The thirteenth night of the G1 Climax is a big one, with Ishii and Jeff Cobb facing off in a big hoss fight, Minoru Suzuki and Kota Ibushi looking to kill each other, and Kazuchika Okada and Shingo Takagi colliding in the main event.
There’s no time to lose, so let’s head to the ring and get straight into the action!
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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jeff Cobb
This is the performance I’ve been wanting from Cobb throughout the tournament and haven’t quite got. The man was a beast and he needed to be; you’ve got to bring your toughest game when you’re fighting Ishii.
This was a story of hunger—a veteran with the sheer determination and will to stay standing and prove he’s the toughest, and the younger competitor wanting to make a name for himself and needing to win to do so. To that end, Cobb threw Ishii around with his biggest suplexes and cracked him with his baddest bombs, while Ishii proved his will to win by constantly returning to his feet, a war cry at his lips, getting up when you least expected him too.
This, though, raised an intriguing point about Ishii’s hurt leg and arm. He was able to get straight to his feet after a gigantic Cobb overhead suplex and hit Cobb with a big slam. But he then struggled to get Cobb up for a German suplex and grabbed his knee. Is Ishii to hurt to go or is it old father time having his way with him?
Either way, as much as I love Ishii and I do, I was glad Cobb got the win after a massive Tour of the Islands. He needed a win like this to really solidify and build his reputation as a player in New Japan. This was an absolute hoss fight and I loved every minute of it.
Jay White vs. Yujiro Takahashi
It’s the first and only meeting of Bullet Club in A Block, and at first, I thought it was going to be more friendly than EVIL’s meeting with KENTA in B Block, what with the three-way ‘too sweet’ with Gedo. Jay was in his tracksuit and vest and it soon became clear when Takahashi lay down. The reasons for this two-fold: Takahashi can no longer feasibly get enough points to win the Block, so he might as well give them to Jay. Secondly, Jay’s the leader.
It made me laugh how Jay teased the ref, lifting up on a one count and keeping him guessing. However, once he finally went for the three count, Takahashi kicked out! Was he joking? He said so but then kicked out once more. Jay asked him what was going on and found himself rolled up! A low blow aided Takahashi’s cause, as did a Miami Shine, but a low blow of his own and a Blade Runner saw an angry Jay take the win.
Afterwards, a furious Jay grabbed a chair and was only stopped from using it by Gedo, who White interrogated as to whether he knew of Takahashi’s intentions. Jay stormed off on his own after.
All in all, the match was less than 4 minutes long and, as a match, was nothing. But as entertainment and a show of further splintering of Bullet Club, it did very well.
Will Ospreay vs. Taichi
Taichi started out the match by flexing his pecs and getting a round of applause, while Will said something cocky in cockney (well, Essex-talk). There’s a lot you can talk from that, I think.
This was an interesting match, in that it seemed slow to start but picked up into a really good little encounter. The story was that Will was taking the match lightly, marvelling at his own strength as he backed Taichi into the ropes and shouted “too easy” as he ruffled Taichi’s hair. But he would soon find out it wasn’t easy, as Taichi fought a heavyweight game, utilising heavy strikes and big moves like the Last Ride, a brutal enziguri and a Dangerous Backdrop Driver to pound Ospreay. Ospreay had to up his game to fight back, using his speed where he could to outrun and to fly at Taichi while using his new muscle to aid his strikes. Eventually, Ospreay took victory with the Stormbreaker, but Ospreay had to work for it.
Will it teach Will a lesson in humility? Probably not. I’m not sure if they are going for the heel run with Ospreay or not. I’ve never heard him talk and big himself up in a match as much as he did here. Because if this is his idea of a face…Jesus. Please let this be a prolonged heel turn.
Still, a really good match. And Taichi worked his a** off.
Kota Ibushi vs. Minoru Suzuki
This was a war, plain and simple. And what a war it was! What a stiff, brutal match, a must-see most definitely.
It started tentatively with both trying to land a strike on the other, before going to the mat where both men went for locks to the arm and leg but for the striking began in force. Ibushi sent Suzuki to the outside with a big kick then sent him into the guard rail. This only angered Suzuki, who refused to return to the ring and insisted Ibushi join him on the ramp. Ibushi complied and got an absolute blistering barrage of forearms for his trouble.
Back on the ring, it was an absolutely nasty strike fest. I loved it! I thought Suzuki had called Ibushi at one point—the forearm was THAT stiff and Ibushi dropped like a ton of bricks. As the pace quickened somehow (how were these men still standing?), Suzuki locked in a rear-naked choke and tried to switch to the Gotch-style piledriver. Ibushi escaped but found a Kamigoye countered as Suzuki held the leg and countered to a Boston Crab. Ibushi managed to escape that and finally landed a Kamigoye to take the win.
The fact that Suzuki was smiling as he was pinned and as he was walking away from the ring was highly disturbing and just one of many reasons I love Suzuki. This was just a fight and an excellent one at that. Go out of your way to see it; it’s that good.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi
He’s back, at last! The Okada we’ve been missing all through this G1. He looked so much more motivated and sharper than he has during this tournament so far. Consequently, this match had a much more vital pace than I’d perhaps expected going in.
This was a pretty even match, with plenty of counters and reversals throughout. Shingo nailed a DDT on the floor early on, but Okada one-upped him later on with a DDT on the floor as Shingo was draped on the apron. Nice. Okada rolled out a tombstone and shoulder breaker, but Shingo was able to get to the ropes to break the Money Clip.
An exchange of Rainmakers and Pumping Bombers followed, before Shingo finally gave in to the Money Clip, passing out rather than tapping, which seems to be becoming a theme, I’ve noticed, as if certain guys don’t want to be seen as having tapped out to a cobra clutch. That move is causing a lot of problems, for sure.
Otherwise, this was a really good main event that was never less than entertaining and capped off perhaps the best night of the G1 so far. If you only watch one night of this year’s tournament, make it this one—it was that good.
1. Kota Ibushi (5-2) (10 pts)
2. Jay White (5-2) (10 pts)
3. Will Ospreay (5-2) (10 pts)
4. Kazuchika Okada (5-2) (10 pts)
5. Taichi (3-4) (6 pts)
6. Minoru Suzuki (3-4) (6 pts)
7. Shingo Takagi (3-4) (6 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (3-4) (6 pts)
9. Jeff Cobb (3-4) (6 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-7) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (5-1) (10 pts)
2. EVIL (4-2) (8 pts)
3. Juice Robinson (3-3) (6 pts)
4. Toru Yano (3-3) (6 pts)
5. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-3) (6 pts)
6. Hirooki Goto (3-3) (6 pts)
7. SANADA (3-3) (6 pts)
8. Zack Sabre Jr. (3-3) (6 pts)
9. KENTA (2-4) (4 pts)
10. YOSHI-HASHI (1-5) (2 pts)