Block A finally has a sole leader and now Block B looks to follow. With three wrestlers tied at the leader spot, tonight could see one pull away from the rest. As Block B pulls over the halfway mark, the G1 season continues to heat up.

The night started off with the unofficial “C Block” as the Young Lions took to the ring. In their fourth match against each other, Yuya Uemura and Yuta Tsuji would come to blows once again. Tsuji holds the lead going into their match at 2 to 1, in his favor. No clear advantage was made in the opening chain wrestling, but both have gotten used to each other’s counter, moving smoothly through each transition. It was Yuya who was able to wear Tsuji down after a shoulder tackle, locking in a headlock he refused to release. Powering his way through with a bodyslam, Tsuji was able to angrily get back into the match up. Another bodyslam would set Tsuji up for a running swanton, followed by a big splash. Yuya escaped before a Boston Crab could be applied and responded with a suicidal dropkick in the corner. Tsuji blocked Yuya’s arm capture belly to belly suplex, hitting a spear to take over in the match. It turned into a slap fight, both men swinging for the fences as the seconds ticked down. Yuya attempted a quick roll up, but the time limit hit before the pin could be counted, resulting in a draw.

Block B was then under way with Hirooki Goto facing Toru Yano. Yano, tied for first place in the block, was no doubt going to use whatever antics he could to keep his lead. As the bell rang, Yano offered a shirt, throwing it to his fellow Chaos teammate. Goto seemed none to pleased, tossing it aside and laying Yano out with a wild lariat. With the match just barely started, Goto wrapped on a leg lock onto Yano, flipping him over into a cradled pin for the three count! Yano was surprised and enraged, but it would be a quick and easy win for Goto.

The second match for Block B pitted rivals SANADA against Zack Sabre Jr. These two have met over a handful of times in singles competition, each with big wins over the other. The two started out with about a dozen roll ups, each trying to capture the early and easy victory. Whenever these two meet in the ring, there is sure to be counters to reversals to counters. While SANADA did his best to keep up with ZSJ’s technical skills, Zack was able to stay a step ahead. SANADA went for a planche to the outside, yet it was side stepped, allowing Zack to writher into an octopus stretch. Switching his game plan, SANADA was able to start wearing Zack down by aiming for his taped-up knee. Yet, any time SANADA got close to Zack, he risked getting a limb tied up with Zack’s killer submission instincts. Going for Skull End, SANADA tried to put an end to the match, but Zack had a counter ready for each time he found himself locked up. It was cunning on SANADA’s part, letting Zack try to counter and getting caught on the ropes, that allowed SANADA the upper hand. With Zack caught on the ropes, SANADA dropped into a cutter, setting him up for his moonsault off the top turnbuckle for the win.

Block B would continue rolling in the third match as point leader Juice Robinson faced off against EVIL, who was accompanied by Dick Togo. EVIL attacked before the bell, but Juice was able to counter with a crossbody, not wanting to give away the early advantage. It would be Dick Togo’s interference that allowed EVIL to take the fight to the outside and suplex Juice onto a pile of chairs. Back in the ring, EVIL exposed a turnbuckle, throwing Juice into it to continue working his back. Juice fought back with a series of jabs, taking time to launch himself over the ropes to take out Togo on the outside. He kept the pressure on by hitting a cannonball onto EVIL in the corner, having the match and crowd on his side. A superplex and jackhammer were not enough to put EVIL away for the 3 count. EVIL was able to backpedal from a pulp Friction, distracting the ref enough to allow Togo to hit Juice with a chair. Despite a valiant effort from Juice0, EVIL would dodge a Left Hand of God and hit a low blow while Togo distracted the ref. That was all the opening EVIL needed to hit Everything is Evil and steal the win.

The fourth match would see YOSHI-HASHI against the last remaining leader of Block B in Tetsuya Naito. Naito seemed a step ahead during the opening chain wrestling, but YOSHI was able to take Naito by surprise with a running headscissors, that launched Naito to the outside. YOSHI’s slow and deliberate pace couldn’t avoid Naito’s quick outbursts of offense, allowing Naito to take control following a neckbreaker. YOSHI seemed to have done his scouting, able to avoid Naito’s swinging DDT for a neckbreaker of his own. YOSHI got to work, hitting a top rope Headhunter to keep Naito off balance. Yet, once again, Naito’s surprise quickness put YOSHI down. While Naito was able to hit Gloria, YOSHI was careful and managed to avoid the Destino twice, allowing him to continue in the match. A shoulder breaker set YOSHI up to wear down the double Champion with a butterfly lock, able to keep Naito away from the ropes for quite a long time. When Naito was able to make his escape, he was forced to counter Karma, barely making it out of YOSHI’s finishing move. YOSHI kept up the pressure with a huge lariat and countered a third Destino with a brainbuster. A burst of energy, with a step up enziguri allowed Naito enough breathing room to hit Destino. And with the pin, Naito solidified himself as the points leader in Block B.

Finally, the main event pitting KENTA against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both men would enter at four points, and the winner would still be within striking distance of the new Block leader. It took two lock ups before KENTA went to his retreating tactics, seizing the opportunity to attack Tanahashi’s knee when the time came. KENTA was relentless on his targeted attack, mixing kicks, stomps, and submissions to keep Tanahashi writhing in pain. While Tana was able to fight back, hitting his second rope senton, KENTA was right back at the knee with a figure four leg lock. The two would exchange elbows while teetering on the apron, but Kenta’s attacks had taken their toll, and KENTA was able to dragon screw Tanahashi off the apron to the floor. With Tanahashi fighting back, KENTA needed to take the fight from both Tanahashi and the crowd. Pushing Tana into the ref, and jumping on top of both, allowing him to escape the ring and grab his IWGP US challenge briefcase. KENTA managed to clock Tana over the head with the briefcase, giving him the advantage. Despite the damage done, Tana countered the Go to Sleep with three Twist and Shouts. Building up a head of steam, thanks to the cheering fans, Tana managed to hit a High Fly Flow on a standing KENTA, letting Tanahashi lock in the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission victory!

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: 6 points
  • Hirooki Goto: 4 points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6 points
  • Juice Robinson: 6 points
  • KENTA: 4 points
  • SANADA: 4 points
  • Tetsuya Naito: 8 points
  • Toru Yano: 6 points
  • YOSHI-HASHI: 2 points
  • Zack Sabre Jr.: 4 points

Unoffical “Block C”

  • Yuya Uemura: 7 points
  • Yuta Tsuji: 8 points
  • Gabriel Kidd: 5 points

Over halfway through the G1 and both blocks have a leader standing above the rest. Block A with last years G1 winner Kota Ibushi, and Block B with Double IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito. But with four more shows per block, the landscape can quickly change for either of these men. Things start to move quickly as more wrestlers will be eliminated from contention as the shows pass. Who will be able to put themselves into a position to seize the G1?

Featured Image Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network

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