Here we are back with some A Block Action!
I’m currently out in the countryside of Wales for a family trip, but when the Wi-Fi decides it wants me to I can still just about manage to stream New Japan World, hence here I am getting my G1 fix! I’ll hopefully find some time tomorrow to do Night Ten, as well as try to get Hardcore TV up as usual. This might mean no 205 Live this week but, if I can find the time and the WWE Network feels like behaving, I’ll get caught up on that as well.
But anyway, less prattling from me, let’s watch some gosh darn wrestling!
All of these matches took place at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium on the 27th of July 2019
Calling the action are “Super” Kevin Kelley and “Super Duper” Rocky Romero. Sadly there’s no Chris Charlton again, which is a shame as he’s a great part of the announce team.
I did catch the tail end of the Moxley/Umino Vs Naito/Shingo tag match and it got me suitable hyped for Moxley Vs Naito. Umino continues to do a good job as well, and it’s interesting that they are essentially pushing a Young Lion this strong. Good for him actually, he’s good enough to justify it so I’ve got no problem with it.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 5
Lance Archer (4 pts) Vs Kota Ibushi (4 pts)
This is the sort of genuinely interesting type of styles clashes that you get every year from this tournament. Archer of course has the big height advantage, so Ibushi hits and moves to start and manages to rana Archer over the top rope to the outside. Ibushi goes for The Golden Triangle (Asai Moonsault) next, but Archer sees it coming and trips him before he can leap. Archer takes the fight into the crowd, where he targets Ibushi’s leg a few times and then rams Ibushi into a Young Lion not unlike the way Batman does to bad guys in Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo.
Black Hole Slam looks to end things back inside, but Ibushi is able to kick out at two. Archer continues to work Ibushi over and goes for THE CLAW, but Ibushi is able to block it, so Archer sweeps his leg instead (Ibushi has been working with an ankle injury throughout this G1). The crowd chants for Ibushi, so Archer yells at them to shut up. This allows Ibushi time to recover however and he double stomps the back of Archer’s head when he tries for DA POUNCE (Period). Ibushi actually powerslams Archer and then comes off the second rope with a moonsault for two, although his ankle almost gave way before he was able to jump.
Ibushi tries heading up top, but Archer cuts him off and tries a superplex. Ibushi slips out though and then manages to sit out Last Ride powerbomb Archer out of the corner for two. So yeah, Ibushi isn’t just really fast and one heck of a striker, he’s also really strong as well. Oh, and to top it all off he’s one gosh darn handsome man. His very existence mocks us mere mortals! Archer isn’t fazed however, and hits a pretty crazy cannonball type move off the second rope into the ring for two. Archer gets a huge choke slam next, but Ibushi is once again able to kick out.
Archer preps THE CLAW and manages to get it applied, but Ibushi is able to grab the ropes to break the hold. Archer tries a Full Nelson Slam, but Ibushi counters it to a roll up for two. Ibushi hits the Bom-Ba-Ye (Running knee strike ala Shinsuke Nakamura) and tries for the Kamigoye (Close quarters knee to the face) but Archer counters with a knee of his own for one heck of a near fall! This match has been oodles of fun!
Archer heads up top for a moonsault, but Ibushi is able to dodge imminent death at the last second and then slips out of an Archer move before getting a big Mirko Cro Cop styled kick, followed by another Bom-Ba-Ye for two. Kamigoye connects next, but Archer doesn’t go down and demands another, so Ibushi takes down his knee pad and obliges to finally put Archer down for the count.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (6 PTS)
This was a lot of fun, as they worked the size difference well and built up to Ibushi showing some good feats of strength and Archer being all gutsy and resilient. Even though Archer lost that match his stock rose considerably due to his gutsy efforts. This also keeps Ibushi very much in contention for the A Block. I’d call the match an unqualified success!
G1 CLIMAX B BLOCK – Round 5
Bad Luck Fale (2 pts) w/ Jado and Chase Owens Vs Will Ospreay (2 pts)
Ospreay beat Fale in the New Japan Cup earlier in the year, in what was a big upset, so there’s a good chance that they’ll give Fale his win back here, especially as they’ve already done David toppling Goliath in the previous match. I would much prefer Ospreay to win though, just because I like the idea of the Junior Heavyweight Champ taking down a guy Fale’s size once again. Owens trips Ospreay as he tries to get into the ring right from the off however, and holds him for a Jado attack, but Ospreay fights both men off and then springs in with The Phoenomenal Forearm back inside to Fale.
Jado manages to hit Ospreay with his Singapore cane however whilst Fale distracts the ref, and this allows Fale to start working his smaller opponent over. I wonder if it’s intentional for Fale’s “General” logo on his shirt to look a bit like the Konami logo if the colours were inverted? I’m probably just seeing something that isn’t there, but if we start seeing Bad Luck Fale pachinko machines in the next year or so that might mean there’s more to it. Owens removes the protective tape on Ospreay’s neck and shoulder whilst Fale distracts the ref again, and Fale goes to the Steiner Recliner to try and get a submission victory. My least favourite rest hold ever, the nerve pinch, comes next but it at least makes sense on this occasion.
Ospreay fires back with a handspring Pele kick and then gets a flurry of forearms on Fale in the corner. Ospreay gets an enziguri in the corner and then follows with a standing Shooting Star Press for two. Ospreay gets the Robinson Special (Spinning Wheel Kick to a downed opponent) and then preps for the Os Cutter (Back Springboard Diamond Cutter), but Fale throws the ref into the ropes to stop that. Ospreay once again evades Fale’s henchmen, but this allows Fale to catch him unawares with The Grenade (Choke Slam into a big punch) but there’s no referee due to Fale knocking him down earlier and Ospreay is able to kick out at two when the ref eventually recovers.
Fale goes for The Bad Luck Fall (Crucifx Last Ride powerbomb) but Ospreay slips out and kicks Fale in the head before trying the Storm Breaker (Double Underhook Canadian Backbreaker Rack transitioned into a modified Corkscrew Neckbreaker) but Fale is just too big and Ospreay can’t manage to muscle him up. Ospreay hits a big back elbow smash instead however and then successfully hits the Os Cutter, only for Fale’s henchmen to pull out the ref. With ref down, Jado tries to cane Ospreay, but Ospreay disarms him, only to get hit with it by Owens and then dropped with a Package Piledriver. Fale makes the cover on an out cold Ospreay, which brings down another referee in Red Shoes Uno, who teases counting the pin but then decides to call for the DQ instead to give Ospreay the win.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY BY DISQUALIFICATION (4 PTS)
This was actually less of the Big Man Vs Smaller Man dynamic and much more a Cheating Heel and his allies Vs a lone heroic babyface narrative, and it actually worked quite well in that form, with Ospreay getting to look like the deserving winner after holding his own against three men. I’m glad they did the DQ finish as well, as it’s good to see the New Japan refs actually stand up to the wrestlers now and then and it lets you know that it could happen again if Fale overdoes it throughout the rest of the tournament. Not a classic or anything but there was nothing wrong with it either and I enjoyed the story it was telling.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 5
Zack Sabre Jr (2 pts) Vs EVIL (4 pts)
Zack beat Fale by count out at Korakuen Hall in a match I really enjoyed, whilst EVIL fought bravely before getting downed by KENTA in a solid bout. I wonder how EVIL gets that halberd to every show. I’m thinking it’s got to be pretty tricky to wedge that thing into a rental car, especially if SANADA, Naito, Shingo and BUSHI are already in it. Do they just lay it across everyone’s knees on the back seat with the spikey end sticking out of the side window?
Things are even to start, with neither man gaining a clear advantage in the opening technical battle. EVIL mows Zack down with a shoulder tackle and then works over Zack’s back and shoulders with a double surfboard stretch. Zack finally makes it out of the hold after a struggle and then twists EVIL’s neck with his legs. Zack now goes to work with his usual array of punishing holds, with each of them looking thoroughly unpleasant to be trapped in. Zack cinches in a cravat, but EVIL is able to body slam his way out of it and then counters a guillotine choke into a big suplex.
EVIL gets the running seated senton in the corner to Zack, and then targets Zack’s back with a pendulum back breaker. EVIL tries a Scorpion Deathlock, but Zack counters to a triangle, only for EVIL to powerbomb out of that and then go for the hold again. Zack once again scoots out of the hold and goes to his own version, but EVIL is too strong and is able to pull himself to the ropes. EVIL rolls outside and Zack follows, but this allows EVIL to cut him off and hit a one man Magic Killer outside, with the apron playing the role of SANADA. EVIL puts Zack back inside and hits a big clothesline in the corner, when he tries to super kick Zack, The Englishman turns it into a heel hook. Wasn’t that originally what Bret Hart wanted to do against Shawn Michaels in their WrestleMania 13 match that never ended up happening? I seem to recall hearing that, and I think they were going to go as far as having a loud “snapping” noise when the counter took place to show that Shawn had “broken” his ankle.
Anyway, EVIL uses raw power to counter the hold into a modified Scorpion Deathlock, which Zack sells big before dragging himself to the ropes. That’s a big deal for someone to force technical wizard Zack to have to use the ropes to get out of a hold. Zack takes EVIL down with a kick combo and then tries a PK, but EVIL blocks that and then floors Zack with a lariat. EVIL tries for Everything Is Evil (S.T.O) next, but Zack is able to slip out of it and counter to a roll up for two. The pinning holds go back and forth, with both men kicking out, and EVIL tries for a fisherman’s suplex type move, but Zack slips out and then floors EVIL with a big kick.
Zack follows up with a PK to the downed EVIL, but EVIL is able to kick out at two. Zack looks for the Zack Driver (Michinoku Driver) but EVIL gets out of it and then floors Zack with a head butt. EVIL tries a lariat next, but Zack counters to an Octopus Hold, only for EVIL to then power of that and hit Darkness Falls (Fireman’s carry into a sit out powerbomb) for two. EVIL goes for Everything Is EVIL, but Zack counters it to a roll up for two. EVIL gets it on the third attempt however, and that’s enough to get the winning pin.
WINNER: EVIL (6 PTS)
These two meshed really well and I enjoyed the story being told of EVIL using his power to overcome Zack’s superior technical wrestling prowess. This is a big win for EVIL that still keeps him in contention, although I don’t think he’ll be the one going all the way. Zack throws another tantrum post-match, as has been de rigeur for him following each loss in this G1.
G1 GLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 5
SANADA (2 pts) Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (4 pts)
SANADA actually holds a pin over Tanahashi earlier in the year during the New Japan Cup and also really needs to win here to have any real shot at winning this tournament. Tana lost his first two matches to Okada and KENTA, but wins over Zack and Archer have given him a chance to get back in contention, but he could do with winning this one as well, especially seeing as Okada and KENTA have tie-breaker wins over him.
SANADA has quite a lot of support here, perhaps even more so than Tanahash, which should lead to an interesting dynamic. We get some chain wrestling to start, with both men showing off their efficiency in that department and eventually coming to a stalemate. Each man throws a forearm strike and then both throw a kick at the same time, which leads to SANADA trying for the Paradise Lock. Tana kicks away at that at first, but SANADA puts him in it on the second attempt and then dropkicks Tana right in the bum for good measure. SANADA works Tana over, but The Ace won’t stay down and dodges a standing moonsault.
Tana gets a running forearm and then slams SANADA before heading up to the second rope for a somersault senton splash, which gets him a two count from the referee. SANADA puts his boot up in the corner a couple of times to stop Tana charging him, so Tana catches the boot and delivers the Dragon Screw. SANADA sees the Sling Blade coming however, and dropkicks Tana in the leg before delivering a Dragon Screw of his own. SANADA gets a springboard missile dropkick to send Tana outside the ring and then follows with a dive.
Tana fights back inside the ring however, which leads to both men trading strikes. SANADA goes for Skull End (Dragon Sleeper) but Tana bridges out of it and then delivers the Twist ‘N’ Shout (Swinging Neck breaker) and then holds onto the neck so that he can deliver another one. Tana tries a third, but SANADA fights that off and gets a one man Magic Killer, using the ropes instead of a tag team partner. Nice call back to the EVIL match there. SANADA looks for a TKO (Fireman’s carry into a cutter) but Tana slips out and goes to a Skull End of his own before turning into a neck breaker and then following with the Sling Blade. Tana heads up top for the High-Fly-Flow (Frogsplash) but SANADA moves out of the way and then goes for a moonsault, only for Tana to dodge that and leave both men down.
Tana gets up first, but can’t grab hold of SANADA and ends up in Skull End. SANADA swings Tana around whilst in the hold, but this allows Tana to counter it into a small package for two. Another pinning hold from Tana is countered into Skull End and SANADA is able to get the hooks in. Tana bridges over into his own Skull End, but SANADA flips it back over to his own. Tana is able to fight out of that and flips over into a sort of DDT and both men are down. Both men get back up and trade strikes, which ends with Tana getting a Dragon Suplex for two. Tana heads up top and comes down with a cross body block, before heading up top for the High-Fly-Flow, finally managing to hit it for the first time this tournament to pick up the win.
WINNER: HIROSHI TANAHASHI (6 PTS)
This match was very well worked and built gradually to a good finishing stretch, but it just didn’t really feel like it was in the ****+ bracket to me. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who thinks otherwise, but this wasn’t quite in that tier for me. The old “it felt like it was missing something” reviewer cliché springs to mind. I did enjoy this though and you always get something from Tanahashi, even if it isn’t a straight up classic every time out.
G1 GLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 5
KENTA (8 pts) Vs Kazuchika Okada (8 pts)
Both men are currently undefeated in this year’s G1 tournament, and you’d have to peg the winner of this one as the favourite not just to win A Block, but also possibly the favourite win the whole shebang. Part of me wants them to put KENTA over here, just because it will really throw a cat amongst the pigeons, but I could just as easily see this ending in a draw, as it would give everyone on 6 points an opening to get back into contention if both men drop points here.
Things are cagey to start, with both men looking more at applying simple holds rather than trying to do anything overly reckless. Eventually both men end up in the ropes and Okada gives KENTA a clean break, which KENTA accepts and doesn’t try any funny business. Of course, not soon after it’s time for KENTA to give a clean break, and he does but then adds a slap for good measure to show he isn’t going to put up with Okada’s crap. Both men trade strikes, which ends with KENTA kicking Okada and then hanging him over the second rope before delivering a double stomp.
KENTA takes the fight outside, where he drops from the apron with a stomp and then sends Okada into the ring post, before putting him back inside for a cover. Okada kicks out of that, so KENTA hits a neck breaker for two and then goes to a chin lock. KENTA transitions to a head scissors and seems to have things in control, but Okada is able to roll into the ropes to force a break. KENTA unloads with some stiff kicks to Okada’s chest, but Okada fires up and demands more, so KENTA looks like he’ll allow Okada to fight back, only to then take him down with a camel clutch. I really like how KENTA sometimes just openly refuses to adhere to the Japanese wrestling traditionally spots like that and just does his own thing without care for what people think.
KENTA actually mocks Okada’s Rainmaker pose, which fires Okada up again. Okada eventually manages to counter a front facelock into a suplex and then floors KENTA with a running back elbow. Okada delivers a DDT to KENTA, but it only gets him a two from the ref. KENTA hits a powerslam in reply and then tries a German Suplex, but Okada is able to fight that off. KENTA settles on DDT’ing Okada across the top rope and then coming off the top with a clothesline for two. KENTA goes to a triangle next, but Okada slips out and then delivers a flapjack for a double down. Both men trade strikes, which leads to KENTA slapping the back of Okada’s head. Okada responds in kind and this leads to a battle of forearms, which ends with Okada putting KENTA on the top rope and then dropkicking off to the floor.
Okada kicks KENTA over the railings outside the ring and then tries to DDT him back into ringside, but KENTA fights that off and then drapes Okada over the railing before coming off the apron with a big double stomp. Ooof, that didn’t look especially fun for anyone involved to be honest. KENTA is happy to take the count out following that, but Okada is able to drag himself back inside, only to find a springboard dropkick waiting for him, followed by a running dropkick in the corner. KENTA heads up top and goes for a double stomp, but Okada dodges that and then hits KENTA with a running front dropkick before giving KENTA a taste of his own medicine with his own dropkick in the corner. Okada slams KENTA and heads up top, but KENTA recovers before he can do what he has planned and then tries to bring him down with a superplex. Okada fights him off however and then comes off the top rope with an elbow drop. KENTA sees it coming however and counters the elbow drop into his main submission move known as Game Over (The LaBelle Lock).
Okada fights the hold and is eventually able to make the ropes and force a break. KENTA hits a knee to the back however and hits a running Busaiku Knee from the front, before adding another for two. KENTA flattens Okada with a big double stomp from the top, but it only gets two. That move just looks positively awful to take, as it just looks like KENTA murders people with it. Okada fights back like the Champ he is however and tries a Tombstone Piledriver, but KENTA powers out into a the Go To Sleep, but Okada blocks the knee part of the move and then hits a duo of dropkicks. Tombstone hits this time and Okada tries for the Rainmaker (Spinout Lariat) but KENTA dodges it and then hits a spinning lariat for a double down.
Both men fight up from their knees, as we get the 25 minute call from the ring announcer, meaning we have 5 left. It really does not feel like these two men have been wrestling that long, which is a testament to how good this has been. It really hasn’t felt like its dragged. Sweat flies as Okada throws forearms, but KENTA replies with big palm strikes and then locks in a sleeper. KENTA lets go and tries for a PK, but Okada sees it coming and dropkicks him. KENTA keeps coming however, but his Go To Sleep attempt is countered to a spinning Tombstone. Okada connects with the Rainmaker this time and that’s enough for the win.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (10 PTS)
I really enjoyed this and it was suitably epic. It didn’t feel like a match being made long for the sake of it but actually a match that went on for a long time because both men were high level competitors who required the time in order to solve the puzzle of the other man. This was KENTA’s first top tier match since coming back to New Japan for me (I know others have enjoyed his stuff more. I’ve not given him anything under ***1/4 I don’t think, but he’s not hit **** from me either yet). Okada winning was probably the dullest of the three possible endings on offer, but Okada is the Champ at the end of the day and you can never really complain when the Champ beats someone clean like that, as it only makes him and his Title seem more important and prestigious.
Okada offers a handshake post-match, and KENTA accepts.
So following that, the standings are as follows;
Kazuchika Okada is out in front with 10 points, whilst Kenta is in second place with 8 points. Hiroshi Tanahashi , EVIL and Kota Ibushi have 6 points, whilst Will Ospreay and Lance Archer have 4 points. And that leaves Bad Luck Fale, SANADA and Zack Sabre Jr in the rear view mirror with 2 points.
Another good day of G1 action, with every match bringing something different to the table and a great main event to close things out. See you all Sunday at some point for Night Ten (Internet connection willing)