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By Paul Crockett on 2017-08-12 19:41:00

G1 Climax Night 18 in Tokyo

August 13, 2017

Flair-Steamboat.  Hogan-Savage.  Rock-Austin.  Kobashi-Misawa.  In 2017, the world of professional wrestling has finally found its next epic feud and it’s only been going on for eight months.  Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega has been a rivalry that will go down for the ages even before this night ends.  By the end of it, they may very well surpass them all, and by doing so, they may do something many so-called experts didn’t think was possible for this business in the year of 2017: they will have built a feud through believability, legitimacy and emotional investment as opposed shock value.

BLOCK B: Michael Elgin (4-4; 8 Points) vs. Juice Robinson (3-5; 6 Points)

This is an opportunity for both men to have a strong showing in an attempt to build momentum going forward.

They shook hands before the match.  Elgin dominated the early proceedings.  He used both power and the occasional athletic move to keep Juice at bay.  Robinson was able to work his way back into the match and they traded the advantage from there.

The story then became Juice being unable to get Elgin off his feet, while Elgin kept brutalizing Juice with strikes and power moves.  Juice got Elgin down when Big Mike went to the top and Juice caught him with a nearfall.  They both went for finishes and were getting out.  Juice hit two straight left hands followed by the Pulp Friction for the win.  After the match, Elgin raises Juice’s hand in a show of respect.  Very good finishing sequence.  Really solid match and a nice push forward for Juice heading into the fall and a potential US Title shot against Omega.

WINNER: Juice Robinson

BLOCK B: SANADA (4-4; 8 Points) vs. Tama Tonga (3-5; 6 Points)

They followed up on the opener by also shaking hands.  The only difference is that both men are dastardly.  As they were in mid-shake, they both went for a boot to the gut and they both caught the other and were at a stalemate.  They then come to a gentleman’s agreement to slowly lower the other man’s leg.  It was all classy until Tama broke the truce and kicked SANADA in the gut.  He laughed at his own brilliance when SANADA retorted with a boot of his own and we were off.

Tama went to put the Paradise Lock on SANADA.  This is a signature for SANADA where he uses his opponent’s own arms and legs to hog tie them on the mat.  The only problem is that Tama couldn’t quite figure it out, got frustrated and gave up on it much to the delight of the crowd.  They fought to the floor where SANADA tied Tama up with the Paradise Lock.  Tama couldn’t get out.  Tonga Loa and Yujiro Takahashi arrived and finally were able to kick Tama loose.  At the count of 18, Tama went to jump the guardrail to get back in when he tripped and fell on the floor.  At this point, it should have been a 21 count let alone 19, but the referee let the mistake slide and the match was on.  Again they ended up on the floor and Yujiro distracted the referee.  This allowed Loa to clothesline SANADA.

Toward the end, they had a really cool sequence featuring leapfrogs, criss crosses and counters that ended with SANADA hitting the Gun Stun on Tama for a nearfall.  They went back and forth again until Tama hit the Gun Stun for the pin.  Very good match.

BLOCK B: Minoru Suzuki (4-3-1; 9 Points) vs. Toru Yano (3-5; 6 Points)

This has been a very untraditional classic rivalry in recent G1 years, with Yano surprisingly getting the better of Suzuki, especially in 2013 when he beat Suzuki to cost him a shot at the Finals.

Suzuki is out with Taichi.  He jumps Yano before the bell.  On the floor, he causes a distraction to allow Taichi to lay the boots to Yano.  Back in the ring, Yano gets the turnbuckle pad off and they tease an Irish whip a few times, but Suzuki was able to stop it.  Yano went for the athletic tape that he’s been using to tie up his opponents and Don Callis on commentary said, “use it to hang yourself!  Hang yourself, Yano!” which was amazing.  The ref got knocked down and Suzuki taped Yano’s feet up.  Suzuki then lit Yano up with strikes.  He had him in a choke when the ref recovered and noticed the taped feet.  Suzuki distracted the ref and Taichi came in with a chair.  That’s when Rocky Romero left the booth and went to help his friend in CHAOS. He took Taichi out but then turned around into Suzuki.  Minoru was ready to finish Rocky when Yano grabbed Suzuki’s arm and put some tape around it.  Suzuki grabbed a chair and went to swing when Yano had a chair of his own and hit a gut shot followed by one to the back.  He then taped Suzuki’s arms to his torso by wrapping the tape all around him.  He then low blowed him and scored the win with a roll-up.  While not a match of the year candidate, this was entertaining as hell.  Of course, Suzuki snapped and savaged the young lions at ringside with a chair, which was equally as entertaining.

WINNER: Toru Yano

BLOCK B: EVIL (5-3; 10 Points) vs. Satoshi Kojima (1-7; 2 Points)

Long staredown at the beginning.  Big Kojima chants.  They go to the floor and EVIL puts a chair around Kojima’s head and then swings a chair into the other chair. They teased a countout but Kojima was in with time to spare.  Kojima, who usually gets the better of the chop battles, was losing early to EVIL.  The story then became that Kojima was facing a younger version of himself.

The advantage went back and forth between them.  They were on the apron when Kojima hit a big DDT that dropped them both to the floor.  They ended up on the top rope and Kojima hit a Koji Cutter for a nearfall.  He went for the pad-less lariat but EVIL ducked and hit a German.  EVIL with a couple of nearfalls and went for the STO, but Kojima fought out.  EVIL with two lariats, with the second dropping Kojima.  EVIL yelled at him to get up and the crowd with a Kojima chant.  EVIL hits a third but Kojima pops up and responds with one of his own.  It wasn’t a no-sell as after the lariat, Kojima dropped to the mat, so it was an adrenaline rush.  They’re back up and Kojima almost wins with a brainbuster.  EVIL goes for the STO, but Kojima ducks out and hits a lariat to the back of the head.  He signaled for the big one but EVIL headbutted his way out.  He followed it up with the STO for the victory.  Outstanding storytelling, with Kojima going out strong, EVIL looking powerful going forward and a torch of sorts being passed to the younger powerhouse.


BLOCK B: Kenny Omega (6-2; 12 Points) vs. Kazuchika Okada (6-1-1; 13 Points)

While it may be cliché, you could feel the tension and excitement in the building.  They teased all of their big moves early, knowing that they needed to end it sooner than later.  Omega with a snap dragon suplex but missed on the V-Trigger.  Omega almost hit the One-Winged Angel as well.  Okada dropkicked Omega to the floor and the early rush ended.

The pace was ferocious.  Okada with the Rainmaker pose within five minutes.  Omega bounced back and hit a plancha to the floor.  Omega with a dropkick from the top rope onto the taped up neck of Okada.  He then started to work it over and ripped the tape off.

It was at this point I decided to stop with the running play-by-play and soak up the match for a bit.  The genius of this match is that it was worked as if the match was going to end at any second and it simply kept going.  It was fast paced but it wasn’t rushed at all.  They would take their time to sell when they needed to, but the sense of urgency created in the tempo was masterful.

One of the bigger moments were when Omega hit a reverse rana on the floor.  Sometimes, that move can seem a bit too much and over the top, but here, it told a story.  Red Shoes was thinking of calling it off.  The ring doctor came out and checked on Okada, all the while Omega was beside himself.  He finally pushed the doctor away and put Okada on the apron.  He then hit a snap dragon on the apron, followed by a cradle brainbuster onto his own knee for a nearfall.  The crowd is now even more amped.

Okada looks out of it on his knees.  Omega hits two huge V-Trigger knees.  Omega picks Okada up and the champion fights back a little bit, but Omega keeps picking him apart.  Okada’s facial expressions are amongst the best in wrestling.  He continues to grit and fire up.  He catches a V-Trigger knee, but Okada catches it.  Omega then is able to hit one.  Somehow, Okada comes out of it and reverses the One-Winged Angel into a Tombstone and the crowd continuing to head toward its climax.

Huge top rope dropkick from Okada to Omega.  He followed it with a shotgun dropkick that tossed Omega into the corner.  He went for a Rainmaker but Omega chopped his way out.  Okada went off the ropes but ran right into a V-Trigger.  Omega went off the ropes and he ran into the big dropkick.  Okada goes for a Rainmaker, but Omega reverses into a massive uranage and Okada sold like he was completely stunned.  Okada hit the Rainmaker at the 20-minute point but he was gassed.  He crawled over and made the cover but Omega kicked out.  Omega with a few pinning combo attempts for two-counts.  Okada popped up and hit a half-Rainmaker.  He maintained wrist control and hit another half-Rainmaker.  He fired up and went for the full monty.  Omega ducked and two German suplexes.  Okada fought out of a third, but as his back was turned, Omega hit another reverse rana, but Okada kicked out.

Omega has him up for the Angel, but Okada fought out.  He went to sneak out in front of Omega, but Omega caught him in mid-air and held him for a German for a two.  Rainmaker attempt but Omega countered with a Rainmaker V-Trigger.  He followed it with a Jay Driller for a nearfall.  Another V-Trigger and he hit the One-Winged Angel and Omega finally got the win.

This was an absolute masterclass in emotion, in-ring action, drama and storytelling.  I don’t know if it reached the level of the first two, but if it didn’t, it was on the same level.  As usual, these two giants of the industry didn’t disappoint.

Kenny cut a promo after the match.  He did the first part in Japanese, which the crowd appreciated.  In Japanese, he said that Okada’s English sucks, so he’ll speak Japanese.  He then said it’s not done between him and Okada, but his current road has to continue with Naito.  Thanks to Chris Charlton (@reasonjp) for that translation.  He continues in English.  He says Naito thinks he’s so popular, but this crowd has his towels, Bullet Club shirts and love the Bullet Club.  He said he will become the first ever two-time gaijin (foreign) winner of the G1 and said “Good Bye and Good Night!”

This show was tremendous.  New Japan continues to set the pace not only for in-ring action, but they’re a level above every other company in the world in terms of short-term and long-term storytelling.  It was a pleasure to watch, with even the less significant matches having long term meaning.  Tomorrow, it’s Omega and Okada.  If it’s anything like they’re Block final last year, it’ll be one to remember forever.


OMEGA (7-2; 14 Points)

Okada (6-2-1; 13 Points)

Evil (6-3; 12 Points)

Suzuki (4-4-1; 9 Points)

Tonga (4-5; 8 Points)

Sanada (4-5; 8 Points)

Robinson (4-5; 8 Points)

Yano (4-5; 8 Points)

Elgin (4-5; 8 Points)

Kojima (1-8; 2 Points)

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