We remain in Osaka for the second of back to back G1 shows here. Unfortunately, the A Block is up, but this is admittedly one of their strongest cards on paper. I mean, I guess it is. It’s still nothing special outside of a main event that is a rematch of one of the better G1 matches last year.
SHO and Tomohiro Ishii def. Juice Robinson and Shota Umino in 8:14
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. David Finlay and Toa Henare in 6:35
Hirooki Goto and YOH def. TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. in 5:44
The Guerrillas of Destiny def. Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi in 3:31
Chase Owens and Kenny Omega def. Gedo and Toru Yano in 6:42
YOSHI bested Fale in last year’s G1 (**¼). Fale has still not be pinned or submitted in this tournament. These are the least intriguing guys in the A Block because Fale has been unusually terrible in this G1. They went through the motions of a match that bored me to tears. Tanga Loa and his shitty introduction speech got involved a few times because that’s all he’s done in this tournament. When HASHI took out Tanga Loa and got Fale in trouble, Tama Tonga ran out with a chair for another shit DQ at 8:31. A terrible match before the extra BS and then we got that trash ending. Sigh.
Commentary wondered if Page would be intimidated by this first time ever match. He attacked Suzuki instantly and then took out both his opponent and El Desperado with a moonsault off the stage. That set the tone for a fun brawl that was a nice change of pace from the previous match. The fact that Page took it right to him seemed to anger Minoru and when he gets pissed, it can be glorious. He began to bully Page around, but Hangman, with nothing to lose at this point, didn’t back down. It was great to see and made a match that meant nothing feel somewhat important. Near the end, Page began to fade while in the sleeper hold. However, when Suzuki went for the Gotch Style Piledriver, Page found a way to counter into the Rite of Passage and score the massive upset at 12:05. Page didn’t win many matches in this G1, but he’s beaten Makabe and Suzuki by pin. That’s big, especially the latter. An intense win for Page.
There’s an interesting set up here. Jay White has been all about mind games and playing up his brain over his brawn. However, with Makabe being so old and past his prime, Jay just went right at it. It was somewhat disrespectful because he took the legend so lightly. As he beat on Makabe and fired him up, he even mockingly said, “There he is,” as if he finally got a Makabe worthy of a match. When Makabe got going, it led to some good exchanges that felt different from what we’ve mostly gotten on this tour. However, it eventually just broke down into the same Jay White closing stretch we’ve seen in almost every G1 match. That included the ref bump and a chair shot (it’s either that or a low blow), which set up the Blade Runner for the finish at 10:22. They were heading towards something very good, only to give us more of the same late. With a better, different ending, this would’ve ranked towards the top of G1 matches for either guy.
A first time NJPW battle between teammates. Though they aren’t a regular tandem, they’ve worked the World Tag League together in the past and were part of countless Taguchi Japan matches. I got a kick out of watching Elgin use some of their old tag moves in an aggressive manner for offense. It was a nice, original idea. Of course, there was also a case of knowing what the other was bringing to the table because of familiarity. Elgin entered with a bad arm, but Tanahashi went after the leg. Probably a combination of sticking with your best stuff and not wanting to attack his friend’s injury. It became a battle of Elgin’s strength against Tanahashi’s veteran knowhow. Tanahashi knows how to win G1 matches, so when he saw how outmatched he was even by an injured Elgin, he began going for flash pins. That played into the finish, as Tanahashi scored another win by turning an Elgin Bomb into a cradle at 16:03. Unfortunately, that spot came off awkwardly and Elgin kind of had to pin himself. Still, this was the best thing on the show so far and the first A Block match worth going out of your way to see in a while.
EVIL bested Okada in this building in last year’s G1 (****), but lost an IWGP Title match in October (***¼). The pressure was on Okada to win, but even in his “redemption” storyline, he continues to just win as if he never lost the IWGP Title. Like their G1 battle last year, EVIL was vicious and attacked Okada like a man possessed. They called back to their previous outings and did a lot of fighting outside. Luckily, outside brawling is something EVIL is great at. EVIL also brought a touch of innovation to this, utilizing Red Shoes to help him on a Magic Killer. It came off great. He hit Okada with a lot of his big offense, putting the former IWGP Champion on the ropes. Both men used each other’s finishers, which I feel is something we saw in a recent Okada match that I can’t exactly remember. Anyway, Okada eventually won with the Rainmaker, as expected, at 18:27. The best Okada match of this G1, but still unable to crack four stars. The result never feeling like it was in doubt didn’t help. Good action and an intense battle to cap the show.
Overall: I’ve still yet to give an A Block match **** since night one, but this was probably the Block’s best effort since then. Even with the awful Fale/HASHI match, this was a consistent show. Page/Suzuki was a fun match, while White/Makabe just needed a better finishing stretch to stand out. The final two matches were very good and just shy of great.
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||14 (7-1)||Kenny Omega||12 (6-1)|
|Jay White||12 (6-2)||Kota Ibushi||10 (5-2)|
|Kazuchika Okada||12 (6-2)||Tetsuya Naito||10 (5-2)|
|Minoru Suzuki||8 (4-4)||SANADA||8 (4-3)|
|EVIL||8 (4-4)||Zack Sabre Jr.||8 (4-3)|
|Hangman Page||6 (3-5)||Tomohiro Ishii||6 (3-4)|
|Bad Luck Fale||6 (3-5)||Hirooki Goto||6 (3-4)|
|Michael Elgin||6 (3-5)||Tama Tonga||4 (2-5)|
|Togi Makabe||4 (2-6)||Juice Robinson||4 (2-5)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||4 (2-6)||Toru Yano||2 (1-6)|