Block A looks to hit the halfway mark in the G1 Climax. It’s do or die time for those who fell behind. The field may finally start to thin, as the five-way tie for first has an opportunity to be broken tonight. As the 19-show tournament continues over it’s 30 day course though, wear and tear will start taking it’s toll on a steeper level. Block A continues to roll in Night 9 to find its finalist!

The show opened to the usual Young Lions exhibition, this being the rubber match between Yuya Uemura and Gabriel Kidd. From here on out, I’ll be keeping track of the Young Lion matches for fun in the points section as an unofficial Block C in the G1. Yuya and Gabriel started tied against each other, both having a single win over the other. Yuya continues to show great escape ability, bridging through a test of strength into a monkey flip. The tone of the match changed as Yuya started to wrestle circles around Gabriel, who responded with a forearm. That seemed to charge Yuya up, who plowed through Gabriel with a shoulder tackle. Gabriel wasn’t to be denied, fighting back with a beautiful drop kick. Yet it was Yuya who found himself on a successful end, able to hit his arm capture Belly to belly suplex and win with a High Angle Boston Crab!

Block A then started with the still winless Yujiro Takahashi facing off against Shingo Takagi. Yujiro was looking for an early advantage, grabbing the hair; Shingo would show Yujiro what it felt like, grabbing a hand full as well and using that pause to run through Yujiro with a shoulder tackle. The fight went to the outside where another grip of hair allowed Yujiro to hit a reverse DDT onto the apron. Yujiro was pulling no punches in his attempt for a win. He tried, biting, going for the eyes and closed fist strikes to try and keep Shingo off balance and off the attack. But Shingo was quick to use Yujiro’s tactics against him. Despite the antics, Yujiro stayed a step ahead, who tried to get Pimp Juice onto Shingo, who was barely able to escape. Yujiro escaped from Shingo, knocking down the ref, and allowed him to use his cane on Shingo to try and put the match away. Yet, Shingo would fight through, and hit Last of the Dragon, sending Yujiro down for the pin and mathematically eliminating Yujiro from winning the tournament!

The second match would pit Jay White, accompanied by Gedo, against Jeff Cobb. Jay tried his best for some hit and run tactics, but Cobb seemed ultimately unfazed by the attacks. At one point, as Jeff tried to drag Jay from the corner, Jay would grab onto Gedo to try and stop Cobb. Cobb, instead, would drag both Jay and Gedo into the ring, his strength fully on display to the delight of the crowd. Gedo was enough of a distraction for Jay to take advantage, using strikes to keep Cobb dazed. A samoan drop and deadlift Belly to Belly suplex was enough for Cobb to stay part of the match and keep Jay off his feet for a bit. While Cobb’s feats of power were something to behold, it was Jay’s quickness and cunning that kept him ahead in the match. Once again, it would be Gedo’s interference that decided the match. Cobb grabbed Gedo when he entered the ring and threw him at Jay. This opened Jay up for a Tour of the Isles, and Cobb’s victory with the pin.

In Block A’s third bout, Never Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki would face off against Kazuchika Okada. These two are not strangers, having faced off in singles competition before; perhaps most famously in their 30-minute time limit draw in the rain on Suzuki’s 30th anniversary in wrestling. Suzuki took the early advantage in the chain wrestling, which Okada transitioned to strikes with a forearm. Which is literally the worst idea ever, as Suzuki is King of throwing forearms. Suzuki continued his brutal assault both outside and inside the ring with a mix of strikes and submissions. Okada was able to turn the tables with a dropkick, setting him up for a spinning tombstone piledriver and his Cobra Clutch (which he calls the Money Clip). Suzuki managed to escape and started working Okada’s arm. He followed it up with a sleeper hold that turned Okada an uncomfortable shade of purple. Seeing Okada fade, Suzuki went for the Gotch Style Piledriver, but Okada reversed into a backdrop, cradling Suzuki for the pin. Suzuki was surprised and unable to kick out, getting Okada the victory!

The Fourth match would have the six-point Taichi face off against the two-point Tomohiro Ishii. The two came ready to strike, Taichi with low hip kicks, and Ishii with chops. The kicks would win out, and Taichi was able to take the fight to the outside, using the Timekeepers hammer to continue pouring on punishment. Ishii would enter his strike absorbing mode, standing up to the repeated kicks of Taichi and hitting a powerslam to change gears. Taichi’s educated feet would be able to stun Ishii enough for Taichi to hit his head jarring backdrop suplex. Countering Taichi’s Black Mephisto, Ishii was able to stack Taichi up with a vicious powerbomb. But Taichi kicked out, throwing the ref at Ishii, allowing him to hit a low blow that went unnoticed. It was Ishii’s pure grit and toughness that saw him through though, and a sliding lariat was all he needed to set Taichi up for the Brainbuster. With the fight knocked out of Taichi, Ishii was able to get the pin for the victory.

The main event would be a match up of two former junior weights, Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay. With both at six points apiece, a win would put either man as the sole leader in Block A. Will teased Ibushi, ruffling his hair on a clean break on the ropes, and even just stepping on him as he went to run the ropes. It allowed Will to stay one step ahead of Ibushi, who was understandably a bit frustrated at the lack of respect. Ibushi managed to get the tides back to even with his striking combo, and a double stomp to Will as he went to bounce off the ropes. Yet, Will’s fast paced style allowed him to stay on top, hitting Pip Pip Cheerio and a Sasuke Special. When Ibushi went high risk with a Frankenstiner, Will was able to flip through it and land on his feet. But Will’s overconfidence got the best of him as he tried the striking game. He came up short against Ibushi, who planted will with a german suplex. The two would go on to exchange powerbombs, leaving the match for anyone to grab. Will attempted to go for the Strom Breaker, yet Ibushi had an escape planned each time. Will swapped gears for an Oz Cutter, but in a crazy counter, Ibushi met Will mid air with a flying knee instead. This allowed Ibushi to finally hit his Kamigoye and pin Will for the win.

Block A:

  • Jay White: 6 points
  • Kota Ibushi: 8 points
  • Minoru Suzuki: 6 Points
  • Taichi: 6 Points
  • Kazuchica Okada: 6 points
  • Shingo Takagi: 4 points
  • Tomohiro Ishii: 4 points
  • Jeff Cobb: 4 points
  • Will Ospreay: 6 points
  • Yujiro Tanahashi: 0 points

Block B:

  • EVIL: 4 points
  • Hirooki Goto: 2 points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4 points
  • Juice Robinson: 6 points
  • KENTA: 4 points
  • SANADA: 2 points
  • Tetsuya Naito: 6 points
  • Toru Yano: 6 points
  • YOSHI-HASHI: 2 points
  • Zack Sabre Jr.: 4 points

Unoffical “Block C”

  • Yuya Uemura: 6 points
  • Yuta Tsuji: 7 points
  • Gabriel Kidd: 5 points

With Block A having a sole leader in Ibushi at 8 points, it puts a target on his back. As well as set the standard that everyone else needs to keep up with. We have also gotten our first elimination in Yujiro Takahashi, although while he cannot win his block, it wont stop him from being able to play spoiler for those trying to move on. As the field spreads, the G1 is far from over until we crown a victor.

Featured Image Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network

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