July 29th, 18:00 from Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Aichi
After a day off we’re back for Round Five of A Block competition, headlined by Ishii vs. Naito. Let’s get to it.
The story so far…
Here we go…
- BUSHI & SANADA defeated David Finlay & Michael Elgin
- EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi defeated Hirai Kawato & Katsuya Kitamura
- Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Taichi & Minoru Suzuki
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima defeated Chase Owens & Kenny Omega
- Kazuchika Okada, Gedo & Toru Yano defeated Tomoyuki Oka, Ryusuke Taguchi & Juice Robinson
A Block – Round Five
Togi Makabe vs. Yuji Nagata
Makabe largely got the better of the opening exchange, hitting a shoulder block and knocking Nagata to the floor after brushing off kicks. Nagata, whose back was bruised with the results of his mid-tournament cupping therapy, fought back to land an Exploder out of the corner for two, but Makabe cut him off again with a powerslam. Mounted punches in the corner followed, and a clothesline earned two. Elbows back-and-forth, then both men stood up to the strikes of the other, before Nagata dragged Makabe to the floor and applied the Shirome armbar. Makabe made the ropes, but Nagata peppered him with kicks and delivered a series of stiff mounted elbows. Twisting brainbuster! Two-count only. Backdrop! One, two, no. Makabe blocked a German suplex to hit one of his own and both men were down. Nagata caught Makabe as he headed to the top-rope, but eventually Makabe’s karate chops sent his opponent to the mat and he followed with a diving knee strike. Lariat from Makabe for a near-fall! Scoop slam, and the King Kong Knee Drop connected to give Makabe the win.
Disappointingly, that is that for Nagata, whose final G1 Climax hopes end with a whimper. Damn it. That’s not a reflection on the match, however, which was a fine and spirited effort between the two. ***1/2
Kota Ibushi vs. Bad Luck Fale
Ibushi used his speed to land a couple of kicks, but Fale caught his right leg and clubbed it down, then worked it over with stomps, a seated senton and by wrapping it around the ringpost. Fale pushed the referee to the mat and continued the punishment with a knee crusher, but was wobbled by dropkick and Ibushi’s strike flurry and standing moonsault got two. A shoulder block from Fale stopped the rot, but Ibushi flipped to avoid the Grenade, then attempted a German suplex, hitting it on the third attempt after ducking a charge! Outside, Fale avoided the plancha and took Ibushi into the crowd where he tossed him into the chairs, but Ibushi fought back, scaled to the upper level of seating, and launched himself onto Fale with a moonsault! Back in the ring, Ibushi floored Fale with a springboard dropkick, but was turned inside-out after running into a lariat. Bad Luck Fall countered to a sunset flip – two-count only. Head kick, also for two. Ibushi landed the arm-trapped knee lift, then attempted a piledriver(!), but Fale reversed to a samoan drop. The big man hit a splash for two, then planted Ibushi with the Grenade followed immediately by the Bad Luck Fall, and the three-count was academic.
Great match. The best of an already good tournament from Fale and among his best ever. The sheer star quality that Ibushi adds can’t be underestimated either. Don’t skip this one. ****
Hirooki Goto vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/ El Desperado)
Some early interference from El Desperado allowed Sabre to take control with an abdominal stretch, then he grounded Goto with a deathlock surfboard and inverted it for a two-count. European uppercuts were met with open-handed slaps, and Goto turned the tide with a clothesline, following with the customary spinning heel kick and backdrop for two. Sabre slipped from his grasp and applied the Octopus Hold, transitioning beautifully to double-wristlock before being hit with an Ushigoroshi. A discus clothesline landed, but Sabre countered the follow-up to a Northern Lights suplex and armbar, then manipulated the arm and nailed an overhead kick and Penalty Kick, only for for Goto to pop up and flatten him with a lariat! Sabre recovered to guillotine choke Goto, somehow turning it into a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch for a near-fall. European Clutch – two-count only. Goto fired up with elbow strikes, inviting uppercuts from Sabre, and they pummelled each other with strikes. Lariat from Goto! The praying chest kick connected then picked Sabre up and delivered the GTR. One, two, three.
Another good one. Goto struggled to Create Separation™ from the limpet-like Sabre, but eventually the tactic of primarily using strikes paid off, and he was able to keep Sabre off his back long enough to hit the GTR. Nicely done. ***1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Yoshi controlled the opening exchange, slapping Tanahashi on a rope-break and staying on him with elbows, then Tanahashi’s crossbody out of the corner was reversed, but he reversed that, and kicked Yoshi to the floor, flattening him with a plancha. Tanahashi skinned the cat to get back in the ring then began working on Yoshi’s legs, but Yoshi’s running blockbuster enabled him to hit suplex-neckbreaker for two. Tanahashi was soon back in control, though, with a Dragon Screw and low dropkick setting up the Cloverleaf. Yoshi scrambled to the ropes, and Tanahashi hit another Dragon Screw, but Yoshi blocked him on the top-rope and dumped him to the mat with a spin-out facebuster. Elbows back-and-forth, with Tanahashi’s uppercut downing Yoshi, but the follow-up was countered to a shoulderbreaker and double knees earned two. Tanahashi scored a grounded Dragon Screw, but again Yoshi hit back, this time with a left-handed lariat. Pinning powerbomb – two-count only. Swanton! One, two, no. Karma was blocked, but Yoshi got a messy roll-up for two and hit the backstabber. Another attempted Karma was countered to a swinging neckbreaker, and despite Yoshi’s best efforts, the Sling Blade connected! High Fly Flow for the win!
Tanahashi ascends to the top of the block, while Yoshi-Hashi languishes in second-to-last place, having lost his last four matches. This was a solidly good, dramatically emoted effort from these two, but lacked a strong enough thread to lift it to the next level. ***1/4
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito
A clean rope-break from Naito was followed by a spitwad and he successfully rolled into his reclining pose, irritating the Stone Pitbull. Ishii grew impatient as Naito wandered around the ring, so he smashed him into the guardrail from the apron, but was unable to capitalise and was himself whipped into the steel. Back in, Ishii took exception to Naito’s stomps and slaps and fired back with big elbow strikes and chops, but Naito upped the aggression and landed the rope-hung over-the-knee drop. Neckbreaker for two and the headscissors were applied, with Ishii eventually crawling to a rope-break. Back elbows in the corner and clubbing forearms proved an effective method of control for Naito, but Ishii countered a charge into a powerslam to earn some respite. He blasted Naito to the mat with elbows and headbutts, landing a vertical suplex for two, but was still clutching at his neck, which Naito then damaged further was another over-the-knee drop and the slingshot corner dropkick. The tornado DDT was avoided, however, and Ishii hit a German suplex.
A big spitwad from Naito only served to infuriate Ishii, and he cracked Naito with an elbow strike and clotheslined him in the corner, but Naito escaped the superplex to land a hanging neckbreaker and German suplex for two. A chop to the throat from Ishii was replied to with a leaping forearm, and the Dragon suplex dumped Ishii on his head for another two-count. Ishii returned the favour with a rebound German after ducking a charge and both men were down. Slaps from Naito, headbutts from Ishii! Powerbomb pin from Ishii – two-count only! Brainbuster countered to the tornado DDT by Naito – Ishii popped right up, but was floored with another German. Ishii initially blocked Destino, but Naito countered into it by reversing Ishii’s inverted brainbuster attempt. Two-count only! Huge enzuigiri from Ishii, then he countered Destino into a jawbreaker (I think) and landed the sliding lariat! One, two, no! A huge lariat turned Naito inside-out! One, two, NO! Brainbuster! One, two, three!
A huge win for Ishii which keeps A Block tight and leaves Naito with some work to do. This was a strong main event, with an unexpected result, especially given that Ishii also beat Naito in the US title tournament. It was the better of the two matches too, I felt, though not by a great deal. Good stuff. ****
A Block standings after Round Five
- Tanahashi – 8
- Fale – 6
- Goto – 6
- Ishii – 6
- Makabe – 6
- Naito – 6
- Sabre Jr. – 6
- Ibushi – 4
- YOSHI-HASHI – 2
- Nagata – 0
Final thoughts: A very good show today, with every tournament match delivering, a great Fale/Ibushi match and a quality main event.
I’m back tomorrow – a few hours later than normal – for the B Block show which takes us past the halfway point. See you then.
Nine down, ten to go.