It’s the sixth round of block B matches, and we’re in Fukuoka for the twelve day (overall) of action from this year’s G1 Climax!
#TLDR: Not quite the blow-away shows we’ve seen from block B in the past, but this was a solid day’s G1 action – with Katsuyori Shibata stealing the show with a good match against Kenny Omega, whilst Toru Yano found a new trick.
The Full Review: Some good G1 matches are on the docket today, with the only bad match on there being the one we’d expect… but I have faith in Yuji Nagata being able to drag something out of Toru Yano. Plus, his matches have been exceedingly short this tournament…
Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan
Oh my God, they actually played something from Taguchi’s album for his ring entrance! Finlay and Robinson got the crowd to clap along to it, which made a change from Taguchi’s usually-muted entrance on NJPW World.
Both teams have someone there to take the fall, so this should be a bit more exciting than the usual opening matches. Tiger Mask gets us going against Taguchi, but he immediately calls for a time-out, but instead opts to run the ropes and starts trading hiptosses then lays out Tiger and Liger with hip attacks.
Another hip attack to Tiger Mask is met with a dropkick, with Tiger then following up with a tope to Taguchi on the floor. Finlay gets the tag in, as does Liger, and Finlay lays out the veteran with an uppercut, before Liger retaliated with a Shotei out of the corner, and then locks in the youngster in a surfboard… which Taguchi ambles in to break it up.
Tiger Mask comes in to work an arm wringer, and Liger and Tiger work their usual “we won’t tag in Captain New Japan” spots. Liger then relented and tagged in the Captain, who quickly got taken to the wrong corner for an arm wringer and an axehandle smash off the top by Juice Robinson.
Captain backdrops Finlay to the apron, sidesteps an avalanche from Juice, and avoids a hip attack from Taguchi, before taking Robinson down with the uranage. Who are you and what have you down with our regular Captain?! Robinson takes the trio of corner charges, then a Tiger Driver, as Captain gets coaxed back to the top rope, and this time, Liger and Tiger held Robinson in place so he couldn’t roll out of the way… before standing like lemons as Finlay and Taguchi broke up the pin. Hey, the Captain’s finally learning!
Robinson fired back with a clothesline for a near-fall though, before dropping Captain New Japan with the Unprettier for the win. Very basic, but I liked the gradual storytelling of how Captain New Japan is slowly learning how not to be a total waste of space. **¾
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Togi Makabe, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi
Tama Tonga’s back in normal ring gear as opposed to his long johns, and we get a jump start with Kojima being targeted by Tonga and Takahashi. A double shoulder block knocks down Kojima, who then gets held in place for some mocking chops from Takahashi, then Tonga, who ends up clotheslining Takahashi. Kojima hits the rapid-fire chops for real on Takahashi in the corner, then the usual Irish whip and leaping forearm in the corner, before Fale cuts him off.
On the outside, Fale sends Makabe into the guard railings, whilst Kojima gets the same treatment from Takahashi. Back inside, Takahashi snapmares Kojima and lands a kick for a near-fall, before Tonga comes in to the sound of silence. Some grounded punches get Tonga a near-fall, before Fale comes in to try and flatten Kojima.
We get a teaser of Saturday’s Fale/Makabe match, with Makabe landing an avalanche clothesline and some mounted punches in the corner, before Fale blocked a Northern Lights suplex. Fale took a clothesline for a near-fall, but dropped Makabe with a Samoan drop before Tonga and Nakanishi got tagged into the match. Nakanishi blocked an Irish whip attempt, and clubbed Tonga with a forearm to the chest, then levelled Tonga with a clothesline for a near-fall.
Tonga elbowed out of an Argentine backbreaker, but ran into a spear for another near-fall as Takahashi broke up the cover. The ring briefly filled up, then emptied with Makabe clotheslining Fale to the outside, and that allowed Tonga to be caught in an Argentine backbreaker… which Takahashi struggled to break up. A clothesline took out Takahashi, before Tonga dropped Nakanishi with a Gun Stun for the win. Basic stuff, but a decent enough six-man undercard match. **½
Naomichi Marufuji, Hirooki Goto & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & KUSHIDA
Tenzan’s still hobbling down to the ring, but we’re starting with Gedo and KUSHIDA here. Standard lock-up to begin with, and the pair go to the ropes for a clean break, before Gedo grabs a wristlock. KUSHIDA reverses it and drops into a front facelock, before spinning around the back of Gedo for the fun of it.
Tenzan actually tags in, and faces Goto – his scheduled opponent for tomorrow – and they immediately go to the shoulder tackle spot. A second tackle from Tenzan drops Goto, before Tenzan starts a slapping battle, and then unloads with Mongolian chops. Goto takes down Tenzan with a snapmare, then drops an elbow into the head as Gedo returns to the fray, grabbing an armbar in the process.
Gedo quickly tags out to Marufuji, who keeps the armbar as he took Tenzan to the corner, and we see two bits of tape on Marufuji’s back that look like someone’s tried to fill two holes in his back with foam. Marufuji actually chops Tenzan so hard his chest BLEEDS, with Tenzan’s Mongolian chops not quite having the same effect.
— LARIATOOOOO!!! (@SenorLARIATO) August 4, 2016
Tanahashi gets tagged in next, and he takes down Marufuji with a forearm before following in with a Dragon screw. Marufuji handstands out of an Irish whip attempt, then lands a low dropkick and follows in with a leaping back elbow to Tanahashi in the corner. The pair trade chops, and this time Marufuji doesn’t draw blood, with the sequence ending with a savate kick to Tanahashi’s head instead.
Out of nowhere, a Slingblade takes down Marufuji, and we get two more tags as Gedo and KUSHIDA resume action. An inverted atomic drop and a low dropkick from KUSHIDA gets followed up with a standing moonsault for a near-fall, before Gedo ducks a roundhouse kick, and takes a handspring back elbow.
The ring fills up again, with Goto/Tenzan and Tanahashi/Marufuji facing off, but the CHAOS pair end up on top as they leave Gedo and KUSHIDA alone in the ring. KUSHIDA catches a superkick attempt, then connects with a discus forearm, before walking into a Complete Shot from Gedo. An attempt at a Gedo Clutch gets blocked from KUSHIDA, who grabs an arm and successfully gets the Hoverboard Lock for the win. A brutal match, and now we know why those chops are sometimes called knife-edge chops! ***
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii
SANADA’s music cuts out erratically during the Ingobernables duo’s entrance, but they don’t make the same flub for Okada’s music. Okada and BUSHI start, and we have the usual “lock-up into the ropes, Okada mockingly breaks” spot. He’s a babyface? How?!
BUSHI rakes the eyes of Okada and gets a back elbow for his efforts, before Okada drops a normal elbow and works an armbar. In comes Ishii and the pair shoulder tackle BUSHI to the mat, before Ishii works a seemingly neverending series of chop and forearm combinations in the corner.
Another shoulder tackle sends BUSHI to the mat, and Ishii finds a stalling suplex countered, as BUSHI works free before they work a double-team spot on Okada. SANADA takes Okada out into the crowd, whilst BUSHI whipped Ishii into the crowd barriers. Eventually we’re back with Ishii against SANADA and BUSHI in the ring, and SANADA stomps away at Ishii on the mat. More forearms follow, before BUSHI tags in and uses his t-shirt to choke away at Ishii.
SANADA tags in, but Ishii rushes back in with a rear naked choke on BUSHI for revenge before he could exit the ring. Ishii lights up SANADA with some forearms, before an uppercut took him into the corner, with SANADA eventually running into a powerslam off the ropes. Okada got the somewhat-hot tag and cleared the ring, dropping SANADA with a spinning back elbow, and then connecting with a DDT.
Okada got a near-fall from a diving uppercut, before SANADA’s double leapfrog into a dropkick took the champion down. BUSHI tagged in and connected with a missile dropkick, before taking a flapjack off the ropes. Ishii got the tag back into squash BUSHI with some avalanche charges, then with a suplex for another near-fall.
A couple of low dropkicks from BUSHI cut-off Ishii for a while, and that let SANADA come back in and work a double-team, with BUSHI almost winning it with a lungblower. Okada came into break up that count, before being taken to the outside by SANADA, whilst an overhead kick from BUSHI dazed Ishii. BUSHI missed an MX and took a big boot from Okada, before being levelled by a clothesline from Ishii. One brainbuster later, and the Stone Pitbull picked up a fairly straightforward win. A pretty good undercard tag match, and yet another tag loss for the Ingobernables… ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Yuji Nagata
After Yano’s surprise win over Shibata earlier this week, I must say I’m worried here, particularly as Nagata beat up Yano a lot during their tag match yesterday…
Yano tries to keep his distance early on, and spins away from waistlock attempts before reaching for the ropes as Nagata grabbed an arm. He seemed unimpressed by the “break” chants, before Yano rolled to the outside. Nagata held the ropes open for Yano to return, but we got more stalling instead, before Nagata gave him a Yazuka kick on the apron.
Nagata rolled Yano back into the ring and kept kicking away, then grabbed an armbreaker. Yano got levelled with an enziguiri, then missed the mule kick as he’d grabbed the referee. The referee was grabbed a second time as he tried to avoid the Backdrop Hold, but ended up falling into an armbar.
Yano rolled to the outside after making the ropes, and he grabbed something from under the ring… and it’s a roll of tape! Nagata took an Irish whip into the barricades, but fought back, only to get dropped in the aisle as Yano took the tape and hog tied Nagata in the aisle… and there’s your count-out result. Well, that was different. In a weird way, I liked this. Nagata isn’t winning this block, and if you’re going to do a throwaway match, you may as well go this route. Yano took his beating yesterday, but at least this wasn’t a crap roll-up out of nowhere finish. Both Yano and Nagata go to 3-3 records after this. *¾
G1 Climax, Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Michael Elgin
In a sign of progress, YOSHI-HASHI’s got slightly less of his shoulder taped up, and he starts by being taken into the ropes by Elgin for a clean break. A chop from YOSHI-HASHI proves ineffective, as Elgin floors him with a chop of his own.
A shoulder tackle knocks YOSHI-HASHI down as Elgin came out of the corner, before the Canadian gets low-bridged to the outside. YOSHI-HASHI tried a crossbody off the apron, but gets caught and rammed into the ringpost, before Elgin clotheslines it in error after YOSHI-HASHI had ducked.
Your obligatory Irish whip into the railings followed, with Elgin’s taped-up left arm being worked over, before a DDT in the ring gets YOSHI-HASHI a near-fall. Elgin connected with a chop as YOSHI-HASHI stayed on top, elbowing Elgin between the shoulder blades, before hitting the dropkick to the back as Elgin was draped across the top rope.
Elgin blocks a suplex back into the ring, and dropped YOSHI-HASHI with a high kick and a slingshot splash back for a near-fall. Some avalanche clotheslines in the corner follow, before Elgin drops him with a German suplex, and then a deadlift bridging German for another near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI gets rocked with clothesline-style forearms from Elgin, before a series of his own clotheslines stuns the Canadian… but only briefly as another enziguiri sent YOSHI-HASHI to a knee. Elgin kicks out at two from a clothesline, and he takes YOSHI-HASHI up for a superplex, but that’s blocked and turned into an attempt at a sunset flip powerbomb, which YOSHI-HASHI switches into the bridging powerbomb for a near-fall.
Elgin rolls away from a senton bomb off the top, before dropping YOSHI-HASHI into the turnbuckles with a death valley driver for a near-fall. An outside-in superplex follows next for YOSHI-HASHI, as Elgin dropped in almost like a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before a powerbomb attempt was countered into a jack-knife cover by YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI followed up with a back cracker then the butterfly lock for a submission, but he turned that into a DDT and then another butterfly lock that Elgin struggled with, before making the ropes. Second time was the charm for YOSHI-HASHI, as he landed the senton bomb for a near-fall, before Elgin replied to a reverse enziguiri with a forearm… then a pair of lariats for another close-call. Undeterred, Elgin fired up with a buckle bomb and the spinning sit-out powerbomb, and that was it. A pretty good match, with YOSHI-HASHI trying hard for upset but ultimately falling short. I dare say YOSHI has a shout for being one of the performers of this tournament, or at least the surprise package… As things stand, Elgin tops the group on eight points after this. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Tomoaki Honma
This is win-or-bust for EVIL, as far as his slim G1 chances go. EVIL lights into Honma with forearms, then a shoulder tackle, but a second one drops EVIL to the mat. A bodyslam leads to a first missed Kokeshi, and EVIL throws Honma to the outside.
Obligatory Irish whip spot follows, as does Honma’s unwanted headwear as EVIL places a chair over his head, before striking it off his head as if he were hitting a home run. Honma beat the count in, and ended up having EVIL’s elbow ground into his face.
Honma blocks a suplex, then deadlifts EVIL into a suplex of his own, before hitting some back elbows, a body slam and curiously not trying for a Kokeshi from that. Instead, Honma chops him into the corner, then lands a bulldog and only then does he try (and succeed!) with a Kokeshi.
EVIL drills Honma with a headbutt, then follows up with a clothesline in the corner, before a top rope clothesline gives him a near-fall. A Fireman’s carry follows, but Honma elbows free, before being caught in a waistlock and taken down with a German suplex, which he immediately pops up from.
A back elbow and a lariat drops Honma for just a one count, before a discus lariat sets up EVIL for a Fisherman’s suplex. That gets him just a two-count, but Honma countered out of a STO, before landing two leaping Kokeshis and a Kokeshi Otoshi for a near-fall. Honma climbed to the top rope for a swandive Kokeshi, but EVIL rolled away.
EVIL caught a clothesline and dropped Honma with a half-nelson suplex, before getting a near-fall from the Fireman’s carry spinebuster, with the STO finishing off Honma. Technically that was fine, but this seemed to get stuck in second gear and never really got going for me. EVIL stays alive – barely – with a 2-4 record. ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Now this is going to be good! As long as Shibata doesn’t get rolled up like last time…
Shibata immediately shoots for Omega, but can’t get a hold of him before a tie-up sends both men into the ropes. Omega – who is sporting a nice little bandage below his left shoulder blade, thanks to an errant chair – gets taken into the corner where Shibata stomps away for a while, and follows with a Shining Wizard-esque kick to the head.
A diving dropkick sees Omega get knocked off the apron and into the guard rail – but without the KeMonito flip (for those of you who’ve seen the GIF of the midget blue monkey mascot from Mexican wrestling take that bump…), and Shibata instantly gets Omega and tosses him into the barricades. Omega reverses a second Irish whip, but gets a kick to the face in reply, before he log rolls across the ring to get some separation from Shibata.
Omega rams Shibata into the apron and clubs away with some forearms, before Shibata gets lifted up and dropped onto the timekeeper’s table with a knee breaker. Shibata beat the count-out though, and got worked over in the corner by Omega, who started to target that taped-up left leg with kicks and (of all things) a Stretch Muffler. I think Finlay may be annoyed that his finisher got taken…
Shibata eventually made the ropes after being held upside down in that hold, and Omega kept stomping away before taking him into the corner once more. Shibata fought back with some forearms, but Omega kept going after that leg, and landed another kneebreaker, this time tossing Shibata into the turnbuckles.
Omega got rocked with a pair of Yakuza kicks from Shibata, then the diving dropkick in the corner. After a brief chopping battle, Omega kicked the leg once more, then reversed a sleeperhold, before trying for a Dragon suplex. Shibata went down to a knee from the sleeper, before countering with a side suplex.
A German suplex dropped Shibata, but Omega got one back in reply, which saw him fold in two, before he caught Shibata in a knee-bar similar to the one that Tetsuya Naito has been using as of late. Foreshadowing?
Again, Omega kept up on the left leg, but hit a Shining Wizard for a near-fall and then set up for the One Winged Angel, but Shibata grabbed the arm and ended up countering into a kimura as Omega made the ropes. Undeterred, Shibata went for a head triangle on the mat, forcing another rope break, and they went back to trading shots in the middle of the ring. Kicks rocked both men, as did slaps, before a knee strike sent Shibata back to the mat, as a Shining Wizard nearly got the win for Omega.
The pressure continued with more knee strikes, including one as Shibata was in the ropes, but Shibata escaped the One Winged Angel and caught Omega in a sleeperhold. Omega thought he’d escaped by leaping onto his back, but Shibata re-applied the hold to send him to his knees, before scoring the Penalty Kick for the win. A really good match to get Shibata somewhat back on track, and both men go to 3-3 for the tournament. ****
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Naito sidesteps away from an early lock-up attempt as he tries to get inside Nakajima’s head, before they trade hammerlocks, with Naito easily making the ropes for the break. From a second rope break, Naito kicked Nakajima in the midsection, before sending him into the ropes, with an exchange ending with Naito ducking a kick… and cue tranquilo pose!
Naito takes a breather outside the ring, returning to break the count and continually antagonise Nakajima. Back inside, Naito targets Nakajima’s left knee for a spell, dropping an elbow onto it, then ramming the knee into the mat. You can’t throw those kicks as hard with a bad knee!
A kneebreaker follows from Naito, as does a low dropkick, before he works in an Indian deathlock, wrenching back on the knee. Naito gets the referee to unlock the hold for him – adding some extra seconds of pain without risking a disqualification – before again kicking away at Nakajima’s leg.
A charging Naito then gets backdropped onto the apron, where he takes a dropkick into the guard railings – again, with no KeMonito flip – and Nakajima followed up with a running kick on the apron using his less-hurt right foot. Naito gets sent into the barriers, then clotheslined into the crowd, before Nakajima shoves him into the ringpost.
Nakajima followed up by dumping Naito knee-first over the crowd barriers, before connecting with a kick to the chest once Naito’d returned to the ring. A missile dropkick followed as Naito was sent flying, before kicking out at two. Naito countered with an inverted atomic drop, then his outside-in dropkick into the corner, but Nakajima hit back with a backdrop suplex, eventually making the cover for a near-fall.
Naito reversed a waistlock and kicked at Nakajima’s knee again, but Nakajima rolled through and applied an ankle lock, which also included Nakajima ramming the knee into the mat as a receipt for earlier. Eventually, Naito reversed it and went for his new reverse figure four submission, which Nakajima tried to roll out of, before finally grabbing the ropes. Nakajima then got placed on the top rope as Naito pulled off a super hurricanrana for a near-fall, and then landed the Gloria hammerlock side slam for another two-count.
Naito went for a Destino, but Nakajima elbowed out, before countered a second Destino by switching the move into a death valley driver. Back on their feet, the pair traded forearms, before Naito again kicked at the knee and went for a tornado DDT… except Nakajima caught him, dumped Naito on the top rope, and knocked him off with a kick.
Another backdrop suplex followed from Nakajima for a near-fall, before peppering Naito with some more kicks, then a dropkick and a PK for a near-fall. Nakajima tried for a suplex, but Naito countered it and dropped him with a Destino, before pulling off a second Destino for the win. A fun main event, and Naito’s route to next year’s Tokyo Dome show remains clear! Naito joins Michael Elgin at the head of block B, with a 4-2 record. ***¾
After 12 days, we all know the drill by now. Block B has the better wrestling, even if it does contain Toru Yano. Friday is another day off, then on Saturday we’re back with block A in Osaka – headlining with two intriguing matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji. Sunday in Shizuoka sees block B once more, with Yuji Nagata vs. Kenny Omega supporting the match between EVIL and Tetsuya Naito… and something tells me that isn’t going to be a fingerpoke of doom finish.
Block A Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Kazuchika Okada (5-1, 10pts)
Togi Makabe (4-2, 8pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (4-2, 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale (3-3, 6pts)
Hirooki Goto (3-3, 6pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-3, 6pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (2-4, 4 pts)
SANADA (2-4, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-4, 4pts)
Tama Tonga (2-4, 4 pts)
Block B Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Michael Elgin (4-2, 8pts)
Tetsuya Naito (4-2, 8pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (3-3, 6pts)
Yuji Nagata (3-3, 6pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (3-3, 6pts)
Kenny Omega (3-3, 6pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (3-3, 6pts)
Toru Yano (3-3, 6pts)
EVIL (2-4, 4pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2-4, 4pts)