The final third of the G1 starts on Night 13, leaving only 3 more shows per Block to find their finalists. With so little time left, it’ll take determination and grit to find it within themselves to win the Block. The home stretch begins as the G1 Final looms ahead.

The Young Lion exhibition started the night with Yuta Tsuji vs Yuya Uemura. Tsuji holds a single win advantage over Yuya in the G1 season going into the match. The two expertly exchanged holds in the chain wrestling, keep their opponent on their toes. It was a shoulder tackle that saw Tsuji try to take the advantage. But a drop toe hold from Yuya opened the opportunity to attack the arm, which Yuya latched onto. Yuya was able to work the arm for minutes, and would have continued, until Tsuji lifted and slammed Yuya to the mat. Tsuji’s rally would come to an end when Yuya went right back to the arm. A dropkick was enough for Tsuji to lock in the Boston Crab. Yuya would power through, making his way to the ropes. With Tsuji nursing his arm, Yuya would be able to capture both arms for his Belly to Belly Suplex, which he bridged for the pin, winning the match.

Block A kicked off with Jeff Cobb and Tomohiro Ishii. Both men would try to prove their toughness, neither going down to their opponent’s shoulder tackles. It was a shoulder tackle from Cobb that finally took Ishii down. A backdrop suplex and chops would putt Cobb down, but not for long. A leg capture belly to belly suplex launched Ishii across the ring for Jeff to take over. The two fought for control over a suplex, with Ishii finally able to get Cobb over. The two would exchange suplexes, refusing to stay down for the other. It was a charging headbutt from Cobb that laid Ishii out. Ishii was able to escape the Tour of the Isle, and lay Cobb out with multiple lariats. Ishii and Cobb continued to battle it out, going move for move with each other. It was Cobb who was finally able to pill Ishii into the Tour of the Isles to get the pin.

The next Block match would feature Bullet Club teammates Yujiro Takahashi and Jay White. With Yujiro being win less, perhaps there was a plan within Bullet Club for Yujiro to take an easy loss to Jay, allowing Jay to stay in line with the leaders in Block A. It definitely seemed that way, as Jay came down in just workout pants and sneakers, alongside Gedo. The three Bullet Club members would Too Sweet in the middle of the ring before the bell. Once the match started, Yujiro did merely lay down, allowing Jay to get the pin. But Jay was cocky and playing games, letting up on the pin three times at the one count, enjoying taking his time with his soon to be win. Yujiro seemed to take exception to that, kicking out, and then bringing the fight to Jay. Jay had little defense to Yujiro’s sudden fight, relying on Gedo to distract the ref as Yujiro set up Pimp Juice. The distraction allowed Jay to low blow Yujiro, allowing him to hit the Bladerunner on Yujiro for the win. The fight seemed to piss off Jay greatly, who retrived a chair to beat down Yujiro further. Gedo got in the way, calming down Jay, stopping the potential beat down. While Jay left without swinging the chair, it is a wonder if there is now a rift developing withing Bullet Club going forward. The win did boost Jay to the leader position at ten points in Block A.

The third match featured Taichi against Will Ospreay. While Will looked full of energy to start, Taichi seemed almost relaxed, allowing Will to push him to the ropes during the opening lock ups.  Will’s cockiness got the better of him, ruffling Taichi’s hair, who went straight for the eyes of Will. While Will was able to take the fight to the outside, it was there that Taichi would reign supreme, catching Will off guard with usage of the timekeeper’s bell hammer, as well as the cords to the cameras. Bringing the fight back into the ring, Taichi continued his underhanded tactics, going for chokes and eye gouges to stay ahead. It was Will’s kicks and a Sasuke Special that saw him move momentum back in his favor. Some well executed acrobatics assisted will, landing on his feet from two dodged moonsaults, to hit a running Shooting Star Press. Taichi managed to keep Will off guard with an Enzuguri, leading to the two trading blows. While Will would win that battle, he was soon dropped on his head with Taichi’s dangerous backdrop suplex. And while Will would fight out of a possible top rope Black Mephisto, he would find himself landing on Taichi’s raised knees on a 450 Splash attempt. A thrust kick on the Oz Cutter gave Taichi the ability to attempt Black Mephisto again, but neither could find their finisher just yet. It was Will’s quick offense that allowed him to pile on an Oz Cutter, Hidden Blade, and finally the Stormbreaker to keep Taichi down. The win would move Will to ten points to take the leader position at ten points, having the Head to Head tie breaker with Jay White.

The fourth match would see the Never Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki face off against the defending G1 winner Kota Ibushi. They would stand across the ring, starting out with measured strikes, looking closer to a kickboxing match. Both Ibushi and Suzuki have had experience in MMA/ kickboxing, with Ibushi winning a shinkarate K-2 tournament in 2003. When the two went to grappling, they seemed pretty evenly matched. Ibushi took the first advantage, kicking Suzuki off the apron to the floor. Suzuki went to the entrance ramp, challenging Ibushi to meet him. Ibushi did and was peppered with stiff forearms for his trouble, leaving him almost unable to return to the ring to avoid the count out.  Continuing to lay on the strikes, Suzuki laughed in Ibushi’s face each time Ibushi fired back. While Ibushi was able to take over with a dropkick as well as a striking combo, Suzuki tensed up, challenging and absorbing many high kicks to the chest. Suzuki then dropped Ibushi with like a bag of rocks with a single elbow strike to the jaw. The two were in a classic competition of toughness, taking the best shots the other had. The two were throwing everything they had at each other, but Suzuki dodged a strike to slap on the sleeper. The sleeper weakened Ibushi to be turned around for Suzuki to try for the Gotch Style Piledriver. Ibushi reversed to set up Kamigoye, which Suzuki countered into a Boston Crab. Ibushi did manage to escape the hold, hitting a standing Kamigoye that dropped Suzuki like a stiff plank. Grabbing Suzuki, Ibushi was able to land his Kamigoye and win the match, making Block A a three-way tie for first place. Despite the loss, Suzuki had a smile on his face, maybe appreciating the hard hitting and hard-fought match.

 The main event for the night would pit Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi. While Okada seemed to have the opening wrestling salvo, a pair of shoulder tackles had Shingo standing tall. A running dropkick saw Okada take back the match for himself. A few swift dodges saw Shingo take Okada to the outside, allowing Shingo to hit a DDT onto the arena floor. Shingo kept the pressure up, wearing Okada down with a body scissors and targeting Okada’s injured lower back. Okada was able to rally back, hitting some of his signature offense. A pop up death valley driver from Shingo was an attempt at a rally, but Okada evened the odds with a neckbreaker. While the two battled for dominance in the match, it was Okada that took control with his dropkick to Shingo, while Shingo sat atop the turnbuckle. A draping DDT on the floor was almost enough to put Shingo away. Shingo would have to choose his spots, escaping Okada’s attempt at a roll up from the Money Clip. Shingo was able to hit the Noshigami for a 2 count, but Okada wasn’t down and out. Okada hit his beautiful dropkick and a tombstone piledriver, using it to lock in the Money Clip again. Shingo was able to reach the ropes, trying to stay in the match to try and stay in contention for the Block. The end of the match saw Shingo and Okada avoid each other’s finishers, Okada hitting an improv Rainmaker, and Shingo hitting a full Rainmaker on Okada. Despite the back and forth, it was Okada that got the last laugh, hitting a rolling lariat and locking in the Money Clip. Shingo tried to hold on, but passed out in the final minute, forcing the ref to call for the bell.

Block A:

  • Jay White: 10 points
  • Kota Ibushi: 10 points
  • Minoru Suzuki: 6 Points
  • Taichi: 6 Points
  • Kazuchika Okada: 10 points
  • Shingo Takagi: 6 points
  • Tomohiro Ishii: 6 points
  • Jeff Cobb: 6 points
  • Will Ospreay: 10 points
  • Yujiro Takahashi: 0 points

Block B:

  • EVIL: 8 points
  • Hirooki Goto: 6 points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6 points
  • Juice Robinson: 6 points
  • KENTA: 4 points
  • SANADA: 6 points
  • Tetsuya Naito: 10 points
  • Toru Yano: 6 points
  • YOSHI-HASHI: 2 points
  • Zack Sabre Jr.: 6 points

Unoffical “Block C”

  • Yuya Uemura: 7 points
  • Yuta Tsuji: 10 points
  • Gabriel Kidd: 7 points

Now there are three categories that Block A has. Eliminated, the six point group, and the leaders, at ten points. Four men are tied for the top spot, leaving Block A still hot for someone to take. There is only two more shows for Block A to settle the matter and find their finalist to take on whoever wins Block B. The opportunity to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom lies in wait, for those bold enough to push through the last of the G1.

Featured Image Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network

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