Juice Robinson vs Michael Elgin
G1 Climax Block B Match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed live) When I did my VOW pick ‘ems for this tournament, I ran with this narrative of Elgin blazing through the tournament, beating both Okada and Omega before having the spot in the finals stolen away from him here by Juice, who was going to be winless leading into the match. This was before more news about Elgin wanting to leave came out and was made evident by the booking of the tournament and before Juice went and won his first fucking tournament match. Either way, Juice has been great in this G1 and Elgin has… been Elgin. They’re both at a bit of a crossroads here at this point, with Elgin having been the number two gaijin in NJPW for the better part of two years but now being on his way out, and with Juice clearly on his way up to becoming a big deal and being one of the top gaijin if he sticks around. That narrative both works for and against this match, I think. There’s a lot of great “newer hotshot can barely hang with established semi-top guy” selling and body language from Juice, but it’s sort of inconsistent. Likewise I don’t buy that he’s able to match Elgin strike for strike, which is a theme here. It’s played a little too evenly for my taste, coming out to something like 60/40 when I think 75/25 is both more accurate as well as more enjoyable for this situation. The evenness leads to a lot of back-and-forth reversals, some of which are great and some of which are terribly obvious. And that’s what it comes down to, really. It’s not a bad match, by any means, but it’s sort of obvious and plays it a little too straight to be all that meaningful.