, & SANADA. EVIL vs. Okada was clearly the best match of the night, with Juice vs. Omega not that far behind. Kojima vs. SANADA was also pretty great, and Yano had a very entertaining “match” (if you can call it that) with Tama Tonga. What this show also did was set up a bunch of title matches for the final few months of 2017. The IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IWGP United States Champion, & NEVER Openweight Champion all lost, so this card created a fresh new set of challengers for shows for either King Of Pro Wrestling or one of the various Destruction shows.
As for the standings, things have really closed up over the last few days. The A Block is a giant logjam (as we all know), but Night 14 really created some havoc for the B Block. Nothing really changes as far as Okada & Omega are concerned, as both lost in Osaka. EVIL was the biggest beneficiary from the results of Night 14. He’s now at 10 Points, and is very much in the hunt, if he wins out. He does need some help (Okada would need to lose once, and he can’t afford to be in a tiebreaker with Omega, who would beat EVIL if it came to that), but he does have a clear path if the results fall the right way. SANADA & Minoru Suzuki, unfortunately, are both eliminated from contention, even though there are scenarios where both could reach 12 Points. It’s very intriguing that, at this point, only three guys are realistically eligible to win the B Block. Okada & Omega were very much the dominant forces (and still are), but EVIL has suddenly come into the picture after the biggest win of his career.
G1 Climax 27 Standings
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 10 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 10 Points
Hirooki Goto – 8 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 8 Points
Bad Luck Fale – 8 Points
Tomohiro Ishii – 8 Points
Kota Ibushi – 8 Points
Togi Makabe – 6 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 4 Points
Yuji Nagata – 0 Points
Kazuchika Okada – 12 Points
Kenny Omega – 10 Points
EVIL – 10 Points
Minoru Suzuki – 8 Points
SANADA – 8 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Michael Elgin – 6 Points
Tama Tonga – 4 Points
Juice Robinson – 4 Points
Satoshi Kojima – 2 Points