Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
G1 Climax 23 Block A Match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 09/17/2018) This is a real bad match, no two ways around it. I recognize that there’s only so much they can do here with such an obvious thirty minute draw endpoint, but even with a foregone conclusion of a finish this feels like an awful effort from all involved. They play with the pacing themes of previous matches but for a variety of reasons it’s not nearly so effective here. Okada comes in real confident and doesn’t rush in because of it but that confidence only exacerbates a problem that we first saw back at the Dome. He’s real uninspired here and continues to struggle to exhibit any real fire, despite the fact that he gets worked over to a greater degree here than in maybe any of his previous matches with Tanahashi. I prefer Tanahashi’s approach here as it feels like something of an attempt at misdirection to open up his opponent for his signature leg work, but he does it in such a bizarre way with all these weird variations on moves that are completely inane and unnecessary, things that feel shoved in to make this smaller meeting between the two stand out. He goes after Okada’s leg to a greater degree than he ever has before and while it might look flashy and fierce, it feels so much less vicious than anything he’s done in previous matches. Okada’s selling of it, in turn, is awful. He flits between collapsing under his own weight repeatedly and it not being a factor at all, with nothing of interest in between. In general the execution of both men—whether it’s in selling or in their offense—is notably off here. Everything about this match makes it drag on and on, feeling a hell of a lot longer at 30 minutes than most any of Okada’s more recent broadway epics have. If you liked those maybe this match would do something for you, but even then I’d encourage people to stay away from this one, as I think this is pretty easily the worst match I’ve seen from these two.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Not even close. This is probably the biggest disparity I’ve seen between match quality so far in this project.
VERDICT: Worse than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25