Let’s pick things up with A Block again
You can read Rick’s review of the first night of B Block by clicking right HERE
The event is emanating from Hokkaido
There’s still no English commentary yet sadly. I actually like the Japanese commentary but I can’t understand a chuffing word of it, which makes it hard to follow storylines sometimes.
Gabriel Kidd Vs Yuya Uemura
We continue with giving the Young Lions the opening slot this year, with an LA Dojo Vs New Japan Dojo bout. They work holds and it’s perfectly cromulent, with New Japan not letting the younger lads to get in there unless they can handle the basics at the very least, and due to the high level of competency in their Dojo’s that often means most of them are “show ready” at the very least, even if they aren’t amazing.
Kidd is actually allowed to have knee pads here, which Young Lions sometimes don’t have, with Uemura sporting the more traditional look of black trunks and boots. I’m guessing Kidd was given special dispensation, possibly due to having knee issues or whatnot? There’s not really loads to say about this, as its two younger wrestlers working a solid match, where everything looks fine but there’s little in the way of flashy stuff by design. It’s enjoyable enough to watch, but these matches have a ceiling, deliberately so, so there’s not much really to say. Both look good and Kidd ends up showing some fire and getting a very nice double underhook suplex for the three count.
WINNER: GABRIEL KIDD
Good Young Lions bout, as the work looked good and Kidd in particular got a chance to show a little bit of personality
Kidd even acts a bit heelish at the end, by throwing some of his sweat on Uemura, which doesn’t strike as a very COVID sound action to be honest
G1 Climax A Block – Round Two
Jeff Cobb (0) Vs Shingo Takagi (0)
Shingo lost to Jay White in Round One after a really good outing from both men. Cobb also lost to Taichi, in a decent match that I liked less than others due to some spotty selling from Cobb.
Both of these wrestlers are stocky lads, with Shingo preferring strikes whilst Cobb generally prefers to suplex and throw, although he can mix it if need requires. They waste no time going straight to the slug fest, which Shingo looks to get the better of until Cobb catches him with a nice dropkick. I do like Cobb and think his work is generally good, but I just don’t think he’s ever been as good playing himself as he was playing The Monster Matanza in Lucha Underground. He does seem to be coming more out of his shell when wrestling as himself though, and his offence looks good here, as he flings Shingo around with ease and gets some nice impact strikes as well.
Shingo has to do quite a bit of selling, and it’s a skill he’s under rated at I think, as he’s very good at showing he’s in pain without overdoing it. Shingo eventually fights back and the crowd is into it, clapping along as a replacement for cheering due to the pandemic restrictions, because unlike us in England the Japanese actually follow the rules and that’s why they’re allowed to go and watch wrestling again whilst I probably won’t step foot inside Goodison Park again until 2021 at the earliest.
Cobb and Shingo trade suplexes at one stage, as they are starting to wear the other down, and then head butt one another from their knees like they’re Junkyard Dog. This has had some good intensity and the offence has been on point from both men. They’ve delivered on the promise that two guys with these ring styles should provide, and it’s had good energy throughout. Cobb goes to the gut wrench suplexes and then just about manages a powerbomb for two, although he almost lost Shingo at one stage.
Both men look to be sweating quite a bit, so it’s not surprising that getting a good grip is proving more difficult. Shingo responds with the Bryan Danielson elbows and then gets his Made in Japan pumphandle styled windmill powerbomb for two. Cobb had a great facial expression there before Shingo was able to flip him over to complete the move. Both these men are very strong! Cobb keeps coming following that and gets an awesome snap German Suplex before following up with his Tour of the Islands power slam styled move for the three count.
WINNER: JEFF COBB (2)
Good darn match there, with it just slightly below being great for me, but neither man needs be ashamed. That was a strong effort from both of them
G1 Climax A Block – Round Two
Kazuchika Okada (0) Vs Yujiro Takahashi (0)
Yujiro lost to Will Ospreay in the first round of fixtures in a bout that was “just a match” really. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t especially good either. Okada lost to Kota Ibushi in the Main Event of Round One in an awesome match and he was feuding with Yujiro for a bit once the company started up again following the pandemic caused break, so this one should have a bit more spice than usual and that might hopefully lead to Yujiro coming out of his shell and working extra hard to have a good match.
I am at least intrigued to see a match featuring Yujiro though, which is probably the first time since he joined CHAOS and feuded with Naito following the split of their team. If Okada can’t get a hot match out of him then I’m not sure who can. We actually head outside pretty quickly, where Yujiro gets a neck breaker and then runs down the aisle with a Shining Wizard, which leads to the count out tease. Okada gets in at 14 though, so it’s not like they especially milked it. Yujiro controls things in-ring for a bit following that, with his offence looking okay but it also feels like he’s moving a step slower than he should be a lot of the time.
There’s just no snap to what Yujiro does. I don’t know if that’s because he’s physically shot or because he just isn’t that bothered, but he doesn’t have the charisma to compensate and thus far he isn’t really making the most of this opportunity to finally break out of the pack, instead working two long chin locks on Okada until it’s time for him to fight back. Okada’s back seems to be taped actually, but Yujiro has barely gone after it despite the big bullseye being there, instead going after the head and neck.
Okada does try and pick things up a bit by DDT’ing Yujiro and then following him out with a body press, which the crowd appreciates, before putting Yujiro back inside for an attempted neck breaker, but Yujiro fights him off and gets a Fisherman Buster for two. That looked nice at least. Okada responds with a dropkick, Tombstone and then goes to his new Cobra Clutch hold, but not even Yujiro is low enough on the totem pole to submit to that and bites his way out before getting an Olympic Slam for a double down.
They do a slow motion finishing stretch due to Yujiro not being capable of keeping up with Okada, thus causing Okada to have to work a step slower than usual, and Yujiro does get a near fall off a modified TKO before getting a decent clothesline and going for a powerbomb move of some kind. Okada slips out of that, but misses a dropkick and Yujiro looks to have it won with a DDT, only for Okada to fight that off and go back to his Cobra Clutch hold, which finally bares fruit when Yujiro taps out.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (2)
Two star-ish looks to be about Yujiro’s ceiling, as he’s now worked with arguably the two best in-ring workers of the tournament and hasn’t really threatened to get into the three star range. This was structured in a way that meant it probably could have been a better match, but Yujiro just didn’t have it in him and Okada was visibly going slower in order to accommodate him. Not a bad match, but I’m disappointed that Yujiro didn’t really take his chance here
G1 Climax A Block – Round Two
Taichi (2) Vs Minoru Suzuki (2)
Taichi defeated Cobb in the previous round whilst Suzuki defeated Tomohiro Ishii in a match I really enjoyed but seemed to have a tad lower star rating wise compared to everyone else. It didn’t quite hit four star range for me, but it was still a great fight and featured some good fighting spirit from both men. Taichi and Suzuki are of course stablemates in Suzuki-gun, with Taichi being the most annoying guy in the group, so Suzuki having a chance to give him a good hiding is a real selling point here.
Suzuki goes right for Taichi’s throat to start, and Taichi returns the favour witn a choke of his own, proving that there really isn’t honour amongst thieves. Both men go on to have a Balls Mahoney like chair duel, which Taichi actually wins, but Suzuki cuts him off before he can deliver the chair shot. I should point out that the ref got bumped in the opening exchange, which is why these two are being able to get away with this. We head outside, where Suzuki controls things and makes Taichi pay for not pulling the trigger quick enough by hitting him with another chair and then choking him with it.
Suzuki being perfectly happy to try and annihilate a fellow stable member is just hilarious to me for some reason. He really doesn’t care and nobody is safe, even his allies. I must say, the ref has been down for a LONG time here and probably needs some form of urgent medical attention. He finally drags himself up once both men get back inside the ring, only for Suzuki to shove him down again, which allows Taichi to catch him with a shot from his mic stand. We head out again following that, as this has been a pretty good intense brawl, where Taichi chokes Suzuki with a camera cable. Suzuki sold that great, on just the ride side of OTT without being too cartoony.
What I love about G1 is that we’ve had three matches in this round so far and each one has been different. Shingo/Cobb was two lads trading strikes and suplexes, Okada/Yujiro was your standard Face Vs Heel seven point structure match, and then this one has been two despicable heels trying to out fight one another. It really helps keep things fresh up and down the card. Both men finally het back inside and the referee recovers to see both of them trading strikes and talking trash, which ends with Suzuki punching Taichi down and getting a wild look in his eyes.
He doesn’t follow up though, and seemingly waits for Taichi to recover so that Taichi can show him what he’s got, which is such a Suzuki thing to do and I love it! Taichi uses the chance to fight back with an enziguri, which leads to a double down; with Suzuki grinning as he pulls himself to his feet as Taichi has shown him something by fighting back. Taichi even manages to counter a sleeper attempt into a Saito Suplex and fires up, only to get caught in the sleeper on a second attempt from Suzuki, which leads to an attempt at the Gotch Piledriver. Taichi manages to fight that off though and hits Black Mephisto (Air Raid Crash) for what has to be the upset three count!
WINNER: TAICHI (4)
I was NOT expecting that finish! This delivered what you’d want from a Heel Vs Heel brawl and the finish bumps it up a little for me, as it was done well and I really didn’t see it coming.
G1 Climax A Block – Round Two
Tomohiro Ishii (0) Vs Will Ospreay (2)
Ospreay defeated Yujiro opening night whilst Ishii had a great brawl with Suzuki. Both these guys are part of the CHAOS Faction, with Ospreay now doing more a cocky gimmick so I’m guessing he’ll be playing heel whilst Ishii plays grumpy hard hitting face. Hopefully Ishii sticks a few extra stiff ones on Ospreay for good measure.
Ospreay is a cocky goof in the early going wanting a handshake, but Ishii is all business and isn’t interested. Ishii busts out the chops to the throat at one stage, which is how you know he isn’t playing around in a big match, and he controls things for a bit, with Ospreay selling well and Ishii’s stuff looking good. In a great bit, Ospreay tries forearming Ishii back, but Ishii doesn’t even budge, so he goes to the belly welly instead, which Ishii actually sells. Maybe that’s the secret to Ishii’s powers? Rub his tummy like he’s a lucky Buddha and all your wishes will come true?
Ospreay gets a handspring flipping kick following that and then controls things for a bit, still working the cocky gimmick by doing mocking kicks and getting in Ishii’s face whilst he’s slumped in the corner. Ishii of course fights back, because he’s The Stone Pittbull and if you have him down then you chuffing hit him properly or pay the price, but Ospreay is able to reply by dropkicking him to the outside and then following up with a Space Flying Tiger Drop attempt. Ishii is able to dodge that, but Ospreay lands on his feet and then leaps off the railing with an Os Cutter (Diamond Cutter) for the count out tease.
Ishii manages to get back in at 19, but he’s clearly on the defensive as a result, selling it really well. People rightly swoon over Ishii’s awesome strikes, but is selling game is a big part of why he’s such a good wrestler. He’s an expert at fighting from underneath, to the point he’s almost made it an art form. Both men do a really good fast paced counter sequence, that Ospreay wins with a kick and tries to follow up on with the Os Cutter, but Ishii dodges it and then WALLOPS Ospreay with a stiff elbow strike. You could hear the thud on that one.
That leads into the finishing stretch, with both men getting near falls and the crowd clapping along. Ishii actually gets to kick out of the Os Cutter at one stage, in a spot that I genuinely thought was the finish as he waited till possibly the very last moment to kick out at 2.99. Ishii tries to reply with a lariat, but Ospreay back flips out to counter it and gets a sit out powerbomb for two before going for the Storm Breaker. Ishii fights that off and turns Ospreay inside out with a lariat for two. They’ve built this one well and the offence has really been on point.
Ospreay flips out of a brain buster into a Stunner and then gets a reverse rana before following up with a Roaring Elbow and a terrifying looking piledriver for two. Ishii looked like he got spiked there. Ospreay keeps coming though with a running back elbow strike and the Storm Breaker finally ends it.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY (4)
Tomohiro Ishii is just fantastic and it hurts my heart that he will never be IWGP Heavyweight Champion, because if anyone deserved the top belt based purely on wrestling ability alone then it would be him, but it’s about the whole package sadly and that’s why he’ll never have it
G1 Climax A Block – Round Two
Jay White (2) w/ Gedo Vs Kota Ibushi (2)
Jay White defeated Shingo in the previous round due to his usual heel shenanigans, whilst Ibushi defeated Okada in an excellent bout. This is a rematch of last year’s Final, which I went the Full Monty on if I recall correctly, so they’ve got quite a bit to live up to this time out. Ibushi is actually my pick to win it all, but it wouldn’t shock me to return the favour to White and then picking up the required points elsewhere in the Block.
White of course stalls right from the bell and mocks the crowd because they aren’t allowed to chant for Ibushi, which is a great bit of snide heel behaviour. Ibushi isn’t impressed by that though and dives out onto White before leading the crowd in a clap in time with the syllables in his name. That entire spot was fantastic, as it made use of the chanting restrictions as a way to actually add to the match. White replies by going after Ibushi’s leg, possibly in order to weaken it for his leg based submission hold.
Ibushi sells it well, with White doing his usual good job of being a dislikeable jerk that you want to see get clobbered. In a great bit, White waits for Ibushi to pull himself to his feet, only to immediately kick his leg out from under his leg like the biggest weapon on the face of the Earth. This man is taking working as a heel to lengths barely anyone else will anymore, and it’s brilliant. Ibushi consistently sells the leg too, which really helps the story they are telling and actually makes the heat mean more than just being the delineated section of the match where the heel controls things for a bit just because.
Ibushi does eventually start making a bit of a comeback and tries to get a Tombstone, but White punches at the leg from the Tombstone position and the already unsteady Ibushi has to put him down, which is great stuff. Gedo gets involved also, stopping an Ibushi suplex, and that allows White to give him the Dragon Screw to put a stop to another possible comeback. White really has taken the majority of the match here, but Ibushi does eventually manage to fire up with the Tombstone on a second attempt before collapsing, as White was hitting him in the leg throughout.
White keeps hitting and punching the leg, which sends Ibushi into his angry place, where his face goes blank and he unloads with his hardest strikes, which allows him to momentarily shrug the attacks off, ala how Kobashi would lariat people with his injured arm because he was fighting through the pain even though it was clearly still hurting. White does manage to go after the leg again though and goes to his leg submission hold, which is a bit like a modified Figure Four. Ibushi sells that one big and teases tapping out before dragging himself to the rope in a fantastic submission tease.
Sometimes those teases are as good as near falls if done properly, and that one certainly was. Ibushi does the old no sell of a half nelson suplex though and then gets a running knee and a sit out powerbomb for two, with White doing the old Inoki kick out of barely raising his shoulder at the last moment. That leads to White throwing some forearm strikes, but Ibushi doesn’t even register them and floors White with one of his own, which leads to Gedo doing a great distraction spot of teasing throwing in the towel, which allows White to go low whilst both the ref and Ibushi are distracted. That was absolutely fantastic, as there isn’t a low these two won’t stoop to in order to win. Ibushi manages to survive that and kicks Gedo, but White catches him with the Blade Runner out of nowhere for the three count.
WINNER: JAY WHITE (4)
Man that match needed a crowd that could cheer, shout and boo massively, because they would have been going nuts for almost all of it and that finish really didn’t work as well as it would of if they could have been screaming and booing at the heel antics. As a match, it was fantastic, with consistent selling from Ibushi and the White/Gedo tandem doing every despicable thing they could think of in order to try and snatch a win. I fully expect Ibushi to bounce back from this whilst White comes unstuck against someone unlikely such as Yujiro or something, because it’s the most G1 thing that could happen.
Jay White does the closing speech and can barely speak due to how tired he is.
So after Night Two, we have Jay White, Taichi, and Will Ospreay on 4 points, whilst Okada, Ibushi, Suzuki and Cobb have 2 points, leaving Ishii, Yujiro and Shingo all on zero points
Another great night of wrestling, with Jay White threatening to be the A Block MVP so far. See you all on Sunday for Night Three of the A Block and make sure to check out Rick’s review of Night Two of B Block tomorrow