Kazuchika Okada vs Juice Robinson
G1 Climax Block B Match
Gifu Industrial Hall, Gifu, Japan
(reviewed 08/02/2017) Sort of a deceptively great match. I’d put this, I think, in my top five matches of the G1 so far, despite it not quite jumping off the page the way that Nagata/Tanahashi or Okada/Kojima do. But it’s pretty great! Most of it is based around some more lovely selling from Juice Robinson, which we’ve been blessed to see a lot of in this tournament. It’s probably something I’d write off as “too much” in another promotion, but I guess in a promotion that I think has a dearth of good selling, it feels refreshing and fulfilling. Still, there is a little much of it here, especially in relation to his facials, mainly due to this being a main event-level match, but it’s not quite what I’d call heavy-handed or tedious. Between that leg selling, lots of quality llave-flavored chain wrestling and submission wrestling, Juice’s other small touches (the way he sells his back during and after the countout tease, spitting his gum out as Okada connects with the elbow drop, the way he feeds marvelously for the finish, etc.), and Okada briefly reverting to the heel persona we saw in the Kojima match, there’s a lot to love here. It’s a little slow-moving and suffers a touch from the Okada formula (three Rainmakers to put away a one-legged Juice?), as well as some weird laughing late in the match from Okada that I either didn’t get or was just straight up corpsing, but again, it’s not enough to detract from the better parts. Fun stuff here, just a well-wrestled match that played with power levels and heart and the willingness a crowd has to get into one of the better underdogs in recent memory.