The Gifu Industrial Hall was the venue for today’s block A card in the G1, and it’s a familiar story as they were looking to at least match the stellar efforts from block B the prior day. Spoiler: they didn’t even come close.
#TLDR: Predictably, today’s block A matches weren’t anywhere near as good as Saturday’s block B show, and unfortunately the results are now starting to point towards a predictable end to the block. Good in-ring action, but nothing that will blow you away.
The Full Review: It might be because of the earlier start, but the Gifu Industrial Hall sure looks bright. The venue kinda looks like a cross between a convention hall and an old school hall, with a stage where the wrestlers come out on…
Michael Elgin & David Finlay vs. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask
Two Belts Big Mike has one of the lowest guys on the totem pole as his tag partner here, building up to tomorrow’s G1 match with Yuji Nagata.
Nagata’s back was marked up badly from cupping therapy – and he started by trying to put Elgin in a full nelson… but that was easily fought out of. A big boot out of the corner stunned Elgin, who then tagged in Finlay… so that meant we automatically got Tiger Mask as well. A dropkick for Finlay a near-fall, before tagging in Elgin again to whip Tiger Mask hard into the buckles.
A one-handed press slam attempt from Elgin was cut off as Nagata came in for the hell of it, and then Nagata was tagged in to kick away at Elgin and continue his “just kidding” dropkick to the knee. I would love it if Nagata screamed “just kidding” for his mock leapfrog attempt.
Elgin sent Nagata into the corner with a discus forearm, but the veteran returned with an overhead exploder before both men tagged out. A leaping forearm from Finlay got him a two-count, before he ran into a kick to the midsection and a Tiger Driver as Elgin broke up the cover.
Nagata broke up a Finlay roll at two, before Elgin got sent to the outside by an errant forearm from Finlay. Some brief double teaming set-up Finlay on the top rope, where a butterfly superplex was enough for the win. Standard basic opening tag match here, but likewise, nothing much to see. **¾
Katsuhiko Nakajima, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Gedo vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Oh my! This is where I remember it’s Toru Yano vs. Katsuyori Shibata on tomorrow’s card. And you thought Tetsuya Naito came close to being legally murdered yesterday… on the plus side, only Shibata’s shoulder is taped up today.
YOSHI-HASHI starts with Nakanishi in a headlock, but the parrot doesn’t move him with any shoulder tackles. A drop toe hold sends Nakanishi down, but once he’s back on his feet, he easily blocks an Irish whip attempt, and spears YOSHI-HASHI, then connects with a lariat for a near-fall. An Argentine backbreaker is blocked by YOSHI-HASHI, who then has to contend with Liger… who tosses him to the outside as Kojima held him in place for a baseball slide dropkick into the barricades.
Toru Yano ripped off the turnbuckle padding before holding Liger over the top rope for the YOSHI-HASHI dropkick to the back, and then it was Nakajima’s turn to throw in some kicks. A couple of Yakuza kicks and a kick to the head gets Nakajima a two-count with Kojima breaking it up, before Liger got whipped into the exposed turnbuckles.
Cue Toru Yano, and he has to put on the breaks to avoid taking that turnbuckle, before Liger gives him a drop toe hold into the middle buckle. In comes Shibata to lay into Yano and stomp him through the mat, before the diving dropkick and a suplex gets a near-fall. A Yakauza kick cuts off the Yano rope-hanging spot, and the fun and games continues with rapid chops from Kojima. Gedo gets those chops too, but a kick from Nakajima cut off the top rope elbow from Kojima.
The ring filled, then cleared as Kojima and Gedo were left in there alone, with some jabs form Gedo getting him a discus clothesline… and then the Kojima lariat that sent him flipping inside out for the win. Decent match, and it did what it could to build to Shibata/Yano. By promising pain for the CHAOS master of merchandise… ***
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Captain New Japan
Takahashi and the Captain start, and for once the hands-up “stop” actually worked for the Captain. Except he then took a suplex from Takahashi as the one-way traffic started for the Bullet Club.
In came Omega to add to the beatdown, with an elbow drop off the ropes getting him a near-fall. Jesus! Captain New Japan succeeded with his shoulder tackle to both men, then tagged in Taguchi for a bunch of hip attacks, ending with Omega hitting a schoolboy roll-up for a near-fall, then an inverted atomic drop.
Taguchi counters some double teaming with a leaping hip attack to both Bullet Club members, and in comes Captain New Japan… who gets tripped by Omega. A leg lariat to the back of the head from Omega gets Takahashi a two-count, but Takahashi runs into the uranage for another near-fall.
Captain New Japan misses the swandive headbutt, then took a Fisherman buster for a near-fall. A roll-up nearly won it for the Captain, but he took a clothesline then a short DDT from Takahashi as Taguchi was kept at bay outside… and there’s your match. Standard fare for Takahashi tags on this tour – short, and inoffensive. **¾
Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & BUSHI vs. Tomoaki Honma, KUSHIDA & Juice Robinson
They really are blowing through the undercard here – 48 minutes in and this is the last match of the first half. EVIL doesn’t even get his own entrance. Probably because it wasn’t dark enough…
KUSHIDA and BUSHI start us off with some of the basics, and they quickly turn up the temp as KUSHIDA flips out of a hurricanrana attempt before they stand off. BUSHI rakes the eyes as KUSHIDA eventually gets dragged to the floor by Naito, and then held in place for a tope into the guard rails. Cue the usual chaos, as Naito whips Honma into the railings, whilst BUSHI uses his t-shirt to choke KUSHIDA, who then gets held in a rear chinlock by Naito. EVIL rushes in to clear the apron after a Naito neckbreaker, before KUSHIDA mounts a comeback and drops EVIL and Naito with a handspring back elbow.
Honma squashes Naito in the corner with a flying forearm, then actually connects with a Kokeshi. First time too! Naito rakes the eyes to get some separation, before BUSHI runs in for a double-team that ends in a low dropkick to Honma. The outside-in dropkick from Naito stuns Honma again, as does an enziguiri, but Honma blocks a tornado DDT and deadlifts Naito into a suplex attempt. Naito blocks that and hits a kneebreaker, but ultimately takes a clothesline that puts him down.
Juice and EVIL were tagged in, and EVIL found a way to cut-off those Juice jabs… can you say “uppercut”? A knee to the head from Robinson got him a two-count, whilst duelling kicks to the head from Robinson and KUSHIDA, a Kokeshi and a crossbody from Robinson got another two-count on EVIL.
The cameraman went AWOL before we returned to see a Robinson spinebuster on EVIL, before he replied with a clothesline for a near-fall. As everyone was left out on the floor, the STO proved to be decisive as EVIL took the win. Another decent undercard tag, but again, this did little for me. ***
Post-match, Honma falls for a handshake from Naito and gets a clothesline for his troubles, as the Los Ingobernables trio also beat down Robinson and KUSHIDA to try and get some heat back for their recent losses…
G1 Climax, Block A: Tama Tonga vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Thanks to the unique way I write stuff for this site, and schedule it to publish in the future… this is the 900th match of the year I’ll be reviewing. Please don’t suck… Tama Tonga lost his gear again, either that or he just wants to wear those compression tights….
Ishii starts with a headlock and easily charges down Tonga, before kicking away at his back after a dropdown attempt. Another shoulder block follows from a failed leapfrog, and Ishii takes Tonga into the corner for several chops. They go to the outside for the customary Irish whip into the guard railings, which Tonga switches up into a Fireman’s carry before dropping Ishii over the barricades throat first.
Back inside, a leaping headbutt sends Ishii into the corner, and Tonga follows up with some choking on the downed Ishii. There’s a brief comeback attempt, but Ishii gets whipped into the corner before putting a boot up to avoid a Tonga avalanche… he then sidesteps another charge and drops Tonga with a German suplex.
Ishii no-sells a clothesline from Tonga and replies with a shoulder tackle, then a back suplex, before a long series of rope running and near-misses ends in Tonga getting a dropkick. And actually getting cheered for it. He finally got a reaction!
A spinning reverse DDT gets Tonga a two-count, before he catches Ishii with an Alabama slam out of the corner, and then a Fireman’s carry into a flapjack for another near-fall. Ishii countered a guillotine and suplexed Tonga to the mat, but Tonga returned with a corner avalanche, before Ishii blocked a Gun Stun.
Ishii gets a near-fall from a folding powerbomb out of the corner, before rocking Tonga with a headbutt. A lariat turned Tonga inside out for another near-fall, as did a Pele-style kick, before a Guillotine into a DDT almost scored the win for Tama Tonga. Ishii just about blocked a second Gun Stun, then a third, and a fourth, before Tonga switched a brainbuster in mid air… then landed the Gun Stun at the fifth attempt for the win. Mark that down as a surprise result, and a much better match that I expected out of Tonga. Both men go to 2-3, with four points on the board. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. SANADA
Fale was back in his black trousers today, and once again wiped out the ring announcer, who sold him like death. I love these New Japan sidebar feuds, especially when they play into the subtler details like “they have two ring announcers… why?”
A simple start as Fale shoves SANADA into the corner, before he rolls out of the ring for a game of cat and mouse. SANADA kicks the ropes as Fale was climbing back in, and he takes him back outside, ramming Fale into the barriers. SANADA’s baseball bat gets used next as he tries to choke out Fale, but the tables quickly turned as Fale whipped SANADA into the barriers, then took him to the back of the building for some brawling in the aisles.
One of the blue barriers bounces off of SANADA as Fale twice threw them onto the newest member of Los Ingobernables, but SANADA just about beat the count out and made it back to the ring. A couple of dropkicks sent Fale into the ropes, but he replied with a forearm before SANADA’s duelling leapfrogs and a dropkick sent Fale outside again, where he just about caught a plancha.
SANADA gets pressed off the top rope as if he were Ric Flair, then eats a corner charge and a body splash off the ropes as Fale got a two-count, before SANADA countered the Grenade with a hurricanrana. A springboard dropkick knocked Fale back down, and SANADA went for the Skull End… which Fale easily countered, only to walk into an enziguiri before drilling SANADA with a spear.
Fale pulls off the Grenade, then lifts up SANADA for the Bad Luck Fall… and gets it… and that’s the win. I didn’t have Fale down as getting two wins in this tournament, but since both of his wins have been in decent matches, I’m not about to argue. ***
G1 Climax, Block A: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Togi Makabe
At 4-0, if Makabe wins this, he’s going to have an excellent chance of making the finals… so I’m not expecting him to be successful… Marufuji started with a couple of big boots before a shoulder block sent him down. Makabe invited some chips, which weren’t effective, and the pair got into a chop battle before Marufuji blocked some attacks in the corner.
They go to the outside, and of course, Marufuji takes a whip into the barricades, before returning to the ring to be locked in a rear chinlock. Makabe takes Marufuji into the corner for some more shots, but the NOAH man flips out and connects with a dropkick that sends Makabe to the outside.
A plancha follows, but again on the inside Makabe absorbs some clotheslines from Marufuji as if they were nothing. Makabe goes to the corner for the mounted ten-count punches, then lands a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall. Another clothesline off the ropes gets Makabe a two-count, before Makabe no-sells a couple of Marufuji kicks and lands another lariat.
Another chop battle breaks out, with Marufuji just about winning this one as a chop off the ropes and another kick gets Makabe down for a two-count. Makabe instantly responds with a powerslam off the ropes, and then goes for a bridging German suplex, getting a near-fall from it.
A leaping knee in the corner rocks Makabe after Marufuji had flipped out of a back suplex attempt, but another clothesline swats down Marufuji. Makabe gets a near-fall from a powerbomb, before more kicks and knees from Marufuji score him yet-another near-fall. A superkick, then a Shiranui proved to be enough though, and Makabe gets his first loss. Not a bad match, but the result being telegraphed meant that I struggled to get invested in this one. ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Tenzan was massively over in Gifu, and we start with Okada taking him to the ropes and mockingly breaking free. A reply saw Tenzan go to hit the Mongolian chops, but Okada hit first, before recovering to drop the champion with three sets of them.
They ended up outside early on, and you know what that means… an Irish whip into the barriers that sent one of the new young boys flying. Tenzan ended up on the other side of the barriers, and was brought back in hard with a draping DDT off the barriers, with his head hitting the floor hard.
Okada slams Tenzan to the mat and follows in with a slingshot hilo, but Tenzan tries to fire back with forearms to the chest, only for Okada to land a neckbreaker to end that comeback. Tenzan elbows out of a headlock, then drops Okada with a spinning heel kick. More Mongolian chops follow, before a clothesline in the corner rocks Okada… as does a suplex, which gets Tenzan a two-count.
Tenzan got whipped into the corner, then taken down with a DDT and a diving uppercut for a two-count. The top rope elbow came next, as Okada went for the Rainmaker, only to be met with a headbutt and a Mongolian chop, then a Samoan drop. Okada fought back once more, and dropped Tenzan with the Heavy Rain for a two-count, before Okada again tried for the tombstone piledriver.
Tenzan blocked the tombstone, and took a couple of uppercuts for his troubles, before bouncing off the ropes with an axe bomber clothesline to get a near-fall. The Tenzan Tombstone Driver nearly got the win, before he hit the Anaconda Buster for a near-fall, and slipped in the Anaconda Vice after the kickout. Okada worked free, but turned straight into a headbutt, before dropping Tenzan with a nice dropkick… and again saw a Rainmaker attempt countered with a headbutt.
Tenzan drilled Okada with more of those headbutts, but got cut off during a moonsault attempt, and was met with a German suplex, then a slow Rainmaker as Okada took the win. Apparently that loss means that Tenzan is now in need of a miracle to win block A, which sucks given the story they created by inserting him in at the last minute. Another good match, but the curse of following a hot block B show continued. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Hirooki Goto vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Tanahashi’s comeback from the brink started with a collar-and-elbow tie-up, before the camera randomly shows us Yoshitatsu at ringside like one of the Young Boys… another tie-up saw Tanahashi reverse a wristlock, before armdragging Goto to the mat for another armbar attempt.
Tanahashi worked a hammerlock on the grounded Goto, before being taken into the corner as Goto stomped away. A crossbody out of the corner took down Goto though, as did an armdrag, and finally a dropkick out of the ring. Goto grabs an onrushing Tanahashi and shoves him into the barriers, then… yes, the obligatory crowd barricade spot.
Inside the ring again, Goto works a headscissors on Tanahashi, forcing Tanahashi to roll out towards the ropes for a break. A Goto hiptoss leads him to scoring a kick to the back for a near-fall, then a rear chinlock Goto lands some forearms in the corner, before kicking Tanahashi back into the turnbuckles.
Tanahashi raced out with a leaping forearm to drop Goto, before slamming him as a set-up for the senton bomb off the middle rope for a near-fall. Goto got back on top with a knee to the head as Tanahashi came off the ropes, and then whipped him into the corner where a spinning heel kick connected.
A clothesline sent Tanahashi over the top ropes to the outside, and Goto followed through with a plancha, before throwing him back into the ring and getting a two-count from a top rope elbow drop. Tanahashi countered an ushigoroshi into a Slingblade after he’d been caught coming off the ropes.
Tanahashi connected with the High Fly Flow to the outside, then immediately reached for his arm… so much for not flying in this tournament… and Goto beat the count-out at 19. Well, he didn’t, Tanahashi just stopped the count so he could try a Dragon screw, before Goto tried to counter with a suplex to the floor. Instead, Tanahashi ended on the apron as they traded forearms, slumping back in under the middle rope to beat the count-out, and then resuming the forearms back in the middle of the ring.
Goto replied with a headbutt that sent Tanahashi to his knees, before Tanahashi blocked a clothesline and hit a straight-jacket German suplex for a near-fall. A High Fly Flow missed as Goto rolled away, before laying into Tanahashi with some more kicks, then dropping him over a knee with a front-suplex.
A GTR attempt from Goto was avoided, but he quickly followed up with an ushigoroshi that looked painful for Tanahashi. Goto went for a lifting reverse DDT, but Tanahashi flipped out, only to fall into a sleeper hold, which Goto’s attempt to turn into a GTR failed at, as Tanahashi countered with a spinning suplex. Goto went back to the sleeper hold though, but lost it as Tanahashi dropped him with a Slingblade, then a pair of High Fly Flows (in a cross body style, then a frog-splash) for the win. As a main event this felt really cold at times, but it picked up at the end as Tanahashi joined the 7-way tie for last place. ***½
Well, it’s official. If the G1 were the WWE TV shows, block A would be SmackDown and block B would be Raw. Whilst today’s tournament action wasn’t horrible, it felt really flat in comparison to what we saw just 24 hours earlier. At 4-1, I can’t see Makabe winning any more matches, and it feels like block A is clearly signposting its way towards Okada or Tanahashi winning the block. Meanwhile, block B returns on Monday with some interesting matches in the G1, with Michael Elgin taking on Yuji Nagata, EVIL against Kenny Omega, and my personal wish, Katsuyori Shibata doing what he does best against Toru Yano. Oh no, they’re going to go for the shock loss, aren’t they…
Block A Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Togi Makabe (4-1, 8pts)
Kazuchika Okada (4-1, 8pts)
Naomichi Marufuji (3-2, 6pts)
Bad Luck Fale (2-3, 4pts)
Hirooki Goto (2-3, 4pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (2-3, 4 pts)
SANADA (2-3, 4pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-3, 4pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-3, 4pts)
Tama Tonga (2-3, 4 pts)
Block B Standings (not considering tie-breakers at this stage)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (3-1, 6pts)
Yuji Nagata (3-1, 6pts)
Michael Elgin (2-2, 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-2, 4pts)
Tomoaki Honma (2-2, 4pts)
Tetsuya Naito (2-2, 4pts)
Kenny Omega (2-2, 4pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (2-2, 4pts)
EVIL (1-3, 2pts)
Toru Yano (1-3, 2pts)