Toru Yano had the chance to play the ultimate spoiler as Jon Moxley was on the verge of eliminating half of block B in today’s G1 action.
Fukuoka’s the latest destination for the tour as the Fukuoka Citizen Gymnasium sees B block host its sixth round of matches. Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero are still here on commentary – Chris Charlton’ll be back for this weekend’s swing in Osaka…
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. KENTA, Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks
Ah man. KENTA’s got the millstone around his neck on Saturday… while Chase Owens is rocking a new haircut that’s getting the scorn it deserves.
Clark Connors and Yujiro Takahashi open us up as commentary waxed lyrical over the LA Dojo lads. A shoulder tackle from Conners and a slam has Yujiro in trouble, at least until Yujiro started biting. A missed dropkick has Connors on the deck, as the Bullet Club swarm the ring and take the match outside for a brief moment. Back inside, Chase Owens hung Connors across the bottom rope, before a single-leg takedown left Connors prey for Bad Luck Fale to come in and… stand on his back. A dropkick from Connors gets him back in as KENTA tagged in to take Yujiro down with a clothesline… before KENTA went after Fale. He’ll pay for that.
Fale wanders in to try and break up a cover from KENTA, but his elbow drop just hits his own man as KENTA teases a Go2Sleep. Like that was ever happening. Fale’s Grenade is dropkicked away as both KENTA and Yujiro tagged out. Karl Fredericks is in to light up Chase with chops, following up with a dropkick and some elbows in the corner. Fredericks looks for a single leg crab, resisting forearms from Yujiro who was trying to break it up… doing so as Karl instead lands a spinebuster to deal with Yujiro. That gave Owens enough time to recover as he looked to win with a roll-up, before the Jewel Heist nearly did it. A package piledriver’s escaped by Fredericks, but in the end a bicycle knee set him up as the package piledriver gets Chase another W. Perfectly fine for the opener, as they smartly kept the KENTA/Fale stuff to a minimum. **½
Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki)
I hope you weren’t expecting honour among thieves – Suzuki and Sabre jump Archer and Kanemaru in the aisle, as we didn’t even get the main part of Archer’s song. Now we’ll never know what everybody does.
In the ring, Sabre worked over Archer’s leg in the ropes, before some uppercuts barely fazed the big man… who chopped him down hard. Archer tries for an EBD Claw to Suzuki, but it’s countered into a hanging armbar on the apron, with Kanemaru raking his boss’ eyes for good measure. It spills outside again as Sabre ties up Archer around the guard rails, while Suzuki laid waste to Kanemaru in the crowd – with a fantastic scene as you could hear one woman in the crowd screaming as Suzuki was throwing furniture at one of his stablemates.
Back in the ring, Sabre catches Archer in another Octopus hold, wrenching back on the arm, only for Archer to try and power out… which led to Sabre catching him with a guillotine choke instead. Archer again gets free as Sabre counters a chokeslam… then got caught with a derailer as Kanemaru tagged in. Kanemaru tries to pick the leg, but Sabre sidesteps it and goes back to the Octopus hold while Suzuki was forced to fight out of an EBD Claw. That rendered him useless as Sabre kicked out of a reverse DDT, before he countered a Deep Impact into an eventual small package for a two-count, eventually putting away Kanemaru with a Euro clutch. Some fantastic stuff here as the friendly fire within Suzuki-gun got a little too hot by the end. ***¼
Kota Ibushi, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ren Narita & Shota Umino
It’s Ibushi vs. Tanahashi on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s G1.
Ren Narita and Tomoaki Honma start us off, locking-up and heading into the ropes as Narita refused to break cleanly. That annoyed Honma, who challenged Narita to keep bringing the fire… which he did, as a shoulder tackle took Honma down. Shota Umino’s in next for another shoulder tackle, but Honma got free to tackle in Henare as those two traded forearms with some gusto. Henare edges ahead with a series of chops, taking Umino as Ibushi tagged in for the first time, and waited for Umino to get up before he threw the first strike. Shota’s cornered, and despite giving it a shot, he’s taken back down as Honma’s brought back in ahead of some triple-teaming.
Honma lands a Kokeshi at the first time of asking, since Young Lions don’t seem to be able to avoid it. A back elbow keeps Umino down for a two-count, but he’s right back to reverse a suplex as Tanahashi called for a tag… and got it! He trades rights with Honma, taking him down with a forearm before clearing the apron as Tanahashi looked to mock Honma with Kokeshi… only to miss the elbow drop. In response, Honma lands a Kokeshi to Tanahashi as his batting average picked up – just in time for Ibushi to come in and sting Tanahashi with kicks. A standing moonsault gets a near-fall too, before Tanahashi caught a kick and turned it away with a Dragon screw. Ibushi lands with a second kick, before tags bring in Henare and Narita for the closing stretch.
Narita tried his luck again with a shoulder tackle, but had more luck with the overhead belly-to-belly. The ring fills and empties quickly as Narita was left on jelly legs, taking a rugby tackle for a near-fall thanks to Tanahashi breaking it up… Ibushi’s in to quickly stomp away a low dropkick from the Ace, as Narita’s one final fightback ended up getting swatted away by Henare, who finished him off quickly with a uranage. **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI
Let’s check in on BUSHI’s mask…
It’s Ospreay/EVIL and SANADA/Okada on Saturday in Osaka, but with eliminations so far SANADA is really just playing spoiler. Even if he’s never beaten Okada… Ospreay starts out taking EVIL outside, faking him out with a handspring, before finding the upper hand as EVIL just couldn’t deal with Will’s quickness. A chop from Ospreay takes EVIL away from the ropes, but some misdirection from a kick has EVIL ahead, just as LIJ swarmed the ring to take over.
SANADA makes a point of taking Okada into the guard rails as EVIL began to wear down Ospreay on the mat. A tag brings SANADA in to keep up the pressure, as did BUSHI, with LIJ making sure Ospreay couldn’t tag out… until he hit a Stundog Millionaire, which opened the door for a tag in to Okada. Okada’s DDT spikes SANADA for a near-fall, before he headed up for… the Scoobie Doobie Doo crossbody. Way to pop Ospreay. It misses as Okada has to fight out of a Paradise Lock attempt, then a Skull End before he pancaked SANADA free. In comes YOSHI-HASHI, but BUSHI’s in too as LIJ again swarmed CHAOS’ perennial lover of KT tape. Low dropkicks take YOSHI down for a near-fall, before he fought back into a Butterfly Lock…
Which SANADA broke up with a Skull End as a big ol’ Parade of Moves broke out to clear the ring, ending with YOSHI-HASHI tripping BUSHI into a butterfly lock for the submission. Real good stuff here, building up to Saturday’s big matches. ***
They announce that Wrestling Dontaku’s returning to Fukuoka on May 3 and May 4 in 2020.
G1 Climax, Block B: Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb
Realistically, both guys are already just playing for pride here… but that shouldn’t stop them knocking lumps out of each other!
The closest these two have had to a singles match was in last year’s Battle of Los Angeles final, when Cobb won a three-way with Shingo and Bandido. We start with a little shoving as Shingo tried to slam Cobb early… it doesn’t come off as he instead scored with a hiptoss before running into a big dropkick from Cobb. From there a pumphandle suplex sent Shingo flying to the outside… so Cobb followed him, only to get his knee chopped out on the apron, as Shingo made himself an opening. Shingo unloads with shots before he went back to the knee… but found that Cobb’s size was quite a problem as even with a bum knee, he was still able to get thrown with an overhead belly-to-belly.
Cobb’s hobbling around but he’s able to take Shingo down with a Spin Cycle (the old Athletic Plex) before the Gachimuchi-sault jarred the knee some more on the way to a delayed two-count. A back body drop gets Shingo free before he finally hurked Cobb to the mat with a Saito suplex, following up with a myriad of charging clotheslines into the corner before taking him up for a superplex. The pair exchange T-bone suplexes as they tried to regain and retain the lead, following on with charging clotheslines and sucker punches. Headbutts, too, then superkicks as the back-and-forth ended with a Pumping Bomber. A second one was caught as Shingo instead scored with a Noshigami, before he got spun with a Pumping Bomber for a near-fall.
Shingo tries to finish Cobb with Made in Japan, but instead got shoved off for a clothesline, before Cobb blocked a ‘rana and turned it into a falling powerbomb for another two-count. Cobb tries to size up Shingo for a Tour of the Islands, but he’s stopped as Shingo collapsed… then came back in with a crucifix bomb to turn the match on its head. Second time was the charm as Shingo managed to lift up Cobb for Made in Japan, but it’s still not enough, so Shingo whacks him with more lariats before finally getting caught with a Tour of the Islands for the win. This wasn’t full of clubbering shots like I imagined, but this got real good towards the end as Shingo’s plan of wearing down Cobb’s knee didn’t pay off. By the way, Shingo’s elimination was all-but mathematically confirmed here (he’ll be out on tiebreakers, regardless of what happens in the next match). ***½
G1 Climax, Block B: Jon Moxley vs. Toru Yano
This is a match. A match that could wipe out a LOT of the block in one fell swoop.
Moxley’s like a coiled spring, waiting to pounce on Yano during the entrances… so Yano spraying him with water probably wasn’t the best idea. It means that Yano has to do a Benny Hill chase, before he calmed down Moxley with the offer of ¥10,000. It’s kicked away as Yano ran through his shtick, heading to the ropes to save his skin, but he just gets slapped instead. On the outside, Yano throws Moxley into the guard rails… then gets a receipt before he landed an atomic drop… and pulled out some tape from under the ring. Moxley kicks him away as Yano tried to tape him to the guard rails, then taped Yano’s arm to the rails. We hear a curse word from Yano as he freed himself, then beat the count.
Back in the ring, Yano and Moxley remove the turnbuckle pads for a duel, as it’s like Gladiators in here. The referee unhands Moxley as Yano tried to win with a low blow and a roll-up, but Moxley kicked out and set himself up for a Regal Knee, taking Yano outside. Moxley followed with a table, but Yano again outsmarts him as he low blowed Moxley and Umino, before taping their legs together. Moxley can’t get up to win the three-legged race, and Toru Yano of all people hands Moxley his first loss in New Japan! He’s done it again! ***½
Yano smartly runs off after the match, while Moxley was left apoplectic in the ring. Oh God, Yano could win the block, especially now he’s got tie-breakers over Moxley, Naito and White. He’d have to run the remainder of the field though…
G1 Climax, Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Juice Robinson
That last result is blessed relief for Tetsuya Naito, but he’s gotta run the field and hope Moxley keeps losing to have any chance.
Juice is taking a more measured approach to this, slowly disrobing a la Naito as this seemed to be more akin to a duelling striptease before the bell. Juice even went the cheap airfare route of wearing multiple t-shirts to save on baggage… No Juice, you can’t leave your hat on. All of that just riled Naito, who booted Juice as he took off that last t-shirt, before he mocked the “Juice” chants. A flying forearm from Naito’s countered with armdrags as Juice proceeded to clothesline the LIJ leader outside… so Juice could be all tranquilo. On the outside, Juice avoids a tornado DDT but couldn’t save himself from a neckbreaker, nor a low dropkick in the aisle, before he got thrown through the guard rails.
Back in the ring, Naito kept the momentum going, building up to a Combinacion Cabron dropkick, and some headscissors that forces Juice into the ropes. A neckbreaker keeps it going all Naito, as he continued to toot his own horn to mock Juice with, along with his own version of the “Juice” Dusty punches. The real deal awaited him not long afterwards, before a leg lariat decked Naito big time. A back elbow from Naito gets him back in it, as does an enziguiri, but a flying forearm just opened him up for a full nelson slam that almost gets Juice the win. Naito ‘ranas out of a powerbomb before he hooked Juice into the ropes for a neckbreaker. An elevated Juice Box was escaped from, but Naito couldn’t escape a top rope ‘rana as the powerbomb came off regardless for a near-fall.
From there, Juice looked for Pulp Friction, but got dumped on his neck with a high German suplex… only to fight back to block a tornado DDT, responding with a Shouten Kai that Naito turned into a DDT at the last second. Naito looks for Destino but instead comes in with a reverse ‘rana to keep the head drops up, before a Destino led to a near-fall. A second Destino got blocked and turned into a Juice Box as the match got more even. Another Destino’s blocked by Juice, who hits a Right Hand of God and a lariat to get himself another two-count, before Pulp Friction was turned into a modified Destino. Yep, another two-count, but a second Destino quickly lands as Naito kept his hopes alive… and gave Kevin Kelly a chance to trot out his South American football commentary tribute. Another real good match once they got going, but there’s a nagging feeling I’m getting about Naito and his ability to complete this comeback. ***¾
G1 Climax, Block B: Jay White vs. Taichi
Oh boy. Jay White’s deathly afraid of the satchel with the iron fingers in, as he was weirdly itching to get going.
Of course, White rolls outside to “get us going”. Taichi does the same as he was getting under White’s skin. We learn a new word that Gedo’s learned to describe Taichi, as Kanemaru also drew Jay White outside… and now we get some action as Taichi and White trade chops on the outside. A count-out tease ends at 19 as the pair continued to take shots at each other, but it’s Taichi who edged ahead as he kicked White’s leg out from under him. Gedo kidnaps Miho Abe to distract Taichi – and it works, as White knocked Taichi outside to stomp on him some more. Back in the ring again, a chop from White stung Taichi, but Taichi struck back with kicks, taking White down in the corner. Off come the trousers as Taichi sizes up for a buzzsaw kick, but White again pancakes to avoid it.
Undeterred, stomps from Taichi keep him there, before White snapped back in with a DDT and a twister suplex for a near-fall. Some back and forth has White absorb a gamengiri on the way to landing the Kiwi Krusher, before an attempt at the sleeper suplex finally came off. Taichi’s back up for his Saito suplex though, as shenanigans delayed a powerbomb from Taichi. With the referee distracted, Taichi lands a low blow before Gedo pulls out the ref to avoid White from being pinned with a Gedo clutch. Gedo slides in to stomp on Taichi for that disrespect, but Kanemaru’s in to stop Gedo from using the brass knuckles… The ref’s still down as White hits a low blow to counter an Axe bomber, but Taichi’s up to shove White into Kanemaru’s whiskey mist as an Axe Bomber and a Last Ride… nearly got him the win! Gedo again gets involved, grabbing Taichi’s leg to stop a buzzsaw kick as Kanemaru got the save, before White and Taichi counter, counter and counter in the ring.
A sleeper suplex from White dumps Taichi on his head, before a brainbuster and a Blade Runner earned the win. The Jay White train’s still rolling on, but as for this match, all of the villainous work early on was undone by the shenanigans at the end that nearly descended this into a farce. ***¼
G1 Climax, Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Ishii needs a win to capitalise on Jon Moxley’s slip up earlier… otherwise there’ll be a hell of a log-jam in second place with seven people on six points.
Goto started by taking Ishii into the ropes as they started trading clotheslines and shoulder blocks in the opening stages. Ishii manages to edge ahead with a suplex, as he had to shrug off chops from Goto before decking his CHAOS buddy with one of his own. A discus clothesline from Goto gets Ishii on the mat as the former NEVER champion built up steam, crashing into the corner with a spinning heel kick before a Saito suplex drew a near-fall.
With both men hitting the ropes, Ishii ducks a clothesline to hit a back suplex, before the ante was upped with both men laying in elbows, going back-and-forth before Goto’s search for a suplex led to a lot of misdirection as he eventually landed a clothesline. Ishii’s right arm looked to be causing a lot of discomfort for him – something that was only exacerbated when Goto hit a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner for a near-fall. A retaliatory superplex from Ishii’s blocked with headbutts as Goto instead landed a Code Red off the middle rope for a near-fall. Goto keeps up the pressure as he comes in with a clothesline that Ishii laughs off… but the battle of clotheslines led to a square-off, with Ishii flipping Goto with a lariat before crumbling to the mat himself.
More elbows from Goto are stopped as Ishii fought back with a folding powerbomb for a near-fall, before he lands a German suplex en route to a sliding lariat for a near-fall. A sheer drop brainbuster’s blocked by Goto, as instead Goto pulls Ishii’s head over his knee for a reverse GTR. An ushigoroshi’s eventually next for a near-fall, as Goto followed up with a series of kicks… Ishii again fires up, but duelling headbutts affected him more as Goto managed to hit a second reverse GTR, then a mid-kick for a near-fall.
Ishii has another flurry, but ends up getting lifted into another ushigoroshi, before the GTR completed the win. I must admit, I was not expecting that result, as Goto manages to play the spoiler and snatch a hard-fought win. A low-key banger of a match… all because of the strikes. ****¼
So, we had the shock of all shocks with Jon Moxley taking his first loss in New Japan… but nobody was able to capitalise as Moxley retained a four-point cushion over a rapidly packed second-place. Tiebreakers mean that Shingo Takagi and Taichi are out, as they can only match Jon Moxley’s 10 points… but having already lost to him, they can’t win the block.
Apart from that, this was another good outing for block B, which again remains a hair behind block A in overall match quality as we begin to get into the business end of this G1.
Kazuchika Okada (6-0; 12pts)
Kota Ibushi, KENTA, Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2; 8pts)
EVIL (3-3; 6pts)
Lance Archer, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (2-4; 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale (1-5; 2pts)
Eliminated: Fale, Archer, Ospreay, Sabre, SANADA
Jon Moxley (5-1; 10pts)
Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson, Jay White, Toru Yano (3-3; 6pts)
Taichi, Shingo Takagi (2-4; 4pts)
Eliminated: Taichi, Takagi
We’ve another day off in the G1 as the crew travel to Osaka for a Saturday/Sunday double-header – with Okada/SANADA headlining for the A block, while Naito/Shingo tops the card on Sunday for an intra-LIJ battle.