The Battle of LIJ headlines the second G1 stop in Osaka, as Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi locked horns.

We’re still at Osaka’s Edion Arena for this (not literally), with Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton on commentary. Chris is on form from the off, popping everyone with talk of Chase Owens’ “unruly sideburns”. References!

Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Toa Henare & Yuya Uemura
Nothing to build to here, just three Young Lions and a guy who seems to be perennially tied to them.

Henare and Narita start out with chops, and my God, they sound loud as Narita was able to kick Henare into the corner for more of the same. A shoulder block from Henare smashed Narita into the mat as he began issuing receipts, before Uemura came in and tried to tap Narita to a leg lock. Henare’s back to crack Narita with a back elbow, before he ran into an overhead belly-to-belly. Narita tags out to Umino, who surprisingly found himself in quick trouble courtesy of a Boston crab. Narita breaks it up, but got gets taken out by Henare as Uemura looked for the bridging capture suplex… but Umino resists.

Instead, a back elbow and a low dropkick has Uemura down, but he almost steals it with a small package out of a Fisherman suplex. Umino’s right back with a bouncy spinebuster for a near-fall, before the Fisherman suplex got the win, in spite of a despairing dive from Henare. That loss is gonna sting, I bet. **¾

Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI)
There’s a terse moment in the entrance aisle as Archer was patronisingly patted by “Smirky McGiggles”. Oh yeah, here’s our look in at BUSHI’s mask today…

Of course, we’ve the jump start, as Lance Archer quickly took down SANADA with a Derailer. Everyone’s on the outside, and into the guard rails, while Yota Tsuji got thrown into SANADA for good measure. The dissension between Archer and Sabre continues as Zack didn’t get tagged in… but he comes in anyway to help Suzuki wrap a myriad of submissions on SANADA. Archer verbally chews out SANADA, but a second Derailer’s stopped with a low dropkick before Sabre finally got the tag… so he could trade barbs with EVIL. A Fisherman Buster from EVIL gets a near-fall, so Sabre responds with an overhead kick to EVIL’s arm as Suzuki tagged back in to pepper EVIL with kicks. The last one’s caught and handed off to the ref for a superkick, as BUSHI came in to die.

He scores a missile dropkick, before LIJ swarmed the ring… but that’s only hastening things, as the ring cleared with BUSHI doing his best to avoid a rear naked choke. He gets free with an enziguiri, but second time was the charm as a rear naked choke and a delayed Gotch piledriver got the win. By the numbers, but I’m here for the continued dissension between Sabre and Archer. If it ever goes anywhere. **¾

Interestingly, the ring cleared after the match so Suzuki managed to get his Kaze ni Nare moment afterwards. Is… is this a retirement tease?

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Tomoaki Honma
Tellingly, there was no split entrances for Ibushi and Tanahashi…

Bullet Club attack before the bell, as Tanahashi and Yujiro went at it. A springboard crossbody looked to get Tanahashi ahead, but Chase Owens runs in… as Fale wandered down the apron with a clothesline as Tanahashi then got thrown into the English commentary desk. There’s something that makes me giggle like an idiot when Kevin Kelly holds the mic up so he can record the sounds of a choked-out wrestler right in front of him… Back in the ring, Fale stands on Tanahashi… and that kinda helped as Fale fell back on Tanahashi in mid-slam attempt. Not a good idea. Yujiro comes back in, but his big boot’s countered into a Dragon screw as Ibushi comes into clear the apron before lighting up Yujiro with kicks. A standing moonsault’s good for a near-fall, but Yujiro struck bad as Chase “Sideburns” Owens tried to take over.

The short-arm clothesline gets silence… and a near-fall for Owens. Ibushi’s backflip kick clocks Chase as he’s able to tag out to Honma, who chopped Chase to the mat before… yeah. He misses Kokeshi. A leaping Kokeshi has more success, before we got triple Kokeshi to skew the averages. Then Honma does something stupid, slamming Owens before going up for a swandive Kokeshi… and yeah, that misses. Fale’s elbow drop exacerbates things before he dropped Tanahashi with a Grenade. Honma counters a package piledriver with a back body drop, but another missed Kokeshi makes it easier for Chase, as a running knee sets up for the package piledriver… and it’s another W. **

KENTA, Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI
KENTA’s G1 is still alive, but his best hope of winning the block is a convoluted-as-hell four-way tie.

KENTA and Ospreay start us off with a long ol’ lock-up. It ends in the ropes as Ospreay slapped him… and yeah, that doesn’t stay friendly for long. Ospreay goes for a monkey flip, but KENTA stops him as a running boot put him to the mat before tags brought in Karl Fredericks and Kazuchika Okada. Okada goes to the arm early on, before a side headlock put the LA Dojo trainee to the mat. A leapfrog and a twisting crossbody works from Fredericks as he managed to get some offence in, but a Boston crab was never going to work, as Okada got free and replied with a flapjack. Ospreay’s back to pick up the pieces, slamming Fredericks with ease before booting KENTA off the apron, before YOSHI-HASHI completed the set, with a dropkick as Fredericks was hung up in the ropes.

Clark Connors gets the tag in as he tried to find a way back in against YOSHI-HASHI, stomping him into the corner before a series of chops rained down on CHAOS’s perennial disappointment. A dropkick keeps YOSHI down as Connors cleared the apron as KENTA and Fredericks rushed the ring for some triple-teaming, leading to an eventual near-fall. We’ve more flashes between KENTA and Ospreay, with a diving boot wiping out Will, before the ring cleared, allowing YOSHI-HASHI to finish off the Young Lion with a Western Lariat, a Bunker Buster, and a Butterfly Lock for the submission. Those KENTA/Ospreay sequences were immense… and is going to be an amazing match on Wednesday. The rest? Eh, you can probably take it or leave it I thought… ***

G1 Climax, Block B: Toru Yano vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Ishii and Yano need a win to have a chance of winning the block… and remember, has the tie-breaker.

Yano’s loosening the turnbuckle pads as Ishii’s making his entrance, and we’ve got three of them off by the time we start. Yano tries to roll up Ishii at the bell, blinding him with his t-shirt as we got a bunch of near-falls. Those just wind up Ishii, as Yano tried to beg for forgiveness… Yano takes a seat in the aisle as he begged Ishii to join him on the apron. That wasn’t happening, as Yano has to run back in to beat the count… and take a beating as well. Chops! Ishii ends up running into one of the many exposed corners, then got whipped into the same one, before some strikes from Ishii ended with an eye rake from Yano.

Ishii keeps up the pressure with a powerslam off the ropes, before he lost out in an elbow exchange as Yano actually rocked him! A German suplex from Ishii restores order before Yano tried to snatch wins with various takedowns… tripping Ishii into the exposed buckle and rolling him up for a near-fall. Yano teases a lariat, and actually gets it!? A belly-to-belly off the ropes followed as he nearly got the upset, before Yano teases a powerbomb. Ishii slips out and throws elbows before a headbutt dropped Yano. A lariat gets a similar result for a near-fall. Yano tries for his usual finish, before catching a sliding lariat as he turned it into a crucifix for a near-fall as we’re back on the near-fall trip. That’s all stopped with an enziguiri from Ishii, before a second sliding lariat drew a near-fall… as the sheer drop brainbuster got the win. Well, Yano’s G1 is in danger, but that was absolutely superb – not the “two-to-three star Yano scale” good, but legitimately the best match I’ve seen Yano have without relying on the chuckles. ***¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Taichi vs. Juice Robinson
Taichi got some help before the bell as Yoshinobu Kanemaru attacked Juice in the aisle, throwing him into the ring post as the referee was distracted by Miho Abe.

A buzzsaw kick at the bell gets Taichi a two-count as Juice was already dead weight. I buffer, as we return to Juice sizing up Taichi for Dusty punches… only for Taichi to roll outside as he had to avoid a pescado… and anything, really. Kanemaru tried to attack, but Juice ducks it as Taichi grabbed Miho Abe, who slaps Juice. Again behind the ref’s back. Taichi wrecks the guard rails with Juice, then headed down commentary row, where Juice got jabbed with a chair. Back in the ring, Taichi wears down Juice until a kick woke up the former US champion. Taichi’s begging for the Dusty punches, but gets elbowed instead. He recovers with an Axe Bomber in the corner before Juice finds his way with a chop and a spinebuster.

Dusty punches and leg kicks get exchanged next, before Juice totally telegraphed Taichi’s enziguiri. Grade One? This Taichi stuff is more like League One…

An enziguiri in the corner traps Juice, but again Juice fights back, clotheslining Taichi ahead of a cannonball, only for Taichi to return the favour with a gamengiri as Juice was measuring up for Pulp Friction. Taichi gets my attention by spiking Juice on his head with a clothesline though, but he couldn’t follow up with a Last Ride as a Juice Box proved to be a worthy counter. Juice gets off the powerbomb in the end, before rolling Taichi into a Tenzan crab… but he lets go as Kanemaru threatened to run in. There’s more shenanigans as Taichi tried to unsight the referee so he could low blow Juice, but in the end Taichi blocked a Pulp Friction before Juice punched out some whiskey mist. Kanemaru’s taken care of with a pescado, but in the middle of this Taichi’s gotten some whiskey too and sprays it at Juice.

The Gedo Clutch doesn’t quite get the pin, as instead Taichi followed up with a thrust kick and the Black Memphisto for the win. In the end, this was fine… but the consistency just wasn’t there until the closing stretches. **¾

G1 Climax, Block B: Jeff Cobb vs. Hirooki Goto
We start this one with the hoss battle of shoulder tackles as Goto teased an early GTR… leading to some finger wagging and a stand-off.

Cobb finds some headway with a shoulder tackle, but he couldn’t avoid a hiptoss from Goto before a dropkick took him to the outside. He follows out as chops and clubbering forearms take both men around ringside, before the war of attrition continued back in the ring, with a discus lariat out of Goto. A battle of clotheslines led us into the Spin Cycle suplex from Cobb, before the camera crew inexplicably zoom on Cobb’s crotch ahead of some chops and clotheslines in the corner. The Samoan drop keeps Cobb ahead as the gachimuchi-sault led to a near-fall, before a superplex attempt was countered with some headbutts as Goto tried to escape… but the stalling superplex comes off anyway.

Goto found a way back in with an ushigoroshi, before some mid kicks weakened Cobb enough as a reverse GTR drops him for a near-fall. Goto keeps pushing ahead, and lands another suplex for a near-fall, before Cobb caught a kick and just pulled Goto into a German suplex. The Tour of the Islands looked to follow, but we counter, counter and counter into an Attitude Adjustment from Goto for a near-fall, before the GTR got the win. This was fine – definitely without any of the consistency wobbles of the prior match, as Goto’s G1 stays alive, while Cobb needs to hope for Jay White to eat defeat in the next match. ***½

G1 Climax, Block B: Jay White vs. Jon Moxley
How is Mox going to react to the upset last week against Toru Yano? A win for him here will clear out a large proportion of the block – including Jay White.

Moxley came out sans any jacket and made a beeline for White, lighting him up with chops before taking him into those guard rails. A side Russian legsweep into the railings follow, before Moxley tried to choke him out on the floor. Time for plunder next, as the ever-present table pops out… but Gedo runs away with the table. I laughed. The crowd booed. So Moxley continues to find the rage with a series of chops before White ran into the ropes for safety. Like that was going to happen. That table’s now oh-so-ominous in the ramp, clearly visible on the hard camera…

Some misdirection from White allowed him to spike Moxley with some DDTs, before they headed outside again as it was Moxley this time who took the guard rails. Oh, and the ring post too. Back inside, a shotgun dropkick from Moxley took White back outside… before a tope let Moxley continue his run of terror. More guard rail stuff sees the pair head into the aisle, and deep into the crowd. Briefly, anyway. A ringpost Figure Four further compromises White, as Moxley looked to build up momentum… but he’s quickly suplexed into the corner before a uranage dropped Mox for a two-count. A barrage of uppercuts ends with Moxley just slapping White silly as the match descended into a bit of a slugfest.

Moxley’s uranage stops White again… so White just pancakes himself to avoid a Regal knee. Gedo runs distraction as White teases a Blade Runner, only to get caught with a Death Rider DDT for a near-fall. Another Death Rider looks to follow, but White grabbed hold of the ref as again Gedo tried to come in… but this time Moxley’s begging to be hit with the knuckles. After a low blow from White, Mox got his wish as he almost took his second loss in a row. Another Blade Runner gets countered into a roll-up as Mox found a second wind, charging in with a Regal Knee for a near-fall. Gedo eats a Regal Knee as Moxley was again distracted, as a sleeper suplex finally sees White edge ahead, following in with a Bloody Sunday DDT and a Blade Runner… and Moxley’s lost two in a row! I was not expecting Jay White to be the first guy to pin Jon Moxley, but in a way I shouldn’t be surprised. This wasn’t the unhinged Moxley they teased, but it keeps a lot of block B alive . It’s just a shame all the Gedo stuff isn’t working with this crowd as the law of diminishing returns was in full effect. ***½

That result means that Jeff Cobb is added to the eliminated list thanks to tiebreakers…

G1 Climax, Block B: Shingo Takagi vs. Tetsuya Naito
If Naito loses, he’s out on tie-breakers too…

We’ve a tentative start as the pair labour over a tie-up, before the pair looked for shoulder tackles, only to find out they were perhaps too familiar with each other as a bunch of moves were avoided on the way to an uneasy stand-off. Naito offered a LIJ fist-bump, but Shingo swipes it away so he could chop his leader… which in turn led to tranquilo.

Shingo was less than tranquilo as he grabbed a chair and threw it into the ring, catching a lying Naito with it in the process. In response, Naito mocked Shingo’s entry pose then tripped the Dragon into the chair… but Shingo came back, catching a Combinacion Cabron before he began to pelt Naito with forearms. Grabbing a handful of hair from Shingo just gets him spat on, before he replied with a punch and a lariat to put Naito on the deck. A clothesline took Naito outside, as Shingo looked to keep things deliberate, whipping Naito into and over the guard rails. There’s a DDT on the floor as Shingo had Naito spiking on his head, following in with a slingshot kneedrop back in the ring… then a thunderous shoulder tackle. Naito begins to fight back with some chops… but Shingo’s double-handed chop took him into the corner, only for a ‘rana by Naito to catch his buddy off guard.

A low dropkick keeps Naito in as he worked back into Combinacion Cabron, landing it after much delay. Shingo shoves off a tornado DDT so he can hit Naito with a death valley driver instead, as my feed took the perfect time to take a bath. It’s back as a sliding lariat misses, allowing Naito back in as he hit a hanging neckbreaker in the ropes, before a top rope ‘rana was rudely stuffed by Shingo. Noshigami was attempted next as Naito ends up getting planted on the mat, but he’s quickly back in with a swinging DDT. Gloria’s teased, but Shingo counters with a hiptoss knee as the back-and-forth continued. A flying forearm from Naito drops Shingo ahead of Gloria, but the tables quickly turned back as a wheelbarrow German suplex smacked Naito into the corner. Takagi keeps up with a clothesline into the corner, as he proceeded to lift Naito to the top rope… Naito catches him and looks for a top rope ‘rana, only to get caught before he finally flipped Shingo anyway. A reverse ‘rana’s next to spike Shingo, but a diving lariat spins Naito inside out as we crossed past the 20 minute mark. Another goddamned lariat waffles Naito, as does another, before a Saito suplex led to another awkward landing. Somehow Naito’s got enough in him to hit a snap Dragon suplex, only for Shingo haul up Naito for a delayed Made in Japan. This is getting GOOD.

A Pumping Bomber flips Naito next, but it’s not enough, so Shingo looks for a Last of the Dragon… but Naito effortlessly counters out into almost a Destino! Shingo’s had enough, so he wallops Naito with elbows, which get returned in kind, until a headbutt has Naito down… but he quickly countered a brainbuster as Naito looked to be almost getting desperate here. Destino’s next, but Shingo slips out and returned with a Pumping Bomber, before Last of the Dragon got… countered into a Destroyer. What the hell?! Destino’s next, and judging by the length of Kevin Kelly’s elongated O… it’s not enough! One more Destino (and a lot of O’s) prove to be enough, and that was yet another match that was quietly chugging along minding its own business until it smashed it out of the park. In the words of a certain promoter, this was good shit. ****¼

While the “stars” across the board kept up the trend from the whole G1 – in that B block’s a step behind in terms of bell-to-bell quality – this was a really easy show to watch. Everything flew by, didn’t feel like it was even threatening to outstay its welcome… perhaps the ideal wrestling show, as at least B block is staying somewhat competitive going into the final days of the tournament… and hey, if you’re handwaving Toru Yano matches… make an exception. Just for today.

Block A:
Kazuchika Okada (6-1; 12pts)
Kota Ibushi (5-2; 10pts)
EVIL, KENTA, Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-3; 8pts)
Zack Sabre Jr, SANADA. (3-4; 6pts)
Lance Archer, Bad Luck Fale, Will Ospreay (2-5; 4pts)

Eliminated: Archer, Fale, KENTA, Ospreay, Sabre, SANADA, Tanahashi

Block B:
Jon Moxley (5-2; 10pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Jay White (4-3; 8pts)
Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, Taichi, Toru Yano (3-4; 6pts)
Shingo Takagi (2-5; 4pts)

Eliminated: Cobb Taichi, Takagi

There’s a few off days now as the tour picks up on Wednesday in Shizuoka, with EVIL looking to further derail Kazuchika Okada’s G1 hopes in the main event… but it’s that KENTA/Ospreay match in the undercard that’s got us all salivating!