Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Bad Luck Fale
G1 Climax Block A Match
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 07/22/2017) Not quite the unlikely classic it was made out to be, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t a neat little match. We’ve seen this sort of thing dozens of times before, though; Tanahashi vs a limited opponent who has some kayfabe convenience with which he has no chance of losing. The opponent tries real hard and locks down most of his worse qualities and in turn Tanahashi acts real sympathetic and preys on real injury fears before making a big comeback with his usual stuff. That’s mostly what happens here, but we get interesting wrinkles on the old formula that I appreciate quite a lot. First and foremost, we get limb work from Fale, which certainly isn’t new in a Tanahashi match but is mostly unknown territory for the Tongan. We also see Tanahashi change up some of his usual spots, and here I’ll highlight two of them. At one point, Fale tosses Tanahashi over the ropes, where the ace catches himself by his arms and sits down on the apron. He tries to skin the cat back into the ring, a classic move of his, but his very injured arm prevents that momentarily before he fights through the pain and basically does the move one-handed. It’s a dumb spot, but done with a quaint enough twist to merit my bemusement. Later Fale attempts his feared Bad Luck Fale, but Tanahashi wriggles free and hits a modified Slingblade on the way down to take the big man off his feet late in the match. Again, sort of a silly spot, but a moderately interesting one. Finally, we get an actual countout victory in the G1, the first in what I’m pretty sure is many years. All this adds up to making for quite an enjoyable little tournament match between two very limited wrestlers.