Fukushima was host to day five of this year’s G1 Climax, and it was block A who had to try and at least match what we saw in Tokyo just 24 hours previously.
#TLDR: Block A put on another card which was felt flat, but did give us a classic with Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and the shock of all shocks from the tournament so far, with surprise names at both ends of the block after the third round of matches.
The Full Review: After Sunday’s card-of-the-year calibre event, today’s block A action could threaten to be quite the comedown. Still, there’s nothing that looks to be a major stinker on the card today, but there are several matches which could threaten if Messrs Fale and Tonga (and his compression tights) phone it in.
YOSHI-HASHI vs. David Finlay
Well this is a bit of a throwback, YOSHI-HASHI isn’t getting a “preview match” for his G1 match with Yuji Nagata on Wednesday, and instead is facing David Finlay. I don’t think Finlay’s winning this…
YOSHI-HASHI starts with a wristlock, which gets reversed, before grabbing a headlock and taking down Finlay with a shoulder tackle. Finlay responds with a dropkick, then some uppercuts before YOSHI-HASHI slides out of the ring and drags Finlay with him, before shoving him into the ringpost. Back inside, after they don’t try the Irish whip into the barriers spot, Finlay’s caught in a rear chinlock, which he breaks after reaching for the ropes.
YOSHI-HASHI follows in with a dropkick after dumping Finlay across the top rope, and gets a near-fall from that. Finlay blocks a suplex then hits a knee to YOSHI-HASHI, before charging into the corner with a series of back elbows, then with the uppercut, before diving off the top rope with a spinning uppercut for a near-fall.
A waistlock is blocked by YOSHI-HASHI, but Finlay connects with a Finlay roll and another diving uppercut for a two-count. Finlay goes back to the waistlock, but YOSHI-HASHI hits a reversed enziguiri before going for the Butterfly lock, and there’s your quick tap-out. YOSHI-HASHI made short work of Finlay, and I have to wonder whether this is already early signs of strain from the G1 schedule? **¼
Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask & Juice Robinson vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin “Thunder” Liger
This is weird, Tiger Mask and Jushin “Thunder” Liger on opposite sides? We get going with Taguchi and Nagata, and Nagata’s not having any of Taguchi’s fun and games early on… but runs into a hip attack… and takes a couple more. Liger comes in and drops Taguchi with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, then ties up Taguchi with a surfboard, before Shibata gets the tag and takes a hip attack.
We jump to Shibata/Elgin – a preview for Wednesday in Nagano – and Shibata kicks Elgin in the head before punching him in the corner as a set-up for the diving dropkick. Shibata reversed out of a suplex, but his big boot was caught and met with a lariat from Elgin, before another boot took the Intercontinental champion down.
KUSHIDA came in and cleared the apron with a cartwheel kick, so he could go against Nakanishi by himself, but a handspring off the ropes was caught and turned into an Argentine Backbreaker rack for a brief moment. Tiger Mask fared little better, at least until KUSHIDA combined with a dropkick off the top for a near-fall. Nakanishi reversed a double-team suplex and took down Tiger Mask and KUSHIDA, before Juice Robinson was tagged in against KUSHIDA. Robinson missed an avalanche in the corner and took a load of rapid-fire chops from Kojima, and then the youngsters piled on.
A leg lariat from Robinson downed Kojima after he’d eaten a bunch of moves, and the ring filled up again as Robinson went for the cover. Kojima elbowed out of a Fireman’s carry, then dropped Robinson with the Cozy Cutter before hitting a lariat for the win. Short but sweet – it did what it needed to. **¾
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma & Captain New Japan
I’m sure you can guess what Wednesday’s G1 match is going to be out of this match… we get the usual Bullet Club jumpstart, and they end up outside as Takahashi whips the Captain into the crowd barriers.
Inside, the Captain gets stomped on, before the Bullet Club duo realise that the Captain putting his hand up to stop them doesn’t mean anything. Captain misses a leaping double clothesline, before Takahashi scores a two-count from a legdrop off the ropes.
Kenny Omega comes in and chokes the Captain with a t-shirt after showing “G1 body”, and then shoves the Captain’s head into the big boot of Takahashi. Yujiro tags in and drops an elbow for a near-fall, then returns the favour to Omega’s big boot. The Captain finally makes the hot tag to Honma, and he clears house on Omega with clotheslines and a body slam… but of course, misses the Kokeshi.
Honma whips Omega into the corner and lands a forearm smash then a bulldog, and finally connects with a falling Kokeshi. Omega wriggles out of a Kokeshi Otoshi attempt, then exchanges slaps with his foe, ending with a superkick and a Finlay roll. A springboard moonsault out of the corner gets a near-fall, before Honma escapes a One Winged Angel attempt.
Omega lands some headscissors to send Honma towards the corner, then brings in Takahashi, whose Fisherman suplex is blocked and reversed into a deadlift suplex by Honma, who then tags out to the Captain. A corner charge gets the big boot of Takahashi, and the Bullet Club double team, as a Rocker Dropper from Omega gets a near-fall.
Honma and Omega end up outside the ring as the Captain almost shocks Takahashi with a roll-up, before the uranage gets a near-fall as Omega breaks things up. A diving Kokeshi sends Omega out of the ring again, and that leaves the Captain free for a swandive headbutt to Takahashi… but of course, he misses and Takahashi hits a Fisherman’s Buster for a near-fall, before a short DDT picks up the win. Eh, it was what it was, but this undercard so far is uninspiring to say the least. **½
Katsuhiko Nakajima, Gedo & Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & EVIL
You know, Toru Yano’s theme music isn’t THAT bad. But it barely plays for long enough to get past the hideous opening.
BUSHI and Gedo get us underway, with BUSHI having to be broken after taking Gedo to the ropes. Gedo tosses BUSHI to the outside, and Toru Yano tosses him straight back in, to the disgust of Gedo. Multiple times. Gotta love it when you hear English swearing on these shows…
Yano gets tagged in, but BUSHI takes him into the Ingobernables’ corner. Tetsuya Naito lowers himself to deal with this, and of course, Yano holds onto the rope, yodels, then stares in disbelief as Naito lays on the mat in his “tranquilo” pose. Naito chokes Yano in the corner with a boot, then lands his outside-in dropkick as I think we missed EVIL throwing someone into the ringpost with a chair on the outside.
BUSHI strangled Naito with a t-shirt for a while before EVIL came in to add to the punishment. Yano somehow worked himself free, but walked into an inverted atomic drop from Naito, who got pulled to the mat by his hair. Nakajima tagged in and obliterated EVIL with a kick, then outsmarted a 2-on-1 attack before kicking EVIL to the mat once more.
A Yakuza kick from Nakajima was followed up by a bicycle kick for a near-fall, and the pair start a vicious trading of forearms… at least until Nakajima kicked EVIL in the midsection. A Fisherman’s suplex takes down Nakajima briefly, but he regained the advantage after BUSHI was tagged in, and then handed it over to Gedo.
Gedo landed a jawbreaker to BUSHI, then a kick to the head for a near-fall, before a rewind enziguiri stunned Gedo. Toru Yano made it to the ropes to crotch BUSHI, and got taken care of by Naito, before a Complete Shot on BUSHI almost got Gedo the win. Naito returned to the ring to assist BUSHI with a lungblower on Gedo, which got him a two-count, before BUSHI went to the top with the MX to score the win. Again, nothing bad, but not outstanding either… and that’s the undercard done with in an hour. **¾
Post-match, EVIL flattened Nakajima with an STO as all of the CHAOS men were left laying in the ring.
This first half has been pretty flat, but it’s not helped by the producer missing spots. I knew we were without announcers, but a lot of the action outside the ring was missed completely.
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Tomohiro Ishii
You know, I have an hope of this being good, if they just lay it into each other for the whole match. This time, Fale just swats away the announcer before he even reads out his name.
My feed skipped here and went straight to Ishii bouncing off of Fale, who replied with a straight right and an Irish whip into the corner… then a big boot. Another whip to the corner followed as Fale went to stand on the back of Ishii. The Stone Pitbull fired back with some chops, but was clubbed to the mat by Fale’s forearms again.
Back on his feet, Ishii traded strikes, but again, the taller Fale knocked him down with swiping punches. Ishii blocked a clothesline then chopped Fale in the throat, before hitting a clothesline in the corner. Another clothesline off the ropes staggered Fale momentarily, but he recovered quickly with a Samaon drop before missing a big splash. Ishii sidestepped an avalanche attempt, then went for a suplex, but that was blocked, before Ishii avoided a Bad Luck Fall and impressively took down Fale with a German suplex.
Ishii looked to follow up off the ropes, but was thrown into the corner before taking a big splash from Fale for a near-fall. Fale then climbed the ropes for a Vader bomb, but Ishii got the knees up, but he was drilled back into the corner once more and hit with a lariat for a near-fall.
Fale looked to finish off with a Grenade, but Ishii blocked it and hit a bunch of forearms, before Fale hit the Grenade at the second attempt for a near-fall. My feed jumped again, and picked up to see Fale go for the Bad Luck Fall, only for Ishii to wriggle free and nail him with a headbutt, then a leaping DDT. Ishii followed up with some lariats, then a diving enziguiri, before finally knocking Fale down with a lariat for a near-fall.
Ishii sat up Fale and went for another lariat, which drew another two-count… and Ishii looked for the brainbuster. Fale tried to block it with a chokehold, but Ishii hoisted him up and landed the brainbuster anyway for the win. That was an impressive finish, and a match that could have been a lot worse. Both men are now 1-2, with two points to their name after three matches. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block A: SANADA vs. Togi Makabe
They start with a lock-up, with Makabe grabbing the wrist before SANADA reverses it into a hammerock and gets taken down. Another lock-up sees SANADA push Makabe into the ropes, before slapping him in a less-than-clean break.
Makabe grabs a leapfrogging SANADA and slams him to the mat, then clotheslines him out to the floor for the first whip into the barricade spot of the match. SANADA kicks the ropes to crotch Makabe as he tried to return, then sends him chest-first into the barricade and into the crowd as one of the plastic (non-folding) chairs is rammed into Makabe’s chest.
SANADA returns with a baseball bat and uses it to choke him, and Makabe just about beats the 20 count to get back to the ring. A back elbow sends Makabe to the mat for a two-count, before a sleeperhold sees Makabe almost lose the match, as he takes an age to fight back to his feet. Back to his feet, Makabe challenged SANADA to hit him, and that just prompted a comeback as Makabe gave some shots before being kicked to the mat.
Makabe takes SANADA into the corner for the ten punches on the top rope, then scores with a bridging overhead belly-to-belly for a near-fall. SANADA fires back with a dropkick after his pair of leapfrogs, but Makabe fights free of a TKO attempt and starts a battle of forearm shots instead.
A pair of lariats put SANADA down, as a powerbomb gets Makabe a near-fall, but he bounds off the ropes into a TKO for a near-fall as he just about got the shoulder up in time. From there, SANADA went for the Skull End, but Makabe blocked it, and landed a bridging German suplex for a two-count. SANADA flipped out of a back suplex attempt, but took a big boot as he charged at the cornered Makabe. He recovered with a springboard dropkick back into the ring, but Makabe turned a Skull End attempt into a brainbuster as both men laid flat out on the mat.
Makabe looked to finish off SANADA with a spider German suplex out of the top rope, but despite his attempts to fight free, SANADA was planted on the mat, then took the King Kong Kneedrop and that was it. A surprise loss for SANADA, given that he beat Okada on night one… Makabe remains unbeaten and is now 3-0 (with six points), whilst the loss pushes SANADA to 1-2 (2 points). ***¼
G1 Climax, Block A: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
The opening lock-up sees Tenzan force Marufuji into the ropes, but an early Mongolian chop attempt is easily blocked. Tenzan takes down Marufuji with a shoulder tackle, before unloading with headbutts and Mongolian chops.
Marufuji handstands out of an Irish whip and takes down Tenzan with a dropkick, before they go to the outside for… you know what spot. Tenzan takes some chops against the barrier, then gets sent back into the ring for some more chops and then a rear chinlock. Another chop downs Tenzan, before he leaps on with a headlock to keep the veteran grounded.
Tenzan fires back with some forearms, but Marufuji’s chops are an effective response, before the two collide as Marufuji tried for a big boot. A second big boot staggered Tenzan, whose shoulder tackle took down Marufuji, as a vertical suplex earned Tenzan a two-count. Marufuji lights up Tenzan with some chops, but a Samoan drop takes down Marufuji for a near-fall as Tenzan segues into the Anaconda Vice.
Marufuji stands up out of the Vice though, and breaks the hold before drilling Tenzan with a knee to the head. A diving elbow into the corner keeps Tenzan on the back foot, before an enziguiri staggers him and finally a back kick knocks Tenzan down. Marufuji leaps over Tenzan in the corner, but gets taken down with a dropkick , before Tenzan drops him with a back suplex and looks to airborne… and lands a swandive headbutt!
Marufuji kicks out at two from that, as Tenzan and his bloody chest looks to finish things with the Tenzan Tombstone Driver… but that’s blocked before it can even get started, and they trade chops and kicks, before Tenzan blocked a high knee with his head, putting Marufuji down. Tenzan lands the TTD for a near-fall, then climbs up top before missing a moonsault. A high knee in the corner downs Tenzan for a near-fall, and he fires back with more headbutts, before missing a lariat. Marufuji connects with a back kick, then a front kick for another two-count, before a Shiranui puts down Tenzan for the count. I was not expecting that result, but I guess they needed to start planting some seeds of doubt in the Tenzan hype train. Both men go to 2-1 after this result. ****
G1 Climax, Block A: Tama Tonga vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Both of these guys came in with 0-2 records, so something’s got to change… As does Tonga’s music, which continues to get no reaction. He’s also out with Yujiro Takahashi, which is immediately making me think “shenanigans”.
They lock-up as Tanahashi takes Tonga to the ropes for a clean break, and the referee dances in the corner for some reason. Tonga grabs the hair as he goes for a headlock, and Tanahashi returns the favour, before a pair of shoulder tackles sends Tonga to the outside.
Tonga catches a baseball slide attempt from Tanahashi and drops him chest-first across the barriers, and that gives Takahashi a chance to interject himself before Captain New Japan – at ringside as one of the Young Boys – tried in vain to make the save. Tanahashi was thrown back in, and Tonga kept pounding on him on the mat, before holding onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick.
Tonga worked an armbar on Tanahashi’s injured arm, then lands a headbutt after Tanahashi punched his way free. A leaping knee from Tanahashi takes down Tonga though, who then got slammed and was squashed by a flip senton for a near-fall. Tanahashi missed a corner charge and was left draped across the top ropes, and was prone for a death valley driver, before he fought free of that.
Tonga did his wacky rope running and took down Tanahashi with some head scissors, but immediately fell to a Dragon screw. The pair exchanged right hands, before a simple slap rocked Tonga, who then landed a Samoan drop into a flapjack for a near-fall. A spinning reverse DDT did the same for Tonga, but Tanahashi fought out of a double-arm DDT and scored a Cross Rhodes for a near-fall.
Tonga fought back though, but missed several attacks before a Slingblade got Tanahashi a near-fall, as did a strait-jacket bridging German suplex. Tanahashi almost lost when a High Fly Flow got nothing but knees, and after getting a near-fall, Tama Tonga hit a Stunner out of nowhere for the shocker of all shocks. Hey, at least Tonga got polite applause, but this really deflated the crowd. Tanahashi remains winless on 0-3, whilst Tonga is now 1-2. Tanahashi was understandably angered at being 0-3, particularly after having taken time off to recuperate for the G1… ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada
The two CHAOS stablemates locked up as Okada went for an armbar, but Goto rolled to reverse it and got taken down with a leg lock. After a rope break, they went for a hammerlock, a headlock and then a shoulder takedown as Goto got the early advantage by clotheslining Okada to the outside.
Okada got sent into the ringpost, but a clothesline against the crowd barrier misses as Goto sent himself into the crowd, and was left prone for a draping DDT off the barrier and into the mats around the ring, making a loud thud as Goto’s head cracked into the floor.
Back inside, Okada slingshotted himself into the ring, scoring a near-fall from that, before dropkicking Goto in the back of the head. Goto tried to mount a comeback, and succeeded with a kick to Okada’s chest as he came off the ropes, then a spinning heel kick into the corner and finally a bulldog. Okada elbowed out of a waistlock, then got taken down with a Saito suplex for a near-fall.
Okada fought out of an ushigoroshi, before flapjack’ing Goto to the mat. A DDT follows for the champion, as does a diving uppercut for another two-count, before Goto dropped him with a discus lariat. Goto gets dropkicked to the outside after Okada caught him and dumped him on the top rope, and it’s back into the barriers again as Goto gets whipped into, then kicked over the blue railings.
Okada followed up with a running crossbody that cleared the barricades and went into the front row of the crowd. After returning to the ring, Okada landed a top rope elbow drop before going for the Rainmaker, but Goto elbowed free, before dropping Okada with a clothesline in the middle of the ring. A front suplex onto the knee dazes Okada, but he avoids the GTR before being dropped with the ushigoroshi.
Okada avoids another GTR and gets a German suplex, but can’t follow-up. The pair fight back to their feet with some forearms, before a stiff kick from Goto sends Okada to the mat. Okada misses a dropkick after reversing the Irish whip, then gets tied in a sleeperhold which he breaks by reversing Goto into the corner.
Another corner lariat keeps Goto on top, and he looks to finish off Okada with a superplex… then changes his mind, but Okada drops out and tries for the Rainmaker, only to get met with a headbutt from Goto. Goto misses a lariat, then takes a dropkick to the back, and then another dropkick off the ropes, before ducking a Rainmaker, only for Okada to switch it into a tombstone and then the Rainmaker for the win. A really good main event, but not on a par with the earlier Tenzan/Marufuji match. Both men go to 2-1 now, with four points on the board. ***½
Well, it was always going to be a struggle to match what block B pulled off in Korakuen Hall on Sunday, and whilst this was a solid show, it ultimately came across as filler. Togi Makabe leading block A after 3 matches may be a shock, but nothing compared to seeing Hiroshi Tanahashi propping up the table at the same point. Block B is back in action on Wednesday in Nagano, whilst block A matches resume on Thursday in Saitama.
Block A Standings
Togi Makabe (3-0, 6pts)
Hirooki Goto (2-1, 4pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (2-1, 4pts)
Kazuchika Okada (2-1, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-1, 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale (1-2, 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (1-2, 2 pts)
SANADA (1-2, 2pts)
Tama Tonga (1-2, 2 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-3, 0pts)
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)