The G1 rolls into August, and Kagawa is the venue as the latest four-in-a-row sprint concludes with the fifth round of block B action.
#TLDR: Whilst not quite as good as Saturday’s show, block B put on another strong night’s action as Monday’s G1 action featured an upset and a huge traffic jam at the top of the group.
The Full Review: The sentiment following Sunday’s event was far from good, with the general feeling being that the booking of block A has been killed just after the halfway mark, as the story of potentially the final G1 Climax for Hiroyoshi Tenzan has come to an early end, whilst Tomoaki Honma is set to become the Newcastle United of this year’s G1, in throwing away a massive lead to ultimately fall short.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan
So the losers of today’s Captain New Japan Lottery were… Tiger and Liger! Tiger Mask starts off against Taguchi, and quickly gets taken down with a hip attack after Taguchi faked a sit-down splash from a sunset flip. Tiger kicks Taguchi to the outside, before eventually tagging in to David Finlay and Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
Liger scores a single-leg takedown, then twists Finlay into a seated surfboard stretch, before releasing it and grabbing a headlock. After a shoulder block takedown, Liger’s floored by a dropkick from Finlay, who goes to town with the European uppercut, before a clothesline from Liger sets up another surfboard attempt… only for Taguchi to break it up with a hip attack.
Liger ignores the pleas of Captain New Japan and tags in Tiger Mask… wash, rinse and repeat that comedy spot! Finally, Liger tags in Captain New Japan, who takes Finlay into the ropes, only to miss a diving shoulder tackle. Juice Robinson runs in to connect with some jabs, then miss a leg lariat, before Taguchi runs in and misses a hip attack.
A Shotei in the corner from Liger sends Robinson into a Tiger Driver, and once again, Captain New Japan is coaxed onto the top rope. One day he’ll hit that swandive headbutt, but today wasn’t that day, as Robinson avoided the impact. Captain hit a roll-up for a near-fall, before Robinson elbowed out of an uranage, and then drilled Captain New Japan with the Unprettier for the win. Makes a change from Finlay taking the loss on these matches! Your usual basic New Japan opener. ***
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi
Tama Tonga mocked everyone who ribbed him for wearing those compression tights throughout the tournament by screaming “look, I’ve got my pants!” during the intro. For once, Bad Luck Fale didn’t wipe out the ring announcer… I guess we’ve got to wait until Wednesday for the latest “Bad Luck Fa-urgh” announcement.
We started with a jump start as Tonga took Nakanishi to the outside, whilst Tenzan and Fale started in the ring. Kojima made the save from a Grenade attempt, as Ten-Cozy knocked Fale down with a double-team shoulder block. Takahashi ate a bunch of Mongolian chops, then Kojima’s rapid-fire chops in the corner, but Tonga ran in before any more damage could be done.
Kojima tried to fight back from the Bullet Club corner, but had his eyes raked as Tama Tonga came in and mocked the Mongolian chops, knocking a seated Kojima to the mat. Kojima made the tag to Tenzan, who worked briefly with Fale, with (yep), more Mongolian chops, and an avalanche charge in the corner.
Fale blocked a suplex attempt, before running into a spinning heel kick as Tenzan got a solid two-count. Tonga got the tag in, and had trouble with Nakanishi, who landed a clothesline, then cleared the apron of the Bullet Club, before Tonga ate a lariat for a two-count. Tonga elbowed out of an Argentine backbreaker attempt, but took as pear for another two-count as Takahashi broke it up.
Takahashi took a TenCozy Cutter, before Tenzan clotheslined Fale out of the ring, and that left Tonga in the ring with Nakanishi. Second time around, Tonga took the Argentine backbreaker, before wriggling free and ducking a clothesline, before the Gun Stun got the win for Tama Tonga. It wasn’t bad, nor was it good, but this combination of the Bullet Club is what it is. **½
Naomichi Marufuji & Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA & BUSHI
Something tells me this isn’t going to end well for the Los Ingobernables de Japon pairing… BUSHI and Marufuji start off, and immediately it turns into a two-on-one as SANADA runs in, and they go to the outside for our first barrier spot of the day. SANADA uses the baseball bat on Marufuji, as they go into the crowd, whilst BUSHI just paces in the ring. Marufuji takes a chair to the midsection, then gets dumped back inside before the heels combine for a double back elbow for a near-fall.
BUSHI uses his t-shirt to strangle Marufuji, and then in comes SANADA to build to their match on Wednesday. Marufuji barely responds to a forearm shot, as SANADA gets a chop in return. SANADA ducks several kicks from Marufuji, but falls to a dropkick before Goto gets tagged in. Almost immediately, BUSHI runs in to make this 2-on-1, but Goto dispatches him, then lands a spinning heel kick in the corner and a back suplex for a two-count.
SANADA fights out of an ushigoroshi attempt, before connecting with a dropkick. BUSHI comes in and lands flush with a missile dropkick to Goto, before an enziguiri takes Goto down. SANADA and BUSHI connect with knees and elbows in the corner, before BUSHI sets up for the MX, which misses, as Marufuji comes in for a brief distraction.
All four men run the ropes, and ends up with Goto and Marufuji clotheslining the Los Ingobernables duo. Goto and BUSHI remain in the ring, and it’s straightforward from there as an ushigoroshi then a GTR seal the win for the CHAOS team. Pretty basic tag match, nothing too spectacular, but it did what they needed to do. ***
Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & KUSHIDA
Continuing the G1 tradition of “lets get these undercards sorted as quickly as possible”, the bell started this match less than 50 minutes into the show. I thoroughly approve!
KUSHIDA starts with Gedo, and an inverted atomic drop and a low dropkick keep Okada’s cheerleader at bay, before he rushed out to bring in Tomohiro Ishii… who only wanted to face Tanahashi. Yep, that’s on Wednesday. A Tanahashi dropkick had no effect on Ishii, but a hiptoss and a second dropkick did, before he was caught up top for the senton flip bomb… only for Tanahashi to fight out of a suplex attempt. Ishii’s body slam instantly put him back on top though, as everyone else ended outside the ring, away from the cameras, it seemed.
Okada tagged in, and the crowd woke up for the brief glimpse of Okada and Tanahashi, with a big back body drop from Okada putting Tanahashi down. Okada targeted the injured arm, as did Gedo, who set down Tanahashi for a slingshot hilo into the ring by the champion.
A rear chinlock followed, but Tanahashi worked free with a spinning neckbreaker before making the tag in to Makabe, who cleared the ring with shoulder blocks. An avalanche clothesline rocked Okada, as did the corner punches and the Northern Lights suplex, with Makabe getting a two-count from that.
Okada elbowed out of a German suplex but took a clothesline, but Okada connected with the Heavy Rain neckbreaker slam in the middle of the ring. A top rope elbow drop connected for Okada, but Makabe ducked the Rainmaker, before again dropping the champion with a clothesline. Gedo and KUSHIDA both made tags in, with Gedo connecting with a kick to the head after KUSHIDA launched himself into an inverted atomic drop.
Jabs from Gedo rocked the junior champion, but a right hand sent him down to a knee before KUSHIDA grabbed an arm and locked in the Hoverboard lock. The ring filled as Ishii broke the hold, before Tanahashi dispatched of him with a Slingblade. A big boot from Okada took out Tanahashi, before Makabe got rid of Okada and Gedo… leaving Gedo in the ring to take a rare moonsault from KUSHIDA for the win. That went well under ten minues, but was fun and perfectly acceptable wrestling. ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. YOSHI-HASHI
A long tie-up to start us with saw neither man budge, before YOSHI-HASHI was forced into the ropes and an extremely tentative break. YOSHI-HASHI charged at Nakajima though and went into a headlock, before sidestepping a big boot and shoving Nakajima to the mat.
A stiff bodyslam put Nakajima down, before a forearm strike led to YOSHI-HASHI going to the top rope, and being sent to the floor by a spinning heel kick. Nakajima followed him out, and smashed into YOSHI-HASHI’s chest with a kick from the apron. On the floor, Nakajima stomped on the taped-up shoulder, before sending YOSHI-HASHI with such force into the barricade, that he bounced off it and through the gate into the crowd.
Both men just about beat the count – although Nakajima threw YOSHI-HASHI in rather than take a cheap count-out win – and we resumed with an armwringer from Nakajima, as he tied up YOSHI-HASHI’s left arm in the ropes. A kick and a roll-up got Nakajima two-count, and that seemed to spark a comeback from YOSHI-HASHI, as he chopped away before missing a dropkick. More kicks from Nakajima led to some further work on the arm by literally standing on it, before a Yakuza kick in the corner put the parrot down again.
A missile dropkick off the top got Nakajima a near-fall, before YOSHI-HASHI made another comeback with a running Blockbuster-style flip neckbreaker. Nakajima was rocked by a chop in the corner, before taking a dropkick to the back after being draped on the top rope.
Nakajima turned a YOSHI-HASHI powerbomb into a ‘rana, before avoiding a leaping elbow in the corner and connecting with a back suplex. YOSHI-HASHI popped up… and into a Dragon suplex, before Nakajima was scooped up for a tombstone-like shoulderbreaker. Back on their feet, YOSHI-HASHI started a forearm strike battle, but got rocked with a kick to the chest, and replied with a kick to the head… then the folding powerbomb for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI went for a senton bomb, but only got the knees of Nakajima instead, before taking two kicks to the head. He survived and hit another kick to Nakajima, with a lariat almost winning it for him. Seconds later though, YOSHI-HASHI landed a pump handle driver, and took home another two points which puts him at 3-2 and (at least for now) joint top of the block. What the hell?! A fantastic match from two guys who worked, and kicked, their arses off. Yeah, I’m not meaning to be biased towards block B’s matches, but how can you not appreciate this stuff? ****
G1 Climax, Block B: Michael Elgin vs. Yuji Nagata
Two Belts Mike is wearing them properly for once, and he’s back in the club of guys who have taped-up shoulders. Yep, this is a brutal schedule alright.
They start by throwing bombs of forearms at each other, with Nagata sinking to a knee before trying some bicycle kicks. Elgin tries for a waistlock, before Nagata works free and hits a “just kidding” kick to the knee. A discus lariat to the back of the neck drops Nagata for a two-count, as they then head to the outside where Nagata signs up for more cupping therapy by taking a whip into the guard railings.
Nagata gets squashed on the apron with a legdrop, before Elgin drops Nagata’s head over a knee. Another knee-lift from Elgin rocked Nagata, but he instantly replied with a knee to the midsection as Elgin charged off the ropes, before launching into him with kicks to the chest. A spinning heel kick sent Elgin into the corner, where he took a Yakuza kick then an Exploder suplex for a two-count. Elgin caught a kick to the chest and replied with an enziguiri, then charged into the corner with an avalanche clothesline on Nagata.
A Bossman Slam nearly won it for Elgin, before they descended into another forearm battle. Elgin elbowed his way out of a Backdrop Hold, then dropped Nagata with a clothesline, before hitting another enziguiri. Nagata caught Elgin up top though, but couldn’t follow through as he was sent down with forearm strikes… before recovering to sent Elgin flying with an Exploder off the middle rope. Now that was impressive!
Elgin caught Nagata with a buckle bomb in response to a jumping knee, but Nagata switched a powerbomb and locked in an armbar, rolling his eyes back for maximum effect. Elgin made the ropes though, but was going on the apron by Nagata who ended up taking a death valley driver onto the apron. Yep, he really must like that cupping therapy!
Back inside, Elgin deadlifts Nagata into a German suplex with a bridge for a near-fall, before missing with a body splash off the top. Nagata again went to the armbar, but Elgin rolled it up for a two-count, before a lariat, another buckle bomb and a spinning powerbomb took the win for Elgin. Another good match, and at a decent tempo despite Nagata’s age. Both men move to 3-2 (for six points), and it’s now a four-way tie at the top… ****
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Toru Yano. And his bloody DVD. And his bloody t-shirt… This should be a heavily one sided match, but don’t rule out Shibata being Shibata and losing to a geek. He’s racked up enough losses as of late – upsets or otherwise. Shibata jumps Yano at the bell and launches into him with forearms and kicks, before landing the diving dropkick in the corner.
A double underhook suplex gets Shibata a two-count, before Yano grabs onto the ropes and sidesteps a bicycle kick from Shibata. He’s caught undoing the turnbuckle padding, but Yano runs forward and sends Shibata into the exposed metal, then rolls him up for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Yano goes for another roll-up… and gets the win?! Shibata gone done Shibata again, and lost to a guy massively underneath him. Cue shocked gasps, and Yano ran for his life. This booking of Shibata as being a force who takes the smaller guys too lightly is going to be very hard to come back from if they keep doing this. Yano’s now off the bottom of the table (for now) with four points, and if you count tie-breakers, he’s actually above Shibata. They’re not going to have Shibata finish bottom are they? Are they?! **
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Kenny Omega
The scythe vs. the broom! On paper this is interesting, least of all to see who the crowd will get behind in this heel vs. heel match. Omega slaps EVIL repeatedly to start, and gets a kick to the midsection and a shoulder tackle in response.
Omega lands some headscissors that sent EVIL to the outside, then started teasing for a dive, before rolling and mocking Naito’s tranquilo pose. Interesting bit of foreshadowing…
EVIL grabbed a chair and tried to bring it into the ring, and was met with a baseball slide dropkick that sent him into the railing as he dithered.Omega took an Irish whip into the guard rail, but hopped over and set up for a springboard off the railings… and landed right into a chairshot. Cue fancy headwear, and Omega wore the chair, before blocking the “get thrown into the post” spot. EVIL looked to swing the chair at Omega, but again missed, as the seat of the chair went flying.
So, with what was left of the chair frame, EVIL blocked a suplex into it, before reversing the move and suplexing Omega on the floor. A double underhook suplex saw Omega land straight in the chair, and was seemingly impaled by one of the hinges, as he started to bleed from under his left shoulder blade. That looked brutal. Like Hardcore Holly in ECW brutal.
— Eyean (@skrongstyle) August 1, 2016
Back inside, a swinging neckbreaker got EVIL a two-count, before a Fisherman’s suplex scored a similar result. Omega fought back with some double axehandle smashes, then ducked a clothesline and scored a Finlay roll and a springboard moonsault out of the corner for a two-count.
EVIL ran off the ropes and into a chop, before Omega hit a low dropkick to the knee and his reverse leg lariat… which was caught and turned unto a back suplex. Another clothesline was ducked, as Omega snapped back in a Dragon suplex on EVIL, then went for a One Winged Angel, but EVIL slipped out and tried for another back suplex, only for EVIL to grab Omega’s hand and switch into a pumphandle back suplex for a near-fall instead.
Omega countered the STO with some knee strikes for a near-fall, before deadlifting EVIL off the mat and into a gutwrench powerbomb for a two-count. EVIL caught a German suplex, then a lariat on Omega, before the Fireman’s carry spinebuster got another near-fall. Another STO attempt was blocked by Omega, again elbowing free, before a superkick was caught and met with a headbutt.
Omega succeeded with some more knee strikes though, then took down EVIL with a reverse ‘rana, before a knee strike in the ropes and the One Winged Angel took the win for the leader of the Bullet Club. Fine, fine match, but it was hurt by the crowd not knowing who to back – other than out of politeness. Omega joins the dogpile at the top of the board with six points, and this is going to be tough to call. They laid some curious seeds for a future Bullet Club/Los Ingobernables feud down the road, and since that’s actually fresh, I’m looking forward to it… particularly if the LIdJ losses lead to a borne-of-frustration face turn. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomoaki Honma
Naito stalled for a while to begin with, then was taken by Honma into the ropes with a tie-up for a clean break… which Naito replied to by spitting. Honma ran into a bit of a beatdown, before being rocked by a couple of shoulder tackles, ending with Naito being taken down by one.
Honma went for a Kokeshi early, and of course he missed, and was left in the path of a low dropkick from Naito. Another low dropkick sent Honma towards the ropes, and they eventually rolled to the outside for some brawling and… you got it… some work around the barricades. Naito tied up Honma’s leg in the guard rails, and took a dropkick to the left shin there, before they fought up the aisle as Naito kept targeting Honma’s left knee with strikes.
Honma limped his way back to the count of 19, as Naito laid in the ring and counted along with the referee, but Honma offered little as Naito kept kicking at the knee. Naito repeatedly rammed Honma’s knee into the mat, before hitting a kneebreaker and another dropkick, and then tying up Honma in a Figure Four.
Naito dragged Honma away from the ropes, but the increasingly red Honma was able to reach out and grab them for a break. Honma fought back to his feet and landed a couple of chops, but again Naito kicked out the knee, before Honma blocked a tornado DDT and drilled Naito with a deadlift suplex.
The comeback continued from there with chops and lariats, but no Kokeshi just yet, as Honma landed a leaping forearm into the corner, then a bulldog out from there, and finally a Kokeshi that connected! Naito quickly turned the tables with a dropkick to the knee though, before landing the outside-in dropkick into the corner.
Naito tried to land the Gloria (hammerlock cradle into a side slam), but Honma fought out, and charged into the ropes with an elbow on Naito, then finally a leaping Kokeshi headbutt. Honma missed a charge in the corner, but succeeded with a diving Kokeshi off the second rope, before an attempted Kokeshi Otoshi was blocked, with Honma instead landing a brainbuster for a near-fall.
That kick out resulted in Honma climbing up top, but Naito moved away from a Kokeshi attempt and instead caught him on the turnbuckles, bringing down Honma with a top rope ‘rana for a near-fall. Naito landed the Gloria for another two-count, before a headbutt from Honma killed off a Destino attempt. Another clonking headbutt staggered Naito, who then countered a Kokeshi Otoshi with an inverted figure four, dragging Honma into the middle of the ring once again.
Honma tried to stand up out of it, and succeeded as he stomped his way free, before a cartwheel kick from Naito rocked him. A big right hand sent Naito into the ropes, and Honma followed up with a leaping Kokeshi, then the Kokeshi Otoshi piledriver for a near-fall. From there, a top rope Kokeshi missed as Naito rolled away just in time, and the pair resumed trading forearms from their knees.
Naito won the latest battle on their feet, by kicking away Honma’s bad knee again, but they went to some slaps, then a reverse DDT got Naito another near-fall, before he connected with the Destino and picked up the win to end a thrilling main event. ***¾
Well, that followed the plan, didn’t it? More fantastic action from the grapplers in block B, save for the short, shock win of Toru Yano. Although block A currently has two leaders, you can argue that it’s going to end in an Okada/Tanahashi final, whilst block B is so crowded with six people tied for first (with tie-breakers to come). And people wonder why block B is getting the better reviews for matches and booking?
The G1 takes a day off on Tuesday, then returns on Wednesday with block A, headlining with a Togi Makabe vs. Kazuchika Okada match that could well and truly kill off all doubt as to where that group is headed.
Block A Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Togi Makabe (4-1, 8pts)
Kazuchika Okada (4-1, 8pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (3-2, 6pts)
Bad Luck Fale (2-3, 4pts)
Hirooki Goto (2-3, 4pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (2-3, 4 pts)
SANADA (2-3, 4pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-3, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-3, 4pts)
Tama Tonga (2-3, 4 pts)
Block B Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Michael Elgin (3-2, 6pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (3-2, 6pts)
Yuji Nagata (3-2, 6pts)
Tetsuya Naito (3-2, 6pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (3-2, 6pts)
Kenny Omega (3-2, 6pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2-3, 4pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (2-3, 4pts)
Toru Yano (2-3, 4pts)
EVIL (1-3, 2pts)