Minoru Suzuki vs Michael Elgin
G1 Climax Block B Match
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Japan
(reviewed 08/09/2017) Quite enjoyed this. I’m watching this a few days after seeing the shockingly great Elgin vs Callihan match from AAW, in which Elgin plays this stoic, virtuous bruiser who powers through arm work and a bit of treachery to just narrowly miss winning the title. Watching that and now this match, I’m coming to realize that while I think Elgin is still a subpar and boring character way more often than not, I can overlook it if he’s in a match with a strong heel character and a good narrative. Thankfully, that’s what we get here. Elgin is by himself and ain’t need no boys to counteract Suzuki’s crew, electing to challenge the veteran on his own merit. Suzuki, though, is far craftier and not as needlessly moral, and uses a chair as well as his friends Despy and Taichi to turn the tide against a younger, stronger opponent. It’s fun stuff. Suzuki’s limb work and general persona is always delightful (check out the physical and emotional effort he puts into smashing a flimsy folding chair over Elgin’s back on the floor early on) and Elgin’s arm selling is again far better than I’d have imagined. Suzuki’s selling blows him out of the water, especially during a series of short clotheslines about two thirds of the way through the match, but that’s to be expected. When the going gets tough, Suzuki increasingly has to rely on his cronies, at one point just blindly grasping at Red Shoes to yank him to the mat after eating a strike just so Despy and Taichi can rush the ring. Sadly, it’s a cool moment mitigated by more bad NJPW video production, but what can you do. Just when it looks like Suzuki’s going to get the win, Elgin frees himself from a Gotch style piledriver and floors Suzuki with a spinning backfist before putting him away with a spinning powerbomb. Great stuff. Doesn’t try to overachieve but manages to create a fleshed-out match within its relatively meager confines. It’s more than I can say for a lot of matches.