Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi (NJPW G1 Climax N3 9/23/20)

Match Reviews

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It’s not their G1 Final from last year but that’s unfair to expect of them. Where that match had a whole tournament’s worth of booking and build up behind it along with a crowd allowed to make actual noise, this one is a second night block match with very little on the line. In many ways, it’s much closer to their Tokyo Dome match from January 5th but I’d say that this actually plays a little better than that one.

These two play off the pretty standard formula they’ve set with each other. After some stalling and playing with the crowd–Jay rules at it, someone book him in 80s NWA please–Jay goes straight for Ibushi’s leg. Ibushi sells it for most of the first act before growing increasingly spotty with it as is his general habit anyway. It’s one of those flaws of Ibushi’s ring work that shows up so often it actually absorbs itself into his character. Jay might be coming in the smarter, more cunning wrestler, but Ibushi’s stupidity is to his own benefit. The man’s mind is so broken and unreasonable that his body refuses to register hurt or pain in any way that seems rational.

I’d say it’s that dynamic that makes this pairing work so well. Jay’s greatest strength is in his intelligence. He has focused targeted attacks that serve him throughout the whole match. He always returns to the knee, even punching Ibushi’s bad knee during a strike exchange instead of meeting Ibushi head on with elbows. But Ibushi’s an inexplicable freak of nature, blessed with a shocking power and tolerance for pain. Something so unnatural pushed up against Jay’s humanity just adds a dimension to this match up that doesn’t exist when these two pair off with others.

Definitely one of the better matches in the G1 so far. Jay’s commitment to being the most charismatic troll on the entire roster is so refreshing. He’s so dedicated to his heel character that not even the New Japan house style of constantly striving for that next great epic can quite diminish his shine. I can only hope for a Jay victory for the tournament, even though that possibility seems to be leading towards its own true horror–SANADA in a G1 finals. This is a cursed G1 in many ways. Long live the J1 instead.

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