We’re done with Korakuen Hall for this tour, as block A headed elsewhere in Tokyo – the Esforta Arena – as Kazuchika Okada continued his comeback…
“Here comes the new revolution dare your souls…” Once again, Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are on commentary, with Jango in for Japanese translations.
Toa Henare & Shota Umino vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
This should be a pretty straightforward outing for the Guerrillas, with Tanga Loa jumping both Henare and Shota from the off.
The production crew focus on the Japanese commentary team as Shota Umino was thrown into the guard railings, but at least we saw the second time Tama sent him flying. Henare’s up at two after a running powerslam from Tanga, but the New Zealander looked to fight back against Tonga, only to get wiped out with a dropkick.
Tanga’s back in to take a headbutt and a Samoan drop from Henare, before he tagged out to Shota Umino, who keeps the momentum up, going for a dropkick on Tanga before Henare caught both of them out with a flying shoulder tackle. The ring fills as Tama took down Henare with a neckbreaker, while Umino’s in with a missile dropkick and a German suplex… except Tanga is right back up from the German and goes Apeshit on Shota for the win. Some good flashes here, but in the end the right team won. **¼
Post-match Tama Tonga runs up the aisle and lays out Henare. That’s what you get for wanting to be in the gang.
Toru Yano & Gedo vs. Hirooki Goto & YOH
Gedo’s back in for the injured Jado, and my God, how great is that new Yano shirt?
It’s another intra-CHAOS match here, and we start with YOH taking Gedo into the ropes… only for the veteran to catch him with a cheapshot. A flying forearm from YOH puts him ahead, as Goto comes in to help double-team Gedo ahead of… sushi pose! Yano and Gedo do the same, as Yano starts to enter his usual playbook, removing the turnbuckle padding and raking the eyes as SHO was on the back foot. A Dragon screw from SHO restores order as Goto comes in for his sampler against Yano, taking him down with a clothesline before suplexing Gedo onto Yano.
Tags take us back to Gedo and YOH, with the pair instantly flying into some indy’riffic pins, swapping near-falls to confuse referee Kenta Sato, nearly ending with a handful of tights from Gedo…. Instead, SHO has to escape a Gedo clutch and put away Gedo with the Five Star clutch for the pin. This was fine, but felt a little clunky at times. There’s been better CHAOS vs. CHAOS tags… **
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & SHO
Yes, when we’re back for the G1 on Thursday, it’s Sabre vs. Ishii. Not that there’s recent history between those two…
SHO and TAKA get us going, with the relative newcomer doing well early on… until TAKA opened his bag of tricks and just kicked him in the shin. Sabre tagged in and instantly tries to knock Ishii off the apron, but that absolutely doesn’t work, so TAKA’s brought back in to keep up on SHO, only to get speared.
Tags take us back to Sabre as Ishii’s brought in, with Zack going straight to a Cobra twist, which is countered by a hiptoss and some clunking Ishii elbows. Chops come next from Ishii, whose bid to take it easy after yesterday’s excursions led ot him falling into an octopus hold as Sabre rolled through his “unlimited holds”. An overhead kick to the arm keeps Ishii down, but perhaps tagging in TAKA wasn’t so wise… as Ishii instantly dumps him with a suplex. SHO’s brought back in to clobber TAKA with a lariat, before he escaped a Bully choke an catches TAKA in a cross armbreaker… only for Zack to break it up. Ishii dispatches Sabre with a German suplex, before SHO hits a back cracker and another cross armbreaker for the win. Decent stuff, and we had a brief but enjoyable flash between Sabre and Ishii ahead of Thursday. **½
Post-match, Ishii’s suckered into an arm triangle by Sabre, before they’re separated.
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
Last year’s G1 saw Juice pull out a huge upset against Kenny Omega… can he repeat?
It’s Juice and Omega who start us off with holds, but it’s a series of hiptosses and armdrags that put Robinson ahead until Kenny instinctively went for Juice’s arm. Feeling guilty, Kenny tries to apologise, and just tags out. In comes Finlay and Owens, with Finlay having to avoid a Fireman’s carry before returning in with an uppercut… bringing Juice back in for a diving elbow onto Owens’ arm as Chase was isolated for a spell. A double bulldog puts Owens down in the middle of the ring, but Chase comes straight back in with a slingshot backbreaker to Finlay as Omega comes in to help hit a double elbow drop for a near-fall.
Some wishbone leg splitters keep Finlay on the mat, but eventually he gets free and catches Owens with a dropkick before making that tag out. Dusty punches from Juice rock Chase and Kenny, but Omega cuts off the final shot ahead of a pair of superkicks and a Kotaro Krusher/flatliner combo for a near-fall. The ring clears as Owens tried to package piledriver Juice, only to get slingshotted into the corner as he ends up taking the Juice Box fireman’s carry gutbuster for the win. Makes sense as the Pulp Friction isn’t viable because of the broken hand… and that’s a fairly big win for Juice on this run. **¾
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
Our final prelim is another warm-up to a tasty-looking match on Thursday – SANADA vs. Ibushi!
Those two start us off, with Ibushi wringing the arm early on before taking SANADA outside for a faked-out dive. SANADA’s taking his time, before both men tag out and we get the battle of No Limit: Yujiro vs. Naito! Naito doesn’t forget how he was turned on all those years ago, as we start exchanging elbows before Naito gets hotshotted into the ropes, leading to a near-fall as Yujiro tagged out to Ibushi.
A double hiptoss takes us to more double-teaming from Yujiro and Ibushi, only for Naito to come back with a wonky reverse rope-hung DDT. SANADA’s back in for the double-leapfrog dropkick before Kota unloads with his kicks and a standing moonsault for a near-fall… SANADA returns the fire with a ‘rana to Yujiro, before Naito’s back in with the slingshot corner dropkick to Takahashi. Yujiro starts biting on Naito’s hand to escape some offence, helping him get back into it with a leg sweep and a low dropkick en route to a reverse DDT that nearly puts away Naito. SANADA comes in to try and stop the Pimp Juice DDT, only for Ibushi to throw him outside for a plancha, leaving Yujiro and Naito in the ring… and the finish is pretty soon after as Naito surprises us all with a Victory roll for the win! This was decent in flashes, but when you add in the humidity in the arena and the four-day run, you’ve got to expect things being a little slower than usual on the prelims. **¾
Post-match, Naito offers a fist-bump to SANADA… who just walks away.
G1 Climax, Block A: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Michael Elgin
Can YOSHI-HASHI break his duck? Well, these two have met in two prior G1s, with Elgin taking both wins… so my expectations are low here.
YOSHI was understandably looking glum about it all, and although he does take Elgin outside with a low bridge, he makes a mistake in trying to jump on Elgin, as he’s forced to avoid an early powerbomb on the floor. We’re back inside as YOSHI instantly takes Elgin up top, but he’s shoved onto the ropes and clotheslined off of them as YOSHI seemed to be making pretty huge errors – going for the big moves early rather than wear down your opponent early. C’mon New Japan, has he not played Fire Pro? You’re bloody sponsored by them!
We see Young Lion Yota Tsuji wandering down to ringside with an ice bag, in preparation for YOSHI I’d bet, but the taped-up disappointment of CHAOS manages to slip in a DDT to Elgin, before some headscissors takes the Canadian to the outside. YOSHI looks for a dive, and actually gets his tope con giro into the aisle, before returning to the ring for a chop to Elgin, then a Blockbuster for a near-fall. Elgin quickly turns the tables with a German suplex, then an enziguiri and a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. A superplex attempt follows, but instead Elgin drops down for a gamengiri before heading back up for the Splash Mountain… but YOSHI counters into a ‘rana in mid-air for a solid two-count! YOSHI tries to follow-up with Karma, but Elgin elbows it away and gives some chops, before YOSHI snuck in with a German suplex out of nowhere! YOSHI keeps up the pressure with a powerbomb and a superkick, only for Elgin to shrug it off and take him back into the corner for a clunking lariat, then a superplex as the ring almost gets wrecked.
YOSHI tried to steal it with a jack knife for a near-fall as they exchange chops, before a Western lariat looked to stop things. A half-nelson suplex amd a clubbing lariat from Elgin is next for a near-fall, before he goes to the big guns… a Splash Mountain gets a two-count as the crowd perhaps sensed there’d be a big upset. Elgin’s Burning Hammer is stuffed, and somehow YOSHI’s right back in with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall before a back cracker and Karma gets the upset win! This started off achingly slow, to the point where “slow YOSHI-HASHI” was becoming a turn-off, but the longer the match wore on, YOSHI picked up the pace and this was really good by the end. ***¼
Yay for me actually calling an upset correctly!
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. EVIL
There’s only one prior meeting between these two in singles action, with Fale winning in their New Japan Cup tie last year.
EVIL attacked Fale before the bell as commentary noted that Tanga Loa was at ringside… an eye rake’s next as EVIL heads outside to try and goad Tanga into hitting him for a cheap DQ. It doesn’t work as EVIL drags Fale outside for a whip into the rails, but we’re quickly into the shtick as Fale distracts the referee with a chair as Tanga Loa attacked EVIL on the other side. They head into the crowd, where EVIL gets Brookesed into the crowd, before Fale picks up a pair of guard railings and throws them onto him. EVIL manages to beat the count, but Fale keeps up on him, working the arm and splashing on it before EVIL rolled away from another big splash.
A lariat takes Fale to the floor, where EVIL tries his damndest to use the Tongan to smash the barricade. EVIL grabs a chair, prompting Tanga Loa to cry foul… EVIL tosses the chair to him as the referee’s got something to do, missing EVIL putting a chair on Fale and throwing him into the ring post. Hey, EVIL’s out-screwing the Firing Squad! Back inside, a Bronco Buster squashes Fale for a near-fall, but the big man’s back to charge through EVIL, before a big splash nearly gets the W. The referee comes into play as EVIL blocks a Grenade and hits a superkick to the gut, before a suplex counter was countered back into a DDT!
Fale’s right back with a crushing lariat though as EVIL sized him up… another lariat from EVIL’s next for a near-fall, but his attempt at Everything is EVIL ends with Fale shoving him into referee Marty Asami, and here comes the interference. Tanga Loa’s invited in to lay into EVIL… only for his Superman punch to go awry as he laid out Fale. BUSHI’s out with mist… but here’s Tama Tonga with a Tongan Twist to BUSHI! A Gun Stun’s blocked by EVIL before Naito hit the ring and continued the shenanigans, ending with Everything is EVIL to Fale as the referee is still down. He’s back to his feet as he notes the ring’s full of bodies, and rather than count the pin we get a DQ as Tama hits another Gun Stun to EVIL. This was not good – and that’s before we factor in the trope of “everyone’s waiting for the interference” before we get to the finish. Another loss for Fale now gives him the same record as YOSHI-HASHI here, as the Firing Squad are causing chaos but eating up those Ls. **
G1 Climax, Block A: Minoru Suzuki vs. Jay White
A first-time singles meeting, and Jay White’s got another fairly big scalp to claim here if he’s to keep his 100% run.
White rolls to the floor as he tries to stall things before the bell, and when the bell rings they’re not exactly in a rush to after each other. Not that that mattered though, as Suzuki kicks him in the leg before Switchblade does a Yano and cowers in the ropes. He’s quickly caught on the outside as Suzuki gets hold of him… before he’s whipped into the guard rails as the former US champion took control.
White throws Suzuki between the barriers and the apron as the timekeeper was in keep trouble. Suzuki snatches at a hanging armbar in the ropes as he was having to pick his shots early, before he began to unload on Switchblade with overhand chops. A cheapshot takes down Suzuki though as White drags him onto the apron as he tries to suffocate Suzuki in the ring apron. Red Shoe Unno refuses to count the pin after that, so White grabs a chinlock as he tries to wear down Suzuki some more, before landing a neckbreaker for just a one-count. Suzuki’s trapped in a Muta lock as some slaps to the back of the head just angered him… and now Suzuki grabs the wrist in a successful bid to escape, taking White into the corner for some body blows. Some PKs leave White rattled, as the hattrick gets a near-fall, so Suzuki’s back to the wrist-bending keylock as White barely gets the soles of his feet to the rope.
Just like that though, White hits back with a suplex into the turnbuckles, then a spin-out suplex for a near-fall, before Suzuki again unleashes with body blows. White uses the referee as a human shield, buying him enough time to German suplex Suzuki, before he goes for a low blow… which Suzuki blocks and instead drills White with a forearm to the head before he snapped him with a Gotch piledriver for the win! Jay White tried to play his usual game here, and it backfires horribly… yay for the selling from Yota Tsuji after the match as he whacked him with a forearm, as Yuya Uemura took the guard rails. This match wasn’t bad, but it lacked a major spark to really get you going. ***
G1 Climax, Block A: Hangman Page vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
HANDSOME BATTLE TIME!
It’s a second-time meeting between these two, with Page having beaten Tanahashi barely two months ago in Doncaster, England on a ROH show. There’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be typing.
We start with wristlocks and arm wringers early on as they keep it simple in the bid for takeovers and dominance… which neither man was able to eke out in the opening stages. Page gets thrown the air guitar, but instead he snaps it on the apron before hitting a bridging fallaway slam for a near-fall as the match remained slow-paced. A Stretch Muffler’s next from Page as he looked to target the leg of Tanahashi that still hadn’t recovered fully from Suzuki’s opening-night destruction, but Tanahashi’s able to make it to the ropes. We get the duelling boot spot from last night, but Tanahashi remembers the cheapshot and eventually surprises Page with a Dragon screw – causing a few boos from the crowd in the process.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 22, 2018
Tanahashi keeps up the momentum with a slam and a flip senton, but Page puts on the brakes as a Slingblade was teased, taking Tanahashi outside for the shooting star headbutt off the apron! A wrecking corner dropkick’s next from Page, then a swinging neckbreaker off the middle rope as he gets a near-fall… before trapping Tanahashi in the middle with a Figure Four. That eventually ends with Tanahashi reversing it and forcing Page to go for the ropes, before a low dropkick snuffs out a Buckshot lariat attempt as Page gets caught in the ropes with another Dragon screw.
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2018
The Buckshot lariat’s next as Page shrugged off the ‘screw, before he lifted up Tanahashi for a Rite of Passage. It’s a struggle, but Tanahashi escaped and goes for another Dragon screw, before the pair began to exchange shots from their feet. Finally the Slingblade comes off for a near-fall, before Tanahashi headed up for a crossbody High Fly Flow, then a frog splash version… and that’s your lot. Not the eye-grabbing performance we’ve seen from Page in the tournament, but he held his own while the message was simple: he’s good, but nowhere near the upper echelon yet. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block A: Kazuchika Okada vs. Togi Makabe
Okada’s got his good luck phallic balloons again, looking to pull away from the bottom of the block.
Okada’s right out at Makabe at the bell, taking him into the corner as he goofily climbs the turnbuckles for the mounted punches… and Makabe’s having none of that this early on. They’re on the floor quickly as Okada looked to use the chain, only for Makabe to disarm him and get a DDT for his troubles. Next for Makabe was the Bret Hart chest-first bump into the guard rails, as Okada just returns to the ring to take a count-out… which wasn’t happening. A slam and a slingshot senton’s next as a rather lethargic/out of sorts Okada continued to set the tone, before he put a foot on Makabe’s chest… which led to the referee refusing to even count the pin! Makabe invites some forearms, and gets them, before Okada pulls him into a rear chinlock, complete with goofy grimaces.
Makabe tries to fight back, but gets clubbed back down to the mat before he sent Okada into the corner… eventually leading to a scoop slam! Some right hands from Makabe continue to leave Okada on the mat, and now it’s time for the real mounted punches in the corner as Okada has to put the brakes on to save himself from the Northern lights suplex. Instead, Makabe throws a lariat for a near-fall before a spiking DDT puts him down ahead of the Scooby Dooby Doo crossbody!
Another shotgun dropkick and a neckbreaker slam’s next up for Okada as he picked up a near-fall, which only served to fire up Makabe some more… as did those endless forearms out of Okada. Eventually Makabe comes back with a clubbing lariat, before he’s caught out of nowhere with a tombstone… but he counters a Rainmaker into a Samoan drop as his “hometown” crowd tried to get behind him. A nasty powerbomb from Makabe almost wins the match, before he takes Okada up top for a Spider German suplex… but Okada’s attempts to block it just earn him a spider belly-to-belly instead, before a flying King Kong Knee drop was countered with an Okada dropkick! Another dropkick followed as Okada staggered around, setting up Makabe for a Rainmaker… but a KHALI CHOP stops it! Makabe’s right back with a lariat, only for Okada to shrug it off and hit his Rainmaker anyway for the win. Like most of today’s card, this was a little disappointing… and felt slow-motion throughout. Despite not being close to his best, Okada somehow fumbled his way through to victory… and with YOSHI-HASHI next up for Okada, you have to wonder, is he staggering into a banana skin? ***
The G1’s trip to Hachioji wasn’t a bad show, but it perhaps will be one of the worst in the tour when all is said and done. With Japan’s usually hot summers taking it out on everyone, it felt like everyone was perhaps dialling it down a little and working at a little more than half-speed, which led to a show that you could perhaps be excused for skipping entirely. Still, at least this wasn’t a super early start for those of us in the UK! We’ve now got three days off, before the B block returns on Thursday in Niigata with Ibushi vs. SANADA headlining… Friday is the A block with Okada/YOSHI-HASHI on top, while next Saturday finishes the next stretch of shows, with a B block card in Aichi topped by Omega vs. SANADA. So, going into the break, here’s how your blocks stand…
EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White (3-1; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki (2-2; 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, YOSHI-HASHI (1-3; 2pts)
Kenny Omega (3-0; 6pts)
Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA (2-1; 4pts)
Hirooki Goto, Zack Sabre Jr., Tama Tonga, Toru Yano (1-2; 2pts)
Juice Robinson (0-3; 0pts)