We know one half of Sunday’s G1 Climax final, after block A wrapped up in style at Ryogoku Kokugikan with a farewell, a stoppage and a match that almost went the distance!
With this being the final few days, there’s some extra names joining the tour, with Ricochet, Cody, the Young Bucks and War Machine being among the most prominent. However, the main event was what everyone was here for, with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito conveniently wrapping up block A with a match that’d decide which of them would head to Sunday’s final.
Hirai Kawato, Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado)
Kevin Kelly on English commentary was trying to paint this as a chance for retribution for all the times the Young Lions were beaten up by Suzuki. I don’t think that’s going to happen…
The Young Lions actually jumped Suzuki-gun for a change, taking the match to the outside, with Tomoyuki Oka drawing the short straw in pairing off with Suzuki. Yeah, he was sent into the guard rails very early on! Just like that, the tables turned as Suzuki threw chairs at Oka as the rookies took a pasting, with Suzuki just punching Oka by the crowd barriers.
When they finally made it back to the ring, Suzuki just smashed Oka with forearms to the head… but Oka’s comeback barely registers and earns him more receipts. Oka does manage to sidestep a big boot and brings in Kitamura to go after Suzuki with a spear… and I swear I’ve seen another big guy do that top rope shake.
Sadly, Suzuki got up while he was posing for the crowd, and unloads on Kitamura with some body blows, only to take a suplex as Suzuki was trying to bring in some fresher legs. We then get Kawato for a spell as the rookies triple-team Minoru, with Kitamura almost dropping Suzuki on his head from a slam. From there though, Suzuki just levels Kawato with a series of palm strikes to the head as we finally get a tag out.
Desperado’s got a worn-out Kawato to play with, but Kawato’s able to kick out before Despy finishes him off with the Pinche Loco. Well, this was pretty much Suzuki killing three guys, and it was bloody entertaining. Even more so because Taichi didn’t get in at all! ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
We open with Tama and SANADA, with a rather curious rope-running/misdirection series that leads to a pair of missed dropkicks, before SANADA’s jumped as he went for a tag out.
Instead, we get the Guerrillas dropping SANADA for a near-fall, before Tanga charges SANADA into the corners. A delayed back suplex follows, before ref got in the way of a dropkick… which SANADA delivered after Tanga moved him aside! BUSHI comes in but quickly has to deal with the numeric disadvantage, which he does so with a missile dropkick to the pair.
A BUSHI tope leaves Tanga in the guard rails before Tama took a Paradise Lock, only for the Guerrilla Warfare (a double-teamed, assisted Tonga Twist) to get a near-fall back for the former tag champs. Moments later, a Gun Stun does the job as BUSHI took the pin in a match that was fun whilst it lasted, but felt really short as usual. **½
After the match SANADA snuck into the ring and caught Tama in a Skull End for a brief moment, until Tanga Loa chases him away.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robinson
I’m not sure why there’s no Tenzan here, especially since it’s EVIL/Kojima tomorrow… instead, we’ve got the senpai/kohai team of Kojima and Robinson. Sorry Hiromu, but I think you’ll be counting the lights here!
Of course, we’ve a jump start as Hiromu and EVIL double-team Kojima at the bell, but the Bread Lover rebounds with shoulder tackles before he and Juice do the double-team elbow/headbutt… with Juice playing Tenzan. Machine gun chops come next, but EVIL takes Kojima to the outside to avoid that elbow drop as those guard rails are put to use.
Back in the ring, a back senton gets EVIL a near-fall on Kojima, only for a Koji Cutter to take EVIL down as both men tag out. Juice hits the Dusty punches and chops, only to get caught in a Dragon screw as Hiromu started to go after the knee. Takahashi shoves out of Pulp Friction but ends up taking a powerbomb instead for a near-fall, before a clothesline dropped Hiromu… leaving him open for Pulp Friction as Juice took the win. Another insanely short match, but what we saw was alright. **
Bullet Club (Cody, Young Bucks (Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson), Chase Owens & Hangman Page) vs. War Machine (Rowe & Hanson), Michael Elgin, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet
This may be a bit of a struggle to keep up with, I fear! Ryusuke Taguchi’s got his face painted, and he’s got a parrot on his shoulder… oh God, they’ve all for painted faces and those sunglasses, just because!
Ricochet and Nick Jackson start with a tease for Sunday’s IWGP Junior Tag Title showdown, with Ricochet setting up for a tope… only for the Bucks to throw him outside as they goofed around a little after teasing a dice too. The ring fills as Bullet Club are knocked to the floor, leaving poor Matt to take a series of charges in the corner before Matt accidentally whips Ricochet into Taguchi’s rear end.
The table turns as Taguchi leaps out of the corner and faces the Bullet Club 5 on 1, as the Bucks worked through some of their usual stuff. Page hits a shooting star headbutt to Elgin off the apron, and yes, the camera team aren’t having a good time keeping up! Chase finds a way to block a hip attack, and delivers some of his own to Taguchi, who then responded in kind before we got to Rowe and Cody.
Rowe makes light works of Owens with a forearm, before dumping Page onto Cody with a uranage. Rowe headbutts away forearms from the Young Bucks, and then it’s Hanson’s turn to lay into them with the corner-to-corner lariats. Which Page quickly slides in to curtail! The match quickly breaks down into a parade of moves, with Taguchi missing a hip attack, before Cody punts Elgin low after he’d distracted the ref.
Cody thought he’d stopped a dive after cutting off Rowe, but instead Ricochet flies with a tope con hilo, as does Big Mike and finally Hanson teases it… but he’s caught with a superplex from Page and Cody! Chase thought he’d won it by stealing a pin, but Hanson kicked out, before Cody misses a moonsault. Ditto Page. Ditto Nick. Ditto Matt. Well, they did say they’d win with one!
Chase tried it too, but Hanson rolls away again and instead puts Owens in place for a moonsault of his own as the Bucks broke up the cover. In the end, Owens tries a package piledriver on Elgin, but Big Mike rolls out and drills him with a bucklebomb, then an Elgin Bomb for the win. If you’re into the Buck’s shenanigans, you’ll have enjoyed this a lot more than me… but this felt very spotty at times. Good for what it was though. ***½
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano
It’s a big show, so of course Yujiro’s found company.
We open with Yano and Yujiro, going straight to Yano’s shtick, except every time he tries for a suplex, Yujiro bites his way free. Omega takes Yano on the floor whilst Yujiro smashes a chair off of Okada’s back, before Kenny comes in to drop Yano with a double axehandle. Those tights have fringe on them, so I’m guessing Kenny’s found some new House Show Tights?
We get the Yano comedy with Omega as he gets his eyes raked, before Yano pulls down Omega by the hair… and then we get a glimpse of tomorrow! Okada decks Omega with a back elbow, but he can’t do the kip up as the champ’s neck was already bothering him. Of course, Omega makes a point of slapping Okada’s bad neck, before landing the shoudou for a near-fall.
Yano gets tagged back in and instantly goes for the turnbuckle pads, but Yujiro’s also back in to land a Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall as Okada barely got in to break the count. Omega whips Okada into the guard rails on the outside as Yano shoves Yujiro into Tiger Hattori… one low blow later, and Yano’s got another win. Short, but good for what it was – but the big story they played up was Kazuchika Okada’s neck being the big target for Omega tomorrow. Could that help him get a win in 30 minutes or less? **¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Yuji Nagata
Bad Luck Fale’s not wearing his 80s-sweatshirt-inspired tee today, but he’s still trying to kill ring announcers, and this time he teased chasing him on the floor. One day…
TV Asahi commentator Shimpei Nogami of course had his Nagata shirt, and the entire arena had signs that the crowd held up to celebrate Nagata’s final G1 match. I’m not going to lie, I got goosebumps. Nagata came charging out of the blocks, booting Fale at the bell before trading forearms and getting sent to the outside. Smartly, Nagata rolled back into the ring to avoid getting any punishment, as he knocks Fale off the apron to beat him down… but then an Irish whip goes wrong and Nagata’s taken into the barriers repeatedly. Probably should have stayed in the ring, eh?
Nagata barely beats the count back in, but he just gets stood on by Fale, who dominates the veteran from there on. A sidestep from Nagata allows him to sneak in a kick to Fale’s thighs, as Nagata tried to chop down the big man, and succeeded with a faked-out dropkick. The Exploder was perhaps a daft idea though, but Nagata’s able to pull off a drop toe hold and grab a heel hook as Fale’s forced to crawl into the ropes for a break.
Fale comes back with a big splash for a near-fall, but Nagata’s leg work seems to be having its effect, as he struggled to even hold Nagata in a fireman’s carry. Out of nowhere, Nagata gets off an Exploder for a near-fall, before he peppered Fale’s chest and back with kicks as the pair upgraded into a forearm battle.
Once Fale’s back on his feet, he’s able to swipe down Nagata as he windmills forearms into his back, before a Grenade attempt’s caught and turned into that Fujiwara armbar! Of course, Yuji rolled back the years into the Nagata Lock – the inverted figure four variety – before hitting the Justice knee in the corner and a backdrop out of it for another near-fall.
The Exploder of Justice (wrist-clutch exploder) is fought out of, as Nagata runs into a big spear… but he’s able to kick out! A Samoan drop flattens Nagata for a near-fall, but Yuji fired back with a spinning heel kick, only to get dumped with a clothesline as a Bad Luck Fall dumped Nagata as he went out with a loss. You could hear the air deflating from the room when that three-count was made, but Nagata went out with a better match than you’d expect against Fale. Yes, the record shows only one win this tournament, but Nagata had a hell of a tournament – with performances that truly rolled back the clock. ***¾
Fale stayed back in the ring to offer Nagata a too sweet… but Nagata responded with his salute as Fale bowed instead… and then we got a teary farewell. Yes, Nogami was shedding tears, as you’d no doubt expect.
G1 Climax, Block A: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Togi Makabe
YOSHI-HASHI takes Makabe into the ropes early, but Makabe is able to eke out an advantage with a shoulder tackle before a series of body blows took YOSHI-HASHI to his knees in the corner.
A low dropkick rocks Makabe as YOSHI-HASHI comes back with a Head Hunter (running Blockbuster), then a chop into the corner as that rope-hung dropkick followed. A top rope Headhunter follows for a near-fall, as Makabe rebounds with a clothesline into the corner… and then, of course, the mounted punches.
Makabe gets a near-fall out of a Northern Lights as this match settled into that distinctive pattern of a “dead rubber with a dead crowd”. It was to be expected given the Nagata match started the G1 matches today… An attempt for more mounted punches gets turned into a powerbomb out of the corner, but Makabe recovers again, only to miss a King Kong Knee drop.
A left arm lariat nearly gets YOSHI-HASHI the win, but instead he’s forced to go to the Butterfly Lock in search of the submission. YOSHI-HASHI struggles to get it properly in though, and eventually Makabe’s able to drag his way into the ropes for a break. YOSHI-HASHI keeps up the pressure with a sleeperhold that’s chained into a back cracker, before looking to get Karma… but Makabe elbows free, only to get chopped down to the mat. Makabe comes back with a fallaway slam to buy himself some time, at which point he smashes YOSHI-HASHI with a big lariat and then takes him into the corner for the Spider German suplex!
Once YOSHI-HASHI’s down, the King Kong Knee drop follows, and it’s elementary – Makabe ends with a win, as YOSHI-HASHI’s G1 ends with a barely better record than Nagata. A solid match, but one that understandably was muted. **¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii
A nice rematch from the G1 in USA Special last month, and we open with some basic grappling as both men went in search of holds. Sabre thought he’d gotten one, but Ishii counters out as both men remained somewhat neutral in those early stages.
Sabre drags himself into Ishii’s game as he unloads with some uppercuts… before a simple forearm took the Brit down, as did a headbutt before Ishii chopped away on Zack into the corner, only for an overhead kick to spark a comeback from Sabre. Some work on the right arm by Sabre’s stopped by a back suplex as Ishii goes back to the forearm/chop series in the corner, before a clothesline sent Sabre falling out of the corner.
Zack again responds by countering a superplex into a Dragon sleeper, then rolling himself down to the mat with an armbar as Ishii’s forced to make it into the ropes to escape Sabre’s latest surprise. Some kicks to the chest leave Ishii down, but the Stone Pitbull invites more of them… and walks into those kicks as he tried to psyche-out Sabre… who went straight in with a dropkick to the taped right knee of Ishii.
Ishii quickly escaped out of a guillotine choke by dropping Sabre in a Northern Lights suplex, as he then went back up for that superplex, bringing Zack down hard for a near-fall. A folding powerbomb nearly wins it for Ishii, but from the kick-out Sabre manages to catch him in a triangle armbar… which Ishii tried to power out of, and instead just dumped Sabre with another clothesline.
A facelock suplex helps Sabre get back into things, with a PK getting a near-fall before he goes to a knee bar, forcing Ishii to drag himself into the ropes once again. That left Ishii prone for more kicks as Sabre tried to put his foot through the taped-up knee, before the Stone Pitbull eventually fired back with a single chop to take down Sabre! Elbows daze Zack briefly, but he traps Ishii in a Euro clutch for a near-fall before going for an ankle lock straight after the kick-out… and somehow Ishii rolls through and into an ankle lock of his own!
An enziguiri frees Zack, but he takes a headbutt and a lariat as Ishii put him down for a near-fall, before another enziguiri looked to set up for a sliding lariat… but this time Ishii gets caught in an armbar, as Sabre tied him up near the ropes! Once Sabre throws in some kicks to the head with his free foot, it looked like it was all but over, but you could sense the desperation on Zack’s face… Ishii refuses to tap, and that leads to a stoppage as the referee waved the match off as Ishii looked to pass out instead. Not quite the level of their USA special, but this was a solid back-and-forth outing that I wish had been earlier in the tournament. ****¼
G1 Climax, Block A: Hirooki Goto vs. Kota Ibushi
Our tense open sees Goto and Ibushi take each other to the ropes, before Ibushi caught a running Goto with a kick to the chest, sending him outside… but the Golden Triangle moonsault’s avoided as Goto instead clotheslined Ibushi off the apron.
Goto headed back outside to send Ibushi into the guard railings, before taking Ibushi in for a suplex that gets an expected near-fall as last year’s finalist started to wear down the Golden Star as commentary were discussing a possible route for Ibushi into the final. Not quite “no chance”, but it’s incredibly slim….
Ibushi comes back with a dropkick, followed by a series of kicks to the chest of a kneeling Goto ahead of a standing moonsault for another two-count as the pair opted to start trading forearms and elbows before Goto replied to a German suplex with a swift lariat! A spinning heel kick in the corner traps Ibushi as Goto went up top and looked for a super Samoan drop… only for Ibushi to escape and trap him on the top with an overhead kick.
Goto’s dragged back up from the apron, leaving him open for a quick leap-up into a ‘rana from Ibushi, but the pair got back up into some duelling clotheslines, before Ibushi ate an ushigoroshi for a two-count. A sleeperhold sees Goto soften up Ibushi, dragging him down to the mat for a PK, but another ushigoroshi’s clumsily escaped out of into a roll-up as Ibushi leathered Goto with a high kick!
Ibushi teases the Kamigoye knee-strike, but Goto countered free with a headbutt before landing a reversed GTR, then a regular GTR, and that’s enough for a Goto win! Well, that’s a “put you in your place” loss for Ibushi, who finishes up his brief run here after this tournament… maybe we’ll see Tiger Mask W back soon if he’s not getting a title shot against Tanahashi? A solid tournament for Ibushi, but in reality he finished exactly where he ought to have done in the final standings. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
With both men tied on 12 points going in, this really is a “winner goes through” affair – and of course, we start with Naito avoiding the opening lock-up as commentary mused about Tanahashi going in at nowhere near 100%.
Tanahashi looked thoroughly miffed that Naito gave him a clean break in the ropes to begin with, before the pair switched positions next time… with Tanahashi slapping Naito instead. The Tokyo crowd hated that, as Tanahashi continues his slightly-dick-ish streak in recent matches.
Tanahashi throws away his air guitar as Naito rolled to the outside, before waiting for him to return to the ring as we had the pair trade off on each other with chops in the corner. Naito counters a crossbody by dropkicking Tanahashi on his way down, and that looked to add to the already-damaged arm of Tanahashi, which Naito started to work over with more basement dropkicks.
An armbar sees Tanahashi break instantly in the ropes, as it’s clear that Tanahashi’s wounded arm is the Ingobernable’s bullsye, with Naito wrenching away on it with armbars… letting go and re-applying it as Tanahashi made the ropes as Naito toyed with the ref’s leniency.
Tanahashi and Naito battle over neckbreakers, with the Ace getting his off, and continued a string of offence that led to him missing a middle rope senton as Naito once again went back to that arm with a low dropkick. Naito’s outside-in dropkick’s caught and turned into a Dragon screw as Tanahashi followed up with a High Fly Flow to the outside, dropping Naito with the frog-splash crossbody!
Naito gets onto the apron to avoid a count-out, but he’s caught in the ropes with a Dragon Screw as Tanahashi started to work over the Ingobernable’s taped-up knee, going for a Cloverleaf that ended when Naito got the ropes before he was turned over. Another Dragon screw’s teased in the ropes, but Naito drops the arm on the rope before hitting a slingshot dropkick to the arm as it’s clear – whomever loses will be the first one whose taped-up body part gives!
With Tanahashi hung up in the ropes, Naito lands an over-the-knee DDT before chaining in an enziguiri and a flying forearm as the momentum built. Gloria followed as he dumped Tanahashi on the back of his head for a near-fall, but Destino’s avoided as Tana looked for the straight-jacket German… getting it off to nearly win the match!
Naito comes back with a top rope ‘rana, but Tanahashi rolled through after impact to get a near-fall before pulling off another Dragon screw, as the pair descended back into trading forearms and elbows at each other’s heads… which Naito just about looked to be losing, until he spat at Tanahashi. A slap leads to a German suplex for Naito, who misses a leaping forearm as a pair of Slingblades puts him down for a near-fall.
Tanahashi heads up top next for another High Fly Flow, dropping Naito with the frog splash crossbody before the frog splash variant immediately after misses as Naito rolled away! Another charge in the corner misses as Tanahashi plants himself onto the top ropes, and gets hauled out of there with a rope hung neckbreaker… but Naito doesn’t go for a cover, and that costs him as Tanahashi dragged him down with a Dragon screw before getting the Cloverleaf in! Tanahashi drags Naito into the middle of the ring, sitting down on the hold… but Naito clung on, despite Tanahashi literally sitting on his head, as Naito dragged himself towards the ropes as they teased another ref stoppage.
Naito finally grabbed the ropes though, and held onto them to avoid another Cloverleaf, before Tanahashi again went to the Dragon screw. It’s punched free, and Naito snaps back in with a tornado DDT as we sailed past the 25 minute mark!
A swinging Destino out of the corner gets a near-fall for Naito as those final seconds ticked away, before Tanahashi blocks Destino and hits a trio of swinging neckbreakers instead! Another Slingblade’s attempted, but Naito countered into a Destino, before chaining in a second, and that, my friends, was enough for Naito to book his spot on Sunday! An exhilerating main event, and one that ALMOST went the distance… but we managed to avoid any messy ties as Naito has a day to rest (somewhat) before facing either Okada or Omega on Sunday. My GOD. ****½
After the match, the rest of the Ingobernables hit the ring in a show of support for Naito whilst Tanahashi was dragged to the back…
Well, the first of the triple-header was alright, wasn’t it? Nagata’s emotional G1 farewell, Zack Sabre Jr. beating Ishii by stoppage, and then the monumental final match from block A. Even the undercards were better than usual, helped by the influx of new names. We’ve got two more nights – and it’s if you’re going by snowflakes/ratings, this year’s tournament may well be declared the best G1 of all time.
G1 Climax 27 Standings
Block A (final):
Tetsuya Naito (7-2; 14pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Hiroshi Tanahashi (6-3; 12pts)
Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr (5-4; 10pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe (4-5; 8pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-7; 4pts)
Yuji Nagata (1-8; 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)