August 12th, 18:30 from Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo
The final A Block show and five men are still in the running. Fale faces Tonga, while Goto and Marufuji face off, as do Okada and Tanahashi! It’s the closing weekend of the G1 Climax and this is the first of three shows at Sumo Hall, so let’s get to it.
A Block – Current Standings
- Fale – 10
- Goto – 10
- Marufuji – 10
- Okada – 10
- Tanahashi – 10
- Makabe – 8
- Ishii – 6
- Tonga – 6
- SANADA – 6
- Tenzan – 4
Japanese and English commentary today. The English team consists of Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino and Rocky Romero.
Here we go…
A Block – Round Nine
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. SANADA
Great support inside Sumo Hall for Tenzan, whose Mongolian Chops sent Sanada scurrying to the outside. The LIJ representative used his baseball bat and other nefarious means to stay in control until Tenzan fired back with a spinning heel kick and suplex for two. Mountain Bomb, but Sanada hit his beautiful springboard dropkick and a standing moonsault for two. Tenzan blocked the Dragon Sleeper, but the TKO connected for a near-fall and the crowd were willing Tenzan to fight back. Sanada missed the moonsault, but a German suplex earned him a two-count, before Tenzan countered to a TTD. Tenzan headed up top, and his moonsault missed too, but he fired away with headbutts and signalled for Kojima’s Western Lariat. It connected, but only for a two-count, so he locked in the Anaconda Vice before hitting the Anaconda Buster for another near-fall. Sanada countered to his Dragon Sleeper and Tenzan just made the ropes, and this time the low-angle moonsault connected for… two! Dragon Sleeper once more and Tenzan was forced to tap. This picked up nicely with some good near-falls towards the end. Sanada’s had a very good tournament and already looks like he belongs near the top of the card. Tenzan, meanwhile, acquitted himself admirably throughout, performing with great heart. ***1/2
Tenzan is in tears after the match and hugs Kojima in the ring as his final G1 Climax comes to a close. A nice moment.
Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii
These two have had some wars before, and even with both men out of the running, pride was on the line here. They needed no excuse to lay into each other from the off, and Ishii took control with some dangerously high chops to the neck. He stayed on top with elbows until Makabe decided he’d had enough of being hit and came back with mounted punches and corner clotheslines. Elbow strikes back-and-forth and Ishii was struggling. He willed himself up, Makabe kept firing away, and Ishii leant into the strikes before knocking Makabe down. Superplex from Ishii for a two-count. German suplex from Ishii, no sold, but a Dragon suplex and enzuigiri knocked Makabe down. Makabe struck back to hit a kneeling powerbomb for two, then nailed three lariats, but Ishii kept getting up! German suplex for a two-count, then the spider suplex landed, but Ishii rolled out of the way of the King Kong Knee Drop. Double clotheslines, then a trio of unprotected headbutts. Gross. Lariat from Ishii! One-count. Sliding lariat! Two-count. Brainbuster! Three-count. Brutally hard-hitting and Makabe displayed an intensity that’s been absent in most of his matches. ****
Bad Luck Fale vs. Tama Tonga
Fale ruined another of the announcer’s suits. Leave him alone, you big bully! The rest of the Bullet Club, minus Kenny Omega, were at ringside and dear me, that’s one ragtag stable. Tonga laid down for the pin and Fale did the arrogant cover, but Tonga kicked out and tried to roll Fale up! Fale and the gang were incredulous. They tried it once more, but Tonga refused to take the pin, so Fale started the beatdown. He threatened a Bad Luck Fall to the floor, and did so – right onto the rest of the Club! Tonga made it in before the count, but Fale stayed in control with Vader-like forearms in the corner. Tonga fired back with a Stinger splash, neckbreaker and splash for two, but was soon cut off. Splash from Fale for two, and he twice blocked the Gun Stun to hit a spear. Tonga slipped out of the Bad Luck Fall, then reversed the Grenade to the Headshrinker DDT for a near-fall. Gun Stun! One, two, three. That puts Fale out of the running. A surprisingly fun match. ***
Hirooki Goto vs. Naomichi Marufuji
Goto looked fired up in the early moments, but Marufuji delivered a bulldog onto the barrier on the outside, and back in the ring he took control with chops and a chinlock. More chops from Marufuji, but Goto invited them, so it was his own fault. Goto eventually found some success with a high kick, a backdrop and a diving elbow for two, but Marufuji’s cartwheel dropkick sent him to the outside and the NOAH man followed with a running plancha. A springboard dropkick earned two, then an elbow/chop battle commenced. Crescent kick from Marufuji, but Goto ducked the follow-up for an over-the-knee neckbreaker, although he was unable to take advantage. Jumping knee from Marufuji, Shiranui blocked, and Goto nailed a headbutt to put his opponent down. Ushigoroshi – two-count only. GTR avoided, and Marufuji nailed a couple of side kicks and a jumping knee for a near-fall. The Shiranui was blocked once more, and Goto cinched in a Sleeper. He held on, then lifted Marufuji to deliver the GTR for the three-count to take the lead in the block. The fact that a Marufuji win would’ve eliminated Okada before the main event undercut the tension, but this was otherwise a good match. Goto needs Okada/Tanahashi to end in a draw in order to win the block. ***1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
The winner takes it all. After an even few minutes of exchanges, Okada got on a crazy roll, hitting the reverse neckbreaker, shotgun dropkick and diving elbow drop, before signalling for the Rainmaker! Tanahashi countered to a small package for a near-fall before taking a breather on the outside. Back in, Okada applied a weird submission/pinning combination, but that didn’t work, and Tanahashi caught a big boot and delivered a low dropkick. He continued to work over Okada’s leg for a couple of minutes, before being back body dropped off a charge, and Okada hit a series of back elbows and DDT before kipping up (and tweaking his knee). Jumping uppercut and Red Ink was applied, but Tanahashi made the ropes. Main Event Elbow Battle, then Okada put Tanahashi on top and dropkicked him to the floor. Outside, Tanahashi caught another big boot and delivered a Dragon Screw over the barrier! High Fly Flow crossbody from the top-rope to the floor onto Okada! Tanahashi went to roll Okada back in, but Okada dropped him with a tombstone and they were both almost counted out!
The missile dropkick from Okada was avoided and Tanahashi hit a couple more Dragon Screws but couldn’t properly apply the Cloverleaf. Okada tried for a Heavy Rain off a charge, but it was reversed mid-air to the Sling Blade, and the arm-trap German suplex earned two. Okada caught Tanahashi up top, but Tanahashi eventually knocked him to the mat only to miss the High Fly Flow. The Dropkick from Okada! Sling Blade from Tanahashi! Both men down. Tanahashi found himself on the apron, where elbows were struck back-and-forth, and once again the big boot was caught for Tanahashi to score a legbreaker over the top-rope and a Dragon Screw over the apron. The Cloverleaf was applied, and Okada looked like tapping, but somehow scrambled to the ropes. Tanahashi hit an inverted Sling Blade, then landed a High Fly Flow to Okada’s back, but a second hit the knees! Tombstone countered and Tanahashi hit one of his own! Standing Sling Blade, but this time the High Fly Flow was blocked with a dropkick. German suplex, Rainmaker blocked, but Okada held on. Rainmaker! A second was countered to a Dragon suplex! 2.9! Modified tombstone from Okada, but the Rainmaker was countered to a Sling Blade and Tanahashi headed up top. High Fly Flow crossbody! High Fly Flow! One, two… and the time limit is up! It’s a draw. Holy s---. The crowd is in shock – so am I. The last five minutes of this were absolutely nuts and the heat was off the charts. A phenomenal finish to an outstanding match. ****3/4
Hirooki Goto is announced as the winner of the A Block.
A Block – Final Standings
- Goto – 12 (A Block WINNER)
- Okada – 11
- Tanahashi – 11
- Fale – 10
- Marufuji – 10
- Ishii – 8
- Makabe – 8
- SANADA – 8
- Tonga – 8
- Tenzan – 4
Final thoughts: I still can’t quite believe what I just witnessed. The show was really good top-to-bottom, and everything was at least decent, but the main event was on another level.
Back tomorrow for the final B Block show. Naito vs. Omega headlines. See you then.
Seventeen down, two to go.