Tomohiro Ishii vs Kota Ibushi
G1 Climax Block A Match
Machida Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 07/23/2017) I really like these two together. They were good together in 2014 and are good together here, though not quite great. The opening portion of this match is needlessly feeling-out heavy (though, I’ll admit, with Ibushi’s injury and exodus costing him nearly two years of his career as himself in NJPW, it stands to reason that they’d be a little tentative) and they don’t ever really progress past “we hit each other hard a lot”. Likewise, much of this match follows the Ishii formula of allowing your opponent to hit you in order to prove your manliness/dominance/whatever, and I continue to have mixed feelings about that sort of spot. Still, this remains lots of fun. I’ve always liked Ishii’s matches with smaller opponents, and unlike the Honma series, the matches against Ibushi aren’t quite as bully-oriented as Ibushi is slightly bigger than Ishii and also far more capable and aggressive than Honma ever was, and that change of pace is appreciated. As I said earlier, there’s not a lot of narrative progression here so there isn’t much to say other than that these guys are damn good at hitting each other and making me yelp out loud about it. If that’s your kind of thing, then you’ll probably like this.