After a whopping three days off, the G1 Climax returned with a B Block show. The A Block has been lackluster in almost every way, but the B Block has delivered on almost every show. Today, an intriguing first time ever matchup is on tap (SANADA/Ibushi), and rematches from two bangers in last year’s G1 (Ishii/Sabre and Juice/Omega).
El Desperado and Minoru Suzuki def. Michael Elgin and Ren Narita in 9:24
BUSHI and EVIL def. Chase Owens and Hangman Page in 5:16
Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga def. Rocky Romero and YOH in 5:10
David Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Toa Henare and Togi Makabe in 6:56
SHO and YOSHI-HASHI def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada
Will we get “wrestler” Yano or “sublime master thief” Yano? After his matches with Omega and Ishii, Goto needs the latter for a night off. He got that version of Yano. In their G1 24 meeting, Yano won a fun 1:21 match. Here, he went after the turnbuckle early and hit Goto with it before the bell. Yano hit a nice belly to belly, but that was about the total of his offense. Goto hit the GTR and won in a quick 2:17. It went short, barely had any fun Yano gimmicks, and was still better than the Firing Squad stuff.
They’ve never met in the G1 before. They teased Tanga Loa heading to the back, only for Tama to hit Naito from behind and call his brother back. Oh, joy. He tripped up Naito early to give Tama the upper hand. Thankfully, he kind of stayed out of it for a while. When he did, he powerbombed Naito onto the aisle. Wouldn’t you think that Naito, a smart guy with a stable, would have LIDJ guys ready to watch his back? Eventually, EVIL arrived for help, which triggered a Bad Luck Fale run in, and then one by BUSHI, who misted Fale. That left it down to a one on one encounter. Tama hit a low blow but Naito blocked the Gun Stun and returned the favor. A Destino later and Naito won in 10:06. The best match involving Tama Tonga. It had a lot of action and though some of the early stuff lacked, it picked up late. I enjoyed Naito turning the tables on Tama with the low blow.
In the G1 Special in USA last year, Ishii won (****½), while Sabre won the rematch in the G1 (***¾). However, earlier this year, Ishii won the RevPro Title from Sabre in a match I didn’t get to see. Ishii came in throwing his usual array of strikes. Sabre was ready, catching some into submissions. Sabre’s a smart, wily wrestler like that. Not to be outdone, Ishii also showed smarts, doing his own holds and goading Sabre into a strike battle. The cool thing is, each man can hold their own when it comes to the strength of the other. Sabre targeted the arm, while Ishii went after the ankle. This built to the bigger submission and strike spots. They know each other so well that nearly everything they tried saw a counter or fake out. It made for some stellar close calls. Commentary noted how Ishii has fallen to ref stoppages before, but has never tapped out. The finish was fantastic. Ishii tried to powerbomb out of an armbar, only to get caught in a more vicious looking armbar and he tapped out at 14:35. Tremendous psychology and great plays off their previous outings. Better than last year’s G1 match, but not quite on the US match level.
Last year, Juice scored a massive upset over Kenny (****), though Kenny won the US Title rematch later in the year (***¾). Juice, with a broken hand, is now US Champ but winless, while Kenny is Heavyweight Champ and unbeaten. They shook hands before the match, because they’re both lovable babyfaces now. Due to that, Omega avoided the cheap shots on the broken hand. That put him on the defensive, as Juice came out desperate to get the two points. Rollups played a part, considering that’s how Juice beat him last year and how Juice won the title. Omega avoided Pulp Friction, but Juice kept finding ways to avoid V-Triggers. And you know Kenny likes to throw a lot of those. They went into a ton of counters late, including one to call back to Juice’s upset win last year. Kenny wasn’t going to let that happen again, and he eventually hit a V-Trigger leading into the One Winged Angel at 15:31. I really liked this. They played off last year well and Juice showed the desperation you want when you’re winless. I did prefer last year’s though.
See, this is a reason I love the B Block. A Block is dominated by Okada main events, while B Block is versatile enough to give us this. It’s a first time ever meeting I’m stoked for. They opened with a standoff exchange that would’ve made RVD and Jerry Lynn jealous. It was a way to showcase how evenly matched they were. The comparisions are there, from athleticism to hybrid style to their dashing good looks. There were great spots, like Ibushi missing the Golden Star moonsault and SANADA answering with his own moonsault off the apron into Skull End. SANADA kept hitting a low dropkick, but Ibushi learned and avoided one late into a big double stomp. SANADA continually had the Kamigoye scouted, while Ibushi kept finding ways to survive the Skull End. There were so many great exchanges down the stretch and things were helped by the fact that neither man is a dominant wrestler. We had no clue who would win and fans bought into most close calls. SANADA avoided another Kamigoye and applied the Skull End again. Ibushi faded and SANADA hit the moonsault to win in 22:23. SANADA gets a massive main event win in his hometown. Excellent match featuring guys mirroring one another and working in front of a hot crowd.
Overall: Every single B Block show features at least three very good to great matches. The same held true here. Yano/Goto wasn’t much, but at least it was short. You need those in a tournament like this. Naito got the best match out of Tama Tonga so far. Then, the show picked up. Ishii/Sabre was a fantastic match, while Juice/Omega delivered a very good battle. The main event was the best part of the show and showed the versatility and depth of this B Block field.
|Jay White||6 (3-1)||Kenny Omega||8 (4-0)|
|EVIL||6 (3-1)||SANADA||6 (3-1)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||6 (3-1)||Tetsuya Naito||6 (3-1)|
|Minoru Suzuki||4 (2-2)||Kota Ibushi||4 (2-2)|
|Michael Elgin||4 (2-2)||Zack Sabre Jr.||4 (2-2)|
|Kazuchika Okada||4 (2-2)||Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-2)|
|Togi Makabe||4 (2-2)||Hirooki Goto||4 (2-2)|
|Bad Luck Fale||2 (1-3)||Toru Yano||2 (1-3)|
|Hangman Page||2 (1-3)||Tama Tonga||2 (1-3)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-3)||Juice Robinson||0 (0-4)|