Who’s joining Kota Ibushi in Monday’s G1 finals? Five men have a realistic chance… let’s see who gets there!

We’re back at Nippon Budokan for this, with Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton threatening us with the possibility of Hirooki Goto somehow stumbling into the final. Please, no.

Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji vs. Shota Umino & Ren Narita
Some good Young Lion action to get us going, as we have Tsuji and Umino locking up, heading into the ropes as Tsuji threw a chop to give us an unclean break.

Umino looked to return the favour, but Tsuji cuts him off with some forearms before shoulder tackles has Tsuji further ahead, as he continued to look for the win. Umino got free, and laid back into Tsuji with some ground and pound, following up with some kicks and forearms in the corner as a neckbreaker followed for a near-fall.

Tsuji throws in some elbows to stop a slam, and instead take down Umino with one of his own as tag broughts in Uemura and Narita. They lock up with the underhooks, looking for their overhead suplexes before breaking to throw some forearms as Narita was just wearing out Uemura with stomps. A Boston crab from Narita almost ended in the ropes as Uemura inched his way to freedom, but Narita pulled him away at the last possible second as he was forced to cling on… before he eventually tapped. A hell of a finish, and a hot crowd for something as simple as a Boston crab hope spot. ***¼

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI)
Bad Luck Fale being shoehorned into the “Ring General” is quite the thing. As for BUSHI… here’s his mask of the day:

SANADA’s bent over randomly as Bad Luck Fale wanders in as part of the jump start, as it’s EVIL who’s triple-teamed early on. EVIL fought back with a shoulder tackle to Chase, only to get pulled outside by Fale as he takes the microphone cable to choke EVIL with. This time, he didn’t have to fill the swear jar…

Fale gets his cardio in, running the ropes and stepping on EVIL ahead of an elbow drop for a near-fall. Chase Owens came in to keep the pressure up, but he ends up getting caught with a thrust kick after the referee became an unwilling participant. In comes SANADA as the crowd went wild, looking on in awe as Yujiro was rolled into a Paradise Lock before Chase met a similar fate. Chase pushed away though and tried his version, only for SANADA to get free and give a receipt… that was funny. A low dropkick freed Chase and Yujiro, as SANADA kept up with a ‘rana to Yujiro. BUSHI’s in with a missile dropkick as Yujiro got triple-teamed, but the tables turn as BUSHI eats a running knee from Owens and Yujiro’s Fisherman buster for a near-fall. The Pump Juice followed, and BUSHI’s done for. This could have been a whole lot worse, but after a tour full of Bullet Club undercard tags, it’s easy to skip over them. **¼

KENTA, Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks vs. Kota Ibushi, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare
This is a bit like rubbing salt in the wounds – KENTA started so bright, but fell off badly, and now has an undercard tag against the block winner.

Connors opened up by taking Henare into the ropes for a chop, before some shoulder tackles prompted Henare to fire back with a chop… only to get taken down with a dropkick. Honma’s in, as is Karl Fredericks, who exchanged forearms before a shoulder tackle put Honma down. There’s some hesitation here, as Fredericks ends up running into the corner before a hiptoss and a… misses Kokeshi got us nowhere.

KENTA tags in to waffle Honma in the back with a kick, earning him some boos before the backheel and Kokeshi mocking earned him some more. Honma catches another kick, but gets slapped before scoring with a leaping Kokeshi, as Ibushi came in to breeze through KENTA, landing a standing moonsault for a two-count. KENTA throws some kicks, but Ibushi returns them as duelling headkicks left both men down. Fredericks and Henare return, as another dropkick took down Henare… allowing the LA Dojo lads to flood the ring. Connors’ spear gets a near-fall for Fredericks, but Henare just decks Fredericks with a bicycle kick. There’s a pop-up Samoan drop for Connors too, before a rugby tackle forces KENTA in to break it up. Ibushi deals with him, as nobody’s left to make the save… but Henare’s uranage needs two attempts to land for the win. This was fine, but there’s always an eggy moment when you’ve got the A-block winner on an undercard tag with nothing to build to. **½

Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI
The New Japan dream team’ll be a little sore today, with Okada having fallen at the final hurdle, while Tanahashi was upset by Will Ospreay. Whom he’s teaming with today…

Yeah, there’s a jump start we all should have seen coming, but things “settled” as Kanemaru attacked Ospreay in the ring… only to get caught with an enziguiri as the ring flooded. Kanemaru’s triple-teamed before Ospreay’s shooting star press got a near-fall for YOSHI… with no sushi pose?

Suzuki gets involved, catching YOSHI-HASHI with a hanging armbar before throwing him into the guard rails as all hell broke loose again. A chair gets bounced off of YOSHI-HASHI as Sabre pairs off with Tanahashi. Curious timing with the London show ahead, no? Sabre tags in to stop YOSHI with a cravat, while Archer had slightly less technical finesse, using a uranage to drop YOSHI for a two-count. Suzuki’s back to kick away on YOSHI’s head for a bit, before he replied to some chops with a big forearm. A boot from Suzuki knocks Okada off the apron before he returned his focus to YOSHI-HASHI… who blocks a PK and… eats an elbow. The Western lariat drops Suzuki finally, before Okada tagged in to clean house. A DDT follows on Archer for barely a one-count, as Archer retaliates with a Derailer, before a crossbody from Archer took down Okada and Ospreay.

Tags bring in Sabre and Tanahashi next, as I ponder… they exchange uppercuts and slaps as Sabre instead traps Tanahashi in an Octopus hold. A Dragon screw helps Tanahashi out as he looked to retaliate with a Cloverleaf, but Sabre counters with a triangle armbar to force Tanahashi into the ropes. The ring floods as a Parade of Movesbroke out, eventually settling into Suzuki and Sabre double-teaming Tanahashi… but it backfires as Zack flips between submissions, only for Tanahashi to roll roll up Sabre for the pin. Cue another tantrum from ZSJ, and I guess we have a match for Royal Quest? ***

G1 Climax, Block B: Jeff Cobb vs. Toru Yano
Of course, neither man’s alive in the G1, so this is more a case of “how many antics can Yano stuff into his final block match”?

Well, far be it from me to body shame, but Yano’s looking a lot lumpier than usual. He’s stuffed a load of tape in his trunks, which might be why the trainer’s room is a little less efficient today. Cobb has none, but Yano demands a search, which allowed him to score with a roll-up before he trapped Cobb’s arms in his own singlet as another roll-up got a near-fall. I’m howling.

Yano apologies and goes for a handshake, but he’s taken down as he rolls outside. He walks past all the tape as he tries to draw Cobb into the crowd, but yet again, this tactic doesn’t work. So Yano begins to undo a turnbuckle pad, much to Cobb’s annoyance. Yano ends up running into an exposed corner before he was thrown overhead with a belly-to-belly. There’s a reply from Yano too, as he proceeded to slap Cobb in the back of the head. That was a very bad idea, as a clothesline and a gachimuchi-sault lands for a near-fall, before Yano went back for a low blow. Cue more shenanigans, as Cobb ends up catching a low blow, turning it into a superkick and a Tour of the Islands for the win. **½

G1 Climax, Block B: Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This surprised me.

Taichi wasn’t messing around from the start, calling Ishii into the ring as he threw aside the mic stand, before he charged into Ishii with an Axe Bomber, looking to get the win in near-record time. Ishii slips out of a Last Ride powerbomb, before he found himself decked with a big boot as Taichi had a rather more pronounced sense of urgency. Kicks just anger Ishii, but Taichi’s a step ahead for a little while, until Ishii caught him with a German suplex. Chops from Ishii just get returned with kicks as Taichi tried to stop him, but instead he’s taken into the corner for a clothesline as Ishii ends up hauling him up for a superplex, nearly getting the win right there.

Despite popping up from a back suplex, Taichi’s in trouble as some clotheslines got a near-fall. An enziguiri from Taichi gives him a breather, as he’s able to duck a retaliatory enziguri from Ishii and respond with a buzzsaw kick. The trousers stay on as Taichi runs in with an Axe Bomber for a near-fall, but he still can’t get the powerbomb off as a back body drop frees Ishii… only for an Axe Bomber and a gamengiri to drop him. Now we get the powerbomb for a near-fall, before Taichi pulls off the trousers as the superkick misses… only for him to pull Ishii in for a Black Memphisto. We counter, counter and counter as Ishii’s discus lariat barely fazes Taichi… although a headbutt sure as hell did! Ishii hunts for a sheer drop brainbuster, but ends up having to throw enziguiri after enziguiri… which Taichi shrugs off as a back suplex led to a near-fall. Another thrust kick’s stopped as Taichi again seems immune to enziguiris before the Black Memphisto puts Ishii away. It’s been said before, but if this Taichi turned out more often, he’d not be the butt of as many jokes – but “motivated Taichi” is quickly coming out of his shell. ****

G1 Climax, Block B: Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson
A rematch from the Best of the Super Juniors final… and any momentum that Moxley had – and has had – since then, has long dissipated thanks to him losing his last three G1 matches. Taking him from block favourite to an outside bet. Still, at least Shota got the denim jacket from the vignettes…

They butt heads in the early exchanges, but Juice’s knee quickly became vulnerable, buckling as he tried to get away as Moxley quickly proceeded to focus on that left leg, wrapping it in the ropes and kicking away at it. C’mon, let me have the Owen Hart line… We don’t get it as Moxley instead uses an Indian deathlock on the leg, snapping back repeatedly as Moxley kept Juice on the mat. A figure four’s next, but Juice rolls over to reverse the hold as Moxley needed the ropes for a break. Juice goes for the Juice Box, but Moxley blocks it and rolls into a Cloverleaf as the pressure was kept on the knees of Juice, only for the hold to be broken via biting. Hey, Juice even bit off Moxley’s ear-ring!

A flapjack drops Moxley, as does a standing lariat as Juice built momentum, leading up to a cannonball and a crossbody off the top… but Moxley rolls through and looked to go back for a Figure Four. Juice pushes him outside, but took too long to follow as a chop block knocks out the knee, before Juice flew in with a pescado as Moxley had pulled out a table from under the ring. The guard rails come into play next as Juice… puts the table away. His search for plaudits allowed Moxley to pull him into the guard rail though, as Moxley looked for a ring post figure four… instead letting go so he could get a chair. The chair pad fell off when Moxley batted it on the railings, but it’s for nought as Moxley misses, with Juice getting up onto the apron for a cannonball instead.

Again, Juice threw away the chair so he could keep the match clean, following inside with a crossbody for a delayed near-fall, before we got duelling Dusty punches, set to chants of “Juice! Mox!” from the Budokan crowd. Moxley tries to kick away Juice’s knee as he instead got run down with a clothesline, before Moxley managed to counter Pulp Friction into an ankle lock. Things switch up into a Bully choke/STF combo, which looked to have Juice out to the point where Red Shoes does the arm drop gimmick… except Juice grabbed hold of his trouser leg to stay alive! Moxley celebrates like he’d won, but the ref refuses to call it, annoying Moxley some more… so he follows in with a Regal Knee.

The X-Plex is next as Moxley again looked for the TKO, before he headed outside for a bunch of plunder. Just cover him… but no, that’s not the Moxley way, as he brings out a table as Juice began to stir, eventually coming in with a roll-up for a near-fall. A Right Hand of God is next as Moxley bit back, but the Left Hand of God stuns him ahead of Pulp Friction… and that’s the win back for Juice. I wasn’t enamoured over the closing bit, considering that Juice was barely moving while Moxley was throwing a fit and grabbing plunder… but I guess this now earns Juice a rematch, which could tell us a lot about how long Moxley is for New Japan? ***½

G1 Climax, Block B: Shingo Takagi vs. Hirooki Goto
With that result, a win for Goto would make things interesting for the block… given he’s got a tie-breaker win over Jay White.

The opening tie-up ends in the ropes with a cheeky chop from Shingo, who at least visually, looked to be the same size as Goto. Junior? A lot of swinging and missing led to Shingo taking down Goto with a shoulder tackle, then with a suplex as Shingo threatened to dominate.

Some Danielson elbows leave Goto on all fours, but he’s able to surprise Shingo with a discus lariat, forcing him to roll outside to recompose himself. Back inside, Goto lands a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner, before a mini exchange of strikes led to Shingo swatting away a clothesline, then returning fire with a back suplex. Goto backdrops out of a powerbomb, but can’t avoid a back elbow, nor a punch, nor a clothesline as Shingo maintained the initiative. Goto gets back in with a spinning heel into the corner, then a back suplex out of it for a near-fall, before catching Shingo with a rear naked choke. Shingo grabbed the ropes, but the ref did little to break it as Shingo threw his way free, only to get caught a second time.

After falling onto his back to get free, Shingo builds some momentum with a sliding lariat and a noshigami for a near-fall, as a series of clubbering lariat looked to wear down Goto some more… only for him to return fire. Eventually Goto’s lariat has Shingo down, ahead of an ushigoroshi for a near-fall as Goto looked to be measuring up for a GTR… Except Shingo avoids it and throws some headbutts, before he was forced to counter an ushigoroshi. Made in Japan’s the shock response, but Goto kicks out at two as the crowd roared. From there, Goto’s up with a Pumping Bomber for a near-fall, as Shingo called for the finish, hauling up Goto as they battled between GTRs and Last of the Dragons… until a right hand had Goto on jelly legs.

Back-and-forth elbows follow, but a Goto headbutt and a reverse GTR looked to have him on his way, until Shingo replied with another lariat. Despite ducking it, Goto runs into another Pumping Bomber as he barely stayed alive, before Shingo picked him up for the Last of the Dragon… and that’s all folks. The G in G1 sure isn’t standing for Goto this year, as he fell to an upset… and surely Shingo’s gotta graduate from the juniors now? ****¼

G1 Climax, Block B: Jay White vs. Tetsuya Naito
What that effectively means is that this is winner takes all – with Chris Charlton telling us that a draw here would invoke sudden death extra time.

Of course, it’s a horribly pro-Naito crowd, and of course, White rolls outside at the bell to frustrate. It’s simple stuff that gets the crowd on his back, and they cheer as Naito threatened to dive… but again, tranquilo. He then apes White’s shtick, drawing the Knife Pervert outside so he could throw him into guard rails.

Back in the ring, White again tries to powder outside, but he has the rope kicked into him as Naito keeps him inside, but he went too soon for a Combinacion Cabron and got caught with chops before he could even get going. An atomic drop stops White, but this time he throws Naito onto the apron to avoid the Combinacion, before he upped the ante, taking Naito into the guard rails with enough force to open the gates. White rolls Naito back inside so he could spike him with a DDT for a near-fall, before those trips between the guard rails and ring apron showed just how much distance even the front row had from ringside. Back in the ring, White uses a chinlock to keep Naito down, but Naito got free and found his way back in with a single-leg dropkick. Another boot stops White as Naito ran in with a ‘rana, then a low dropkick, as he began to build up pressure, finally following up with Combinacion Cabron.

A pair of neckbreakers from Naito gets a two-count as he looked to soften up for a Destino, as White then got spat on while he was trapped in some headscissors on the mat. White’s able to scoot his way into the ropes though, before he returned with a Gedo-ish Complete Shot and a German suplex to turn the tables. Naito’s quickly back with an enziguiri before his flying forearm was neatly caught and turned into a uranage… only for Naito to hit a similar counter, turning a Kiwi Krusher into a DDT. Gloria looked to be next, but White grabs the hair then pulls the referee into Naito… and there’s the cue for Gedo. Naito blocks the brass knuckle shot and kicks Gedo right between the uprights, before catching White’s low blow as it was right back to Gloria.

Naito looks for Destino, but instead makes do with a Koppo kick and a twisting DDT before White shoved away Destino… then pancaked to the mat to avoid him. It’s an annoying wrinkle to his game, but it’s quite enjoying, in a troll-like way. Especially when White uses it to turn defence into attack, like here when he pulled Naito into a Saito suplex. The Kiwi Krusher’s next for a near-fall, before White’s search for a Blade Runner was turned into an attempted reverse ‘rana.

Naito didn’t quite get all of it, but had more luck with Destino for a near-fall, before a second one was shoved away and turned into a sleeper suplex. From there, Naito blocks Blade Runner, but his Destino’s countered, countered and countered as White was like a dog with a bone, eventually landing a second sleeper suplex. The spiking DDT’s next, as White finally hits Blade Runner – with the crowd aghast as their dreams of Tetsuya Naito winning the block evaporated into thin air. Perhaps not the stellar main event to rival yesterday’s, but it’s another feather in the bow of Jay White as he adds “G1 finalist” to a CV that some perhaps feel is a little inflated for his career to date. ***¾

After the match, White did his “I told you so”s, then called out Kota Ibushi to tell him that tomorrow he wanted him one-on-one, “no Gedo”… because instead he wanted to try and take him out beforehand. The cheapshot fails as Ibushi retaliated with a swinging head kick, before Gedo came back and restrained Ibushi, allowing White to go for the healed leg and ankle, whipping it into the mat with Dragon screws before they Pillman-ized it. Kota Ibushi has no friends, clearly, and goes into Monday’s final at a big disadvantage…

Final Block A Standings:
Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada (7-2; 14pts) – Ibushi wins on tie-breakers
Bad Luck Fale, EVIL, KENTA, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-5; 8pts)
Lance Archer (3-6; 6pts)

Final Block B Standings:
Jay White (6-3; 12pts)
Jon Moxley, Tetsuya Naito (5-4; 10pts)
Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Juice Robinson, Taichi, Shingo Takagi, Toru Yano (4-5; 8pts)

So that’s it: it’s Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi tomorrow, in a match that’s extremely divisive. While the storyline in White’s G1 has been solid – having a rotten start and coming back to prove everyone one – a lot of people (at least watching in the western world) just don’t seem that enamoured with him. The remainder of the G1 finals card will be fleshed out hours before the show, and unlike prior years, we’ve not had the “not used on the tour” allstars appear on the Budokan Hall shows… so perhaps we’ll see some faces who’ve not been on the tour yet.