It’s back to Korakuen as block B gets another go around in this year’s G1 Climax – and we’ve a clash between the Bullet Club and the “OGs” as today’s highlight.

“Bring it on the countdown begins to light the new era, woah oh oh oh”… Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero remain on commentary alongside Chris Charlton as we’re almost a third of the way through things!

YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. Michael Elgin & Ren Narita
Narita and SHO get us underway, with Ren trying his luck with shoulder tackles… eventually taking down SHO off the ropes.

SHO’s right back in with a knee to the gut as YOSHI-HASHI went after Michael Elgin on the outside, throwing him into the guard railings before getting the tag in to deck Narita with a forearm and a stalling suplex. Michael Elgin just waddles in to break up a cover, before Narita hit a dropkick to get himself a breather… then tag in the Canadian. Elgin’s raring to go with a leaping forearm into YOSHI, before he busted out some rolling suplexes. YOSHI’s back in with a chop, but Elgin replied with in kind… and his had a lot more mustard on it! A Western lariat puts paid to that, but Elgin’s able to take down both his opponents with a Flatliner/DDT at the same time.

Narita’s brought back in so Elgin can have a breather, and he almost puts away SHO with a belly-to-belly out of the corner. Elgin comes in to help when SHO looked to be going back in front, before some roll-ups gets Narita near-falls, only for him to run into a big lariat as a spinning powerslam nearly gets SHO the victory. A bridging German suplex seconds later gets the win for the CHAOS team – a decent undercard showing, but nothing you’ll rush back to replay… nor did it do much to build any intrigue for Elgin/YOSHI tomorrow. **¼

Ooh, they have new animated match graphics for today!

Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI)
So apparently there’s an agenda against Tongans, as they’re actually having the rules enforced on them!

BUSHI’s the odd one out in this match, something that Tanga Loa points out… BUSHI decides to go for the biggest man in the match, knocking Fale off the apron for a tope, while EVIL helped Loa to the outside as we’re into the brawling stuff! Fale reverses an Irish whip to send EVIL into the guard railings, before he throws him into the wall right by the bleachers.

Eventually they head back to the ring, with BUSHI getting thrown over the railings by Tanga Loa, while EVIL and Fale spent a lot more time in the crowd. Back inside, Tanga slams BUSHI with ease, then hits a leaping legdrop for a near-fall… but EVIL comes in and helps to turn things around, helping BUSHI with a back cracker for a two-count of his own. A swinging Fisherman’s neckbreaker from BUSHI comes to nothing as Tanga Loa’s right back in with a clotheslines, before the Apeshit sit-out tombstone puts away the little guy. Utterly skippable stuff, but at least they didn’t “need” shenanigans here beyond the usual crowd brawls. *½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Jay White & YOH
Finally having gotten on the board yesterday, Minoru Suzuki’s next G1 outing is against the block leader… so here’s your warm up!

Jay starts with Suzuki, who responded to the Kiwi’s bragging about his points total by… kicking him in the leg. A quick tag out brings YOH into it, and although he starts with forearms, he suffers a predictable death at the hands of Suzuki. El Desperado’s quickly in with chops as YOH was getting thrown to the wolves… but he’s able to make space and take down Despy with headscissors and a dropkick!

Jay White wants the tag back in, and he goes straight after Desperado, throwing him between the ring apron and guard railings… prompting Suzuki to stalk him and beat up another Young Lion in the process. White tries to call the shots for YOH, calling him by his old name before resuming the offence on Desperado with stomps. A pumphandle backbreaker gets a two-count for White, as Suzuki rushed in to break up the count – with Jay again playing the cowardly bad guy. Desperado manages to sneak in a spinebuster, as Suzuki tags in and makes a beeline for White, who backs away… so YOH faced another pasting, although he was able to surprise the Rev Pro champion with a neckbreaker for a near-fall.

YOH looks for a suplex, but it’s escaped as Suzuki went for the rear naked choke… releasing when White tried to hit the ring, but it’s not for long as Suzuki goes right back to it, daring Switchblade to make the save as he Gotch piledrive’d YOH right in front of him and made the pin as Jay just stared. This was fine, but more character development for Jay White was the focus here. **¼

Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
After coming oh so close to beating Kazuchika Okada last night, Page’s next foe is Hiroshi Tanahashi as his career-defining tournament continued.

Those two start us off, with Tanahashi taking Page down to the mat, before they took a breather so Page could give him an air guitar… there’s respect for you, eh? Except Tana doesn’t want to play it, as he instead tagged out to Finlay. Owens comes in too, but he’s crashed into with a dropkick, before returning the favour with a short knee strike as Finlay was looking for a sunset flip.

Finlay becomes isolated for a spell as Page and Owens work over him in the corner, although it’s the Hangman’s standing shooting star press that’s more flashy than Chase’s knee drop. The comeback from Finlay sees him hit a back suplex to Owens before both men tagged back out, and it seems Tanahashi’s still worried about his air guitar as he ducks shots from Page… before the pair tried to kick each other at the same time. That led to a cheapshot from Page, which Tanahashi instantly rebounds from as he slammed Page and went flying with a flip senton for a near-fall.

A Dragon Screw from Tanahashi keeps Page down, before he ends up running into a short clothesline… Finlay returns to charge into Page with uppercuts, but he ends up taking a superkick as Tanahashi saved him from the Rite of Passage. The Jewel Heist clothesline from Chase Owens gets rid of Tana as the Bullet Club pair tried to double-team Finlay… who gets rid of Chase with a uranage backbreaker, only for Hangman to fly back in with a Buckshot lariat and the Rite of Passage for the win. This was good stuff, and makes me relish the Tanahashi/Page match tomorrow. I sense a lot of folks are turning the corner on Page during this toturnament… and I’m one of them. ***

Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Finally on the board, is Okada bouncing back… or was his win yesterday a fluke? He’s back with the phallic balloons, so perhaps those are a good luck charm now?

Henare and Gedo get us going, but Gedo’s ask to “take it easy” was just a way for him to poke Henare in the eyes… then get charged down after mocking the Haka. A falling chop catches him on the mat, before Okada went after Makabe with the customary whip into the guard rails. In comes Okada to keep up on Henare in the corners, but Gedo returns a little too soon and gets suplexed… so Okada’s back to restore order.

Okada tries for a tombstone, but Henare back body drops his way free, then crashes into Okada with a leaping shoulder tackle before bringing in Makabe. That chain rattles in the background as Makabe goes for the mounted punches, then a lariat as Okada nearly takes another loss. A DDT from Okada puts a stop to that, as he comes back with an uppercut, only for Makabe to forearm his way out of a Rainmaker.

The neckbreaker slam’s next out of Okada as he regained the advantage, then tagged out to Gedo… who punched Henare’s head. Yeah, you know the trope with people from that part of the world? A headbutt from Henare is next, but Gedo outsmarts the pair of them and superkicks Makabe for a near-fall, before the ring fills for a mini Parade of Moves. Makabe’s double clothesline flattened Okada and Gedo, before heading up for a King Kong Knee drop to claim the win. Decent, and while Okada had flashes, we still don’t have any idea if Okada’s back… or if yesterday was a fluke. **¾

Post-match, Okada wrapped Makabe’s chain around his fist… then just dropped it all as he went to the back.

G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Toru Yano
This match has “banana skin” written all over it, does it not?

So, is Yano going to go back to the sublime master thief ways, or stay with the “wrestling machine” stuff? He doesn’t instantly go for the turnbuckles at the bell, and gets taken into the ropes by Ibushi instead before the pair switch waistlocks ahead of a Fireman’s carry takedown that nearly gets the win. Yano’s flashing in those pinning attempts, but he runs into a ‘rana as Ibushi took him outside for a plancha. We’re not long before Yano does a Yano, as he walks around the floor untying the turnbuckle padding, before he walked into a twisting moonsault from Ibushi! Kota has eyes for those pads too, and removes one… so Yano completes the set as that ring gets a little more dangerous.


With all of the pads gone, they’re back in the ring, where Yano throws Ibushi’s head into an exposed buckle. Kota gets revenge as he sidesteps a charging Yano into the corner as those corners are giving all of the offence here. It’s comical stuff, and reminds me of my tactics on Fire Pro World… just whip your opponent into the barbed wire ropes!

Yano grabs one of the loose pads and looks to swing… but Ibushi ducks and lands a head kick instead before grabbing the pad. He too swings and misses, before missing a standing moonsault as Yano finally connects with the pad! We’re back outside as Yano goes under the ring for something… and he’s got the tape! He’s going back to his old ways, but Ibushi disarms him… and gets thrown into the ring post as that tape remains live.

The referee finally removes the tape… but Yano’s got some hidden in his tights, and uses it to tie Ibushi’s hands together! Despite that, Ibushi’s able to hit a dropkick as he tried to do the Houdini act to free himself… before somehow hitting a standing moonsault for a near-fall. Christ, even in a strait-jacket I bet Ibushi’d be able to go. What the hell did I watch?! Yano pulls a switch as he rolls up Ibushi and the referee before he looked to finish off Kota with his own powerbomb… it doesn’t work, though, so fair play is thrown aside. A low blow and a chop block set up Kota for a roll-up, and Yano wins! This was GLORIOUS, and exactly what the Yano story was building too all along. Yano! Toru! EH! ***½ (all the stars, really)

G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. SANADA
Now onto the more serious graps, featuring Zack Sabre Jr. staring a hole through Chris Charlton on the English commentary team…

These two have one prior singles meeting, with SANADA tapping out to Sabre during this year’s New Japan Cup, and we predictably start with the pair of them scurrying for holds, leading to an early stalemate. SANADA flips out of a snapmare to keep the motif going, before the pair swap full nelsons and escapes as if they were new discoveries.

It’s SANADA who surprises Zack with the move more, as he blocks escapes and counters in a sublime exchange, confounding Zack until they rolled to the mat… and into Sabre’s wheelhouse. The buttery-smooth stuff continues as they roll out of each other’s roll-ups, preventing referee Marty Asami from making anything beyond a one-count as the crowd cheered on. SANADA remains in control with a Japanese strangle hold, until Sabre escaped and threw an uppercut… but SANADA is even to it as he replied in kind before the pair headed to their corners for a breather. From the next tie-up, there’s more forearms and uppercuts as SANADA and Sabre tried to wear each other down, before a backslide from SANADA’s rolled out of… allowing Zack to finally hit his usual stride, clamping in a mounted keylock as he worked over SANADA’s wrist. More back-and forth led to indy’riffic pinning attempts when Sabre tried to switch out of an Octopus hold, ending with a nice PK to SANADA as the pair were left on the mat.

A Euro clutch from Sabre nearly ends it out of nowhere, before SANADA kicked out and went for an O’Connor roll into a Skull End… but he keeps on rolling, and SANADA beats Sabre with his own hold as the Euro clutch got the win! A frustrating defeat for Sabre, as he was out-wrestled… and this was another glorious outing! Totally different from pretty much everything so far in this tournament so far, and a must-see if you even have a passing interest in technical stuff. ****¼

G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Juice Robinson
During their tag match yesterday, Naito homed in on Juice’s injured hand… and it looked like he was going to be doing the same again today.

Kicks to the hand were attempted early, but Juice moves away in time as he began to swap elbows with the Ingobernable… who swiftly goes to the hand with a kick. The crowd didn’t like that, but Juice is right back in with a back senton as he hesitated while sizing up Naito on the mat after a missed low dropkick. Naito keeps up on Juice’s hand, tripping him into the corner before targeting it with the outside-in slingshot dropkick.

They stay on the outside from there, with Naito throwing Juice into the guard rails, as the focus again remained on the hand in what became a slow-paced outing. A simple wristlock forced Juice into the ropes, but eventually Robinson begins a fightback, landing a back elbow only for Naito to bait him into using the cast on his hand. Juice resists and instead hits a spinebuster after missing with a Booker T-ish leg lariat, following up with some nice chops. Naito’s right back with a neckbreaker and a low dropkick to the hand as we’re right back there… my feed stutters as Juice almost pulled off the upset, rolling through a top rope ‘rana into a sunset flip for a near-fall, before blocking a tornado DDT and countering with a jackhammer!

Robinson keeps showing his typical fire as he took Naito up top for a superplex… but Naito goes back to the hand to nullify the threat. Undeterred, Juice goes back up and instead nails an avalanche fallaway slam to take Naito from corner to corner! A falling powerbomb’s next, but Naito’s out at two, before he ran into an almost decapitating leg lariat! Another crack at the Juice Box gutbuster’s countered with a reverse ‘rana, with Juice almost losing Naito in the process.

Naito tries to finish off with Destino, only for Juice to counter into Pulp Friction… but that too is countered into a release German suplex as Naito found his second wind! A flying forearm drops Juice, before he’s pulled back up for Destino… which he avoids and instead takes down Naito with a nice lariat! Juice looks for more Pulp Friction, but it’s again blocked… with Destino looking to be countered, only for Naito to neatly counter the counter back into Destino for an achingly-close near-fall! Good lord above, this is great!

Looking for it again, Naito finally gets a clean Destino, and that is that! Juice remains pointless in spite of his spirited, gutsy showing, while Naito joins that log-jam with a 2-1 record. This started off slow and deliberate, but when it kicked into upper gear, this was supremely good – a match that continues to cement Juice Robinson’s place on the roster. ****¼

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Kenny Omega
I think we know where this is heading…especially when Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale came out with Tama.

Omega’s out by himself, and he’s jumped before the bell as Fale and Tanga Loa triple-team him. Well, that’s one way to avoid a DQ! Fale looks for a Bad Luck Fall, but Chase Owens and Hangman Page hit the ring as a V-Trigger and a double-clothesline gets rid of Fale… and now the bell sounds for our regularly scheduled contest.

A Terminator dive from Omega wipes out the interferers as he almost lands on his head… back in the ring, Kenny runs into a spear from Tama, then a spin-out flapjack as Tama began to sound like every psychotic, spurned lover that’s ever been cast. He keeps up with a snap suplex as Tama continued to take Omega around the ring… but Kenny begins to mount a comeback with a low dropkick before a Kotaro Krusher’s sidestepped. Tama’s back with a dropkick to restore his advantage, but Kenny’s back in with some profanity-causing chops and a nice leaping DDT for a near-fall. Omega looks for the Finlay roll and moonsault, but Tama gets his knees up, only to get another knee in response as a V-Trigger met its mark. Just like that though, an Alabama Slam dumps Kenny hard for a near-fall.

More blocks follow as a Gun Stun looked to be met with a V-Trigger, which Kenny eventually hit at the second attempt as Tama was knocked onto the apron, where he had to cling onto the ropes to avoid a snap Dragon suplex on the apron. Tanga Loa’s back out with a chair as Tama grabs the referee… and after jabbing the chair in Omega’s knee, Tanga ends up taking a ‘rana as he went for a powerbomb.

Omega followed up by powerbombing Tama onto the edge of the ring from the floor as Omega began to grab his knee… before returning to the ring for the Aoi Shoudou. Tanga again gets involved, but he’s knocked off the apron by Tama as he stopped a V-Trigger… before throwing a chair into Kenny’s head from the floor for a near-fall. The chair’s used again, but this time Tama’s thrown into it as he tries for a Gun Stun, before a ‘rana from Omega is blocked… Referee Red Shoes goes rogue once more, kicking away the chair as Tama tried for a Styles Clash onto it, and Red Shoes is loco!

A Gun Stun puts paid to that, and if he gets up, we’ll have a DQ. We get the bell anyway, and that’s another two points thrown away by the Bullet Club OGs, who clearly must have enough money to not need whatever win bonus they get in kayfabe land. It was obvious from the start that they were going to go for interference, and this match never got going as a result of it. I still don’t know why Kenny was jabbed in the knee with a chair as that led to nothing… **

Post-match, Tama Tonga wraps a chair around Kenny’s head as he looked for an assisted Gun Stun, only for Page, Owens and Kota Ibushi to make the save.

G1 Climax, Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto
So after that cluster, we’ve got a nice little main event to take the taste out of our mouths… who’s going to join the log-jam in second place?

Marty Asami’s been drafted in after Red Shoes was laid out earlier, and we start with Goto grabbing the head of Ishii as they set up for the obligatory alpha male shoulder charges. Neither man wins out, so they decide to clonk into each other with elbows, before going back to the shoulders… which Goto finally wins out on! Ishii returns fire with a scoop slam, then a chop as that just seemed to rile up Goto… who replies with overhand chops and… gets knocked down with a knife-edge chop. It’s looking pretty easy for Ishii, who had to survive a scare as he almost ran into an ushigoroshi, before getting trapped in the corner for a lariat from Goto. A Saito suplex out of Goto’s good for a near-fall, as the NEVER champion began to edge back into things, blasting Ishii with kicks to the chest for good measure.

Those kicks just fire up Ishii though, as he stands up through those kicks and clonked Goto with an elbow to the side of the head. Goto’s taken into the corner for forearms and chops, before a shoulder charge takes him down. Another rope-running series ends with Ishii landing a German suplex… but Goto’s right back up to kick him in the chest once more, as a rear naked choke looked to squeeze the remaining life out of the Stone Pitbull. Ishii escaped with an overhead throw as he was foaming at the mouth, before an exchange of lariats rocked both men, as the clunking clotheslines saw neither man budge, before they finally slumped to the mat in unison!

Goto’s right back to the rear naked choke, but Ishii punches his way free… and gets a slap for that. It’s shrugged off instantly so he can elbow Goto into submission, throwing in a cheeky headbutt in among it all, eventually taking Goto up top for an avalanche brainbuster! Somehow Goto kicked out from that, but he’s right back up to avoid a sliding lariat, as he instead caught Ishii with an ushigoroshi, then a reverse GTR… but he takes too long for the regular GTR and has to fight as Ishii catches him with a Saito suplex to leave both men on the mat once more.

We’re back to the duelling clotheslines before Goto swats away the enziguiri, only to run into a huge clothesline as Ishii stacked him up for an oh-so-close near-fall! A sheer drop brainbuster’s next up for Ishii, but Goto stuffs it and counters with Shouten Kai for another two-count… and it’s Goto who’s back to his feet first, sizing up Ishii for another kick that duly connects, before pulling him back up. Ishii escapes a GTR so they can trade headbutts, with Ishii winning out as he took Goto down for a sliding lariat as we inched closer to the end… which wasn’t too far away as a sheer drop brainbuster from Ishii gets the win. My God above, this was PHENOMENAL. Personifying the house style in one match, we had the “I can take more than you can dish out” motif with all the clonking headbutts, lariats and everything that befits the phrase “strong style”. If this is your kind of wrestling, you’ll love it… and I do, even if there’s a little bit of “oh God, what’s the aftermath going to be” when you see Ishii and Goto staggering away from the ring. ****¾

If you’re the kind who cherry picks the tournament matches, this was perhaps the first day where just about everything delivered. I’m on the verge of hand-waving away the Bullet Club stuff as the Firing Squad matches are pretty much becoming an over-thought, over-booked mess. Still, at least the rest of the G1 matches delivered: Yano vs. Ibushi was glorious, while the remainder seemed to improve as we got further on!

There’s one more round of tournament action as we go elsewhere in Tokyo on Sunday, to the Esforta Arena in Hachioji for block A matches, headlining with Kazuchika Okada looking for his second G1 win as he takes on Togi Makabe, while Hangman Page tries to claim a scalp against Hiroshi Tanahashi… then we have three days off. They need it! So, with everyone a third of the way through their blocks, here’s how we stand.

Block A:
Jay White (3-0; 6pts)
EVIL, Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-1; 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Kazuchika Okada, Hangman Page, Minoru Suzuki (1-2; 2pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (0-3; 0pts)

Block B:
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)