After a day off, the G1 crept into the month of August with block A action from Kagoshima!

Katsuya Kitamura & Shota Umino vs. Michael Elgin & Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Your usual “Young Lions against experienced lads” match, although we did see Umino taking the fight to Liger in the opening stages, knocking the veteran down with a dropkick for… barely a one-count.

A Shotei got Liger back in it as Elgin started to toy with Umino, using him for barbell curls as the experienced pair did their utmost to keep Kitamura out of the match. Eventually Umino got free as we had the battle of the hosses in Elgin and Kitamura, who started by throwing forearms at each other before Kitamura took down Big Mike with a shoulder block and a spear! Kitamura was edging Big Mike in the power game, but Elgin came back with a Falcon arrow as Liger took care of Umino on the outside, before finally finishing him off with the Elgin Bomb for the win… despite Kitamura getting his shoulder up just before the three count. That was a bit of an odd finish, as Kitamura ended up getting piggy-backed away from ringside. **½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado) vs. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hirai Kawato
Yup, we had a jump start as Suzuki went straight for Kojima, using his own ring jacket to help with a Cobra clutch in the opening stages as Kawato was launched into the barriers.

In the meantime, Taichi mocks Tenzan’s Mongolian chops, before getting receipts, as we went to Suzuki and Kojima… with Minoru seemingly enjoying the machine-gun chops. There’s a sadist right there! Suzuki maintained control for a spell, grabbing a rear naked choke as a set-up for the Gotch piledriver, but Kojima backdropped free.

Desperado tags in to pick at the pieces, but he takes a Koji Cutter as Kawato tagged in… and finally knocked him down with a back elbow! He even went after Suzuki again, because he must not like living, as Desperado found himself on the wrong end of a 3-on-1, with Kawato almost getting the win with a sunset flip.

Surely enough, Kawato got his receipts as Suzuki stalked him and started laying in with body blows as Desperado was left with the simple task of hitting the Pinche Loco for the win. Brief, but the exchanges with Kojima were fun and should make for an entertaining clash tomorrow. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Juice and SANADA is on tap tomorrow, and those two start us off, with SANADA using the dreadlocks to keep Robinson at bay, before BUSHI’s attempt to cheat backfired massively.

Dusty punches follow as Juice and Finlay pull off a double-team hiptoss, only for Finlay’s insistence on building up momentum to charge into SANADA that led to him getting fripped by BUSHI as the Ingobernables took over. The t-shirt choke follows as Juice protested from the apron, but Finlay continued to take a beating before Juice’s crossbody helped even things up for a spell…

But then Finlay was pushed out of a Stunner as SANADA followed up with a moonsault before finally getting the Skull End locked in, forcing a submission as BUSHI had wiped out any hope of a save with a tope to Juice on the outside. Very much by the numbers as young David piles on another L. **

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
Erm… who asked for a Yujiro t-shirt? Well, you’ve got one: PIMPS CLUB.

Kenny and EVIL is your G1 match tomorrow from this bout, and since Kenny’s ripped his fringe-tastic “House Show Tights”, we’ll have to assume that wearing the shirt equals house show match. The referee stops Chase Owens from attacking EVIL from behind as the Ingobernables beat the Bullet Club leader at his own game, but Kenny’s able to take down EVIL with a ‘rana as Hiromu ended up eating a Kotaro Krusher.

Omega keeps clubbing away on Takahashi, only to eventually take a Dragon screw as EVIL and Owens tagged in… and Chase actually took down EVIL early on with some Paydirt. Some Shelton X Benjamin love there… Owens keeps up the pressure with a neckbreaker for a near-fall, before the tables quickly turned as Everything is EVIL earned the Ingobernables the win. Fun while it lasted, but otherwise a run-of-the-mill tag. **½

After the match, Omega came in and took out EVIL and Takahashi with Dragon suplexes, before choking EVIL with a t-shirt for the hell of it. He worked up to the One Winged Angel, but EVIL slipped out and almost got his own finisher in as Omega scarpered.

Bullet Club (Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano
The match tomorrow is Tama and Okada, so I’m fully expecting Yano shenanigans here…

Okada shows how useless he is as a partner as he’s too busy posing for the crowd as Toru Yano’s taken into the corner and choked down. When he does notice, Tama Tonga steals his jacket and mocks Okada’s pose… and that jacket actually suits him! More than the long johns he was wearing during last year’s G1, anyway…

Yujiro’s inspired enough to “borrow” Yano’s Hypnotoad jacket, and somehow sneaks in a shot with his cane to Okada on the outside. Inside, Yujiro threatens to stamp Toru in his Yanos, before instead taking him to the corner for some double-teaming as Tama’s got that Hypnotoad jacket now… just so he can mock the Yano mannerisms.

Eventually, Toru gets his jacket back and brings in Okada, who gets a near-fall out of a diving European uppercut, but Tama hits a flapjack for a near-fall before mocking the Rainmaker pose. That’ll be a paddling eventually… or for now, a teased tombstone as thei swing and miss until Tama hits the Tonga Twist for a near-fall.

Yujiro returns to boot away Okada, but he’s swiftly knocked down with a dropkick as Yano comes in to go all Yano. Turnbuckles off! But Yujiro bites back and sweeps the leg before pulling up Yano into a Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall – thanks to a save from Okada. From there, Yano goes all Yano, shoving Yujiro into the ref… before a low blow and a roll-up does the deal. You know what to expect from these – harmless fun. Except for Yujiro, that is… **½

G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. YOSHI-HASHI
This time the ring announcer fled the ring, but managed to say Fale’s name… behind a pair of Young Lions. He’s getting ballsy!

Speaking of ballsy, YOSHI-HASHI leaps into Fale with a dropkick at the bell, and quickly rolled him up for a near-fall as the risk of elimination seemed to light a fire under YOSHI-HASHI. Some shoulder charges follow as Fale took him to the outside for the usual meet and greet with a guard railing, which was escalated as YOSHI-HASHI was thoroughly Brookes’d into the fourth row.

Fale throws him even deeper as he went in search of a count-out, but YOSHI-HASHI makes it back in time… just to get stood on. It’s all Fale though, at least until YOSHI-HASHI hits a running Blockbuster before he’s forced to evade an elbow drop after going for a sunset flip. A top rope Blockbuster follows for a near-fall, as YOSHI-HASHI forced the issue… only to get wiped out by a lariat from Fale.

YOSHI-HASHI comes back with a jumping clothesline for a near-fall, before pulling up Fale into a Butterfly lock… but Fale stood up out of it and took it to the corner before a body splash nearly won it for him. He tries for a Bad Luck Fall, but YOSHI-HASHI wriggles out into a sleeperhold that took the Tongan down, but he let go and went for the running double knees instead for a near-fall.

After the kick-out, YOSHI-HASHI went back to the Butterfly lock, but Fale again stood up out of it… only for it to get rolled into a small package as YOSHI-HASHI picked up the shock win! Easily the best he’s looked in this year’s G1, with YOSHI-HASHI actually looking interested for once. A nice underdog win, with Fale seeming more mad at himself than anything else. ***½

G1 Climax, Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Togi Makabe
Well, neither of these two were holding back, as Sabre brought the fight to Makabe early… and of course, got receipts too.

Makabe quickly took it outside, where he threw Sabre into the guard rails, before doing the same to Desperado, who tried to interfere. Sabre blocks a second whip and instead dropkicks Makabe as he started to work over his knees, tying them into the guard railings. Back inside, Sabre keeps up the pressure on the knees, going through a litany of submissions as a STF was instantly broken in the ropes. Somehow, Makabe was able to mount a comeback with some mounted punches, but Sabre eventually gets back into it by clamping on a guillotine choke that gets broken in the corner.

More clotheslines and a Northern Lights suplex nearly get the win for Makabe, but Sabre again catches the opportunity and puts on an Octopus hold that’s broken when Makabe literally fell into the ropes. Another comeback ends when Makabe missed the King Kong kneedrop, allowing Sabre to trap him in another Octopus hold, before switching down into a scissored knee-bar as Makabe was forced to tap! This was by no means the horror show that some were expecting, with Sabre working a logical match from bell-to-bell – starting on the knee and finishing with it. ***½

G1 Climax, Block A: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata
With Nagata out of the G1, all he’s able to do is play spoiler here, and in the early stages he proved to be more of a match for Ishii as they went tit-for-tat with kicks and chops.

Nagata started to wear down Ishii with a rear chinlock, but the Stone Pitbull rose up and headbutted the veteran to the outside. More headbutts and chops followed once Nagata pulled himself back in, but Yuji kept on wanting to fight, no matter how often he was knocked down.

Nagata finally gets some headway in the match, kicking Ishii to the mat as Ishii ended up being taken into the corner, before an Exploder took him out of the corner and down for a near-fall. Just like that, though, Ishii nails a brainbuster before peppering away with some more kicks as Nagata again looked to come back… and get brutally cut-off with a bodyslam instead.

Ishii followed up with a superplex for a near-fall, before he’s tripped to the mat for a Fujiwara armbar that Nagata just wouldn’t let go of! Once Ishii made the ropes, Nagata had no choice though, but he didn’t let Ishii get back into it, as he took him down for some brief ground and pound, before teasing an Exploder off the middle rope – and hitting it!

Somehow, Ishii kicked out, before dumping Nagata with a German suplex… but the veteran wouldn’t be kept down, as he came back with an Exploder and a lariat… before a running knee into the corner is caught and turned into a powerbomb as Ishii nearly snuck the win. A couple of running clotheslines still didn’t do the job as Nagata ended up coming back with a brainbuster that brought him oh-so-close to his first points.

Instead, Nagata’s fightback almost cost him as an enziguiri just send Ishii into the ropes for a sliding lariat, before one more brainbuster finally put away Blue Justice. Well, for his final G1 – and potentially final series of singles matches – Nagata certainly isn’t phoning it in, as he rolled back the years somewhat here. A surprisingly-good match, all things considered. ****

G1 Climax, Block A: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto
A rematch of last year’s New Japan Cup final, which set Naito on his way to his brief reign as IWGP champion… so there’s some fairly lofty hopes for this one.

Naito jumped Goto at the bell, raking away on his face only for Goto to snap back straight away… which just earned him a vicious clothesline that dumped Goto awkwardly to the outside. The attacks continue as Naito works over Goto’s neck with a version of a Muta lock, before eventually getting knocked down to the mat with a swift kick to the chest.

Naito again turned the tide though, with a hiptoss and a dropkick to keep Goto on the back foot, but an aborted tornado DDT just earns Naito a lariat as the match started to get a little more keenly-fought. Back-and-forth forearms left both men reeling, before Goto shrugged off an enziguiri and bulldozed through the Ingobernable with a lariat!

An ushigoroshi followed, but Naito manages to get back in with a reverse DDT onto the knee as he then took Goto up top for a ‘rana that picked up a near-fall. Another ushigoroshi followed though, before Goto pulled up Naito in a sleeperhold to soften him up for a GTR, which he eventually hits. A second one’s teased, but Naito successfully fights out, and springs back into Goto with flying forearms ahead of a blocked attempt at Destino.

Yet another ushigoroshi connected as Goto hit back, but Naito hits that reverse DDT over the knee instead, before running in with a Destino that almost won it! Another Destino followed, and after sitting on Goto’s face for the cover, Naito picked up the win in a good match that bizarrely also felt a little off-pace. It’s still worth your time though! ****¼

G1 Climax, Block A: Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Ibushi’s main eventing in his hometown – where a win for Tanahashi would keep him on top of the block, whereas a loss would create a four-way tie with three matches left… it’s getting tight! These two have only one prior singles’ meeting, at the G1 two years ago where Tanahashi picked up the win en route to winning the entire tournament.

We start with Tanahashi trying to keep Ibushi grounded, as their takedowns and side headlocks lead to an early pinning attempt with Ibushi getting a near-fall. Tanahashi actually gets some boos as he chopped Ibushi in the ropes, with Kota coming back with a kick to the chest as Tanahashi ran at him.

Just like that though, Tanahashi chop blocks Ibushi’s knee, meaning that Kota’s right leg suddenly had a big bullseye on it – which drew some more hatred towards the Ace every time he went for that limb. A missed dropkick briefly thwarted a comeback attempt, as Ibushi finally took down Tanahashi with a kick before a standing moonsault saw him pick up a near-fall.

Some headscissors took Tanahashi to the outside, where Kota likes to play, and play he did as the Golden Triangle moonsault followed, before winning a brief strike battle that left Tanahashi slumped on the apron ahead of an attempt at a deadlift German suplex, which was thwarted by way of a Dragon screw. That left Ibushi on the floor for a High Fly Flow, as more Dragon screws in the ropes kept the hometown favourite down for a Cloverleaf.

Ibushi eventually frees himself from the Cloverleaf by grabbing the ropes, only to get dumped with a German suplex… which he popped up from and avoided a follow-up basement dropkick by leaping into a double stomp onto Tanahashi! A Slingblade eventually sees Tanahashi get back into it, but Ibushi stops another High Fly Flow and instead crotches him with an overhead kick!

Ibushi pulls him off the top and lawn-darts him into the opposite corner, before succeeding with a deadlift German suplex from the apron… only getting a near-fall in the process. Tanahashi makes his comeback by stuffing a powerbomb and hitting a neckbreaker instead, before almost beating Ibushi with a strait-jacket German! The stolen Product Placement doesn’t get the win though, nor does another Slingblade, as Tanahashi heads up once again and connects with a crossbody-style High Fly Flow, before trying with the regular variety… which connected with nothing but Ibushi’s knees!

A knee strike is attempted, but Tanahashi catches it and instead falls to a “knock-out” kick to the head (one of the few things I could make out on commentary that wasn’t a swear from Milano!), before the Golden Star powerbomb almost won it for the local lad… but Tanahashi barely gets his shoulder up! From there, Ibushi just grabs both hands and waffles Tanahashi with a knee to the head… and that’s enough to get the hometown win! A fantastic main event, and one that away from the G1 would have gotten a lot more hype… but hopefully won’t be too far away from everyone’s thoughts when the end-of-year discussions roll round! ****½

After a wobbly couple of shows, this was the G1 getting back into form as block A was approaching its final stages. No stinkers on today’s card meant that this was a good blend of matches – both in the undercard and the G1 block matches. However, if you’re one of those who only cherry picks from the G1, then the top three matches should be your bag!

G1 Climax 27 Standings
Block A (after six matches):
Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2; 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe (3-3; 6pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-4; 4pts)
Yuji Nagata (0-6; 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)