Day two of this year’s G1 Climax saw the start of the block B matches, and it was a night full of shocks, surprises and a stinker. If you guessed that last one was due to Toru Yano, then congratulations, you’ve been keeping score!
#TLDR: The first round of block B matches took place in Korakuen Hall on Friday, featuring a horrible match involving someone you’d expect (Toru Yano), a show-stealing performance involving someone you probably wouldn’t (YOSHI-HASHI), and a couple of surprise losses to boot!
The Full Review: After three days off – and a Super J Cup show in the middle of it – the G1 is back in full force, with the first of four days in a row of G1 action. Block B takes centre stage today, with three of the five matches on paper looking extremely tantalising: EVIL vs. Michael Elgin, Tetsuya Naito vs. Yuji Nagata, and the main event: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma! Speaking of, Honma’s apparently got a horrifying range of dolls which fall down… like he does for 99% of his Kokeshi heabutts!
— LARIATOOOOO!!! (@SenorLARIATO) July 21, 2016
But first, as always, the undercard tag matches!
Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Captain New Japan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi
This has to be the first time in an age that Juice Robinson’s theme was used for his own entrance. Shame he’s having to tag with Captain New Japan…and it shows you how far he’s fallen when Yoshitatsu isn’t even on this tour!
The youngsters jump the veterans to start us off, and Finlay makes a meal of throwing out a ring robe as Tenzan gets out of the way of an attempted double-team big boot from Robinson. Juice gets some Mongolian chops, before Finlay rushes in for the save, and lands a flying forearm to Tenzan for good measure.
Finlay mocks the Mongolian chops, before Tenzan goes flying with a spinning heel kick. Tenzan decks Finlay with some more authentic Mongolian chops, with some extra help from Kojima. Nakanishi comes into the fray with a bodyslam on Finlay, but misses a knee drop off the ropes, and in comes Juice to renew his acquaintances with Nakanishi.
The pair trade off with forearms, before Nakanishi takes a back suplex from Robinson for a near-fall. Nakanishi fights free from a superplex attempt, then goes flying with a cross body off the top rope. Captain New Japan’s efforts get limited to absorbing a bunch of rapid-fire chops, but Messrs Robinson and Finlay jump in for the save, before trying some triple-teaming.
A Finlay roll leaves Kojima in the middle of the ring for a swandive headbutt from the Captain, but Nakanishi returns to briefly clear house, only for the Captain to walk into a Ten-Cozy Cutter (3D) and then a lariat from Kojima for the win. That was short and sweet, but not much of anything. **¼
Naomichi Marufuji, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi
The good thing about this show being free on New Japan World seems to be… no dubbing! Bad Luck Fale shoved the ring announcer during his introductions, and the Bullet Club reserve team get underway with Fale against Marufuji… who isn’t that much shorter than Fale!
A chop from Marufuji doesn’t faze Fale, who rocks the NOAH guy with a forearm. Wash, rinse, repeat for a while, before a Fale shoulderblock drops Marufuji. A big back body drop follows, and we segue to Ishii and Takahashi, with the latter going all Pete Dunne by biting away at Ishii’s hand.
A running shoulder charge drops Takahashi, but he goes to the eyes of Ishii and then follows with an Irish whip… before Tama Tonga tries to interject himself for a bit of double-teaming. Where Tonga failed, Fale succeeded, and Ishii was left on the mat as Goto and Marufuji were taken for a spot of crowd brawling.
Back inside, Ishii saw a suplex attempt thwarted by Fale, who bodyslammed him with ease, before Tonga came in to pick apart Ishii with some uppercuts. Hirooki Goto made a brief comeback, and got back on top when Takahashi came in, but it was Marufuji who regained the upper hand with a dropkick to Takahashi… before turning into a big boot after more Bullet Club distractions.
Avalanches from Fale and Takahashi let the latter get a near-fall on Marufuji, as the count was broken up. Marufuji blocked another Takahashi avalanche with a series of kicks, and it became “Mr Rated R”’s turn for some double teaming. A headbutt from Ishii took Fale out of the ring, before a brainbuster almost stole the win for Takahashi after Marufuji almost kicked the referee.
Marufuji fought out of a Fireman’s carry, then dropped Takahashi with a superkick for another near-fall. A step-up knee strike dazed Takahashi, as a Shiranui finished off the job. Another decent match, but the very definition of undercard filler during the long G1 spring. **¾
Togi Makabe, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi
My dubbing theory was quashed here for Makabe’s theme, as he got the store-bought replacement. We started with Liger and Tanahashi trading wristlocks, headlocks and leg scissors in an entertaining-but-standard opening spell.
Liger took down Tanakashi for the seated surfboard, then a regular surfboard stretch as Taguchi came in to break it up – and save Tanahashi’s suspect arm. Taguchi came in to face off with Makabe, who didn’t flinch once at the hip attack taunts. Several kicks to Taguchi’s rear followed, but he leapt up in the corner to land a couple of hip attacks to take down Makabe, and it’s clear we’re not getting the “serious Taguchi” that blew us away in the Super J Cup.
Makabe no-sold a few more hip attacks, before dropping Taguchi with a slam and tagging in Tiger Mask. Tiger kicked Taguchi’s rear, then landed a few leaping double stomps, before Liger returned for a tiltawhirl backbreaker and then a surfboard to the “Funky Weapon”. Makabe tagged back in and brushed away Taguchi for a while, before being taken down with a hip attack of the ropes. Tanahashi was tagged back in and went flying with a cross body to Makabe, then landed a Dragon screw against his next G1 opponent. Makabe landed an avalanche clothesline in the corner though, then some corner punches and a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall.
Tanahashi fired back with a slingblade, but was promptly taken down with some lariats from Makabe, before both men tagged out. KUSHIDA and Tiger Mask ended up in the ring, with the pair flipping out of German suplex attempts, but KUSHIDA took a Tiger Driver for a near-fall after almost landing on his head. A hip attack saw Taguchi go flying off the apron, whilst KUSHIDA remained in the ring to try a Hoverboard lock on Tiger Mask, but to no avail.
A Pele kick staggered Tiger Mask, but his crucifix counter was blocked and turned into a rolling prawn hold as KUSHIDA snatched the win out of nowhere for his team. That finish seemed a little odd, but again kept up the theme of the G1 competitors not getting falls over each other in these undercard matches. ***¼
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
We start with BUSHI sliding under Okada and posing, and then rolling away from some stomps. Okada catches BUSHI, drops him down then flows into a springboard senton before bringing in Gedo to… step on BUSHI’s face.
BUSHI reverses an Irish whip, and allows SANADA to trip Gedo, and thatopens things up for the masked one as SANADA went to work on Okada on the outside (yes, it’s SANADA vs. Okada tomorrow…). The Los Ingobernables de Japon duo double-teamed Gedo for a spell, with BUSHI using his t-shirt to choke away at Gedo before the referee forced a break.
SANADA tagged in and dropped Gedo with a back suplex for a two-count, before Gedo hooked the ropes from an Irish whip and shoved SANADA into BUSHI, freeing himself up for a tag out. Okada cleared the ring and the apron, then took down SANADA with a flying back elbow off the ropes, then again into the corner. A DDT dropped SANADA, as did a diving uppercut.
SANADA fired back with a pair of leapfrogs into a dropkick, before trying and failing with a TKO. The pair traded finishing move attempts, before SANADA flew in with a springboard dropkick to take down the IWGP champion. BUSHI took the tag in and followed up with a missile dropkick, before landing a flying crossbody block as well.
BUSHI’s attack came to a shuddering end as he was flapjack’d to the mat by Okada, and in came Gedo to whip BUSHI into the ropes, but ended up landing a jawbreaker and a superkick to the head for a near-fall. Gedo looked to finish off BUSHI with the Complete Shot (reverse STO), but SANADA broke it up, only for Gedo to shove a lungblower attempt from BUSHI into SANADA, and roll up BUSHI for a near-fall with a Gedo Clutch.
SANADA remained in the ring and landed a TKO after the kick-out, before Okada made the save as BUSHI scored a two-count from a lungblower. Okada fell into the Skull End after a failed dropkick, but that left Gedo open to take the MX from BUSHI as the LIdJ duo took the win. Another fun tag match on the undercard, with the main image being of Okada being left laying after a Skull End… making you question if he’ll start off his G1 with back-to-back losses tomorrow. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Toru Yano
I’ve not seen Nakajima before, but I have very low expectations for this match, and it’s all down to his opponent. Yes, Toru Yano may be a tag team champion in NOAH, but it doesn’t mean he’s any good.
Nakajima attacks Yano in the corner with forearms to start us with, then lands a Yakuza kick. Yano walks away from an avalanche clothesline, and uses his t-shirt to roll up Nakajima for a two-count. They go outside, where Nakajima is whipped chest-first into the barriers, as Yano undoes some turnbuckle pads.
Yano ties up Nakajima in the barrier with a t-shirt and runs back to the ring to take the countout, but Nakajima frees himself… and gets whipped into the exposed turnbuckle once he returns to the ring. More stomps from Yano, then a slow-motion hiptoss for a near-fall
Yano stops himself from being whipped into the turnbuckles, then dodges some Nakajima kicks… but grabs a handful of hair to roll him up for another near-fall. The referee gets shoved into Nakajima, who switches around as Yano went for a low blow. He stopped himself from attacking the referee, but quickly went down to a dropkick from Nakajima, and then an almighty penalty kick off the ropes. One stalling brainbuster later, Nakajima dispatched of Yano. Well, it lived down to my expectations, but at least they blew through all of Yano’s spots. Bad, and it was all down to the usual suspect. He’s only had one G1 match, but don’t think I can take eight more singles matches from him… *¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Omega starts with a wristlock, and slaps around YOSHI-HASHI for added insult, prompting the latter to fire back with a forearm or two to free himself. Omega moves to a headlock, before getting shot into the ropes and landing a shoulder tackle, before running the ropes for an age and getting taken down with an armdrag.
YOSHI-HASHI sends Omega to the outside with some headscissors, and it’s time to fly… except Omega goes to the apron, and gets dropkicked back to the floor. YOSHI-HASHI whips Omega into the crowd barriers, but Kenny fires back by ramming him back and forth into the apron and barriers, before slamming YOSHI-HASHI knees-first across the barriers.
After covering YOSHI-HASHI with the black mats, Omega scrambles into the ring and hits a double stomp onto the mats (and YOSHI-HASHI), then returns to try and get the cheap count-out. The count’s beaten at 18, but Omega quickly gets a cover for a count of two, before dropping him with a Finlay roll and a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle for another two-count.
Omega chokes YOSHI-HASHI with a boot in the corner, and peppers him with some open-handed slaps. A corner charge is met with a big boot, as YOSHI-HASHI tries to make a comeback, which involves him blocking a piledriver and then getting out of a powerbomb… into the path of a stiff chop.
Out of nowhere, YOSHI-HASHI connects with a flipping neckbreaker off the ropes, then a series of back elbows and chops. The Bunker Buster (suplex into a neckbreaker) gets a near-fall on Omega, who then counters a brainbuster and drills YOSHI-HASHI with a superkick and a snap Dragon suplex. Another Dragon suplex is held on to as Omega gets a near-fall, before he hoists up YOSHI-HASHI with a deadlift gutwrench into a sit-out powerbomb for a two-count.
Omega prepares YOSHI-HASHI for something, but is cut-off and powerbombed into a jack-knife cover by YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall. A senton bomb from YOSHI-HASHI is blocked by the knees of Omega, who then lands a knee trembler, before an attempt at the One Winged Angel is reversed into a roll-up for another near-fall.
Another knee trembler follows from Omega, but the One Winged Angel is again countered, this time into a tornado DDT, before a senton bomb gets YOSHI-HASHI another two-count. A butterfly lock sees Omega make the ropes, before he elbows himself out of a German suplex attempt, with some chops following to the chest of YOSHI-HASHI.
After delivering another knee to the head, Omega misses a clothesline, then takes one himself as YOSHI-HASHI followed with a back cracker. A diving knee to the back of Omega’s head got another near-fall as both men were loving their Bom-a-Ye/Kinshasas, before YOSHI-HASHI hit Omega with a dose of Karma (a pumphandle driver) to seal the win. That. Was. Incredible. ****
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Michael Elgin
Elgin’s got his ELITE and NEVER six-man title belts with him – I guess crime in Japan must be bad if he’s always carrying them with him to shows?
EVIL kicks Elgin in the midsection to start as they dispense with the lock-up and typical grappling, instead working over a series of shoulder blocks, with EVIL getting the first near-fall of the bout. Elgin ducks a clothesline and drops EVIL with a huge stalling suplex, before charging into the corner with a clothesline, and then dropping EVIL with a simple bodyslam.
Elgin then slingshots himself into the ring, but misses, and EVIL takes him to the outside for more crowd barrier action… and yes, Elgin wears a chair and becomes close friends with the ringpost! Elgin beats the count back in at 18, but goes straight into a choke from EVIL, who then rubs his elbow into Elgin’s forehead for added misery.
A double chicken-wing keeps Elgin grounded, before a curb stomp drops him to the mat for a two-count, and EVIL goes back to a rear chinlock. Elgin fights to his feet, then throws him over his shoulder to break the hold, before Elgin catches EVIL’s avalanche attempt and turns it into an overhead release suplex.
A leaping forearm keeps EVIL staggered against the ropes, before Elgin grabs a big boot, and turns around to drop EVIL with a forearm. EVIL tries to block a suplex, but falls to a Falcon Arrow for a near-fall. A deadlift waistlock sees Elgin hoist up EVIL for a pump kick, but Elgin takes a kick to the midsection, then a lariat in the corner as EVIL tries to comeback with a spinning suplex for a near-fall.
EVIL goes to lift up Elgin in a Fireman’s carry, but the Canadian elbows himself out of it, before taking a discus forearm, then a lariat… but no-sells and replies with forearms of his own. A leaping enziguiri staggers EVIL, but he blocks an Elgin lariat, lands an uppercut… but then runs into a lariat for another near-fall from the Intercontinental champion.
Elgin slams EVIL in the middle of the ring, and Big Mike goes to the top… and connects with a flying body splash to EVIL for (yes) a two-count. Looking to finish things, Elgin foes for a powerbomb, and drops EVIL on the turnbuckles. The pair collide repeatedly with lariats, before Elgin no-sells a German suplex… then takes a couple of clotheslines and a release half-nelson suplex and another lariat for a near-fall… but the EVIL STO is what crosses the line, and the Intercontinental champion takes a loss in his first block match. Fine, fine work from two big guys who laid it in to each other throughout! ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Yuji Nagata
Naito’s out in his Saturday Night Fever outfit for this, and Yuji Nagata’s music doesn’t get dubbed this time!
Naito teases locking up, but heads to the ropes to avoid contact, before trading wristlocks with Nagata. Both men roll out to reverse the hold, and Naito rolls to the ropes before mocking Nagata’s salute. An eye rake gives Naito the brief advantage, but Nagata hits a low dropkick, which Naito quickly returns as the veteran ends the exchange writhing on the mat.
Naito slams Nagata’s left leg into the apron, then sends him into the barriers where the leg gets wrapped around the guard railings, then finally dropkicked into by the (most recent) former IWGP champion. Back inside, Naito keeps away at Nagata’s left leg, with a shinbreaker and another low dropkick, before locking in a Figure Four.
Naito continually mocks the Nagata salute as the veteran attempts to reverse the hold, before finally twisting and reaching the ropes for a break. Naito keeps kicking away at the knee though, before Nagata tries to make a comeback with some forearm shots, but Naito lands another shinbreaker… but out of nowhere, Nagata flips over Naito with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
Back on his feet, Nagata kicks away at Naito, sending him into the corner, and adding in some stiff forearms as Naito tried to poke the eyes. A T-bone suplex got Nagata a near-fall, but the bad knee came into play again, which gave Naito a brief opening every time he aimed for it. A swinging neckbreaker downed Nagata, and Naito leapt to the top rope to follow up with a missile dropkick for a near-fall.
Naito kept on toying with Nagata, kicking at the head, and then landing an inverted atomic drop as Nagata looked to get further enraged. A Gloria (hammerlock cradle into a side slam) got Naito a two count – perhaps the first time in weeks he’s actually landed that move – before Nagata took him down with an armbar. Add in an eye roll, and Nagata dragged Naito into the middle of the ring, before rolling into a cross armbreaker, which Naito easily got to the ropes in order to force the break.
Nagata laid into Naito with some kicks, before seeing an armbreaker blocked, but he kept up the pressure with some forearms and knees in the corner as he laid waste to a dazed and downed Naito. An attempt at the backdrop hold was blocked, as Naito took down Nagata for an inverted figure four, and with the legs scissors, he ultimately forced Nagata to crawl to the ropes after an age in the hold.
More kicks to Nagata’s leg followed, as did retaliatory forearm strikes, but Naito landed a springboard forearm smash off the ropes, before seeing Destino blocked by a Nagata knee. A brainbuster earned Nagata a near-fall, before another attempted Backdrop Hold is blocked. The pair trade forearm smashes in the middle of the ring for a spell, before Nagata finally lands a backdrop suplex for a near-fall.
Naito ducked a roundhouse kick from Nagata, but ate a rolling kick, before falling to the Backdrop Hold as we had our first big surprise of the night! A fine effort, although I was left questioning how Nagata was able to kick so much after Naito’d worked over his legs throughout. ****
G1 Climax, Block B: Tomoaki Honma vs. Katsuyori Shibata
In recent years, Tomoaki Honma had been on the losing streak in the G1, with his win over Tomohiro Ishii last year getting an amazing reception… but against the NEVER champion Shibata, Honma will have a tough task today. Speaking of Shibata, he’s got a black towel with “WRESTLER” emblazoned on it, but is sans title belt here. He’s the anti-Michael Elgin!
The two collide in the middle of the ring and exchange forearms to get us going, with Shibata winning out until a shoulderblock from Honma sent him to the mat. A missed Kokeshi is followed up by a missed PK, and both men squared off once more.
Shibata snapmares Honma into a rear chinlock, then switches it into some headscissors before Honma gets a foot on the rope to force a break. Honma gets sent into the corner with a slap, then returns the favour with some boots to Shibata, as they spill out to the floor and… yes, more whips into the crowd barrier, before a Honma lariat sends Shibata into the front row.
Rather than take the count-out, Honma went out to bring Shibata back to the ring, but Shibata just sat there, cross-legged, and invited Honma to dish out some chops. The chops continued, but once Shibata got to his feet, a single forearm sent Honma to his knees, and that left him prone for some strikes in the corner. Honma avoided a diving dropkick by shooting up with a lariat to Shibata, then a Kokeshi headbutt.
Honma followed up with more chops, but took a big boot as he tried a corner lariat, before being dropkicked off of the top rope by Shibata. Some forearms from Shibata followed, as he finally connected with the diving dropkick to a seated Honma, before landing a suplex for just a one-count!
An STO sees Shibata send Honma to the mat, and he follows with a variation of an Anaconda Vise, with Honma eventually working his way towards the rope for another break. Shibata follows up with a backdrop suplex, before Honma caught a PK attempt, and dropped Shibata with a slap and a leaping Kokeshi headbutt.
From their knees, Shibata and Honma trade forearms again, ending with a Shibata uppercut and a back kick, before he leapt into a guillotine choke on the former IWGP tag team champion. Honma stands up out of the guillotine though, and turns it into a Kokeshi Otoshi (reverse piledriver) to free himself. A running knee from Shibata got a one-count, as did a kick to the head, but Honma popped up from a German suplex and dropped Shibata with a lariat for another one-count.
Another diving Kokeshi sends Shibata down for a two-count, and Honma follows up with another Kokeshi Otoshi, as Shibata popped up again, only to be taken down with a belly-to-back piledriver… and then in the shock of shocks, Honma actually connected with a Kokeshi off the top rope and scored the win! That wasn’t the result I was expecting, but it was yet another fun match. Hey, the G1 is the place to be for this sort of thing! ****
Post-match, Honma looked to shake Shibata’s hand, but they ended up slapping each other… and this is going to build to a NEVER championship match at some point down the line.
By this point it shouldn’t be a surprise, but it was yet another good card from New Japan, as the G1 Climax continued to pour out more amazing matches than bad ones. If you’re pushed for time, you can easily dispense with the undercard and focus just on the G1 matches… and perhaps skip the Toru Yano garbage as well.