A clash of the Intercontinental and NEVER Openweight champions headlined the latest stop on the G1 tour.
After a few days off, the G1 rolled into Hiroshima’s Sun Plaza Hall for some action from the B block. Chris Charlton stayed behind, so we’ve just got Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on commentary…
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Will Ospreay, Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura
It’s Ospreay/Fale on Saturday in Aichi. Yeah.
Yujiro and Honma start out with shoulder tackles as I try and avoid the “ghost of G1 past” gag. Yeah, I failed. Honma misses a Kokeshi as everyone spills outside… and after a spot of buffering, I’m back as Honma dropped Yujiro with a DDT. I doubt I missed much. Chase Owens tags in to stop Honma as he begins with some chops, but a back elbow from Honma puts him down for a Kokeshi. In comes Ospreay, who makes a beeline for Fale with a springboard forearm to the floor as he went after the big man rather than Chase… not to worry, as Ospreay’s springboard forearm connects quickly… as does a punch from Owens.
Ospreay’s quickly back with an enziguiri before Fale wandered in to break up a Storm Breaker. Tags get us to Uemura and Yujiro, with the Young Lion quickly connecting on a dropkick. Yujiro responds with a reverse DDT for a near-fall, before he’s caught with a small package for a near-fall as Uemura kept on fighting. A capture suplex sends Yujiro flying, before a Fisherman buster and a Shining Wizard pair nearly put Uemura away. The Pimp Juice DDT quickly followed, and that was that. Low energy stuff, but let’s be honest, you’re probably not expecting much from this anyway. **
Post-match, Ospreay’s hurled into the ring barriers…
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI)
EVIL/ZSJ is the only match they’re building up to here for Saturday, as Archer’s got Kota Ibushi and SANADA has Tanahashi in Aichi. Guess what? We’ve a jump start! Who knew, right?
EVIL and Sabre stay in the ring as everyone else pairs off off-camera. In the ring, EVIL looked to roll Sabre into a Scorpion Deathlock, only for Zack to get free and work the arn, dragging EVIL outside as bedlam broke out once more. Things calm down as Archer prompted EVIL to chop him, with bad results, before Suzuki tagged in to keep the trend going. Eventually EVIL fights back with chops, but Suzuki just decks him with an elbow, as Sabre came in with a guillotine to look for a submission… only for EVIL to counter out with a Fisherman buster.
Tags bring in SANADA and Archer, as the latter forces out of a Paradise lock, before Suzuki came in and ate a Dragon screw. BUSHI’s in to try and keep up the pressure, landing a missile dropkick as LIJ swarm Suzuki, eventually sparking a Parade of Moves as Archer used the EBD claw to break a Skull End, while Suzuki quickly put BUSHI away with a rear naked choke and a Gotch piledriver. By the numbers stuff as Suzuki-gun picked up a pretty straightforward win. **¾
After the match, Yota Tsuji got extremely acquainted with the guard rails, courtesy of Suzuki…
Kota Ibushi & Ren Narita vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shota Umino
We’ve a rematch from last year’s final on Saturday, so expectations are going to be sky high…
Tanahashi and Ibushi start, despite what the Young Lions wanted to do, as the pair quickly begin to scramble on the mat before Ibushi got the upper hand, taking Tanahashi into the corner as Narita got a quick tag in. Narita’s able to go hold-for-hold with Tanahashi early on, but an uppercut stops him as Umino comes in too.
Shota tries for a slam, but Narita puts on the brakes as a snapmare and a low dropkick targeted “Shooter”’s injured arm. Ibushi returns to focus on the same arm, only to get met with an eventual spinebuster as Tanahashi returned to try and pick part Ibushi with forearms. A flip senton off the middle rope gets Tanahashi a near-fall, before he baited Ibushi in with kicks that he countered into a Dragon screw.
From there, a Cloverleaf awaited Ibushi, but Narita dropkicked it away as Kota responds with a German suplex. Narita’s back in to throw some forearms as Tanahashi’s on his own, but the Ace hits back with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker as Umino got back to the apron. He’s not tagged though, as Tanahashi runs into the overhead belly-to-belly that almost caused the mother of all upsets ahead of a Boston crab… but Tanahashi’s able to hand-walk his way to the ropes. Narita followed up with some slaps before he’s dropped with a Slingblade… and that’s enough of that as Tanahashi got the win. It’s telling that Tanahashi got the win with not even his “secondary” move, showing just how far ahead the Ace is compared to the Young Lions. ***
KENTA, Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks vs. Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI & Toa Henare
Yeah, this one on Saturday is going to be quite tasty. Okada vs. KENTA… a dream match for some, and it’s becoming a reality.
Okada made sure he started with KENTA, as they headed into the ropes for the obligatory mock clean break that quickly descended into forearms. KENTA starts swinging with kicks, which find their mark, before his back heel just served to piss off Okada… as did the Rainmaker pose. A tag brings in Karl Fredericks, who’s just dumped with a big boot as Henare comes in to keep it going, as Fredericks tried to fight back… only to get met with a double chop.
An elbow from Fredericks keeps the back-and-forth going as Henare’s Samoan drop drew barely a one-count. YOSHI-HASHI gets a two-count with a low dropkick, but Okada makes his time in there brief, tagging back in as he made another beeline to knock KENTA off the apron. Okada’s DDT gets a near-fall as the CHAOS-Henare team was making the most of quick tags, but KENTA decides to make his own opening, taking Okada outside and into the guard rails. A spinebuster from Henare stops Fredericks, as Clark Connors comes in for a leapfrog/dropkick as he looked to build some momentum.
Henare stops him with a suplex, but YOSHI-HASHI comes in and gets swarmed as Connors almost took the upset. Forearms and uppercuts are exchanged before a Western Lariat decks Connors for a near-fall, before a Butterfly lock forces the submission. This started out pretty good, but wavered a little towards the end – still, I’m more than ready for KENTA v. Okada! ***
G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson
Toru Yano’s shockingly got a share of joint-second in the block going in, and if results go his way, could be in with a share of the lead. Yeah, hell isn’t going to freeze over, is it?
Yano wants to offer a handshake at the bell, but the offer of friendship nearly ends the match as he went for a roll-up and got a near-fall. Of course, Yano goes for the turnbuckle pads, but ends up taking some Dusty punches, before blocking a Left Hand of God with the pad. Hey, it works! Juice charges at Yano, but sails through to the ring post as he sent himself flying to the outside. That almost led to the count-out as Yano dragged him off the apron and rushed back inside. Yano tried to use some tape, but Juice gets the referee to check him… and he’s caught. Yano goes for a roll-up as he had the ref check Juice too, before some shenanigans with the exposed corner led to another roll-up near-fall for Yano.
Another Left Hand of God gets ducked by Yano, whose low blow gets blocked… the Left Hand of God finally lands, as does Pulp Friction, and that’s all for Yano. Entertaining, but not exactly the sort of match that’ll get plaudits as Juice managed to outwit Yano. **¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Taichi vs. Hirooki Goto
Oh man, this match has “loved in Japan, hated elsewhere” written over it given the recent reactions to these guys in the West. Taichi takes shots at the LA Dojo, stealing Karl Fredericks’ t-shirt and stomping on it to enrage Goto.
Yep, we’ve a jump start as Goto whips him with a t-shirt, before they headed outside, where Goto throws Taichi into guard rails, prompting him to use Miho Abe as a human shield. Taichi takes over, brawling around the Japanese commentary table as we got a count-out tease. Goto, of course, beat the count as Taichi began to choke on him in the corner, following up with some Kawada kicks before he was forced to escape an ushigoroshi with a rake to Goto’s eyes.
Taichi ends up running into a lariat as he teed up for an Axe bomber, before Goto continued to chain his offence with a spinning heel kick into the corner and a Saito suplex out of it for a near-fall. Kicks from Taichi get him back into it, before he pulled off the trousers and teed up for a buzzsaw kick… but Goto catches it and turns it into an ushigoroshi with ease. Goto’s second wind saw him unleash some more kicks, only for Taichi to return the favour, but his eniguiri’s headbutted away as a reverse GTR dropped Taichi for a near-fall. A regular GTR looked to follow, but Taichi got free and used the ref as a human shield before a Saito suplex put both men down. The mic stand comes into play next, but Goto ducks it and lands another headbutt before throwing the mic stand away… choosing instead to let Taichi get back up as another kick led to a GTR… but the ref gets too close, and gets unsighted as a low blow and a Gedo clutch got Taichi the win. Well, this was what I expected – a perfectly fine outing, but the mental block that a lot of people have on Goto and Taichi isn’t getting shifted any time soon. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Shingo Takagi vs. Jon Moxley
These two have long ties to Dragon Gate USA, but this is a first time outing that I was shocked wasn’t at least the semi-main…
The pair go face-to-face before the bell, as they start with big forearms and elbows going back-and-forth… until Moxley gnawed away at Shingo. Those early exchanges already bloodied up Shingo, as he got clotheslined to the outside with Moxley following up with a dive that’s eventually countered into a death valley driver on the floor. Moxley recovered, throwing Shingo into the ring post as he looked under the ring for a table, which collapses as Shingo’s bounced off of it. A piledriver off the apron’s teased by Moxley, but instead he dropkicks Shingo’s feet in the ropes before a Figure Four looked to continue Moxley’s path towards two more points.
Shingo rolls into the ropes to force a break, as Moxley was perhaps a little too arrogant over those points. An attempted Death Ride’s back body dropped away as Shingo comes back in with clotheslines and a suplex. A sliding clotheslines’ caught with Moxley looking to hit back with a uranage, instead having to find a way through with a low dropkick as a Figure Four around the ringpost put Takagi in more trouble. Back in the ring, Shingo trades German suplexes with Moxley, then lariats, before a swivelling clothesline left Moxley in a heap. Shingo punches Moxley to avoid some biting, only to get caught with a Dragon screw as that Figure Four again looked to follow… but instead Moxley’s shoved into the ropes for a sliding lariat that got him a near-fall.
Shingo collapsed to the mat as he was thrown into the corner, with Moxley’s leg work paying dividends, leading to a Regal Knee … which Shingo avoided as he countered with Noshigami! Clotheslines follow, before a Pumping Bomber flattened Moxley for a near-fall. A Last of the Dragons was slipped out of as Moxley then hits a Death Rider for a near-fall, before the pair again spill outside… and hey, that table’s put to use as Moxley bounces Shingo’s knee off of it. There’s a chair too as Moxley risked disqualification as he Pillmanises the knee… which sparks another count-out tease.
Shingo beat the count, but slid into the path of a Regal Knee… before a second one was countered into a Made in Japan for a near-fall. More short-range clotheslines get countered, before some more Regal Knees led to yet another near-fall… only for Moxley to instantly chain into a Cloverleaf for the submission. While not quite on the same level of violence as Moxley/Ishii, this was a masterclass – Moxley picked a body part early on and worked it like a dog with a bone, eventually paying dividends as he remained unbeaten… while inflicting Shingo his first submission loss in New Japan. ****
G1 Climax, Block B: Jay White vs. Jeff Cobb
White’s rotten start to the G1 means that he’s going to have to run the remainder of the table in order to have any sort of hope of making the finals…
As usual, White powders outside at the bell as he tried to dictate the pace, but it backfires as Cobb headed outside… only to have his attention diverted by Gedo, who’s thrown into the ring as White came back in with an attack from behind. White goes back to tactics he used last year, wrapping Cobb in the ring apron ahead of a neckbreaker to the floor, as the former IWGP champion found his niche.
White shoves down the ref after he refused to count a pin… but he was back in action to count a two from a neckbreaker. A stranglehold followed from White, but Cobb got free and lands a Samoan drop… only to get pulled down by the hair as he tried to kip back up. Regardless, Cobb’s back with an overhead belly-to-belly, before he tried to pull White into a German suplex, instead settling for a series of chops.
A pop-up back body drop nearly went all Sabu-like for White, who continued to get thrown around the ring. A suplex, then a standing moonsault drew a near-fall as Cobb almost continued White’s G1 run-of-doom… until White struck back with a short DDT. White baits Cobb into an elbow as he continued his comeback, landing a uranage for a near-fall as commentary waxed lyrical over some minutiae that we barely caught on tape. Out of nowhere, Cobb catches White with a fallaway slam, before some chop/clothesline combos left White laying in the corner. A pull-up into a side suplex wows Hiroshima, before Gedo got involved to stop a superplex. Instead, Cobb headbutts White and superplexes him in from the apron, before elbows stop a Tour of the Islands.
Cobb tries again, but he ends up shoving White into the referee as he broke up a sleeper suplex… which was the cue for Gedo to come in and try his luck with brass knuckles. A slam stops him, as White eventually got in with a low blow. The sleeper suplex followed, as White pulls up the ref ahead of a Blade Runner attempt… but Cobb countered into a German suplex before White countered a Tour of the Islands into a Blade Runner… and he’s finally on the board! This was a pretty fun match, with White having to go back to his old ways to change his fortunes. One down… can he complete the other five? ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Naito’s got a 5-4 lead in the head-to-heads here, and they fire out of the gates as they looked to make this a short one, throwing bombs early on.
Naito slows down the pace with a cravat, dragging Ishii to the mat… but Ishii’s able to get free during some annoying buffering. Chops from Ishii send Naito into the ropes, only for him to recover with a single-leg dropkick as neither man was offering anything in the way of an opening. A ‘rana from Naito has Ishii down, as does a back elbow as the Intercontinental champion was chaining stuff together, leading to a Combinacion Cabron in the corner. He tries to follow that up with a superplex, but Ishii slips free and tried to counter with a powerbomb, only for Naito to wriggle free and slap him in the back of the head. That’s not gonna go well.
Ishii returns the favour with a forearm, following up with the Violence Party of forearms and chops in the corner, stopping only to pick up Naito as a resulting cover got a near-fall. A ‘rana counters a powerbomb for Naito, who was becoming evasive… only for his flying forearm to get countered into a German suplex. A second clothesline misses as a tornado DDT spikes Ishii right on his head. Naito gets caught on the top rope as he looked for a superplex, but he climbed over and instead dropped Ishii with a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner. A top rope ‘rana followed, before a flying forearm and Gloria folded Ishii in half for a near-fall. Ishii stops Destino, but got folded in again with a German suplex… then with a reverse ‘rana as Naito was bringing all the head drops, before he got flipped with a lariat as he was running in for Destino.
A headbutt drops Naito in the ropes as Ishii finally gets off his superplex for a near-fall. He responds to Naito’s slap with a headbutt and a lariat for another two-count as Naito again folded in on himself, before the pair traded more kicks… until Naito ran in and hit a Destino out of nothing for a near-fall. Another Destino’s caught, as Ishii looked to counter into a Fire Thunder Driver… but instead he gets spiked with a DDT… and somehow rebounded instantly with a sliding lariat as the pair were operating on fumes. Naito’s right back in with a Snow Plow for a near-fall, before a short-arm Destino folded Ishii on himself for the win. An insanely-even match, with both men coming really close – but in the end, Naito’s precision work over Ishii’s (no) neck paid off as the Destino paid off. ****¼
Kazuchika Okada, KENTA (4-0; 8pts)
Lance Archer, EVIL, Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-2; 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (1-3; 2pts)
Jon Moxley (4-0; 8pts)
Juice Robinson (3-1; 6pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Taichi, Shingo Takagi, Toru Yano (2-2; 4pts)
Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Jay White (1-3; 2pts)
The G1’s stop in Hiroshima continued the run of good shows as the Climax rolled on. Moxley/Shingo was a cracker of a match that left plenty in the tank for if/when they repeat it down the line, while Jay White took the first step in his road to where he thinks he should be… the same road that Naito’s just a little further ahead of him on. There’s another few days off before the G1 has a weekender in Aichi, headlining on Saturday with Okada vs. KENTA, while Sunday’s early start is headlined with Naito vs. Moxley.