After a night off, the G1 Climax returns with A Block action. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a show in this venue, which should be interesting. Though I’ve preferred the A Block so far, this card doesn’t have me excited other than Ibushi/Nagata and Naito/Sabre. Still, with the tournament winding down and the A Block still more open than the B Block, it’ll be interesting to see where people end up.
Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi def. Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka in 6:23
El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki and Taichi def. Hirai Kawato, Michael Elgin and Tiger Mask IV in 5:52
TenKoji def. BUSHI and SANADA in 7:15
David Finlay and Juice Robinson def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 6:19
Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano def. EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi in 5:21
They met almost three years ago to the date in the G1 23 in a very good match (***¾). Nagata looked to keep things slow at the start, knowing Ibushi has a huge quickness advantage. He worked the arm, cutting off Ibushi at several points. Kota fired up and delivered the Golden Triangle Moonsault, only to eat an exploder inside. It eventually broke down into a battle of strikes, which Ibushi won by nailing the Pele kick. Nagata swiftly caught him in his signature armbar. Ibushi survived, but Nagata took it to him for not giving up. Ibushi looked out of it. He also survived a Backdrop Driver, but Nagata kicked out of the Golden Star Bomb. That must be the new thing to do. Ibushi ended him with a killer knee at 15:54. Nagata is on quite the roll in terms of performances, as is Ibushi. Nagata was the veteran giving his all, despite being eliminated. Ibushi was just too much for him, winning a hard fought, hard hitting battle.
I like this matchup. They had good matches in both the G1 24 (***) and G1 26 (***½). The size difference was clear and came right into play. Ishii couldn’t knock Fale down and got put on his ass. Fale worked the DREADED NERVE HOLD for a bit to wear him down. Ishii kept trying for suplexes and failing. When he finally got one to work, they crowd popped big. I liked the little things he did, like running the ropes a few times to gain enough momentum to knock Fale down. Fale blocked the sliding lariat by grabbing Ishii for the Grenade, but Ishii countered into a triangle and then armbar. Fale had to get the ropes to escape. Ishii slapped it on again, but this time Fale powered out with a powerbomb. Ishii won a strike exchange, but got cut off with a spear. The Bad Luck Fall finished him in 11:58. Another highly enjoyable match. I’d say it was the second best Fale match this year (in between the Shibata and Okada ones). It wasn’t the typical big man/little man outing, because Ishii isn’t a typical little guy. He brought the fight to Fale, while still selling like a boss for him. There’s a reason Ishii’s the second or third best wrestler in the world, folks.
CHAOS buddies do battle. I typically enjoy YOSHI-HASHI, but something about his matches in this tournament haven’t clicked. Same goes for Goto, to be honest. Goto held serve early, bullying HASHI, who had to cut him off. They went back and forth, with Goto surviving the Butterfly Lock and HASHI getting put in the sleeper. Goto did his best Shibata, delivering a PK, but that and USHIGOROSHI weren’t enough. HASHI fired up but Goto escaped Karma and hit two GTRs for the win in an uneventful 11:26. Again, something just didn’t connect with me. I appreciated that HASHI fought hard, but I just wasn’t feeling it as much as other stuff in the tournament.
This is one of the most interesting matchups in the whole tournament. It could be great or a bad matchup of styles. This started with the usual tranquilo Naito pose after he sent Sabre outside. It was clear early that Sabre had him scouted, countering his signature dropkick in the corner and wrenching him into submissions and putting focus on the neck. Sabre had counters for everything, from key stuff like Destino, to little things like rollups. He dominated, forcing Naito to get serious and not play his usual games. Sabre got a near fall on the European Clutch pin that everyone seemed to bite on. Even when Naito gained momentum, like after a desperation German, Sabre would catch him in a submission or something, right after. Naito finally managed to avoid the PK and hit Destino for the win at 14:20. I loved how this was laid out. Naito wasn’t in control like usual, so he had to change things up. Sabre continues to look great in this tournament. He dominated Tanahashi and Naito, but left one opening against Naito, and it cost him. After a string of mostly lackluster matches, Naito seems ready for a hot finish.
I feel like these two meet in every G1. I was almost right as they met in 2013 (***½), 2015 (***½) and 2016 (***). They started with some basic back and forth, nothing to get too interested in. Makabe took control for a bit, but got stopped by the dragon screw. We got some of heel Tanahashi here, less than recently, with him flipping Makabe the double bird. Togi leveled him with a big lariat for stealing his shit. Makabe missed the King Kong Knee Drop, to the dismay of Honma on commentary. Tanahashi was next to miss on the High Fly Flow, evening things up. They both tried for Germans, with Tanahashi slipping and hitting one off the ropes. He followed with his usual finishing stretch, winning via High Fly Flow in 13:34. Tanahashi’s working hard, but with his busted arm, some of the results just aren’t quite there. This reminded me of his matches with Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, in that they’re not bad, they just aren’t very good either. Especially in the main event slot. Never fear though, as Tanahashi has Ishii and Naito on the final two A Block shows if I’m right.
Overall: About what I’ve come to expect as the G1 winds down. A lot of the guys take it easy at this point, gearing up for a big final few shows in Sumo Hall. Three out of the five matches here are high quality. Ibushi/Nagata, Fale/Ishii and Naito/Sabre are all worth checking you. You can avoid Goto/HASHI and Makabe/Tanahashi.
|Tetsuya Naito||10 (5-2)||Kazuchika Okada||12 (6-0)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||10 (5-2)||Kenny Omega||10 (5-1)|
|Hirooki Goto||8 (4-3)||Minoru Suzuki||8 (4-2)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||8 (4-3)||SANADA||8 (4-2)|
|Bad Luck Fale||8 (4-3)||EVIL||8 (4-2)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||8 (4-3)||Toru Yano||4 (2-4)|
|Kota Ibushi||8 (4-3)||Tama Tonga||4 (2-4)|
|Togi Makabe||6 (3-4)||Michael Elgin||4 (2-4)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||4 (2-5)||Juice Robinson||2 (1-5)|
|Yuji Nagata||0 (0-7)||Satoshi Kojima||0 (0-6)|