Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Togi Makabe
G1 Climax Block A Match
Item Ehime, Matsuyama, Japan
(reviewed 08/09/2017) Honest to god, aside from the Miracle Nagata Match of
2007 2017, this is my favorite Tanahashi match from this year, and I think it’s because of one simple reason. I think that Tanahashi has finally accepted that he is an old man now. He’s not trying to run fully at 100% Go Ace speeds anymore, opting to turn it down to 75% or so for most of this match (the finishing stretch being notably more intense, as you’d imagine). He’s mostly relying on scrappiness and charisma and maybe a little bit of limb work, the sorts of things you see from all the NJPW dads. Makabe is sort of dad-adjacent at the moment (an uncle, perhaps) and likewise employs this approach and together they have a fun little match. They know when to just yell and flip each other off and when to turn up the heat. More importantly, they know who among them can turn up the heat (hint: it’s the guy who doesn’t look like he’s dying when he jumps off the top rope). I wouldn’t exactly call it flawless, but this match manages to avoid a lot of the shortcomings I’ve seen in Tanahashi’s other big matches this year against the likes of Naito, ZSJ, and EVIL, all of whom are way better than Makabe. In recognizing and confronting his limitations and working to circumnavigate them instead of just powering through them on a broken down 40 year old body, Tanahashi improves his stock quite massively in my eyes, and I’m glad to see it.