Yamagata is the venue for the penultimate round of block B matches – and the final venue before the G1 relocates to Sumo Hall for the finales!

#TLDR: No stand-out matches today, but the G1 Climax is racing towards the finish line, as the penultimate round of block B matches left us with a leader, but a potentially complex finale for Sunday.

The Full Review: We started the day with Tetsuya Naito at the top of the leaderboard with ten points – and with the Los Ingobernables de Japon leader currently in pole position, there’s plenty hoping for some upset results to take this block to the final day.

David Finlay vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
More lip-synching from Taguchi, and David Finlay is utterly bemused by all of this. They start with a knuckle-lock attempt, with Taguchi eventually grabbing a waistlock which goes back and forth into a stand-off. Taguchi grabs a headlock though, and takes down Finlay with a shoulder tackle, before Finlay lands a dropkick and some mocking hip attacks to Taguchi.

Taguchi fires back with a hip attack of his own, giving Finlay plenty of receipts before getting a near-fall. A surfboard stretch sees Finlay reach for a rope break, before taking some more hip attacks in the ropes. Finlay hits back with a diving forearm smash, before connecting with an atomic drop and some back elbows to the arse of Taguchi as he laid prone across the top turnbuckle.

A diving uppercut off the top gets Finlay a two-count, but Taguchi scored a couple of roll-ups for near-falls, before a backslide nearly got Finlay the win. Another hip attack cuts off Finlay, as Taguchi slides in with a dropkick, and then the Dodon facebuster for the win. Decent, basic opener, but I sure do miss the Young Lions matches that New Japan used to have… **¾

Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Juice Robinson
The camera barely catches Fale shoving down the ring announcer as his war against microphones continued. No jump start this time, and we start with Kojima and Fale, and Fale immediately cleared the apron, before taking a clothesline out of the ring from Kojima.

Tonga and Takahashi ran in to double-team Kojima before he could counter, but Kojima avoided a corner charge and went in with the Kobashi chops to a cornered Tama Tonga. One forearm smash later, and Kojima went to the top rope, only for Fale to knock him down and to the outside.

Back in the ring, Fale tagged out to Takahashi, who delivered more chops to Kojima, who was then crotched on the ringpost by Tonga and Fale. A big boot in the corner stuns Kojima, and Takahashi followed with a Fisherman’s brainbuster for a near-fall. Kojima countered back with a Koji Cutter, then tagged out to Nakanishi, who laid into Takahashi with some strikes, and then resisted an Irish whip.

A lariat from Nakanishi got him a two-count, before he then hoisted up Takahashi in the Argentine backbreaker. Fale came in to break it up, and went for a Grenade, only for Nakanishi to block it and power up the big man for another Argentine backbreaker. That was impressive! Takahashi came in to break that up, and drop Nakanishi with a sloppy neckbreaker before Tonga and Robinson tagged in.

A headscissors takedown from Tonga is replied to with a spinebuster from Robinson, then an avalanche splash in the corner and a cannonball dive. Juice then goes airborne with a crossbody for a near-fall as the ring filled up briefly. Tonga countered a powerbomb into a guillotine choke DDT, but didn’t make a cover, instead waiting for Robinson to get up for a Gun Stun to get the win. Eh, it was what it was, but this six-man did little for me. After fifteen days of these sort of undercards, these matches tend to bleed together… **½

SANADA & BUSHI vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Captain New Japan
Poor, poor Tenzan… saddled with injuries and now Captain New Japan! Tenzan started with SANADA, and the guys at the bottom of block A started with a lock-up, and no result. SANADA kicked Tenzan in the midsection, then went into the ropes from a headlock, but didn’t budge from the shoulder tackle.

An eye rake leads SANADA to another bit of rope running, but Tenzan takes down both he and BUSHI with shoulder tackles. Some Mongolian chops take down SANADA, and in comes the Captain for some Mongolian chops of his own. That move needs to be mothballed after Tenzan’s impending retirement…

BUSHI trips the Captain as he comes off the ropes, before SANADA scored a low dropkick and tagged in BUSHI for a missile dropkick. A t-shirt’s then used to choke the Captain, who then replies to an eye rake with a successful shoulder tackle. Tenzan’s tagged back in for more Mongolian chops to SANADA, then an avalanche in the corner and a suplex for a near-fall.

SANADA and Tenzan trade forearms, before Tenzan drops him with a Mountain Bomb for a near-fall. An Anaconda Vice comes next for SANADA, but BUSHI comes into break it up with kicks, before Tenzan dispatches him with more of those Mongolian chops. Captain New Japan returns and lands a back elbow, and is again coaxed up to the top rope… and of course, he misses the swandive.

SANADA capitalises with a Skull End attempt, but Captain counters with a roll-up for a near-fall, then an uranage for another two-count. Captain’s dropped with a TKO for a near-fall from SANADA, before he’s caught in a Skull End for the clear submission. Another disposable undercard tag match – and with Tenzan getting a brief beatdown afterwards, I’d guess he’s getting a final day win? Especially with SANADA using a baseball bat to choke away at Tenzan… **½

Naomichi Marufuji, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, KUSHIDA, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
A nice little ten-man tag to wrap up the undercard, and we start with Okada and Tanahashi. Just like the Tokyo Dome! Usual mocking break from the tie-up, and Tanahashi immediately repeats for Okada.

Okada launches into Tanahashi with forearms, but misses a dropkick and then sees a Rainmaker attempt blocked. Hiptoss, headscissors, and we stand-off! KUSHIDA tags in, and demands a face-off with Marufuji, and immediately we get a headlock into a spot of rope running, with KUSHIDA coming out on top with an inverted atomic drop and a low dropkick.

Marufuji counters with some kicks out of the corner, before cartwheeling out of an Irish whip and dropping KUSHIDA with a dropkick, as the CHAOS team enters the ring to knock everyone else off the apron. KUSHIDA gets chopped into the corner, and then takes some kicks from Goto for a near-fall. Goto goes for a rear chinlock, as goes Gedo, who follows up with a face spin.

Tomohiro Ishii rushes in and clears the ring as KUSHIDA takes a load of chops in the corner from the CHAOS team, and then Ishii drops KUSHIDA with a single headbutt. More headbutts stagger KUSHIDA, and Ishii sees a suplex countered, before KUSHIDA drops him with an overhead kick.

CHAOS again clears the apron to prevent KUSHIDA from taking off, but a handspring double elbow gets KUSHIDA free as he finally tags out to Makabe. A powerslam off the ropes sees Makabe take down Ishii, and he then follows in with the mounted corner punches, with a Northern Lights suplex getting a two-count. Ishii kicks out at two from a lariat, beore Ishii backdrops out of a powerbomb.

Another powerslam, this time from Ishii, is no-sold, and he pops back up with a clothesline before tagging out to Gedo, who arrogantly kicks away at the head of Makabe. Tiger Mask gets the tag in and drops Gedo with a cross body off the top, then follows with a Tiger Driver for a near-fall. More kicks from Tiger Mask rock Gedo, but Marufuji knees Tiger Mask as he runs into the ropes, and then tags are made to Goto and Liger.

Liger chops away at Goto, but then takes a clothesline for a near-fall as the CHAOS team end up being knocked off the apron. Goto gets a receipt for the chops earlier, taking a myriad of Avalanche strikes, then a Shotei from Liger for a near-fall. Tanahashi takes Makabe out with a Dragon screw, and we’re still left with Goto and Liger. Goto lands an ushigoroshi, then a GTR on Liger, and that’s the match. More entertaining than the rest of the undercard, but this felt chaotic at times. ***

G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Omega has an outside chance of making the finals, but like Nakajima, he needs a win to stay alive. Omega starts by clubbing at Nakajima with forearms, but a kick leads into a backdrop suplex that forces Omega to kick-out at two early on. Nakajima baseball slides into Omega, then runs on the apron with a penalty kick to the Bullet Club leader.

Omega reverses an Irish whip and sends Nakajima into the crowd barrier, before giving him a Dragon suplex on the floor. Nakajima just about beats the count back into the ring, and rolls into the path of Omega, who picks him up for a neckbreaker. After the near-fall, Omega goes for a neck crank to the grounded Nakajima, who easily makes the rope break.

An elbow to the neck of Nakajima follows, as do some stomps and chops, with Omega getting another two-count, before running in with a back elbow into the corner. Another two-count comes from that, and Nakajima fires back briefly, only to take a Finlay roll from Omega. Nakajima gets the knees up to block the moonsault, and takes down Omega with a Dragon screw, and then launches into the corner with a Yakuza kick.

A missile dropkick gets Nakajima a two-count, but Omega comes back with a low dropkick and a leg lariat to the back of the head. Omega gets caught as he goes to the top rope, and is brought back into the ring with a superplex for another near-fall for Nakajima. From there, Omega ducks a penalty kick and lands another snap Dragon suplex, before a knee strike t the head of Nakajima leads into a One Winged Angel attempt.

Nakajima works free and drops Omega in the corner with some kicks to the head, before a superkick gets a two-count. Omega hit back with a knee strike of his own, but was floored by a dropick off the ropes, then a PK as Nakajima looked to seal the win… but Omega countered a suplex into a reverse ‘rana for another near-fall.

After climbing to his feet, Omega lifted up Nakajima for the One Winged Angel, and that was enough for a win. Omega’s still alive – but will need results to go his way – whilst Nakajima’s G1 is all but over. ***½

G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Toru Yano
EVIL is already out, and as hard as it is to say this, on paper Toru Yano still has a chance of winning the group. EVIL jumps Yano at the bell, but Yano takes off the turnbuckle padding, then wraps his ring jacket around EVIL and gets a near-fall with a roll-up.

Another roll-up gets Yano a two-count as he’s looking to end this early. EVIL joins him on the outside and gets whipped into the barriers. He returns the favour and uses Yano’s chair on him, before throwing him into the ringpost after putting a chair on his head. Yano gets tossed into the ring, and EVIL grinds his elbow into his head, before Yano scores an inverted atomic drop, then slingshots EVIL into the exposed corner.

EVIL charges into the middle turnbuckle after Yano sidesteps him, and has to kick out at two from a roll-up, before EVIL connects with a pair of lariats. The STO is called for, but Yano rolls him up again for a two-count, and after Yano grabbed the referee for some reason, EVIL lands the STO and gets the win. That ends any hope of Yano being in contention on Saturday’s final day… **

G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Naito being this low down the card might be a sign… are we going to see a slip-up and a headache-inducing tie going into the final day?

YOSHI-HASHI starts by surprising Naito with strikes, a headscissor takedown and a bodyslam, but Naito counters with a low dropkick that sends YOSHI-HASHI onto the apron. We end up on the floor, with YOSHI-HASHI being whipped into the crowd barriers, then the ring post. YOSHI-HASHI beats the count back in, but walks into an armbar as Naito targets the taped-up shoulder, forcing a rope break. An elbow to the shoulder follows, before YOSHI-HASHI dropkicks Naito in the knee and lands a DDT to get some separation.

YOSHI-HASHI continued his comeback with a blockbuster-like flipping neckbreaker off the ropes, then set up Naito for a dropkick to the back after draping him over the top rope. Naito kicked out at two, but took YOSHI-HASHI back into the corner for the outside-in dropkick, before yanking away at the arm.

A tornado DDT from Naito was blocked, but Naito elbowed out of the Bunker Buster attempt as YOSHI-HASHI followed-up by turning a shoulder block into a lung blower. YOSHI-HASHI missed a senton bomb off the top rope, and Naito counteracted that with a springboard missile dropkick.

Naito takes YOSHI-HASHI to the top rope for some more elbows to the neck, before bringing him down hard with a hurricanrana off the top for a near-fall. Gloria gets Naito a two-count, before YOSHI-HASHI elbowed out of a Destino, only to run into a spinebuster. Another Destino was blocked and turned into a pancake facebuster.

Back on their feet, Naito and YOSHI-HASHI traded stiff forearms, with those upgrading to slaps, before a lariat took down Naito for a very near fall. YOSHI-HASHI set up for another senton bomb, and actually connected this time, but Naito kicked out at two, and then elbowed out of a pumphandle driver. That counter was countered, and YOSHI-HASHI caught Naito in a Butterfly lock, before dragging him into the middle of the ring, but Naito forced himself towards the ropes just in time.

YOSHI-HASHI rolled down Naito again and went back for the Butterfly lock. Naito rolled out and delivered a German suplex, which YOSHI-HASHI popped up from, before he slipped out of a reverse DDT. A second reverse DDT got Naito another two-count, before a Destino attempt was countered with a headbutt and a kick to the head.

Naito flew in with a leaping forearm to rock YOSHI-HASHI, then finished things with a Destino for the win to keep his place at the top of block B – and is almost sure of winning the block, unless he slips up against Kenny Omega on Saturday. Even in defeat, YOSHI-HASHI was applauded, and on this G1 performance, you’d have to think that his fortunes will be changing in the very near future. ****

G1 Climax, Block B: Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuyori Shibata
These two had a heck of a match at Dominion back in June, and in spite of the toll that’s been taken on these guys by the long G1 Climax, this should be no different.

Shibata circles Nagata to begin with, and the two try in vain for a lock-up, as Shibata instead grabs a waistlock, and works up to a full nelson. Nagata worked free before he ducks a PK, then takes Shibata to the ropes, where he’s cheapshotted. So much for that respect that was earned in June!

Nagata goes to the outside and sends Shibata into the ropes,who rebounds with a big boot as the pair trade forearm smashes by the guard railings. They stop hitting each other for long enough to slide back into the ring, where Nagata grabs an armbar and adds in some kicks to the chest of the NEVER champion.

Shibata rolls to the outside for cover, then comes back in and straight into another armbar from Nagata, eventually breaking it via the ropes. An armbreaker follows, but this time Shibata resists the armbar, forcing Nagata to instead try for a cross armbreaker.

Nagata goes back to the kicks on Shibata, who begs for more of them… but it’s a trap, as he sweeps the leg of Nagata and runs with him into the corner for some leaping big boots. An uppercut drops Nagata in the corner and leaves him prone for the diving dropkick, and then a suplex for a near-fall. They go back to trading forearms, then bicycle kicks, then suplexes, before both men are felled by some stereo bicycle kicks.

Nagata gets up and drops Shibata with the eye-rolling armbar, before Nagata goes into the corner with some short-range knee strikes. Shibata pulls himself up, but takes a step-up knee in the corner and then a back suplex for a near-fall, before a PK from Nagata gets a similar result.

Shibata elbows out of a Backdrop Hold, and takes some more strikes from Nagata before dropkicking him to the mat. A butterfly suplex follows for a near-fall, and grabs a chinlock, and clings onto it despite Nagata’s judo throw attempt to free himself. Instead, Nagata used an arm breaker to release the hold, before kick Shibata’s shoulder… only to fall into a sleeperhold.

Instead of setting up for the PK, Shibata kept Nagata grounded with some body scissors for good measure, and eventually the referee waved off the match as Nagata passed out in the hold. A good match, nowhere near the levels of their Dominion match, but given the wear and tear induced by the G1, this was as good as you’d get this late in the tournament. Add Shibata to the list of those with a razor-thin chance of winning this… ***¾

Post-match, Nagata was motionless in the ring and was left sitting by the apron as he regained his bearings, before being helped to the back.

G1 Climax, Block B: Michael Elgin vs. Tomoaki Honma
With Honma already out, he can play a spoiler here as Two Belts Mike needs a win to have any hope of making the finals. Honma’s getting a hometown reception here, hence him being in the main event, and he starts by being shoved down by Elgin.

Another lock-up, another shove, before Honma’s waistlock is easily elbowed out of. Honma lights up Elgin with some chops, and they’re returned in kind, before a shoulder tackle takes Honma to the mat. Elgin chops Honma in the throat, but he bounces back with a series of shoulder tackles than eventually knock Mike down.

Honma tries for a slam, but falls back and has to kick out at two. Elgin misses a corner charge, then finally takes a slam, before getting out of the way of a Kokeshi. A big press slam into a powerslam gets a two-count for Elgin, who got another near-fall from a slingshot splash.

Elgin clubbed away on the back of Honma, before taking him into a corner for some forearms and chops, and then taking a hard Irish whip into the corner. After bouncing off the turnbuckles, Honma fought out of a powerbomb attempt, before a missed DDT ended in a lariat… and a missed Kokeshi for the hometown boy.

Honma wriggled free of a suplex from Elgin, and countered with a massive deadlift suplex of his own, before running in to Elgin with elbows, and then scoring another bodyslam. The crowd chants for a Kokeshi, but instead they get a leaping forearm, a bulldog, and finally a Kokeshi – to massive cheers. A flipping neckbreaker gets Honma a two-count, before he clotheslined Elgin in the corner… and ran into an overhead belly to belly suplex.

Elgin followed that up with a series of avalanche splashes in the corner, then a stalling suplex that turned into a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. A powerbomb attempt was countered with punches by Honma, but his attempt at a leaping Kokeshi was caught and turned into a deadlift German suplex. Honma no-sold that and the pair lit each other up with clotheslines, before a discus lariat downed Honma.

Honma lands a series of leaping Kokeshi to the front, back and a seated Elgin for a near-fall. Elgin countered with an enziguiri, but took some elbows as he went for a deadlift German, replying with a roaring elbow to the back of Honma’s head. A spinning slam into a uranage got Elgin another two-count, and he looked to finish things by going up top, only to get caught on the apron and taken to the floor with a leaping Kokeshi.

That mad man Honma went up top himself, and looked to go to Elgin on the floor with a Kokeshi, but Elgin rolled back into the ring… so Honma just hit Elgin with a diving Kokeshi into the ring. A brainbuster followed for a two-count, before Homa went for the swandive Kokeshi, except it was his turn to be caught up top.

From the apron, Elgin went to piledrive Honma, but it was blocked, only for Honma to take a bicycle kick on the apron and then a death valley driver. Elgin rushed outside and powerbombed Honma into the ringpost, before sliding him back onto the apron for his deadlift superplex, complete with a Falcon arrow landing, with Honma kicking out at the last second possible.

Elgin again went to the top rope, and landed with the Big Mike Fly Flow (frog splash), but again Honma kicked out. Honma rebounded from a buckle bomb with a leaping Kokeshi headbutt, before swapping forearms with Elgin. Another leaping Kokeshi dropped Elgin, and Honma almost won it with the Kokeshi Otoshi. From there, Honma went up top, but missed the swandive Kokeshi.

They went back to the forearm strikes, with Elgin just about winning out before he landed a backhand chop to the throat of Honma. A bucklebomb attempt was backdropped out of, but Elgin rolled through and instead dropped Honma with a lariat for a two-count. From there, Elgin sprinted in with a buckle bomb, and a spinning powerbomb to claim the win. A good match with a hard-hitting finish, but at times this didn’t have the feel of a main event. ***¾

Going into the final day, we have a leader at the top of block B, but if Kenny Omega beats Tetsuya Naito, it opens up a major can of worms. That’d leave the pair on 12 points, and Omega with the head-to-head advantage – but Katsuyori Shibata (over EVIL) can also make it to 12 points, and if that happened, we may well end up with some play-offs. Michael Elgin is also on 10pts, but his loss to Tetsuya Naito means he’s unable to win the block.  Let’s wait to see if that bridge ends up on our journey, eh?

Block A Standings (not including any tie-breakers)
Kazuchika Okada (5-3, 10pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (5-3, 10pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (5-3, 10pts)
Bad Luck Fale (5-3, 10pts)
Hirooki Goto (5-3, 10pts)
Togi Makabe (4-4, 8pts)
Tama Tonga (3-5, 6 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (3-5, 6 pts)
SANADA (3-5, 6pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-6, 4pts)

Block B Standings (not including any tie-breakers)
Tetsuya Naito (6-2, 12pts)
Kenny Omega (5-3, 10pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (5-3, 10pts)
Michael Elgin (5-3, 10pts)
Toru Yano (4-4, 8pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (4-4, 8pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (3-5, 6pts)
Yuji Nagata (3-5, 6pts)
EVIL (3-5, 6pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2-6, 4pts)