I cannot overstate just how absolutely insane this year has been in terms of amazing wrestling matches. To start the year off with Kenny Omega/Kazuchika Okada (which I reviewed here), I should have known just how crazy this year would be. The fact that they topped it with the rematch 5 months later was even more astonishing. Those two matches were so good that many matches that followed that would have been match of the year contenders any other year got completely shafted. This match from this past summer’s absolutely stacked G1 Climax is a perfect example.
A match-up between the long time ACE of New Japan Hiroshi Tanahashi and the returning lone wolf Kota Ibushi had many fans, myself included, super hyped to see it. These two are arguably some of the greatest in-ring performers of the last 20 years, and they absolutely displayed that here. The match starts off slow, as the two feel each other out. The ever confident Tanahashi will knock down Ibushi and do his trademark cocky air guitar gesture.
Ibushi will get back up, and the two will trade blows equally. Ibushi displays some of his best trademark flips here, which are an absolutely amazing sight to see. Tanahashi focuses on his legs most of the match to try and negate this thread, which is the kind of psychology you expect from a veteran like him.
The two are fighting just about equally here. It’s such great psychology and storytelling; you just have no idea who will win it and it keeps you suspenseful. It all leads to Ibushi hitting Tanahashi with his signature sit-out powerbomb which he miraculously kicks out of. Out of desperation, Ibushi hits him with one final V-Trigger knee to the face and gets the pinfall.
I can’t overstate how big of a fan I am of these two. Not just for this match mind you, I’ve followed these two for years. It was just great to see two of my favorites facing each other. I can’t recommend this match enough, nor can I recommend their body of work enough. Especially Tanahashi; he’s called the John Cena of New Japan, but he’s so much better than Cena. Check out his series of matches with Kazuchika Okada and his series with Tetsuya Naito as well.
I have to give this match a 5/5. It’s not the best match of the year, it’s not even the best match of the G1 Climax tournament. But that should tell you just how insanely stacked this year has been.