Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega
G1 Climax Finals
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 08/13/2017) For this G1, I decided to change how I watched NJPW a little. For a few unimportant reasons, I watch most wrestling well after the fact, either a few days after it happened or sometimes months or years later. Usually I’m aware of who wins what matches, based on just absorbing that information by osmosis through interacting with fans online, by looking up the results myself, or by deducing based on booking that occurs after the match. You know how it is. Lately I’ve questioned whether or not that actually does effect my enjoyment of the matches despite denying it in the past, so for this G1 I decided to stay clean and review the vast majority of the tournament matches, to see if it helped me enjoy this promotion that I dislike any more. For the most part I don’t think it added a lot, because you can make pretty damn good guesses as to who is going to win what. And it certainly didn’t help with this match in particular.
You could see it coming a mile away. As soon as the blocks were announced it was clear. As soon as the tour schedule was announced it was painfully obvious. It had been telegraphed for weeks that the whole tournament was leading to this rematch, and you could make a pretty damn good guess as to how the match itself was going to unfold. Even with all this build up being plain as day, I don’t know if there’s a lot to say about this match here at the end. There’s dueling neck work, obviously. Both of these guys have neck-based finishers. They’ve been doing a lot of neck work throughout this whole tournament. Mostly this is an excuse to take dozens upon dozens of neck bumps and head drops, but I suppose it’s a sort of structure, in the same way that titling your play “Two Guys Who Shoot People When They Get Angry Have an Argument” is a sort of structure. And that’s what this match is, really. Two guys who do a lot of neck-based moves do a lot of neck-based moves at each other for 35 minutes.
There’s some highlights, to be sure. Naito’s tope suicida is pretty fucking gnarly and the subsequent piledriver on a ringside table is gross and dumb. The super hurricanrana reversal later on looks good. Naito not being able to stay upright for Omega’s knee strike is neat but quickly becoming overdone. But these three highlights amidst minutes upon minutes of two guys dropping each other on their heads and gesticulating wildly is just so not impressive or all that exciting past a real basic “wow that looked like it hurt, sort of” level. It’s not surprising, either. Surprise isn’t a necessary element of good art or good wrestling, to be sure, but it’s a necessary part of making viewers buy into false finishes, of which there are about 20 in this match. After the eighth V-Trigger, I’m not invested in it ending the match anymore. I’m not invested in anything winning the damn match anymore. It’s just a deluge of moves and moments that are meant to be big but run together as this lifeless melodrama. When Naito finally pins Omega, I don’t think “wow, he finally got him!” I think “wow, it’s finally over”. There’s a world of difference between those two emotions and it’s a gap that these sorts of matches can’t seem to cross.
Chono doing the LIJ pose was cute. I liked that.