After a day off, the G1 returned with B Block action today. Would Kazuchika Okada suffer his first loss as he took on SANADA? Would Toru Yano steal one against Kenny Omega? The two winless guys in the block met so someone would get their first victory today.
Ryusuke Taguchi and Togi Makabe def. Kota Ibushi and Shota Umino in 7:31
Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka in 7:58
Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito def. Hirai Kawato and Yuji Nagata in 8:17
Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi def. El Desperado, Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. in 5:37
David Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Hirooki Goto and Jado in 7:09
*Good friend Tetsuya Naito helped console Hiromu Takahashi, who came out clutching an imaginary Daryl, which Naito fist bumped.
Exactly two years ago today, they met in the G1 (***½), which Kojima won. This was quite hard hitting from the start, which is what I want and expect from these two. Elgin brought the power game, but Kojima came back with some his signature stuff, like the machine gun chops and apron DDT. Kojima nearly got counted out after an apron powerbomb. His resiliency had the crowd chanting his name. They went into a lariat battle, with Kojima nearly getting decapitated. I’m pretty sure they lifted a spot from their 2015 match, where Elgin jumped into a lariat. Kojima ate the buckle bomb, but popped out with a desperation lariat. Elgin eventually hit the Elgin Bomb after a sunset bomb to win at 13:09. Nothing fancy here. Just two dudes desperately fighting for their first win. Kojima fought hard, but Elgin was just better tonight.
Two members of heel stables collide. In true fashion to their stables, this was a brawl. They almost immediately went outside and fought through the crowd. Tonga threw EVIL into what looked like a garage door, resulting in a very close countout call. Though EVIL made it back inside, Tonga was in control until he missed a stinger splash. EVIL sent him back outside and used steel chairs to his advantage. Down the stretch, things picked up. Tonga did his misdirection stuff and hit Veleno for a near fall. They went into a great series of Gun Stun/STO counters, reminding me of the end of old Karl Anderson G1 matches. EVIL won out with the STO to pick up two points at 10:27. Fun little match here. The brawling stuff was more than we typically get in G1 matches, which helped it be different, though some of it was dull. The crowd was into the finishing stretch, which I liked.
Props to Juice, who came in selling stuff from a few days ago. IT’S NOT THAT HARD PEOPLE! Minoru attacked him during his entrance, because that’s Minoru’s style. Since Juice was selling the leg, Minoru twisted it in disgusting ways. Like the previous match, there was crowd brawling, with El Desperado getting involved. Once that was over, they traded a bit of stuff inside, with Juice showing fire. He continually got cut off by Minoru trying to rip his leg off. Though the crowd is normally way into Juice, they didn’t pop for his near falls and hope spots the way I hoped. Suzuki countered Pulp Friction, hit a right hand and won via Gotch piledriver at 11:23. Good stuff. I loved Juice’s resiliency and how well he sold the leg throughout the entire match. Something I remember missing from Minoru’s biggest match of the year back in February. With a more invested crowd, this would’ve ranked higher. Still, good effort from both and Minoru got to look like a killer.
I gave their G1 match last year ***. Omega forgot to bring the belt and told the camera, “I forgot the belt. How did I do that? Jesus Christ. I’m gonna get in big trouble.” Yano was a trickster, using powder from inside a DVD to blind Omega and roll him up. The fans bought that as the finish and they also bought a low blow near fall right after. Unfortunately, this wasn’t as fun as their encounter last year. Don’t get me wrong, some of it was entertaining, but like I said, Yano works better in short bursts. This went too long. Omega resorted to some Yano tactics, tying his feet together. They both had their feet tied, making for some wacky moments. In the end, Omega hit a V-Trigger and Yano fell outside, getting counted out at 11:31. I’m sure some people enjoyed this, but I didn’t. I’ve always said I liked serious Kenny way more. His goofiness is something that never clicked for me and a 10+ minute with Yano, who shouldn’t go more than five, is not good. Gedo’s booked three 10+ minute Yano matches in this tournament so far. In much better news, Omega should have quality matches going forward.
They had two matches last year (***¼ and ***), with Okada not pulling a Tanahashi and making sure SANADA looked like a star. I wonder if that changes this time around. By the way, I’m assuming every Okada G1 match (besides Yano) goes 20+ minutes. This was laid out just like Okada/Elgin. Basic stuff inside, Rainmaker tease, fight outside, Okada cross body over the guardrail. Wash, rinse, repeat. Back inside, SANADA tied Okada up and dropkicked him. It’s not my favorite SANADA move, but is sometimes rather funny. Some of the stuff in the middle was kind of just there, before we got the typical hot finishing stretch from Okada matches. Okada survived Skull End and countered into a Rainmaker. HE HELD THE WRIST (yea, I’m beyond over that spot. It was cool the first time.), hit a second and had a third countered. That’s exactly what happened against Elgin, except Okada hit a German instead of a Tombstone next. A third Rainmaker ended it at 20:49. The Okada formula isn’t a bad one, but he should mix it up when he has so many singles matches in a row. This felt so similar to the Elgin match, except with SANADA bringing athleticism instead of power.
Overall: The weakest of the G1 shows so far. Only Omega/Yano is something I’d consider bad, but nothing stood out as must see either. It’s an easy watch for the most part, though Omega/Yano went way too long. Elgin/Kojima is a really good hard hitting battle, EVIL/Tonga is a solid brawl, Juice/Minoru was two guys playing their roles perfectly and the main event was Okada stuff. SANADA is that dude though.
|Kota Ibushi||4 (2-1)||Kenny Omega||6 (3-0)|
|Hirooki Goto||4 (2-1)||Kazuchika Okada||6 (3-0)|
|Tetsuya Naito||4 (2-1)||Minoru Suzuki||4 (2-1)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||4 (2-1)||EVIL||4 (2-1)|
|Bad Luck Fale||4 (2-1)||SANADA||2 (1-2)|
|HIroshi Tanahashi||4 (2-1)||Tama Tonga||2 (1-2)|
|Tomohiro Ishiii||2 (1-2)||Juice Robinson||2 (1-2)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-2)||Toru Yano||2 (1-2)|
|Togi Makabe||2 (1-2)||Michael Elgin||2 (1-2)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-3)||Satoshi Kojima||0 (0-3)|