Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
G1 Climax Block A Match
Kagoshima Arena, Kagoshima, Japan
(reviewed 08/03/2017) I remember liking their previous match in the 2015 G1, when I was pretty down on both of these men. I couldn’t remember anything about the match other than THAT spot, though, and I was sort of worried this match would be the same for the first half or so. Thankfully they pull it around and end up somewhere in the middle of slightly-above-mediocrity. Tanahashi spends the first half of the match doing his legwork that doesn’t end up going anywhere much, and while he’s relying mostly on shtick, it’s enjoyable enough. Ibushi does his usual thing, toning it down a little against the mega-hurt veteran by my estimation. That’s not to say that Tanahashi doesn’t take his lumps, because he certainly does so here; the Last Ride, WK9 German suplex over the ropes, and High Fly Flow onto knees are all hard, hard bumps that Tanahashi takes real hard, not to mention the lawn dart that completely misses the turnbuckle. Man eats a lot of shit here and has his best non-Nagata (aka non-reliant-on-ten-years-of-storytelling) match of the tournament in doing so. It’s strange, because Ibushi is almost a non-factor in comparison. Outside of a few of the more needlessly dramatic moments and his big offensive spots, he doesn’t really register either positively or negatively for me, though I will say that his finish (the newly christened Kamigoye) is a weird move that is sloppily done and also really obviously meant to counter Omega’s V-Trigger, itself meant to replace Nakamura’s Boma Ye. That’s certainly annoying but for the most part, this match isn’t. It suffers from the situation surrounding Tanahashi and some of his more tedious habits, but once it gets going there’s a lot to like here.