Minoru Suzuki vs Tama Tonga
G1 Climax Block B Match
Gifu Industrial Hall, Gifu, Japan
(reviewed 08/02/2017) Probably the most refreshing match of the tournament, this big ol’ brawl leading to a brief but heated section back in the ring. Tonga jumps Suzuki during his entrance, interrupting the best theme song of all time before the chorus, so he must pay with his blood. Suzuki is more than happy to complete the transaction and they brawl around the arena, pretty lowkey stuff but real fun. Eventually they make their way back in the ring and head into your usual midcard NJPW finishing stretch, which is both heated but also sort of understated. I guess that’s just because Suzuki keeps it pretty bare bones. Tonga, in turn, has toned it down a lot here, not coming across as the world’s biggest Seth Rollins/Karl Anderson superfan, and he’s not harping on about loyalty in a goddamn stable of biker creeps called the fucking Bullet Club, so he comes across as far more palatable than he’s been at any point in this tournament. With this framework, they keep the heat from their brawling going, and while there’s still a few questionable moments (the countout tease to lead to the finishing stretch, a few of Tonga’s lesser spots, something else I’m forgetting since I wrote this like two hours after I watched it), it’s still a very enjoyable bout.