It’s the weekend, but of course the G1 isn’t slowing down… how about Kenny Omega and SANADA in today’s main event?
“Wanna go high? Wanna go low? Break the contradictions”… We’re firmly into the second half of the tournament, as the G1 hit Aichi for some tasty B block action for your Saturday enjoyment. Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are again on the English language call, hoping to not get knocked off the air today.
Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Right, let’s get this out of the way nice and early, eh?
So, Fale’s all about flipping off kids, which is a good warm-up for his match on Monday against Togi Makabe. We’ve a jump start as Fale and Makabe headed outside for a brawl, with Fale quickly getting thrown into the guard railings. Meanwhile, Tanga Loa falls to a shoulder charge as Henare barely gets a one-count from a leaping chop, but Henare quickly gets isolated as Fale tagged in, slammed him and stands on his chest. Standard stuff. Henare tries to fight back with chops, but Fale’s has more mustard on them… and after he sidesteps a charge in the corner, Henare’s able to tag out to Makabe, who clears house. The mounted punches get a nice reaction from Aichi, but the Northern Lights suplex was never happening, and we almost end with a Grenade, but Makabe instead fought free and gets bulldozed.
Henare and Tanga tag back in, with Tanga having to elbow out of a Samoan drop, only to fall to it at the second attempt. A flying shoulder tackle from Toa’s good for a near-fall as Fale wanders in to break it up… and gets thrown outside as Tanga quickly catches Henare with Apeshit for the win. By the numbers, and it’s weird how much more effective the OGs are in these relatively meaningless tags. **
Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens) vs. Jay White & YOH
In spite of his impressive showings, Hangman Page is joint bottom of his block in his debut G1… and has Jay White who’s looking to end his losing streak on Monday.
We started with White taking Page into the ropes, before scurrying to tag YOH as Page looked to retaliate. You could tell YOH was far from happy at Switchblade’s shenanigans, but a tag’s a tag… except White comes in and takes Chase Owens to the outside as he tossed Owens between the ring apron and the guard railings. Thankfully, nowhere near any commentary tables. YOH’s a little reluctant to stay on top of Owens, eventually going through with forearms to the lower back, before White returns to claw away on Chase. Owens manages to get free with a uranage before bringing in Page to clothesline his way past White, who responds with a Saito suplex as YOH comes back into the match. Page tries to sidestep, but instead he’s caught with a slingshot double stomp, as we’re into some more shenanigans with White eliminating Owens with some more guard rail stuff.
YOH tries his best to keep on top of Page, but he runs into a discus forearm before White actually saved YOH from a Rite of Passage! There’s a double-team attempt once YOH got the thumbs up from Rocky Romero… and White ends up getting knocked off the apron before he just watches YOH getting dumped with the Rite of Passage for the win. Story development, eh? Jay White’s tough love to YOH continues after another decent, but unspectacular undercard tag. You know the score with these. **¼
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI)
An interesting outing ahead of Monday’s block A match, and with EVIL seemingly picking up a minor injury yesterday, Minoru Suzuki is perhaps the last man you’d want to face.
We’ve a jump start as the match instantly heads outside, with BUSHI getting thrown into the guard railings by Desperado… while Minoru Suzuki took EVIL into commentary row as Kevin Kelly and co were again fearing for their equipment. The Suzuki-gun pair use umbrellas on their opponents, before returning to the ring as BUSHI’s isolated. With EVIL nowhere to be seen, BUSHI’s choked with his own t-shirt, before Suzuki comes in and just laughs off BUSHI’s attempt at offence. One clunking elbow, and the masked man’s down… but BUSHI does return with a running dropkick in the ropes that served to just delay Suzuki momentarily. In comes EVIL, taped-up knee and all, but he does manage to outlast Suzuki, catching him with a neckbreaker for a near-fall.
Suzuki’s right back in with elbows to the head, before he’s forced to block Darkness Falls as the pair rapidly switch through attempts at their finishers, ending with a lariat from EVIL! A hell of a sequence there, but EVIL tags out to BUSHI, and despite a missile dropkick, you sense that things aren’t going to last for LIJ here. Sure enough, a swinging Fisherman’s buster from BUSHI’s countered out of into a rear naked choke, and after EVIL breaks it up… Suzuki’s straight back to it as he Gotch piledrives BUSHI in front of EVIL for the win. An entertaining sprint of a tag – with just enough sizzle for Monday’s match to make this not a write-off. **¾
After the match, Yuya Uemura felt what BUSHI just went through with a rear naked choke…
YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shota Umino
Oh hey, Shota Umino, fourth on the card… what are you doing so high up?!
We start with Tanahashi and YOSHI, as they cycle through some slower-paced headlock takedowns and escapes, before a springboard crossbody out of the corner puts YOSHI down. In comes Umino, then SHO, with the latter getting smashed with a back elbow before returning with some low dropkicks. SHO quickly tags out so YOSHI-HASHI can pick up… but Umino throws some chops and gets dropped with one from YOSHI instead. Umino returns in with a missile dropkick before bringing Tanahashi back in, and yes, Tana’s all over YOSHI. And SHO. Dragon Screws take down YOSHI ahead of a flip senton off the middle rope… but YOSHI begins a fightback as he eventually catches Tanahashi with a running Headhunter. SHO’s brought back in, but he’s met with a rolling neckbreaker as Shota Umino wants back in… and gets in!
Forearms in the ropes from Shota help him take down SHO, as does another missile dropkick, before he rolled SHO into a Boston crab. It’s broken up by YOSHI-HASHI, but only so Umino could dropkick him as we’re back with elbows between SHO and Shota. SHO wins out and quickly locks in a cross armbreaker, which gets broken up just in time by Tanahashi, allowing Umino to show off some pinning attempts before he gets hit with a lariat and a slam for a near-fall. In the end, it’s a German suplex that put’s away Shota, as SHO gets the win. This was fine, but the Tanahashi/YOSHI sequences felt a little more deliberate, as perhaps the exertions of the tournament begin to show. **½
Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Michael Elgin & David Finlay
Our final undercard match is a tease for Monday’s main event… and no, it’s not Rocky Romero vs. Balloon.
We start with Finlay and Gedo, and of course Gedo’s all about the shortcuts as he grabs Finlay’s hair… only to get his beard pulled as Elgin comes in. Mike has no hair to pull, so he just drops an axehandle as he tried to de-fuzz Gedo. Wash, rinse, repeat… except Okada makes the save as Defender of Beards, before he throws Elgin into the guard rails. A slam to Finlay sets up Okada for a senton atomico off the apron, and now Gedo gets revenge on Finlay’s beard! Finlay’s able to come back in with a back suplex to Okada, as Elgin wants in on the downed former champion, tagging in to pelt him with elbows, including a springboard back elbow out of the corner. There’s a dropkick for Gedo as Okada sidesteps a corner charge, only to get an enziguiri from the Canadian.
Elgin takes Okada up top for a superplex, but he’s shoved down as Okada’s Scooby Dooby Doo crossbody gets him a near-fall. Goofy Okada can’t follow with a neckbreaker slam as Elgin fought free, hitting him with an elbow before a flapjack drags him down to the mat. A Rainmaker attempt from Okada’s blocked as Elgin ended a sequence with a scoop slam… which means both men tag out as Finlay and Gedo looked to wrap things up.
Charging elbows in the corner from Finlay leave Gedo rocked, but a roll-up nearly gets the veteran the win before Elgin breaks up a Gedo Clutch by suplexing him. Elgin stays in the ring to give Okada a German suplex, allowing Finlay to try for the Stunner, but he’s caught with a backslide before the Stunner hit at the second attempt for the win. Decent, inoffensive undercard tag team action… now it’s time for the steak on this card. **½
Post-match, Okada shows he’s still not gotten his stuff together as he shakes Elgin’s hand ahead of a staredown.
G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tama Tonga
We know what time it is… it’s Zack Sabre Jr. time, and I’m personally looking forward to him kicking Tanga Loa’s legs “into trombones”. Whatever that means.
Yeah, Tanga’s out to do his Tongan TAKA impression, and we get going with Sabre and Tama circling each other before we eventually got a lock-up… and Tama Tonga diving for the ropes as soon as Zack caught him in a simple hammerlock. Tama’s back in with a knuckle lock as he took Sabre to the mat, but Zack’s back up and on that arm, before a shot to the midsection got Tama free. Tanga Loa and TAKA Michinoku get involved in some tripping, which begins a Benny Hill series on the outside as TAKA runs into a Tanga Loa lariat as the match spilled to the outside. There’s uppercuts for Zack, as well as some cheapshots from Tanga Loa as we’re firmly into the Tama Tonga playbook here.
Sabre tried in vain to block some choking in the corner, before he hits back with some uppercuts of his own, before a leg sweep dumped Tama onto the mat. Zack goes back to the arm as he stomps on Tama’s upper arm, before a Euro clutch out of a missed Stinger splash in the corner almost gets Sabre a win. Zack escapes a Tongan Twist but can’t avoid it the second time around, before the Ghost Face fireman’s carry flapjack nearly gets Tama a win. A series of waistlock switches ends with Tama trying for an O’Connor roll, before he’s clocked by TAKA in the ropes from the kick-out… prompting Tanga Loa to throw TAKA into the guard railings off camera.
Staying in the ring, we have a missed PK, a missed Gun Stun and a submission attempt as Sabre catches Tama in an arm triangle, only for the referee to get pulled down as Sabre looked for the cross armbar. That allows Tanga Loa to hit the ring and catch Zack with a sidewalk slam… but we can see the referee’s caught a glimpse of what’s happening as Tama hits a Gun Stun-like neckbreaker to free his brother from a guillotine.
The interference eventually backfires though as Tama hits Tanga with a Gun Stun, before Zack goes right back to the flying triangle… with some rapid-tapping as the referee remained out. I think we know what this means… where’s Fale? He’s not out, as Sabre gets the referee back in and almost pays for it as he’s rolled up for a near-fall, before countering a Gun Stun into a bridging armbar… and now here’s fale to break it up with a Grenade, and there’s the obvious DQ. Well, this never really got going, and you know where the blame lies. I’m over the BC OG “chaotic interference that doesn’t get results shtick.” Sory Zack, this ain’t on you. *½
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson
Well, Toru Yano’s battle to stick to Fair Play continues, as he tries to eliminate Juice Robinson from the G1.
Apparently Juice has threatened to relinquish the US title if he doesn’t get a win in the G1… while Yano’s oh so shocked that he got a clean break after being taken into the ropes! He replies with the same, before a shoulder tackle from Juice left Yano down on the mat. Some Dusty punches are stopped in their tracks as Juice was stopped from using his broken hand… so he hits a flying chop as Yano rolled to the outside.
Yano eschewed fair play as he caught Juice in the guard rails and threw a chair onto the hand… prompting Juice to remove some of the tape, but in reality it just made the target on his hand that much bigger. The turnbuckle padding’s removed by Yano, but he ends up getting whipped into the padded corner as the pair eventually duel with turnbuckle padding! It’s just like Gladiators, but not on a high pedestal!
Juice ducks a wild swing and dizzies Yano with an airplane spin… both men stagger around and fall down before picking themselves up to swap forearms with each other. There’s a back suplex and a back senton from Juice for a near-fall, but he’s quickly slingshotted into the exposed corner by Yano, who can’t help himself and goes for a low blow. The referee stops that, as Yano instead goes to the amateur-style roll-ups before he’s caught with some Dusty punches. Juice removes the tape from his left hand, which means that’s now legal… but Yano ducks the shot as they counter in and out of Pulp Friction… which Juice finally hits for the win! Finally Juice has points after a nice little match… nothing to go out of your way for, but finally Juice has points on the board (because he was able to use both hands, funnily enough). Perhaps Yano’ll go back to his usual playbook for the remainder of the tour? ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Now we’re talking!
…and we begin with clunking shoulder tackles as the pair were not holding back! Kicks from Ibushi, forearms from Ishii, but we’re quickly swinging and missing as the pair burst into an elbow exchange. On his knees, Ibushi tries a single, lone body shot, but it’s ineffective as Ishii takes him into the corner with a chop to the throat, ahead of more forearm sand chops. Poor Kota, struggling to get out of the blocks here…
He’s finally able to catch Ishii with a dropkick, then a snap ‘rana as Ishii rolled to the outside to get some respite from that flurry. It puts him in bigger danger though as Kota crashed into him with a plancha, and now we’re going into the crowd because Kota’s found something high. Something high to jump off of.
After another ‘rana, Kota taunts the folks at Budokan by climbing into the crowd and… MOONSAULT! Which the production crew missed because they focussed on the hard camera shot. Oops.
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 28, 2018
They head back to the ring, where Ibushi keeps up with a bridging half nelson suplex, getting a near-fall, before Ishii almost demanded that Kota kicked him some more. Of course, Ibushi obliges, then gets absolutely blasted with a single elbow to the head. THWACK. A stalling superplex looked to take down Kota, but he’s right back up… and again after a German suplex as Zombie Ibushi is here! He shrugs off a headbutt as Ishii returned the favours, before a backflip kick left both men down.
Back to his feet, Ishii nails Ibushi with elbows, before a single chop just drops him… because Kota wants to come in with a lawn-dart, sending Ishii into the corner! They trade palm strikes like there’s no tomorrow, with Ibushi edging ahead as Ishii finally returns fire with chops to the throat and the goddamned face! This is violent!
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 28, 2018
Ibushi returns the favour with a fist and a huge lariat, before a sit-out powerbomb almost went awry… but Ibushi lands it and gets a two-count. A Kamigoye’s escaped with a headbutt from Ishii, but Kota throws back in kind before going to a strait-jacket German suplex, somehow bridging it for a two-count, as another attempt at Kamigoye’s blocked… then reversed as Ishii hits one of this own! GOOD LORD ABOVE! Ishii hits a Last Ride powerbomb of his own as he almost took the win, then again from a monstrous lariat, but somehow Kota held on! A sheer-drop brainbuster from Ibushi is shrugged off instantly by Ishii, who hits an enziguiri, only to get hit with a Bomaye knee as they’re nowhere near done… or are they?! Clunking strikes, massive headbutts and head kicks follow, before Kota puts his knee through Ishii’s skull with a Kamigoye… and that’s the W.
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 28, 2018
MY GOD ON EARTH, that exceeded the hype it had going in. It started off slowly and reached a brutal, violent crescendo… and I loved it. *****
Good luck following that…
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto
Well, it’s Saturday, so why not break out the Saturday Night Naito suit and cape?
We start off slow as Naito looked to set his own pace, cheapshotting Goto in the ropes before taking him outside… only for the Tranquilo pose to get interrupted with a shoulder tackle as Naito came off the ropes. Goto slows the pace with a chinlock and an elbow to Naito, before Naito tried to avoid being suplexed in from the apron… instead dropping Goto across the ropes.
There’s a neckbreaker on the apron as Goto’s brought down hard, and we know what’s next. Guard rail shots! Back inside, Goto’s caught in the ropes with a reverse over-the-knee neckbreaker, then a regular neckbreaker for a near-fall, before a cravat saw Naito try to twist off Goto’s head. Naito riles up Goto by spitting at him, and he ends up eating a lariat in the corner for his troubles, but he’s right back with another neckbreaker and a low dropkick as Goto really was struggling to get going. A top rope ‘rana gets Naito a near-fall as he tried to follow up with Gloria, before Naito’s own misdirection ended up costing him as he ran into a lariat from the NEVER champion.
Goto tries to add to that, and connects with ushigoroshi for a near-fall, before Naito cut him off with a release German suplex. Naito tries to end it with a Destino, but Goto catches him and turned it into a reverse GTR… before measuring up for a solid kick to the midsection. A GTR attempt’s quickly escaped by Naito, who followed in with an enziguiri before a Destino’s again escaped, with Goto throwing headbutts to weaken him… but it doesn’t work as Naito’s right back in with Destino for a near-fall! Not to worry, another Destino followed, and that’s Goto taking the L. This was a really good, well-paced match in its own bubble, lacking drama… but hey, it was always going to struggle to live up to what came before it. ***¾
The story now is that Naito’s on top of the block – before today’s main event, anyway – and he’ll need help from SANADA if he’s to win Block. That’s adding some more spice to the interactions between those two recently…
G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Kenny Omega
After overcoming Kota Ibushi last time out, SANADA’s “just” got Kenny Omega to beat here as the IWGP champion looked to retain his perfect start to the G1.
We start with Omega working over SANADA’s wrist, throwing in some humiliating swipes and hair-ruffling, before he keeps SANADA on the mat with some basic grappling. SANADA escapes and returns the wristlock, but for Omega to take him right back down as the series of takedowns ended with SANADA taking Omega outside as he avoids a V-Trigger… and into a stand-off! There’s a moment where SANADA allowed Kenny back into the ring without any cheapshots… so Omega doesn’t return the favour, catching the Ingobernable with a dropkick as he returned to the ring, before targeting the legs. A missed standing moonsault from SANADA doesn’t help things, as Omega takes it outside to throw SANADA knee-first onto the apron.
Omega keeps the pressure on the knee by standing on it while pulling SANADA by the hair, then by wrenching on the knee in the ropes as the assault was becoming rather methodical by his own standards. SANADA tries to break free with a kick out of the corner, before a missile dropkick connected from the middle rope.
SANADA turned up the tempo with a double leapfrog dropkick, then a plancha to the outside as Omega tried to get a breather… but back inside he’s able to catch SANADA with a Finlay roll and a springboard moonsault… again landing on SANADA’s knees as the tit-for tat continued. A ‘rana from Omega puts SANADA on the outside, prompting the crowd to clap rhythmically, which leads to the Terminator dive that wiped out SANADA on the outside. Back inside, a Kotaro Krusher plants SANADA for a near-fall, but SANADA’s able to avoid an Aoi Shoudou and flip out of a German suplex before his missile dropkick’s caught and turned into a nice sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall.
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 28, 2018
Omega keeps up with a Dragon suplex for another two-count, before some V-Triggers see Kenny just whaling on SANADA, in spite of a brief comeback, before a reverse ‘rana attempt’s avoided and met with a floatover Tiger suplex for a near-fall. Just like that though, a V-Trigger and a Jay Driller gets Kenny a near-fall as he rattles off his moves that sound like he’s just shortening people’s names… before another V-Trigger set up for a One Winged Angel… Except SANADA slips out into a Skull End, and swings Kenny around the ring in doing so! He lets go and heads up for a moonsault, but Omega rolls away as SANADA jars his knee. Another V-Trigger misses as SANADA goes for an O’Connor roll, floating it over into a Skull End, but again he lets go and whiffs on the top rope moonsault!
The pair reduce themselves to throwing rights at each other as the match seemed to enter its finishing straight… but a clonking uppercut from SANADA created a satisfying thud… as did a short V-Trigger from Omega!
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 28, 2018
SANADA again goes for the Skull End, but Omega rolls out and turns it into a package tombstone for a near-fall, before a diving V-Trigger to the back of the head looked to be all she wrote… only for a One Winged Angel to get caught with a reverse ‘rana as SANADA still had something left in him! SANADA tries to go for an Asai DDT, but it’s blocked as Omega switches it into the One Winged Angel… and that’s all folks. Another slow start, but a hell of a crescendo at the end – just your typical, really good New Japan main event… and if we hadn’t had that match earlier, this would easily have stolen the show.
In spite of a brief flurry, Omega looked comfortable throughout, and he’s still comfortable at the top of block B. Can Kenny go unbeaten? Can he go to his third G1 final in a row? We shall see, but for now Kenny stands alone at the top as he prepares to face Zack Sabre Jr. in his next block outing. ****¼
The latest round of B block action was solid enough, but the Ibushi/Ishii match really overshadowed everything that came before – and after – it. You know the score when it comes to the Firing Squad’s G1 matches, and while your mileage will vary, their matches are largely skippable at this point. If you’re into cherry picking, the last three matches are worth a watch, but at the very least make sure you see Ishii vs. Ibushi and be done with it. You’ll be glad you did.
Sunday’s a rest day for the G1 as we’re back on Monday in Kagawa – it’s back to block A as Kazuchika Okada and Michael Elgin headline. It’s a slightly later start than usual (the same start times as Lion’s Gate shows), so prepare accordingly if you’re watching live!
EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-1; 8pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, Jay White (3-2; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Bad Luck Fale, Togi Makabe (2-3; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI, Hangman Page (1-4; 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)