We’re back to the (so far) superior A Block. There are two undefeated guys in B Block, but none in the more open A Block. However, Yuji Nagata remains without a victory and faces Tetsuya Naito today. There have been some classics on 7/26 in past G1s (Naito/AJ and Tanahashi/Shibata in 2014, AJ/Ibushi in 2015), so I’m hoping for more of that.
Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi def. Davis Finlay and Juice Robinson in 5:55
Jado and Toru Yano def. BUSHI and SANADA in 0:45
EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi def. Minoru Suzuki and Taichi in 7:28
Michael Elgin and Ryusuke Taguchi def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 7:20
TenKoji def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada in 5:21
CHAOS buddies collide. I love that Ishii gives zero shits if you guys are friends outside of the ring. He goes to war with you either way. These two traded chops and surprisingly, it was Ishii to wavered first. Following that, YOSHI-HASHI kind of dominated, which was unexpected. He hit some of his signature stuff and got in a nearly endless series of kicks to the head. YOU MADE ISHII MAD! The “Stone Pitbull” fired up and kicked his ass in the corner. They built to some good back and forth and near falls down the stretch. Ishii survived the Butterfly Lock and we got a great exchange of slaps and forearms. Ishii got a near fall with the sliding lariat before winning with the brainbuster in 15:43. A very good, hard hitting match, which is what I wanted and expected between them. HASHI more than held his own, showing he’s not just some chump at the back end of CHAOS, but he’s still not Ishii’s level.
An interesting matchup here. So far, Sabre’s been able to showcase his ground superiority, but Fale’s a different animal. He attempted submissions early, including a guillotine, but Fale threw him aside and beat him up outside. Fale took to just sitting on Sabre at one point. I believe I heard the crowd chanting for him, too, like this was the G1 Special in USA. Sabre found ways to elude Fale and took to wearing him down whenever he could. He escaped the Bad Luck Fall and applied an ankle lock, while also countering the Grenade into a hanging triangle. Fale fought out, but Sabre pulled him into a cradle for the upset at 9:02. I liked this. A smartly laid out match that played to their strengths. Fale got to be a monster, while Sabre was a brilliant technician. Even so, his submissions couldn’t do it, so he resorted to a rollup.
Post-match, Sabre turned his hands from “too sweet” into the middle finger and gave a “RIP Daryl” shout out to the camera on his way out. #JUSTICEFORDARYL.
Their G1 match two years ago was solid (***), but they bested it with a NEVER Title match a few months later (****). Tomoaki Honma was on commentary, appearing for the first time since his injury. Similar to YOSHI/Ishii, they came right at one another with strikes. It led to the typical brawl outside and countout tease. Makabe took control inside, until Ibushi kicked him in the head. It became time for Ibushi to get his shit in, but Makabe cut him off with a few lariats. Ibushi got two on a super rana before teasing the piledriver that nearly killed Naito, but Makabe isn’t about taking that bump. He fought it off and hit a standing version of the King Kong Knee. A powerbomb and another knee ended it at 13:20. This was solid, but I just couldn’t really get into it. Maybe it has something to do with not having a care in the world for Makabe.
They met in the G1 23 and 26 (both ***¼), but this is an extra motivated Nagata and a Naito who has mostly been incredible in 2017. Their first exchange ended with Naito avoiding Nagata, sliding into his signature taunt and saluting Blue Justice. Nagata wanted none of his shit and kicked him in the head. Naito gained control and wore down the legend. Nagata kept getting in hope spots and was pissed at Naito’s antics. The dad beat the shit out of him at one point, lighting him up with kicks. Naito responded with a slap, leading to an exchange that Nagata won. After some back and forth, we got more slaps and Nagata applied the armbar. The fans ate that shit up. Nagata ate Destino, but kicked out to a pop. He fought off a second for a bit, only to get hit with it anyway and lose in 15:29. Like the opener, this was very good. Naito was a dick throughout, with Nagata getting tired of him being a punk. They continued to tease Nagata’s first win very well, but Naito was too much for him. People aren’t talking much about it, but Nagata’s been a top performer in this tournament.
They main evented a G1 show last year and it was lackluster (**½), though I enjoyed their G1 23 match much more (***½). Early on, things were evenly matched, but I liked how there was a sign of heel Tanahashi. He worked it against Nagata and it was a good idea. I don’t think it worked quite as well here. Tanahashi was in control, with Goto having to fight from behind. The crowd was invested, but were more into Tanahashi than the guy rallying. Goto pulled out a Shibata, locking in the sleeper and hitting the PK. He followed with USHIGOROSHI for a near fall. After hitting GTR, Goto wanted a second, but Tanahashi countered. He went into a flurry, hitting neck breakers, slingblade and High Fly Flow to put Goto down at 17:22. A solid main event, but nothing to write home about. Something about it just didn’t fully click with me and it was missing something to make it stand out. One of the weaker main events so far.
Overall: It seems we’ve hit that short lull that the G1 tends to hit. It’s not bad, but for two or three days you get no must see matches. This was one of those. Lots of solid wrestling as nothing on the card was bad, but a day you could skip and not miss out. Sabre/Fale was smartly worked, Naito/Nagata was good fun and Ishii/YOSHI was hard hitting and just what I wanted. Goto/Tanahashi and Makabe/Ibushi underwhelmed.
|Zack Sabre Jr.||6 (3-1)||Kenny Omega||6 (3-0)|
|Tetsuya Naito||6 (3-1)||Kazuchika Okada||6 (3-0)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||6 (3-1)||Minoru Suzuki||4 (2-1)|
|Bad Luck Fale||4 (2-2)||EVIL||4 (2-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-2)||SANADA||2 (1-2)|
|Togi Makabe||4 (2-2)||Tama Tonga||2 (1-2)|
|Kota Ibushi||4 (2-2)||Juice Robinson||2 (1-2)|
|Hirooki Goto||4 (2-2)||Toru Yano||2 (1-2)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-3)||Michael Elgin||2 (1-2)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-4)||Satoshi Kojima||0 (0-3)|