Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito
G1 Climax Block A Match
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo, Japan
(reviewed 07/19/2017) Ok, so, firstly, I find the “Ibushi nearly cries at being back in NJPW” thing to be really disingenuous and off-putting because he’s the one who chose to leave and had already been back for nearly a whole year by this point. However, that played quite nicely into the narrative of the match itself, with Ibushi being completely unprepared for this new Naito who he’s had little to no interaction with. Naito confounds Ibushi with his antics/tactics before going after his neck instead, quite a sound strategy. Ibushi in turn has to even the odds through sheer power of will, as well as a few nutty signatures that are fun to see again. A NJPW main event through and through, I think this match is a little fat in the middle and definitely gets a bit too heavy at the end, but all in all, it’s a hell of a time. Most everything is crisp and impactful, with sadly the only real notable missteps occurring right before the finish. These two manage to string together crazy moves and sequences that make sense within the context of their characters and careers, as opposed to making sense of their careers and characters through the moves they do. The crowd is VERY into this match and is really feeling it for Ibushi, and while I don’t consider myself a fan of the guy, it’s hard to deny his appeal here. Borderline great match and a definite recommend.