So, here we are, after 90 tournament matches, it’s time for the final. This year’s G1 Climax Final is to be contested between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi, which should be a great match, based on their past encounters.
The question is, did this match live up to the expectation of a G1 Climax Final? I thought it felt like a huge match from the off, especially with the corner men involved (Kenny Omega for Ibushi, Katsuyori Shibata for Tanahashi) I thought this was a slowburner of a match, a solid start with Tanahashi looking to work Ibushi’s legs, while Ibushi was able to work around that, in particular hitting some nasty signature double stomps on Tanahashi. It wasn’t until a wild palm strike battle in the middle of the match that things really began to heat up. From there it was a full speed race to the finish, with Ibushi hitting Tanahashi with his biggest moves, such as his sit-out Last Ride powrbomb. However, Tanahashi was able to withstand the abuse and win the match with three High Fly Flows.
The story of Tanahashi vs Ibushi is that of Ibushi, the younger man, looking to defeat the legendary Tanahashi, a man he worships but has a different philosophy on wrestling to. Ibushi, the unorthodox, self trained enigma can’t seem to beat dojo graduate Tanahashi, New Japan’s biggest star of the past ten years, when it matters. It’s a great story and it really adds to their matches.
So, how did I grade the final? I really enjoyed the match and it was a fitting, yet unexpected end to this tournament. I genuinely thought Ibushi would win this match, but I imagine he will get a shot at Omega due to his victory in the final B Block match. I thought it was a great match, not the best of the tournament, but still a solid 5/5.
Just a few points to wrap up my G1 ramblings…
I thought this was a good G1 Climax tournament, but from what I’ve seen of previous years, I don’t think it’s been up to the standard set over the last few years. The Firing Squad/Bullet Club OG’s interference really hasn’t helped…it’s ruined many matches and hasn’t even improved the standing of those involved.
The line up for this year was good, but I personally would have made the tournament shorter and got rid of a few fringe wrestlers from the mix. I get why Yano is in the G1 (his matches are essentially a night off for his opponents, plus it doesn’t matter if he wins or not) but a smaller tournament would mean there would be no need for him. Yoshi-Hashi and Togi Makabe haven’t featured much this year and wouldn’t have been missed, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga have contributed very little and their issues with the Bullet Club could have been highlighted in a more efficient manner by just brutally attacking Kenny Omega on Night 2, instead of dragging the entire tournament down.
So who would I like to see in the G1 Climax next year instead? I think Trent Beretta would have been a cert this year if not for injury and I’d have him in 2019’s tournament.. Cody would have been in too if not for filming commitments, he’s worth adding in 2019’s edition. I would have David Finlay in the mix too – you have a heated match for Jay White at least. I think Will Ospreay would be great in the G1 Climax too, if he bulked up a bit and paced his high risk moves out over the tournament. Also, I’m not the biggest Taichi fan, but if you want to use him in the ‘Yano role’ for the other block, you could do worse….
I went back over my ratings for the tournament and used my rating system to see who was the best wrestler over the course of the G1. The ratings are as follows and based on overall ratings\amount of matches, generating an average rating for each wrestler;
Kota Ibushi – 4.10/5.00 (4.00/5.00 excluding final)
Tomohiro Ishii – 4.05/5.00
Kenny Omega – 4.00/5.00
Tetsuya Naito – 3.88/5.00
Kazuchika Okada – 3.77/5.00
Zack Sabre Jr – 3.66/5.00
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 3.65/5.00 (3.50/5.00 excluding final)
Hirooki Goto – 3.38/5.00
Jay White – 3.38/5.00
Juice Robinson – 3.33/5.00
Minoru Suzuki – 3.27/5.00
Hangman Page – 3.22/5.00
Michael Elgin – 3.11/5.00
Yoshi-Hashi – 3.11/5.00
Evil – 3.00/5.00
Togi Makabe – 2.83/5.00
Toru Yano – 2.75/5.00
Tama Tonga – 2.68/5.00
Bad Luck Fale – 2.55/5.00
I included the score for the final and with out the final, in the interest of fairness. I would have said Ishii and Ibushi were the standouts of the tournament regardless of the rating system, but I think I would agree with the list overall. I’m surprised Suzuki isn’t higher but other than that, the system makes sense to me.
Best match of the tournament for me would be Ishii vs Omega. It’s a match I can see myself watching again at some point and as someone who never rewatches wrestling matches they’ve seen before, I consider that a huge compliment. After that match, I’d say Ibushi vs Omega and Ishii vs Ibushi were 2nd and 3rd place. It’s no surprise the three best wrestlers in the tournament had the three best matches.
Finally, a thank you to anyone who has been reading these summaries during the tournament. I know it’s dominated this blog over the past few weeks, but’s it’s always been an ambition of mine to watch a complete tournament since I got into New Japan four years ago. I’m actually a little proud of myself for watching all 91 matches and writing about it on this blog has been a big reason why I’ve kept up with the tournament. So to anyone who’s read or commented on these G1 recaps, thanks a lot!