Yuji Nagata vs Kota Ibushi – NJPW G1 Climax 27 Day 13

Yuji Nagata vs Kota Ibushi

G1 Climax Block A Match

08/04/2017

Item Ehime, Matsuyama, Japan

(reviewed 08/09/2017) One thing that annoys me about Ibushi is how little he’s learned over his career as a character, let alone as a performer, which is a whole separate issue. As a character, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him learn or grow or advance past a “I work hard and that’s how I win” level. That sort of thing can be really enjoyable depending on the performer (see: John Cena), but with Ibushi it comes with a coy sort of melodrama that grinds on me pretty hard, as well as a sort of annoying fandom that, again, is a whole separate issue. So here, Ibushi continues to apply that approach: lots of hard work and a surprising amount of melodrama for a little midcard tournament match. But hey, it actually makes for a fairly good match and plays into the narrative. At first, Nagata pretty well schools him, utilizing both a mat game and a level of veteran trickery that Ibushi has never really learned to counter. So he continues to do what he’s always done: just sort of work hard and eventually he’ll come out on top. Note here that I’m saying working hard as opposed to working smart. He’s not outwitting or outmaneuvering Nagata. He just sort of turns it around through sheer effort. The match is at its worst in these moments, when he’s just doing his usual Ibushi spots and pulling big dramatic faces. Thankfully, before long he switches gears and tries to beat Nagata at his own game: striking. It’s something that Nagata used to be great at but his age is causing to worsen, and being that Ibushi is no slouch in the striking department itself, it’s something that he can utilize really well in order to turn the match around and take control. They continue with that sort of story, of Nagata doing what he can to survive a younger, faster, healthier man who can apply his best weapons better than he can, and it’s pretty intense by the end, finally achieving the sort of drama the earlier facials were trying to invoke. When Nagata kicks out of the Last Ride powerbomb, it’s a big moment that I didn’t see coming, as it’s something Ibushi has finished off multiple (or at least one, I could be getting the count wrong) people in this tournament with, and Nagata is no spring chicken and had not scored a win in the G1 at this point. But it also works as an escalation of the drama and one that fits within the context of the match, something that I’ve decried to a huge degree lately in certain reviews. Nagata, having announced that this was his final G1 Climax, is winless here deep into the tournament and is desperate for a victory. He’s going up against someone who is, for all intents and purposes, and outsider, and at the very least a youngster/newcomer, two archetypes that Nagata has spent his entire career battling. He’s not going to roll over and die to no powerbomb. What’s more, Ibushi’s matches in this tournament have been emphasizing this new Kamigoye finish, seemingly in preparation for an upcoming Omega or maybe Okada match, so when Nagata kicks out, there’s not only something bigger and better (at least kayfabe-wise; I think the Kamigoye is a bad finish in execution) to go to, but a move that also serves to further a story that they’ve been building for weeks. So Ibushi hoists the old man up and blasts him with a knee for the win. Great stuff. Aside from his initial cutoff and “I gotsa do my big moves” heat, this is a great match that makes wonderful use of its time, and it’s something I wholly recommend.

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