Kenny Omega’s latest challenge in his run to a clean sweep saw him face Zack Sabre Jr. as the real contenders began to emerge from the pack.
“Here comes the new revolution dare your souls” – it’s Kagoshima’s turn to get a taste of the action, once again with Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on commentary.
Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) vs. Michael Elgin & Shota Umino
I feel like we’ve said this before, but lets get this out of the way!
Michael Elgin’s right shoulder is all taped up – with suggestions of a torn bicep making him look like YOSHI-HASHI on a bad day. He’s dwarfed by Fale, but doesn’t back down and starts by throwing some elbows before he runs into a straight-on choke. Fale misses a charge into the corner, then is sent careering into the ropes with a shoulder charge, as a second one takes him down… just as Shota Umino begs to tag in. Good luck!
Umino catches a kneeling Fale with elbows of his own, but he’s instantly tackled to the mat before Tanga Loa tags in and hits a nice back body drop. Tanga keeps on, but a missed legdrop opened things up for Umino, who comes back with a running back elbow before Fale shoved him down away from a missile dropkick.
Elgin makes the save as Umino was about to be double-teamed, low bridging Fale to the outside… but Shota’s still got Tanga to deal with. Despite hitting a dropkick, Umino runs into a clothesline from Tanga, who quickly hits Apeshit for the win. Short and sweet, and with minimal involvement from Elgin as the “off night” lived up to its label. **¾
Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Chase Owens) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
In spite of his impressive G1 debut, Page is just playing for pride… as is Makabe, as both men are already eliminated from contention.
We’ve a jump start as Page and Makabe headed outside, with Togi going into the guard railings… while Chase Owens berated Toa Henare, calling himself “C block champion”. Gotten to by fiction, I see… Henare tries to make a comeback, but Page gets involved with a knee on the apron, allowing Chase to quickly come back with a thrust kick as Henare was taking the bulk of the offence here. An attempted escape from Henare’s cut off as Page grabbed him by the trunks, but a spear gives the New Zealander a second attempt… which he grabs as Makabe comes in to clear house.
Mounted punches and a Northern Lights suplex trap Page for a near-fall, but the Hangman’s back with a death valley driver, only to get dropped with a short clothesline from Makabe. Tags out give Henare a chance to take down Owens with a shoulder charger… but Chase isn’t legal – it’s still Hangman! Page tries to escape a suplex, but Henare gets it off at the third attempt, before a falling chop almost ends things. Owens and Makabe hit the ring, but it’s Makabe’s lariats that take us back to square one before Page worked his way into a Buckshot Lariat on Henare for a near-fall. From the kick-out, it’s just one Rite of Passage left, with Henare getting spiked on his head for the win. Decent, but as these dead rubbers start to pile up, we’ll have a lot of potential “nothing” matches here. **½
YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. Jay White & YOH
Jay White’s early good run has stuttered a little as he’s now got a share of second place… but with the eliminated YOSHI-HASHI up tomorrow, surely he can stay on track? That is, if he’s not too busy trying to tear apart CHAOS from the inside as we’ve another intra-Roppongi 3K match!
White insists on starting against YOSHI, but this is bound to be a ruse… as White offered to lay down because “it doesn’t matter.” YOSHI wanted no part of it, so White attacks him from behind and lit him up with chops. YOH’s dropped off the apron as he’s refusing to be an accomplice, so YOSHI returns the favour… before White scurried out and forced YOH into the match. We’re taken to SHO vs. YOH once again, with the pair exchanging elbows before YOH’s apron enziguiri led to White tagging himself back in… because the vulture’s able to pick apart the pieces. There’s a guard rail spot that jarred Kevin Kelly’s finger while SHO’s taken between the ring apron and railings once again. YOH’s brought back in, but he refuses to accept the cheapshot White had set up for him, and it ends up with SHO dropkicking White into his partner.
YOSHI-HASHI tags in, but he’s instantly cut-off by White’s Saito suplex, before SHO’s hurled hard into those barriers. Jesus Christ, Jay! A chair comes into play, but YOH disarms White… and the match continues in the ring with YOH catching YOSHI with roll-ups, before he’s caught in a butterfly lock… and taps while Jay gets in his face, and refuses to make a save. Same same, but different, and Jay White’s attempt to get under everyone’s skins succeeds once more! **½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & BUSHI) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay
Also in second place in the G1 is EVIL, but his run-in sees matches against Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada and Jay White… so not straightforward!
EVIL and Tanahashi looked to start us off, but they both tag out before they even lock up… so it’s Finlay and BUSHI who start, with Finlay getting first blood with a dropkick. BUSHI remains isolated as Tanahashi tagged in, then out, allowing Finlay to hit some back elbows… but EVIL cuts it off and goes after Tanahashi, hurling him into the guard railings. In the meantime, BUSHI chokes Finlay with a t-shirt, while EVIL continued to chop Tanahashi around the aisle… but things turn around as Tanahashi comes in and drops BUSHI with a springboard crossbody out of the corner. The slam and a flip senton’s next, crushing BUSHI for a near-fall, before EVIL interferes to save his partner from a Slingblade. It backfires though, as Tanahashi’s back in with Dragon screws, before Finlay returned to keep up on BUSHI with elbows and dropkicks.
A uranage backbreaker gets Finlay a near-fall as EVIL breaks it up… then gets sent outside as BUSHI found his second wind, catching Finlay with a reverse enziguiri. EVIL gets the tag and cracks Finlay with a clothesline, then a release Fisherman buster for a near-fall, but despite Finlay almost shocking EVIL with a roll-up, his attempts at a Stunner end up backfiring as it’s countered into Everything is EVIL for the win. Enjoyable fare ahead of one of the few matches tomorrow that’ll actually mean something! ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
Our other “tasty match” for Thursday – Suzuki vs. Okada… and with these two having already had a time limit draw this year, I think they’ll be hoping for something rather dryer in Fukuoka!
We’ve a jump start, with everyone quickly heading outside and towards the English commentary desk, knocking out Rocky’s headset in the process. Not that he could do anything , as Suzuki buried Okada under guard railings and chairs, while Gedo was suffering a similar fate on the other side of the building. Christ, Suzuki even uses a pencil as he tries to gouge out Okada’s eye, while Gedo barely beat the count-out as the match finally hit the ring. Okada eventually gets back to the ring, after Gedo took some double-teaming, including a Suzuki armbar in the ropes. Suzuki tags in to keep Gedo down with punches, but Gedo gets free and brings in Okada to try and work over the knee… but instead Okada hits a back elbow, then a flapjack to an invading Desperado, before DDTing Suzuki in the middle of the ring.
Suzuki’s right back in with some clunking elbows to Okada, but the former IWGP champion returns the shots before getting caught in a rear naked choke. A Gotch piledriver looked to follow, but Okada counters into a neckbreaker slam, before we go to Gedo and Desperado, who’s all about pulling beards and mask tassles. Despy’s spear catches Gedo unawares, as before a series of roll-ups nearly gets Gedo the W… in the end, the ring fills up and clears as Okada’s caught in a rear naked choke, while Desperado dumps Gedo with Pinche Loco for the win. Very enjoyable stuff, but I can’t help but escape the feeling that Okada’s not losing tomorrow… in spite of the brutality today. ***
Post-match, Yota Tsuji ate a Gotch piledriver, because why not?
G1 Climax, Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Tomohiro Ishii
There’s a palpable sense of resignation over this… we all know what’s coming, it’s just the end result.
Tanga Loa does his updated Road Dogg/New Age Outlaws intro, which isn’t as cute or as singalong as the 1998 equivalent ever was. Tomohiro Ishii has no qualms with this being a handicap match, which isn’t a surprise, and we already have an interference tease as Tanga was snapping for Ishii’s legs from the off. A quick attempt at a Gun Stun and a sliding larat keeps us even, before T-Shirt Tama’s forearms barely registered on Ishii, only for some misdirection and a dropkick to finally take down the Stone Pitbull. Some ground and pound leads to a suplex as Tama gets an early two-count, before Tanga Loa gets involved on the outside as he’s always want to do.
Back in the ring, Tama chokes Ishii in the ropes, but Ishii stands back up through a series of shots before he shrugs off a headbutt and catches Tama with a slam. Ishii follows up with chops and forearms in the corner, and as Tanga Loa gets involved again, Ishii decides to throw him into the ring so he can… clothesline him to the outside. In the meantime, Tama Tonga’s setting himself up for the Vereno DDT, and nearly gets the win with that, before we’ve more interference as Tama pulls the referee down, allowing Tanga to bend a chair on the back of Ishii. They tried for Guerrilla Warfare onto the chair, but Ishii escapes and catches both men with individual German suplexes, before he jabs the chair into Tama’s shoulder, then pops the seat off the back as he gets some receipts!
Fortunately we didn’t have the referee do the DQ, as Ishii set up for a brainbuster onto the chair… only for it to get countered into a Tongan Twist as Tama dragged the referee in… and Ishii kicks out! It looks elementary from here, but Ishii shoves off a Gun Stun, then blocks a second to turn it into a German suplex, before a cracking lariat dropped Tama for another near-fall.
The sliding lariat’s next, but Tanga Loa pulls out the referee, sending him sailing into the guard railings, before Bad Luck Fale sneaks out. Well, as much as he can… Ishii blocks a Grenade and headbutts away, before falling to it at the second try, but with no referee we’ve a delayed cover… which means another kick-out! What’s it going to take for Marty Asami to call for a DQ here?! Tama goes for yet another Gun Stun, and this time gets it as a counter to the brainbuster… and there’s your upset! You know what I’m not thrilled with, especially after the way the referees weren’t taking any of this crap earlier in the tournament, but since it’s not affecting the end results now, it’s purely shenanigans for the sake of storylines now. **¾
G1 Climax, Block B: SANADA vs. Juice Robinson
With SANADA needing a miracle to win the G1, this one’s all about pride here. Meanwhile, Juice is about giving all of his entrance gear to kids in the aisle. This may end badly by the end of the G1…
Juice started off well with some armdrags as he focused on SANADA’s arm, before the pair worked up into duelling dropkicks and the obligatory stand-off. Juice tries to ape SANADA’s double leapfrog spot and gets sent outside… where they whiff on planchas, only for them to attempt their finishers out the outside before stopping to break the count. Juice clotheslines SANADA right back outside before he scored with his plancha… but SANADA turns it around by whipping Juice into the guard rails, before dragging him into the crowd with a Skull End. Back in the ring, SANADA worked over the broken hand and arm of Robinson with some arm scissors, but after getting to the ropes, Juice is able to mount a comeback with some Dusty punches and a spinebuster.
SANADA scurries into the corner, but gets caught with a cannonball and a crossbody off the top as Juice almost found his second win. A powerbomb’s thwarted by SANADA, who finally hits his double leapfrog, dropkick and plancha as the Ingobernable took over, escaping a Juice Box before getting cracked with a leg lariat. Another go at the Juice Box is countered into the Skull End, which the two reverse back-and-forth among themselves… but it’s Juice who gets his claws in, before he lets go and… heads up top?! The moonsault from Juice misses, as perhaps aping his opponent’s moves wasn’t such a good idea… but SANADA misses one too and gets caught with a powerbomb for a near-fall.
Frustrated, Juice rips off the cast on his broken hand so he can use his fist… but instead SANADA ducks it and leaps into a Skull End, which once again gets reversed and reversed. Finally SANADA keeps hold of his with a Giant Swing, before Juice flipped out and looks for Pulp Friction, eventually punching out SANADA before an awkward Pulp Friction gets the win! That’s pretty much SANADA’s G1 over now, and the story of Juice Robinson remains: without his trusty left hand, he’s very much vulnerable. This was really good stuff, with a fun, but awkward, closing series. ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano
Naito needs to keep winning and hope that someone, somewhere, can derail Kenny Omega if his search for a third G1 is to be successful. Just a shame he’s got a massive potential banana skin in front of him, since somehow, Toru Yano’s still in the G1 at this point.
Yano is… running to the ring?! Except he’s got to wait for Naito to take off his entrance suit, which frustrates him… so he puts his t-shirt back on as he paced back-and-forth in the corner. Then did a Monty Python-esque silly walk. Now we’re underway, but Naito’s frustrating him with his usual shtick, so Yano jumps him and… gets tripped on the outside as he’s thrown into the guard rails. Yano dives under the ring to avoid the dive that Naito never does, but he returns to stomp on Naito, then send him into the guard rails, hurling him into and over those barriers. They brawl into the crowd, where Naito manages to get hold of some athletic tape from Yano, and tapes him to the barriers as Naito tries to out-Yano Yano!
Yano’s forced to tear apart the barriers and bring it back to the ring with him, but he’s quickly dropkicked out to the floor… then sent back into the railings. There’s insult to injury as Naito whacks Yano with his own DVD case, eventually rolling him to pick up a near-fall as the pace remained slow. We’re back to the Yano shtick as he removes a turnbuckle pad, but Naito ducks a swing as we’re back to the referee playing tug of war… but Red Shoes gets shoved down in his bid.
Not to matter, Naito keeps up with the slingshot dropkick into the exposed corner, before whacking Yano in the chest with the pad for a two-count. A flying forearm misses as Yano had hope of a comeback, which he capitalised on by throwing Naito into the exposed corner repeatedly, then rolling him up for a near-fall! Yano trips Naito for just a one-count as he tried to wrestle his way to victory, following up with a thunderous belly-to-belly off the ropes.
Off comes the t-shirt now… because Yano wants to choke… and he even takes off the referee’s shirt, but it’s for nought as Yano’s kicked low, then rolled up for a near-fall as Naito came closer, before hitting a single Destino for the win. We’re slowly getting more shticky Yano, but this was a nice, enjoyable watch as Naito picked up the win that was rarely in doubt. ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kenny Omega
Right, now we’re into the meat and potatoes of this… or whatever the vegan equivalent is. There’s only ever been one prior singles match between these two, back in 2013 for 4FW in the UK… which Kenny won. He’ll need to repeat that to keep his 100% run intact in this year’s G1.
Sabre started by rolling on the mat in a bid to take down Omega, but it was Kenny who drew first blood (relatively speaking) with an armbar attempt as they indulged in a spot of grappling. Zack manages to put a stop to it with a headlock, before he pulls down Kenny out of a leapfrog… and now we stretch! A bow-and-arrow hold’s quickly flipped out of as Sabre’s forced to avoid a V-trigger, before his head’s booted damn near off his shoulders by Omega. That took Zack to the outside, ahead of a moonsault off a guard railing as Kenny’s right leg already looked to be causing some issues. Sabre tries to stop him with a key lock, but instead the match just heads up the aisle, where Zack countered a slam on the ramp into a single leg crab and a STF.
Back in the ring, Sabre keeps up with the stretching, twisting Omega’s heel and knee between his legs, before a missed head kick was turned into a leg sweep on the second go around. An elbow from Omega puts a stop to that, as does a Kotaro Krusher and a ‘rana as Kenny looked to get a foothold in proceedings. The Finlay roll’s again escaped into a rear naked choke, but Omega backs into the corner to break it up and try the move again… this time succeeding with the roll before the moonsault lands into an arm triangle!
That’s quickly broken in the ropes, allowing Omega to get free as he hits a DDT, sending Sabre outside for a twisting pescado that just about hit its mark. Omega looked to follow up off the top, but Sabre catches him… only to get shoved down as Omega crashes down with a crossbody, which Sabre rolled through as his latest search for a submission ended with him taking a German suplex. Kenny manages to make contact with a V-Trigger as Sabre was in the ropes, but it was too soon for a One Winged Angel, as Sabre scissors the arm and rolls down to the mat. The Euro Clutch almost gets the win for Zack, who then catches a V-Trigger and rolls it into a single leg crab, then a heel hook as he clamped down on the champion. Eventually Omega makes it to the ropes, but gets suplexed away and met with a PK as Sabre almost broke the streak.
From there, Sabre rolled Omega into Orienteering with Napalm Death, trapping Omega in the middle of the ring, before Kenny rolled free… only to get aught in a Calf Slicer as he barely made it to the ropes. Omega catches a PK and hits back with a chop, only for Sabre to try for a Zack Driver as they exchanged strikes, ending with a PK and a crucifix roll-up for Omega… Sabre kicks out, but Kenny keeps on going, and snatches the victory against the run of play! An out-of-nowhere finish to a match that was just about threatening to crack through to the next level. If you want to nit-pick, Omega’s reactions as he was caught in Orienteering didn’t exactly do the hold any favours, but something tells me Kenny’s running the board this year, as Sabre’s G1 comes to an end thanks to this tie-breaking result. ****¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Kota Ibushi vs. Hirooki Goto
A home town main event for Ibushi, and these two have split their prior singles meetings, with Goto winning in the G1 last year, while Ibushi beat Goto to win the 2015 New Japan Cup.
Goto’s G1 is over already, but Kota could just about make a late challenge, given he’s Omega’s final opponent in the block… and we start with a side headlock from Goto, who’s taken into the ropes for a clean break. Goto keeps up with a hiptoss after Ibushi was sent into the ropes, before an Ibushi ‘rana takes Goto to the outside for a Golden Triangle moonsault… but Goto rushes back to the ring to save himself.
A clothesline takes Ibushi to the outside, then into the guard railings, but Goto keeps the pace deliberate as he started to work over Ibushi’s neck, forcing Kota to scoot into the ropes to escape some headscissors. We’re back to the chinlock and elbows, with Goto staying on the neck before he runs into a dropkick that sent him to the outside… right in place for the Golden Triangle moonsault!
Returning to the ring, we’ve an Omega-like dropkick to the back of Goto’s head, but the NEVER champion stops a half-nelson suplex before he drops Ibushi with a lariat, following up with a spinning heel kick into the corner and a Saito suplex out of it for a near-fall. It’s template Goto stuff this, but if it works, why change it? Ibushi’s forced to elbow out of an ushigoroshi, then flip out of one before an overhead kick catches Goto square in the face. The ushigoroshi connects at the next attempt though, before Goto decided to amplify it off the top rope… but Kota slips out and lands another overhead kick, this time connecting with Goto’s back. With Goto still hung up in the ropes, he’s able to knock Ibushi down… but it just riles up the Golden Star who gets back to his feet… only to get caught up top as Goto looked for an avalanche Code Red… except Ibushi flips out of it!
The pair follow up with lariats, but it’s Ibushi who wins out and almost takes the win before he followed in with a German suplex. An attempted Kamigoye misses, as Goto counters with a headbutt… only for Ibushi to work back into an attempted lawndart. That’s wriggled out of and countered with a rear naked choke from Goto, then a lariat as Ibushi tried to find a way to win at home. Another attempt at GTR’s escaped as Ibushi uses some knees, only to get caught with Shouten Kai for a near-fall, before another crack at GTR’s countered into a roll-up as Ibushi almost snuck the win. There’s another headbutt from Goto as he tried to go all Shibata on him, but that just riles up Ibushi into some more kicks, before a Bomaye knee almost led to the finish! From there, Ibushi calls for the Last Ride powerbomb, and gets it for a near-fall, before Kota finally catches Kamigoye to bring the war to an end. In truth, this isn’t WWE, so Ibushi wasn’t in that much danger of losing (which hurt a little of the drama for overthinkers like myself), but this was a solid main event as Kota Ibushi effectively made B block a three-horse race. ****
This was a massive improvement on Monday’s card, but with the “superior” singles action, that’s always been the case throughout this tournament. With Kenny Omega at the top, it’s up to Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi to mount a challenge… but with Ibushi having had two losses already, and Naito having lost the tie-breaker, it’s going to need quite the slip-up from Omega to not make it to the finals in Budokan.
The G1 rolls into Fukuoka on Thursday, with Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki main eventing, while block leader Hiroshi Tanahashi faces EVIL in the semi-main.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (5-1; 10pts)
EVIL, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, Jay White (4-2; 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale (3-3; 6pts)
Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe (2-4; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI, Hangman Page (1-5; 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)