For 25 minutes on Saturday, the wrestling world turned its focus to Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The world watched as two of the best, most talented performers went through hell and then some to put on an incredible match. A match with significant stakes.
IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada put themselves through hell, doing so for the fans of Sumo Hall, those watching the broadcast on TV in Japan, even those of us crazy enough to wake up early to watch on New Japan World.
In the end, Omega finally got what he needed: a win over Okada. That’s precisely what he received Saturday in the B-Block final. It might have taken 47 V-Triggers to pull it off, but the last one, plus the One-Winged Angel clinched it for Omega.
The match was fast and frenzied from the get go. The story early on was both men trying to get quick victories and not have it extend further than needed. Motivations were apparent in both men. Omega didn’t want to go to a draw. Okada wanted to win to avoid further injury to his neck.
As it continued, the story remained focused on Okada’s neck. Omega mercilessly worked over the neck. It reached a boiling point when Omega hit Okada with a Reverse Rana outside the ring.
At that point, Red Shoes halted the match briefly as a doctor at ringside stepped in to examine Okada. We’ll never know how close the match came to ending at that point.
Omega continued his assault by getting Okada in the ring and picking up a couple of near falls.
Eventually, Okada got his second wind and that’s when the match went from being the best in G1 to one of the best of the year. I’m not sure there are a lot of matches the rest of the year that can top the one that Omega and Okada had.
Now that we’ve had a trilogy, don’t even think about asking me which match was my favorite or the best. How can you decide something like that? Besides, I’m not even sure if they’ve had their best match yet.
These two could wrestle in a parking garage and it would still be a blast to watch. This is undoubtedly one of the best rivalries of the year, possibly an all-timer. It has been magic every time Omega and Okada face off.
However, with the stakes of a G1 final on the line, plus that terrific Sumo Hall crowd, made it all the more special. The match hooked me in from start to finish.
In the end, it felt real.
Omega vs. Naito for all the Tostitos
If you didn’t watch last year’s G1 match between Omega and Tetsuya Naito, you really should. No doubt, I loved that match last year and it stands as one of my favorites from that tournament.
If nothing else, it gave us this incredible moment, complete with a white shirt and pants matching Steve Corino.
— STRIGGA (@STRIGGA) August 12, 2017
If that doesn’t convince you to watch the match, I don’t know what will. It’s a good appetizer for Sunday’s final, though.
Knowing these two are in the final, anything is possible. I’m still leaning towards Naito winning. However, that Okada win gives Omega a big boost. This could be the year we see a back-to-back G1 winner. As mentioned Friday, we haven’t seen that happen since 2004 when Hiroyoshi Tenzan did it. It could happen to Omega, though.
Omega has become one of the top wrestlers not just in New Japan, but in the world. He’s hot right now and has proven he can hang with all the top guys. If anyone could win it back-to-back at this point, it’s Omega.
I’m still leaning towards Naito winning, but I won’t be surprised (or disappointed) if Omega wins Sunday.
EVIL finishes third, plus Bread Club Update
EVIL firmly established his spot in third place for B-Block after his win over noted Bread Club leader Satoshi Kojima. Obviously, I’m disappointed by the outcome. However, it was still a fun match to watch, even with the crazy spots.
The win means EVIL has 12 points, which obviously would’ve put him in contention, had it not been for Omega and Okada. Hopefully, this means EVIL will get a solid singles run. He might even get an IWGP Heavyweight title shot within the next couple of months.
As for Kojima, hey, he did get a win in this tournament. Could it have gone better for him? Yeah, absolutely! Maybe he can win the New Japan Cup next year.
More Yano shenanigans
If Minoru Suzuki has a foil, it has to be Toru Yano. The two aren’t exactly friends.
They faced off again Saturday. Suzuki might not have been in contention, but it’s still nice to finish with double-digit points (he would have with the victory).
Suzuki relied on an early attack plus a lot of interference from Taichi. Yano tried to use the athletic tape again, but it backfired and led to his feet getting tied by Suzuki. The interference continued with Taichi attacking a defenseless Yano.
Eventually, Rocky Romero, fellow CHAOS member and guest commentator alongside the English team of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis, had enough of Taichi’s antics and did what I imagine everyone wanted to do to Taichi at that point. Romero clobbered Taichi. Suzuki attacked Romero.
During all this distraction, Yano freed himself but wasn’t quite finished with the duct tape. I could describe the finish, but the GIF does such a better job than I could ever do.
— The Tag Rope (@tagropemag) August 12, 2017
So yeah, Yano won. Suzuki went on a rampage. Lather, rinse, repeat! Always a riot when Yano and Suzuki get together.
Other B-Block matches
If you get the chance to watch the rest of the show, then go for it. I enjoyed the other B-Block matches. Tama Tonga defeated SANADA and Juice Robinson defeated Michael Elgin.
The latter was a terrific match. It’s clear we’re going to see some big things out of Robinson. He’s done some terrific work in this G1. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wearing a title sooner, rather than later.
Tonga and SANADA also wrestled a terrific match. The most notable thing that happened was SANADA putting Tonga in the Paradise Lock outside on the entranceway. The ref almost counted Tonga out, but fellow Bullet Club members Yujiro Takahashi and Tango Roa saved him. The strategy almost worked again for SANADA. Tonga won the match with the stun gun.
The Final Night
One more night. We’ve finally reached the end of the G1 Climax. It all comes to a close on Sunday. We already know the main event. The only other match-ups we know are the tag title matches.
- IWGP Tag Title Match: War Machine vs. Cody/Page
- IWGP Jr. Tag Title Match: Young Bucks vs. Ricochet/Taguchi
The full card will likely be posted before Sunday’s final on the New Japan website.