Hey, it’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s G1 Climax, day eighteen! And we’re back at Sumo Hall for the second of three massive shows! Today is the final day for Block B, and there’s a complicated series of events that could result in a three-way tie for first place. Realistically, though, it’s between IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura – and, wouldn’t you know it, they meet in the main event!
But first the prelims! Deep joy for a fan of the youngsters first, as Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu team to take on reDRagon. Now I don’t mind Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish but that’s almost entirely down to Fish (an asskicker who used to use the wonderful name JERK JACKSON~!). Not surprisingly, it’s O’Reilly who is getting the singles push in ROH.
Komatsu and O’Reilly started out, trading strikes, before the Young Boys teamed to take out both gaijin. Tanaka & Komatsu made quick tags to keep the heat on O’Reilly but he came back at Komatsu and tagged out to Fish.
Komatsu took a whipping from both Americans but finally made the tag to Tanaka, who used his freshness to take down O’Reilly. He locked h in a Boston Crab and dared Fish to try and make him break by smacking him in the face. He broke in the third smack. But then Komatsu got Fish in a Crab and did the same trick to O’Reilly. Before O’Reilly’s repeated smacks could have an effect, Tanaka German suplexed him to the mat for a nearfall. Good spot.
reDRagon made a comeback on Tanaka, and almost got a nearfall with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker/diving knee drop combination off the top, but Komatsu broke it up. Then, pretty much ignoring the rules on only one man in the ring at a time, they hit more MOVEZ~! and finished Tanaka off with Chasing The Dragon.
After the match, The Young Bucks ran in and took out Tanaka & Komatsu. Fellow Young Boys Jay White & David Finlay ran in to make the save, but they got taken out, too, and then it turned into a match – White & Finlay versus Matt & Nick Jackson!
The Bucks got the heat on Finlay early doors, acting like dicks in their 1970s wallpaper tights. Finlay fought back with uppercuts but it was brief and he took a heinous bump off the top. The Bucks both missed charges into the corner and Finlay was able to make the tag to White, who ran slightly wild. This is an odd clash – the pro-wrestling 101 of the Young Boys versus the business-exposing fuckery of the Young Bucks.
White got Boston Crabs on both Bucks but ate the first superkick of the match, and then fell to the Meltzer Driver for the Bullet Club win. Then, to complete the circle, reDRagon ran in to prevent the Bucks beating on White & Finlay. reDRagon and the Young Bucks fight on day nineteen. That was two decent openers, and something a bit fresh.
The Kingdom, led out by super hot Maria Kanelis, were out next. Matt Taven & Michael Bennett were out to face the Chaos team of YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba, which is two on three, unless Kanelis is going to fight? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and The Kingdom we’re teaming with Chaos against the Bullet Club. They came out en masse, with AJ Styles leading Cody Hall, Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga. Ten-man action!
The Bullet Club steamed into their opponents before the bell and we got a rudo breakdown on the outside and Bad Luck Fale versus Toru Yano in the ring. This was the match-up we were “robbed” of on day seventeen by a sweet, sweet count-out and thankfully it was short here, too.
The Bullet Club kept the heat on Yano – really, I could watch him getting beaten all night – with quick tags and lots of slamming, and another rudo breakdown broke out on the outside. Maria got up on the apron to distract Tama Tonga with her slutitude and he fell for it, allowing The Kingdom to take him down. They worked some silly double-team moves – fucking ROH – before Gallows and Fale broke it up and tags were made.
That brought Styles and Sakuraba into play and Styles fought the former PRIDE man at his own game by locking on a Calf Killer, which Saku reversed into a cross armbar. Gallows broke it up. They both tagged out and Cody Hall took out YOSHI-HASHI. Loonpants came back but Tama Tonga ran in and took him down. Yano pulled Tonga out if the ring, and Bennett set Hall up for YOSHI-HASHI’s senton off the top with a neckbreaker. YOSHI-HASHI hit the senton for the win to end a chaotic, but not unenjoyable match.
The final match before the interval was the odd, odd team of Tetsuya Naito, Ricochet, Kota Ibushi, Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan versus KUSHIDA, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata, who at least are all Japanese babyfaces. I think. What a weird match.
KUSHIDA wanted Ricochet to start the match with him, and got his desire. These two fight for KUSHIDA’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight title on day nineteen. They started out quick, to a stalemate, and tagged in Ibushi, who briefly resumed his battle with Makabe from yesterday’s show, before settling into a kick battel with Shibata.
Ibushi took Shibata to the ropes, where they did the respectful release deal, but Naito smacked Shibata from behind. He did it again when Shibata went into the ropes and then dropped off the apron to avoid reprisals.
Tenzan and Nakanishi came in and slowed things down, the plodders. Nakanishi made things marginally better by tagging out to Captain New Japan, who did the best thing possible by tagging out himself, this time to Ibushi.
Ibushi started quick on Tenzan but Tenzan fired back and took him down. He brought in Makabe, who did the ten punch deal and really you could probably write this review yourself. Makabe controlled Ibushi until the youngster hit kicks and flips for a nearfall, and they went back and forth – speed against strength – until Tanahashi and Captain New Japan came in.
The Captain actually got the upper hand on Tanahashi and it all broke down, with KUSHIDA and Ricochet doing a bit even though neither was legal. Various others also fought and it got back to Tanahashi hitting a Slingblade and High Fly Flow on the Captain for the win. Naito didn’t even get tagged in. He did, however, get the shit kicked out of him on the outside by Shibata, to the DELIGHT of the crowd. I guess that’ll pay off somewhere. Good house show main event, that.
That took us into the interval, where some dudes re-capped the show in that Japanese language I don’t speak, before the G1 tournament resumed with Yujiro Takahashi – and his stripper Mao – versus Tomoaki Honma. Takahashi really enjoyed the stripper’s dance and who among us could blame him? Honma was FRESH off a tournament win against Tomohiro Ishii and looking to finish 2-7 in the G1. Hey, a man can dream!
Takahashi got his bites in early and stomped his dominance over the permatanned everyman. Honma came back with a slam and missed his falling headbutt because Honma. That let Takahashi back in, and he put the heat back on as Mao watched from ringside.
Honma stopped the rot and they had a chop battel, which Honma won, and then Honma missed another falling headbutt. Oh Honma! But Honma DID hit his stalling suplex deal, which popped the crowd, and the bulldog and falling headbutt which connected! He got a nearfall with a snapneck and then took over.
It didn’t last long, though, and Takahashi got a nearfall with a belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope, and then looked for Tokyo Pimps to finish it. Honma fought back, blocking it, and they both went down. Takahashi was up fast, kicking Honma in the face, but Honma shrugged it off and they traded, ending in a headbutt to the back and a nearfall with a brainbuster by Honma.
Honma went up top and missed a falling headbutt for a double down. Honma was up first and picked Takahashi up, but the heel raked the eyes and avoided a flying headbutt for a nearfall with a fisherman’s buster. They blocked each other’s lariats and Honma hit a diving headbutt, and set up a piledriver, but Takahashi shoved Honma off and almost into the ref. While Homma was making sure he didn’t clatter the referee, Takahashi hit a low blow and then Tokyo Pimps for the win. Poor, honourable Honma. An okay match, though.
Michael Elgin, who the fans have really taken to since his debut EIGHTEEN shows ago, took on Tomohiro Ishii next, in a battle of the short, stocky fellas. My kind of fight, this – make it brutal, lads.
They steamed into each other from the off, like Hogan and The Giant in monster trucks, Elgin knocking Ishii down and Ishii knocking Elgin down. Elgin knocked Ishii down again and then hit his herking, stalling suplex, and the commentator screamed UNBUHREEVABUH! in Engrish.
Elgin stayed on top, and even hit a slingshot splash from the apron for a nearfall, winning a forearm battel which Ishii looked like he regretted getting into. With giving Honma the win in day sixteen and making Elgin look like a MONSTER here, is there any better team player in New Japan than Ishii?
Elgin hit a German suplex into the turnbuckles and a twisting senton from the top, but still couldn’t put Ishii away, because a goblin can take a lot of damage, I guess. They fought over a piledriver and Ishii backdropped Elgin to the mat for the first time since the opening minute and then followed up with a brainbuster. Forearms in the corner and a powerslam later, and Ishii got a nearfall.
Ishii hit a stalling suplex of his own before they traded lariats and Elgin hit a swinging side slam. Elgin went after Ishii with forearms but Ishii started no-selling them and hit back with headbutts. Then Elgin started no-selling Ishii’s forearms and took the Stone Pitbull down with a massive forearm of his own.
Elgin hit rolling German suplexes, with Ishii temporarily blocking a third before Elgin finally hit it for a nearfall. They went out to the apron, where Ishii blocked a piledriver but Elgin was able to hit a Death Valley Driver and then hit a HUGE powerbomb into the barriers on the outside. These guys are KILLING each other! Well, it’s mostly Elgin killing Ishii, but still!
Elgin dragged Ishii back to the ring and hit his inside-out herking suplex off the middle rope, turning into a driver for a very, very nearfall. Frustrated, Elgin threw Ishii into the turnbuckle with a Buckle Bomb and went for the Elgin Bomb, but Ishii reversed it into a Backdrop Driver for the double down.
Elgin was up first but Ishii hit a flurry of forearms. Elgin came back with a spinning backfist which took both down again but Ishii was up and took Elgin up top for a superplex. Elgin roared up but Ishii knocked him down again, though he couldn’t put him away with Sliding D. They went back and forth some more, and Ishii took Elgin down with a heartbutt, but again couldn’t put him away with a huge lariat. A follow-up with a brainbuster, though, was enough for the pin to end a fucking great HOSS match. Good work, fellas.
After that WAR, you’ve got wonder if Yuji Nagata and Hirooki Goto can match up to it in any way, but I thought the same a few shows ago and Nagata came up with the goods then. So this, in my shorthand dismissive parlance, is the battle of pudgy face versus funny shorts. They’re worth more than that, of course, but it’s been a long tournament, even with a two-week break between reviewing these last three shows.
They started slow, all matwork and holds, and Nagata actually looked annoyed when Goto tried to kick him. That annoyance continued into the striking portion of the start, and Goto took a fall to the mat from Nagata’s kicks. He caught one, though, and hit back with a kick of his own, to Nagata’s ribs, and old pudgy face rolled outside for a break.
Goto followed him out and ran him into the barriers, then threw him back inside, Nagata clutching his ouchy ribs all the time. He should get them seen to but I bet he’ll be on tomorrow’s show. They stood up for a forearm battel, and Goto got the better of it – generally, this was Goto’s match for the taking.
He kept the heat on Nagata’s ribs, with kicks and other assorted ouchiness, but Nagata roared back and dared him to do more, which he did. Nagata’s pudgy face took on a Popeye-like quality at this point, and maybe he had his spinach as he made a comeback with a kick and a kneelift before going down to one knee with the strain of the ouch.
Still, Nagata is nothing if not stupid tough, and he came back at Goto some more, laying in kicks and taking funny shorts down to the mat. Goto escaped a suplex and they traded shots before Goto hit a lariat to take Nagata down again.
From there, Goto hit a spinning kick into the corner and a bulldog for a nearfall, and lifted him up for Ushigoroshi but Nagata wriggled out and tried to apply an armbar. Goto fought that off and they traded again, and Nagata hit an Exploder into the turnbuckles. He followed up with a knee to the face but Goto came back with a desperation side suplex for the double down.
After the reset, Goto hit another lariat for another nearfall, and then Ushigoroshi for one more, Nagata kicking out right at the last minute. Nagata blocked a suplex and Goto hit a headbutt, which dropped Nagata at his feet. He picked him back up but Nagata transitioned through into the Shirome armbar, which actually won a match on yesterday’s show!
It didn’t this time, however, as Goto made the ropes to force the break, though he was in it for an age. Nagata stood up and laid in some heavy kicks and they went back and forth before Nabata hit an Exploder for a nearfall. Up and roaring, Nagata went for another suplex but Goto escaped and kicked the ribs.
They traded forearms, the crowd cheering each one, and then Goto blocked a kick. He picked Nagata up, ate a forearm, and then the kick he blocked before, and Nagata hit an Exploder for the win, which felt like an upset. Not a great match. Just a match, I guess.
The penutilmate match of the entire round-robin tournament phase had Karl Anderson – still in with an unlikely mathematical chance of winning the thing – out to take on Satoshi Kojima. He had Tama Tonga and Doc Gallows with him, and maybe if Styles had come mobbed up last night he might have beaten Tanahashi…
Anderson exploded at the bell, hitting a knee to the face and trying for a Stun Gun form the off. Kojima blocked it and shoved him off into the ropes, taking Anderson down with a shoulderblock. Crikey! Kojima wobbled his pecs while Anderson took a break on the outside.
Anderson yanked Kojima out of the ring and they brawled at ringside. Kojima threw him back in but got Stun Gunned over the top rope. While he was still on the apron, Anderson dropkicked him to the floor and Red Shoes warned the Bullet Club to stay away from Kojima. That didn’t last long, as Anderson distracted the, frankly shit, referee while Gallows and Tonga went to work. Kojima made it back in on eighteen.
Anderson kept the heat on, using the ropes to work over Kojima’s arm, and going to town with stomps and kicks to set up his finisher, which – erm – works the neck. Still, he must have had a plan, and he fetched a chair from outside. He threw it into the ring and Red Shoes acted like it was covered in AIDS. Anderson, however, just sat on it, taunting Kojima.
Red Shoes got rid of the chair while Anderson continued his attack. The crowd chanted for Kojima and I guess there really aren’t any cool fans for the watered down nWo. Kojima blocked a brainbuster but Anderson continued to attack, at least until he charged into the corner and Kojima moved. Kojima took over, hitting his tiny chops and his shitty elbow drop, for a nearfall.
After the reset, they traded chops in the middle of the ring, and Kojima moved onto forearms, until Anderson hit an uppercut to put Kojima in the corner. A loose running powerbomb only got a nearfall for Anderson, so he took Kojima out onto the apron and forearmed him in the face. Kojima hit back with a forearm of his own and then hit a Koji Cutter which dropped both men to the floor.
They stood up and fought out on the floor as Red Shoes counted, realising they were going to be counted out, they both dived in on nineteen. Back in, they fought some more, and Anderson kinda botched a neckbreaker for a nearfall. Then he went up top and botched a Stun Gun for another. I think the botches were down to Kojima’s sweaty hair, so you can’t really blame him.
Anderson stood up and set-up the big Stun Gun finish but Kojima shoved him off and hit a Koji Cutter. Kojima stood up and threw away his elbow pad, but Anderson blocked the lariat. Kojima threw it with the other arm, anyway, for a nearfall. Feeling it, Kojima went for another but Anderson ducked it and went for the Stun Gun. Kojima shoved him off again and hit a lariat to the back of Anderson’s head, and the Bullet Club man went down. When he got back up, Kojima hit another lariat and made the cover for the win. That put paid to Anderson’s hopes of winning Block B and ended a so-so match.
Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Shinsuke Nakamura versus IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada, and the winner goes into tomorrow’s final to face Hiroshi Tanahashi! They both came out in their big match outfits, really setting the scene for the occasion. More folks should do that.
They stayed in their corners long after the bell, neither wanting to tip their hat first. Nakamura made his way into the centre of the ring first, waiting for Okada to join him, and they circled before tentatively touching and retreating back to the corners. You could almost cut the atmosphere.
The feeling-out continued in the middle of the ring, with neither man able to get a solid hold during some exploratory matwork, and they stood up again. Nakamura took a wristlock and Okada reversed it, and Nakamura reversed it again, and they made the most basic exchange look a million dollars.
Okada took Nakamura to the ropes and did the respect break, before retreating to the centre of the ring and doing the Rainmaker pose. Nakamura walked out, smiling an evil smile and then EXPLODED into action, smacking a forearm into Okada’s chest and going to whip him across the ring. Okada reversed it, went for a dropkick but Nakamura held onto the ropes. Nakamura missed a sliding knee, Okada missed a Rainmaker, and they both nodded from across the ring. It’s on now.
Nakamura took it back to the mat, manipulating Okada until the champion made the ropes for a break and slipped outside. Nakamura followed him out and Okada ran him into the barriers and dropkicked him over into the crowd. He hit a draping DDT off the barriers and that always makes me wonder who came up with that first, Okada or Orton, because they’ve got such similar body shapes.
Okada went back into the ring and Nakamura took a good portion of the count to reset himself, but Okada was waiting for him when he got back in and hit a neckbreaker for a nearfall. Okada locked on a straitjacket, taking the full five count when Nakamura made the ropes, and it’s that time again when you realise that both these men are actually heels.
Okada kept the heat on in the corner, and even did the vibrating leg thingy, which popped the crowd – and Gedo. Nakamura tried to fight back but Okada hit his slingshot senton and a low dropkick, which put Nakamura out on the apron. Okada went to pick him up but Nakamura kicked him in the head and dragged him outside, draping him over the barrier and hitting a running kneelift.
Nakamura ran back into the ring, leaving Okada outside where Red Shoes checked he was still alive. Okada made it back in on ten and now it was Nakamura going on the attack, putting him in the corner and hitting the vibrating leg thingy. He dragged Okada to the centre of the ring, laid in the Stereo Mike knees, and then sauntered off to the corner.
He ran back in with a flying kick and picked Okada up for a suplex. Okada shoved him off but Nakamura hit back with some knees and ran back in. Okada hit a flapjack and then a corner splash, before a DDT and a rising uppercut got a nearfall. Move, move, move, type, type, type.
Okada went up for his elbow drop but Nakamura avoided it and put Okada across the top rope, hitting his knees in the corner. They traded blows and Okada hit Heavy Rain and then got a nearfall with a brainbuster. Okay, this is my match of the year so far.
Okada went for the Tombstone piledriver but Nakamura escaped and hit a spinning kick and a lungblower, before hitting his overhead belly-to-back suplex and setting up Boma A Ye. Okada dodged but Nakamura hit a knee off the top. He made a cover but Okada kicked out!
Nakamura set up Boma A ye again but Okada reversed it into a drop toehold and a Majistral Cradle for a nearfall, then put Nakamura up top and hit a HUGE dropkick to send his foe crashing to the floor.
Okada lay on the mat while Nakamura lay outside. Red Shoes started his count but Okada slowly rolled outside after Nakamura and hit a Tombstone on the floor. Red Shoes checked on both men and then started counting them out. Okada made it back in on four but Nakamura stayed down until seventeen. Okada, obviously not wanting to win that way, rolled out, broke the count, and threw his opponent back in the ring.
Okada went up top and hit his beautiful elbow drop and then called for the Rainmaker. He picked Nakamura up but Nakamura blocked the move with a high kick and then rolled through a backslide into a high knee which saw them both go down. Christ.
Gedo beat on the apron, urging Okada up, and they both got to their feet. Nakamura struck the first blow but Okada hit back, and they traded forearms in the middle of the ring, each one hitting as hard as their energy bars allowed. Okada hit some huge uppercuts but Nakamura came back with an axe kick and Bom A Ye but Okada kicked out!
Nakamura picked Okada up and hit a Samoan driver but Okada kicked out again. Nakamura retreated to the corner once more, signalled for Bom A Ye and ran in but Okada popped up and hit that dropkick for another double down, the announcers screaming at the spectacle of it all.
Okada was up first and went for the Rainmaker but Nakamura blocked it and rolled through another backslide. Okada clotheslined him to the mat and blocked a knee, and hit a German suplex. Nakamura popped right up and transitioned it into an amrbar but Okada turned that into a Tombstone and signalled for the Rainmaker again. Nakamura rolled with the Rainmaker and into a cross armbreaker, which Okada fought, but Nakamura turned it into a gogolpata and Okada tapped. Nakamura wins! And goes through to the G1 finals! What a match!
This was a Good Show, although not as good as day seventeen. The main event, though, slightly eclipsed even Tanahashi versus Styles, and I can’t wait to see what Tanahashi and Nakamura deliver in the finals. That’s for tomorrow, though!
Block A Final Standings: Nakamura 7-1, Okada 7-1, Anderson 6-3, Goto 6-3, Ishii 5-4, Elgin 4-5, Kojima 3-6, Nagata 3-6, Takahashi 3-6