Disclaimer: This recap, as well as following recaps for the G1 Climax, were written on a one-day delay to allow fans in other countries to catch up with the G1 Climax shows as a whole.
Hello and welcome back, my fellow readers! We’ve officially kicked off NJPW’s G1 Climax in a very big way, as both blocks have officially started off their first-round matches! We’ve already witnessed some of the most fast-paced and daunting matches within the first two nights already. We’ve also witnessed some expected victories and some surprising shock victories as well! If you need to catch up with all the action, I’ve got you covered with recaps for each day that has occurred, covering every match from start to finish! That being said, after a momentous showcase by the B-Block, it’s time to return back to the A-Block, as we ready ourselves for Round 2 (Day 3) of the G1 Climax with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero and Japanese Commentary provided by Shinji Yoshino, Soichi Shibata and Kazuo Yamazaki!
We’ve got the same video reel that happened in Day 1’s show, nothing has changed here so I won’t waste your time by recapping it. This time around, we’re brought over to the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Hokkai Kitayell in Hokkaido, where Toa Henare and ‘Young Lion’ Shota Umino are making their entrances. Coincidentally, we don’t have Don Callis on commentary this time around but no worries, since you’ve reading this recap! If you happen to hear their voices while reading this, however, I have concerns and several questions.
Match 1: Toa Henare and Shota Umino vs. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa
‘Young Lion’ Shota Umino has another opportunity to gain some valuable experience once again, this time teaming with Toa Henare. However, both of them find themselves facing off against the extremely-dangerous Guerrillas of Destiny, consisting of Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa. Tama looks to be fairly unscathed here, considering his match with Juice, as he struts confidently down the ring with his brother.
Toa Henare and Tonga Loa look to start things off here but we don’t get a collar-and-elbow lock-up here. Instead, Loa kicks things off with a straight forearm to the face, sending him to the corner and damaging him with strikes before sending him across the ring with an Irish Whip. Henare, fighting back, uses the momentum to charge Loa with a shoulder-block. However, Loa is still standing, challenging Henare to try a second time. Henare obliges, rushing the ropes again and charging at Loa with another shoulder-block, which is still blocked. Loa goads Henare into one more attempt, causing Loa to rush the ropes again. This time, however, Loa follows suit and catches Henare with a clothesline, dropping him with the mat. Loa forces Henare to the corner and lands a few strikes to wear him down before setting himself up on the opposite side to prepare for a corner splash. Henare dodges, however, and Loa ends up reeling in the corner as Henare fires off a few forearms to Loa’s face. Henare sends Loa to the opposite corner, but Loa reverses and instead sends Henare over. However, Henare fires up and charges Loa, dropping him with the shoulder tackle he wanted in the start of the match. Henare then tags in Umino.
Both Henare and Umino double team Loa, dropping him with a back elbow, chop and basement dropkick. This brings in Tama Tonga, who gets caught by Henare and Umino as they whip Tama across the ring. Tama, with the speed and control of a snake, slides out seamlessly and misdirects his opponents enough to allow Loa to recover and nail both Umino and Henare with a clothesline. Loa proceeds to work on Umino with a clubbing blow to the back and a delayed vertical suplex. Loa tags in Tama and restrains Umino with a full-nelson, allowing Tama free-range to strike Umino in the rib-cage. Tama follows this up by whipping a stunned-Umino into the ropes, catching him with an extremely-impressive high-leap dropkick (flipping off the camera right after). Tama stalks Umino in the ring, catching the rookie with a strike and sending him to the turnbuckles before dropping him with an a Umino before crushing him with a high-impact Stinger Splash but only lands a two-count. Tonga tags in Loa and slams Umino to the mat, allowing Loa to deliver a legdrop, but only getting a two-count. Loa tags Tama back in and Tama attempts to taunt Henare in the corner, but Umino attempts to fight back with strikes. Tama, unfazed by the inital strike, challenges Umino to continue to strike again but stuns the rookie with a forearm to the face and whips him to the ropes. Umino counters, however, and sends Tama into the ropes but Tama hangs on once he reaches the ropes, just as Umino left his feet for an unsuccessful dropkick attempt. Tama rushes the ropes adjacent to Umino, but this time, Umino catches Tama with the follow-up dropkick and tags in Henare immediately.
Henare proceeds to clean house against G.o.D., rushing Tama and dodging a Superman Punch to drop Tama with a big shoulder tackle. This sends Tama reeling towards a corner, where Henare rushes in with a duo of corner clotheslines. Henare lifts Tama for a slam, but Tama fights out with elbows. This doesn’t hold him for long, as Henare holds on to Tama and nails the Samoan Drop but only gets a two-count. Henare attempts to pick Loa up but eats an incoming strike from Tama, which stuns him enough to allow Tama to tag in Loa. The two attempt to double-team Henare as they whip him into the ropes, but Henare rebounds back and drops both men with a flying shoulder-tackle. Henare tags in Umino. The two work on Loa with dual-corner splashes and a spear from Loa. Umino then ascends to the top rope and nails Loa with a missile dropkick but only gets a two-count. Tama rushes back into the ring and takes out Henare with a Backbreaker. His back is turned to Umino, however, resulting in Umino catching Tama with a release-German Suplex to send Tama out of the ring. Umino fires up, but does so in front of a recovered Tonga Loa, who nails Umino with a brutal clothesline and finishes him with the Tongan Driver for the pinfall victory.
Winners: Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa
Analysis: Well, this was a good start to kick off this show! I wouldn’t say it was better than the other two opening matches, but it does continue to give G.o.D (and the Firing Squad, in general) more momentum going forward, which is always a plus for them. They dominated a good portion of this match and Tama Tonga still amazes me with the fluidity of his actions and motions. Meanwhile, it seems that trainers are high on Shota Umino, who wrestled back-to-back in opening matches. He’s getting much better with each match and I’m enjoying his progress as he continues to improve. Henare is still explosive and fun to watch as always and Tanga Loa is still a powerhouse. Decent opening match, overall, and an alright way to kick us off.
Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa leave the stage, with Tama looking no different than when he first entered the ring. That’s definitely something to keep track of for his next G1 Climax match against SANADA, who will be looking to ramp the pace up and score a win after his loss to NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto. Time for our next match, however!
Match 2: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. and TAKA Michinoku) vs. CHAOS (Yano Toru and Jado)
ZSJ’s definitely going to look to rebound after his hard-fought loss against Kota Ibushi in his last G1 Climax match, as he teams with his mentor, TAKA Michinoku, against Jado and the man who’s more electrifying than the Rock himself, Yano Toru!
We get the start-off promo from TAKA regarding the G1 Climax, as he takes a poll from the audience over who’s going to win (spoilers: he’s voting for Zack) while saying that, with his new Zack Driver and his talent, everyone should JUST. TAP. OUT. before telling his opponents to COME. OVER. HERE. With that, DVD-shilling Yano Toru and Jado make their way down the ramp.
Jado and TAKA start the match off, with Yano taunting ZSJ from the outside. We get the collar-and-elbow lock up and Jado muscles TAKA to the ropes and delivers a clean break but TAKA kicks Jado regardless. TAKA goes for a running shoulder-block but Jado’s still standing. TAKA tries the tactic again, hitting all four sides of the ring, but Jado still remains standing. Accordingly, TAKA fakes an eye-poke and kicks Jado in the shin before trying the shoulder-block one more time, but Jado recovers quick enough to drop TAKA with a shoulder-block of his own. Jado follows this up with chops to the chest (followed by the ‘WOO’ shouts), but TAKA manages to poke Jado in the eyes, causing Jado to reel in the corner and allowing TAKA to land a running knee strike. TAKA readies himself to deliver a super-kick to a dazed and wobbly Jado, who manages to fire himself up…only to fall right back down as he turned around. That was pretty funny, I’ll admit.
ZSJ, in this confusion, jumped into the ring (without being tagged) and rushed Yano off the apron. He doesn’t do anything with this momentum, however, only stepping on Yano for a slight bit and then going back to his corner. Meanwhile, TAKA holds Jado down and rips away at his face to slow him down. ZSJ officially tags in this time and he begins to work on the left arm of Jado, wrenching and torquing away. After a few moves, ZSJ tags TAKA back in to continue the punishment. Jado eventually starts to fight back, but he strikes with the opposite arm and doesn’t defend with the other one, allowing TAKA to catch Jado with a kick to stun him. TAKA attempts to whip him into the ropes, but Jado reverses the whip to send TAKA to the ropes and readies a backdrop. TAKA kicks Jado beforehand, however, and readies a swinging clothesline. However, Jado ducks it and drops TAKA with a back suplex. Both men proceed to tag their respective partners in.
Yano and ZSJ go at it and Yano rakes the eyes of ZSJ before immediately (and I mean ‘immediately’, not even a second to breathe after that eye rake) goes to rip the turnbuckle padding off. The referee, however, stops Yano from doing so and Yano backs up right after (completely ignoring the fact that he broke his promise in his G1 Climax match against Ishii, but we’ll pretend that never happened). ZSJ manages a wrist-lock on Yano, twisting him around for leverage, but Yano flips ZSJ off and successfully removes the padding anyways, but throws it away instead of using it against ZSJ. His reward for sticking to his already-broken promise is an abdominal stretch, courtesy of ZSJ, who wrenches back with Yano’s ear. Yano does manage to get free with a judo toss and the two exchange strikes and grapples. Yano, after a few grapple counters, manages to take ZSJ down with an arm drag but gets caught in a double wrist-lock by ZSJ, who tags in TAKA. The two double-team Yano, with TAKA dropping him with an inside-leg kick. Jado breaks up the ensuing pin, however, and ZSJ responds with an abdominal stretch on Jado. In the process of this, however, Yano manages to surprise TAKA by picking the ankle and rolling him up for the surprise pinfall victory, as Jado trips ZSJ to prevent the breakup.
Winners: Yano Toru and Jado
Analysis: This was a fairly short match but it was still entertaining for what it was overall. However, the story wasn’t so much a hype-up for the next G1 Climax match between Yano and ZSJ. It was more geared towards Yano’s promise to wrestle a cleaner style, devoid of any cheating antics. Watching that promise unfold is pretty funny, but he already cheated against Ishii and in this match by ripping the padding off of the turnbuckles. To his credit, though, Yano did not land any low-blows or dirty moves (sans the few eye-rakes, but the man’s a recovering cheater, cut him some slack!).
My main gripe, however, is that he never really got a one-up on ZSJ throughout the match. I mean, sure he countered one or two submissions, but you also have to take into account that this was just the tag team match, which is the preliminary for the G1 Climax encounters. It’s safe to assume that ZSJ could also be holding back on the intensity of the submissions solely to preserve himself for the tournament, but Yano can’t rely solely on power to prevent any of these holds. In that same regard, however, we got more of a view into Yano’s underrated amateur wrestling background, which he will have to rely on to prevent another loss in the G1 Climax (or he could cheat, that’s an option, but he must uphold his honor).
Back at ringside, TAKA and ZSJ are causing a bit of chaos before leaving ringside, as we ready ourselves for the next match!
Match 3: David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi
It looks like Kota Ibushi still has a slight bit of a limp in his walk as he doesn’t seem to have as much of a pep in his step compared to his usual entrances. That will be something to keep an eye on, as he faces Juice Robinson in his next G1 Climax match. Nevertheless, we’ve got some Bullet Club action tonight as the Bullet Club Elite’s Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi face off against Taguchi Japan’s David Finlay and IWGP United States Champion Juice Robinson. Also, as a reminder, the ‘Juice’ rule is still in effect, in that he will be DQ’ed if he uses the left hand, as it is in a cast.
Takahashi and Finlay start off the match, with Finlay charging out of the gate towards Takahashi, only to meet a kick to the face as a reward. Takahashi and Finlay go at it, with Takahashi’s facial boots meeting Finlay’s European Uppercuts. Takahashi gets the upper-hand, however, and nails a dazed Finlay with some more strikes before whipping Finlay across the ring. Finlay reverses the whip, however, and nails a dropkick on Takahashi. Finlay lifts Takahashi with a fireman’s carry, but Takahashi pushes out of it. Finlay regains the momentum quickly though, by kicking Takahashi in the gut and attempting a suplex. Takahashi, however, bites the hand of Finlay to prevent the hold and hotshots him on the top rope. Ibushi rushes the ring and drops Juice off the apron and some double-team action ensues with Takahashi landing a sliding kick on Finlay, followed by a corkscrew senton by Ibushi. Ibushi attempts to pin Finlay, however, but there’s no count as he isn’t the legal man in the match (there was no tag made during this sequence). Takahashi drops Finlay with a Backbreaker to compensate but only gets a two-count.
Takahashi tags Ibushi and Ibushi goes to work with a snapmare/headscissors combo on Finlay. Finlay makes it to the ropes, however, breaking up the hold and the two stand back up. The two end up in a stiff striking exchange, with Finlay surprisingly winning and dropping Ibushi with a flying European Uppercut before tagging in Juice Robinson. Juice gets loose against his opponents, dropping Takahashi off the ropes and lighting Ibushi up with jabs. Juice, however, can’t finish the combo because of the left hand, so he attempts to compensate with a side-kick. Ibushi ducks, however, and counters with a full-velocity roundhouse kick, which Robinson ducks and waist-locks Ibushi for a German Suplex, which Ibushi rolls out of and lands in the corner. Juice attempts a corner clothesline and blocks Ibushi’s counter-boot to elbow Ibushi in the face. Juice sends Ibushi across the ring and nails the running clothesline this time before firing up. Juice sets up for the cannonball but Ibushi flips out and catches Juice with a powerslam/moonsault combo for a two-count.
Juice attempts to throw a right hand, but gets caught in Ibushi’s flurry of strikes. Juice counters back with a stiff chop that looks like it hit Ibushi’s chest and jaw. Juice readies for a running clothesline but Ibushi catches him with a loud roundhouse kick, to which Juice uses the momentum to nail Ibushi with a wicked discus lariat that drops Ibushi on his neck. Ibushi tags Takahashi during the downtime and Takahashi nails Juice with a boot to the face. Takahashi whips Juice across the ring but Juice reverses the whip. Takahashi, however, holds the ropes to halt momentum, forcing Juice to pursue and causing him to eat yet another boot to the face in the process. Takahashi goes back on the attack, rushing the ropes adjacent to Juice but his ensuing kick gets caught by Juice. Takahashi trips up Juice and nails him with a basement drop kick. Juice ends up reeling in the corner but manages to block Takahashi’s incoming corner clothesline. Unfortunately, he gets caught in a reverse-DDT by Takahashi.
This brings in Finlay, but he gets caught in a Chinbreaker by Takahashi and taken out by a springboard missile dropkick by Ibushi, sending him outside the ring. Ibushi follows up with a dive from the top rope to subdue Finlay on the outside. Meanwhile, Takahashi sets Juice up for Pimp Juice, but Juice counters out and nails Takahashi with a gut buster, followed up by Pulp Friction. Finlay, in the process, holds Ibushi back on the outside to prevent interference, leading to Juice pinning Takahashi for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Juice and Ibushi have a small stare-down before the both Juice and Finlay celebrate the victory.
Winners: Juice Robinson and David Finlay
Analysis: This wasn’t a bad match to set up Ibushi vs. Juice in their next G1 Climax encounter. I’ll admit, I was definitely a bit surprised at Ibushi and Juice’s encounters and it seems Juice has the ability to bring himself up to his opponents’ levels, which is a very neat skill to have in order to produce great matches. Juice and Finlay also make a fun team (which seems to be on par with a lot of combinations in Taguchi-Japan) and it’d be interesting to see if we get any future team-ups between the two. Ibushi is a madman (but we already knew that), as he went full-tilt this entire match. It didn’t seem the leg damage from his match against ZSJ at the last G1 Climax match slowed him down at all here and he’ll have a lot of time to shake off any lingering damage here before the two face-off. Takahashi and Finlay both got a fair amount of time to shine here but it was clear that the focus was on the two tournament participants from bell to bell.
The four participants promptly left afterwards, leading us to our next match (this pacing is still difficult to get used to, especially when you’re recapping!)
Match 4: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and SANADA) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and SHO)
LIJ and CHAOS collide once again, as Naito and SANADA, coming off big losses in their first match in the G1 Climax, look to rebound against the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii, and Roppongi 3K’s SHO. None of the competitors look very much damaged here, which is a good sign, considering the wars they faced the night before. SANADA’s ‘Cold Skull’ mask still looks so cool and the crowd is firmly behind Tetsuya Naito, breaking into ‘Naito’ chants once his theme hits. If you were wondering as to why Roppongi 3K aren’t wrestling as a team in any of these matches so far, it’s because: A) it’s a showcase for the G1 Climax participants moreso and B) Roppongi 3k are primarily a Jr. Heavyweight team, whereas the G1 Climax primarily consists of heavyweights.
Naito and Ishii start the match off, with Naito ducking the collar-and-elbow tie-up and waist-locking Ishii towards the rope, denying the clean break with a shot to the back and spitting on Ishii. This causes Ishii to rush Naito and get caught with strikes to the stomach and clubbing blows to the back. Naito rushes Ishii but gets met with a shoulder-block. Ishii rushes the ropes but Naito drops down, catching Ishii with a hip toss and sliding dropkick combo before landing his ‘Tranquilo’ pose. Naito tags SANADA in while Ishii tags in SHO. The two engage in a series of exchanges and counters before SHO nails SANADA with a speedy dropkick to drop SANADA to the mat. SHO rushes SANADA, but gets taken over the top rope. SHO hangs on, however, and catches SANADA with a shoulder-block to the gut. SHO attempts to enter the ring but SANADA kicks the middle rope, crotching SHO in the process. Naito, in turn, drops ISHII from the apron and slams him into the rails. SANADA stomps away at SHO and slams him into the mat before tagging in Naito, who continues the punishment on a cornered SHO with back elbows and stomps. Naito continues with a cravate hold to the head. SHO attempts to fight back but gets a clubbing blow to the back of the head by Naito. SHO does manage to catch Naito with a Backstabber after reversing an Irish Whip, allowing him to tag in Ishii.
Ishii rushes against Naito and, after a series of quick exchanges and counters, catches Naito with a powerslam before following with a headbutt and suplex attempt. Naito manages to fight out, however, with a knee strike and waist-locks Ishii for a German Suplex. Ishii elbows Naito to prevent the move and rushes rushes to the ropes for a clothesline but gets caught with an inverted atomic drop and step-up enzuigiri by Naito, taking the big man down. Naito tags in SANADA in the process, but SANADA gets caught in a suplex by Ishii, who tags in SHO. SHO fires up with a series of elbows and a spear on SANADA. SHO attempts to follow up with a deadlift German Suplex, but SANADA counters into his own waist-lock, which SHO escapes via elbows to the side of SANADA’s face. SHO rushes the ropes, but Naito, lying in wait, trips up SHO. SANADA prepares the basement dropkick, but gets tripped up by Ishii as well. Ishii rushes the ropes and nails Naito on the apron with a forearm, sending him crashing into the rails.
Ishii and SHO work on SANADA, catching him with a superkick to send him into the corner. Ishii attempts a running corner clothesline but SANADA ducks it, catching SHO with a basement dropkick and leading to Naito landing the slingshot dropkick on Ishii and the LIJ-duo catch a prone SHO with a double basement dropkick for a two count. Naito holds Ishii outside while SANADA locks in the Skull End. However, SHO reverses it into a very close two-count. SHO responds with a knee strike and an attempted Last Ride powerbomb, but SANADA counters out and locks in a swinging Skull End, which renders SHO unconscious and ending the match with a submission victory.
Post-match, Naito and Ishii continue to brawl, with Ishii sending Naito over the rails, as Naito smiles on, mocking Ishii with the LIJ salute.
Winners: Tetsuya Naito and SANADA
Analysis: Despite SANADA being in this match, his next opponent will be Tama Tonga in the G1 Climax. Meanwhile, Tetsuya Naito and Ishii are set to face off against each other next but there wasn’t much interaction between the two until the end, which I suppose is probably a good thing because it left me wanting more. SANADA, in contrast, looks like a total star and the fact he got the win here gives him a lot of momentum as he faces off against a dangerous competitor like Tama Tonga. SHO continues to impress me more and more and it seems as though the announcers agree as well, as they teased the possibility of SHO even moving up to the Heavyweight Division in the future. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this affects Roppongi 3K in the future, as the original Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Baretta) broke up with Baretta heading to the Heavyweight Division.
Speaking of Roppongi 3K, it’s time we got to see the other member in action as his match is up now!
Match 5: CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and YOH) vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega and Chase Owens)
Despite the temporary Roppongi 3K split, YOH couldn’t ask for a better substitute than his CHAOS stablemate, NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto. However, they face off against Chase Owens and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega. Here’s a fun G1 Trivia fact, given the competitors in this match: both Kenny Omega and Hirooki Goto have won the G1 Climax in their first-ever attempts, but Omega pinned Goto in the finals to win his G1 Climax. It seems that neither of the G1 Climax participants seem too worse for wear, but with the matches that they both have had, I can definitely see the potential wear-and-tear playing a factor later on in the G1 Climax.
Owens and Goto start the match off, with Omega teasing that he would start the match against Goto and Owens attacking Goto from behind. That momentum doesn’t last long at all, however, as Goto drops both men with shoulder tackles before tagging in YOH. Goto and YOH drop Owens with a double shoulder tackle and stomps on Owens. YOH whips Owens across the ring but Owens counters the swing. YOH spins through the middle rope, however, to stay on the apron, causing Owens to charge. YOH takes advantage of this momentum to shoulder-block Owens and flip over him to re-enter the ring. YOH attempts a headscissors hurricanrana on Owens but he gets held up mid-move and moved over to Owens’ corner, where Omega rakes at YOH’s face. Owens catches Goto coming in and send him to the outside as well, where Kenny slams him into the ring apron. Owens works on YOH and tags in Omega, as the two drop YOH and nails the ‘Three-Sweet’ elbow drop for a two-count. Omega calls for a boot from Owens, to which Owens sets his foot on the turnbuckle, allowing Omega to ram YOH’s head into it. Omega and Owens exchange frequent tags, with a double-team ‘wishbone’ leg split on YOH occurring each time a tag is made (poor YOH).
Owens continues to work on YOH, but YOH begins to fight back until Omega grabs him from behind for Owens to attack. Naturally, this backfires and Owens sends Omega to the outside instead with a kick. YOH capitalizes on this with a dragon- screw leg whip on Owens and tags in Goto, who fires back on Owens with strike, a spinning wheel kick and a Saito suplex for a two-count. Omega comes back in, however, and the two attempt a double-team on Goto, who manages to fight it off, but ultimately eats a super-kick from Omega to send him reeling into the ropes. Kenny prepares to deliver a V-Trigger but YOH bolts in with a knee strike of his own to send Omega to the outside and follow up with a plancha to subdue Omega. Owens and Goto fight on the inside, with Owens catching Goto with a school-boy roll-up transitioned into a superkick. Owens picks up Goto but Goto attempts a strike, only to eat a forearm by Owens. Owens rushes the rope and Goto follows suit for the lariat, only to eat an enzuigiri by Owens. Owens sets up for the Package Piledriver but Goto fights out and lands Ushi-Goroshi on Owens, while YOH holds Omega off on the outside. Goto finishes off Owens with the GTR for the pinfall victory.
Winners: Hirooki Goto and YOH
Analysis: This was an alright match as well, as a way to hype up both champions facing each other in their next G1 Climax matches. It’s a bit weird to see Kenny and Chase play the heels but it makes sense as they were already inherent heels to begin with. Given the type of match that this was, it was wise of Kenny to play this one closer to the vest and let Owens do more of the lifting here. Goto, on the other hand, did a bit more than Kenny but, in turn, he looked very dominant here. Goto has a different aura about him in comparison to his other matches and especially other G1 Climaxes. YOH is still impressive in this match but he still seems to be out-shined by his R3K counterpart. Given that their next G1 Climax match is champion vs. champion (non-title), I expect Omega vs. Goto to be a major battle in the already-stacked B-Block.
That’ll do it for the preliminaries for the B-Block matches! Definitely some interesting teasers for the next matches for each competitor, but now it’s time for A-Block to step up for Round 2 of the G1-Climax and, after a brief intermission, we’re on the way to our first match!
Match 6: G1 Climax – A-Block: Hangman Page (2) vs. Michael Elgin (2)
It’s showtime for Page and Elgin, who are both undefeated at this point in the G1 Climax. Hangman enters first, looking fired up and ready to rock against an opponent he’s faced many times outside the G1 Climax. The right arm that Elgin had favored before in his last match against EVIL is currently under an elbow pad, so it definitely something to keep an eye on for this match. I would imagine, in this case, Page is looking to prove a point for this match as well, given that he was gifted his two points from a DQ on Fale.
The match starts off with a staredown and a collar-and-elbow lockup before Elgin muscles Page into the corner. Elgin gives a clean break but Page fires a forearm, which is blocked off by Elgin, who fires a lariat off but Page ducks it and gets a headlock on Elgin. Elgin whips Page across the ring and Page attempts to shoulder-block Elgin to no avail. The two attempt to trade strikes and forearms against each other before Elgin manages to land a dropkick against Page, sending him outside to the floor. Elgin fires up and builds speed, launching himself between the ropes and into a recovering Page. Elgin notably landed on the right arm, however, and he started to shake it loose a bit before using it to land a hard chop to Page’s chest. Elgin rolls Page back in, but Page creates distance by rolling to the far side of the ring and onto the apron. Elgin follows suit and Page manages to catch him with a rope-assisted neckbreaker, followed by a Shooting Star Press-shoulder-block onto Elgin on the floor. Page immediately follows up by sending Elgin back in and nailing a running Shooting Star Press but only gets a two-count for his troubles.
Page lays Elgin in a nearby corner and delivers a series of chops. Elgin attempts a reversal and sizes Page into the same corner but Page ducks it, dropping Elgin with a snapmare before landing a basement dropkick and a bottom-rope catapult, clipping Elgin’s neck in the process, for a two-count. Page snapmares Elgin to the floor and has Elgin in a chin-lock, but Big Mike eventually forces his way back up and catches Page with a chop to the chest. Page responds with a forearm and whips him across the ropes. Elgin reverses the whip and readies a backdrop but Page attempt to land a swinging neckbreaker. Big Mike reverses it and waist-locks Page for a German Suplex but Page elbows Elgin to escape and rushes the rope, only to eat a snap powerslam by the big man. Elgin begins to fire up now and starts to land some strikes to disorient Page, dropping him with a forearm and preparing a suplex. Page manages to escape, however, with knees to the head, and rushes the ropes once more. However, Elgin is aware and catches him with a sit-out powerbomb, but only lands a two-count. Elgin sizes Page up and slams him with lariats to the front and back before firing up for the running lariat. Page answers back, however, with a forearm and a super-kick before dropping him with a bridging German Suplex for a two-count.
Both men are exhausted by this point, but Page is up first and has Elgin in a fireman’s carry but Elgin elbows out and attempts the same carry. Page fights out, however, leaving Elgin reeling in the corner as Page charges him for a corner splash. Big Mike catches Page mid-air, however, and drops Page with a catch-and-release Exploder suplex. Elgin follows up with a series of corner clotheslines and chops to the chest before positioning Page up top for a Falcon Arrow. Page fights out of it, however, and readies a dive of his own, but Elgin beats him to the punch before the jump, forcing Page to avoid by landing on the apron. After dodging a clothesline, Elgin slingshots Page over the top and lands a cutter in the process. Elgin then follows up with an Ospreay-style Stormbreaker, but only gets a two-count.
Elgin readys Page for the Elgin Bomb but Page fights off, leading to Elgin landing forearms to the face. Page dodges a discus forearm, however, leading to a fireman’s carry, but Elgin slips out and attempts a sunset-flip pinfall. Page sits down, however, into a pinfall attempt of his own before a series of pinfall attempts occur. Ultimately, Page counters out of an Elgin-German suplex and sets up a Jig n’ Tonic drop for an extremely close near fall. Elgin rolls out to the floor, knowing he’s in danger and attempts to catch a breather. Page follows through, however, and and heads up to the top rope for a moonsault. Elgin scouts it and rushes back in to cut him off with a forearm. Elgin goes up instead and the two fight to avoid a superplex off the top to the floor. Page ends up being thrown back into the ring, however, and Elgin prepares to dive. Page cuts Elgin off, however, and attempts a top-rope hurricanrana. Elgin manages to hold onto Page and prepares a powerbomb, but Page manages to fight and hit the move anyways, sending Elgin reeling on the opposite corner of the ring. Page follows up with a corner dropkick and sets Elgin up top for a top-rope swinging Neckbreaker but still can’t put the big man away!
At this point, the crowd erupts with ‘Page’ chants as Page sets up for Rite of Passage. Elgin manages to escape by holding the ropes, however, and connects with a desperate combo of a kick, pump kick, superkick and an enzuigiri to send both men down. Exhausted, both men meet in the center and trade off with forearms against each other before Elgin rips off the elbow pad and absolutely clobbers Page with two forearm. Page cuts off an Elgin attempt at a running lariat and they both trade off with German suplexes. Elgin manages to block off a German Suplex, however, and nails a release Tiger Suplex onto Page. Page manages to counter the attempt at Elgin’s running lariat with an attempt at a piledriver. Elgin fights off and sends Page to the apron, where Page readies the Buckshot Lariat, but Elgin counters it with his own lariat. Elgin follows up with the running lariat and Splash Mountain for a razor-edged two-count. Elgin manages to land the Buckle Bomb and sets up for the Elgin Bomb but Hangman attempts the Rite of Passage. Elgin fights off, however, nailing a tiger bomb and an Elgin Bomb for an amazing pinfall victory.
Winner: Michael Elgin (4)
Analysis: This was a hard-hitting and amazing match for both men here, with Hangman Page putting on the performance of a lifetime here. There was great back-and-forth action between the two and, in many cases, I could’ve easily seen Hangman taking the win here. Elgin, showing slight discomfort at the arm early on, seemed to let adrenaline take over as the arm played a non-factor by the end of the match. Hangman, conversely, probably positioned himself to be the sleeper in this tournament as he looked like a megastar out there and the crowd was behind him by the end of the match. With that being said, Elgin becomes the first man to pick up four points in the tournament and looks to be unstoppable at this point.
There’s no rest for the weary, however, as we’re already set to go with our next G1 Climax match (I could’ve used a rest here to digest that last match, but alright, bring it on!)
Match 7: G1 Climax – A-Block: YOSHI-HASHI (0) vs. EVIL (0)
It’s the battle of CAP-LOCKS again, as the aggressive ‘Headhunter’ YOSHI-HASHI looks to test his mettle against a man who’s beaten him in a G1 Climax match before: the Ingobernable reaper himself, EVIL. Both men are scoreless in this tournament so one man is guaranteed to leave with points in this match. EVIL seems to have his right arm taped up, possibly due to his match against Elgin. Conversely, YOSHI-HASHI still has a taped-up right shoulder as well, which definitely provides a target for EVIL to work on as the match progresses.
YOSHI-HASHI starts the match immediately with a kick to the gut and a headlock on EVIL before the two trade shoulder-tackles against each other. After a few exchanges, YOSHI-HASHI ducks a clothesline from EVIL and drops him with the shoulder-tackle. YOSHI-HASHI follows up with chops and EVIL attempts to counter and YOSHI-HASHI tries to fight off before ultimately being sent over the top rope. EVIL proceeds to work on the shoulder/arm of YOSHI-HASHI, as he drapes the arm onto the rail. EVIL then grabs two chairs, sets YOSHI-HASHI’s arm onto one of the chairs and swings for the fences with a home-run swing to drop his opponent onto the floor. YOSHI-HASHI barely beats the 20-count back into the ring before EVIL drops him to the mat and covers for the two-count before immediately transitioning over to an armbar. YOSHI-HASHI manages to make the ropes to break up the hold. Both men are back up and YOSHI-HASHI tries to fire up with strikes on EVIL but EVIL drops YOSHI-HASHI with a chop and misses the high-leap senton.
YOSHI-HASHI utilizes the time to recover and follow-up with strikes and chops before catching EVIL with the Headhunter. EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI contest for control, trading whips into the corner but YOSHI-HASHI ultimately catches EVIL with the whiplash enzuigiri. YOSHI-HASHI then drapes EVIL over the top rope and rushes the rope to land the dropkick, landing only a two-count. YOSHI-HASHI attempts to nail a powerbomb but EVIL fires back with a clubbing blow to the injured shoulder, causing YOSHI-HASHI to scream in pain. EVIL attempts Darkness Falls but is countered with a sleeper-hold. EVIL escapes easily, however, since YOSHI-HASHI can’t hold on to the move well enough and lands Darkness Falls but only getting a two-count. EVIL looks to set up now for EVIL, but YOSHI-HASHI attempts to counter into an armbar. EVIL fires back with a discus lariat but YOSHI-HASHI counters back into a Backstabber to leave both men laying.
They both fight to their feet and trade hard clotheslines but EVIL gets the upper-hand and remains standing. YOSHI-HASHI then proceeds to rip off the trainer’s tape, firing up and nailing EVIL with chops to the chest. EVIL counters with a knee to the gut and rushes the ropes but YOSHI-HASHI drops EVIL with a violent lariat to spin EVIL inside-out. YOSHI-HASHI attempts to set up a powerbomb but the arm gave out and both men end up tumbling wildly to the floor. YOSHI-HASHI tosses EVIL back in, denying the count-out victory, and correctly hits the powerbomb but only comes up with a two-count. YOSHI-HASHI immediately follows through with the Butterfly Lock, forcing EVIL to the center with each attempt to escape.
YOSHI-HASHI doesn’t have the move fully applied, however, as he doesn’t have EVIL sitting, leading to EVIL getting to the ropes YOSHI-HASHI follows up with chops and slams EVIL to the mat, heading up top to nail him with a full Swanton for a two-count. YOSHI-HASHI attempts to set up Karma but EVIL fights off with kicks to the arm, leading to a trade-off battle between Karma and EVIL. YOSHI-HASHI manages to land a double-knee strike onto a prone EVIL but only gets a two-count. YOSHI-HASHI tries Karma once more but gets countered into a half-and-half suplex by EVIL. EVIL follows up with a wild lariat for a two-count and finishes YOSHI-HASHI with EVIL for the pinfall victory.
Winner: EVIL (2)
Analysis: I’m really enjoying the aggressiveness of YOSHI-HASHI throughout this tournament and his matches went from ‘meh, the other guy wins’ to ‘wow, he could really pull it off, ‘ which I’m very much happy about! That shoulder injury of his, however, continues to be a detriment in his matches and that powerbomb accident that landed both men out of the ring couldn’t have done it any favors. I have no doubt that YOSHI-HASHI will pull off a win at some point in the tournament but I’m starting to become more inclined to believe it may not be an ‘upset’ victory anymore. Conversely, EVIL’s finally on the board with two points. EVIL’s always been a top-notch performer in the G1 Climax and I fully expect some major victories coming out of the man as the tournament progresses.
While they scoop up YOSHI-HASHI from the ring and send him to the back, it’s time for our next G1 Climax match!
Match 8: G1 Climax – A-Block: Togi Makabe (2) vs Minoru Suzuki (0)
Buckle up, kids, it’s time for a straight-up ‘hoss’ fight as Makabe and Suzuki, both with a seething hatred of each other, prepare to wage war against one another for a valuable victory in the G1 Climax! Minoru Suzuki doesn’t seem to be irritated at all by the leg damage inflicted by Hiroshi Tanahashi in their last match, walking just fine through his entrance and pacing the ring. I guess it’s safe to assume Suzuki isn’t as injured as we were led to believe. Makabe, on the other hand, looks like he’s about to murder someone as he comes out. This is going to be good.
Suzuki immediately gets in Makabe’s face as he enters the ring and the referee is barely (and I mean BARELY) holding the two apart. Makabe and Suzuki both go back to their corners with pulsating anger and, before the bell even finished ringing, they both rush each other and trade blows, challenging the other to one-up each shot. This goes on for, like, a solid minute or two as they just lay in shot after shot. The fact that both men are still standing after these is a serious testament to their durability. Suzuki manages to drop Makabe to a knee after an eternity of hard strikes that would break a normal man’s jaw and has him reeling in the corner. Mid-way through this slug-fest, however, Suzuki starts laughing at Makabe, resulting in Makabe switching sides and cornering Suzuki to lay in more forearms. As far as I’m concerned, I’m watching an assault as these two keep at it. Makabe eventually drops Suzuki to a knee and whips him across the ropes, dropping Suzuki with a shoulder-block and sending him to the floor. Makabe follows and the two continue their war on the outside. The referee can’t even control this fight as he gets shoved to the side. This war gets escalated to another level as both Makabe and Suzuki grab a chair and proceed to duel.
The referee eventually gets dropped on the floor and the two men head back into the ring. After a little more brawling, El Desperado slides a chair to Suzuki, who wrecks Makabe with it. Eventually, the referee gets back into the ring to disarm Suzuki (at great risk, I might add) and the two end up right back outside again, where they fight into the commentator’s tables. Suzuki gets another chair and drops Makabe again with it. The referee attempts to disarm Suzuki yet again but Suzuki demolishes the referee, sending him into the rails. The referee has lost absolute control of this madness as Suzuki continues to taunt Makabe. Eventually, Suzuki heads back inside the ring, as the referee counts Makabe out. Makabe makes it back to his feet, however, and gets back into the ring, where Suzuki kick-pushes him and taunts him. Makabe gets up and fires forearms onto Makabe but Suzuki laughs at him and drops him yet again with a forearm. Makabe starts to fight back to his feet and eventually gets some offense against Suzuki, finally doing some damage to the man. Makabe corners Suzuki and and lands the corner clothesline and mounted strikes to a dazed Suzuki. Makabe attempts a fireman’s carry but Suzuki cuts him off with knee strikes, sending Makabe to the corner. Suzuki lands the corner boot to the face, hits a snapmare and lands the Penalty Kick. Suzuki follows through with more strikes, which starts to fire up Makabe.
Suzuki rushes towards the ropes but ends up being caught in a powerslam to leave both men laying. Eventually, the two lock eyes again and proceed to trade strikes yet again. Once again, however, Suzuki gets the upper-hand and drops Makabe with the strikes. Suzuki follows up with more sharp and hard elbow strikes to Makabe, who starts to rise up again. Suzuki throws an Irish Whip but Makabe reverses it. Makabe looks for the lariat but Suzuki ducks it and locks in the sleeper, looking to land the Gotch-style Piledriver. Makabe counters out, however, and turns it into a Death Valley Driver, leaving both men laying again. Makabe, however, gets back up and fires up to hit a series of lariats onto Suzuki. Makabe sets Suzuki up top and follows up to hit the spider German suplex. Suzuki, however, rises to his feet right after but Makabe drops him immediately with a flying knee before going right back up and hitting the King Kong Knee Drop for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Togi Makabe (4)
Analysis: I have no words. This wasn’t even a wrestling match for the most part. This was just two men that straight-up mauled each other from start to finish. Minoru Suzuki is an extremely violent man and Togi Makabe is a total badass for standing toe-to-toe with him. I’m not even sure I can analyze this match only because it wasn’t even a match, but a straight-up fight. However, I’m more than surprised at two very important takeaways for this match. The first is that, at no point, did the referee disqualify Suzuki for his antics, which says volumes, as Fale got DQ’d simply for outside interference. Suzuki, in no particular order, not only used weapons twice, but assaulted the referee twice (the second time through rails even). Contrary to that fact, however, I’m glad the referee let things go because this was an absolute battle between these two and a DQ-finish would’ve deflated things harshly.
The second takeaway is that Minoru Suzuki is sitting at zero points after two matches, which may be more surprising than the first takeaway. Given his dominance in both of his matches, the fact that Suzuki hasn’t won a match yet is very alarming, especially for most brackets! He still has a chance to enter the finals but it’s starting to look quite grim for him at this point.
After that hard-fought battle, we’re off to the races for our next match (this would’ve been a really good moment for a cooldown, but oh well).
Match 9: G1 Climax – A-Block: Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo) (0) vs. Bad Luck Fale (w/ Tanga Loa) (0)
It’s a really weird feeling writing that ‘(0)’ next to Kazuchika Okada’s name, of all people, just based off his absolute domination of NJPW for most of these last few years but it is what it is, I guess? We’re off to our penultimate match as the Underboss makes his way down the ring, accompanied by Tanga Loa, to face off against the “Rainmaker” and the Ace of NJPW. Fale, as usual, intimidates the ring announcer out of the ring mid-intro. Okada, in turn, is still as erratic as ever, this time walking out without any sort of pep in his step and not even tossing out balloons to the crowd this time around. Instead, he just whacks the cameraman with them and speed-walks to the ring. In a funny moment, Okada’s theme stops just short of him jumping to the corner to pose again, forcing him to walk backwards as if it never happened.
The match starts with a collar-and-elbow lock-up as Fale muscles Okada to the ropes, pulling his hair for leverage, but Okada switches around to have Fale on the ropes instead, teasing a shot on the ropes but, instead of his typical pats on the chest, he slaps Fale on the head, angering the big man. Okada books it to the outside, where Fale chases him around the ring. Eventually, Okada ends up running into Loa and is caught between the two men. Wisely enough, Okada catches Fale with a forearm and switches around Loa to get behind him before shoving him into Fale, knocking him down. Okada then uses a kneeling Loa to catch Fale with a step-up dive, before tossing Loa back into Fale on the rails for good measure (why do I get the vibe this is a ‘Scooby Doo’ chase?). Okada gets back into the ring and teases another step-over dive, but bounces back and flips back into the ring. Meanwhile, a visibly-frustrated Fale grabs a chair and claims that he’s gonna mess Okada up (just replace ‘mess’ with what the first word in his shirt says, for reference). Fale tries to get into the ring with the chair, prompting the referee to intervene. This, however, distracts the referee and allows Tanga Loa to slide Okada out of the ring on the other side and powerslams him onto the floor. Fale follows over and continues the attack, slamming Okada into the rails on multiple occasions. Fale then proceeds to rip the railing open and scatter the crowd in the process before sending Okada directly into the chairs. Okada barely manages to make it back to the ring before the 20-count, but runs into Fale, who continues the punishment on the former champion.
Okada starts to fire up after a few forearms from Fale and starts laying into Fale with some forearms. Unfortunately, he rushes the ropes instead of continuing the attack, leaving a still fresh-Fale to completely truck his momentum with a shoulder-block for a two-count as Gedo screams like a madman to hype Okada up. Fale follows up with the camel clutch, stomping Okada as he crawls out. Okada tries to fire back with some forearms, but then stubbornly attempts a slam and gets clubbed by Fale. Okada manages to block a corner splash by Fale, however, and attempts yet another slam, which was still unsuccessful as Fale was still cognizant of his sense and he gets clubbed again. Fale once again tries the corner splash and again misses, leading to Okada once again trying the scoop slam, and this time he finally lifts the big man up and slams him down, but it looks as though he strained his back in the process. Nevertheless, Okada follows up a running European Uppercut and a DDT, but still gets a two-count. Okada heads up top, but Fale rises to his feet, forcing Okada to abandon his move and jump over Fale. Okada gets caught by Fale as he moves and Fale sets up for the Grenade but Okada fights through with a dropkick to backpedal him to the ropes and then sends him to the floor with a clothesline. Still reeling and noticing Tanga Loa on the side with Fale, Okada catches both men with a topé to the outside. All three men are down on the outside until Okada manages to toss Fale back into the ring and heads up to the top-rope to connect with the top-rope elbow drop. From there, Okada signals the ‘Rainmaker’ pose as the camera zooms out, signalling for the end. However, Fale counters the attempt into a Samoan Drop, sending both men down.
Fale manages gets to his feet, however, and lands the running splash on Okada for a two-count. Fale sets up for the Bad Luck Fall, but Okada fights out of it, rushing the ropes yet again but Fale levels him with a big lariat and for a two-count. Fale uncharacteristically heads up top this time but Okada cuts him off and follows him up top for a superplex attempt. Fale manages to fight out of it and force Okada down but Okada catches him with a dropkick and brings the big man down the hard way. Okada follows this up with a springboard missile dropkick and looks for the tombstone. Fale manages to fights it off and sets up the Bad Luck Fall but Okada slides out, grabbing Fale’s wrist, and lands Rainmaker. Not satisfied, Okada landed one more Rainmaker onto Fale. Tanga Loa pops up to the apron and Okada knocks him down before he catches Fale with a dropkick and fires up. Okada picks up Fale for another Rainmaker attempt, but Fale fights out of it with elbows. Okada follows this with a dropkick, but this sends Fale into the referee. Immediately after, Tama Tonga arrives out of nowhere to land the Gun Stun on Okada, rendering him unconscious. Fale follows this up with Bad Luck Fall and picks up the upset victory.
Post-match, the three members of the Firing Squad ‘Two-Sweet’ over the fallen body of Okada and walk away.
Winner: Bad Luck Fale (2)
Analysis: Okada has once again taken another loss, this time to Bad Luck Fale, and the fall of the once-unbeatable “Rainmaker” continues, still scoreless in this tournament. This was an alright match to watch, not as good as their prior encounters, but effective enough to get both stories across. I will admit though, the constant interference from the outside is getting to be a bit annoying (and not in the good way). It’s a throw-back to the classic Bullet Club (under Prince Devitt) but it was also tiresome there as well. Regardless, it’s clear now that the Firing Squad means serious business and, with both participating members now on the board, a serious run is being made at Kenny Omega’s championship. Fale and Tonga are definitely two competitors to keep your eye on as this tournament progresses.
Okada is helped to the back by the Young Lions and we’re all set for the main-event of the show.
Match 10: G1 Climax – A-Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) vs. Jay White (2)
In a single calendar year, “Switchblade” Jay White owns pinfall victories against the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega and the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. He seeks to add the Ace of New Japan, a wounded Hiroshi Tanahashi, to that list in this match. Jay White has taken this “Switchblade” character and he’s absolutely hitting home runs with it. It’s even present in his entrance, as Jay looks like an absolute star here. Tanahashi, in comparison, is coming out with a slight limp, making it a bit more obvious when he attempted to skip in his entrance and stopped mid-way. This is an injury that White is aware of as well and will definitely play a factor in the match.
The crowd erupts in ‘Tanahashi’ chants as the two stars lock up. Tanahashi tries to work on the arm of White with a double wrist-lock, grounding White on a few occasions. However, White pulls back on the hair of Tanahashi to force him to the corner and follows through with chops. White has Tanahashi in a head lock, but Tanahashi retaliates by pulling White’s hair instead, reversing the move back into his own headlock. White steps on the leg of Tanahashi to weaken his stance, allowing him to slide out and whip around into a headlock of his own. Tanahashi shoves White out and into the ropes, allowing White to rebound with a running forearm to drop him. White lays a chop onto Tanahashi and goes back to the headlock but Tanahashi pulls the hair again and reverses into his own headlock. White shoves Tanahashi into the ropes but Tanahashi fires back with a shoulder tackle and blocks a corner kick to land a dropkick. Tanahashi delivers some forearm strikes to White and whips him into the opposite corner. White dodges the initial move but Tanahashi sets up for the springboard cross-body. White astutely manages to chop-block the Ace’s injured leg under him, sending him to the mat. White now focuses on the same leg as Tanahashi tries to scoot away to keep the leg away from White. White does grab the leg but Tanahashi fights out temporarily before White kicks the leg once again and snaps it onto the mat but doesn’t get enough body-to-body contact and only gets a two-count.
White follows up by dragging Tanahashi to the apron and teases the apron-suffocation spot but instead continues to viciously attack the knee, banging it on the apron and on the outside ring post. White rushes back in and attempts to pin Tanahashi but the referee refuses to count, due to White’s illegal tactics, which is a great move and I wish was utilized more often in wrestling. White, instead of arguing the decision, decides to lock in an inverted figure four to torture the knee more. Tanahashi manages to make the ropes, but White holds the move for a little while longer before finally releasing. Tanahashi tries to fight back with forearms and strikes to the stomach but he’s unable to properly stance himself to drive more power into his strikes and White capitalizes with an attempted scoop slam. Tanahashi attempted to slide out but his leg buckled out entirely, resulting in him falling backwards and falling into the corner.
White attempts a corner splash but Tanahashi kicks with his other leg and the two trade strikes, with Tanahashi ducking White’s strikes and landing his own. White reverses an Irish Whip attempt and Tanahashi uses the momentum to land a flying forearm to drop White to the mat. Tanahashi, after taking advantage of the down-time to rest the knee, follows up with strikes and slams White before heading to the middle rope and connecting with a senton for a two-count. Tanahashi catches an attempted thrust kick by Jay White, however, and nails the dragon screw leg whip to drop White, following up with the cloverleaf submission. White manages to crawl to the ropes, however, and Tanahashi follows up with stomps to the leg, but White counters by raking the eyes. White lets Tanahashi linger too long, however, allowing Tanahashi to land another dragon screw leg whip, but in the ropes this time.
They work into a series of counters, including an attempted Blade Runner, but it ends with a Flatliner and German suplex by White, leaving both men down.
White now lays in chops on Tanahashi but Tanahashi fires up, forcing White to go back to the leg with whips. White then follows up with a hard sleeper suplex to send him to the mat head-first and sets up for Blade Runner, but Tanahashi counters out and nails him with a left palm strike. White managed to grab Tanahashi’s hair as his back was turned and swung him around for a lariat to drop Tanahashi. White then follows up by repeatedly slamming Tanahashi’s head into the turnbuckle padding, as Tanahashi rolls to the floor. White follows suit and follows up with a Saito suplex onto the floor. White then proceeds to slam Tanahashi repeatedly into the railings back-first in front of the commentators. White sends Tanahashi back in and follows up with rolling suplexes. Tanahashi is left limp and in a bad way, as the referee proceeds to check on him. White, however, proceeds to land a twisting suplex but still gets a two-count. White follows up with Kiwi Krusher, but Tanahashi still kicks out at two.
White, visibly frustrated, heads to the floor and grabs a chair but misses the swing, allowing Tanahashi to nail the Sling Blade and drop White. Tanahashi now gets the chair and attempts to strike White but the referee tries to stop him while White pleads for his life. Tanahashi throws the chair down and White responds by raking the eyes. White attempts to shove Tanahashi into the referee, but the referee ducks into the corner with his back turned, leading to a low blow by White. White attempts to use the chair again, shoving the referee down in the process, allowing Tanahashi to hit a low blow in return. Tanahashi hits the Twist and Shout and connects with another Sling Blade but only gets a two-count. Tanahashi climbs up top as White rises to his feet. Tanahashi launches and nails the High Fly Flow, but White rolls through it and attempts to nail Blade Runner. Tanahashi counters through, however, and lands a straightjacket German Suplex but still only gets a really close two count. White, in an attempt to escape another High Fly Flow, shoves the ref into the ropes as Tanahashi was up top, crotching Tanahashi and sending him crashing into the mat. White proceeds to drop Tanahashi with the nearby chair and connects with Blade Runner for the pinfall victory.
Post-Match, Jay White taunts the crowd, saying that he ‘told us so’ and to look at what had become of the ‘Rainmaker’ and of the ‘Ace’. He notes that, in the end, they will all breathe with the Switchblade.
Winner: Jay White (4)
Analysis: “Switchblade” Jay White went from a wrestler that not many were sure would succeed to a man that has beaten three former/current champions. As I mentioned, Jay White has taken his character and absolutely perfected it at this point. As CHAOS falters with the decline of Okada, White is poised to make a run as the leader of CHAOS. I was a giant fan of Jay White before ‘Switchblade’ but now I couldn’t be more happier for him, as he’s absolutely dominating the field right now. The fact that he’s taken out his biggest competition in his block in Okada and Tanahashi gives him serious momentum going forward. Tanahashi, conversely, has taken his first loss in the tournament and has damaged that leg even further. It stands to reason that his leg will be a major target for everyone going forward and he’ll need to better protect that knee going forward. As for the match itself, it was the continual coming-out party of the Switchblade and what better way to cement that than with a win against the Ace? I definitely loved this match and I’d recommend a re-watch at some point in the future.
Full-Show Analysis: In all, this was a giant step-up from the first show and just a notch below the second show. A-Block is definitely the storyline-driven block with Suzuki/Makabe, Okada’s continual decline and Switchblade’s ascension, as well as BC Firing Squad’s looming presence. I would definitely rewatch the Makabe/Suzuki fights as that was just bonkers (can you tell I love ‘hoss fights’?). The G1 Climax is coming along quite nicely this time around, with some weird shock decisions (like Suzuki dropping 0-2) but overall, I’m still satisfied with this show and I’m looking forward to A-Block’s next round!
That’ll do it for this show, everyone! What did you all think of the show? Are you all as excited for the G1 Climax? I know I am for sure and I’m looking forward to every match! I hope you’ll all enjoy the matches as much as I will be and I’ll see you all again for the B-Block matches for NJPW’s G1 Climax 28!
* Togi Makabe: 2-0 (4pts.)
* Michael Elgin: 2-0 (4pts.)
* Jay White: 2-0 (4pts.)
* Bad Luck Fale: 1-1 (2pts.)
* Adam Page: 1-1 (2pts.)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1-1 (2pts.)
* Kazuchika Okada: 0-2 (2pts.)
* EVIL: 1-1 (2pts.)
* Minoru Suzuki: 0-2 (0pts.)
* YOSHI-HASHI: 0-2 (0pts.)
* Kenny Omega: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Tama Tonga: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: 1– 0 (wpts.)
* SANADA: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Juice Robinson : 0–1 (0pts.)
* Toru Yano: 0–1 (0pts.)
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Image credit: New Japan Professional Wrestling