An eventful night in Yokohama saw B block complete their penultimate round of matches as all roads now point to Budokan!

“One new page the world needs a change” The last of the “smaller shows” was in Yokohama, with Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on the English call once more. Hey, there’s Chris Charlton back to be the human shield against Jay White… I mean provide translations.

Michael Elgin & Shota Umino vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Elgin and Makabe is one of our final block matches tomorrow, and so those two start off trading shoulder charges.

They end up staggering back into the corners as their partners tagged in – much to their collective annoyance – but at least Shota and Toa kept throwing bombs. It led to Shota being isolated for a spell, taking a lot of punishment courtesy of right hands from Makabe and a Henare suplex, but a dropkick from Umino gives him a chance.

In comes Elgin to clear house, but mainly go back after Makabe, chaining together a vertical suplex and a back suplex for a near-fall, before Makabe returned fire with a Northern Lights suplex. More clubbering clotheslines led to the pair falling down to the mat as they then opted to tag out… with Umino again being a house on fire as he took down Henare with a missile dropkick.

A Boston crab followed as the Standard Issue Submission gets broken up eventually by Makabe’s forearms. Makabe ends up on the outside, where we hear him getting thrown into barricades, while Umino tried his luck with some roll-ups on Henare… but in the end, a spear takedown and a uranage from Henare cuts him off, and that’s all he needed for the win. A nice mix of action here – with plenty of stuff ahead of Elgin/Makabe on Friday. **¾

Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens) vs. YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
Another dead rubber on Friday, but it’s a meeting of polar opposites: YOSHI-HASHI, whose tournament has been largely disappointing and met with expected results, against an impressive Hangman Page whose performances haven’t quite turned out into results.

Those two start us off, largely even until YOSHI scored with a shoulder tackle, before he opted to bring in SHO… who quickly gets caught with a pop-up backbreaker by Page. Chase comes in to lean into forearms, before he keeps SHO trapped in the corner… SHO eventually comes back with a spear before we go back to Page and YOSHI, with YOSHI connecting with a Head Hunter for good measure.

YOSHI looked to dropkick Page in the ropes, but Owens causes a distraction as Page comes right back in with the Buckshot Lariat for a near-fall. The Rite of Passage looked to be next, but YOSHI escapes with a back spin kick before SHO’s tagged back in… only for him to run into a rolling elbow.

The ring fills as YOSHI and SHO focused on Page, who needed Owens to save him from a cross armbreaker. Some rolling Germans make Chase pay for that, but he quickly escapes with the Jewel Heist lariat, before Page snatched at the opportunity to roll SHO into the Rite of Passage, impressively hitting it for the win. A really good finish here, but a familiar result for YOSHI-HASHI’s team. **¾

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa)
Throughout the night, commentary kept referring to a historic match in this venue 30 years ago, a 60-minute time limit draw between Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami. While there were fans in the crowd also at that show… the hometown hero Minoru Suzuki was in the opener that night.

Yes, we have a jump start as Fale and Suzuki brawled into the crowd from the off… the production crew cuts away as Fale’s thrown into the arena wall, before the favour’s returned. Meanwhile, Desperado uses a fan’s umbrella on Tanga Loa, and this is too much to follow on just one screen.

There’s more brawling through the crowd as Suzuki has his go with an umbrella, before they eventually figured out… there’s a ring! Fale uses a boot to choke Suzuki… who then grabs it for a quick ankle lock in the ropes, as the veteran had to use Fale’s own movement against him. A PK’s good for a near-fall, before an attempted Gotch piledriver’s easily countered, with Fale coming back with a Samoan drop instead.

Both men tag out, with Desperado almost falling instantly to a Jackhammer… but Suzuki makes a save and gets taken to the outside as their brawl resumed… meaning there was nobody to save Despy from Apeshit as Tanga Loa gets the win. This was… a match. Very brawl heavy to get the crowd going, but other than that, there’s nothing much to see here. **

Post-match, Fale and Suzuki brawled all the way to the back, going through some side doors in the process.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI) vs. Jay White & YOH
Pray for Chris Charlton and the English commentary desk.

As usual, White refused to start as he tagged in YOH from the off… much to the crowd’s annoyance. EVIL does the same, but it’s a ruse as he attacks YOH from behind only for the Roppongi 3K member to outsmart the pair of them, taking BUSHI into the corner for good measure. BUSHI quickly hits back with a missile dropkick though, before Jay White trips him and holds him for a dive… but YOH gets tripped himself.

Everyone’s on the outside and in the guard railings, while White just rolls YOH in and plays the intentionally useless tag partner. BUSHI uses his t-shirt to choke him as YOH finally mounted a comeback, slingshotting in with a double stomp before he superkicks away from BUSHI and laid him out with a Falcon arrow.

EVIL breaks up the count as Jay White again refused to get involved, and while EVIL scared White away with a chair, YOH’s left behind as BUSHI comes close with a lungblower before the MX earned him a rare win. So yet again Jay White plays the coward as YOH took something close to a beating… **½

Post-match, EVIL grabs a second chair and goes for the baseball spot… placing a chair onto YOH as White refused to make a save. Poor YOH gets the chair swung off of him as White walked to the back. Where was Rocky?!

Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
I think this one may be good…

Tanahashi and Okada start us off as Yokohama goes nuts – and why wouldn’t they? It’s a rather tentative start as Okada takes the Ace into the ropes for a quick break… before Tanahashi mocked him with a switcharound and a cheapshot. Tanahashi takes Okada down with a headlock… and keeps it on as Okada tried to fight out, before he eventually reversed the hold as they made a simple headlock look great.

Shoulder tackles are next, before Tanahashi just slaps Okada after he tried three times for Rainmakers. A big boot is similarly unsuccessful as Tanahashi turns it into a Dragon screw, before bringing in Finlay to have a go… only for David to leap into a Flapjack from the former champion. Gedo’s brought in to Dusty punch his way ahead, only for Finlay to score with a diving uppercut.

A Stunner from Finlay’s turned into a backslide for a near-fall, then a crossface as Gedo was helpless as Tanahashi broke it up. Cocky Okada just shoves Tanahashi with his boot before those two trade elbows, and after Okada took Tanahashi outside with a Dragon screw, Finlay’s able to hit straight back with a Stunner to Gedo for the win. The Tanahashi/Okada exchanges were solid – as was their brief pullapart afterwards… and that is going to be a real banger on Saturday. ***

Tanahashi and Okada play to the crowd while staring at each other from the English and Japanese commentary desks… as tension continued to build!

G1 Climax, Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Juice Robinson
After his war with Kenny Omega on Saturday, Tomohiro Ishii’s got – on paper, at least – a less challenging test here.

It’s a first time singles meeting between these two, and we start with lots of clubbering shoulder tackles, with Juice drawing first blood as he knocked Ishii off of his feet. Chops come next, with Ishii taking, then giving them out before Juice sank Ishii to his knees from his combination of chops and punches in the corner.

Ishii got right back into it with a suplex, before he rained down headbutts on Juice… who replied with expletives instead of explosions. A spinebuster attempt almost goes awry as Juice instead hits a full nelson slam… and he’s already taking off the cast, so the left hand is in play as we go straight to Dusty punches, mixed in with elbows from Ishii, before Juice corners Ishii for some lariats.

A cannonball follows, but Juice takes too long in going for a powerbomb as Ishii escapes with a back body drop. Not to worry, Juice keeps up with chops, but Ishii has some of his own as those two continued to light it up, ending when a scoop slam from Ishii caught Robinson off the ropes.

Ishii almost loses Juice with a superplex, but saves it as a follow-up lariat’s blocked… before the Juice Box was hit at the second time of asking. The powerbomb follows, but Juice has a slight delay before his cover as he picks up a near-fall, before we go back to the strikes and headbutts, which played back into Ishii’s game… only for a left hand from Juice to take him down hard.

Juice followed in with a lariat and almost snatched the win, before a Pulp Fiction was escaped and met with a sliding lariat… but still it’s not enough! A German suplex barely fazes Juice, although a lariat does as we’re into the achingly near-fall part of the match, helped along by some headbutts and lariats from Juice! An enziguiri from Ishii seemed to be the telling factor though, as it left Robinson open for the sheer drop brainbuster, and that is the end of that war. A familiar loss for Juice, but it’s a hattrick for Ishii who’s beaten every singles champion in his block! The drama may have been lessened because both men were already out, but this is as close to a must-see match as you’ll get in this situation. ****

G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hirooki Goto
A third singles meeting between these two, and it’ll be one that Zack’ll be hoping to end a streak on as he lost to Goto in both their outings last year.

Sabre launched into Goto at the bell as they traded elbows like they were having to beat a clock or something… but instead Sabre’s caught with a back suplex as he’s sent to the outside. There’s an Irish whip into the guard railings as Sabre meets the steel repeatedly, but he’s able to recover with some arm twists as he caught Goto by ringside.

With a dodgy arm, Goto rolls back in… and straight into the path of more offence from Sabre, who stomped on the arm before trapping both arms behind Goto’s back as a submission attempt quickly rolled into the ropes. More arm work just riles up Goto, who manages to drop Zack with a lariat, then a spinning heel kick in the corner and a Saito suplex out of it for a near-fall.

Goto tries a little early for an ushigoroshi, but Sabre goes back to the arm to save himself, only got Goto to counter out with a suplex. An elbow off the top from Goto was perhaps ill-advised though, as he lands into an armbar from Sabre, who again ties up Goto, putting extra torque on the arm before Goto desperately got his foot to the rope.

Sabre’s able to go back to the submission game, trapping Goto in an Octopus hold… only for it to be escaped and turned into an ushigoroshi as Goto broke free. An attempted GTR’s cut away as Sabre again goes to the ground, this time rolling up Goto for a clutch for a near-fall as commentary’s throwing in all the references to the 8/8/88 match… and the finish wasn’t too far behind as the Euro Clutch gets Sabre the win over Goto. Technically this was sound, but there’s just something about Goto which means he has matches that just don’t do it for me. Sabre sounded off like he was going to go for the NEVER title down the road… which should be a good match with a little more drama as there’ll be stakes on the line there. ***¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Kota Ibushi
Yay. I wonder if Tama’ll throw away the points again like they’re a packet of French fries at a train station?

Tama’s out by himself, which makes me think “shenanigans”… and we get those as Tama sprints towards the back of the room as Kota comes out… emerging from the stage as he attacked Kota from behind a la Yano. They head down towards the ring, with Tama effing and blinding – because he’s shooting about the “disciplinary action”, you see!

Finally in the ring, a back elbow off the ropes puts Kota down, before he catches Ibushi with a slam after Ibushi tried to charge at him in the corner. A rear chinlock keeps Ibushi down… before Kota explodes into life with a dropkick as we crossed the five minute mark. More explosions see Kota unload with kicks, as a diving kick to the chest and a standing moonsault get a near-fall.

Just like that though, Tama confuses Ibushi with some misdirection and a dropkick of his own, before he took too long on a Tongan Twist, and almost was made to pay, with Kota turning it into a half nelson suplex instead! Tama heads inside to avoid a Golden Triangle moonsault, and with Kota crashing and burning he takes the match into the crowd… and oh God, there’s a balcony.

Ibushi head into the upper deck after whipping Tama into a wall… and you know what’s next. MOONSAULT! Way to keep trolling Budokan!

Ibushi drags Tama back to the ring, but that’s the cue for interference as Tanga Loa runs down… and gets kicked away. It gave Tama a chance to recover and stop Ibushi up top, before a series ended with a leaping neckbreaker instead. Vereno’s next, spiking Ibushi on his head, but Kota’s up at two, before he blocked a Gun Stun and waffled Tama with a knee to the face.

A Kamigoye’s signalled for, but Tanga Loa grabs hold of Ibushi as there’s more boos… and here’s the ref bump as a Gun Stun’s blocked when Ibushi shoved Tama into Marty Asami. Here’s Fale, of course, to save Tama from a Last Ride powerbomb… but here’s Kenny Omega to make the save, blasting Fale with a V-Trigger! Tanga Loa’s in to spear Kenny as the referee appears once again, watching another block to a Gun Stun as Tama eats a lariat!

All that’s left is a Kamigoye, but Tama avoids it and hits a pop-up Gun Stun… and that’s the win?! The crowd is in stunned silence for that, as now a win for Kenny Omega against Toru Yano next will all but hand him the block. This wasn’t as bad as prior Firing Squad outings, but it still had the same patterning that has blighted their tournament matches. ***

Ah, nevermind, the Bullet Club OGs are laying waste to Omega after the match, with a powerbomb by Tanga Loa, and I think this may be easy for Yano. Hangman Page and Chase Owens make the save. With Omega laid out, Chris Charlton’s put to use as we await an announcement over whether the match will go on… and Kenny isn’t forfeiting!

G1 Climax, Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Toru Yano
Omega’s still laid out on the mat as Toru Yano looked to be the proverbial vulture. He quickly disrobes and demands the match starts… but Omega’s able to kick out as Yano has to do some work instead!

Off come the turnbuckle pads, all four of them, and it just gives him something to whip Omega into as that injured back is worn down some more. Hangman Page comes in as a human turnbuckle pad as Kenny’s mates prove to be in the right place, at the right time, as Omega looked to take advantage.

Yano drags all the turnbuckle pads into the ring, and tries to slam Kenny onto them (for a comfortable landing?), but instead it’s a suplex. Which does. Not. Work. Omega’s right back to his feet, as Yano arms himself with a pad… and so does Kenny, and we’re about to duel! Shots are fired, before Yano almost won with a roll-up… then sends Omega outside with a Dragon screw with a pad?!

On the outside, Yano whips Omega into the guard railings, while he tapes together Ren Narita to the wrist of Omega… before dumping the Young Lion into the crowd!

The human anchor looked to lead to the count-out, but with some help from his friends, Kenny gets in. With Narita! Making the best of a bad situation, Omega and Narita score a double clothesline to Yano, before some V-Triggers almost get the win.

There’s more V-Triggers, but Yano grabs the ref as Yano does a Yano, hitting the pair of them low as the crowd boos… because here comes Tama Tonga and the rest of the Tongans. Looks like they really want to stop us having that nice thing that was Ibushi/Omega on Saturday, but instead Tama lays out both men before placing Yano on top… and there’s the win! I could have lived without the interference at the end, but this was a hell of a comedy match that got us where we needed to go to keep Saturday special. ***¼

So… if Naito wins in the main event, we could still have three-horse race on Saturday, else it goes down to the Ibushi/Omega match in Budokan. TENSE!

G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Tetsuya Naito
Speaking of tense, after a tour where they’ve been uneasily tagging together, the Ingobernables sort-of explode in Yokohama.

In their first-time-ever singles encounter, SANADA can’t make the finals, but he can play spoiler – and try and step out of Naito’s shadow – with a win here. After trying to cheapshot SANADA from the opening fist-bump, we’ve a sprightly start before things calmed down, with the pair exchanging holds on the mat as Naito tried to control the wrist.

SANADA flips free, before he scored with a low dropkick as Naito tried to Tranquilo… as SANADA wasn’t having any of that tonight. Naito hits back with a reverse DDT out of the corner, sending SANADA to the outside for respite… which didn’t materialise as Naito just whips him hard into the crowd barriers.

They head up the aisle next, with SANADA trying to cut-off his leader, but instead there’s another reverse DDT and a low dropkick as Naito took over. Back in the ring, there’s a neckbreaker from Naito for a one-count, before he just toyed with SANADA with kicks… and then a spit. Oh boy. SANADA returns the favour, and the fire’s relit as SANADA nails a backdrop suplex before he chains together the duelling leapfrogs into a dropkick, then a plancha as the match returned to the outside.

They’re quickly back in as Naito corners SANADA for the slingshot dropkick in the corner, before SANADA flips out of Gloria… then returns fire with a springboard missile dropkick as we passed that ten minute mark. Some German suplexes are flipped out of as Naito catches SANADA with a tornado DDT instead, then a top rope ‘rana, before Gloria finally connected for a near-fall.

Destino’s next, but SANADA catches and countered into a Skull End, which is escaped as Naito lands an enziguiri en route to another Destino… which is also countered and turned into a rope-hung spinning neckbreaker! SANADA springboards back in for another missile dropkick, before he dumps Naito with a Tiger suplex for a near-fall. An attempt at a flying forearm from Naito misses as the pair were swinging for the fences… and it almost worked as Naito escaped a TKO counter out of Destino to hit his finish anyway for a near-fall.

One more Destino’s next… but it’s from SANADA! That also gets a near-fall, before Naito’s dragged down into a Skull End, in the middle of the ring, forcing Naito to drag his way towards the ropes, only for SANADA to cinch in the hold a little deeper. SANADA eventually relents, so he can go up top for a moonsault… but Naito rolls away just in time! The pair resume exchanging forearms and elbows, but it’s Naito who won out with a slap, before the flying forearm connects… only for another Destino to be blocked.

SANADA goes up for a moonsault as he flips into a Skull End, before an O’Connor roll from SANADA came oh so close to the upset! Naito responds by lifting up SANADA into the corner, but he misses the turnbuckles… before SANADA stands up from a German suplex. He goes for an Asai DDT, only for Naito to counter out and into Destino, and just like that, Naito keeps his G1 alive! I don’t know how many really bought SANADA as a spoiler, but he came so so so close, but in the end the LIJ pecking order survives – regardless of the damage it leaves behind. ****¼

Post match, I’ve got goosebumps as EVIL and BUSHI come down – with EVIL bringing Hiromu Takahashi’s ring jacket down with him for the post-show celebrations. There’s loud chants for Hiromu, as they acknowledge his injury saying that he’ll be back… just they don’t know when.

So… the penultimate tour stop of the G1 was a good show that came close to breaking through into greatness – but that shouldn’t stop you from watching this. Even the Firing Squad stuff wasn’t too egregious for a change, as B block set themselves up for a tasty finish in Budokan. Omega/Ibushi and Naito/Sabre are the key matches – but Naito needs to win and hopes Omega doesn’t, as the tiebreaker doesn’t work out in his favour.

Next up is the first of the three-night finals in Budokan, with A block wrapping up their matches – and they have a three-way fight as well. Whomever wins in the Tanahashi vs. Okada is through to Sunday’s final, while an Okada win and a victory for Jay White over EVIL is the only way Switchblade can make the finals. It’s pretty straightforward – and with an expanded roster in Budokan, we’ll be in for more variety this weekend!

Block A:
Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-1; 14pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Jay White (6-2; 12pts)
EVIL, Minoru Suzuki (4-4; 8pts)
Michael Elgin, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page (3-5; 6pts)
Togi Makabe, YOSHI-HASHI (2-6; 2pts)

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