The G1 rolls into Niigata for the fourth block B matches – and to bring this current mini-sprint to an end.

Everyone’s got a day off tomorrow ahead of Saturday and Sunday shows, but we had our first injury enforced change in this year’s G1 – albeit on the undercard, as a knee injury to Jado saw him miss out. Gedo would replace him in the typical undercard tag.

Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado)
This should be a squash, given how new Narita is… and how Narita struggles to even get a draw. It’s pretty much all Sabre early on as he took down Narita at will before trying to twist off his head like a bottle top.

Umino finally comes in and unloads on Sabre with a series of running elbows into the corner, but that and a hiptoss was never going to get the job done. Nor was a backslide, as Sabre landed an overhead kick to free himself as Desperado returned to stomp away on the Young Lion, before Narita returned and double-teamed Despy.

A double back elbow gets a near-fall as Narita kept knocking Sabre off the apron, only to run into a spinebuster for a near-fall before Desperado’s Stretch Muffler forced the submission. Short and sweet, but so much fire in one match thanks to the young ‘uns. **¾

Yuji Nagata & Hirai Kawato vs. Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi
Makabe flipped off the crowd before starting against Nagata, with the pair trading wristlocks in the opening stages. That quickly broke down into a strike battle before Taguchi tried to tag himself in to cool things down… it didn’t quite work!

Kawato comes in enthusiastically, charging at Taguchi who stopped short of a hiptoss before unloading with his hip attacks. They keep Kawato isolated as Makabe took shots at Nagata on the apron, which were returned with some fervour when Nagata got back in… going straight for Makabe with rights.

A pair of big boots left both men laying, before Nagata got up for an Exploder to sort-of put him ahead… at least until Taguchi came in to ram his backside into Yuji’s face. Nagata replies by kicking his backside before Kawato tags back in and lands a springboard missile dropkick for a near-fall!

Kawato rolls free of an ankle lock and nearly snatches the win with La Magistral… but in the end Kawato’s caught again as the ankle lock ended the match by submission. Decent, but some of those interactions between Makabe and Nagata have me fearful for their match on Saturday. Set your expectations low – only so much can be covered by fierce noises! **¼

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Kota Ibushi, Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura
Fale and Ibushi start us off as a preview for Saturday, and it’s clear early that Kota’ll have to rely on kicks and his speed to have any hope… especially since Fale easily powered out of of a standing moonsault pin attempt early.

Kitamura begged to have a go, and got his chance… against Yujiro though. A posedown’s just a cover for Chase to attack the rookie from behind, but he’s able to power through with a double shoulder block before the Bullet Club bit their way back. Yujiro gets a near-fall from a legdrop as Fale’s tagged back in to easily throw down Kitamura with a slam ahead of a basic sit-down for a near-fall.

Chase tries to slap away at Kitamura, but that backfires as he’s taken down with an Okada-esque flapjack, before Oka comes in to bull past Owens and Takahashi. A belly-to-belly sends Chase flying, but Yujiro easily breaks up a Boston crab before being thrown outside. Oka quickly gets triple-teamed, with a charge in the corner from Fale squashing him as Owens build up to a package piledriver… only for Ibushi to fly in to break it up.

Ibushi comes back with an overhead kick to Fale and Yujiro, only to get dragged outside as the Underboss laid waste. That left Oka alone in the ring as he’s decapitated with a superkick from Owens, before taking the package piledriver for the win. Pretty good for the undercard, with Chase being one of a few having a quietly good tour so far. **¾

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo
Naito and Ishii is the match on tap for Saturday, and surprisingly there’s no antics from Naito, who goes straight for the Stone Pitbull, eventually landing an armdrag only for Ishii to charge him straight back down.

There’s an accident as BUSHI kicked the ref’s backside as Gedo gave him a hug, and it’s all shenanigans as Naito trips Gedo before going back to Ishii, dragging him off the apron to distract the ref from BUSHI’s t-shirt choking. The Ingobernables use Gedo’s beard against him, grabbing his facial fuzz to pull him up from a pinning attempt as Naito and BUSHI worked together well… as always.

Ishii returns to drop Naito with a powerslam, allowing Gedo to pepper BUSHI with punches and a superkick for a near-fall. Gedo crotches BUSHI up top as he was teasing the MX, which prompts Naito to come in and get destroyed by an Ishii lariat as BUSHI countered out of a Gedo clutch roll-up the “Raintaker” for the win. Another decent, if unspectacular undercard tag. Typical fodder, really! **¾

After the match, Naito obliterated ref Marty Asami with a sliding dropkick, just because he was in the mood.

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
Goto and Finlay open things up, with Finlay enjoying some relative success in the early going… before being put firmly on the back foot as YOSHI-HASHI tags himself in.

The CHAOS tandem make a point of keeping Tanahashi out of the match, as Goto wears down Finlay with a single leg crab whilst YOSHI-HASHI kept watch of Tana on the floor. Eventually Tanahashi comes in, but finds himself quickly hung on on the ropes as he and Finlay take a dropkick from YOSHI-HASHI. Finally Finlay makes a comeback, avoiding a Bunker Buster before landing a dropkick as Tanahashi comes in to score with a flying forearm, only for the CHAOS double teaming to resume. YOSHI-HASHI keeps up with a superkick to Tanahashi, who quickly comes back with a spinning neckbreaker before we’re back to Goto and Finlay.

Tanahashi returns to break up a GTR attempt as things quickly turned into a parade of moves somewhat, ending as Goto gets a near-fall with an ushigoroshi to Finlay. From there it’s elementary as the GTR followed for the win to bring a passable tag match to a close. Nothing else to see here, really… **½

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Juice Robinson
Both these guys came into day 8 with a 1-2 record, and Juice was sporting a noticeable near his right shoulder. Clearly, the G1 is taking a toll on him!

Juice fights out of a hammerlock attempt as he and Tonga worked a surprisingly ground-based match to begin with, at least until Tama took Juice into the corner by the dreadlocks. He quickly goes after Juice’s injured knee, dropping it with a Stunner-like move in the corner, before throwing elbows and headbutts on the mat. An attempted comeback just ends with Juice being dropkicked into the corner, but there he catches a Stinger splash and throws off Tama into a full nelson slam!

Some Dusty punches follow as Juice rocked Tama, finishing with a reverse DDT that got him a two-count. Tama tries to come back with Verena, but Juice blocks it… only to have his knee taken out with a chop block before he was taken into a Tree of Woe, where Tama worked over it some more, throwing himself into the knee with a series of Stinger splashes.

All that leaves Juice open for the Tongan Twist, but he’s able to kick out, before pushing away a Gun Stun… but his lifting up of Tama for the Pulp Friction ended in another kick to the knee as they went back and forth until Tama hit Verena for yet another near-fall! Tonga keeps going for the Gun Stun, and eventually hits it for the win. Phenomenal selling from Juice, who looks to be on a losing run after his win in round one… that knee is going to be the death of him in this G1. ***½

G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Toru Yano
This will probably go longer than the 45 seconds that Yano’s tag match yesterday went.

SANADA jumped Yano as he entered the ring, stomping away on the “Sublime Master Thief”, who nearly snatched the quick win when he unsighted SANADA with his robe and rolled him up for a near-fall. Yano removed a turnbuckle, only for SANADA to use it on him as the Ingobernable then nearly slipped to defeat after a water spray and a roll-up.

SANADA counters Yano’s “break” shtick by grabbing his feet and tying him in the ropes, only to get thrown into the guard railings as Yano went outside. He grabbed some tape, teasing tying up SANADA… who then threw said tape to the back of the room as Yano was losing his shortcuts. A missed moonsault from SANADA turned things around, before Yano countered a Skull End into another small package for a near-fall.

Another Skull End’s broken via the ropes as Yano again goes under the ring – for a second roll of tape! SANADA’s baseball slide gets caught, but he avoids a taping, instead taking Yano up the aisle so he could tie him up in a Paradise Lock… and tape him into place before wandering back to the ring to take the count-out win. SANADA beat Yano at his own game and we have another count-out! Not too much of a match, but ah, I love it when a prankster gets outwitted! **

After the match we comically watch Yano get untied, before he log rolled back down the aisle. Comedy!

G1 Climax, Block B: EVIL vs. Minoru Suzuki
Desperado came out with Suzuki, just to give EVIL some more ground to make up here. They have a jump start as Minoru ran at EVIL, before the match quickly headed to the floor for a series of chops as EVIL then took Suzuki into the guard rails and beyond for a spot of brawling.

Suzuki bounces chairs off of EVIL before going back to the ring… but only so he could throw a bottle of water at EVIL, who’s able to beat the count-out, only to get a pen stabbed his way as Suzuki apparently stole from the timekeepers again. EVIL rebounds by throwing Suzuki and Desperado into the guard railings, before setting up the Suzuki-gun leader for the chair spot that got the crowd going.

Back in the ring, EVIL signalled for the Everything is EVIL STO, but Suuzki grabbed his thumb mid-throat slit and worked his way into a Fujiwara armbar that was only broken via the ropes. We get a ref bump as Suzuki pulls the referee in the way of a clothesline, but that leads to run-ins from Desperado and BUSHI – the latter making the save with a tope to the outside – but then Taichi ran in and nailed EVIL with a chair to the head.

Out comes Hiromu with a low blow and a ‘rana as we rattled through Suzuki-gun and LIJ members, but it seemed that two each was enough as the referee stirred… but not before Red Shoes missed a chair shot. EVIL finally comes back with a clothesline before the STO’s countered back and forth, ending with a headbutt before Suzuki slapped in the rear naked choke, only to get caught with the STO as he switched out… and EVIL gets what has to be the surprise win! A bloody enjoyable match with the interference being swift, but don’t mistake this for anything else that Suzuki getting an excuse to kill some more trainees! ***¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Satoshi Kojima vs. Kazuchika Okada
Kojima was the monster favourite here, although his chances aren’t that good, it has to be said!

Okada went straight for Kojima, teasing a Rainmaker as he instead ate a shoulder tackle before Kojima fought away another Rainmaker attempt. Kojima quickly gets lifted up top and dropkicked to the floor though, as Okada ratched up the pressure by whipping Kojima into the railings, before delivering a draping DDT off them… earning him a chorus of boos. Those intensified when he went after Tenzan, throwing him into the ring, but Okada’s apparent plan to force a DQ went sour as Tenzan refused to bite. Instead, Okada just playfully stomped on Kojima back inside, before a chinlock looked to wear down the veteran, as Okada continued to troll Tenzan.

Just like that, Kojima roars back into life with Mongolian chops, then elbows before taking Okada into the corner for the machine gun chops. Okada comes back with a neckbreaker slam out of the corner, as he followed up with a top rope elbow and… Rainmaker pose. To so many boos!

Kojima backs Okada into the corner to avoid a Rainmaker, before clotheslining the champ off the top rope to the floor as Kojima crashed to the mat in exhaustion. Back to their feet, both men threw plenty of forearms, with Kojima winning out ahead of another bout of machine-gun chops in the corner… but he’s caught up top as he goes for the elbow drop, with Okada attempting to superplex him back in.

Instead, Kojima slips out and gets up for a top rope Koji Cutter for a near-fall. A brainbuster gets similar results, but Okada snaps back with a German suplex which he tried to roll into a Rainmaker… but Kojima gets the lariat off first before finally hitting the Strong Arm in counter to a Rainmaker for a really close near-fall!

More clothesline attempts just ended up with Okada hitting his dropkick, as another Rainmaker was ducked and met with a Roaring elbow… but in the end Okada hits back hardest with a tombstone, then a Rainmaker as this was a bridge too far for Kojima. The crowd helped take this match over the top, but this has to have been Kojima’s best match in forever. An unexpected gem from the Bread lover, who’s still without a win in the G1. ****¼

G1 Climax, Block B: Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega
This was one with high expectations, given their prior matches in New Japan… and they didn’t disappoint!

Elgin tries to use his power to bull past Omega early, before succeeding with a couple of chops and a massive biel throw. The one-armed suspended suplex keeps Kenny down again, but he popped up to avoid a slingshot splash, only to take a slingshot back elbow as Elgin avoided being booted off the apron.

Elgin followed him outside with a big boot into the crowd, before Omega sprung off the barriers in a dropkick attempt… only to get caught and dropped with an overhead belly to belly instead as they looked to keep things spectacular with a superplex back inside… which Elgin instead switched into a sunset bomb attempt. Omega switches out with a superkick and a Kotaro Krusher, as he took the upper hand, chopping ELgin in the ropes, before low bridging him to the apron… where Big Mike connected with an enziguiri.

The slingshot splash misses again though, with Omega rolling away just in time, only to miss with his moonsault out of the corner. They go back and forth in search of a German suplex, instead landing elbows and chops before a powerslam from Elgin leaves Kenny down… as do a series of chops, as Elgin finally gets the German!

Omega comes back with a right hand in the corner as he tries to go airborne, succeeding with a crossbody, but that’s caught and turned into a swinging side slam that almost gets Elgin the win. Elgin escapes a Dragon suplex and lands an enziguiri as he then took a ‘rana to the outside as Omega tried to fire back, connecting with a V-trigger before a series of reversals ends up with a Dragon suplex to send Elgin back outside for the Terminator tope con hilo!

Elgin takes a brutal missile dropkick to the back of the neck for a near-fall, before he sidesteps a Kotaro Krusher and ends up taking another V-trigger. A cross-legged, over-the-knee brainbuster follows, along with another V-trigger as Elgin was in the ropes, before he finally counters with a massive lariat!

The pair engage in a loud chop battle afterwards, before a spinning backfist knocked Omega loopy, as did a lariat as Omega’s attempt to battle back nearly cost him the match. From there, Elgin hits a buckle bomb, before countering a counter to the Elgin bomb with a reverse ‘rana! What the hell?! The Elgin bomb follows, but Omega barely kicked out in time, and somehow found a second wind as he ripped up the padding outside ahead of something dastardly…

Which ended up being an attempted ‘rana to Elgin… who just countered by turning it into a sitout apron powerbomb. Ouch.

Back inside, Elgin tries to finish it with a splash mountain, but Omega turned it into a ‘rana on the way down for a near-fall, before some V-triggers to the back and front of the head picked up yet another two-count. A double-underhook piledriver gets another two-count, as Omega started to rain in the knees to the head of a kneeling Elgin… who eventually caught one and threw an elbow in return. Another pair of V-triggers follow, along with a reverse ‘rana after plenty of swinging and missing, but still Kenny can’t put away Big Mike!

Just like that though, Elgin responds with a pop-up powerbomb, a buckle-bomb and an Elgin bomb as he pushed his way through… to yet another near-fall! So his next move was to pick up Omega in the corner for a Burning Hammer, but Omega rakes Elgin’s bald head and instead takes a German suplex, then a backdrop suplex as the ragdoll that was Kenny narrowly kept himself in it. Still, Elgin picks up for another Burning Hammer, and actually dumps Omega on his head… and there’s the win! The Burning Hammer breaks Omega’s winning run, after a bloody awesome main event. Another surprise result as Big Mike probably has earned himself at least a shout at that US title… ****¾

This was threatening to be “just another show”, but the Yano/SANADA comedy and those final two matches really dragged it back up. Come in expecting nothing special and get blown away by the final matches!

G1 Climax 27 Standings
Block A (after four matches):
Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-1; 6pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe (2-2; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-3; 2pts)
Yuji Nagata (0-4; 0pts)

Block B (after four matches):
Kazuchika Okada (4-0; 8pts)
EVIL, Kenny Omega (3-1; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, SANADA, Minoru Suzuki, Tama Tonga (2-2; 4pts)
Juice Robinson, Toru Yano (1-3; 2pts)
Satoshi Kojima (0-4; 0pts)