Naito. Omega. Ibushi. One of those three will be facing Hiroshi Tanahashi on Sunday, as B block reached a rather tense conclusion.

“No matter where this goes you know don’t surrender don’t you fold”… there’s just one day left for God’s sake! Ahead of today’s show, it was announced that if anyone from the Bullet Club OG crew interfered, they’d be fined and suspended for three months. Just in time for World Tag Team League, eh? We’ve got Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Jango on the English language call once again.

Toa Henare & Shota Umino vs. David Finlay & Michael Elgin
We start with the unofficial C block final, which was meant to have just been Finlay vs. Henare, but card changes mean we get this instead. There’s a prestigious thumb trophy on the line here, with Henare, Umino and Finlay all in contention for the glory.

Umino and Elgin start us off, with a waistlock being easily broken before Elgin catches him with a chop. Umino quickly tags in Henare, as they tried to restrain Elgin… but it doesn’t work as Elgin hits an overhead belly to belly to the Young Lion. Finlay’s in to throw chops to Umino, before a brainbuster barely earns a near-fall… then brings Elgin back in to chop his way to victory again. Shota tries to fire back, and connects with a dropkick as Finlay and Henare come in to fight for the thumb trophy. A flying shoulder charge gets Henare ahead, as does a spear as Umino looked to finish off Finlay with a missile dropkick… but rather than go for the pin he goes for a Boston crab, which prompts Elgin to try and elbow it apart… but Umino fights through! A chop finally broke it up, but it doesn’t stop Shota from hitting some sweet roll-ups for near-falls, before a uranage backbreaker stemmed the tide as Finlay gets a two-count.

Thumbs up for Finlay… he’s in with a Stunner, and that’s the C block! Comedy trophy aside, this was a decent opener, and hopefully David Finlay makes that trophy as valuable as the NEVER trios belts! **¾

Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens)
We have a jump start! Page and Owens snuck out and jumped Fale and Tanga before they’d even hit the ring, leading to Tanga Loa eating a corner dropkick and a running knee from the “Elite” Bullet Club pair.

Tanga eats a Buckshot lariat… but that’s the cue for Fale to make it into the ring to break up the cover as the kick/stomp stuff continued, and that’s where the Firing Squad pair took over, with Tanga almost winning with a Blue Thunder bomb. Page tries to get back in with a German suplex to Fale, but that was never happening… although a superkick from Hangman sure was, as Tanga Loa was again 1-on-2 down.

Well, at least until Page decided to catch Fale unawares with a tope! Chase tries his luck with roll-ups, before a thrust kick clocked Tanga, but it’s for nought as Page was still out on the floor, meaning that Chase had nobody to help as Tanga hit him with Apeshit for the win. The brawl continued after the match as the ice pack was punched into Chase, but Page chases everyone off with a chair. Not much to this one, let’s move alone… *¾

Jay White & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Bullet Club (Marty Scurll & Young Bucks (Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson))
Hey, why isn’t this for those NEVER trios belts? That bloody thumb trophy is already more valuable!

After originally seeming like he wasn’t going to, Jay White starts the match against Marty Scurll, working over the wrist before he gets taken down. He clocks Marty with a chop as the Villain played to the crowd, before SHO and YOH came in to double-team Scurll, who fought back and brought in Nick Jackson to continue the pattern. The Bucks are both in against the former junior tag champions, making light work of SHO and YOH, before Scurll busts out a Gory special on SHO. He even traps YOH in a Boston crab – at the same time, just to show off! White broke it up, before SHO and YOH finally combine against Marty as their double-teaming started to pay-off.

White manages to escape the Bucks, hitting a back body drop and a Saito suplex as the tempo rose… allowing Scurll to come in and work his way up to a finger snap. YOH broke it up with a superkick as the crowd booed, before he accidentally laid out White with a forearm that was destined for Scurll… and Switchblade takes it badly as he walked out of the match, watching on as Scurll catches YOH in a chicken wing while the Bucks had SHO in Cease and Desist…doing nothing as YOH tapped out. This was fun for what it was – a very pacey match, but in truth your usual Bucks and Marty trios match. **½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI)
Hey, EVIL does the jump starting for a change as he and Suzuki spill to the outside… but Suzuki just laughs off some chops and throws EVIL into the guard rails.

There’s a chair that Suzuki puts to good use, while BUSHI gets choked with his own t-shirt in the ring. Suzuki tags in to keep up on BUSHI, laughing off some forearms before he boots the junior in the face and then tries to tear his wrist off, wrenching the arm into a Kimura. BUSHI manages to get a shot in with a low dropkick… but he had to land a reverse enziguiri before tagging in EVIL to keep up the clubbering on Minoru.

A discus clothesline in the corner just drags in El Desperado… who’s swiftly dumped with a sidewalk slam as Suzuki takes a thrust kick to the gut then a back senton for a near-fall. Suzuki’s back in with a running boot in the corner, before a PK’s caught as the pair swap more elbows, but after another evil laugh from Minoru, the pair burst into another exchange, ending with a knee to the gut from Suzuki.

Holy crap, that PK flattens EVIL, before a spear from Desperado drew a two-count… Suzuki looks to follow up with a rear naked choke, before BUSHI makes the save on the Gotch piledriver as we’re still going! A lungblower from BUSHI lays out Desperado, and after a plancha, Despy’s left alone as Everything is EVIL gets the win. This was fun in parts, but mostly the “Suzuki being a sadistic shit” parts. I’m probably not going to sleep again after that screenshot… **¾

Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Still no balloons for Okada, as he’s ripping off Mark Davis’ high five gimmick.

This marked the second match back for Tomoaki Honma, with the crowd seemingly louder for Honma than anyone else in the match. Okada and Tanahashi start us off, perhaps looking to finish what they started last night, with Tanahashi teasing a High Fly Flow after avoiding a Rainmaker… before they reverse each other on tombstones ahead of a Dragon screw!

In comes Honma as the crowd roars, and he’s straight after Okada with elbows and chops, before we get a slam and… Kokeshi misses. We’re back to that, eh? The crowd boos Okada for daring to roll away, and the ring fills, then clears as Honma tries to chop his way back into it. It doesn’t work as a diving uppercut from Okada leaves Honma down, before he hits a Kokeshi… and my God, the crowd HATED that. Okada tags out to Gedo, who hits a bunch of elbows in Honma’s neck, before YOSHI-HASHI tagged in to silence. A chop floors Honma, before an Arabian clutch saw YOSHI stretch the neck, then again with a rear chinlock as Honma has to elbow free… only to get chopped down once more. Finally Honma hits a suplex to get himself some space, before bringing Togi Makabe in to clear house, taking YOSHI into the corner for mounted punches, only for YOSHI to respond with a Western lariat.

Gedo gets tagged in as he tried to put Makabe away with a thrust kick, but we have a Parade of Moves, complete with successful Kokeshi from Honma for all! The crowd liked that, before Honma and Makabe were left behind to focus on Gedo… setting him up for Kokeshi and a King Kong Knee drop for the win. Reunited again and it feels good, eh? This was pretty much a throwaway match, but it gave the crowd a feelgood moment as Honma’s comeback continued… or was this a farewell, as the tears at the end could have been taken both ways. **½

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Toru Yano
Yeah. Tama Tonga’s not fussed about points or stars, but he’s seemingly a big fan of Razor Ramon.

Remember, we’ve got the rule of “any interference in any block matches today from Tama, Fale or Tanga equals a suspension”, so this should be… clean-ish? Yano leads the crowd in a chant of “go back” (in Japanese!), which works as the referee ejects Tanga Loa before the bell, and we start with a bunch of roll-ups as the match graphics obscure pinning attempts.

Yano starts to undo the turnbuckle pads, which led to Tama running into an exposed corner… before whipping Yano into one of them. Cue headbutts, and a trip outside as Yano gets whipped into the crowd barriers. He beats the count-out… and gets tossed outside again so Tama can choke him some more. Tama shoves the ref away repeatedly as he tries it again in the ring, but there’s no DQ as Yano capitalises with the Timothy Thatcher RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly and a spear to the back! That’s the cue for Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa to wander down, with referees trying to stop them… but Yano gets distracted as Tama attacks him from behind. More choking and another shove of the referee follows, and junior referee Kenta Sato pulls Tama by the hair… and gets himself Gun Stunned for the DQ.

Well, this was more storyline than anything else, but as long as this is all… ah, who am I kidding?

There’s your DQ and even Uncle Harold Meij is out to read the riot act as the Bullet Club OGs were taken to the back. Let’s see what happens later, eh?

G1 Climax, Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Juice Robinson
So this part of the G1 wraps up with the NEVER champion against the US champion as they both look to end a rather lacklustre campaign.

Fed up of the warnings about his taped up hand, Juice starts the match by removing the plastic cast… so both hands are legal! We’ve a tentative start between the pair of them, before Goto catches Robinson on the apron, using a rear naked choke… but Juice slips out and hits an armbreaker on the rope for good measure. Juice takes advantage, aiming for Goto’s arm by whipping it into the mat, then throwing elbows on it before he clocks Goto with more forearms… then Dusty punches as Goto finally lands a kick to the chest to cut him off. Goto keeps up the comeback with a Saito suplex for a near-fall, before Juice starts to trade off with jabs, chops and a big spinebuster.

Juice flies with a crossbody off the top for a near-fall, but Goto’s able to turn it around again with an ushigoroshi. The Juice Box is next as they went tit-for-tat, but Juice can’t make a cover, and instead he pulls up Goto into Pulp Friction… which gets countered into a GTR, then into back-and-forth suplex efforts as we instead get lariats and eventually headbutts from Goto. A reverse GTR keeps Goto ahead, but they go back into teasing finishers, with Goto pushing away from Pulp Friction before going for a kick… in the end, Juice manages to nail a left hand punch before Pulp Friction gets the win. This had a good finishing stretch, and continued to tell the story that Juice only had a bad G1 because of his hand… but there’s something about Goto in this G1 that has rarely done it for me. Horses for courses, and all that. ***½

So we finish with a four-way tie at the bottom of the block, with Goto, Juice, Yano and Tama finishing on six points.

They announced to the live crowd after this that the Firing Squad were escorted out of Budokan Hall. Shawn Michaels 1993 they ain’t… and I smell a rat.

G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Tomohiro Ishii
These two have swapped singles wins in the past, with SANADA winning in the G1 two years ago, while Ishii holds a New Japan Cup win over him from 2017. Who’s breaking the tie here?

We start with Ishii working over SANADA’s wrist, but the Ingobernable’s able to flip free and take Ishii into a corner, before they counter each other’s armdrags. A battle of chops sees Ishii edge ahead, as SANADA seemed to have no answer to those strikes, other than to leap over the Stone Pitbull and crash into him with a dropkick. The trademark plancha outside follows as SANADA looked to take over, grounding Ishii with a chinlock… squeezing the life out of him before Ishii managed to get a toe onto the ropes.

Some boots to Ishii’s shoulder looked to cause some trouble, but he barely registered SANADA’s strikes, instead standing up with a Suzuki-like stare, absorbing forearms before bouncing him into the corner with a single shot. A clothesline follows, as does a stalling avalanche brainbuster that bounces SANADA for a near-fall. SANADA hits back with a ‘rana to stem that tide, spiking Ishii’s head in the process, before a Shawn Michaels bump in the corner flowed into a springboard missile dropkick and a TKO… except Ishii puts on the brakes and turns it into a Skull End?! Dragging SANADA to the mat backfires as he escapes and counters into Ishii with a sliding lariat, before he catches Ishii with a swinging neckbreaker a la the Magic Killer.

At the second time of asking, the TKO connects for a near-fall, as does a high angle Saito suplex… but Ishii pops right back up before returning the favour. SANADA’s back up too, before he’s headbutted right in the mohawk, only for a lariat to take him down to the mat hard. A folding Last Ride-style powerbomb from Ishii followed for a two-count, as did the sliding lariat, but SANADA had plenty left in him, as we saw when he floated an Asai DDT into a Skull End.

Ishii somehow flips out, but runs into a lariat before SANADA trips him in Skull End, and drags him down to the mat… but Ishii’s no-neck worked in his favour as he slipped out! He’s quickly caught in it once again though, and just as the referee was about to stop the match, SANADA lets go so he can do a moonsault. Somehow, Ishii moves away and goes for the knee, hitting a sliding lariat-like chop block to the knee… but SANADA’s able to withstand and fire back with uppercuts!

He flips out of a German suplex as Ishii tried to go for the kill, and instead hits a Tiger suplex for a near-fall as Ishii somehow gets a shoulder up! Another moonsault from SANADA misses as Ishii dives in with a Shining Wizard instead, before the pair jockeyed for position in search of their finishers… so much Fighting Spirit leads to a headbutt from Ishii, then a lariat to the bonce, before one more dumps SANADA on his head as we continue to search for the pin!

Ah nevermind, a sheer drop brainbuster is next, and that’s the win for Ishii! Good LORD that got brutal quick towards the end. Ishii’s gotten quite some momentum in this G1, despite not finishing near the top – and you have to think this is going to be parlayed into title shots later in the autumn. If you like hard hitting, stick this on your to-watch list! ****½

G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito
Sabre’s here to play spoiler, as a win here will keep Naito’s G1 hopes alive. Come on. Over. Here!

These two have had two prior singles matches, with Sabre winning in the opening round of the New Japan Cup this year, while Naito took the W in the G1 last year. Can Naito repeat? Well, not when Sabre launches into him at the bell, but Naito’s keen to play keep-away, frustrating the New Japan Cup winner as Sabre stomped around Budokan in a huff.

Naito’s all about getting under Sabre’s skin, coaxing him back into the ring… just so he could Tranquilo. Except leaving an arm out is a really bad idea as Sabre grabs it for an armbar. Oops!

Back in the ring after a rope break, Naito keeps the pace slow, but it plays into Sabre’s game as he gets caught with headscissors and a neck snap, before Naito’s forced to get to the ropes as Sabre made stretching his arm and shoulders look supremely effortless. A cravat keeps Sabre ahead, as Naito’s sent to the outside… before he returned into yet more pain as Sabre continued to tie him up in knots.

Naito finally gets free and lands that slingshot dropkick in the corner, before he spat at Sabre in the corner… then dumps him with some neckbreakers for good measure as the Ingobernable was able to finally get some momentum going. The pair exchange strikes in the ropes, before Sabre catches a spinning heel kick to trap Naito in a STF in the middle of the ring, almost making it a grounded Octopus before they ended in the ropes. Naito’s back up with some elbows to the neck of Sabre, but that’s just like a timebomb as Sabre tries to explode back… and gets spiked with a tornado DDT!

Gloria’s attempted, but Sabre floats into a triangle armbar… but Naito floats over to try and pin him, only for Sabre to let go and wallop him with a PK. A Zack Driver’s attempted, but Naito switches into a reverse DDT instead, as the pair then exchange slaps as we build up to a high-angle Gloria for a near-fall. Naito tries to go for Destino, but he’s cut-off as instead Sabre catches him in an Octopus stretch, only for Naito to try and walk towards the rope… so Zack grabs the arm and tries to pull him back, struggling to keep grip thanks to those shots to the neck from earlier. Instead, Naito manages to fall into the ropes for the break as we sailed past the 15 minute mark.

Sabre keeps up with some PKs as he looked to keep Naito down on the mat, but a PK’s caught and turned into a German suplex, before a flying forearm waffles Sabre ahead of… Destino countered into a Euro clutch for a near-fall! Another clutch gets a near-fall as Sabre’s trying to catch Naito by surprise… but in the end it’s Naito who strikes out, landing a Destino, before a second one’s turned into the Zack Driver… and that’s all folks! Naito’s G1 fell at the final hurdle, and just like yesterday, it’s a finish out of nowhere that ended this war.

This started out slow, but burst into life, and yet again got Sabre over as a killer whose G1 will end with (at worst) a share of third place. Of course, that means one thing. Our main event is once again for ALL the marbles. ****½

So… with one match left, it’s simple. If Kenny Omega wins, he’s in tomorrow’s final. If Ibushi wins, he goes through by virtue of prior wins over Naito and Sabre. Can all four end with the same record??

G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Kenny Omega
It all comes down to this: a match that hasn’t been done in almost six years.

Don’t make us choose sides! They start off by shooting for a takedown, but it’s stopped as Ibushi takes it into the ropes… but Kenny grabs the head again as there’s not a squeaky-clean break here. Ibushi manages to slip out with a dropkick, but Omega returns to the ring as quick as he left before throwing a chop, as Ibushi returns with kicks to the chest.

It’s chops versus kicks for a spell as Omega powders to the floor, but he sidesteps a plancha as Ibushi crashed and burned… then got slammed onto the edge of the apron. Good grief. Back inside, Kenny crashes into Ibushi with a low dropkick as he showed some aggression… but Kota’s right back in with a snapmare and some kicks as the friendly fire got a little hotter. A boot took Ibushi hard into the corner, before Omega gets the knees up to block a moonsault as he hits back with the Finlay roll and a springboard moonsault… which also lands into some knees!

Ibushi looked for a Golden Triangle moonsault, but Omega blocks it and teases a One Winged Angel on the apron as he tries to put an end to the Golden Lovers… but Ibushi slips out and teases a deadlift German suplex also, only for it to be countered into a package tombstone right on the goddamned apron.

Returning to the ring, a kneeling Ibushi can’t avoid a missile dropkick to the neck, then an Aoi Shoudou as Omega looked to end this one, before a V-Trigger to the back of the neck kept Ibushi rocked. The One Winged Angel’s teased, but instead Omega switches it into the Croyt’s Wrath German suplex as the crowd sounded a little stunned at just how one-sided this is.

Another V-Trigger blasts through Ibushi as another DDT takes him to the outside, right as the crowd started to clap for the Terminator tope con giro that took Kota awkwardly into the railings.

Ibushi finally gets into it with a backflip kick to crotch Omega up top, before he looked for his own death blow… but Omega avoids that as instead Kota nails a snapping ‘rana for a near-fall. The Golden Triangle’s next, which connects flush, before Ibushi tried to springboard in… and gets forced to escape another One Winged Angel attempt. Ibushi escapes that and after some more kicks he lands a standing moonsault double knees that put Mike Bailey to shame… JESUS CHRIST THAT LANDING.

A Kamigoye’s avoided, as was a Golden Triangle powerbomb as Omega returned fire, taking Ibushi into the corner for a shattering V-Trigger to the back of the neck. So you do the next obvious thing: take Ibushi up top for an avalanche Dragon suplex… but Kota lands on his feet as the pair exchange lariats for fun, before a V-Trigger snaps him… only for them to continue with German suplexes and a lariat as Ibushi looked to edge ahead. The Last Ride-style powerbomb’s next with a high landing for Omega… before a Kamigoye sees Ibushi return the favour for those V-triggers… but for the first time ever, it’s not enough! Down come the knee pad, as Kota looks to hit it again, but Omega tries to elbow his way free as Kota kept hold of the wrist, before he swings, misses, and eats a V-Trigger.

Except Kota’s right back up to throw palm strikes, with Omega smashing another V-Trigger as he got some separation, before a head kick took him down as Ibushi throws in a receipt. Kota heads up top for a Phoenix splash, but he crashed and burned, leaving himself prone for a V-Trigger and a Jay Driller (because he hates his neck)… but Omega can only get a two out of it! HOW IS THIS ONLY TWENTY MINUTES IN?! There’s another brutal V-Trigger before Kota has to elbow free of yet another V-Trigger ease, as his reverse ‘rana tease is turned into a goddamned Vertebreaker. Yet still, Kota find something in him to kick out?!

Another V-Trigger finds its target as we’re back to the One Winged Angel, but this time OFF THE TOP ROPE, but Ibushi escapes and hits a bloody double stomp off the top. If only you could hear me as I type all this…

Ibushi heads back up top for a Super Tiger Driver, but yeah… two-count. All that’s left now is the bare knee Kamigoye… and Kota has done it!

Kenny Omega is still without a win over his Golden Lover… and he now has the risk of facing him, possibly at the Tokyo Dome next year for the title. This match was an absolute breeze and a joy to watch. The time calls flew by, and the drama throughout, from Omega’s early threat of a blow-out to the eye-raising stuff at the end… this was a masterclass in weaving stories into a match. Watch This. *****

Omega and the Young Bucks left the ring afterwards as Kota Ibushi had his brief show-closing speech… before leaving in unison.

So we know the final: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi. A match we’ve only had three times before, with the pair sharing a win each in prior G1 outings. This is going to be epic.

Also announced for tomorrow is Rey Mysterio versus… probably Ryusuke Taguchi in a mask, as the remainder of the card won’t be revealed until hours before the show. It’s a 7am start time on Sunday morning over here, so set your alarms nice and early and get that coffee ready! With the threat of the Bullet Club OG ruining this show cast aside, the B block finals proved to be quite spectacular. Every one of the block matches delivered, and the undercard bouts played their part too. Perhaps the strongest show of the G1 thus far, but there’s one left as we’re almost at the finishing line.

Block A Final Standings:
Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-1-1; 15pts)
Kazuchika Okada (6-2-1; 14pts)
Jay White (6-3; 12pts)
EVIL, Minoru Suzuki (5-4; 10pts)
Michael Elgin, Bad Luck Fale, Togi Makabe, Hangman Page, YOSHI-HASHI (3-6, 6pts)

Block B Final Standings:
Kota Ibushi*, Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, Zack Sabre Jr. (6-3; 12pts) – Ibushi wins on tie-breakers
Tomohiro Ishii (5-4;10pts)
SANADA (4-5; 8pts)
Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga, Toru Yano (3-6; 6pts)