We’re in Nagano for the sixth round of G1 Climax matches, and this time we’re back to block B and an extremely promising line-up, headlined by Katsuyori Shibata vs. Michael Elgin in a mouthwatering contest.
#TLDR: After the third round of block B matches, we have an unexpected name at the top of block B – and perhaps a more obvious guess at the bottom! With Shibata and Elgin responsible for a fine main event, day six produced some good tournament matches on a card that felt like it was really starting to suffer from the exertions of the long slog that is the G1 Climax.
The Full Review: It’s another show with no commentary, and we’re underway with our first of the usual undercard tag matches.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Togi Makabe, Juice Robinson & David Finlay
That second team… one of those men are not like the others. One of those men, just doesn’t belong. Tenzan is loved in Nagano, as he’s coming off of a G1 loss on Monday against Marufuji.
The youngsters (and Makabe) jump start, as Robinson launches into Nakanishi with punches, as we miss David Finlay whipping someone into the barriers on the outside. Robinson drills Nakanishi with a back suplex, and succeeds with a suplex (not quite a brainbuster!) for a two-count.
A clothesline in the corner leads Robinson to call for a super brainbuster… that ain’t happening. Nakanishi punches him to the mat, and goes flying with a crossbody for a near-fall, before knocking Finlay and Makabe off the apron. In comes Kojima to stomp away on Robinson, and Tenzan quickly follows for some Mongolian chops. Kojima even gets one in!
Ten-Cozy land a slingshot elbow and a standard elbow drop on Robinson as Tenzan gets a two-count, before getting into a forearm strike battle. A kick to the midsection stops Robinson, as does some more Mongolian chops, before Juice lands a spinebuster to take out Tenzan, and then tags in Makabe. They preview tomorrow’s G1 match between the two, with some corner 10-count punches before Tenzan counters a Northern Lights suplex with some headbutts.
A shoulder charge sees Tenzan crumble to the mat for a near-fall, but a German suplex attempt from Makabe is blocked and countered into a vertical suplex as Tenzan gets a near-fall. Makabe no-sells some clotheslines, as does Tenzan, who then drops Makabe with a Samoan drop before making the tag out.
Finlay and Kojima is the next sprint, and Finlay makes the fatal error of mocking Kojima’s rapid chops. Kojima gives him the real thing, before Makabe and Robinson run in to attack Kojima and land a series of avalanches in the corner. A Finlay roll follows for a near-fall as Tenzan broke it up, and the ring empties. Kojima reverses a suplex, then drops Finlay with a Koji cutter, but a lariat is ducked before an uppercut almost steals it for Finlay.
Finlay tries to continue the comeback, but he bounces off the ropes and into the path of a lariat as Kojima takes the win. Good opening match, but the poor camera work continued as we heard – but didn’t see – several whips into the guard rails during the match. **¾
Post-match saw Tenzan and Makabe have to be separated outside the ring, continuing the build to their match tomorrow.
Naomichi Marufuji & Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA & BUSHI
Goto and BUSHI get us going with a tie-up, with BUSHI immediately getting a rope break before rolling back into his trademark pose. He goes to the outside and sends Marufuji into the ropes, whilst SANADA ensures that Goto has the same fate.
SANADA rolls Goto inside, then tags out to BUSHI, who immediately uses his shirt to choke Goto with. The referee catches him, and we wash, rinse and repeat with SANADA’s shirt. SANADA gets tagged in and lays into Goto with punches, before raking the eyes.
A kick from Goto takes down SANADA, but BUSHI rushes in to knock him down and also knock Marufuji off the apron, before Goto breaks through a double-team clothesline, and then takes down the two Ingobernables members. Marufuji gets tagged in and takes down SANADA with a dropkick, before a chop sends BUSHI outside.
SANADA catches a leaping Marufuji, but he works free of a TKO, before landing a back elbow, with SANADA countering with a dropkick. A big boot and a kick cuts off SANADA, who then blocks a Shiranui attempt, and then drops Marufuji with a dropkick after some leapfrogs, before tagging BUSHI back in.
BUSHI immediately misses a charge in the corner, but goes airborne with a missile dropkick, before more two-on-one action on Marufuji. BUSHI lands a lungblower for a near-fall as Goto breaks up the cover, and SANADA again takes him to the outside as BUSHI misses a MX attempt, then turns into a Goto clothesline. Goto drops SANADA with an ushigoroshi as the pair head outside, before BUSHI gets levelled with a high kick and a knee to the head, as Marufuji lands the Shiranui for the win. Decent enough match, but it did feel like a lot of kicks and not much else at times. ***
Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi’s out in a sparkly gold jacket and a microphone to plug his newly-released CD (you read that right)… but his singing isn’t coming over the house mic. Thank God.
KUSHIDA dives into the crowd before the bell to give a young fan his dog tags, and we get underway… with Captain New Japan insisting that he starts for his team. I guess he’s finally twigged that he struggles to get tagged in in these matches!
Tanahashi starts with a waistlock, and easily counters Captain’s reversals. God, imagine if Tanahashi lost to this guy?! They square off in the corners, before Tanahashi actually stops running the ropes because the Captain put his hand up. Tanahashi kicks him in the gut, then tags in Taguchi, but the Captain quickly tags out to Tiger Mask.
We get the usual hip attack teases, and a rope-running spot that ends with a pair of hiptosses and finally a hip attack. Tiger misses a leaping hip attack, then kicks Taguchi’s ass to avoid another before he repeatedly stomps on Taguchi’s rear end. Liger gets tagged in and drops Taguchi with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, before tying him up in a Mexican surfboard, and then bringing Tiger Mask back in.
An increasingly-frustrated Captain New Japan watches on as Tiger and Liger tag in and out, and Liger finally makes the tag… and quickly gets kicked in the midsection by Taguchi and caught in an armwringer. God, he’s useless. A diving shoulder tackle gets nothing but air, and in comes Tanahashi to work on the Captain with a shoulder block.
Tanahashi slams the Captain to the mat and lands a diving senton splash off the middle rope for a near-fall, before Captain connects with a diving shoulder tackle. Tanahashi gets cornered and takes a Tiger Driver, before Captain takes his time to go up top for a swandive headbutt… and of course he misses.
Tiger and Liger struggle to hide their disgust, before a handspring elbow from KUSHIDA takes down the pair. KUSHIDA turns into a strike from the Captain, who then drops KUSHIDA with a uranage slam after catching a springboard attempt. Captain New Japan eats a hip attack from Taguchi, then a Slingblade from Tanahashi, before a roll-up is broken up at the count of two.
The ring clears for the finish as KUSHIDA goes up top and lands a moonsault for a near-fall, before he goes for the Hoverboard lock, and rolls Captain into the middle of the ring for the obvious tap-out. Another solid undercard tag match, but nothing special here. **¾
Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo vs. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi
No jump start from the Bullet Club group here, and we start with Okada and Tama Tonga. Opposite ends of the spectrum there! They start with a lock-up, as Tonga is taken into the ropes for a break, and Tonga fires back with forearms as Okada mocked him.
Okada takes down Tonga with a bodyslam, then slingshots into the ring with a hilo before tagging on Gedo who just stands on Tonga’s face. Gedo gets taken into the wrong corner, and Bad Luck Fale tags in… but he wants Tomohiro Ishii, and a measure of revenge for his loss yesterday. A body slam from Fale is followed with an elbow drop for a near-fall, but Ishii avoids a second one… then takes a clothesline as Fale folds him backwards for a near-fall.
Ishii kicks away at Fale in the corner, then kicks the knee out as he tries for a suplex. Fale blocks it and switches it into a bodyslam, as he gets a near-fall whilst Okada and Gedo were neutralised on the outside. More clubbing forearms send Ishii to the mat, before Takahashi comes in and he immediately pounds on Ishii on the mat. Some kicks from Takahashi rile up Ishii, but he’s again neutralised and in comes Tonga with some more elbows and headbutts.
Another headbutt sends Ishii into the ropes, but he sidesteps Tonga as he ended up knocking Fale off the apron, before a powerslam takes out Takahashi. Ishii finally tags in Okada to clear the ring, with the champion taking down Tonga with a DDT. Tonga gets flapjack’d by Okada for a near-fall, and Tonga returns the favour with a fireman’s carry into a flapjack for another two-count.
Tonga’s offence continues as he misses a Gun Stun, then ducks a Rainmaker before taking down Okada with a neckbreaker. Takahashi gets tagged in and nails Okada with a big boot, but he misses a diving dropkick, as Okada makes his comeback with the Heavy Rain. Gedo gets tagged back in, and he drops Takahashi with an inverted atomic drop, before a kick to the head gets a near-fall.
The Bullet Club run in to triple-team Gedo, with Ishii saving Gedo from a Bad Luck Fall as he sends the giant Tongan to the outside, leaving Gedo in with Takahashi. A clothesline from Yujiro end up turning Gedo inside out, leaving him prone to the short DDT as Takahashi picks up yet another win on these undercards. That was a result I did not expect, but it’s not expected to blossom into anything, so it’s perfectly harmless. **¾
G1 Climax, Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata
Nagata’s coming into his third match looking to keep his place atop block B, and he starts by locking-up with YOSHI-HASHI, as they worked for a wristlock before squaring off. Another tie-up sees Nagata taken to the ropes, and then chopped as YOSHI-HASHI didn’t break cleanly… and that wasn’t the smartest idea for the parrot lookalike, as Nagata laid into him with a stiff kick.
Nagata yanks away at YOSHI-HASHI’s arm, then rolls to the ground for an armbar attempt, which is negated somewhat by some headscissors. YOSHI-HASHI rolls up, but Nagata keeps hold of the arm and forces a rope break.
Nagata continues with a kick to the chest, then an elbow to the back of the head as YOSHI-HASHI tries to mount a comeback by dropkicking Nagata low, then dragging him outside for an Irish whip into the crowd barriers. After tossing Nagata into the ringpost, YOSHI-HASHI throws him back into the ring, before landing a suplex for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI chops at Nagata in the ropes for a spell, before suplexing him across the top rope and connecting with a dropkick to the back for another two-count. Another elbow to the back of the neck drops Nagata, who cuts off an onrushing YOSHI-HASHI with a knee to the midsection, and then lays into him with a series of kicks to the chest.
Nagata tries for a suplex, but is blocked before he mocks a leapfrog and slaps YOSHI-HASHI. A rolling neckbreaker off the ropes forces Nagata to kick out at two, and YOSHI-HASHI continues with a chop in the corner before connecting with a reverse enziguiri. Nagata takes a DDT, but pops up as YOSHI-HASHI went up top, only to be brought down with a flipping powerbomb that almost won it for him.
YOSHI-HASHI again went to the top, and landed a senton bomb for a near-fall on Nagata, before going for a Butterfly lock, which Nagata worked out of by fighting his way towards the ropes for a break.
After the break, YOSHI-HASHI went for a suplex, but was immediately caught as Nagata went for an armbar, rolling his eyes back as the hold was cinched in, but again, the ropes saved the day. Nagata connected with a kick to the midsection, then an armbreaker, before YOSHI-HASHI countered a Backdrop Hold with a roll-up for a near-fall.
A shoulder block in the middle of the ring got YOSHI-HASHI a near-fall, before he elbowed out of another Backdrop Hold, but a big boot and a spin kick got Nagata on top yet again. Another near-fall for Nagata came from a brainbuster, before the third attempt at the Backdrop Hold proved to be successful and enough for Nagata to keep his undefeated streak alive. Good match, and the crowd were really buying YOSHI-HASHI as a winner for a while – but at this point in the tournament, and with that much tape, I again have to raise the question over injuries… ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
The pair trade forearm strikes at the bell as EVIL goes for an eye rake, but is quickly kicked to the outside by Nakajima. Nakajima tries to connect with a kick from the apron, but misses and is yanked to the floor, where EVIL sends him into the crowd barriers.
After going under the ring for a chair, EVIL makes Nakajima wear it, and sends him throat first into the ringpost for the customary spot. Our first count-out tease ends at 17 when Nakajima returns to the ring, and straight into a choke by EVIL, who then drops him with a curb stomp and a back senton splash for a two-count.
EVIL hangs onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick, as he continues to toy with the NOAH man… but Nakajima hits a baseball slide dropkick to the leg of EVIL before a Dragon screw takes him to the mat. A Yakuza kick stuns EVIL, who is dropped with a kick to the side, as Nakajima lands a nice thrusting missile dropkick for a near-fall.
EVIL elbows out of a back suplex attempt and retaliates with a forearm, before catching a big boot and delivering a clothesline in the corner. A suplex gets him a near-fall, before Nakajima catches an avalanche, plants EVIL on the top rope and promptly kicks him to the mat. A headlock is broken by a knee to the head from EVIL, but Nakajima quickly drills him with a backdrop driver and some more kicks to the head.
EVIL counters a headlock with a back suplex, ending a brief period of offence from Nakajima. The pair fight to their knees and start trading forearm smashes with each other, ending with a discus forearm from EVIL and a lariat that twisted Nakajima inside out. A Fireman’s carry spinebuster almost won it for EVIL, but Nakajima switched out of an STO and into a full nelson, before laying out EVIL with a dropkick. One penalty kick later, Nakajima picked up EVIL for a hanging brainbuster, and that was it! A fine hard-hitting match, with some scary spots (that backdrop suplex…yeesh). Not quite same level as Nakajima’s outing with Shibata earlier in the tournament, but still really, really good. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito
In this match, I pray for a Naito squash… judging from the lack of response to Toru Yano’s music, I think the crowd here in Nagano must be too.
A stalling start sees Naito meander away from Yano, and the “action” started with Naito being caught in the corner, and forcing a rope break from Yano. We then get Toru’s “break!” spot, as Naito’s eyes visibly rolled in his head. Yodelling Yano returned as Naito whipped him into the ropes… so Naito just went to the corner to undo the turnbuckle padding like Yano does.
Yano undid the turnbuckles on the other side, then used the padding on Naito like a cricket bat. An inverted atomic drop stunned Yano, who then took the outside-in dropkick. Yano returned the favour with the atomic drop, then slingshotted Naito into the corner and undid the other turnbuckle pad. Naito ducked it, but got rolled up for a near-fall.
The ridiculousness continued with a Naito enziguiri, before a ref bump almost ended with Yano winning it, as a roll-up from a low blow got a two-count. If that had been the finish, you’d have heard me scream….
The end came when Naito and Yano passed the referee among themselves, before he was shoved aside. That let Naito punt Yano low, then connect with the world’s slowest Destino for the win. Thank God that’s over. Yano remains at the bottom of the pile with no wins, whilst Naito goes to 2-1 after this. *½
G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Tomoaki Honma
Omega’s out here solo for a change, mocking Honma’s receding hairline as he made his way out. Fair enough…
They get going with a tie-up, with Honma forcing Omega into the ropes for a clean break. A second lock-up saw the tables turned, before Omega missed a chop and found himself taken down with a back elbow off the ropes. Omega rolled away twice as Honma prepared for Kokeshi, then ended up wriggling free of a suplex attempt to the outside, instead dropping Omega onto the apron and missing a Kokeshi on the apron. That looked like it sucked.
Honma was driven into the apron on the outside twice, but worked free of a slam and instead dumped Omega to the floor… then missed another Kokeshi on the floor. He won’t ever learn, will he? Omega kicked away at Honma before ripping up the black mats onto Honma, and leapt from the top rope with a double stomp onto his foe.
Honma just about beat the count in, but put his foot on the rope as Omega went for a cover. A rear chinlock saw Omega take the chance to shine up Honma’s head, before they traded some shots back and forth. Omega choked Honma against the bottom rope, then took him to the corner for some chops, and then a leaping back elbow.
In the middle of the ring, Honma blocked a suplex and successfully dropped Omega with a deadlift suplex, before dropping the Bullet Club leader with clotheslines, a slam and a bulldog before… finally connecting with a Kokeshi! Omega cut off a corner clothesline attempt,but still got taken down as Honma succeeded with a Blockbuster off the top rope for a near-fall… it’s been a while since I’ve seen that move!
After reversing a waistlock back and forth, Omega took out Honma’s knee, then landed a leaping leg lariat-turned-bulldog for a near-fall. A Finlay roll set up Omega for a leap to the top, but he took his time before seeing a springboard moonsault off the middle turnbuckle get nothing but knees. Omega avoided a brainbuster, but took a German suplex, and replied with a no-sold Dragon suplex, before Honma hit a diving Kokeshi to the back of Omega for another two-count.
Honma followed up with Kokeshi Otoshi (sit-out reverse piledriver) for a two-count, before a bodyslam set him up for Kokeshi off the top rope, which… missed. A Shining Wizard got Omega a near-fall, whilst a second one was the set up for the One Winged Angel, but Honma wriggled free and slapped Omega silly. A clothesline from Honma was blocked with a knee to the head, before Omega caught a leaping Kokeshi and eventually worked it into a sit-out powerbomb for another two-count.
Omega got dumped on his head from a clothesline, then was sent there again courtesy of a brainbuster, getting a Honma a near-fall. Honma succeeded with a leaping Kokeshi, before launching into Omega with some chops, which were eagerly returned in kind. After winning the chop battle, Honma got dazed with a high knee, before a leaping Kokeshi got nothing but Omega’s knee. A bridging Dragon suplex nearly won the match for Omega, who rushed in with a knee strike as Honma was in the ropes, and then drilled him with the One Winged Angel for the win. This was much better than I was expected – Omega was more than playing pro wrestler here, and the result puts him and Honma into the log-jam for second place in block B. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Michael Elgin vs. Katsuyori Shibata
On paper this should be a good one! Elgin starts with a knuckle lock that sends Shibata to his knees, but Shibata powers up and reverses the hold, forcing Elgin to the mat, where his left arm gets stomped on.
Shibata scissors Elgin’s left arm, as the attempt for a cross armbreaker ends with Elgin powering up and gently placing Shibata on the top rope. That looked impressive. Elgin’s left arm was again targeted as Shibata wrapped it in the ropes, and received a stern chop for his efforts.
Sitting down, Shibata invited Elgin to lay into him with a chop, before Elgin returned the favour… getting a kick to his chest. Wash, rinse, repeat, a la Shibata/Ishii from 2013. After they get bored of kicking and chopping each other, they traded increasingly violent forearm smashes, ending with a Yakuza kick from Shibata, before Elgin fought out of a waistlock.
An armwringer ended with Elgin kicking Shibata’s arm, which then gets sent into the ringpost as Elgin targetted the taped-up shoulder of the NEVER champion. Back in the ring, Elgin dropped an elbow into the shoulder, then went back to the chops, as an increasingly incensed Shibata laid into the chops, then simply kicked Elgin in the head. Nice.
Some forearm strikes in the corner followed from Shibata, as did a diving dropkick to Elgin, before Shibata fought to successfully apply an abdominal stretch. Elgin hiptossed his way free, then drilled Shibata with an enziguiri in the corner, sending Shibata crashing to the mat.
Elgin got caught with a guillotine choke from Shibata, who rushed out of the corner to apply the hold, but Elgin again powered up briefly, before sinking back to the mat as Shibata repeatedly ordered the ref to “ask him”. At the second attempt, Elgin powered his way up and suplexed Shibata to break the hold.
Elgin followed that up with some clotheslines into the corner, and then an overhead belly to belly suplex for a near-fall before going back to the forearm strikes. A discus forearm was countered by a forearm strike from Shibata, whose Yakuza kick was caught by Elgin with ease. A slingshot splash back into the ring missed as Elgin landed face down, and Shibata sensed blood, locking in a crossface, forcing Elgin to make the ropes.
A series of rapid-fire kicks from Shibata was cut-off with a clothesline from Elgin, before the pair traded and no-sold a German suplex each, as a lariat sent Shibata to the outside. Elgin powerbombed Shibata into the ringpost twice in quick succession, then rolled him inside to complete the hattrick with a standard powerbomb… but Shibata kicked out and grabbed hold of an arm, locking in a cross armbreaker. That transitioned into a triangle choke, but again Elgin stood up out of it and gave Shibata a one-armed buckle bomb.
From there, Elgin went for a spinning powerbomb, but Shibata spun out and locked in a rear naked choke, reapplying it after Elgin made the ropes. That choke got turned into a belly-to-back suplex for a near-fall, before Shibata went back to the forearms, only for Elgin to knock him down with a similar strike.
The pair collided in the middle of the ring from an attempted shoulder tackle, before a series of lariats knocked down Shibata. Elgin set him up for a powerbomb, but demanded that the referee make the count, before lifting up Shibata for a buckle bomb, and then a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Not sure why I should be surprised given how many L’s Shibata’s been racking up as a champion, but I was not expecting that finish. As in the result, not the clunky powerbomb-force-the-ref-to-count stuff. Best match of the night for me ****.
Another day of solid G1 matches, with Yano/Naito being the comedy farce we sort-of expected going in – but by day six you can really tell that this is taking its toll on the wrestlers. All told, this was another card where you can skip the undercard and get away with just the tournament matches.
It’s back to block A tomorrow, with Tomohiro Ishii vs. Naomichi Marufuji perhaps being the highlight attraction from the group matches.
Block A Standings (without tie-breakers at this stage)
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 (without tie-breakers at this stage)
Yuji Nagata (3-0, 6pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2-1, 4pts)
Tetsuya Naito (2-1, 4pts)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (2-1, 4pts)
Kenny Omega (2-1, 4pts)
Michael Elgin (1-2, 2pts)
EVIL (1-2, 2pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (1-2, 2pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-2, 2pts)
Toru Yano (0-3, 0pts)