After their time limit draw in the rain earlier this year, Okada and Suzuki go back at it again – this time with Okada’s G1 resurgence looking to stay on-track.
“So give it to them all the poison and the remedy”… wait, is this why we’re getting the OGs? Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are still here, having travelled to Fukuoka for the thirteenth round of G1 action.
Toa Henare & Ren Narita vs. Toru Yano & Gedo
It’s Yano vs. SANADA on Saturday, so this is going to be the epitome of a random opener.
Gedo tells Henare to calm down because he’s too sleepy… but it’s just a ruse for a poke to the eye and a fake haka. Henare replies with a shoulder tackle after being misappropriated, then does his own Haka en route to a falling chop. They head outside, where Yano takes over with some whips into the guard railings for both of his opponents, while Gedo works over Henare some more.
Back in the ring, Henare remains cornered as Yano tags in to hip toss him… and off comes the turnbuckle pad! So much for fair play, as Henare and Ren Narita get thrown into the exposed corner, before Henare eventually got free with a suplex!
In comes Narita, as he lays into Yano with forearms, before taking down the Sublime Master Thief with a dropkick… as Gedo comes in to try and even the odds. It doesn’t work as Henare and Narita charged into them in the corner, before a Narita suplex dropped Yano for a near-fall. In the end though, Narita charges into the exposed corner, before Yano took him down for the flash pin. Your standard opener – fine, but nothing to write home about. **
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOH
Let’s get this over with. At least with this being an undercard tag, it’ll be over quickly…
There’s a jump start as the Tongans laid into Goto and YOH with headbutts… but they quickly swing it back around as the CHAOS pair work over Tanga Loa with clubbing forearms and shoulder tackles. A flip senton from YOH looked to get a pinning attempt in, but Tama’s back in to break it up as the crowd boo.
On the outside, Tama’s laying waste to Goto while Tanga Loa’s got YOH upside down in a stalling suplex, crashing him to the mat for a near-fall. YOH’s isolated as the Guerrillas charge him into the corner, before a snap suplex from Tama gets a near-fall as YOH’s massively on the defensive. Eventually YOH avoids a Superman punch and shocks Tama with a Dragon screw, before Goto comes in to clear house… somewhat.
A clothesline from Goto drops Tama, who then has Tanga Loa suplexed onto him… a Gun Stun-like reverse neckbreaker turns it around as Tama tags out, allowing Tanga to come in and pelt Goto with elbows. Goto escapes with a rear naked choke before bringing YOH in… but I think we can guess how this is going to end. Despite a double-team suplex to Tanga, Loa’s able to come back with a double clothesline… and after surviving some pinning attempts from YOH, he stuffs a small package and counters into Apeshit for the win. By the numbers, but effective for what it was. **
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
It’s Finlay and TAKA who get us going, but it’s Finlay who gets the upper hand with some uppercuts… until TAKA just pokes him in the eye.
Sabre gets the tag in and instantly goes for the arm of Finlay, using a double armbar on the mat, before TAKA returned and kicked Finlay in the shin. That seemed to spark something as David gets back in with a dropkick before bringing in Juice for some Dusty punches. He follows up on Sabre with some clotheslines in the corner, but Zack’s back with uppercuts… until he’s rocked with a chop.
Juice goes for a spinebuster, but Zack clamped in a guillotine choke instead, and kept things going even after Juice was able to get free. We’re back to TAKA and Finlay, with the latter hitting a diving European uppercut… and when TAKA catches Finlay in a Bully choke, Juice decides to leap into Zack on the outside… Juice is caught on the floor, but he escapes to help free his partner. We wash, rinse and repeat, but this time Finlay gets in a Stunner, and that’s the win. Decent, by the numbers undercard match… but one of those “nothing to see, move along” bouts. **½
Post-match, Sabre tried to attack Juice’s hand, but Finlay made a save.
Tomohiro Ishii & SHO vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens)
Ishii’s out of contention for this G1, so all he can do on Saturday is try and spoil Kenny Omega’s streak.
SHO and Owens begin the match, but it’s SHO who was the early aggressor, taking Owens down and keeping Omega at bay… until Chase snuck in a thrust kick to turn things around. Owens and Omega swapped quick tags as they repeatedly wishboned SHO, much to the chagrin of Ishii on the apron, who didn’t come in to make a save.
SHO manages to get free with a spear, then tag in Ishii who cleared house with ease, focusing largely on Owens with forearms and chops in the corner. Poor Chase. A boot from Owens barely registers as Ishii demands more shots… and gets them as the Bullet Club pair hit twin superkicks as a Kotaro Krusher/Complete Shot combo for a near-fall. Chase ambitiously went for a package piledriver on Ishii, but it doesn’t work as SHO comes in for the save, before a sheer drop brainbuster put away the Bullet Club’s crown jewel. Standard undercard fare. **¾
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
We close out the undercard with two of the remaining “live “entrants in the tournament, as we’ve Naito vs. Ibushi in Osaka on Saturday. And yes, you can dance to Ibushi’s theme, it seems.
SANADA and Yujiro open the match, with SANADA quickly going for a Paradise Lock… and then have to fight out of one himself. Yeah, Yujiro needs help, but he argues with the referee instead of asking Milano Collection AT on commentary… so in comes Kota Ibushi to help with some different double teams. Naito and Yujiro have a brief exchange, before Naito threw his former tag team partner into SANADA… then heads outside as he tried to get Yujiro’s valet to slap Ibushi.
That wasn’t about to happen.
Naito gets the tag in as he continues to put the boots to Yujiro, who bit back as he hung Naito in the ropes. Ibushi finally gets the tag in as he instantly lit up Naito with a series of kicks, then a standing moonsault, before Naito turned things around, taking Ibushi into the corner for a slingshot dropkick to the knee.
The focus remains on Ibushi’s knee for a while, before both men tagged out, with SANADA again edging it… at least until his TKO was turned into a reverse DDT for a near-fall. Yujiro tries for a TKO of his own, but SANADA slips out as Ibushi’s interference is quickly snuffed out by Naito, allowing SANADA to trap Yujiro in an O’Connor roll into a Skull End for the quick tap-out. A nice, sprightly undercard match – it’s a wonder how much a change of pace can improve some matches. **¾
Naito still didn’t get his fist bump, as Ibushi opted to throw his ice pack at him… so Naito’s gotta Tranquilo on his lonesome.
G1 Climax, Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Michael Elgin
You know the score. Tanga Loa’s out with Fale again, so here’s trouble. These two have only met in the New Japan Cup before, splitting a match apiece in 2016 and 2017.
Elgin’s right arm is taped up, and immediately Fale teases going for it, only to force Elgin to throw some elbows with his bad arm. He continues to throw those elbows, then gets tripped in the ropes by Tanga Loa as we’re already into this… but Elgin throws himself into Loa on the outside to try and nullify the threat.
Problem was, Elgin looked to go airborne to take down Fale… and he just bounces off the big guy as Fale followed up on the outside, throwing Elgin into the barriers repeatedly. When the Canadian did make it back inside, he was simply stood on before Fale hit a body splash onto the arm, then a claw onto the bicep.
Elgin elbows free, but being compromised, Fale’s able to pick his shots, even if Big Mike was avoiding a lot of it. An enziguiri in the corner rocks the Tongan, as do more elbows, including a springboard back elbow out of the corner. A superkick drops Fale for a near-fall, but Elgin can’t follow up with a suplex as Fale was just too big.
Fale traps Elgin in the corner with a splash, then another body splash on the mat for a two-count, before a Grenade was escaped… with Elgin backing up into the corner. There’s more kicks out of Elgin as he tries his best to take the big man down, only to run into another shot as Fale was fixated on that Grenade. Not to worry – Elgin escapes again and lands a lariat to finally take him down, before he unwisely went for a buckle bomb. He stops himself, then looks for a Burning Hammer, before Fale simply elbows away and followed in with a Samoan drop for a near-fall. Finally Elgin succeeds with a German suplex, before a rolling elbow dropped Fale for another two-count as I’m wondering… when’s Tanga’s cue?
Elgin tries to lift Fale into the corner, but instead an elbow sent Elgin into the ref… and there’s your cue. The crowd boos as Tanga looked for Apeshit, but instead gets suplexed for his troubles before Elgin finally Andre slams Fale! Referee Marty Asami’s back to his feet as Elgin looks to head up top, but here’s Tama Tonga with a chair… knocking Elgin off the top before using it repeatedly in full view of the ref, and there’s your DQ. Well, this had its issues, but we’ve beaten that dead horse already. Slow paced, which would have been fine had we just had the Elgin injury story, but everyone knew where it was going to… so yeah, this was always going to struggle. *½
Post-match, the chairshots continued to rain down on Elgin, much like the boos.
G1 Climax, Block A: Hangman Page vs. Togi Makabe
A first-time singles match here, but it’s pretty much for nought at this point.
Page starts by charging his shoulder into Makabe… before getting run over as he fell into Togi’s trap. They head outside as Page becomes far too acquainted with those guard rails, but he manages to hit back with a tope before he threw Makabe chest-first into the rails.
Swearing at Makabe perhaps wasn’t the wisest move, but he does it anyway as Makabe gets trapped in the corner for a running dropkick that almost wins the match. Page’s impressive bridging, pumphandle fallaway slam’s good for a near-fall, before Makabe eventually returned fire with a scoop slam off the ropes. The mounted punches in the corner are next for Makabe, who hits the Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall, but he’s quickly caught with a German suplex as Page drew a near-fall – in spite of Makabe not having both shoulders down. Togi returns fire with a lariat, before taking Page into the corner as he teased a Spider German suplex… but Page elbows out… and gets a spider belly-to-belly instead!
Makabe pulls himself back up, but Page rolls away from the King Kong Knee drop, before the pair exchanged clubbering lariats. A German suplex is flipped out of by Page, who returned with a superkick, only for Makabe to stick an arm out and clothesline him, sending Page onto the apron for respite. More lariats follow as Makabe looked to avoid the Buckshot, but instead he runs into it before Page quickly finished him off with the Rite of Passage – and that’s Page’s first pinfall win! This was a nice, solid outing – but much like just about any Makabe match these days, not much to write home about. ***
G1 Climax, Block A: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Jay White
After his bright start, Jay White’s G1 is still looking a little wobbly – until you remember that he’s got some pretty big tie-breakers in the bank.
White started by jumping YOSHI at the bell, and quickly putting the boots to him as he’s still a little salty over YOSHI refusing to lay down for him last night. YOSHI quickly fought back, but gets dumped with a Saito suplex that sent him from the ring to the floor. Jay follows him outside and makes another beeline for the English commentary table in a bid to knock them off the air once again.
Back inside, White follows in with a Muta lock, while wrenching away on YOSHI’s nose, but we again end in the ropes. White looked for a chair, and shoved away the referee in doing so… but YOSHI’s able to hit back with a dropkick, then a pair of Headhunter neckbreakers, including one off the top rope for a near-fall. Regardless, White’s able to mount a comeback as he worked his way into a Blade Runner, but YOSHI counters with a roll-up for a near-fall, then a Western lariat as Switchblade looked to be getting back into it.
The folding powerbomb from YOSHI’s good for a near-fall, but White grabs hold of the referee as a human shield as YOSHI goes up top. It ends up with YOSHI getting crotched, before the pair jockeyed between the Blade Runner and Karma. Neither come off, but we do get a ref bump as YOSHI’s sent into the corner, allowing White to hit the low blow before YOSHI again counters Blade Runner, following back with a back cracker before he hits a nice looking Jackhammer-like Fisherman buster for a near-fall.
Karma’s next, but White slips out and turns it into Blade Runner… and there’s the win! This was a nice little outing, even if the story and result was predictable – YOSHI-HASHI, in spite of his firey showing earlier in the tour, is still slotted low, and Switchblade is still in the running. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block A: EVIL vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
If Tanahashi loses here, we’re into tie-breaks and log jams for first place in A block!
These two split a win each on their singles matches last year, and we started with EVIL getting hiptossed as commentary mentioned EVIL’s taped-up knee. Tanahashi looked to keep EVIL on the mat in the opening stages… but EVIL’s able to get free and work over Tanahashi’s perma-injured arm. A crushing back senton squishes Tanahashi for a near fall before he went back to those arms, using a surfboard arm stretch, which Tanahashi eventually kicked his way out of. Tanahashi continues the comeback with a forearm and a senton for a near-fall, before a bid to head up top ended with him being clotheslined to the floor.
On the outside, Tanahashi’s thrown into the guard rails, before he tried to fighting spirit it out… but he runs into a clothesline instead. He narrowly beat the count as EVIL tried to keep on top of him with Darkness Falls, before he found out that his old “hand my opponent’s leg to the referee” trick didn’t quite work as well.
My feed stutters as EVIL looked for his finish, only to get caught with the rolling neckbreaker, then a Slingblade as Tanahashi inched towards victory. EVIL throws the referee towards the corner as Tanahashi looked for a High Fly Flow… but that too backfires as EVIL takes a Dragon screw in the ropes before he staggered into the path of the High Fly Flow crossbody… but he rolls away from the frog splash!
Tanahashi looked to jar his elbow on landing, allowing EVIL to roll through to pick him up for the Darkness Falls. That’s good for a near-fall, as is a lariat as Tanahashi still has something left, countering out of Everything is EVIL and hitting one of his own?! The hell?! With EVIL down, Tanahashi sprints to the top rope, then hits a High Fly Flow… and with (sort of) his own move, EVIL has been vanquished! Easily the best thing on the card so far, and we’re going to have to wait a little longer for our block A log jam! ***¾
G1 Climax, Block A: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada
Whomever loses is out of the G1, and with Okada having three singles wins over Suzuki (to his one, and a pair of draws, one in last year’s G1, and the other from Suzuki’s 30th Anniversary show in June), you’d have to place the smart money on an Okada win to set up to that monster final block match next Friday in Budokan.
We begin with a jump start as Suzuki took Okada into the crowd for a bunch of chair and railing shots, as he tried to bury Okada before he could get going. Suzuki tries to threaten referee Red Shoes Unno with a chair… so Red Shoes grabs a chair of his own, which perhaps wasn’t the smartest move, but it did buy Okada time, only for him to get thrown into the bleachers.
There’s a Brookesing, with Okada going head-first into the leg of a fan who didn’t really want to move, before Suzuki decided to just leave Okada laying and head back to the ring. Suzuki grabs another chair as the count-out was started… and he meets Okada with it as he tried to stop the former champion from getting back into the ring, but Okada narrowly beats that 20-count.
Okada’s kept outside again courtesy of a big boot, but he goes back to the ring… and gets choked out with his own t-shirt. He fires back in with a neckbreaker though, then a DDT, barely getting a one-count on Suzuki from it, as the former Intercontinental champion makes his own comeback, escaping a neckbreaker slam to trap Okada in a cross armbreaker, trapping a leg too, as we’re forced into a rope break. Suzuki keeps up the aggression with a kick and a punt in the corner, before trapping Okada in a double armbar on the mat, similar to ZSJ’s old Young Boy Killer, as he tried to pop a pair of shoulders. In the end though, Okada gets to the ropes, but he’s quickly cornered as Suzuki rains down some blows from above… before the referee separates them, allowing Okada to fire back with a shotgun dropkick.
Okada asks for more shots… and gets them as Suzuki mocks the Rainmaker pose in the process, before he just drilled Okada with an elbow. It put the former champion on jelly legs as he tries to hit back, eventually taking Suzuki down with a signature dropkick, before resuming the striking battle as Suzuki just returns the favour. A front facelock from Suzuki tried to wear down Okada some more, before an attempt to escape just ended up switching the facelock into a rear naked choke!
Suzuki looked to drain Okada some more en route to the Gotch piledriver, but instead Okada escaped and teased a Rainmaker, before getting caught in an Octopus stretch. Okada escapes that quickly, and turns it into a tombstone, before he returned the favour with a rear naked choke and… a Gotch piledriver? No! Suzuki blocks it and goes for a tombstone as they spin around while countering each other, eventually with Okada hitting a Gotch tombstone for a two-count!
Suzuki avoids another Rainmaker, but ends up taking a pair of them… and that’s all folks! A heck of a main event by this card’s standards, but not a patch on the match they had last year. Some nice back and forth, but wacky Okada’s comeback remains on track as he keeps in second place. ****
Suzuki’s out of the G1 now as he can get to 12 points if he wins his last two matches… but with losses to Tanahashi and Okada, he’d not get past the tie-breaker.
As has been the case with recent A block cards, this was a fine show, but it offered little to truly grab you. That’s the problem when you get to the business end of the tournament with so few people really left in the running – there’s a lot of dead rubbers, and when you mix that with some storytelling that is beyond worn thin (OGs… *shakes fist*), and you’re left with a rather unpalatable undercard by G1 standards.
Friday is a day off for the tour, as we’re getting drips and drabs of action: we’re back on Saturday and Sunday in Osaka, then next Wednesday in Kanagawa, before the final three days in Budokan Hall starting next Friday. We’re almost there… we’ve almost survived!
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)
Kenny Omega (6-0; 12pts)
Tetsuya Naito (5-1; 10pts)
Kota Ibushi (4-2; 8pts)
Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (3-3; 6pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Juice Robinson, Tama Tonga (2-4; 4pts)
Toru Yano (1-5; 2pts)