It’s Sunday, it’s early… so I guess we better get ready for more G1? It’s day ten, and it’s not a show that’ll trouble those who rank these things…
Gifu’s Industrial Hall is host to the tenth day of this year’s G1 Climax – and the fifth round of block B action, where losses for Satoshi Kojima, Toru Yano and Juice Robinson would bring their chances of winning the tournament to an end.
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. David Finlay, Katsuya Kitamura & Tetsuhiro Yagi
We may as well start out with the ring announcer being threatened… although today he was able to leap to safety in time. For a change!
After being knocked down whilst posing, Kitamura quickly rebounds against Owens and Yujiro… at least until their biting held him in place for Fale to boot him in the face. That turned the match into a rather uneven beatdown on Kitamura, before David Finlay came in and struggled a little against Yujiro, before dropping him with a back suplex.
Yagi and Owens go next, but Chase just runs into a dropkick for a near-fall, only for a double-team back suplex/neckbreaker combo to push him closer as Owens snatched the win with the package piledriver. Not much to this, a match where the Young Lions were literally thrown to the wolves. **
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado) vs. Togi Makabe & Shota Umino
We start with Makabe and Sabre outside trading shots, with Zack being one of a rare breed… in that he figured out how to block being thrown into the guard rails!
Unfortunately, that left Umino in the ring with Desperado, and things got worse for the rookie when Zack tagged in, with the Brit peppering him with uppercuts in the corner before being subjected to Zack’s array of submissions. Umino’s forced to crawl to the ropes to escape a STF, but when he does escape and bring in Makabe, things change…
At least briefly, as Zack absorbs the mounted punches and a clothesline before leaping into a guillotine choke… which Makabe broke by charging him into the corner. Sabre comes back with an Octopus hold, which too is broken as Makabe tags Yagi back in… and nearly wins it with a small package as the typical Young Lion enthusiasm was quickly snuffed out when Desperado hit a spinebuster before going to a Stretch Muffler for the submission. A decent undercard tag, hitting the right notes, but you know what you’re in for with these undercards. **¼
Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka
After being eliminated from the G1 yesterday, all Nagata can do now is play spoiler – with Ishii being the first one up on Tuesday. After a brief skirmish, we went to Oka and YOSHI-HASHI, with the rookie Oka having to fight out of the wrong corner for a spell.
Oka’s hung in the ropes for a dropkick, but that seems to fire him up as he threw bombs at Ishii, before a shoulder block took him down… and helped Oka stagger towards a tag. Nagata and Ishii throw shots too, which eventually takes us back to Oka and YOSHI-HASHI – the former almost winning with an overhead belly-to-belly. A big spinebuster gets Oka a near-fall, but YOSHI-HASHI instantly responds with a Butterfly lock for the quick submission. Basic, but these undercard tags are far from engaging today for some reason. **¼
Kota Ibushi & Hirai Kawato vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi
Ibushi and Tanahashi open the match to tease us ahead of Tuesday’s clash, before we quickly get Kawato throwing around Taguchi with a series of armdrags.
Of course, Taguchi’s rear end takes down the rookie, who then avoids a double-team as Taguchi nearly ran into Tanahashi, and that miscommunication allowed Kawato to mount a comeback and bring Ibushi back in, with a standing moonsault nearly getting the win.
Tanahashi comes in and flattens Ibushi with some standing sentons for a two-count, before reviving the Kota Ibushi Hates His Neck tour with a German suplex right onto that neck. A head kick left both men down, as we go back to Kawato and Taguchi – the former landing a brutal dropkick to the Funky Weapon. Kawato tries to win it with a Boston crab, but let’s be realistic… that’s broken by the ropes, and although Taguchi had a scare when he went for an ankle lock, he eventually stuffed some pinning attempts before clamping on the ankle lock for the submission. Kawato’s getting agonisingly closer to that first win – and when it happens… it’ll be big! **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Hirooki Goto & Gedo
One week on, and Hiromu seems to be over the tragic loss of Daryl. We actually got a handshake from Gedo and Hiromu with no immediate consequences… apart from an eye poke when Hiromu tried a cheap shot moments afterwards. Goto and Gedo wheel away with forearms to the back of Takahashi, who’s pretty much in a handicap match as Naito’s intent on watching the opening stages of the match from the floor.
Naito picks his spot though, coming in with a dropkick before slinging Goto into the guard rails outside, as Gedo finds himself isolated for a spell. Of course, having a camel clutch applied by your beard can’t be a good thing! Nor was an accidental dropkick between the Ingobernables as Naito ran into Takahashi as the tables turned once more, with Goto being able to get some shots off on his next G1 foe.
Naito recovers with a slingshot dropkick onto Goto for a near-fall, before a tornado DDT’s shrugged off and met with an ushigoroshi. We go back to Gedo and Hiromu, and after having the rope kicked into his face, Hiromu lands a superkick for a near-fall before Gedo returned the favour, similarly for a near-fall.
Takahashi quickly snaps back with a ‘rana that rolled through into a triangle choke, and that forces a submission… and if you’re counting, four of the undercard tags today ended by tap-out. That probably means nothing, but it’s a curious stat! **¾
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Toru Yano
EVIL jumps Yano at the bell, but the prankster quickly evades him and unties a turnbuckle… to no avail as EVIL unsights him with his own ring jacket before an attempt at Everything is EVIL almost ended in a roll-up for the win.
Yano follows up by slingshotting EVIL into the exposed corner, but despite Yano mule kicking EVIL, the King of Darkness shrugs it off and hits the Everything is EVIL for the win. Hey, it got Yano in and out quick, and he somehow got some of the Yano Spot Bingo boxes crossed, so I’m not complaining! Yano will be out of the G1 with this loss if Kenny Omega beats Kojima later… and I’m not holding out much hope!
G1 Climax, Block B: Minoru Suzuki vs. Tama Tonga
Tama Tonga’s being all sneaky, attacking Desperado as he accompanied Suzuki to the ring, before stealing the Suzuki-gun flag and eventually jumping Minoru in the aisle. Okay, now I love Tama for that!
They instantly head into the crowd where random fan’s seats are thrown around whilst the Young Lions have a torrid time controlling the situation. The walk and brawl’s suitably chaotic, ending with Minoru being thrown into the ring post, only for Tama to get thrown into the guard railings and back into the crowd, so he could be choked with a chair.
Tama gets his own back, choking Minoru with the microphone cable, and finally they enter the ring! For like a few seconds as Suzuki takes them back onto the timekeeper’s table, where the sight of young kids diving away as he went for the guard railings was quite the thing. As was Tama hitting the ring bell, then Suzuki’s head with the bell hammer. They head up to the stage, but by this point the chaos was starting to wear down a little, and the referee’s count had actually started… leading to both of them going “screw this” and diving into the ring just before the 20 count.
Back in the ring, Suzuki punts Tama with a PK for a near-fall, before pulling the referee into the path of a Stinger splash. Poor Marty Asami. Both men went outside again for chairs, and we had ourselves a duel! That leads to a Gun Stun, but there’s no ref, so it’s for nought… that allows Suzuki to get back into it, and hit the Gotch piledriver when the ref returns, bringing this medley of chaos to an end. It was one of those matches that started out fun, then outstayed its welcome before coming back at the end… enjoyable as hell, but I feel this is going to be one of the more polarising matches today. ***
After the match, Minoru grabs Tetsuhiro Yagi away in a headlock, then whacked him with a chair as the crowd sang the chorus to his theme. Altogether now: “kazi ni nare”!
G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Michael Elgin
It’s probably a good idea not to throw forearms at Big Mike. Especially if you’re smaller than him…
After that snafu, we had a fairly even opening, at least until Elgin hauled up SANADA for a one-handed stalling suplex, before their gamesmanship built up to SANADA hitting a plancha to the outside. SANADA tried to tie up Elgin with a Paradise Lock in the ropes, and almost succeeds, but again, neither man’s able to get much headway in the contest.
Elgin managed to string some offence together, catching a springboard and turning it into an inverted Alabama slam before throwing SANADA with a German suplex. The Ingobernable’s able to come back, avoiding a superplex and hitting a powerbomb out of the corner instead, before nailing a backdrop suplex for a near-fall.
Elgin rolls away from a moonsault though to keep things even, but SANADA’s quickly back with a springboard missile dropkick as he looked to head for a Skull End… only for another moonsault to get caught and eventually met with a forearm to the face. The double-leapfrog dropkick’s turned into a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall for Elgin, who followed up with a German suplex onto the apron.
From there, Elgin lifts up SANADA for a deadlift Falcon Arrow from the apron, but that too is only good for a near-fall, only for SANADA to finally catch him in a Skull End. SANADA lets Elgin out since Big Mike wasn’t tapping, and ends up with the win after nailing a moonsault off the top. This was one of those weird matches that was technically great, but did precious little to captivate – the curse of mid-table G1 matches! ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Satoshi Kojima vs. Kenny Omega
Bread Club vs. Bullet Club here, and it’s pretty much win-or-die for Kojima, who’s taken into the corner early as Omega sort-of mocks him. Kojima replies with some nonchalant shoulder blocks, only to get his eyes raked before Omega made a beeline for Hiroyoshi Tenzan at ringside. Just because.
That distraction just allowed Kojima to knock Kenny off the apron, but Omega sidesteps a plancha as Kojima uncharacteristically flung himself to the outside. Back inside, Kenny takes Kojima into the corner as he was making light work of things – like he’d threatened to before the match – almost to the point where it looked too easy.
A simple chop causes Kojima to fall like a tree, as Omega’s just toying with him at this point, but that lackadaisical attitude eventually backfires as Omega gets barged down by Kojima, and after Kenny launches himself into Tenzan with a plancha, he’s eventually taken to a corner for those machine gun chops! Omega instantly returns the favour as the tables turn so much they’re spinning… but Kenny’s more enamoured with Tenzan at points, which gets more of those chops as Kojima opts to tear apart Kenny’s shirt!
Omega uses the remnants of the t-shirt to stop a top rope elbow drop, as he instead tries for a superplex which Kojima eventually takes. The cross-legged over-the-knee brainbuster comes next, before Kojima escapes a One Winged Angel to take down Kenny with a DDT instead. A V-trigger puts a stop to another chop flurry, but Kojima’s able to spin out of another One Winged Angel to hit a brainbuster instead.
Another V-trigger follows, but Omega’s follow-up brutally ends with a Strong Arm lariat… but Kojima can’t follow it up! Emerald Fusion from Kojima almost picks up a shock, but a V-trigger blocks another lariat attempt as Omega snapped in with a Dragon suplex and another V-trigger for a two-count, as the One Winged Angel did the trick. Kojima’s out, and that was two-points that Omega was really having to labour for. ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: Juice Robinson vs. Kazuchika Okada
It’s a rather cagey opening series as Okada’s seemingly taking Juice seriously, choosing to wear him down with simple holds early, before Robinson’s taken to the outside – and into the crowd – only for Juice to hit back and avoid the running crossbody spot.
Instead, he’s taken into the ring and eats a slingshot senton, as Okada firmly put himself in the driver’s seat, keeping Juice down with a chinlock… but eventually Juice’s “heart and honour” sees him break it, only to take a hard slam back to the mat. Like with Omega in the prior match, it’s almost like Juice is being taken lightly, and when a facebuster takes Okada down, the mask seems to slip.
Juice gets a near-fall from a standing frog splash, but he too seems to be lacking intensity in places, roaring into Okada with a cannonball for a near-fall before taking his time to follow it up… which means that a fireman’s carry gutbuster gets blocked and turned into a leg grapevine that Juice had to drag himself to the ropes to break. A reverse DDT keeps Juice in it, as do the Dusty punches, but Okada cuts him off and goes for a tombstone, which Juice escaped onto the apron before teasing a suplex to the floor!
Instead, Okada backdrops Juice onto the apron, and despite being shoved into the guard rails, he’s able to beat the count and make it back in. Okada manages to get off a dropkick for his Rainmaker pose, before going for the move… but Juice ducks and hits a full nelson slam instead as he started to go tit-for-tat with the champ.
The fireman’s carry gutbuster succeeds at the second try, but Okada pushes away a Pulp Friction and pulled him back into a tombstone. Okada almost loses his temper, and fires into him with clubbing forearms, then a big boot, but that just invigorates Juice, who knocked him down with a leg lariat, before flipping away from a neckbreaker slam and hitting a powerbomb instead.
Just when Juice was building up a head of steam, a Pulp Friction is switched into a Rainmaker… and Okada keeps hold of the wrist so he can hit it again. A third Rainmaker’s met with a punch, as Juice again goes for Pulp Friction, but it’s turned into a German suplex as Okada hauls him up for one more Rainmaker… and that’s it. The Juice Robinson dream is over, as he joins Yano and Kojima as being mathematically eliminated after a sound main event – but another one where the result was perhaps not too surprising given where things are headed. Juice certainly isn’t embarrassing himself with his performances, but in terms of results, it’s just what you’d expect. Will Okada sweep the board, or will he pick up a loss and end up losing out on the final with a tie-breaking defeat at the last hurdle? ****
This wasn’t a bad show, but the combination of matches on offer – along with the uninspiring undercard – made it feel like one of those “mid table” football matches that Sky have to show because of contractual obligations. Sure, the G1 matches had their highlights – such as the Tonga/Suzuki brawl that ended up outstaying its welcome, and the main event. But on the whole, this was the definition of the G1 Struggle – where things that ordinarily would have stood out on other shows just fade away…
G1 Climax 27 Standings
Block A (after five matches):
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-1; 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr. (3-2; 6pts)
Kota Ibushi (2-3; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-4; 2pts)
Yuji Nagata (0-5; 0pts)
Block B (after five matches):
Kazuchika Okada (5-0; 10pts)
EVIL, Kenny Omega (4-1; 8pts)
SANADA, Minoru Suzuki (3-2; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Tama Tonga (2-3; 4pts)
Juice Robinson, Toru Yano (1-4; 2pts)
Satoshi Kojima (0-5; 0pts)