G1 Climax Wrap Up

The G1 Climax reached its end on Sunday (or was it Saturday? Damn time zones…), and with it my life returns to a semblance of normality. But hey! I placed third on Voices of Wrestling Pick ‘Em, so I’m fairly proud of that. I was out of the top three going into the final weekend, but getting the A Block winner and runner up, the B Block runner up, and the eventual tournament winner, correct gave me enough bonus points to get third.

Speaking of the tournament winner, Hiroshi Tanahashi was crowned the G1 Climax champion, and will main event Wrestlekingdom 10 on January 4th. Assuming Kazuchika Okada keeps the title, and that seems like a safe assumption, it will be Okada vs. Tanahashi again for the IWGP Championship. Their match at Wrestlekingdom 9 was one of my favorite of the year, so I’m okay with them doing it again.

The tournament itself was fantastic, if exhausting to watch in its entirity. By my reckoning there were 17 matches that ranked 4 stars, and five matches that I put higher then that. I’ll probably rewatch some of them, and my outlook on some may change, but I feel pretty happy with the five matches that make up my top five. Eventually I’ll go into more detail about these, but for now, the list:

1. Goto vs. Ishii, Night 14, *****.
2. Tanahashi vs. Styles, Night 17, ****1/2.
3. Shibata vs. Ibushi, Night 7, ****1/2
4. Tanahashi vs. Nakamura, Finals, ****1/2
5. Tanahashi vs. Shibata, Night 13, ****1/2

Tanahashi’s name appears three times on there, and for good reason. He’s definitely my tournament MVP. He only had two matches that I ranked below ***1/2, and those were against the dead weights of Doc Gallows and Bad Luck Fale. Before this tournament I was mostly ambivalent to Tanahashi, but he forced me into becoming a fan. It was a well-deserved victory for the Ace of New Japan.

Tanahashi wasn’t the only one who had a great tournament though. In fact, it would almost be quicker to list the guys who didn’t have a great showing. Special mention has to be said for Tetsuya Naito and Michael Elgin though. Naito came into the tournament with a new heel persona, and he really put it through it’s paces. He dropped some of his flashier moves and got a new finisher. Balancing a heel character with a high-flying offense isn’t easy, but Naito has made it work. Elgin looked extremely impressive in his first tour of Japan. His power game is his obvious strength, but what made the biggest impression with me is how he went toe to toe with guys like Goto and Ishii. It can not be fun to be in a match with guys who hit as hard as they do, but Elgin took it and dished it back out.

There’s a million more things to say about the tournament, like the tension teased between the Bullet Club, and I haven’t even touched on Shinsuke Nakamura. But this will do for now. With the G1 over, I can finally catch up on some non-NJPW, starting with NXT and Lucha Underground. I plan to preview Summerslam sometime this week as well.

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