Typically, Osaka gets one of the bigger G1 Climax cards each year. On paper, this isn’t a bad show, but it looks to be below the last few years. The G1 24 (Tanahashi/Nakamura, Shibata/Honma, Styles/Archer, Ishii/DBS), G1 25 (Nakamura/Ishii, Okada/Goto, Elgin/Honma), and G1 26 (Marufuji/Tanahashi, Okada/Ishii, Goto/Tenzan) all had bangers in Osaka. There’s serious potential in Juice/Omega and Okada/EVIL if handled right, so let’s see how that goes.
Chase Owens def. Katsuya Kitamura in 4:57
El Desperado, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. def. Shota Umino, Tetsuhiro Yagi & Yuji Nagata in 7:01
Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tomoyuki Oka in 7:41
BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito def. Hirai Kawato, Tiger Mask IV & Togi Makabe in 7:03
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI def. David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi in 7:15
In multi-man tags, we tend to get some funny moments from these guys, with Yano always playing up how scared he is of Tama. That happened again here, as Tonga frightened him during his entrance. He tied Yano up for a countout win, but the sublime master thief escaped. Tonga mimicked Yano’s “BREAK” spot and tried removing the turnbuckle pad, but couldn’t. That’s why Yano’s a master. After some more wackiness, Yano won via low blow and rollup at 3:15. This is more I like it from Yano. They kept it short and made me laugh.
These are my two favorite wrestlers from the B Block. Early on, Kojima showed that, despite his age, he could hang with SANADA. SANADA responded by mocking his machine gun style chops in the corner. Kojima took him to the opposite corner and showed him how it was done. He came close with a Koji Cutter and Brainbuster, but it wasn’t enough, which has been the case all tournament long. When SANADA applied Skull End, it looked to be over. However, he missed the moonsault and Kojima still had life. He missed another and Kojima leveled him with a lariat to the back of the head. Kojima no selling SANADA’s dropkick was one of the coolest things all tournament long. SANADA kicked out at one from a lariat, so Kojima came back with another for his first win at 12:09. Osaka erupted when Kojima got his first win and it was a great moment. I still wish he did better in the G1, as he’s been one of the better performers. He showed he could not only hang with the stars of the future, but he could beat them, too. Great crowd, energy and action.
Knowing Suzuki-Gun’s style, Elgin immediately took out El Desperado. That made Taichi reconsider getting involved. Despite Elgin’s efforts, they still cheated and it led to Suzuki being in control outside. Go figure. He used chairs and the usual stuff to wear Elgin down. The fans rallied behind Elgin, wanting him to overcome the odds. He powered out of an armbar with a powerbomb and both men fell to the mat. As part of his comeback, Elgin DID THE DEAL, but it still wasn’t enough. There was a ref bump and more interference from Desperado and Taichi. Elgin ended them with a fall away slam/Samoan drop combo at the same time. Elgin fought off the sleeper and won with the Elgin Bomb in 11:13. I liked the story of Elgin fighting for a big win despite being eliminated, but there was, as always, too much Suzuki-Gun nonsense to really enjoy this. Without it, this probably would’ve ruled.
Of note, Elgin hasn’t had the best G1 in terms of wins and losses, but has now defeated the US and NEVER Champions. If Kenny wins the whole thing, Elgin also has claim to a shot at the briefcase.
Honestly, I feel like this and the SANADA match are the two best potential Kenny matches in the G1. Juice continued to limp, but surprised Omega with a quick takedown. Omega threw small insults at Juice, which just fired him up. They took the work outside (man, a lot of the G1 is the same thing over and over, huh?) where Kenny busted out the RING POST FIGURE FOUR! I love that move. Inside, Kenny continued the leg work, which Juice sold like a champ. It reminded me of his match with Naito. Omega blocked the powerbomb a few times, before finally getting hit with it. Omega countered Pulp Friction and Juice cut off V-Trigger with a leg lariat. They continued with a series of counters and blocks, leading to a big right hand from Juice. They countered each other’s finisher, with Kenny hitting a reverse rana and V-Trigger. However, his One Winged Angel attempt got reversed into a cradle, scoring Juice the biggest win of his career at 15:36! That got a huge pop and Juice’s reaction was priceless. Great match, about on par with the Juice/Naito one. I like how it didn’t completely follow the big match Omega formula. He didn’t throw a million V-Triggers, it didn’t go too long and the finish was great. Omega was pissed on his way out, knowing he may have just blown the tournament.
In his previous match, EVIL looked like he got legit knocked out by Omega. A win here keeps him alive. This started the way you’d expect, with solid exchanges inside before things moved outside. Instead of that leading to the Okada cross body spot, we got EVIL’s chair stuff. I prefer that as it does a lot to weaken an undefeated guy. It felt like, for the first time in a while, Okada wasn’t in control. He fought from behind and EVIL had an answer for most of his stuff. There was a wild spot where EVIL hit Darkness Falls onto a bed of chairs outside, which had to hurt. They both beat the countout, leading to a more traditional Okada finishing stretch. He surprised with a Rainmaker and, though it was subtle, he hilariously positioned himself to fall on his back so he could do the wrist hold spot like normal. Another Rainmaker hit and guess what? He went for a third and it was countered. Like almost every other match. However, someone finally bested Okada, as EVIL avoided another Rainmaker and hit an STO for the 1-2-3 at 22:47. Parts of it felt like an Okada match, but I appreciated how it was more set up for EVIL to be the man. Okada’s overconfidence finally bit him in the ass and I’m all for a big win for EVIL. I worry the rematch may not be as good, but for now, this ruled.
Overall: Guess what? There are other guys in the B Block not named Okada and Omega. And when given the chance to shine, they helped produce the best B Block show so far. To get the lackluster out of the way, I was disappointed in Elgin/Suzuki, while Yano/Tonga accomplished what it needed to. I was all for the other three matches, though. SANADA/Kojima was damn good and both guys deserve more praise for their work so far. I’m glad they got some focus. Juice and EVIL beating Omega and Okada is one of my favorite things all year and both came in great, high quality matches. If the B Block were booked a bit more like this consistently, I’d have enjoyed it more.
|Tetsuya Naito||10 (5-2)||Kazuchika Okada||12 (6-1)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||10 (5-2)||Kenny Omega||10 (5-2)|
|Hirooki Goto||8 (4-3)||EVIL||10 (5-2)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||8 (4-3)||Minoru Suzuki||8 (4-3)|
|Bad Luck Fale||8 (4-3)||SANADA||8 (4-3)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||8 (4-3)||Toru Yano||6 (3-4)|
|Kota Ibushi||8 (4-3)||Michael Elgin||6 (3-4)|
|Togi Makabe||6 (3-4)||Tama Tonga||4 (2-5)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||4 (2-5)||Juice Robinson||4 (2-5)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-7)||Satoshi Kojima||2 (1-6)|