Kangawa is the host for the penultimate block B matches, as a enthralling main event meant that all eyes now turn to the three-day weekender in Tokyo!
Going in, only Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega or EVIL could win the block, with third losses for EVIL or Omega ruling either out. Today’s card has a weird first-time match between Toru Yano and Juice Robinson, whilst the main event sees Minoru Suzuki square up against Okada.
Tomoyuki Oka vs. Chase Owens
Another rare non-tournament singles match here as Chase Owens faced another Young Lion, with Tomoyuki Oka providing the opposition. Owens for some reason tries to spark a shoving match, and loses, before he’s taken off his feet with a hiptoss.
Owens manages to get into it when he took Oka into the middle rope with a drop toehold, before taking his time to pull down the rookie into a neckbreaker. A PK gets Owens a near-fall, but that sparked a fightback from Oka, charging into Chase with a back elbow ahead of a belly-to-belly for a near-fall. A Boston crab’s quickly broken when Owens grabs the ropes, but Chase is able to get back in and win it with a clothesline then a package piledriver. I preferred the Kitamura match earlier in the tournament; Oka’s alright for his experience, but Kitamura’s a little more charismatic, whilst Oka is more of a no-nonsense guy. **½
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Shota Umino
A change to the card means that this match isn’t building up anything for Saturday, with Tomohiro Ishii and Jado being taken out of the original line-up due to Jado’s knee injury. Instead, Sabre’s got eyes for Tenzan, who convinces Umino to start on the apron… and we’re underway!
Zack goes for the arm early on, but Tenzan’s eager to return the favour… only for Sabre to nonchalantly break free. El Desperado attacks Tenzan from behind as the Suzuki-gun tandem just get taken out with shoulder tackle instead, as Zack takes some Mongolian chops as Tenzan actually enjoyed some decent offence. The match descended into a forearm/uppercut battle as Tenzan held onto the advantage, before Sabre ducked a clothesline and used Tenzan as a climbing frame to get in a guillotine choke. That brings Desperado into play, but Tenzan gets him down as Umino finally gets tagged in to charge into Despy with back elbows.
Umino optimistically tries for a Boston crab, but that’s broken in the ropes as Desperado came back quickly with a spinebuster for a near-fall, before locking in a Stretch Muffler for the submission as Sabre had Tenzan held at bay with an Octopus hold. Basic, but perfectly good wrestling for where it was on the card. **¾
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Yuji Nagata & Katsuya Kitamura
What in God’s name is Fale wearing? His new t-shirt looks like a sweater straight out of the 80s, with the “hoops” of bullets being rather polarising. That being said, I could see me wearing it, so what do I know? On the other side, Yuji Nagata’s t-shirt is falling to bits… and since they’re not even selling it anymore, that may be the last shirt that he has!
Fale’s actually wrestling in that shirt, and he easily shoves down Nagata – who is sporting those nasty cupping bruises once more. Nagata looks to go to the kicking game, and stuns Fale with the stalling low dropkick before the big man shoved him away from his back. Yujiro gets tagged in, and he’s quickly put on the deck by Kitamura, with the Young Lion scoring a near-fall early on, before he’s shoved to the outside.
Fale for some reason goes after Nagata and takes him into the railings… meaning that the ref somehow is distracted as Yujiro hit Kitamura in the head with his cane, and now we get Fale and Nagata into the crowd for a spell. They recover though, with Fale coming back to take Kitamura into the corner… but he sidesteps a charge and brings Nagata back in.
More kicks from Nagata keep rocking the Tongan, but that Exploder’s never going to work. An enziguiri and a big boot dazes him further, but Fale takes down Nagata with a shoulder charge before bringing Yujiro back in. We’re back to Kitamura for the home stretch, as the pair pepper Yujiro with elbows in the corner before a shoulder tackle almost got the rookie the win… Yujiro tries to bite his way out of a suplex attempt, only to run into a spear! Fale returns to try and Grenade away Kitamura, but a simple clothesline took down the rookie as Yujiro picked up the pieces with a brainbuster, then a Pimp Juice DDT for the win. Kitamura may look like the typical WWE muscle man from the late 80s, but in this landscape he’s got quite the look. **¾
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe, Kota Ibushi & Hirai Kawato
I miss the days when New Japan World dubbed… Makabe’s alternative theme was better (and less awkward) than the silence he now gets.
We’ve got Makabe/YOSHI-HASHI and Goto/Ibushi for Friday, and it’s that first pairing that start us off as Makabe’s quickly taken into the guard railings on the outside. Chest first, naturally. Back inside, Kawato tries to kick Ishii away from a single-leg crab to Makabe, and yes, the rookie gets beaten down… but he gets back up again, as Ishii finds that a shoulder tackle’ll keep him down.
A big lariat from Makabe drops Goto, which gives Ibushi a chance to kick his way back in as a flurry knocked Goto to the mat for a standing moonsault. Ibushi runs into an ushigoroshi though, before bringing Kawato back in to go toe-to-toe with Ishii… and one day he’ll learn. It won’t be today though, as he took down the Stone Pitbull with a back elbow before taking a forearm to the mush.
Ibushi flies in with a missile dropkick to save Kawato and clear the ring, taking out Goto to the floor with a plancha as Kawato went back to Ishii… scoring with a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Some forearms form Kawato even rocked Ishii, who fell into a backslide that almost earned the rookie his first win, before a schoolboy nearly did the same thing. In the end though, Ishii wiped out Kawato with a big lariat (to a chorus of boos!) before turning Kawato into a Liontamer-esque Boston crab as Kawato was forced to tap… whilst YOSHI-HASHI had Makabe tied up in a Butterfly lock. This crowd did not appreciate Ishii killing the plucky Kawato, but this was perhaps the best of these undercard tags in a long while. ***¼
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay
There’s still no sign of Daryl, despite Hiromu Takahashi tweeting photos of him “post-surgery”. That’ll be another big cheer if/when Daryl returns…
We have a jump start as everyone but Hiromu and Finlay hit the deck, and it’s Finlay who gets in some early offence with European uppercuts and back elbows. Naito and Tanahashi – the only two who can win block A on Friday – brawl down the aisle as Naito targets the Ace’s perpetually-injured arm, stomping away on the sleeve.
Meanwhile, in the ring, BUSHI chokes Finlay with a t-shirt as he’s want to do, as Taguchi wanders in to break up a cover with a hip attack. Yup. At least it worked… Finlay’s able to recover to drop Naito with a dropkick after shrugging away a tornado DDT, before Tanahashi tries to edge back in as he’s forced to take out Naito and Takahashi with a Dragon screw.
Naito responds with an over-the-knee reverse DDT, but his slingshot dropkick into the corner is blocked… and then we go to Taguchi who tries to fly in with a hip attack. And misses. The second one actually knocks down BUSHI, but a third one whiffs as the Funky Weapon’s taken down with a pair of dropkicks for a near-fall.
Taguchi hits a Dodon for a near-fall on BUSHI as the match disintegrated a little, but the ring clears as he ends up cranking an ankle lock on BUSHI for the win. That was just incidental though as Naito and Tanahashi kept on fighting on the floor as their block finale looms at the end of the week. ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Satoshi Kojima
Since block B is down to just three people, there’s a few dead rubbers left. This is one of them.
Tama jumps Kojima from behind at the bell and tries to beat him up… with his own ring jacket? Yeah, Tama just wants to wear the coat again, and it does suit him a little. All he needs now is some bread, since he mocks those machine gun chops, the forearm into the corner… but he stops short of the top rope elbow.
Kojima makes a comeback, but a missed plancha ends things as Tonga throws him into the guard railings before catching him in a camel clutch back inside. Of course, the “mocking Ten-Koji” playbook means that Tama’s got to ape those Mongolian chops, which earns him one of the real things as Tenzan got onto the apron and managed to chop him as the referee was bent over trying to restrain him.
Some authentic machine-cup chops follow in the corner from Kojima, but after the “ichao bakkayaro” yell, Tama catches him up top to stop the elbow. Tama keeps up the offence with a leaping neckbreaker for a near-fall, before he’s surprised with a Koji Cutter… out of nowhere!
Kojima’s clothesline takes Tama to the outside as they tease a count-out, but Kojima brings him back in and pulls off a brainbuster for a two-count. Off comes the elbow pad, but Tama’s misdirection sees him avoid a Strong Arm lariat and surprise Kojima with a Tonga Twist for a near-fall, before back-and-forth counters end with a lariat.
Tama’s able to kick out from that, before he ducks another lariat and leaps in with a Gun Stun… and that’s enough for the win. Not that it matters much at this point, but this was a decent outing in a throwaway match. ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson
He may be out of the tournament, but Toru Yano and his hypnotoad jacket is still jolly and wanting to sell us t-shirts.
Yano instantly tries to undo the turnbuckles, but Juice cuts him off as Yano slaps him in the back rather than yell break. He then dives under the ring as we have a game of cat and mouse… and all we can hear is comedy fighting noises under the ring as the referee counts. Yano escapes… but gets dragged back under, before both men escaped and beat the 20 count.
Okay, that ruled!
Yano rolls outside again and whips Juice into the barriers, before tying him there with his dreadlocks. Oh my God, I’m losing it here! Juice barely frees himself in time, but then charges into the corner shoulder-first as Yano removed the pad.
Finally, Yano shows some smarts by going after the injured knee of Juice, but he rolls him up holding the bad knee, so Robinson kicked out at two. Juice tries to whip him into the exposed corner, only for Yano to put on the brakes… before a face-first DDT gets a near-fall for Robinson.
Yano tries for a low blow… and although he succeeds with a mule kick, the ref has to stop a second low blow. That time kill gives Juice enough time to hit a Dusty punch, then the Pulp Friction… and that’s Juice’s third win! Short and enjoyable, which is all you can ask for with these late-tournament matches. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Michael Elgin
EVIL jumps Elgin from behind at the bell, but Big Mike quickly rebounds with a shoulder tackle as he looked to finish EVIL quickly with a slingshot plancha into the ring for an early near-fall.
They head outside where Elgin blasts EVIL with a forearm, before getting thrown into those railings as EVIL finds a chair for Mike to wear… and you know what’s next. Back inside, EVIL keeps up with a curb stomp and a back senton… but Elgin doesn’t stay down and tries to fight back, dropping the “King of Darkness” with a scoop slam.
A German suplex into the turnbuckles stuns EVIL for a two-count, so Elgin keeps up with some clubbering lariats to the front and back of EVIL, who was able to reply with a thrust kick to the midsection, only for his resulting leap off the top rope to get caught and countered into a Falcon arrow for another near-fall.
EVIL escapes from an Elgin bomb and hits a suplex instead, before pulling Big Mike into a German suplex ahead of a lariat that spun the Canadian to the mat. Darkness Falls gets a two-count, but Elgin replies with a German of his own before crushing EVIL in the corner with a pair of lariats.
Big Mike follows that up with a superplex, but that’s only good for a two-count as the pair went back-and-forth until Elgin hits a pair of enziguiris. A sit-out powerbomb comes next, but EVIL gets a shoulder up at two, only to fall to a lariat as Elgin gets off the Elgin Bomb… and that’s EVIL’s G1 over. A hell of a showing for EVIL this year, but his final match against Kojima’s almost certainly for nought as Big Mike played Big Spoiler. ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Kenny Omega
Speaking of spoilers, a loss here will put Omega right on the bubble. The pair opened up with forearms, then shoulder tackles, before Omega put the brakes on the double-leapfrog dropkick as he teased One Winged Angels early.
In response, SANADA tries for a Paradise Lock, before instead succeeding with a Dragon screw before they headed to the floor… where Omega’s moonsault off the apron saw him spike his head into SANADA mid-flip. That looked mighty awkward. Still, Omega was able to get up as SANADA took some knees to the midsection ahead of an Arabian clutch… with some added hairstyling for added points.
SANADA gets choked in the corner for a bit as Omega started to get a foothold in the match, even catching a springboard attempt from SANADA and turning it into the Finlay roll/springboard moonsault combo for a near-fall. The comeback starts though, with SANADA hitting the double leapfrog dropkick to take Omega to the outside for a plancha, before tying up the Elite leader in a Paradise Lock.
The dropkick sets him free, but Omega creeps back in as he teases a Dragon suplex, instead succeeding with a Shoudou, before SANADA ‘ranas out of a One Winged Angel and hits a TKO for a near-fall. A top rope moonsault’s aborted as SANADA then tries again and lands into a Skull End position, dragging down Omega into a body scissors for extra effect…
Omega tries to hand on, and eventually squirms into the ropes as SANADA misses another moonsault, allowing Omega to rush back in with a V-trigger for a near-fall. More back and forth sees SANADA flip out of a backslide… and into a V-trigger as Kenny picked up another two-count, before Omega flips out of another Skull End. The end comes quickly as SANADA tries to flip into a Skull End again, but that’s caught and turned into the One Winged Angel… which Omega hits for the win. A really solid semi-final that keeps Kenny’s dream alive… but to me it felt like it was missing some urgency at parts. Still, a really good match that’s going to make our ever-growing list. ****¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada
It’s boiling down to two matches for block B now… if Okada can win both, he’s got the block. A loss here makes Saturday’s match with Omega – the third in the series – about as keenly-anticipated as you can get. So there’s a big parade for Minoru to rain on here.
Okada’s still got tape on his neck and shoulder, which makes it look like his head is just taped on. I bet Suzuki’ll have fun trying to remove it…
Okada starts with a mockingly-clean break in the ropes, which Suzuki reacts to just like you’d expect as the champ instead comes back with a low dropkick to take the Suzuki-gun leader onto the apron. You can guess what’s next… a rope-hung armbar attempt, but Okada stuffs it and kicks Suzuki into the guard railings for our mandated spell period of guys being thrown into the railings.
We get our Suzuki-gun bollocks as Taichi and Desperado attack Okada on the outside, but the tables turn as Okada whips Taichi into the guard railings before ordering some of the Young Lions acting as attendants to escort them to the back. Why did nobody else think of asking the kids that?!
Back in the ring, they tee off on each other with forearms, one of which seemed to effect Okada’s shoulder, as Suzuki gained himself an advantage… which he furthered by ripping off that tape and charging into Okada on the apron with a double axehandle smash. Okada’s head gets wrenched in the guard railings for more pain, as Red Shoes is forced to grab a steel chair as Suzuki threatened to waffle Okada with it.
Instead, Okada’s taken back to the ring as Suzuki nonchalantly kicked away at him, but the comeback started with a back elbow, before Okada cycled through his version of the Five Moves of Doom… until Suzuki crawled into the corner to stop the elbow drop as Okada’s neck slowed him down. However, a caught PK from Okada took them back into a striking battle, ending with a death valley driver.
Okada manages to get off that elbow drop, and a Rainmaker pose (of course), but Suzuki elbows away a Rainmaker and leaps in with a guillotine choke before eventually blasting Okada with a dropkick. The champ rebounds with a Gotch tombstone, which gets him some boos, before Suzuki switches out of a regular tombstone and reversed the move!
Suzuki traps Okada in EVIL’s Banshee Muzzle (hey, where’d that hold go?) as Okada’s head and neck were again targeted, with a series of PKs to the back weakening him further. A missed dropkick from Okada leaves him open for an enziguiri as Suzuki followed up with an Octopus stretch, forcing Okada to his knees as the champ eventually slipped out and was almost pinned by it.
After the kick-out, Suzuki goes for a Gotch piledriver, but it’s resisted as Okada’s able to come back with the dropkick to send both men down. A missile dropkick does the same trick, as Okada decides to ragdoll Suzuki with a German suplex… but a Rainmaker’s ducked and met with a rear naked choke instead, as Suzuki dragged Okada to the mat with the hold cinched in.
Just as Okada looked to be getting up and towards the ropes, Suzuki drags him back into the middle of the ring, then to the mat as Red Shoes does the arm drop gimmick, but just as Okada’s arm looked to drop for a third time, he got a foot to the rope. Good lord, he’s being pushed to the limit here! Suzuki peppers Okada with a barrage of palm strikes that sent him down to the canvas… he does it again to force Red Shoes to intervene, but the match isn’t stopped.
Instead, Suzuki shoves the referee to the outside as Okada gets off a semi-Rainmaker… and keeps hold of the wrist after landing… Okada gets up and pulls Suzuki into another Rainmaker, but he lets go of the wrist and can’t make a cover. When he does get up, Okada only gets a two-count as he then pulled up Suzuki for another Rainmaker, but Minoru gets free and launches into some more palm strikes, a seemingly-endless run of them before Okada throws back… but the champ is clearly loopy.
The time limit’s getting closer to expiring, but Suzuki keeps up with those shots, and then invites Okada to give some receipts. They grapple over a tombstone, but Gotch instead breaks free and grabs a Gotch piledriver… which Okada resists, as he earns himself some more palm strikes before getting off one more Rainmaker… and then, just as he crawled over to Suzuki for the cover, time ran out! Okada couldn’t get there in time… and that makes Saturday’s block B final even clearer-cut. Kenny Omega has to win – a draw won’t even do it as today’s point gives Okada a slim lead… but also has him going into Saturday absolutely worn down with that neck injury and whatever else Suzuki did to him today.
This was a fantastic main-event, with a result that few would have predicted. Was it better than their title match in February? Probably not, but this played into the storylines much more. ****½
As for the show, yeah, ending on a draw is probably a little unedifying for some, but as a show this was much improved on the recent G1 shows which were treading water. Even the undercards had some good action too – which makes this automatically one of the better shows in an arduous tour that is headed towards a thrilling end.
We’ve just three dates left – all of them at Ryogoku Kokugikan – with block A wrapping up on Friday, block B on Saturday, and of course, the finals on Sunday. Don’t. Miss. It.
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 eight matches):
Kazuchika Okada (6-1-1; 13pts)
Kenny Omega (6-2; 12pts)
EVIL (5-3; 10pts)
Minoru Suzuki (4-3-1; 9pts)
SANADA (4-4; 8pts)
Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga, Toru Yano (3-5; 6pts)
Satoshi Kojima (1-7; 2pts)