Tonight, the G1 Climax finds its Block A finalist, as the last three leaders face off to try and cement their way into the G1 Final. The three leaders are Jay White, Kota Ibushi, and Kazuchika Okada, all wanting to compete for the IWGP Heavyweight Contract. The paths for each are different, some having to rely on a bit of luck to win, but each still has destiny in their own hands. Meanwhile Will Ospreay still has a chance, as a win tonight could allow him a three-way tie in the final. Block A comes to a close on Night 17!
The Young Lions would start off the night with Yota Tsuji facing off against Gabriel Kidd. The two would go in with a head to head record of 2-2-1, keeping them neck and neck thus far in the G1. The two charged each other right at the bell, with Tsuji taking over with strikes, beating Gabriel down. Despite a few roll ups from Gabriel, Tsuji was able to stay on top. It was a hip toss that allowed Gabriel to take over on offense, keeping Tsuji grounded. Yet, when Gabriel tried to take Tsuji over with a suplex, Tsuji turned the tables, powering Gabriel up for a suplex of his own. Tsuji would try his running swanton and get caught when Gabriel scouted it out, grabbing a crucifix pin in its stead. Back to a vertical base, the two would start exchanging blows. A dropkick from Gabriel saw him attempt his Butterfly Suplex, but Tsuji wouldn’t allow Gabriel to get him up. Gabriel would leave himself open, allowing Tsuji to hit a spear. It was downhill for Gabriel from there, falling victim to a big swing and getting locked into the Boston Crab. Tsuji would be able to get Gabriel to tap out for the win, giving Yota Tsuji the victory in the unofficial “C Block” with a final total of 14 points.
The final night of Block A would kick off with the scoreless Yujiro Takahashi against powerhouse Jeff Cobb. While this match may not have been much for these men in the tournament, it had potential inplications on Will Ospreay’s G1, if it came down to secondary tie breaks. The two would lock up and Cobb’s power gave him the early advantage in the match, attacking with big strikes and some holds. Yujiro would retreat to the outside, taking advantage of Cobb with the barricade, and hitting a reverse DDT onto the floor. It was enough to rock Cobb, and Yujiro had the upper hand, striking at Cobb with kicks. He would bite and grab the hair, hitting whatever strikes he could on Cobb to try and get a win. There hasn’t been a winless wrestler in the G1 since 2014 when Tomoaki Honma went scoreless the entirety of the G1. Cobb would hit Yujiro with a belly to belly suplex, getting the advantage. His standing moonsault would set him up to try Tour of the Isles, but Yujiro would push the ref into Cobb, allowing Yujiro to attack with his cane. Yujiro would throw as much offence as he could on Cobb, hitting an Olympic slam, to help set himself up. With Cobb dazed, Yujiro was able to hit the short DDT, Pimp Juice, and the victory to get his G1 win!
The next match had two men tied at six points a piece. A rematch of their August showdown for the Never Openweight Championship, Shingo Takagi and the champion Minoru Suzuki. In that last face off, it was Suzuki winning the title off Shingo, but a win here would allow Shingo the right to challenge for the title again. At the bell, the two met in the middle of the ring, immedietly exchanging strikes. Suzuki would catch Shingo in a rope assisted armbar, drawing the refs count. Dragging Shingo to the outside, Suzuki would brutalize Shingo by throwing him into the barricades. Back in the ring, Suzuki kept up the pressure, attacking Shingo’s arm. A guillotine by Suzuki would be reversed into a suplex by Shingo, allowing him to start to rally. Yelling at Suzuki to stand, Shingo would offer himself up to an exchange of forearm strikes. Shingo would lay in a combo, but Suzuki refused to go down, drawing out a sadistic smile from the 52 year old. Suzuki would be able to lock in the sleeper hold, but got caught by Shingo in a death valley driver. It was apparent the damage on the arm had done its job, as Shingo had to really shake it out after hitting a sliding lariat. An opening came up as Shingo charged in for a pumping bomber, and Suzuki grabbed the arm for an armbar. While Shingo struggled to get Suzuki off the ground, Suzuki would release the armbar to continue to punish the arm with strikes, locking in the Fujiwara armbar instead. Escaping the hold wasn’t enough, as Suzuki grabbed the sleeper again. Shingo fought off Suzuki, and mid rally caught a collection of stiff slaps for his trouble. But headbutts from Shingo would save him, as well as a slap that put Suzuki on dream street. It was enough for Shingo to lift up Suzuki and slam him to the mat with Last of the Dragon, and pull off the victory.
Okada needs a win, and for Jay White and Kota Ibushi to lose to make the Final
Will needs to win, and for Jay White and Kota Ibushi to lose to make a three-way tie, and go to secondary tiebreakers
From here out, the matches would feature one of the men attempting to get to the G1 Final. It would start with Chaos stablemates Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada. The bell rang and Will shot straight to Okada, hitting him with a dropkick, forcing Okada out of the ring. Immediately, Will ran the ropes to hit a Sasuke Special and followed through with a Pip pip cheerio to keep the quick attack going. Will tried to put away the match early, trying both Stormbreaker and the Oz cutter, but Okada would avoid them both and grab an early Money Clip. While Will would manage the escape, Okada would keep on his own offense, hitting a draping DDT to the floor. Okada was able to slow the pace from there, keeping the upper hand as things continued. Having avoided using the actual Rainmaker finisher to challenge himself this G1, would Okada try to call up the move, as his chance to make the G1 Final stood in the balance of the 2 points? Okada would set Will up on the top turnbuckle, going for his standing dropkick, but Will would escape, and instead use the signature dropkick on Okada, sending him tumbling to the floor. Outside the ring was not safe for Okada, as Will jumped over the turnbuckle to crash into Okada on the outside! A Hidden Blade allowed Will to keep the upper hand on Okada. A reversed Stormbreaker allowed Okada to hit a short arm Rainmaker, keeping wrist control when the two fell to the mat. While Will dodged a second, he’d get laid out with a tombstone and found himself locked into the Money Clip. Making it to the ropes, Will slapped Okada, saying he was “just as good” as him. A reversal to the rolling rainmaker had Will rolling again, able to hit the Oz Cutter. Okada would return the favor by escaping from Stormbreaker, locking in the Money Clip again. The two would fight back and forth, trying to avoid the others finisher. It would be Okada who took Will down with the rolling Rainmaker, that allowed him to lock in Money Clip again. Unexpectedly, Will’s girlfriend Bea Priestley came down to the ring, cheering Will on in hopes to rally him. When it wasn’t working, Bea attempted to enter the ring, which distracted the ref. A sudden appearance from the Great-O-Kharn, a Young Lion who went on excursion and been away from New Japan for over a year, slid into the ring and grabbed Okada by the face, slamming him down on the mat before retreating to the outside. Will seemed confused by the situation, but took advantage of it nonetheless, hitting the Stormbreaker and eliminating Okada from the G1! While Will’s hopes depended on the next two matches, he began to leave with Bea… until he turned around, back into the ring and hit Okada with another hidden blade! Yelling into Okada’s face that Okada held him back, Will would then leave with a big smile on his face.
Kota needs to win and for Jay to lose to make the Final
The fourth match had Taichi taking on Kota Ibushi, who was looking to go back to back in G1’s. Taichi was quite a pain for Ibushi over the summer, as the two faced off in tag team action, with Taichi attempting to break Ibushi away from his partner Tanahashi, and join Suzuki-gun. Ibushi held out, but Taichi didn’t make life any easier of him through the summer months. The two would start by exchanging kicks to the thigh in the ring, matching each other and trying not to back down. They seemed evenly matched, with both eventually walking away to shake out their legs. It would be Taichi who’s kicks would chop down Ibushi first, but Ibushi popped right back up to deliver one more kick before both men collapsed. Ibushi made it to his feet first, slamming a kick onto Taichi’s back as he was sitting. Challenging Taichi, Ibushi would sit, opening himself up for a kick to the back from his opponent. The two would get to a vertical base, and started to exchange chest kicks, neither one backing down from the other. They invited each other to take their best shot, leaving themselves open for whatever the other could throw. Taichi would be the first to go down, but surprisingly never tried to exit or leave the ring. Taichi recovered, peppered Ibushi with some more kicks, and tried to take him down with his dangerous backdrop suplex. Ibushi rolled through, landing on his feet, and yelled at Taichi to bring out his fighting spirit. It was apparent that neither man wanted to be the lesser in the exchange, and they would take each other down with high head kicks. They eventually made it back to their feet, and the kicks started having less power behind them. Taichi tried to pump himself up in a rally, ripping off his tearaway pants to try and psych himself up. Yet he would be the one to collapse again, this time, taking Ibushi down from the ground with a powerful sweep. It seemed Ibushi wasn’t content with just winning, but winning against the best Taichi he could bring out of him. The fifteen-minute mark passed, with both men literally holding themselves up on the other, still trying to chop away with kicks. While Taichi is quite known not playing by the rules, this fighting spirit and passion got the fans behind both wrestlers, who were giving their all to just prove the dominant striker in the ring. It was a final head kick from Ibushi that dazed Taichi long enough for Ibushi to hit the Kamigoye, in a match that only saw two moves that were not kicks. Ibushi managed to outlast Taichi, and take the win to keep his G1 alive. The win would also eliminate Will’s chances at the Final, with it all coming down to the last match.
Jay would need to win to make it to the final
The main event would be the final Block A match of the G1. Jay white’s destiny was in his own hands, as a win would lead him to the G1 Final. But he would have to take on the Stone Pitbull Tomohiro Ishii, who was never an easy task. When the bell rang, Jay immediately left the ring, trying to play mind games with Ishii. Jay would enterthe ring, circling Ishii, who merely stood his ground, prompting Jay to get in Ishii’s face and ask, “Is anyone there?”. The resounding answer was yes, in the form of a forearm to the jaw, as Jay rolled to the floor for safety. Ishii would give chase, but a distraction from Gedo allowed Jay to slam Ishii into the barricade a few times. The advantage in Jay’s favor, he’d take Ishii down with a bodyslam, and began to mock Ishii some more with some love taps to the head. Ishii did NOT take kindly to this, and would fire back, laying Jay out with a powerslam, and set him up for chops in the corner. Jay tried to shield himself, turning around to protect his chest, but Ishii kept chopping away at Jay’s back instead. Jay was able to lash out at Ishii’s knee, which had been heavily taped up most the tournament to take over again. Jay’s attack on Ishii’s weakened knee was relentless. Despite Ishii trying to stiffen up a few times, absorbing chops and stikes to lay Jay out with a single forearm; It was the targeted offense to the knee that kept Ishii struggling to stay in the match. Jay was also smart in trying to avoid Ishii’s offense, as he went for his elbow combination, Jay would drop to the ground and cover up. A dodge to Ishii’s sliding lariat left him open to Jay’s complete shot and deadlift german suplex combo. Ishii would manage to catch Jay with a german suplex into the turnbuckle, and try to get Jay up for a superplex. Yet Gedo would interfere again, holding Jay in place to avoid the big move. Ishii would eventually get the superplex, but despite his fight, Jay would dodge a jumping kick, locking Ishii in the TTO, Jay’s knee submission. Ishii fought to the ropes, but was merely a heap in the ring afterwards. Jay was dominant and it showed, hitting Ishii with a sleeper suplex and the Kiwi Crusher. Despite the damage, Ishii still kicked out. Ishii then changed his usual gameplan, attacking Jay’s knee in return to take over. Ishii was willing to put his body on the line, hitting a knee breaker on Jay, hurting his own in the process. But Ishii’s change in tactics seemed to work, as he got Jay to the ground and locked in a kneebar. Gedo charged the ring, allowing Jay to grab the ref and escape the kneebar. The numbers game looked like it would be too much for Ishii to overcome, but he’d send Gedo out of the ring and hit the sliding lariat on Jay. As he went for the brainbuster, Gedo would grab the ref, allowing Jay to reverse the brainbuster and hit a low blow. It looked downhill for Ishii there, falling victim to a regalplex. Ishii would start firing back, trying to desperately get into the fight, eating sleeper suplexes, but still getting to his feed. The two would jockey for positioning to hit their finisher, but Ishii would surprise Jay with a suplex stunner and took out a charging Gedo. Taking Jay out with a lariat and finally connected with the Brainbuster! Ishii managed to overcome the attack on the knee and the numbers game and pulled off the unlikely victory!
Block A: Final score
- Jay White: 12 points
- Kota Ibushi: 14 points
- Minoru Suzuki: 6 Points
- Taichi: 8 Points
- Kazuchica Okada: 12 points
- Shingo Takagi: 8 points
- Tomohiro Ishii: 8 points
- Jeff Cobb: 8 points
- Will Ospreay: 12 points
- Yujiro Takahashi: 2 points
- EVIL: 12 points
- Hirooki Goto: 8 points
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6 points
- Juice Robinson: 6 points
- KENTA: 8 points
- SANADA: 10 points
- Tetsuya Naito: 12 points
- Toru Yano: 6 points
- YOSHI-HASHI: 2 points
- Zack Sabre Jr.: 10 points
Unoffical “Block C”
- Yuya Uemura: 11 points
- Yuta Tsuji: 14 points
- Gabriel Kidd: 9 points
The winner for Block A, making it to the G1 Final for the third year in a row, is Kota Ibushi! Ibushi finished the G1 with only two losses, collecting 14 points to win the block. He gets to rest on Saturday, finding out his opponent for the G1 Final, as Block B would face off. Ibushi looked to win the G1 for the second year in a row, which would make him the first to win consecutive G1’s since Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 2003 and 2004. Block A has its finalist, and now we wait for the Block B as they try to find their finalist. A huge congratulations to Kota Ibushi!
Featured Image Credit: Matthew Boyce/Game Changer Sports Network
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