Kenny Omega’s crusade for the perfect G1 run continued in Osaka, as B block hurtled ever closer towards its conclusion.

It’s the first of two shows from Osaka’s Edion Arena as we head into the final week of the G1. “No matter where this goes you know don’t surrender don’t you fold”… Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero remain ever-present on commentary, and awaiting Jay White’s latest bid to knock them off the air.

Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
Sigh. Go on then.

Commentary’s back on the “YOSHI-HASHI isn’t good enough” kick, and since he’s starting out against Fale, it’s not going to be an easy ride. Especially not when Fale grabs YOSHI by the hair. He does escape a charge in the corner as a DDT took Fale down, but it’s way too soon to even think about a suplex. Fale easily counters out, but YOSHI slips out of the slam so he could try… a German suplex? Your game plan is bad and you should feel bad, YOSHI. A shoulder tackle puts him down but he’s able to fight off Tanga and Fale one-on-two before bringing in SHO for a spot of double-teaming. A spear’s good for a near-fall… but Tanga’s able to come back with a huge stalling suplex for a near-fall.

Tanga keeps up the offence, but he’s surprised by a back cracker by SHO, who looked to end the match with a cross armbreaker… only for Fale to wander in and stomp it apart. Not to matter, SHO keeps up on the arm, until Tanga counters into a sidewalk slam, and after he absorbs some clotheslines Tanga dumped SHO with one of his own before the Apeshit put SHO away. Thanks for coming SHO – and that’s the bearable Firing Squad outing done for the day. **½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens)
Chase Owens sure looked like he was being thrown to the wolves here, backing away from Minoru Suzuki before the bell. He knew the jump start was coming…

Page was taken outside, where his own rope was used against him by Suzuki, while Chase managed to score with a slingshot neckbreaker to Desperado back in the ring. Suzuki quickly cuts off Chase with an armbreaker in the ropes while Desperado decides to just walk into a camera… so he can be in place to whip Chase into the guard rails. On the other side of the arena, Page has a chair ground into him by the sadistic Suzuki, which meant he was pretty much helpless for a while as Chase continued to get beaten on, particularly when Suzuki just clocks him with elbows. A missed boot in the corner from Suzuki earns him a superkick from Chase, who finally tags out allowing Page to… boot a flying Desperado in the face!

Problem was, Suzuki was read and waiting, only for him to get met with a slam and a standing shooting star press by Hangman. The pair begin to trade forearms at each other, but it’s Suzuki’s that are audibly harder and visibly more effective, before Page manages to fight back… Owens is back in to get a near-fall out of Suzuki with a running knee… but the end result was inevitable once Chase was caught in a rear naked choke, as the Gotch piledriver followed for the win. Decent fare, and for a dead rubber, I’m kinda looking forward to Suzuki/Page tomorrow. **¾

Jay White & YOH vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Gotta love how much New Japan blast Makabe’s “replacement” theme… yet we can still hear bits of Led Zeppelin fighting to get through from underneath.

Yet again, Jay White’s trying to brainwash YOH, but the Switchblade starts by shoving the referee into Makabe so he could get the upper hand. One shoulder charge later, and White wants out, tagging in YOH “because he wanted to start”. Luckily for him, he’s got Henare instead, but it’s a similar story as Henare charges through him, then slammed the former junior tag champion ahead of a falling chop. YOH fires back with a diving uppercut, but Jay White gets involved as he pulls Henare outside ahead of his usual bit where he tries to dismantle English commentary. White wants back in, but YOH’s reluctant to tag out… and when he does, White ends up trading chops with Henare, who pulls in into a Samoan drop.

Why does Makabe’s grunting sound like he’s trying to be sick? Anyway, he’s in to catch White with mounted punches before throwing a chop and a lariat for a near-fall, but White’s able to counter with the Saito suplex. Henare’s brought back in, and he takes down White with a shoulder tackle, then a spear, as YOH comes in to break up the cover. Henare tries again with a flying shoulder tackle, but White again grabs the referee before he pulls Henare off the top and into a Blade Runner for the win. This was okay, but I sense tomorrow’s block match may be short… **½

Michael Elgin & David Finlay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shota Umino
It’s another nosebleed for Umino, who’s higher up than usual on the card as he helps with the warm up for Elgin vs. Tanahashi tomorrow.

Those two start off the match as Elgin showed off how much he’s trying to out-do YOSHI-HASHI in the “mummify oneself” stakes, before he knocked down Tanahashi with a shoulder charge. He’s able to block an armdrag and carry Tanahashi into the corner, just to show he can. Finlay and Umino come in, but it’s Shota who scores with the tackles, only to get taken down with a diving uppercut from Finlay as the Young Lion found himself on the defensive.

Elgin’s back in to keep up on Umino, but the tables turn when Tanahashi comes in, as a Dragon screw hauls down the Canadian, only for Elgin to return the favour with a scoop slam. A missed enziguiri from Elgin leaves him on the mat for another Dragon screw, but he’s able to come back with a German suplex. Finlay tries to capitalise, but he’s met with the rolling neckbreaker as Tanahashi… fell to the advances of the enthusiastic Umino.

He’s tagged back in, and takes down Finlay with forearms and back elbows, before he slipped en route to a missile dropkick. A Boston crab looked to end things, but Elgin wanders in to try and elbow him out of the hold… Umino holds on though, until a chop broke it up as he only had so much heart, before a series of roll-ups looked to shock Finlay, but in the end it’s a uranage backbreaker and a Stunner that gets young David the win. Surprisingly good for these undercard tags, with Umino finding a way to progress in spite of eating the loss. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
Can lightning strike twice for EVIL? Last year he beat Okada in Osaka… he’ll need to do the same again tomorrow in the G1 to disrupt the Rainmaker’s charge.

It’s BUSHI and Gedo who get us underway, with the latter going for the mask while the former surprisingly didn’t go for the beard. At first. Then we get all the beard pulls, the t-shirt chokes and your favourite BUSHI shortcuts before EVIL’s tagged in. Gedo manages to outwit EVIL’s own move before poking him the eye, as Okada gets the tag in… and he clears house on BUSHI with a flapjack after having sent EVIL packing.

EVIL avoids a neckbreaker slam and instead takes down Okada for a back senton, then a spinning sidewalk slam as Okada looked to be in some degree of trouble. That neckbreaker slam finally comes off, as both men tag out, allowing Gedo to Dusty punch BUSHI into sort-of oblivion before he blocked a beard tug. BUSHI shrugs it off and connects with a missile dropkick though, before a swinging neckbreaker was countered into a roll-up as the Gedo clutch almost took home the win. An enziguiri from BUSHI, then a back cracker leaves Gedo down, only for Okada to make a save as EVIL clocks Okada with his own Rainmaker! With Okada down, BUSHI finally gets a fall when he caught Gedo with the MX for the pin! Entertaining enough… but Okada having taken his own move in the warm-up makes me think lightning won’t strike twice tomorrow. ***

G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Toru Yano
Yano jumped SANADA on the way down to the ring, and promptly ties him in a Paradise Lock on the stage… using his own t-shirt to try and help!

Yano rushes into the ring to try and get the count-out, forcing SANADA to hop down the aisle and narrowly beat the count. Plan B then, Yano? That was to grab the rope as SANADA tried to exact revenge, then go for a bunch of roll-ups, before SANADA rolled him around the ring, dizzying Yano for a near-fall.

Yano rolls outside to try and unscramble himself, but SANADA just traps him in a Paradise Lock on the floor before rolling back into the ring… Yano screams for Rocky Romero to help, which he does as he rolls Yano over to free himself! From there, Yano undoes the turnbuckle pad, then heads outside as SANADA’s whipped into the railings as the referee stopped Yano from taping him to the rails. Still on the outside, SANADA grabs part of the crowd barrier as he tries to one-up Minoru Suzuki from earlier in the tour… trapping Yano in the railing with a Paradise Lock, then taping the railing to the ring post. Romero tries to help again, but he’s kicked and trapped in a Paradise Lock also, as SANADA remembers to put Rocky’s headset on. Which meant we got a count-out and some GLORIOUS commentary from a strained Rocky. This was awesome… as was Milano Collection AT untying everyone afterwards.

No stars here, but TEARS OF LAUGHTER.

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Hirooki Goto
Right, time to get serious… once we get past 2018’s answer to the question nobody asked “can we get a new Road Dogg?”

Both men are on four points, with their G1 campaigns long-since over, and we start with Goto taking Tama into the ropes as he clamped on a side headlock, before a hiptoss left Tama on the mat. We’ve interference as Tanga Loa shoves Goto off the top rope as the referee was distracted, allowing Tama to keep up the assault on the outside, standing on Goto’s head before rolling into the ring.

Yeah, more interference as Tanga clotheslines Goto behind the ref’s back… there’s more from Tama as Goto finally fires back with a lariat, then a German suplex as Goto tried to outsmart his foe. There’s a clubbing lariat from Goto in the corner, who then looked for an avalanche ushigoroshi… but Tama fights free and instead went for a powerbomb. Goto slipped out as we go to clotheslines and dropkicks, with Goto’s lariat sending Tama flying for a near-fall, and then we get the big ref bump as Goto’s shoved into Marty Asami. Tanga Loa’s back in pretty instantly, laying out Goto with a powerslam, before Goto fought out of Guerrilla Warfare as he continued his fightback.

Tama slips out of an ushigoroshi before some Gun Stuns were blocked and turned into the ushigoroshi anyway… just as the referee returned. The GTR’s next, but Bad Luck Fale’s headed out to pull out the referee, then throw him into the guard railing as we have our DQ. Good of Marty to wave for the bell as he’s aching in the railings, except apparently that was a miscue, as Fale hits a Grenade on Goto. Red Shoes Unno is dragged out to make the count, but he again flips off the Tongans and calls for the DQ. There you go… exactly what you figured. A match you can skip doubly because nobody gains anything here, and we’re still just biding time until those ref bumps in Firing Squad matches. *

G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson
Sabre’s out of the G1 also, so he’s playing for pride… and a potential title shot down the line.

Zack instantly goes after the left hand of Juice, who tries to reverse it… and instead ends up in the ropes before the pair opted to throw elbows instead. Just like that, a Cobra twist’s used by Sabre, before luring Juice into a back senton so he could lock in another triangle armbar as that left arm is once again targeted. Juice tries to break free with a Juice Box, but Sabre lands on his feet and twists on Robinson’s arm between his legs. Eventually Juice lands a lariat, then some Dusty punches as you perhaps sensed that this coming so late in the tournament made this just an exhibition. He takes Sabre into the corners for lariats ahead of a cannonball… but Zack rolls outside and into the path of a plancha.

Back inside, Juice looks to keep up with a spinebuster, but Zack catches it and turns it into a mounted wristlock, before he caught the counter and grabbed a rear naked choke instead, clinging on despite Juice’s efforts to break free. Second time was the charm as Juice broke free and cornered Sabre for a cannonball, as Robinson finally managed to outsmart Sabre’s counter wrestling, getting off a Jackhammer as he’d originally gone for a powerbomb instead.

Another Juice Box is quickly blocked as Sabre mounts him for an Octopus hold, but somehow Juice lifts out and hits the Juice Box at the third time of asking. Just like that though, Sabre’s instantly back in the game as Pulp Friction’s countered into an arm triangle, with some wrist manipulation on the broken hand… so Juice removes the strapping, which makes that sort-of broken hand legal again.

He goes straight in with a southpaw shot on Zack, but it looked to damage Juice as well, and he takes too long to follow up with Pulp Friction, allowing Sabre to go right for the unprotected hand, finishing with an omoplata, tying up Juice in a rather unnatural position until the referee waved off the match. Ow. Sabre instantly goes for the belt, and I think we have a title challenge for September’s show in the States. This was a clinical performance from Sabre – maybe one that was lacking in crowd response at times as this had no bearing on the G1… but it sets up nicely for the inevitable title challenge as Juice needs to heal up to have any hope of keeping hold of the belt. ***¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega
These two have had some huge matches in the past, notably in the finals of last year’s IWGP US title tournament. Can Ishii play spoiler, or will he fall to his third loss in a row against Omega?

Kenny starts off by patronising Ishii, which isn’t smart… nor was throwing some forearms to Ishii, as the Stone Pitbull responded with a headbutt before he ran into Kenny with a head as he went for a leapfrog. The tempo raises as Omega has to avoid a sliding lariat, while Ishii rolled away from a V-Trigger as he instead takes Kenny into the corner for a crushing chop.

Omega’s forced to rake the eyes to get free, then hit a DDT that had Ishii headstand for a while, before the Finlay roll and springboard moonsault drew a near-fall. A STF’s pulled back on so much that Omega loses grip, so he keeps up with kicks to the back… that just anger Ishii into standing up and chopping Kenny in the goddamn throat. There’s a receipt of sorts, but Ishii’s right back with a powerslam, then a Saito suplex as he almost derailed the Omega-train. Ishii almost loses a powerbomb on Omega, before he lets go and gets caught with a ‘rana, sending him outside for the Terminator tope con giro. Back inside, there’s a Kotaro Krusher for a near-fall, before thunderous chops are exchanged as Ishii continued to feel his neck. Both men looked to be running on fumes as Ishii threw Omega into the corner with a German suplex, following up with an avalanche brainbuster for a near-fall.

Omega returns fire with a tornado DDT, before he cracks Ishii with a V-Trigger… only to get folded in half with a German suplex! A discus lariat puts Kenny down for the sliding lariat, but Kenny’s up in time, only to get caught as Ishii teased hitting him with a One Winged Angel.

Omega escaped though, taking Ishii into the corner for a thunderous V-Trigger, before a Dr Wily Bomb drew a near-fall. There’s a grotesque clunk as Omega throws more V-Triggers… but Ishii just shrugs it off! Clunking lariats in the ropes and V-Triggers are exchanged, but in the end Ishii wilts into a Dragon suplex… then a lariat as somehow he had found a third wind! Okay, this just jumped off the page!

Kenny pulls Ishii up into a One Winged Angel, but Ishii escaped to hit his own Dragon suplex, before countering a ‘rana into a powerbomb as the pair once again found themselves running on empty tanks. Well, at least until Ishii shrugged off a chop, only to get caught with a huge reverse ‘rana as the impacts on Ishii’s neck began to tell. A V-Trigger sends Ishii through the ropes, before a double stomp took him off the apron and to the floor.

Back inside, a kneeling Ishii takes a dropkick to the back of the head, then an Aoi Shoudou, again targeting the neck, but we’re still going! Another crack at the One Winged Angel is escaped as Ishii flips out, then rolls out of a backslide before catching a V-Trigger… but he can’t avoid the next one as he’s forced yet again to kick out! Straight afterwards though, Ishii’s dumped with a Jay Driller for a near-fall as I swear he’s leaving this ring shorter than when he started. Omega pulls down the knee pad for one more V-Trigger, which connects flush but it’s still nowhere near enough… and Ishii nearly snatches it when he countered the One Winged Angel into a crucifix bomb! Good God this has gone from “good” to “fantastic” in a heartbeat! Ishii rares himself up by headbutting the corner pads, before clubbering Omega with lariats… there’s another V-Trigger, but Ishii popped Kenny up into a headbutt before a running lariat put Kenny the closest he’s been to losing his 100% run. Omega reverses a brainbuster… but Ishii’s up at one?!

Good GOD.

Another clunking lariat decks Kenny, as those headbutts have busted Omega’s mouth up good and proper, before one more sheer drop brainbuster finally gets the win (even if Kenny’s shoulder was up at three tanks to a really tight cover!). This was insane. Starting out slowly, and a little unpolished at times, this blew into an all-out war, with all of your favourite stuff. Hard hits, a little bit of blood, and… Tomohiro Ishii likely having booked himself a title shot for later in the year. ****¾

So… that’s B block blown wide open. A win for Naito means he’s top… but losing the tie-breaker, while a win for Ibushi would make things a little more hairy as we rely on losses and tie-breakers a little more.

G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito
So, we’ve a 2-2 record between these guys, with Naito having won their last two singles matches in the 2015 and 2017 G1s. Can he three-peat?

We start with Naito looking for a hold, before he instead opted to take Ibushi into the corner ahead of the Tranquilo pose! Red Shoes nodded approvingly, while Ibushi just stared…

Naito rolls to the outside to slow the pace down, with Ibushi not exactly charging out after him… instead waiting for Naito to return before blasting into him with a dropkick. Again, Naito’s on the outside, where Ibushi threatens a German suplex to the floor, before he’s trapped in the ropes and met with a low dropkick. From there, Naito keeps up on the knee, kicking it in the guard rails, before the English commentary desk becomes ground zero once again. Returning to the ring, Naito keeps up on the knee, cornering Ibushi as the crowd slowly began to turn on Naito. Spitting into the crowd will do that. Another low dropkick catches Ibushi, who leaps over another and manages to stomp on Naito on the way down!

Naito manages to get back into it with a neckbreaker out of the ropes, before Ibushi elbows free and hits a ‘rana as we’re back outside, with the Golden Triangle moonsault crashing into Naito on the floor. Back in the ring, Naito catches Ibushi up top, going for the knees again, but Ibushi manages to throw him to the apron before he went in search of a deadlift German suplex! That’s escaped as Naito trips Ibushi, then after a missile dropkick, he goes back to the knees with a figure four, which Ibushi tried his best to slap out of, before he instead had to drag himself into the ropes for freedom.

Despite that, Naito tries to keep up with Gloria, but it’s countered into a half nelson suplex, then a series of strikes as Naito manages to counter a wheelbarrow by dumping Ibushi on his goddamn neck!

Gloria’s next, with a nasty landing for Ibushi, as it looked to be plain sailing for Naito from here, with another neckbreaker leaving Kota limp on the mat. Or was he? Ibushi’s right back with a head kick before collapsing again. He’s back up for a backflip kick as Naito tried to haul him into a Destino off the top… so of course, he goes up top as he perhaps tried to piledrive Naito off the top rope… and he has him upside down… but Naito fights out! More elbows and slaps follow, but Naito maneuvers himself for a super reverse ‘rana! Except Ibushi lands on his feet, effortlessly, and meets Naito on the way down with a lariat! With Naito looking to crawl to the apron for respite, he’s met – and caught – with a deadlift German suplex back into the ring, landing high on his neck and head before somehow kicking out at two!

The Last Ride’s next for a near-fall, as the clock began to come into play… with both men going for each other’s finishes, with Naito escaping Kamigoye before landing Destino for a very close call! He goes for it again, but Ibushi blocks it and turned it into a sheer drop sit-out piledriver!

A Bomaye knee’s next, but all those head drops can’t get the win, before one last Kamigoye proved to be enough to keep Naito down for the three count. Good lord above… that followed a similar pattern to the prior match, with a slow start, but when it kicked into gear… my GOD it went off the charts. Some of those head drops at the end were more than uncomfortable to watch, but now we’re going into next week’s final matches with a slightly clearer-cut path. ****½

This was a show that for a change had a decent undercard, then derailed in the middle with the Firing Squad again… but my God, those final two matches delivered in drama, in brutality, and in anticipation. We stay in Osaka for tomorrow’s show – a 7am start in the UK – with A block taking centre stage with Kazuchika Okada and EVIL closing out the G1’s stay in the Edion Arena.

Block A:
Hiroshi Tanahashi (6-1; 12pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Jay White (5-2; 10pts)
EVIL, Minoru Suzuki (4-3; 8pts)
Michael Elgin, Bad Luck Fale (3-4; 6pts)
Togi Makabe, Hangman Page (2-5; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-6; 2pts)

Block B:
Kenny Omega (6-1; 12pts)
Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito (5-2; 10pts)
Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (4-3; 8pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii (3-4; 6pts)
Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga (2-5; 4pts)
Toru Yano (1-6; 2pts)