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G1 Climax: Week 3 Awards (7.28-8.2)

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Each Friday during the G1 Climax I’ll be naming both the matches and performers who gave us the week’s standout moments. This will serve to highlight the best matches as well as the wrestlers who deserve the most praise for their work over the week.

Gold Medal: Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii (7.28)
This is my third time writing about this match in the span of one week. They found themselves inside both my top five G1 favorites and top five matches of July. What can I say that I haven’t already? They went fifteen minutes and did more in that time than someone would do in twenty-five. Absolute adrenaline-filled insanity.

Silver Medal: Kota Ibushi vs Hirooki Goto (8.1)
I’m not sure anyone has been more critical of ‘Phone It In’ Goto than I have over the years but, for the moment, I’ve been silenced. This entire G1 has been filled to the grim with great outings from Goto and this Ibushi guy ain’t no slouch either. Jokes aside, Ibushi has made a strong case for G1 MVP. He looks to be out there to prove a point; he wants everyone to take notice. We have, Ibushi. We have.

Bronze Medal: Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki (8.2)
Since Okada is playing around with his new character, we weren’t going to see the classic many of us hoped to see. With that said, when Suzuki wants to take center stage, he’ll do so with a sadistic smile across his face. Suzuki showed no reservations in picking apart this broken version of the Rainmaker but he looked to be having too much fun. He woke up Okada and got caught out of nowhere.

Top Performer: Kota Ibushi
You could make the case that Ibushi has been the top performer the entire G1 but without him this week, the tournament would have been a disappointment. Ibushi showed up big time and took it to both Ishii and Goto, producing an absolute classic with the former. In terms of consistent match quality, this is the best version of the Golden Star we’ve seen in years which is extremely exciting as we head into the closing stretch of the tournament.

Under the Radar Performer: Jay White
After a blistering hot start with matches against Okada and Tanahashi, White has cooled off a bit. This week he went against both Hangman Page and YOSHI-HASHI where he showed more of an edge by being able to bully the guys lower on the card. This man is absolutely vicious and has quietly been able to hone is craft while letting other above him take center stage. White has already proven to be a force and now that he’s bubbling under the surface, things are about to get a lot more interesting.

Rising Star: YOSHI-HASHI
I’ve laid the boots to ‘ol YOSHI-HASHI for years. Who hasn’t? He starts fast but loses motivation as the losses begin to pile up. Not this year. Y-H has been extremely motivated all throughout the tournament, this week having encounters with Tanahashi and White. Tanahashi called him out the day before their match for being all bark, no bite. This lit the spark that was able to keep Y-H burning as we head into the later stages. His next match was against stablemate, Jay White. Y-H didn’t want to give the impression that he’s been leapfrogged within his crew so he brought the fire against the fellow Chaos member. At this point, with his history, Y-H isn’t going to find much success in the way of winning but if he keeps the fire lit under him that can eventually spark change.

Standout Move: Tanahashi’s Straight Jacket German Suplex
Did anyone else make note of this move? Am I reading too much into a move that only Kota Ibushi does? Is it possible that Tanahashi was signaling to a showdown in the finals between him and Ibushi? The move seemed to intentional to gloss over.

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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