Block B kicks off its final third, with just three shows left to go. Only one man stands at the top in Tetsuya Naito, with just one other in striking distance in his ex-teammate EVIL. The two leaders of Block B face off head to head for Block dominance as we continue down the home stretch.

The Young Lions would start off the G1 with Yota Tsuji facing off against Gabriel Kidd. Tsuji holds a lead over Gabriel by a single win in their match ups in the G1 Season. A lock up lead straight into strikes where Gabriel was able to show off his tenacity, taking Tsuji off his feet with a hip toss. Tsuji was able to escape a headlock using the ropes, and rebounded into the match with a dropkick. A running swanton, followed by a big splash turned the tides favorable to Tsuji. Tsuji then locked in an unorthodox submission, trapping Gabriel quite effectively. Gabriel was only able to escape when Tsuji transitioned the hold into a pin. The two would go back and forth, but it was a dropkick from Gabriel that caught Tsuji off guard. From there, Gabriel was able to hit his Butterfly Suplex, collecting the win.

 Block B would then kick off with the eliminated YOSHI-HASHI taking on Zack Sabre Jr. Zack would need the win to have any chance of keeping his hopes alive in the G1. While Zack was able to out wrestle YOSHI, Yoshi then deployed an offence of hitting strikes on the run, never giving Zack a chance to grab a limb for a submission. The first move YOSHI attempted not on the run was reversed by Zack, who went to working on Yoshi’s arm. Yoshi came back, fighting Zack with strikes and some of his signature offence, such as a dropkick while Zack was draped over the top rope. The attack on the arm was enough for Zack to avoid getting picked up, and Zack went right back to work on the arm, trying to keep YOSHI grounded. It was an ill thought out spring off the turnbuckle pad that saw Zack get locked into YOSHI’s Butterfly Lock. Zack was able to fight through to the ropes and went right back to his targeted offense, not letting up on the previous damage he had been dishing out throughout the match. The two came to literal blows, exchanging strikes, which allowed YOSHI to stun Zack. But YOSHI wasn’t able to connect with Karma, as Zack avoided it twice, and floored YOSHI into several submissions, to keep him from the ropes. With Yoshi’s arms locked up. And unable to get to the ropes, YOSHI had no choice but to submit to the Submission specialist, keeping Zack’s G1 hopes alive.

The next match would Pit Turo Yano against KENTA, neither who had won a match since Night 6. The match started with Kenta grabbing his briefcase, leading to Yano grabbing a chair to even the odds. After an exchange of yelling from both men, as well as the ref, the two went to throw their weapons aside, but KENTA feinted, still holding onto his briefcase. As the ref talked to KENTA, Yano would take the turnbuckle pad to once again, even the odds. When they were both told to be rid of the weapons again, KENTA played the same trick on Yano, still holding onto his briefcase. He would eventually put it away, but exited the ring before the two could lock up. Yano would leave on the opposite side, both yelling across the arena at each other. They stood their ground on the outside until the very last second of the count out. It must have been close to the five-minute mark before they even touched each other. It was Yano’s antics that allowed him to get the early advantage, but KENTA was more than willing to play dirty as well. Using Yano’s spray, KENTA was able to blind Yano as well as the ref, letting KENTA drag Yano up to the entrance stage. KENTA smashed Yano with his briefcase, releasing about 20 rolls of tape onto the ramp. KENTA taped Yano’s wrists together around a piece of the stage, allowing KENTA to run back to the ring and get the count out victory. Despite each being at 6 points, a bit of luck and winning their last matches can keep them in contention.

The third match for the G1 would feature Juice Robinson taking on SANADA. SANADA is the lone black mark on the leader’s G1, having beaten Naito earlier in the G1 season, meaning even with a loss, SANADA could still be in contention. A loss for Juice, would mean his almost guaranteed elimination from the G1 finals. Locking up, the two were fairly even, only able to get brief advantages over the other. It was Juice that was able to take over, catching SANADA with a spinebuster that planted SANADA. Juice kept the pressure on with a backbreaker as well as senton to keep SANADA off balance. SANADA tried to fight back, but maybe went with a risky move, missing a standing moonsault, allowing Juice to keep his advantage. But SANADA was able to pull out dodges as well, getting out of the way from a cannonball, finally getting him back into the match. With Juice mid rally, SANADA reversed a Juice Box allowing him to lock Juice into the Paradise Lock. SANADA tried to flip into the Skull End, but Juice was able to trap SANADA, taking him down with a full nelson slam. While SANADA was fighting back, Juice matched him with reversals to keep his advantage. SANADA was able to slip into Skull End, fighting through Juice’s attempts to reverse and hit Pulp Friction. Locking in Skull End in four different occasions, it was that fourth that put Juice down long enough for SANADA to climb to the top turnbuckle and hit the moonsault, for the win.

The fourth match had Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto. With both at six points, and a loss to Block Leader Naito, a loss in this match would almost guarantee elimination. The early grappling seemed to go to Tanahashi, who tried to roll up Goto, showing the lengths he’d go to try and get the victory. Tanahashi wasn’t able to get the roll up, so he changed his strategy, attacking Goto’s knee instead. Goto did his best to rally, hitting a backdrop suplex on the Ace. Yet, Tanahashi was relentless on the knee, hitting multiple dragon screws to keep Goto down. The fight of Goto wasn’t to be denied, willing to sacrifice his knee with the Ushigoroshi. The two went to blows with heavy forearms, which allowed Goto to take over with a lariat. Fighting with their G1 on the line, they fought each other, trying to drag the other over with a suplex. Instead, Tanahashi went sideways, hitting the twist and shout and followed through with a slingblade. Tana went to the top, looking to go for his High Fly Flow, but Goto met him at the top turnbuckle, taking Tana down with an Ushigoroshi from the top. Despite Tanahashi escaping the GTR once, Goto was still able to get Tanahashi, and land the GTR for the win.

The main event would be the singles rubber match between EVIL and Tetsuya Naito. EVIL had once been part of Naito’s team Los Ingobernables de Japon, but after EVIL won the New Japan Cup, he betrayed Naito to join Bullet Club. EVIL would go on to beat Naito, to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental belts. Naito would eventually win them back, avenging his loss. Now the two face off in the rubber match, with the lead spot for Block B on the line. Naito was clear to keep an eye on Dick Togo, at ringside for EVIL. While EVIL tried to start it with a swift kick, Naito’s quick offence allowed him to send EVIL outside with a headscissors, and hit his signature Tranquilo pose. Naito had no issue pulling EVIL’s hair, showing there was no love loss between the two.  Despite the advantage Naito enjoyed, Togo would trip him, pulling out of the ring and throwing Naito into the barricade. This opening allowed EVIL to go out and drop toe hold Naito onto a pile of chairs. EVIL would follow through by draping a chair over Naito’s neck, and slamming it with a second chair. As Naito recovered on the outside, EVIL returned to the ring, and removed the turnbuckle pad, setting the ring up to his destructive liking. Naito had the favor of his hair getting pulled, when he attempted to fight back. Evil had the full advantage, throwing Naito into the exposed turnbuckle as well. While Naito was able to start to rally, hitting a Gloria, the two would be locked in a chess match, trying to get the final blow to put the match away. It was Dick Togo, who received an elbow shot from Naito, that opened the opportunity for EVIL to score a low blow. While Naito was still able to fight on, hitting an improv Destino, EVIL reversed a full Destino into Everything is Evil. That allowed EVIL to get the win, and take the leader spot for Block B.

Block A:

  • Jay White: 10 points
  • Kota Ibushi: 10 points
  • Minoru Suzuki: 6 Points
  • Taichi: 6 Points
  • Kazuchica 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: 10 points
  • Hirooki Goto: 8 points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6 points
  • Juice Robinson: 6 points
  • KENTA: 6 points
  • SANADA: 8 points
  • Tetsuya Naito: 10 points
  • Toru Yano: 6 points
  • YOSHI-HASHI: 2 points
  • Zack Sabre Jr.: 8 points

Unoffical “Block C”

  • Yuya Uemura: 9 points
  • Yuta Tsuji: 10 points
  • Gabriel Kidd: 9 points

Now things start to get interesting. While eliminations are coming quickly, seeing the odds stacked against some wrestlers just motivate them more. Keeping up with the circumstances to allow someone to stay in, came be dizzying. KENTA has six points, but he still has a chance for a large tie at the leader spot. For KENTA to stay in, he needs to win his next two matches, including one against Naito, EVIL to lose his next two matches, Goto would have to lose to Juice, and Tanahashi would have to win his next two matches. The complications show the excitement for the journey ahead for the wrestlers, as they begin to look ahead not just at the G1 final, but what could be in their future beyond.

Featured Image Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network

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