Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito
G1 Climax Block A Match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 08/11/2017) I didn’t want or ask for a third match between these two in 2017, but hey, this one might actually be my favorite of the three so I can’t complain too much. It begins with Tanahashi fucking with and punking out Naito, leading to some delightful facials from the latter before he returns the favor tenfold and begins going after Tanahashi’s fucked-up arm. The match progresses the way you’d imagine. Naito works over the arm and neck and does heel-ish stuff. Tanahashi powers through it and fights back with some of his usual leg work, targeting Naito’s bad knees. Fairly run of the mill stuff, but with important tweaks. Somehow, Tanahashi is pretty damn lively here, looking way better here than he did in Osaka despite it being near the end of a tough tour on an ever-worsening injury. Naito, likewise, has more of a fire under his ass than usual. To cap it all off, Sumo Hall is fucking jazzed for whatever these two do. I liked the Dome show match these two had but thought it lacked the sort of narrative and crowd heat I’d like. The more recent Osaka-Jo Hall match had better heat but was quite poor in execution considering the state of Tanahashi. This match suffers from some of the same problems as the previous two matches (especially in relation to sticking to shtick) but also makes up for other problems in meaningful ways. Plus Naito hit Gloria, and any match in which he hits Gloria is automatically good.