You absolutely need to see this show! Or at least the final two matches… It’s back to Korakuen Hall today for the fourth round of this year’s G1 Climax – with block B action featuring Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito and an enticing encounter with Katsuyori Shibata and NOAH’s Katsuhiko Nakajima.
#TLDR: A card that surpassed all expectations, and if you only see one of this weekend’s G1 cards, then watch today’s! Tetsuya Naito and Michael Elgin tore down Korakuen Hall with a masterpiece, that overshadowed the effort from Katsuyori Shibata and Katushiko Nakajima in their semi-final hard-hitting classic. This show didn’t drag at all… and was chock-full of good G1 tournament action. Heck, even Yano/Omega didn’t stink the joint out, as I’d feared!
The Full Review: Staying in Tokyo, New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall for the fourth night of the G1 Climax, and we’re back to block B today! After Saturday’s fairly average card, I’ve got high hopes for three of today’s G1 matches, and I’ll be crossing everything that Kenny Omega can drag something watchable out of Toru Yano.
David Finlay vs. Juice Robinson
Ah, we’re back to the pseudo Young Lions’ opening matches now. Familiar territory for Young David. The opening lock-up sees Finlay take Robinson into the ropes, before Finlay jack-knifes Robinson for a near-fall. Robinson shot back with a shoulder block, but was taken down with a nice Finlay dropkick, but Finlay’s attempt to go airborne saw his legs swept as he took a nasty spill from the top rope.
A clothesline to a cornered Finlay set up Robinson for a cannonball splash, and then a flying cross body for a near-fall. Finlay fought back and nailed a diving uppercut for a near-fall, but Juice elbowed out of a waistlock, and dropped Finlay with an Arn Anderson-style spinebuster for a two-count.
Finlay knees himself free of a suplex and scored a two-count from a small package, before a uranage backbreaker got him another near-fall. Another back and forth ended with a lariat from Robinson that folded Finlay inside out, before landing an Unprettier (and was called as one) for the win. A fun, faced-paced opener, but best not to read into Juice getting the win, eh? ***¼
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi
SANADA’s out in EVIL’s new t-shirt (gotta plug that merch!), and this is being done to set up tomorrow’s Makabe/SANADA G1 match.
There’s our usual jump start, and Taguchi gets choked by Makabe’s chain by BUSHI on the outside as SANADA takes aim for his opponent tomorrow. BUSHI switches to his t-shirt for the choking action, before SANADA throws him his shirt as the referee continues to be several steps behind.
SANADA takes shots at a worn-down Taguchi, who fires back with slaps to the chest, but quickly gets his eyes raked… and his attempt at a hip attack is nonchalantly side-stepped by SANADA. The second hip attack worked, and almost got him through to tag in Makabe, but BUSHI cut him off, only to be given a hip attack off the middle rope as a reward.
Makabe finally came in and did the corner ten punches on SANADA, then a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count. SANADA’s rewind leapfrogs end in a dropkick to down Makabe, and BUSHI comes in with a missile dropkick. A DDT keeps Makabe down, as SANADA returns for some double-teaming, ending with a lungblower from BUSHI for a near-fall as Taguchi came in to break it up.
Makabe breaks through a double clothesline attempt, and takes down the two Ingobernables with a clothesline, before another lariat downs BUSHI, and finally the King Kong Kneedrop gets Makabe the win. Short, but fun while it lasted. **¾
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Captain New Japan
The Bullet Club reserve team are out first, so that guarantees a jump-start, right? The ring announcer gets swatted by Fale again (when will he learn?!), and shock of shocks, there’s no jump start as we instead build to tomorrow’s Tonga vs. Tanahashi match.
Those two start with repeated waistlock reversals with Tonga backing up for a rope-break, which gives Fale the opening to pull at Tanahashi’s hair. Tanahashi gets back in with a springboard cross-body off the middle ropes, before Tanahashi ignores the out-reached arm of the Captain and tags in KUSHIDA. Who then immediately faces Fale.
David tries to hit a German suplex on Goliath, but KUSHIDA wisely realises how dumb that was, and tries to use his speed… avoiding a sit-down splash and cartwheeling up for a dropkick to the monster Fale, who eventually shoulder blocks KUSHIDA to the mat. Takahashi comes in for some double-teaming, and it’s KUSHIDA’s turn to get cornered by the Bullet Club, but he swerves a rushing Takahashi and uses some headscissors to down Tonga.
Tanahashi gets the tag back in and he cleans house, including dropkicking Fale off the apron, before taking down Tonga and Takahashi with Dragon screws. A flip senton to Tonga gets Tanahashi a near-fall, but Fale tries to hold back Tanahashi… and fails predictably. Fale reacts with a clothesline to deck Tanahashi in anger, and Captain New Japan forcibly tags himself in, much to the dismay of KUSHIDA.
A diving shoulder tackle actually works for the Captain, who hits the uranage on Takahashi after some help from KUSHIDA and Tanahashi. The ring cleared, and that was the cue for the Captain to go airborne, but he’s shoved off the top rope by Tama Tonga, and gets slammed by Fale, before the rest of the Bullet Club is slammed on top of him for the hell of it. Takahashi gets a two-count from a diving dropkick, but almost gets a surprise loss from a roll-up.
Captain missed a clothesline then walked into a Fisherman’s brainbuster for a near-fall from Takahashi, who followed up with a lariat and a short DDT for the win. That finish seemed pretty flat, but hey, we got to hear Takahashi’s sweet theme music again! **½
Naomichi Marufuji, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gedo vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
Tenzan/Marufuji is the featured G1 match from this for tomorrow, but we start with Okada and Nakanishi… and the grizzled vet outsmarts Okada by avoiding a dropkick, blocking a Rainmaker and spearing the champion in the early going.
Kojima and Ishii trade forearm strikes like they’re going out of style, before a shoulder tackle sends Ishii to the mat. The rapid-fire chops stagger Ishii, as does the diving forearm in the corner, and the CHAOS crew instantly run in to attack Kojima in the corner from there.
Gedo stands on Kojima’s face after it’s all calmed down, and then we get a near-fall for Goto following a kick to the back. Marufuji lights up Kojima with some chops, but he replied with a Koji cutter before tagging out to Tenzan, and that woke the crowd up! Tenzan cleared the CHAOS team off the apron, and went to work with some Mongolian chops on Marufuji, before getting a two-count from a suplex.
Marufuji and Tenzan work some stiff chops, before a back drop gets Tenzan a near-fall, which he then transitioned into the Anaconda Vice, which Ishii ran in to break up. Marufuji blocked a tombstone piledriver, and dropped him with an Axe bomber lariat, before tagging in Goto to pick up the pieces… but a spinning heel kick kncoked down Goto.
Tiger Mask came in with a cross body to Goto, but fell into the clutches of Okada, before Tiger and Liger worked to take out Gedo. A Shotei to Goto led us to a Ligerbomb, and then a Tiger Driver for what was almost an unlikely win. After everyone ran in and left the ring, Tiger Mask took down Goto with the double arm-bar, which Okada broke up, before Nakanishi took care of him.
A head kick from Tiger Mask stunned Goto, but he replied with the ushigoroshi and then the GTR for the win. A really good ten-man tag and a frenetic final sequence. This is one you should probably watch if you’re only catching the G1 matches… ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tomoaki Honma
I’ll go for four missed Kokeshi here… they start with a headlock, with the resulting shoulder block getting nothing. They move into chops and forearms, before Honma takes YOSHI-HASHI into the corners, and gets a near-fall with a dropkick.
Missed Kokeshi one sees YOSHI-HASHI throw Honma to the outside, and yes, a throw into the crowd barriers. A stunner sees Honma land awkwardly, and YOSHI-HASHI goes for a rear chinlock to calm things down. Honma finally makes a rope break, before YOSHI-HASHI dumps him across the top rope and lands a dropkick for a near-fall.
Honma deadlifts YOSHI-HASHI for a suplex to get a breather, and fires back with a forearm, back elbow and a bodyslam… and then a diving forearm… and there’s missed Kokeshi number two! YOSHI-HASHI returns fire with a Bunker Buster, but Honma elbows free, only to take a flipping neckbreaker instead.
The Bunker Buster succeeds at the second attempt, and gets YOSHI-HASHI a two-count, before Honma counters a suplex and finally lands a snap German suplex. He finally hits the Kokeshi! YOSHI-HASHI rolls through a Kokeshi Otoshi attempt into a near-fall, before taking a lariat and then the Kokeshi Otoshi for another near-fall, as Honma looks to finish things… and misses a top rope Kokeshi (three!)
Back on their feet, they trade forearms once more, before a rewind enziguiri takes down Honma, who pops back up and slaps YOSHI-HASHI… whose response is a lariat for a near-fall. A powerbomb with the jack-knife pin gets YOSHI-HASHI a near-fall, as he goes for a back cracker and then a double underhook suplex into the butterfly lock, which Honma eventually squirms towards the ropes to break.
YOSHI-HASHI goes for a tombstone piledriver, but instead hits an old-school shoulder breaker, before going for a pumphandle driver… but Honma blocks it, and eventually grabs the ropes to break. A superkick staggers Honma, but he ducks a lariat and hits a leaping Kokeshi, before finishing off YOSHI-HASHI with a Kokeshi off the top for the win. That was a lot better than I expected from these two – even if at times they seemed to be “we’re almost about to lose… but not quite!” card a lot. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Yuji Nagata
EVIL jumps Nagata as soon as he enters the ring, but Nagata rolls back in as EVIL tried to pounce on the floor. Kicks from Nagata send EVIL into the ropes, and an early guillotine attempt sees EVIL roll for a rope break.
Outside, EVIL whips Nagata into those barriers, then grabs a chair to smash into Nagata’s left knee, before Nagata wears the chair and gets tossed into the ring post. Nagata beats the count back into the ring, and goes straight into a choke by EVIL Nagata fired back with some kicks out of the corner, but a stomp to the knee sends Nagata crashing to the mat.
A back senton from EVIL flattens Nagata for a two-count, but the veteran fired back with a big boot running out of the corner to end a sequence of corner charges, before laying into EVIL with a series of kicks to the chest. EVIL caught another big boot, and they went to the trading of forearms, before EVIL again dropped Nagata with a fisherman’s buster.
“Darkness Falls” (a fireman’s carry into a sit-out spinebuster) got EVIL a near-fall, but Nagata countered a clothesline by grabbing the arm and sinking in an armbar, and then turned it into a cross arm-breaker. An armbreaker followed, before EVIL blocked a Backdrop Hold attempt, and instead took some knees to the midsection.
EVIL countered a kick with a roaring elbow, then dropped Nagata with a German suplex, before a lariat almost won things for the King of Darkness. Nagata was turned around into an STO, but he slapped himself free and drilled EVIL with a backdrop suplex for a near-fall, before the Backdrop Hold polished off EVIL. My Voices of Wrestling picks are doing really badly, I fear… another good match, although it did start to drag in the middle for me. ***½
Post-match, Nagata slapped his knee to get some feeling back into it… sewing seeds, perhaps?
G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Toru Yano
Well, this is the match I have very low hopes for. Omega’s out with Yujiro Takahashi and a can of that freeze spray, whilst Yano throws his bottle of water at Omega.
Yano starts by teasing Omega with a knuckle-lock, and ends up just slapping him before doing his “break” spot in the ropes. Omega snaps early on and kicks Yano into the corner, but he misses a back elbow, and that lets Yano remove some turnbuckle padding. Yano uses it as a baseball bat to swipe at Omega, before getting a near-fall from a roll-up.
Omega tries to use the padding, but the referee stops him and Yano rolls him up for a two-count, and is then low-bridged to the outside as he tried to charge at Yano. From the outside, Omega grabs the freeze spray and blinds Yano with it, eventually rolling into the ring for a near-fall.
Omega rubs his forearm into Yano’s face, before rubbing his eyes across the top rope. Yano blocks being whipped into the exposed turnbuckle, and finally reverses an Irish whip as Omega takes it instead, before they take turns pulling each other’s hair (genuinely!) to block moves.
Omega nailed Yano with a rocker dropped after he mis-timed his ducking pose, and Omega followed up with a Finlay roll and a moonsault for a near-fall. The One Winged Angel came next, but Yano avoided it, before using the referee as a human shield… Omega did the same, and hit a low blow to Yano, before grabbing a bottle of water to ape Yano’s taunts.
As Omega went to spray Yano with water, he was given a low blow, causing Omega to spray the referee. They traded punches, before an eye rake left Omega “wrestling the referee” for a while, until he scored a high knee on Yano. That got a near-fall, before a second one finally ended this. Hey, it wasn’t as bad as I expected, with decent wrestling and plenty of contrived spots, but this was a total comedy match. **¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Expect plenty of kicks here… and slightly more tape on Shibata’s shoulder by the end of this.
They slowly go for a wristlock each, with Shibata being taken into the ropes as they tentatively stand-off. Shibata worked a full-nelson, but Nakajima worked free and went for some kicks that were ducked by Shibata. A snapmare leads Shibata into a rear chinlock, before he tried for a cross armbreaker, but Nakajima rolled up and made the ropes before the hold could be applied.
Shibata goes to the wristlock, and sinks down on the hold before stamping the upper arm and kicking Nakajima in the chest for the hell of it. Nakajima swerves a big boot and delivers one of his own, before booting Shibata to the floor, where he took a PK off of the apron from the NOAH man. They went outside, so of course that means Irish whips into the guard railing, before Nakajima tied up Shibata’s arm in the railing and kicked it… before tossing him back into the ring so both men could beat the count-out.
Shibata rolled outside again, and was brought back in so Nakajima could lay into him with some forearms in the corner. A diving dropkick connected as Nakajima got booed for mimicking one of Shibata’s moves, and Shibata hit back with forearms and some Yazuka kicks, before delivering a diving dropkick into the corner. That showed him!
A half-nelson suplex gets Shibata a near-fall, as he follows up with an abdominal stretch that forces Nakajima to make the ropes. Shibata was taken down by a Dragon screw after Nakajima caught a kick though, with Nakajima laying into Shibata with a Yakuza kick and another one to the chest before climbing up top, connecting with a missile dropkick for a near-fall.
A backdrop suplex was no-sold by Shibata, then Nakajima, before duelling big boots took down both men. They traded kicks in the corner for a spell, before a leaping spinning heel kick took Shibata off the top rope, and a German suplex sent Shibata into the corner hard. Shibata wriggled out of a suplex, but struggled to hit a German suplex of his own, as Nakajima went for a kimura, and finally just elbowed Shibata’s forearm.
Some more kicks from Nakajima dropped Shibata, but a PK attempt was caught by Shibata… only for him to eat some forearms and lock in a sleeperhold on Nakajima in the middle of the ring. That dropped Nakajima to the mat, before a PK from Shibata sealed the win. Great, great stuff here – an instant classic from this year’s tournament, no doubt! ****¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Michael Elgin
Big Mike has his two belts again, and starts by launching Naito into the corner from the opening lock-up. Elgin mocks the “tranquilo” pose, and that makes Naito mad… but the clubbering forearms to Elgin’s back don’t work, so Naito just rakes the eyes.
They go outside early on, with Elgin landing forearms to Naito’s chest, before Naito catches Elgin trying to exit the ring and lands a dropkick to the knee for the sake of it. That has little effect as Elgin lands a press slam, then clotheslines Naito in the corner, before a stalling suplex gets Elgin a near-fall.
Another dropkick to the knee gets Naito an opening, and he does the same on the outside too as Naito made use of the barriers around the ring by trying up Elgin’s injured left leg. Elgin just about beats the count-out, but gets cornered and stomped on by Naito, before he blocks a hiptoss attempt… and gets another dropkick after Naito took out the injured knee once more.
Naito amps up the pressure on that injured knee with a reverse figure four (Jamie Noble’s old trailer hitch). Elgin got the ropes and tried to lay into Naito with forearms, but that injured wheel became a hindrance at times… but it didn’t stop Elgin from catching Naito off the top rope and throwing him with an overhead belly-to-belly.
Elgin follows up with a lariat into the corner, then one to the back of Naito (again, in the corner), before he backdrops Naito onto the apron and hits an enziguiri. Naito gets whipped into the ring the hard way, but Elgin catches him in mid air and slammed him to the mat for a near-fall. Naito replies with an inverted atomic drop, another dropkick to the knee and then a leg grapevine to force Big Mike into the ropes.
Elgin caught Naito’s outside-in dropkick, then reversed a sunset flip and tried for a powerbomb, but Naito freed himself into the path of some forearms. Elgin dropped a bomb himself with a forearm, then an enziguiri, before Naito ducked a lariat and tried for a tornado DDT… but Elgin again caught him and hit a pair of rolling suplexes out of it.
Naito fought out of a superplex attempt, headbutting Elgin to the mat, before a tornado DDT out of the corner turned into something of a tornado armdrag. Naito again kicked at Elgin’s knee as he tried for a German suplex, but Big Mike elbowed himself free, before switching a bunch of waistlocks, but Naito rolled him up for a near-fall.
Out of nowhere, Elgin picked up Naito and threw him with a scary-looking death valley driver into the turnbuckles. Elgin took his time getting to the top rope because of his dodgy knee, but finally made his way up there for a big splash onto Naito, but couldn’t make the cover quickly, and gave Naito enough time to kick out at two.
Naito again went for a leg grapevine, but Elgin made the ropes and kicked free, before Naito caught Elgin up top and tried a super hurricanrana… but Elgin blocked it and hit a super powerbomb for another near-fall. Elgin signalled for a buckle bomb, and hit it, before a sa spinning powerbomb was reversed by Naito with a reverse ‘rana out of nowhere.
Back on their feet, Elgin and Naito threw forearms at each other, with Elgin’s bombs absolutely rocking Naito, whereas an Elgin lariat sent Naito inside out… but Naito countered a buckle bomb and hit a cartwheel kick into Elgin, only to see a Gloria attempt blocked… and Naito countered that with a grapevined heel hook.
Elgin stood up and undid the hook, but Naito countered a suplex into the Destino, before hitting a second Destino in the middle of the ring for the win. That was amazing, and I want more of this! Best match so far in this G1, just a hair short of a higher rating… and it’s going to be hard for anyone else in this tournament to top it. ****½
There’s no other way to say it – this was the best show of the weekend, hands down. The final two matches from today were a masterpiece, and two bouts you absolutely need to see.
Block A Standings
Hirooki Goto (2-0, 4pts)
Togi Makabe (2-0, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-0, 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale (1-1, 2pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (1-1, 2pts)
Kazuchika Okada (1-1, 2pts)
SANADA (1-1, 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (0-2, 0 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2, 0pts)
Tama Tonga (0-2, 0 pts)
Block B Standings
Tomoaki Honma (2-0, 4pts)
Yuji Nagata (2-0, 4pts)
EVIL (1-1, 2pts)
Tetsuya Naito (1-1, 2pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (1-1, 2pts)
Kenny Omega (1-1, 2pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (1-1, 2pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-1, 2pts)
Michael Elgin (0-2, 0pts)
Toru Yano (0-2, 0pts)