NJPW couldn’t have expected that. It’s a contact sport, Kevin Kelly reminded us. Yep, and that made the final night of the G1 Tournament a little underwhelming.
More of that later. You know, I really like the G1 Climax Tournament because it does 2 things:
1. Offers points for wins, so we can see how simply this works
2. Makes those wrestlers not doing so well fight on. No ‘I can’t be bothered, I’m not going to win’, people were made to offer their all, night after night.
That second thing is so NJPW. That first thing isn’t always.
Take the use of multi-man matches. OK, the roster is stacked with fine fighters, but do we have to see them all, all the time?
Yes, yes we do. Even though NJPW does the 6 and 8 man tag matches well and the wrestlers don’t crowd each other’s work out, I grow weary of them.
We had a lot of them here. And so I won’t go into each grunt and groan. But the headlines are tasty…
Toru Yano & Yuji Nagata v O-Khan & Jeff Cobb
Look at Jeff Cobb’s face. He’s suffering here. He was a win away from leading his block and after a loss to Okada here his is, representing the United Empire but…but…
Not in the main event.
After his Okada match, he probably needed to have his mate O-Khan take much of the offense. He did, sort of. Firstly, Yano hung with Cobb. You either like his comic approach or you don’t. Not sure Cobb did.
And O-Khan was served a little as well, Nagata blocked his claw, Yano hit a belly-to-belly suplex on him and he dropped the pin too, Yano winning after an apparent low blow.
Solid, but in no way special.
EVIL/Sho/Yujiro Takahashi v Yoshi-Hashi/Goto/Ishii
Here’s EVIL licking his wounds with his House Of Torture mates.
And on the other side, the 6 man tag champs. HOT will want a bit of that.
And this was a nice sports entertainment match. HOT cut the ring in half and worked on Goto well. Until he made a tag to Ishii who dealt with them all.
You’d expect that, but you perhaps wouldn’t think Yoshi-Hashi would do the same. He’s being pushed a little, had a good tournament and although he always looks unsure, he can’t half turn it on.
So much so that EVIL had to grab the ref and take him away whilst Dick Togo worked on the choke. In fact, Dick earned his corn by keeping the ref distracted whilst Takahashi went to work with his cane and Sho with a chair.
Of course, EVIL was allowed the pin, Togo even bringing up the ref to count.
A thoroughly enjoyable and HOT posed with the 6-man strap; they really want those belts.
Guerillas Of Destiny/Kenta/Chase Owens v Tiger Mask/Honma/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Togi Makabe
GOD had a good tournament, didn’t they? Wins over Zack Sabre Jr and the top of the mountain, Okada himself, they will surely be eponymous in the next 6 months.
But actually, they weren’t the main event of this match. The person who got the pin was. Who was that? Chase Owens, the Bullet Club whipping boy with the 4 point tournament showing. He hit a V Trigger and a package piledriver on Honma for that finish.
And what did he do then? Challenged Tanahashi, the Ace, for his belt. And that caused a more senior member to state his case.
Kenta muscled in. And Chase relinquished his claim. Why? He told Kelly afterward that he was going back to the US for a while. Don’t make it a long separation…
Tenzan/Kojima/Taguchi/Master Wato v Shingo/Bushi/Sanada/Takahashi
LIJ are in the house. And they bring their charisma and quality. Rather a good match, this.
Early on Taguchi used some Mongolian chops. Tenzan’s face was a picture. So he was invited to serve some of this own. Oh, he certainly did.
The Master part of the Wato name instantly denudes him, but he handled Takahashi here, so much so that Shingo had to come in and control it.
Lovely spot when Kojima chopped Sanada, then Takahashi, then Wato, one in front of the other. A chop shop with an extension!
And then something amazing, the seasoned Tenzan put champ Shingo down; he soon came back with a Sweet sliding lariat for a 2 count and then the almost inevitable Axe Bomber for the pin.
Some nice action here.
A Special Event : Zack Sabre Jr v Katsuyori Shibata
Yep, the trainer who so many want to see back in the ring, in the ring. With a great opponent. With UWF/MMA rules and a 5-minute limit.
Was it good? Well, 5 minutes wasn’t long enough.
Of course, there was jockeying for position, a Zack joint manipulation and leg lock, plus a surfboard so tight he had hooks in.
Shibata hit back with a sleeper and cobra twist.
It was just warming up when it ended.
Zack smiled and asked for 5 minutes. Shibata asked too. The ref raised both hands. Cue a disbelieving frown on the face of ZSJ.
And then Shibata gave us hope. The next time he saw us it would be in a ring, he said. He wants to. Will they let him?
Okada v Ibushi
The final. And played so well. Okada had worked much longer matches. Ibushi wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders and yet here he was.
This was sent up for a long match for the ages. Didn’t work out like that.
Towards the beginning of the match, Okada looked a little cowed and worried. That was very good work.
They smiled at each other after a bout of fast-paced avoidance. Ibushi worked Okada’s neck, he had to get to the ropes. Okada looked frail and tired.
But they managed suplex business on the outside and were slowly building the match.
It jumped up a notch when Okada hit a DDT on the walkway, then brought Ibushi back in so there couldn’t be a count-out win.
Ibushi looked out of it but knew enough to put his head down so Okada couldn’t synch in the arm for the Money Clip.
Then Ibushi took his chances. A Frankensteiner. Okada rolled out. A powerbomb for a 2 count. A Rainmaker block with a head kick and knee.
Then an Ibushi kamigoye for a loooong 2.
All that was left was for Ibushi to go to the top and…
…no water in the pool. And he landed heavily.
Okada remained in the corner. People in. Kevin Kelly tells us he has broken his arm. It doesn’t look misshapen, but he clearly cannot continue.
It’s over. Too early. And although Okada posed and did the triumphant tough face with the big trophy, you can see in his eyes that it’s what is expected.
What a sad ending to a great tournament.
The arm isn’t broken, the shoulder is dislocated. Very bad news.
The NJPW 1972 website post-final press conference showed us that Okada wanted a rematch with Ibushi, but for the belt, not the contract in the case.
Sugabayashi, after what they called a long pause, replied; ‘well, you’ve made your stance clear. Allow some time for consideration’.
And where does that leave Tama Tonga? He confronted Okada just after the match and why not? He has a victory over him.
His line resounded; ‘rainy days are over…’