Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr
G1 Climax Block A Match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 08/11/2017) People were super excited about the two matches these two had with each other (the first of which I’ve not seen as of this writing) but I was always wary just because of how different these two are and how easily they have subpar matches. Thankfully this is quite good, and I think a lot of it comes from a basic formula. Most everything in this match is either 1.) Zack schooling Ishii on the mat, 2.) Ishii blasting Zack with strikes, or 3.) Ishii selling the aforementioned mat-schooling. It helps, too, that these guys aren’t total slouches in their respective weak points, as Ishii is surprisingly good at the early grappling and Zack can bring the firepower when he wants to, so it’s a struggle no matter who’s doing what. Ishii comes into this match with his perennially-injured shoulder and a freshly-wrapped knee, so Zack immediately goes after it when the stocky Stone Pitbull begins to put up a fight. Some of the transitions and reversals are a little forced or lazy, but for the most part Zack’s technical work here is great. Likewise Ishii, who has been letting me down as of late in scary ways, comes closer to replicating his former glory here than at any other time in the tournament. Just check out that throat chop late in the match. Fucking yikes. All in all, a fine little match.