Back we come for more hot A Block action. Last time out in this block KENTA and Hiroshi Tanahashi main evented in a bout that saw the former NOAH and NXT alum go on to his second big win in the Block. Tana is currently still stuck on zero points, but can he get on the board today? Well, let’s take another journey to the land of Puro and find out!
The following matches took place at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Calling the action are Kwik Kick Kevin Kelley, Rip Roaring Rocky Romero and Cool Cucumber Chris Charlton
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 3
KENTA (4 PTS) Vs Lance Archer (4 PTS)
It’ll be interesting here to see if the KENTA juggernaut will continue rolling or if they’ll throw everyone a Yorker by having Archer pick up the upset. I do like the idea of Archer going 3-0 actually. Archer shoves KENTA down to start, so KENTA replies by throwing some leg kicks, which is sound strategy against such a tall man. Archer is able to fight back with a shoulder charge though to send KENTA to the apron.
Archer choke slams KENTA off the apron onto his LA Young Lions but they catch him, so Archer comes off the apron with a cannonball onto all three of them for a big pop. That was brilliant! Archer works over KENTA outside the ring and then grabs the mic off the timekeeper when he starts reporting on the referees count. Haha, Lance Archer is pretty damn awesome! Archer puts KENTA back inside the ring, but makes the mistake of calling him “Hideo”, which earns him a stiff slap to the face.
Archer gets his revenge by delivering DA POUNCE (Period) though and then just goes to a good old fashioned choke after yelling at the referee. Archer works KENTA over some more but KENTA fights back with some Yakuza Kicks and then manages a big powerslam for a double down. KENTA comes off the ropes with a springboard dropkick and some running kicks in the corner, followed by a running dropkick. KENTA comes off the top rope with a stiff looking double stomp, but Archer is able to kick out at two.
KENTA tries a Tornado DDT, but Archer blocks it and then sets him up for a superplex. KENTA fights that off however and then comes off the top with a cross body, only for Archer to catch him and hit a modified face buster slam for two. THE CLAW looks to be coming next, but KENTA is able to block it, though it leads to him taking a lariat for his troubles for two. Archer goes for the Black Out, but KENTA counters it by going to a sleeper and then hitting the PK.
KENTA tries to hurk Archer up into the Go To Sleep, and actually manages it, but Archer counters it into THE CLAW. KENTA manages to make the ropes, but Archer keeps coming and gets a Muscle Buster for two. Archer gets some decent support from the crowd and manages to get a big powerbomb for two. Archer tries a choke slam next, but KENTA turns it into a triangle and then transitions to the LeBell Lock for the submission win.
WINNER: KENTA (6 PTS)
Good match there, as Archer has impressed thus far and KENTA continues to be bubbling under the surface in this G1 with some solid ring work, though he’s yet to have a totally blow away match for me yet. Every match he’s had has been well worked though and he just exudes legitimacy when he wrestles.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 3
EVIL (2 PTS) Vs SANADA (2 PTS)
LIJ EXPLODES!!! Yes, it’s the match my caps lock dreads the most, EVIL Vs SANADA. EVIL’s halberds just keep getting bigger and bigger. SANADA unloads with some dropkicks to start, but EVIL is able to dodge the moonsault and heads outside to catch his breath. Whilst out there, EVIL gets a chair and rolls it in to the ring. SANADA doesn’t want it in there however and passes it to the ref to get rid of it, which allows EVIL to floor him with a shoulder charge.
SANADA replies by trying to go for the Paradise Lock, but EVIL fights him off and goes for the Scorpion Deathlock, but SANADA is able to fight that off. EVIL actually manages to put SANADA in his own Paradise Lock next and then boots SANADA in the bum for good measure. Outside we go, where EVIL sends SANADA into the railings a few times. EVIL eventually puts SANADA back inside the ring and continues to work him over.
Eventually SANADA is able to dodge a back senton attempt from EVIL to buy himself some time and then slips out of an EVIL suplex attempt before dropkicking him in the knees. SANADA ties EVIL up in the ropes with Paradise Lock and then follows up with a dropkick to send EVIL outside. SANADA follows with a dive and then sends him back inside for a back suplex, which gets two from the ref. EVIL won’t stay down however and targets SANADA’s back, getting a back breaker for two.
SANADA lands on his feet from a German Suplex attempt and then gets a lovely springboard front dropkick. SANADA goes for the TKO next, but EVIL slips out and then pulls the ref in the way to stop a charging SANADA before getting a ref assisted Magic Killer, although the ref was an unwilling participant in the move. EVIL sets SANADA up for a superplex, and gets it for two. Both men fight out of the others finishing manoeuvres, which ends with SANADA hitting Everything Is EVIL onto EVIL for two.
SANADA heads up for the moonsault, but EVIL gets the knees up and then counters to a small package for two. That was one heck of a near fall actually. Both men fight to their feet and trade strikes, which ends with SANADA getting a Tiger Suplex for two. That was a great exchange. SANADA goes to Skull End next and EVIL seems to be fading, but SANADA decides to swing him around rather than keeping the hold applied in a stationary position, and this allows EVIL to get loose and then get a small package for two.
I love that because it shows how EVIL knows the little tricks to get one over on SANADA thanks to all his years of tagging with him. EVIL flattens SANADA with a lariat and then hits Darkness Falls for two. Everything Is EVIL looks imminent, but this time SANADA gets the small package for two in a nice call back. EVIL turns SANADA inside out with a lariat, but that only gets him a two. Everything Is EVIL comes next and that’s enough for the win.
WINNER: EVIL (4 PTS)
A supremely enjoyable match that told a good story and featured some great work from both men. Tag partners knowing how to counter the others’ holds and moves due to their familiarity with one other has always worked well as narrative and I was second guessing everything right up to EVIL hitting his finisher.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 3
Kazuchika Okada (4 PTS) Vs Bad Luck Fale (2 PTS)
Okada tends to lose a lot to Fale considering the gap between them both in wrestling ability and placing on the card, so I can easily see Fale “upsetting” Okada here. Indeed, Fale drags a battered Okada out with him during his entrance, as I ponder why that wouldn’t just be an immediate disqualification? I mean, if England’s cricketers decide to jump the Aussies on the first day of the Ashes test in the changing room then I’m willing to bet the ICC wouldn’t then force the Aussies to limp out to the crease to bat y’know?
Anyway, Fale works a beaten Okada over, getting a splash in the ring for two. Okada fights back with some forearms, but gets dragged outside the ring by Fale stablemates Chase Owens and Jado, who work him over with Jado’s Singapore cane. Okada manages to get back into the ring, only to be met by Fale’s feet as he stands on the IWGP Champ. That actually looks quite nice to take as Fale is clearly balancing one foot on the bottom rope, so he’s probably not putting much weight on.
Okada finally manages to pull out a desperation body slam, which causes Fale to roll outside. Okada follows with a dive and then hits a DDT back inside the ring for two. Okada tries a neck breaker, but Fale blocks it, so Okada hits a front dropkick instead and then finally manages the neck break for two. Okada heads up top for an elbow drop and it’s time for THE RAINMAKER POSE!!!
Fale pulls the referee in the way when Okada tries the move however, which leads to him getting bumped and allows Chase Owens to come in and help Fale hit The Grenade. Bad Luck Fall looks to follow, but Okada slips out and hits dropkicks on both men. Okada tries the Tombstone next, but Fale muscles his way out of it. Heel miscommunication leads to Fale and Jado colliding and Okada gets the British Bulldog Summer Slam 92 pin on Fale for the win
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (6 PTS)
Okada really is a fantastic babyface, as matches like this show. It’s amazing to me because he was such an unlikeable heel when he first started getting his big push in New Japan back in 2012, but he really has blossomed into a fantastic all round performer. This wasn’t a technical classic, but it was a good Monster Vs Plucky Face story and the crowd reacted big whenever Okada could get anything done against big Fale, so it achieved everything it was going for and wasn’t bad at all.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 3
Zack Sabre Jr (0 PTS) Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (0 PTS)
I’m amazed that neither of these guys is on the scoresheet yet, and realistically whoever loses here could for all intents of purposes be completely out of the running. We get some great technical wrestling to start, with Zack going after the arm of Tana that he injured back at WrestleMania weekend in MSG. Tana gets out of that though, which causes Zack to kick the ropes with frustration.
Both men continue to trade holds and counters, and if you’re a technical wrestling fan like I am then you’ll be pig in chardonnay with how good it is. We get both men almost getting flash pins, which leads to Tana delivering a swinging neck breaker, only to then get caught in an Octopus Hold from Zack. Tana fights out of that with his old faithful Dragon Screw, and we have a double down, as the crowd is totally transfixed by what’s going on in the ring.
Strikes are traded next, which is a strategy that favours Tana, but Zack keeps throwing regardless. Both men fight over a backslide, and they even manage to make that into an exciting game of tit for tat. Eventually Tana decides to spin Zack out and hit the Sling Blade instead but, after a battle of pin counters, Zack is able to catch Tana in an arm bar. Zack transitions through his usual vicious array of punishing submission holds, focusing mostly on Tana’s arms, but Tana is eventually able to save himself by reaching the ropes.
Zack decides to outright stomp on Tana’s appendages next, but when he goes for the PK Tana is able to catch his leg and then gets the inverted Dragon Screw. Sling Blade hits again for two and then Tana heads up for the cross body and then heads up again for the High-Fly-Flow. Zack gets his knees up however and then goes to a triangle, but Tana rolls through into a pinning combination to pick up the win.
WINNER: HIROSHI TANAHASHI (2 PTS)
If you’re not as big a fan of technical counter wrestling and chain wrestling then you might not like this one as much, but for me this was just the sort of wrestling I like best and I found it outrageously entertaining. This felt like two men going out there and actually wrestling one another in a genuine contest and both men sold every hold and move perfectly. So yeah, your own personal mileage may vary and you might want to take the rating with a pinch of salt, but HOT DOG did I enjoy this!
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 3
Kota Ibushi (0 PTS) Vs Will Ospreay (2 PTS)
Ospreay hurt his neck during Night 3 and it was bad enough that he completely sat out Night 4, so hopefully he doesn’t make it any worse during a match where I’m sure both he and Ibushi are going to go all out. I really enjoyed the match these two had at Wrestle Kingdom earlier this year, so I’m hopeful this will be another good one. Ibushi is really in outstanding shape by the way. He could grate cheese on those abs of his (Although he wouldn’t be able to eat it)
We get the big main event lock up to start, with both men giving the other a clean break and the crowd appear to be split. We get some good chain wrestling, with Ibushi seemingly focusing much of his work on Ospreay’s neck, which makes sense considering his prior health issues. Both men go for their finishers early, but neither is able to get it and Ospreay eventually targets Ibushi’s ankle, which had been injured earlier in the tournament.
Ospreay takes the fight outside and drops Ibushi ankle first onto the railings before swinging it into the ring post for good measure. Ospreay works the ankle classic Flair style, by draping it over the bottom rope and jumping on it. I’m liking how they’re going for a more psychology based match here built more around working body parts, as opposed to just going straight to big moves. Ibushi eventually manages to land a nice kick with his healthy leg to Ospreay’s neck, which allows him to take control of things with a cravat.
Ibushi goes to a head scissors to wear Ospreay down, and Ospreay has to actually fight to get out if in a nice touch. I love things like that as it makes the match feel like a struggle and a real contest. Ospreay eventually powers out of the head scissors and then manages to hit a handspring Pele kick for a double down. Ospreay gets the 01708 and then heads up top for a flying clothesline, but Ibushi dodges it and hits a powerslam, but misses the follow up standing moonsault, which allows Ospreay to get The Phenomenal Forearm.
Ibushi rolls outside following that, which allows Ospreay to follow him with the Space Flying Tiger Drop. Back inside, Ospreay gets the Saving Grace, but Ibushi is able to kick out at two. Ospreay tries for the Storm Breaker next, but Ibushi blocks it. Ospreay tries the Os Cutter next, but Ibushi sees it coming and is able to counter it to a release German Suplex in a great spot. Ibushi goes for the Last Ride, but Ospreay blocks it and tries to fight Ibushi off by punching his ankle.
This leads to a trading of strikes between the two, which leads to Ospreay going back to the ankle and trying a Dragon Suplex, only for Ibushi to counter that to another German Suplex. Ospreay recovers quickly however and hits an enziguri before trying the Storm Breaker again, only for Ibushi to power out and then drop Ospreay on his HEAD with a modified inverted piledriver. Red Shoes is right in there to check Ospreay is okay, and seemingly he is because we keep going.
That was absolutely horrible, and it’s spoilt the match a bit for me if I’m honest. Is there really any need for that? Was the match not good enough already? Anyway, Ibushi hits a big Last Ride powerbomb for two and then heads up top, but Ospreay stops him and then tries to bring him out of the corner with the Storm Breaker, but Ibushi counters that into a Tombstone attempt, which Ospreay then counters into a roll up for two.
Ospreay crushes Ibushi next with a sit out powerbomb for an incredibly close two count, as the refs hand even hit the mat there but Ibushi’s shoulder just made it off the mat in time. Ospreay tries to head up top, but Ibushi literally clings on to him to stop him, so Ospreay kicks away at him and then heads up for the super Os Cutter, but Ibushi stops him and then hangs him in the Tree of Woe and then crouches down to mock him.
We get a slap fight from there, as Ibushi lets his inner jerk come out, and then Ibushi sets him up top for a Super Dragon Suplex. Ospreay thankfully fights him off, but Ibushi gets a backflip kick instead to put him on the apron and then tries to German Suplex him back in from there. Ospreay just about manages to land on his feet, though it was touch and go, and then elbows Ibushi in the head for two. Ibushi was only able to kick out because the rope was there however.
Ospreay gets some Kawada kicks and then preps for the Robinson Special, which he then delivers successfully. Os Cutter looks to be coming next but Ibushi counters it. Ospreay won’t be deterred however and finally gets it following another attempt, but Ibushi is able to kick out at two as we get the 25 minute call, meaning we have 5 left. Ospreay tries the Storm Breaker, but Ibushi lands on his feet and hits a standing knee strike before getting a big Michinoku Driver for two.
Ibushi goes for the lawn dart next, but Ospreay slips out and gets the C4 for two. Ospreay tries for the elbow strike again, but Ibushi blocks it with one of his own and then delivers a big clothesline before following up with the Bom-Ba-Ye for a near fall. Kama-Go-Ye comes next however and that’s enough to finally give Ibushi the win.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (2 PTS)
You know what, I think I preferred the technical wrestling clinic of Sabre Jr and Tanahashi over the near ludicrous head drop fest that this one ended up being. I’m not sure if that’s just me getting older or what, but I was loving this one a lot more when they were working each other’s body parts and selling the struggle of their contest, rather than just going through all the amazing big moves and high spots that they had in their arsenal. I guess when you see two people tear the house down by just going out there and wrestling, it kind of puts this style of match in perspective. Yes, it featured some thrilling counters and unreal moves, but seeing a guy with a neck issue constantly getting dropped on his head got pretty uncomfortable after a certain point. Still, if reading this back makes it sound like the sort of wrestling you’re in to, then I doubt it’ll disappoint.
So after those matches, the standings are as follows;
Kazuchika Okada and KENTA lead the way on 6 points, Lance Archer and EVIL are on 4 points, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay, SANADA and Bad Luck Fale are all on 2 points, whilst Zack Sabre Jr brings up the rear without a point to his name.
Another great night of G1 action. I’m willing to bet that there would be at least one of these 5 matches that would tickle your fancy, as all 5 were different in their own way and the Korakuen crowd were their usual excitable selves.
Easy recommendation this one. I’ll either have Night Six up tomorrow or will upload both Nights Six and Seven back to back on Saturday.