Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kota Ibushi (NJPW G1 Climax N5 9/27/20)

Match Reviews

Featured image by @ken_sacredring

Tomohiro Ishii is just a man.

Despite how often we as wrestling fans marvel at his resilience and tenacity, it’s always been the underlying vulnerability beneath Ishii’s grand displays of fighting spirit that make him so easy to invest in. When you look past the hard elbow strikes and big bumps, what’s always made Ishii’s performances so compelling is his selling. He has a sense of timing that really helps to elevate his work in an already top heavy and beloved roster.

Kota Ibushi, on the other hand, is a freak of nature.

He’s athletically gifted, ripped to shreds, and never sells a damn thing. This gives him an aura that inspires awe but not sympathy. One oohs and ahhs at Ibushi but in between the bells, it’s very hard to feel any kind of empathy for him. How can you when he’s nailing pitch perfect feats of physical agility? In many cases, this aspect of his ring work can be read as a very real flaw. Ibushi often sacrifices long term narrative for the sake of getting his cool moves in.

Not against Ishii though.

With Ishii to play off Ibushi, there’s a very real sense of struggle here between someone that’s strong but ultimately human against an unstoppable force of athleticism and skill. This dynamic would be played again later in the night but here it reaches its devastating conclusion. Of course Ishii won’t withstand Ibushi. Ibushi has decided that selling is for cowards and he’s going to absorb Ishii’s best shots and then blast him down with some big bombs. Humanity can only achieve so much.

Ishii’s always been a lovable loser, one of my favorite tropes in wrestling and in fiction. He’s great, excellent even. In many ways, so much better than many of his peers. But he’s slowing down, he’s aging, and Kota Ibushi only ever seems to get stronger.

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