Honestly, this is one my more anticipated B Block shows. The main reason for that is Kazuchika Okada vs. Juice Robinson as I’m one of the few more interested in that than Omega/Okada III and some other, bigger matches. Speaking of Omega, he and Kojima should have a barnburner, while the rest of the card all sounds at least somewhat intriguing.
Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi def. David Finlay, Katsuya Kitamura and Tetsuhiro Yagi in 5:45
El Desperado and Zack Sabre Jr. def. Togi Makabe and Shota Umino in 7:23
Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. Tomoyuki Oka and Yuji Nagata in 7:04
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi def. Hirai Kawato and Kota Ibushi in 8:55
Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito def. Hirooki Goto and Gedo in 8:24
Daryl update: Hiromu is still very sad about it. As am I. However, he didn’t carry an imaginary Daryl the entire way this time, so there’s improvement.
EVIL’s doing quite well so far and Yano isn’t, meaning this is the time we usually get a sneaky Yano in. He did to a hot Yujiro Takahashi in the G1 23 a few years ago. Last year, Yano beat EVIL in 2:57 (**) and ended up with two more points at the end of the tournament. Yano tried doing Yano things here, but EVIL turned it around on him and pulled his robe over his head. Yano still nearly rolled him up to steal it. EVIL said “fuck that” and put him down with the STO at 1:33. Not enough of a match to rate, but this is more what I want from Yano matches. EVIL topping his point total from last year already is cool. However, he’s just got that many to give a tease that this block isn’t a two horse race. Make no mistake, it’s an Omega/Okada battle.
In a great twist, Tama Tonga jumped El Desperado during Minoru’s entrance. He carried the Suzuki-Gun flag for a bit, before brawling with the champ into the crowd. That lasted a few minutes, pissing off Suzuki. It took almost four minutes to get in the ring and start the match, which just led to them going back outside for more brawling. It led to quite the double countout tease, but they both ran back in just before twenty. They continued to beat each other up until we got a ref bump. Wouldn’t be a Suzuki-Gun match without one, right/ Tonga escaped the sleeper and hit the Gun Stun for the phantom pin. Tonga brought the ref back in, but had his Gun Stun countered to a sleeper. Suzuki finished him off with the Gotch Piledriver at 10:29. A different kind of match, as it was almost all wild brawling. The pre-match attack on Desperado was smart, too. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exciting enough to stick out. Maybe a bit less crowd stuff and a hotter finishing stretch, and I’d like it more.
Along with the final two matches on this show, this is a very interesting first time ever matchup. They have met in a bunch of multi-man tags, though. Like Elgin/Omega, these two went to the power vs. speed battle. We got the spot where one guy held the ropes open for the other to get in, and the other did the same shortly after. Big Mike had SANADA well scouted and had counters ready for his leap frog spot. I liked SANADA trying to powerbomb Elgin out of the corner and not having the power to do it, so he relentlessly attacked him and used a dropkick to weaken him enough to finally hit it. SANADA tried the leap frog stuff again, but again Elgin was ready, and countered with a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Elgin delivered the apron German and the deadlift falcon arrow (HE DID THE SUPER DEAL) for another close call. SANADA fought off the powerbomb and locked in Skull End. Elgin wouldn’t tap, but he faded. SANADA let go, hit the moonsault and scored somewhat of an upset at 15:06. A very good back and forth match that played into the right dynamic. Elgin’s power (and scouting) was too much for SANADA, but the Skull End is just that deadly. I like him using it to wear down opponents before the moonsault, similar to Suzuki and Shibata using the sleeper before impactful moves. Good work, but it lacked some drama until the end.
Omega came out in his “I don’t give a shit” colorful attire, which I don’t like. I get that he may not take winless Kojima seriously, but after losing and knowing Okada remains undefeated, he should be as serious as ever. Anyway, Omega was disrespectful and held serve. A body slam on the apron led to him looking for a countout win. Though that didn’t happen, Omega remained in control. He started talking smack to Tenzan at ringside, which helped fire Kojima up. He busted out the Mongolian chops, ripped Kenny’s shirt and lit him up with the rapid fire corner chops. Down the stretch, Omega hit a V-Trigger, but Kojima slipped free of the One Winged Angel. He got two on a brainbuster and there was a series of counters that saw Kojima wreck Omega with a lariat. He was too worn down to make a pin attempt, though. Emerald Flowsion got him two, which was his last hope. A snap dragon suplex, V-Trigger and One Winged Angel later and Omega won in 16:42. It took a while to get going and I liked almost none of the early stuff. The final third or so was really good though. It lacked some of the intensity and drama of earlier Kojima matches, unfortunately. You know, I gave all but one Omega singles match in 2017 at least four stars before the G1. I’ve yet to go four on any of his G1 stuff, which is disappointing.
Side note, but I’m not a fan of Kojima being 0-5. I understand him coming up short against the younger talent, but it’s the same story being told with Nagata in the A Block and with Liger in the BOTSJ this year. If you run it too often, it loses some of its luster and makes things too predictable. That being said, Kojima and Nagata are both working hard to go out with quality performances.
Juice won on night one, but has lost each match since due to a bum leg, while Okada remains perfect. Juice shined against Naito earlier this year and had very good outings with EVIL and Kojima in the G1. They started with some basic stuff inside, before going outside. I expected Okada to do his cross body over the guardrail, but he didn’t. Instead, he calmly went inside for a countout, like Juice wasn’t deserving of his full effort. I appreciated that. Too often, he does the same stuff. Okada worked the leg and Juice’s screams while in a modified figure four felt real. Juice survived and kept getting in hope spots. Okada back dropped him on the apron, to little reaction, leading to a countout tease. I know they’ve established the countout finish, but I can’t buy it during a main event. Juice avoided the Rainmaker, but had Pulp Friction blocked. Okada was pissed and yelled at Juice, as if he was frustrated that this match was still going on. Juice continued to fight, but was hit with the Rainmaker. You know what happened next. If you guessed Okada held the wrist, hit a second, had the third countered, countered his opponent’s move and then hit the third, then you were right. It’s not hard to guess, because it happens all the time. That ended things at 20:29. I enjoyed the story they told here, with brash Okada dismissing resilient Juice. Okada wanting to destroy him with three Rainmakers would’ve been cool if he didn’t do it in almost every match. The finishing sequence is overdone too, as I clearly noted. A very good main event and I appreciate the part it plays in the larger story (Okada’s desire to absolutely be the best and prove a point will eventually lead to his demise), but it’s too much of the same too often, to be truly great.
Overall: Another average G1 Climax show. EVIL/Yano wasn’t really a match, though that was fine. Tonga/Suzuki didn’t work for me and I came away disappointed with Kojima/Omega. SANADA/Elgin was good, but not quite, while Okada/Juice had loads of potential, only for some of the same tropes I’m tired of to up and keep it from being great. The B Block shows make it clear who the stars are (Okada and Omega always are in the two main events and have relatively long matches) and everything else feels secondary.
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||8 (4-1)||Kazuchika Okada||10 (5-0)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||6 (3-2)||Kenny Omega||8 (4-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||6 (3-2)||EVIL||8 (4-1)|
|Bad Luck Fale||6 (3-2)||Minoru Suzuki||6 (3-2)|
|Tetsuya Naito||6 (3-2)||SANADA||6 (3-2)|
|Togi Makabe||6 (3-2)||Tama Tonga||4 (2-3)|
|Hirooki Goto||6 (3-2)||Michael Elgin||4 (2-3)|
|Kota Ibushi||4 (2-3)||Juice Robinson||2 (1-4)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-4)||Toru Yano||2 (1-4)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-5)||Satoshi Kojima||0 (0-5)|