July 20th, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
After Monday’s barnstormer of an opener in Hokkaido, New Japan returns to home base at Korakuen Hall for the next three shows. Topping this first B Block show are SANADA vs. EVIL and Kenny Omega vs. Minoru Suzuki. Let’s get to it.
The story so far…
Here we go…
- Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado defeated Hirai Kawato & Kota Ibushi ***
- Yuji Nagata, Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask IV defeated Gedo, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto **3/4
- Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale defeated David Finlay & Hiroshi Tanahashi **3/4
- Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI defeated Jado & YOSHI-HASHI **1/2
B Block – Round One
Satoshi Kojima (w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs. Juice Robinson
After exchanging tight headlocks, both men unsuccessfully went for their finishers early, then Kojima took control with a DDT and some Mongolian Chops, sending Juice to the floor. An apron DDT dumped Juice, but he fought back and once they were back in the ring he connected with a back suplex and senton for two. He peppered Kojima with chops and punches, but got a rolling elbow in reply, followed by machine gun chops. Kojima’s comeback was cut off, but Juice missed the cannonball, allowing his opponent to land a diving elbow for two. After a strike battle, Juice scored a spinebuster and this time the cannonball connected to set up the diving crossbody for two. Kojima avoided a powerbomb and hit the Cutter to turn the tide, then they fought up top, where Juice was eventually crotched and Kojima hit a Cutter off the ropes before removing his elbow pad. The lariat was initially blocked, but Kojima blocked Pulp Friction and nailed one to back of Juice’s head! Brainbuster – two-count only! Juice fired up only to run straight into a lariat! One, two, no! Juice ducked another attempt, planted a big left hand and hit Pulp Friction for the win! A straightforward match, but they squeezed out every drop of emotion and the crowd loved it. I now watch Juice’s matches anticipating they will be good and Kojima demonstrated there’s still as much fire as bread in his belly. Great stuff. ****
Michael Elgin vs. Tama Tonga
Elgin brushed off Tama’s mind games, flooring him with a shoulder block and powerslam, and a delayed vertical suplex earned two. The slingshot splash missed, however, and Tama dragged him unceremoniously to the outside, sending him over the guardrail with a clothesline. Back in, a scoop slam connected, but Elgin fired back with elbow strikes and a running crossbody, and this time hit the slingshot splash. Falcon Arrow for two. A duo of Germans led to a Death Valley Driver for another two-count, but an attempted lariat was met with a reverse swinging neckbreaker. Tama skittered about the ring, running into a lariat, but he recovered to hit an Alabama Slam out of the corner. Tama stunned Elgin with a nice dropkick and as Big Mike tried to slingshot back in he was caught with the Gun Stun. He rolled out to the floor, though, and Tama wasn’t able to get the three-count. Up top, Elgin landed a big elbow, but the attempted super Death Valley Driver was countered mid-air to a Gun Stun! One, two, three. The majority of the match was a fairly pedestrian affair with little heat, but it did eventually pick up and from Tama’s comeback onwards it was decent. ***
SANADA vs. EVIL
A disingenuous handshake led to Evil blindsiding his stablemate, taking the fight to the floor, where he hung one chair around Sanada’s neck and batted it off with another! A face-first stomp into the apron and sidewalk slam earned two, as did a spinning backchop and senton. Sanada was able to stop the rot with the double-leapfrog dropkick, then he trapped Evil in the Paradise Lock. Evil replied by using the referee to aid a side kick and a fisherman buster earned him another two-count. Sanada was sent outside, and it looked like Evil was gonna fly from the turnbuckle, but Sanada ran up and dragged him to the floor with a cutter!
After crawling back in, the two men exchanged elbows and uppercuts, but Evil connected with lariat! One-count only. Backdrop from Sanada, then he flipped out of a German and out of the corner looking for the Dragon Sleeper, but Evil countered to a fisherman suplex into the buckle. Darkness Falls – two-count only. Sanada blocked the submission and scored a springboard dropkick and TKO for a two-count, but the attempted moonsault missed the mark and Evil applied the Banshee Muzzle (arm-trapped facelock). Sanada was just able to stretch for the ropes. Evil nailed a huge lariat for a near-fall, but the STO was blocked and Sanada dumped him with a Tiger Suplex! Two-count only. Spinning back kick from Sanada, rolling elbow from Evil, Dragon Sleeper from Sanada! Evil just made the ropes, but Sanada slammed him down and this time the moonsault connected! One, two, three. They respectfully bumped fists before Sanada left the ring.
Great match between two very promising talents. Nothing outrageous outside of the cutter to the floor, just two guys having a rock solid back-and-forth match in which the winner was always in doubt. As good as I’ve seen from Sanada and the best I’ve seen from Evil. I really enjoyed this. ****
Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo) vs. Toru Yano (w/ Jado)
Chants for Yano, who immediately looked to get out of the ring, only for Gedo to send him back in. He offered a handshake, slapped the champion on the head, then demanded a rope break (“Break!”). Outside, Okada made sure a turnbuckle pad was properly tied, before whipping Yano into a guardrail, then a neck breaker in the ring got a two-count. Slam, tope atomico, and Okada drew boos for posing. Yano fought out of a chinlock and ensured referee Red Shoes was downed before removing a turnbuckle pad. He sent Okada into the exposed buckle, then avoided The Dropkick and landed an atomic drop, and a roll-up got two. Okada recovered with the reverse neckbreaker and, outside, he looked to hit a running crossbody, but Jado blocked it. Yano then low-blowed Okada and Jado(!) and Gedo low-blowed him! Okada and Yano made it back in at 19. Yano came close to winning with a trio of roll-ups, but Okada slickly applied Red Ink and Yano tapped! We got duelling poses before both men left the ring. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This was quite a bit more of a contest than expected. It was mostly the Yano brand of silliness, admittedly, but I’m one of those who thinks there’s a place for it in the G1. Nice to see Okada win with something other than the Rainmaker too. A mark of respect for his opponent! **3/4
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kenny Omega
Omega nailed chops, but Suzuki retaliated with a gut punch and stomps, then they went at it with slaps. A ‘rana sent Suzuki outside, but he ran back in with a big boot and applied the armbar over the ropes. The running apron kick followed, and Suzuki blocked Omega’s attempted barrier-springboard and went after his legs with a chair. Omega struck back with chairshots of his own before the returned to the ring, then his Finlay Roll/moonsault combo was delayed by the damaged leg, but he connected anyhow, and followed with chops. Suzuki ran the ropes and attempted the Sleeper, but Omega reversed and hit the cross-legged Ushigoroshi before signalling the V-Trigger. Suzuki pulled Red Shoes in the way, however, and the referee got smashed in the face! El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku and Taichi rushed the ring, looking to use a chair on Kenny, but Chase Owens, then Bad Luck Fale turned the tide for their Bullet Club leader. Omega got rid of the Suzuki-gun pests by nailing a springboard crossbody over the guardrail and right onto them!
Back in, Suzuki caught Omega coming down from the top-rope and locked in the heel hold. He dragged Omega away from the ropes and transitioned to a modified figure-four, almost applying a cloverleaf before Omega reached the ropes. He brushed off Omega’s weak strikes and floored him with an elbow, then Omega backdropped out of a Sleeper, only for Suzuki to return to his leg. Omega launched a spitwad and invited a flurry of slaps, but a jumping knee and Snapdragon Suplex earned two. Suzuki countered the One-Winged Angel back into the heel hold, then into the Sleeper, but Omega dropped onto him back to put both men down. Suzuki reapplied the hold, and Omega faded, but piledriver was blocked. Omega with a knee strike, Suzuki with a dropkick! Enzuigiri from Omega, jumping knee, two-count only! The reverse frankensteiner was botched, but Omega persisted with two more knee strikes and the One-Winged Angel connected for the win.
A good match, but below my expectations. The Suzuki-gun/Bullet Club involvement was fine (YMMV), but Kenny and Minoru never quite clicked and it felt to me like a case of both men wanting to wrestle their style of match rather than meeting in the middle. Still, a decent main event. ***1/2
B Block standings after Round One
- Okada – 2
- Omega – 2
- Robinson – 2
- SANADA – 2
- Tonga – 2
- Elgin – 0
- EVIL – 0
- Kojima – 0
- Yano – 0
- Suzuki – 0
Final thoughts: Not quite up to the opening night, but everything here was at least decent, with Juice vs. Kojima delivering big and EVIL vs. SANADA my personal highlight.
I’m back tomorrow for A Block’s second show, which features Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito. See you then.
Two down, seventeen to go.