IT’s the penultimate night of the B Block. We got a first time ever battle between Kenny Omega and SANADA (should be awesome), EVIL facing Michael Elgin to keep his chances of remaining relevant alive (should be good) and Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki in a rematch of their awful match from February (could go either way, to be honest). Will this go the route of the A Block and get booked so the final tournament night only has one match that matters? Let’s hope not.
Chase Owens def. Tomoyuki Oka in 5:36
El Desperado and Zack Sabre Jr. def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Shota Umino in 5:30
Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi def. Katsuya Kitamura and Yuji Nagata in 6:48
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. Hirai Kawato, Kota Ibushi and Togi Makabe in 7:35
David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi def. BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito in 6:58
Is it some kind of NJPW rule that in order to play the heel, you have to jump someone from behind? Tonga did it again here and put on Kojima’s robe like he did with Okada. He also stole Kojima’s machine gun chops. Everybody seems to want to do that move. When Kojima turned things around and gave him the chops, I got a chuckle out of Tonga’s high pitched screams. Tonga survived a countout tease, leading to a strong back and forth down the stretch of this one. Tonga avoided a lariat and won with Gun Stun in 10:43. Solid match and one of the better Tonga outings so far, though it’s on the lower end of Kojima stuff. I’ve enjoyed Tonga’s personality on some of these later shows.
Yano went right after the turnbuckle and Juice cut him off. They fought to the outside, where Yano hid under the ring. Juice gave chase and they were both nearly counted out. Juice was nearly counted out when Yano tied his dreadlocks into the guardrail. Back inside, Juice hit a big left hand and won with Pulp Friction in 4:25. Nice to see Juice pick up another win. This was short and fun. We’re back to getting the Yano matches I like.
I really enjoyed their match in last year’s G1 (***½), though I basically knew the outcome of this one before it began. Continuing the never-ending theme of heel stuff, EVIL attacked before the bell. That led to the G1 brawl around the ring and EVIL bringing his chairs into play. Once back inside, the match evened out, with both guys throwing bombs. We got a fisherman buster, Darkness Falls, a falcon arrow and some Germans, all with strikes thrown in for good measure. The finishing stretch was hot, with some great counters and heavy shots. Elgin used a powerbomb, lariat and Elgin Bomb to win at 11:07. I love a good hoss fight and that’s just what this was. Two brutes hitting each other with all they got. The outcome was quite obvious though, as I just knew they wouldn’t allow EVIL to enter the final night in contention.
They started with some trash talk, before fighting to the outside. Omega nearly killed himself by not rotating enough on his guardrail moonsault and landing on his head. Luckily, he landed on SANADA instead of the floor and didn’t get enough height to really hurt himself. The first half saw them trying to figure the other out, but once they did, this picked up to a great pace down the stretch. SANADA did his signature stuff, like tying up Omega, and eventually applied Skull End. Omega escaped and came close to winning with some V-Triggers. I’m glad to see he hasn’t gone into V-Trigger overkill in recent matches, but that may return with Okada next in line for him. A great series of counters led to Omega rolling out of Skull End and winning with the One Winged Angel in 15:03. Very good match, that was on par with the previous one while being completely different. I’d love to see these two headline an NJPW show down the road.
Their G1 24 match ruled (****¼), but I didn’t like their February match at all (*¾). And I may have been generous on that second score. We got the expected brawling on the outside, complete with Taichi and El Desperado getting in cheap shots. I appreciated that this wasn’t as one-sided as their title match. I didn’t want to see Suzuki kick his ass, only for Okada to Superman up and beat him. Still, Suzuki did get a fair amount of ass kicking in. They fought through plenty of counters and both were exhausted down the stretch. Okada could barely stand after Suzuki laid into him with a series of vicious strikes. However, he hit the Rainmaker out of nowhere and guess what? HE HELD THE WRIST. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. He hit a second, but was too tired to instantly take advantage. Suzuki stopped a third Rainmaker by lighting the champ up with slap after slap. Okada fought back with some, but they had a lot less behind them than Suzuki’s. Suzuki put his hands behind his back, daring Okada to hit him. Okada fought off the Gotch piledriver and hit another Rainmaker but couldn’t cover as time expired in 30:00. This was a step up from their February match, but not quite on the 2014 level. I like how Okada’s dominated this year, but lost to EVIL and now couldn’t put away Minoru. He can’t keep the pace he was at for most of the year. They told a great story and it featured a fair amount of action. I would’ve preferred if Suzuki hit the piledriver and then time expired, to really hammer home that maybe Okada is reaching the end of his line.
I know I’ve discussed my dislike for Gedo’s booking before. I was especially harsh after the final B Block match last year. However, this tournament’s booking just irks me. At Wrestle Kingdom, the two main events were Naito/Tanahashi and Omega/Okada. AT Dominion, the two main events were Naito/Tanahashi and Omega/Okada. Now, in the G1 Climax, it comes to Naito/Tanahashi and Omega/Okada. That’s just lazy. I totally get that they’re the top four stars, but come on. The worst part of it all is that entering the final two block shows, they’re the ONLY FOUR PEOPLE ALIVE. That means 80% of the matches on those two nights don’t matter. That’s not good, no matter how you slice it or try to twist it. It’s not creative, it’s complacent. Judging by some of the responses I got on Twitter for saying something similar, you’d think wanting something fresh was absurd.
Overall: Slightly below the Osaka show in terms of quality B Block shows, but that was to be expected. We got the kind of Yano match I hope for and a fun little match between Kojima and Tonga. Then things picked up. Elgin/EVIL and SANADA/Omega were damn good matches that helped show exactly why EVIL and SANADA should be better positioned in the company. Suzuki and Okada made up for their awful February match, with a fitting main event. My only real issue with this show was the booking.
|Tetsuya Naito||12 (6-2)||Kazuchika Okada||13 (6-1-1)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||12 (6-2)||Kenny Omega||12 (6-2)|
|Bad Luck Fale||10 (5-3)||EVIL||10 (5-3)|
|Kota Ibushi||10 (5-3)||Minoru Suzuki||9 (4-3-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||8 (4-4)||SANADA||8 (4-4)|
|Hirooki Goto||8 (4-4)||Michael Elgin||8 (4-4)|
|Zack Sabre Jr.||8 (4-4)||Juice Robinson||6 (3-5)|
|Togi Makabe||6 (3-5)||Tama Tonga||6 (3-5)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||4 (2-6)||Toru Yano||6 (3-5)|
|Yuji Nagata||2 (1-7)||Satoshi Kojima||2 (1-7)|