A day off and we’re back as the G1 continued with a pretty underwhelming show, it must be said.
“I don’t know why don’t wanna know…” – tough! We’re in Kagawa for the sixth round of A block matches, with the usual commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.
Toa Henare & Shota Umino vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson
Juice has his hand strapped again, but he’s out of the G1 after Kenny Omega’s win on Saturday meant that he has no mathematical chance of winning. Sad face.
We start with Finlay and Henare, who were disappointed with the fact that their “C Block” finale was cancelled due to card changes later in the tour. Henare’s able to hit back with a double shoulder charge, but Shota Umino’s attempt at helping ou quickly gets snuffed out as Juice gets right back in it with a leg lariat.
Henare eats an airplane spin next, but Juice can’t prevent himself from getting dizzy, before he tried to ram Henare’s head into the turnbuckles. Hard head… no-sell, and both men tag out, leading to Umino coming in and drilling Finlay with a dropkick. A missile dropkick also finds its mark as Finlay almost took the loss, then again from a Boston crab as Juice had to make the save.
Shota fights off from the two-on-one disadvantage, uppercutting everyone before he runs into a flapjack… one lariat from Finlay later, and he’s almost put away before the Stunner seals it all. Short, but exactly what you’d expect here. **¼
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & SHO
Much like Juice, Tama Tonga’s G1 is effectively over as he’s been eliminated… so there’s no incentive to not continue with this stuff!
Ishii and Tama looked to start us off, but Tanga Loa jumped him from behind as this goes the way you expect. Ishii and SHO fought fire with fire, before a knee to the gut took Tama down … but he’s quickly knocked down with a dropkick and a headbutt as Tanga Loa nearly scored the easiest of pins. SHO’s caught in the ropes for some crossface punches from Tanga, then squished with a senton atomico from Tama as the Guerrillas continued their one-sided destruction.
SHO finally hits back with a spear, before bringing in Ishii who laughed off Tama’s forearms before he escaped a hard-fought attempt at a Tongan Twist and hit a brainbuster. SHO’s straight back in as Tanga Loa trips Ishii to the outside… but he gets a receipt, dragging Tama Tonga outside. An attempt at Apeshit’s avoided by SHO, who hits a leaping knee, then a back cracker and a German suplex… but Tanga’s right back in with a lariat and Apeshit for the win. By the numbers, with minimal Ishii as he’s all beat-up from Saturday. Standard. **
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs. Toru Yano & Gedo
Jado’s off the rest of the tour with a foot injury, so Gedo’s filling in on these tags – like he has been for a few shows now.
It’s Yano vs. Naito on Wednesday, which is going to be… something. Especially when Naito’s doing his damndest to not start against Yano… so it’s SANADA and Gedo who get us underway with the obligatory beard and hair pulling shenanigans, like the Three Stooges on tour. Naito quickly heads outside and throws Yano into the ring barriers, as the beard work continued on Gedo… which almost led to the finish as SANADA blocked Yano from making the save. Finally Yano gets involved as he kicked Naito on the apron, before getting the tag in… and he’s right after the turnbuckles, removing a pad as he swiped Naito with it like it was a clothesline.
Naito saves himself from being thrown into the exposed corner, which he uses for the slingshot dropkick after tripping Yano there. There’s more comedy as referee Kenta Sato took a bump as Naito let go of a tug of war for the padding with him, and that’s the extent of our build as Gedo and SANADA come back in. This time Gedo stops the beard pulling, only to get tied up in a Paradise Lock.
Except Yano figured out a way to break it up! Gedo played dumb and caught SANADA with a dropkick, then a sunset flip for some near-falls, but it’s for nought as the Skull End turned things around for the submission. This was such a nothing match as they continue to take it easy on the smaller shows. **
After the match, Naito went after Yano, dragging a turnbuckle pad with him… as SANADA again leaves before the LIJ fistbump.
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
Well, this should be good… or at the very last, warm us up for Wednesday’s match.
We opened with TAKA and Chase trading shoulder tackles, before Owens scored with a couple of hiptosses, opening things up for Kenny Omega to keep the offence going with the chain of wishbone leg splitters and the old row row row your boat spot. In the end, Sabre gets annoyed and catches Chase in a submission attempt, then gets tagged in. His time in the ring is brief as TAKA takes some forearms and pokes Owens in the eye…
Kenny’s in to try and rescue things, but he eats an uppercut from Sabre, who finds a way to escape… by locking in a rear naked choke after slipping out of the Finlay roll. A running knee from TAKA nearly gets the upset… and gets made to pay with a Kotaro Krusher/Downward Spiral combo from the Bullet Club pair.
Chase tried to finish off TAKA, but he gets suckered with an enziguiri and a Bully choke as Sabre trapped Omega in an Octopus hold… only for Kenny to fall onto the pile to break it up. Owens is right back in with a lariat to TAKA, then a package piledriver, and that’s all folks. By the numbers, but it did what it needed to yo. Short matches and banged up roster members are going to do this to you… **¼
After the match Sabre jumped Kenny Omega before running off…
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto & YOH
It’s Goto vs. Ibushi on Wednesday, and naturally we start off with their partners as YOH manages to take down Yujiro with a diving uppercut… as Rocky Romero tried to keep Kevin Kelly awake, regaling him with backstage rumours.
Yujiro bites his way back into the match, then tags in Kota, who keeps up working on YOH’s arm with elbows, before Yujiro’s brought back in. They combine with a kick and a standing moonsault as YOH remained isolated, at least until he was able to sneak in a Dragon screw to Kota.
In comes Goto to try and pick apart the pieces, but he’s caught with a kick before scoring with a lariat to take Ibushi down. There’s a Saito suplex to Ibushi, who responds with a backflip kick to both Goto and YOH. Tags out bring YOH and Yujiro back in, but a neckbreaker to Yujiro’s only good for a near-fall as Goto and Ibushi headed outside for the end-of-match brawl. A backslide and a La Magistral’s good for a near-fall with YOH spiking Yujiro… but after a springboard missile dropkick from Kota, YOH’s left prone to take Pimp Juice… and the L. It was what it was – and so our suite of meh undercard tags is over. **¼
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe
Fale has won every single G1 match between these two… but on current form, I wouldn’t bet against a schmoss. In fact, I’d bet my house on it.
We start with the pair clunking into each other with shoulder blocks, with Fale being rocked into the ropes as Tanga Loa trips him. Yep, this early. Makabe clocked him outside, but he’s attacked from behind by Fale and then thrown chest-first into the railings… then taken into the crowd for a Brookesing. Back inside, Fale chokes him with his boot as he dared Makabe to fight back, and it worked too as Makabe took Fale into the corner for some mounted punches, but of course the Northern Lights wasn’t going to work. They clobber each other with duelling lariats instead, which affected Makabe more, but he’s able to take down Fale eventually for a near-fall. Fale turns it straight back around as he worked into a big splash for a near-fall… but he can’t quite get Makabe for the Grenade.
More lariats take Fale down, but Tanga Loa pulls out the referee… you know what’s next, the only question is if the referee enforces things. A pair of clotheslines from Makabe take down Fale and Tanga, before Tanga cuts off a King Kong Knee drop, allowing Fale to press slam Makabe off the top rope. The chain comes next as Fale lariats Makabe with it… and the referee’s back in to count the pin. BOO. BOO INCONSISTENCIES. Should have had Red Shoes doing the officiating here… we’re going sub zero for the crowd actually booing this! -*
G1 Climax, Block A: Hangman Page vs. Jay White
A loss for Page will see him eliminated from his first G1, so… no pressure!
We start with Page and White teasing cheapshots in the ropes, but it’s Switchblade who powders to the outside… using Yuya Uemura as a human shield as he took over on Page. The obligatory dive into the English commentary desk happens as Page topes White into the railings… and White continues to play keepaway as he’s forced to avoid a shooting star headbutt before dumping Page with a Saito suplex on the outside.
When Page returned to the ring, White stomps on his back repeatedly, before taking him back to the outside to throw him between the guard railings and the English commentary desk. Troll. A clothesline from Page puts a stop to things, as did a standing shooting star press as White looked to be losing his grip on things. Page deadlifts Switchblade into a bridging pumphandle fallaway slam, but it’s not enough as White kicks out and throws chops… but he’s forced to escape a Buckshot Lariat, ducking it and turning the move into a Complete Shot as a deadlift German quickly followed. The Three Amigos of head-and-arm suplexes are attempted, but Page avoids the hattrick and charges White into the corner, before he’s forced to fight out of an attempted suplex to the floor.
Landing on the apron, Page looked to go for a Buckshot lariat, but his back gave out. He’s able to hit it at the next try though, but he can’t get the Rite of Passage as White clawed his way to the outside… where he cuts off another shooting star headbutt with a Complete Shot on the apron. White’s still not done with the apron though as he tried to German suplex Hangman there, then again off the top rope to the floor, but fortunately there was no murder attempt as Page fought free… and stays up top to hit a moonsault to the floor!
A crushing dropkick squashes White in the corner as they returned to the ring… and Page tries to follow up with another moonsault, only for White to shove the referee into the ropes, before Page was shoved onto the apron, then the floor. Enough with the apron bumps! White’s quickly after him to grab some chairs from under the ring, which he uses on Page’s back as the referee was distracted by another chair… but it’s not enough!
Page kicks out at two, then takes a twisting brainbuster for a near-fall, before White went back to the chair. Finally referee Marty Asami stands up to him, forcing White to drop the chair… in the meantime, Page loosens his boot and we almost get the Eddie Guerrero/Kurt Angle WrestleMania finish, only for White to kick-out! With one boot, Page looks for the Rite of Passage, but it’s countered as a Blade Runner’s escaped by some spitting as they’re achingly close to the finish.
More chairs, but Page ducks and superkicks the chair into White… then tries to use it again, but as the referee removes the chair, White slips out of another Rite of Passage, hits a low blow and finishes him off with a Blade Runner. This was fine, but it felt way too long – going 17 minutes. Their match at the Strong Style Evolve show in March felt better, even if this had more storyline and character work. That’s Page out of the G1, and White back on winning ways. ***
G1 Climax, Block A: Minoru Suzuki vs. EVIL
A second successive G1 outing for these two, with EVIL having taken the win a little earlier in last year’s tour…
Yes, we have a jump start as Suzuki goes straight for EVIL, taking him outside… but it’s the LIJ man who’s ahead first whipping Suzuki into the guard railings. Back inside, EVIL throws a chop, but ends up suckering himself into the hanging armbar in the ropes, as Suzuki takes it back outside to put EVIL on the timekeeper’s table… before throwing a chair onto him. Oh, and a guard rail too. The microphone cord’s used around EVIL too, with Suzuki relenting so he could throw him into the guard railings before going back into the ring. Suzuki keeps up on EVIL with knees and kicks to the gut, but EVIL’s able to come back with a kick of his own after some inadvertent assistance from the referee. There’s a running seated senton into a cornered Suzuki… but that just angered the veteran into slapping EVIL, then booting him as the tide turned once more.
A cross armbreaker from Suzuki followed, as he took EVIL outside in search of a chair… which he eventually gets and uses, smashing it on EVIL’s arm against the ring post before he tried to Pillmanize it. EVIL stops that by throwing his chair into Suzuki, then looked to use the Suzuki-gun leader for a spot of baseball, scoring a home run right in front of the referee.
EVIL looks for the Banshee Muzzle, but Suzuki blocks it and tries to fight back, trading elbows with EVIL… throwing more and more behind them before a rolling elbow caught him off guard. We look for Darkness Falls as the pair switched between their finishers, before EVIL backdropped out of a Gotch piledriver… only to get caught in another rear naked choke. More switches ensue, but it’s Suzuki who hit his first, as the Gotch piledriver earned the win. This was fine, but felt way too lethargic in parts – and hey, it continues the logjam at the top of the group too! ***
G1 Climax, Block A: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
A win for Tanahashi would put him alone at the top of the block… and perhaps a surprise shout for block winner this late in the tournament?
Tanahashi started by going after YOSHI-HASHI’s “good” shoulder, taking him into the ropes… but YOSHI got a little rambunctious and switched it around so he could kick Tanahashi in the gut. Another attempt is caught as Tanahashi throws an elbow instead, before crashing into YOSHI with a springboard crossbody out of the corner. The tables quickly turn as YOSHI goes for the leg, then puts Tanahashi in the ropes for a dropkick… but Tanahashi escapes and has to skin the cat, only to get dropkicked in the arse anyway.
YOSHI keeps the pace slow with a chinlock as he forced Tanahashi to scramble into the ropes. A suplex brings Tanahashi down with a crash for a near-fall… but Tanahashi fires back after taking a chop, setting up YOSHI for a flip senton off the middle rope for another two-count. Tanahashi keeps going for Slingblades, but instead ends up taking a Headhunter as YOSHI counters, and builds up a head of steam with a back heel kick and a back cracker! A flipping powerbomb’s next, with Tanahashi almost landing badly, before a senton off the top rope nearly puts Tanahashi away. Karma’s next, but Tanahashi counters into a swinging neckbreaker, before another Slingblade’s thwarted! Strikes seem to effect YOSHI more, but he’s able to nail a Western Lariat as he remained close to victory, then again after a version of the Jackhammer!
YOSHI looked for Karma again, but it’s blocked as Tanahashi flips out, and eventually comes back in with a ripcorded Slingblade for a near-fall. Tanahashi keeps up the pressure from there, but he misses a High Fly Flow and ends up taking some running double knees as the urgency finally began to rise, but YOSHI goes for the Butterfly lock and gets cradled for the flash pin out of nowhere! This was a solid match, but again lacked any sense of urgency. It’s another telling loss for YOSHI-HASHI, who had Tanahashi’s number but took his eye off the ball at the worst possible moment. I sense a change in YOSHI after the G1… particularly given how much he argued with Tanahashi and the referee afterwards. He showed more enthusiasm there than he has in most of his matches! ***½
G1 Climax, Block A: Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
Since he dug up the phallic balloons, Okada has won every G1 match… and as he’s undefeated against Elgin in singles action, I’ve a good feeling about this one…
There’s a mixed response for this, as we start with a tie-up and both men going into the ropes, before Elgin throws a chop … then teases an early Elgin Bomb! Okada slips out and goes for a tombstone, before he finds an inside cradle was stopped and met with a suplex as the former champion was perhaps going for the big guns too soon.
An enziguiri from Elgin takes Okada off the apron as a dive sends him into the crowd barriers… but a slingshot plancha back inside sees Elgin land in Okada’s knees, a move that did more damage to Okada than to Elgin, as they head outside, where Okada hit a snap DDT onto the floor! They head into the crowd as Okada did the Jado draping DDT off the guard rails, forcing Elgin into narrowly beating the count. Some low dropkicks from Okada saw him keep up on Elgin, who tried to power out… only to get Okada’s knee drilled into him once more. We’re back to chops, but Okada shrugs it off and goes for a suplex, before running into a scoop slam from the Canadian. A clumsy escape from a suplex ends up backfiring as Elgin hits that suplex for a near-fall, before taking Okada up top for a superplex… but he’s knocked down as Okada just wants to… Scooby Dooby Doo!
But he’s caught, and Elgin just takes him back up top as they go back and forth some more until he leaps into a flapjack! Elgin shrugs it off and goes for some rolling Germans, hitting a hattrick, only to whiff as his splash off the top misses. Elgin’s straight back with chops as he threw his hand through Okada’s chest, before another enziguiri knocked Okada woozy up top ahead of his eventual superplex!
Sensing victory, Elgin hoisted up Okada for a bucklebomb, following up with a chop before an Elgin Bomb was escaped… but Okada’s comeback quickly has the brakes applied as he misses a dropkick. Another enziguiri and a half-nelson suplex puts Elgin right back on top… until he runs into the Okada dropkick! A ma-hoo-sive lariat folded Okada in half as we’re firmly into the near-fall territory now, but Elgin can only hit a buckle bomb as Okada escapes another Elgin bomb attempt, folding him for a near-fall.
The relentless attack continued from Elgin though: a lariat into the corner, before a Splash Mountain off the top’s countered with an armdrag! Okada again goes for a tombstone, but nothing’s going there as Elgin responds with another forearm, and another Elgin Bomb attempt, before instead nailing Splash Mountain to almost take the victory. We’re back up top again as Elgin tries for the Burning Hammer, but Okada slips out and goe sright back to the tombstone… which is reversed back and forth until Elgin’s spiked! We’re right back up from there into a discus Rainmaker, followed by a second one as Okada took home the win. This was great stuff – but was lacking something for my likings. Had this been a little earlier in the tournament, when Okada was struggling for a win, THIS would have been the match to snap the streak on, but knowing the tropes, there was no way Okada’s comeback was going to feature a loss to a guy whom New Japan had largely bypassed for most of the year. As for the match – a worthy main event, and the best thing on the card… but still some way short of the upper echelon that this G1 has frequently hit. ****
It may have been due to my distractions, but this was a bit of a damp squib of a show for me. It felt like everyone was tired and missing a certain spark – with the undercard tags in particular having a very “small town show” feel, and now we’re getting into the business end of the tournament, there’s going to be more and more matches that struggle to overcome the “just a match” tag. Hopefully that’s not going to be the case, as I doubt I can cope with utterly meaningless Firing Squad matches…
We’ve a travel day as the G1 returns on Wednesday in Kagoshima with the B block getting involved: as Zack Sabre Jr. and Kenny Omega have the spotlight match… but it’s Kota Ibushi and Hirooki Goto in the main event for some reason. Your current standing, by the way, have YOSHI-HASHI, Togi Makabe and Hangman Page eliminated, while Elgin is on the bubble due to his remaining matches.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (5-1; 10pts)
EVIL, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, Jay White (4-2; 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale (3-3; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe (2-4; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI, Hangman Page (1-5; 2pts)
Kenny Omega (5-0; 10pts)
Tetsuya Naito (4-1; 8pts)
Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (3-2; 6pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii (2-3; 4pts)
Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga, Toru Yano (1-4; 2pts)