SANADA vs Tama Tonga
G1 Climax Block B Match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed live) On paper, I hate this. Tonga has been slowly easing into a character that is meant to appear smart and crafty and more than a little charismatic, but he’s not any of those things. SANADA rolls with a similar character and mostly manages to do it far better than Tonga, but he still has a level of cold detachment that prevents me from really enjoying it. They’re both going all in on these characters here and so you’d think I’d hate it. But no, this is fairly fun because these guys aren’t using these half-baked characteristics to make themselves look cool, but rather they’re using them to provide some goofs! Lots of “both guys go for the same cheating strategy” spots, some fun continuation of SANADA’s signature shirt-taking-off and Paradise Lock spots, etc. SANADA’s still too cool for school here but far less so than he has been elsewhere in this tournament and Tonga is straight up doing prat falls and whatnot here, a far cry from how he’s operated in most of his matches in this tournament. In trying to not look like the coolest motherfucker on the face of the planet, both of these guys are way more entertaining, though they fall into some of the same traps and shortcomings common in NJPW and especially G1 matches with convoluted sequences, multiple countout spots, etc.