We’re into the final week – and block A’s penultimate round of matches saw the field take to Shizuoka with some tasty matches on offer…

Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson
I’m going out on a limb here, but I think David Finlay isn’t taking a loss for once tonight. Kitamura makes a point of going after the man who took down one of the big dogs yesterday… but some flexing pecs aren’t going to intimidate Juice. Sadly, Kitamura’s monstrous frame meant he couldn’t take him down early, so we went to the punch/chop combos before Kitamura sent Juice flying with a shoulder tackle.

Kitamura’s offence ended when David Finlay came in to help with a pair of dropkicks, but the big guy’s able to make the tag out to Oka who has his fun with shoulder tackles. Oka and Kitamura tied up Finlay and Robinson with Boston crabs and torture racks respectively, but a couple of rope breaks kept this going.

Finlay runs into a spinebuster for a near-fall, then charges down Oka with a lariat for a two-count of his own before hitting the stunner for the win. Hey, Young David finally gets a W! I now have a hankering for a bit of Juice/Kitamura down the line, and hopefully that’s something that becomes a thing soon. **¾

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Michael Elgin & Hirai Kawato
Oh Hirai, will you ever learn? Actually… no. For a change, jumping the Ingobernables worked out fairly well for him, before he ran into a back elbow as Takahashi took over.

It was more of the same when EVIL came in, but Kawato’s able to get in a dropkick before diving out to tag in Big Mike, who squashed Hiromu with a slingshot splash. Elgin squashes EVIL in the corner a couple of times then gets off a Falcon arrow for a two-count before the pair clonked into each other with some clotheslines at the same time.

Back to Hiromu and Hirai, with the plucky Young Lion firing in with an elbow and a springboard missile dropkick, but it’s only a matter of time before Takahashi gets back in and forces Kawato to tap to his own standard issue submission. Basic, but exactly what you’d expect from this match-up. **½

Bullet Club (Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
We get the jump start as Tama Tonga really wants to wear someone else’s ring jacket again. Of course, that just gets him a bunch of Mongolian chops from the former tag champs, who then went for their Kokeshi/elbow drop combo – with Tomoaki Honma again doing commentary from ringside.

Tama’s stolen Tenzan’s entrance mask as Yujiro threatened to dump Tenzan with his cane, but instead we just got Tama dropping Tenzan with Mongolian chops. Those are returned as the Bullet Club pair tried to take shortcuts, ending with Yujiro running into a Mountain bomb before Kojima lit him up with the Machine Gun chops. Kojima gets a top rope elbow drop in for a near-fall, before he kicks away Tama’s attempt at a Strong Arm lariat and gets in a Koji cutter instead. Back to Tenzan for the Mongolian chops, as Tama’s left in there two-on-one ahead of an attempted TenKoji Cutter… which he escapes with a dropkick.

A Gun Stun nearly ends things for Tenzan, before Tama spears Kojima out of the ring as they teased their finishes. In the end, Tenzan gets a near-fall out of a spinning heel kick, before an attempted Anaconda Vice was turned into a Gun Stun for the win. This match had its moments, but on the whole it’s yet another undercard tag. Not much to see, I’m afraid. **½

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
We get a double jump start as Omega and SANADA attacked BUSHI and Owens respectively so they could get to each other… and brawl around the ringside area for a bit.

Back in the ring, Owens chokes BUSHI with his own t-shirt – using the masked man’s tactic against him – before ripping up that LIJ shirt. Owens and Omega work over BUSHI for a spell, with frequent tags and leg splitters, before Omega managed to get in a stomp to the groin.

SANADA comes in and drops Omega with the double leapfrog dropkick, before he’s forced to wriggle out of a package piledriver attempt. However, the Bullet Club offence quickly ended when BUSHI took Omega to the outside for a tope, before Owens’ Fireman’s carry was slipped out of and turned into a Skull End for the quick win. Quick and painless, with minimal interaction ahead of Tuesday’s block match with Omega and SANADA… harmless enough! **½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & Gedo
There’s a jump start as we shockingly start the match with everyone on the floor… and given it’s Okada/Suzuki on Tuesday, you’ll be stunned to hear that Minoru took him into the crowd and threw crowd barriers on the IWGP champ.

Back in the ring, Desperado wears down on Gedo with a simple headlock, before a European uppercut got Despy a near-fall. We had a brief flurry between Suzuki and Okada, but of course Taichi has to try and ruin it, but Okada recovers and takes a little longer than usual to kip up after a DDT. It might be because he’s got tape around his neck and shoulders that make it look like his head is literally being held on!

Suzuki has his usual maniacal laugh as he slapped the taste out of Okada, before slipping in to get a rear naked choke as their finisher teases ends with an Okada dropkick. Then Okada tags in Yano, because he must hate him, I guess… Yano gets dissected by Suzuki-gun for a while as Suzuki took Okada back outside into the guard railings.

Yano stops Taichi from ripping off his trunks… then did it himself en route to rolling up Taichi for the win. They’re finding new ways for Yano to sneak in wins, which is fine by me. I don’t mind his act as long as it’s not repetitive. ***

G1 Climax, Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Yuji Nagata
If this had been the Nagata of ten years ago, this’d have been highly anticipated… by now, and given Nagata’s place in the G1 right now, it’s probably just getting passing glances from most.

The technical wizardry starts with the pair swapping waistlocks, before Nagata worked up into an early attempt at a PK that Sabre easily rolls away from. Zack comes back with a knee bar, but Nagata reverses it back and forth, as this became a war of attrition. We thought Sabre gave a clean break in the ropes, but Desperado tried to hold onto Nagata… who just kicked away at Zack before scoring with the low dropkick and a running big boot.

Sabre starts making a point of wearing over Nagata’s left arm, twisting the wrist and stomping away on it before twisting the arm between his legs. It’s the usual methodical Sabre stuff, which in the wrong setting can be extremely hateable. Here though, it’s quite endearing to watch, especially since this is likely the one and only time we’re going to get this singles match.

Nagata tries for a rear naked choke and a crossface as the veteran edges ahead, only to get caught in Sabre’s array of armbars. Nagata got his foot to the rope, and thankfully the ref had spotted it as Desperado tried to shove the foot off… but in fairness, the submission attempts just kept coming as Nagata gets caught in a triangle armbar next.

Nagata slips out and rolls his eyes back for that armbar, dragging Sabre into the middle of the ring. After getting free, Sabre decides to trade kicks to the arm, until Nagata went “stuff this” and threw in a spinning heel kick to take the Brit down. However, Sabre responds with an Octopus stretch, as the back and forth continues, almost ending with a Euro clutch as Nagata barely kicked out in time.

A backdrop suplex follows as Nagata almost gets the W, but a Backdrop Hold does the trick as Yuji finally breaks his duck! Sabre’s out of the G1 with that loss, but that was a hell of a way to go out as Nagata’s final G1 continues to raise eyebrows. ****¼

G1 Climax, Block A: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kota Ibushi
From one first-time-ever match to another, and it started with Ibushi kicking YOSHI-HASHI really hard in the shoulders for an early two-count as the match headed outside for Ibushi to get thrown into those guard rails.

Back inside, YOSHI-HASHI’s all over Ibushi, whipping him into the corner for a chop… before the Golden Star rebounds with a clothesline! A PK and a standing moonsault gets a near-fall for Ibushi, only to fall to a Head Hunter (running Blockbuster) as YOSHI-HASHI (and his disintegrating tights) seemed to have a problem with his mouth.

Some headscissors took YOSHI-HASHI outside for the Golden Triangle Moonsault! A missed lariat in the corner leads to Ibushi taking a left-arm lariat from YOSHI-HASHI, who then threw in a top rope senton bomb for another near-fall before going for the Butterfly lock. Ibushi holds on though as YOSHI-HASHI instead turned the move into a guillotine, rolling Ibushi into the middle of the ring, only to headbutt away from Ibushi’s attempt at the trapped-arm knee.

Ibushi’s still got hold of both of those wrists though, and instead stomps away on YOSHI-HASHI with some curb stomps, before a swing and a miss with that knee leads to a powerbomb! An attempt at Karma follows, but Ibushi escapes as the match quickly descended into a strike battle, which YOSHI-HASHI actually eked ahead in with a pair of superkicks.

A backcracker follows, as do some diving double knees for a near-fall, but Ibushi flips out of a Bunker Buster and drops YOSHI-HASHI with a high kick before the Golden Star Powerbomb almost earned him the win. In the end, Ibushi grabs both of YOSHI-HASHI’s wrists and blasted him with the Kamigoye knee strike, and that’s another win for Kota, whose slim hopes of winning the block are kept alive. This was a decent match, but it felt like something was missing for me to really push it over the top. ***¾

G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Hirooki Goto
Goto’s trying his best to restrain Fale early, kicking him to the mat… but the big Tongan catches one of those kicks and makes short work in clotheslining Goto to the outside. Another meeting with the guard rails sees Goto get worn down, before Fale decides to wrap his knees into the ringpost.

Fale starts to target Goto’s knee from there on, before an early attempt at a Bad Luck Fall is sandbagged. Goto escapes a charge in the corner but can’t take advantage quickly enough because of the knee, eventually taking down Fale with a running lariat. Stupidly, Goto tries for a back suplex, which Fale easily escapes with some body blows, before a kick to the chest took the big man down for a solid two-count.

Fale comes back with a corner charge, but he misses a big splash as the pair worked back up into trading off clotheslines on each other. In the end, Fale got back with a Bad Luck Fall attempt that was squirmed out of, before he turned around into a Grenade as Goto ate the loss in a match that felt like it could have been so much more. It wasn’t bad, but hardly anything resonated with me here. ***

G1 Climax, Block A: Tetsuya Naito vs. Togi Makabe
Makabe goes straight for Naito as he entered the ring, blasting him with forearms before stomping away the Ingobernable as he tried for a Tranquilo pose. Chill, Makabe, Chill!

Naito gets whipped hard into the barriers and taken to the back of the room as the pair fought through the crowd – and used the back wall as a tag partner. They do end up back at ringside, where Makabe takes a Bret Hart bump into the guard railings, before Naito took over back in the ring, with a lot of spitting in Makabe’s direction.

A scoop slam out of the corner restores order, as Makabe takes Naito in there for the mounted punches, before dumping Naito with a lariat after stuffing a tornado DDT attempt. The kneeling powerbomb gets Makabe a near-fall, but Naito returned fire with a top rope ‘rana for a two-count of his own as the back-and-forth momentum continued, leading to a Spider German suplex attempt. Eventually Makabe gets the Spider German off, dumping Naito on the mat hard, but the Ingobernable’s able to roll away from the King Kong Knee drop. Naito rebounds with a Koppo kick, then a flying forearm before finding an attempted Destino caught. He wriggled free and takes another lariat, before shocking Makabe with a Destino for a near-fall…

From there, another Destino follows, and that’s your lot. Solid, if not spectacular, but it got the job done.***½

With that result, if Tanahashi wins in the main event, the rest of the field is cleared and we’re down to Tanahashi or Naito to win the block. Curiously, their match is the first of Friday’s G1 matches… meanwhile, a loss for Tanahashi keeps Ishii, Fale and Ibushi in the hunt.

G1 Climax, Block A: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
These two started off hot, with Ishii looking like someone who knew he had to win to keep his hopes alive… after an exchange of armdrags, he took Tanahashi into the corner for some chops, before clotheslining the Intercontinental champion onto the apron.

Back inside, Tanahashi finds out how futile body blows are as Ishii knocked him down with ease, before getting off a suplex for a two-count. You know what else was futile? Headbutting Ishii… but at least Tanahashi was able to knock him down with a forearm ahead of the flip senton for a near-fall.

The match quickly descends into a chop/forearm battle in the corner, which Ishii wins out, before taking Tanahashi up top for a superplex attempt… which Tanahashi slips out of and tries to get in a German suplex off the middle rope. That too fails, so he just brings Ishii down hard with a Dragon screw! That seemed to have an effect on Ishii’s knee, as the Stone Pitbull started feeling it badly, but was still able to knock down Tanahashi with a forearm before a powerbomb gets a near-fall – but despite the implications, the match started to enter somewhat of a lull. Ishii shrugs off a dropkick, then a German suplex before planting Tanahashi with a Dragon suplex!

Tanahashi responds with a spot of Product Placement as he gets a near-fall from a strait-jacket German suplex, before working his way into another Dragon screw to a grounded Ishii. A Cloverleaf follows from the Ace, who keeps going for the knee… and instead goes for the other one as he tried to eliminate anything resembling a vertical base… but Ishii replies with one of his own as both men collapsed to the mat.

Ishii then goes for Tanahashi’s knee, wrenching away on it with a single leg crab, before that focus gave Tanahashi a way back in, as he flipped out of a knee breaker and… ran into a clothesline. Oh well! A Sharpshooter follows as Ishii’s busting out some unfamiliar holds for him, but again Tanahashi escapes after surging into the ropes.

Yet another Dragon screw follows as Tanahashi caught Ishii in the ropes, but the Stone Pitbull returns with a superplex that almost won him the match, as did a sliding lariat as you just sensed that Tanahashi was losing grip. Just like that though, he throws in a couple of spinning neckbreakers, then a Dragon suplex, bridging Ishii for another near-fall as somehow he found a neck to bridge with.

Ishii headbutts away a High Fly Flow, then drops Tanahashi to a knee before the Ace sprung back with a Slingblade… for a one-count! After kicking out of a lariat at one, Tanahashi comes back with that Slingblade, but can’t make the cover, before getting off two High Fly Flows for the win… and just like that, block A goes down to Naito and Tanahashi on Friday! A thrilling main event, but I’d have rather seen an Ishii win so we didn’t have both blocks going to a one-match finale… but oh well. ****½

So, block A’s coming down to Naito and Tanahashi… who conveniently meet in Friday’s block finale. Of course, you’d expect that match to now main event in Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan…

This penultimate round of block A matches were quite the thing. Starting with an excellent technical masterclass with Sabre and Nagata, then YOSHI-HASHI’s latest loss to Ibushi, to the sort-of-there matches in the middle, and then the superb finale at the main event. Just what you want to break out from the pack as the end is now in sight for this year’s G1!

G1 Climax 27 Standings
Block A (after eight matches):
Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi (6-2; 12pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Kota Ibushi (5-3; 10pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Zack Sabre Jr. (4-4; 8pts)
Togi Makabe (3-5; 6pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-6; 4pts)
Yuji Nagata (1-7; 2pts)

Block B (after seven matches):
Kazuchika Okada (6-1; 12pts)
EVIL, Kenny Omega (5-2; 10pts)
SANADA, Minoru Suzuki (4-3; 8pts)
Toru Yano (3-4; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga (2-5; 4pts)
Satoshi Kojima (1-6; 2pts)