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We’re closing in on the end of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 27 tournament. With the end fast approaching, we know one of the finalists for Sunday.

Naito wins it in final minutes over Tanahashi

Tetsuya Naito hasn’t come close to winning the G1 since he won it in 2013. He’s within grasp of winning it after defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi in a grueling de facto A-Block final on Friday in Tokyo.

The match started out with a lot of crowd work between both men. It’s clear that this G1 has been rough on everyone, and it will certainly show again Saturday in the B-Block matches.

Both men went into this match tied in points and nobody wanted to know the answer to the “what if it ends in a draw” question. We got really close to getting an answer, however.

Had Naito not hit Tanahashi with Destino, we probably would’ve had an idea about what to do for overtime. I personally have my own solutions on how the matter could’ve been resolved. The obvious answer was to do a Double Dare Physical Challenge. But hey, I’m not complaining.

The match featured both men painfully working each other over. Naito focused on Tanahashi’s well-known bicep injury. Tanahashi decided to go for Naito’s right knee, attacking it with repeated Dragon Screws.

We reached a high point in the match when Tanahashi locked Naito in the Texas Cloverleaf for a very long time. It almost reached the point where New Japan referee appeared ready to stop the match and award it to Tanahashi. Thankfully (or not depending on who you cheered for) Naito reached the ropes.

Even with both men in pain, these two put on a hell of a match. You need to watch this match if you get the opportunity to do so.

At this point, I think Naito wins the G1, regardless of who he wrestles. Maybe Kenny Omega wins and does the back-to-back G1’s. That hasn’t happened since Hiroyoshi Tenzan did it in 2003-04. But if it’s Okada, I think the edge goes to Naito because of the neck.

We’ll see what happens, but this much we know: Never count out Naito!

Nagata ends G1 with loss to former student

What a way to open the last night of A-block matches than with Yuji Nagata competing in his final G1 match. And we all got to go along for the ride, even his opponent Bad Luck Fale. It was a big enough match that even Shinpei Nogami made an appearance at the commentary.

This day happened to be the day I opted to go with the English commentary team of Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and special guest Rocky Romero. I’ll go back later to catch the commentary with Nogami.

It’s easy to talk about the great matches Naito and Tanahashi had. Zack Sabre Jr. and Kota Ibushi were fantastic.

This A-Block, for me at least, will always be about Nagata. He’s had some terrific matches. Even Friday’s match against Fale was terrific. Both of these men brought it to the end.

Would it have been nice for Nagata to win his last G1 block match? Absolutely! He’s a legend and should at least deserve that opportunity.

However, if Nagata had to lose to anybody. It’s good that it was Fale. Nagata has long served as a mentor to Fale, dating back to Fale training at the New Japan Dojo.

After the match, Fale held up the “Too Sweet” sign out of respect and hoping Nagata would do the same. Nagata returned his patented-salute in return. I imagine that made a lot of people emotional (probably me included). It made Nagata and Nogami emotional, obviously.

If you’re a Nagata fan, it’s worth it to watch this match. It was worth it to get up early and watch this match live.

Sabre Jr. wins via stoppage?

The other great match of the night featured Zack Sabre Jr. defeating Tomohiro Ishii. This might have been the most technical match I’ve ever seen Ishii wrestle. There was a lot of great mat wrestling early and the grappling continued throughout.

I didn’t think it was possible to turn Ishii into a pretzel, but Sabre Jr. got really close to accomplishing that, based on some of his submission moves.

In the end, Sabre Jr. got the win with a submission move. However, Ishii never tapped. The referee had no choice, but to stop the match. Ishii was clearly in a lot of pain. However, that wasn’t going to make him tap. Ishii is a tough dude.

I loved this match though and it was terrific to watch Ishii grapple. So if you want to see Ishii do a little mat wrestling, then watch this wonderful match.

Other A-Block matches

Togi Makabe defeated YOSHI-HASHI, while Hirooki Goto defeated Ibushi. Both matches were pretty good, but I thought the other three matches were much better. Goto and Ibushi got pretty fun, though. Both guys had a solid tournament

Goto and Ibushi got pretty fun, though. Both guys had a solid tournament. The English commentary team brought up what will happen with Ibushi now that his G1 experience is over.

What happens with Ibushi from here remains to be seen. He’s obviously a big star and New Japan would be smart to keep him, assuming they can. That said, we haven’t really seen a lot of Tiger Mask W as of late. I wonder what happened to him.

Tag match notes

This was the first time I got up to watch the tag matches in…well, it has been awhile.

The most energetic tag match was the 10-man between the Bullet Club’s Young Bucks, Chase Owens, Adam Page and Cody versus War Machine, Michael Elgin, Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi.

Before the match, the Bullet Club made a bold proclamation that they would win with a moonsault. Sure enough, everyone in the Bullet Club tried to moonsault on Hanson of War Machine, but they all failed.

Hanson got the moonsault on Chase Owens to get the win. The Bullet Club was right about the move, but wrong about the outcome.

Also after the match, lead commentator Kevin Kelly praised the leadership of Taguchi and suggested (probably jokingly) he be hired to replace New York Mets manager Terry Collins.

Me personally, I wouldn’t wish that upon Taguchi. It’s the Mets! That would be cruel to wish upon someone.

The only other noteworthy match featured Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano versus Kenny Omega and Yujiro Takahashi.

Most of the focus regarding Okada was about his taped up neck. Whether it’s legit or not, it’s obvious Okada is worn out and in pain from all the matches he’s had in the last year.

Don’t act surprised to see the taped up neck play a role in the match Saturday. It could play a significant factor.

Of course, all Okada needs to do is survive for 30 minutes and he’ll win B-Block. ┬áThat could be easier said than done.

Up next?

Simply put, these are the B-Block matches for Saturday!

  • Michael Elgin vs. Juice Robinson
  • Tama Tonga vs. SANADA
  • Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki
  • Satoshi Kojima vs. EVIL
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega