Here we are back with some A Block Action!
Thanks for everyone who has been reading these. I’m honestly somewhat grateful that there’ll be a bit of a break following this one, as staying on top of the G1 is never easy. We’re getting to the stage now where people all but officially go out of the running, so we should properly start to see A Block taking shape now.
So without further ado, let’s journey back to the world of New Japan for some top notch Puro competition!
These matches all took place at Korakuen Hall on 20/07/2019
Calling the action are “The Master of Gum Flapping” Kevin Kelley, “The Master of Hip Swivelling” Rocky Romero and “The Master of Unlocking” Chris Charlton
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 4
Bad Luck Fale (2 pts) w/ Jado and Chase Owens Vs Zack Sabre Jr (0 pts)
Amazingly Zack is still to get off the mark in this year’s tournament, and will basically have to win most if not all of his remaining matches to have a chance. Considering he’s a heel, I can’t quite see him gallantly getting the points on the board that he needs to prevail, but stranger things have happened at sea I guess. Fale looks more set to be a spoiler than a contender in the tournament, but he usually picks up a few big wins every year when he’s actually trying to win and not getting intentionally DQ’ed like he did last year to make a point.
This really will be an interesting match, because pure power and brawling could be a good way to fend off Zack’s technical wrestling prowess. Also though, Zack’s technical skill could be the best way to overcome Fale’s brawling acumen. It’s why “styles make fights” I guess. Zack goes right for a guillotine straight from the bell, and then transitions to a sleeper when Fale tries to power out. Fale eventually manages to untangle himself courtesy of brute strength, so Zack tries going to the legs instead, with a leg lock that causes Fale to have to drag himself to the ropes.
Zack tries the arm next with a kick and wrist lock, but Fale powers him into the corner and splashes him in there. Zack is able to counter an elbow drop to an arm bar though, but Fale again uses his power to get out and then flattens Zack with a clothesline. Bad Luck Fall (Crucifix Last Ride Powerbomb) looks to be incoming, but Zack slips out into a modified Octopus Hold. This looks like it might be enough, but Jado gets a sly shot with his Singapore cane unbeknownst to the referee, which allows Fale to work over Zack outside the ring.
The commentators make a good point that Zack would normally have TAKA Michinoku with him to help offset this sort of stuff, but he’s currently injured and Zack has to go it alone. It says a lot about Suzuki-gun that they’d kind of just leave Zack to fend for himself here. I can just picture Minoru Suzuki holding everyone backstage saying “No. Let him learn”. The fights spills up to the rafters, where Fale tries to get the Bad Luck Fall on the floor, but Zack slips out and heel miscommunication sees Fale flatten Owens. Fale goes for the The Grenade (Choke slam into a punch), but Zack counters into a triangle and chokes down Fale before sprinting back into the ring to beat the count and pick up his first points of this year’s G1! (Ducking a Jado attack along the way)
WINNER: ZACK SABRE JR VIA COUNT OUT (2 PTS)
This was an enjoyable styles clash and the match itself told a good story, with Zack overcoming Fale’s brawling antics to pick up the last gasp win. Matches like this are why I like New Japan so much, because the wrestlers actually are different from one another and wrestle differently from each other too, so you get interesting collisions like this where two widely divergent wrestlers take each other on and have to the solve the puzzle of the other guy.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK –Round 4
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2 pts) Vs Lance Archer (4 pts)
Tana finally got off the mark in his last match after a superb technical wrestling bout with Zack Sabre Jr. Meanwhile, Archer suffered his first loss in the last round of fixtures when he lost to the currently unbeaten KENTA. Part of me thinks they’re going to want to have Tana in and around the top slots, even if he doesn’t win the whole thing, so that could mean he wins here so that he can keep up the pace. It all depends how far they want to go with Archer.
Tana dropkicks Archer right from the opening bell, which means we might be getting a bit of “Tanahashi Black” tonight, where he indulges in the darker arts because he needs to win so much. The fight heads outside, where Archer choke slams Tana onto the ring apron. Tana grabs Archer’s leg whilst he tries to get back in, but Archer kicks him away and then comes off the apron with a big cannonball. This actually gets him some cheers from the crowd, so he barks at them to shut up in a funny moment. Archer really is coming into his own in this tournament. He’s always had something to him to be fair, even dating back to 2004/2005 when he inexplicably got super over as a face in TNA.
Back inside, Tana tries to fight back with slaps, but that goes nowhere for him and Archer gets the Black Hole Slam for two. Archer continues to work Tana over, as the crowd seem to be legitimately split between both men, making for a great atmosphere. Archer talks smack to Tana, saying that he’s going to be “The Ace” going forward, and tries to apply Tana’s own Texas Cloverleaf. Well, he is from Dallas after all. Tana fights that off however and tries for a German Suplex, but Archer blocks that and then hits a series of elbows in the corner.
Tana is able to pull out a desperation Sling Blade during this however, and that’s enough for a double down. Tana gets up first and goes to the inverted Dragon Screw before trying to apply the Cloverleaf. Archer’s legs are too long though, so he eventually moves on to trying another Sling Blade, but Archer blocks it and then hits DA POUNCE! (Period)
Archer goes for his Hakushi inspired rope walk, but when he tries coming down with a punch Tana is able to counter to a spinning neck breaker and a Sling Blade for two. Tana goes for a cross body off the top rope, but Archer counters it into a choke slam for two. Archer actually gets a wacky springboard splash. It looks cool, but only gets him a two. Archer goes for THE CLAW now, and after a struggle he manages to apply it. Tana gets to the ropes to break it, so Archer sets him up top for something. Tana manages to block it with the Victory Roll however and that’s enough for the flash pin fall victory.
WINNER: HIROSHI TANAHASHI (4 PTS)
This was a fantastic use of both men, as Archer looked great as a near unstoppable freight train whilst Tanahashi looked great as the wizened veteran who can always find a way to pull out a win thanks to his general tactical ability and ring smarts. Well worth a watch this one, I really enjoyed it!
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 4
KENTA (6 pts) Vs EVIL (4 pts)
KENTA has been the surprise package in some ways in A Block thus far, as he’s unbeaten and has defeated the likes of Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi. He hasn’t really had a blow away amazing match yet, but his work has been strong overall and you feel like he’s been pacing himself a bit due to his past injuries. EVIL has been delivering the goods in ring as usual and is coming off a fine outing with regular partner SANADA in the previous round.
I kind of really want one of those glows in the dark mini-halberds actually. It’s kind of amazing in some ways that for a guy whose literal gimmick is that he’s “The King of Darkness”; EVIL sure does a great job of selling merchandise doesn’t he? With a name like that I’m surprised Electronic Arts haven’t offered him a job actually. The commentary team do a great job as always by breaking down the bout and saying that KENTA will have the edge when it comes to striking, whilst EVIL will have the power advantage. Indeed, we get an early example as EVIL shoulder barges KENTA down, but then takes a kick to the face for his troubles. That’s how you know the commentary team have done their research people!
KENTA makes the cardinal sin of messing with EVIL’s face paint and then delivers a disrespectful stomp for good measure. KENTA unloads with some kicks, but EVIL replies by taking the bout outside and throwing KENTA into the railings. EVIL adds some shots with a chair and then drapes the chair over KENTA’s head before adding a swing with a different chair. We actually fight outside the confines of Korakuen Hall, which I actually haven’t seen before I don’t think, before brawling back in and up the bleachers. EVIL makes a pile of chairs on the floor and then tries to suplex KENTA on them, but KENTA blocks it and then tries to get the suplex himself. Both men fight over who gets the suplex, and KENTA eventually wins as EVIL gets hoist by his own petard. Man, I hate it when then happens!
KENTA puts EVIL back inside the ring and then heads up top with a flying clothesline for two. KENTA unloads with some stiff kicks in the corner and then goes to the face wash, which only seems to annoy EVIL. Both men trade delivering clotheslines and big boots in the corner, which ends with EVIL flattening KENTA with a clothesine and then delivering a fisherman’s buster for two. EVIL now face washes KENTA, but KENTA is not impressed and delivers a big powerslam. KENTA gets a nice springboard front dropkick and follows with first a big boot and then a running dropkick in the corner. KENTA heads up top and gets a stiff looking double stomp from up there for two.
KENTA tries for the Go To Sleep, but EVIL fights out of it and gets a nice release German Suplex for a double down. Both men fight up to their feet with forearm strikes, as the crowd seems to be more behind EVIL. EVIL gets a good flurry, but KENTA fights back so EVIL has to drop him with a head butt and then gets Darkness Falls (Fireman’s Carry into a sit out Powerbomb) for two. Everything Is EVIL (S.T.O) looks to be next, but Kenta counters it to a back slide and a small package respectively, with both netting him a two count on each occasion.
EVIL floors KENTA with a lariat for two and then tries for another one, but KENTA ducks it and gets the Busaiku Knee fir two. Another Busaiku follows and EVIL is again able to kick out of it. This match might be KENTA’s sternest test yet to be honest, as he doesn’t really seem to know how to best tactically take it to EVIL. KENTA blocks an EVIL head butt and gets a PK before following up with the Go To Sleep, and that’s finally enough to pick up another hard fought win.
WINNER: KENTA (8 PTS)
Another solid KENTA outing, as he hasn’t had a match even remotely close to not being decent so far, but he’s also yet to truly steal the show or blow the roof off either. Part of me thinks Kazuchika Okada could maybe pull that classic out of him though. KENTA is a weird one for me in this G1, where I’m not actively looking forward to his matches but I’m enjoying them when they happen. The man just has a legitimacy to what he does that I can appreciate. EVIL was very good here, as he really took the fight to KENTA and his offence looked tight. I think it’s very hard for him to have a bad match at the moment, as he’s on a real roll. This match wasn’t quite as good as the SANADA one in my opinion, but it was still a decent effort.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 4
Kota Ibushi (2 pts) Vs SANADA (2 pts)
With both men having designs on being near the top of the ground when this tournament comes to a close, this is a match both of them can ill afford to lose. Coming in to the tournament part of me thought that Ibushi was going to win the whole thing, so I think he might win this one so he can keep up the pace, but it wouldn’t shock me if they put SANADA over instead as they seem to have plans for him as his matches with Okada have shown this year.
Ibushi has had ankle issues throughout the tournament thus far, so we might see them play a part in this match. We get some nice wrestling to start, which leads to a fast paced counter sequence and ends with a standoff. Both men play to the crowd to see who is the more popular, and seemingly decide it’s a draw before going back to wrestling. Ibushi gives SANADA a clean break, which SANADA doesn’t appreciate, so he low bridges him out and fakes a dive. However, whilst he taunts following that, Ibushi comes back in with a springboard missile dropkick. Ibushi takes a second to check his ankle feels okay, before going to a camel clutch on SANADA. I love the little touches like that, as it could mean we’re heading for it getting paid off later in the match or it could just mean nothing, but I’m intrigued to see what happens regardless.
SANADA gets to the ropes to break out of the hold, which causes Ibushi to invite some strikes from him. Ibushi kicks SANADA down and goes for a standing moonsault, but SANADA gets his knees up to counter it. SANADA gets a pair of leap frogs and a gorgeous dropkick before following with a dive when Ibushi rolls outside. SANADA sends Ibushi back inside and then tries a back suplex, but Ibushi fights out of that and gets a powerslam before coming off the second rope with a moonsault for two. Both men trade roll ups next, which ends with SANADA dropkicking Ibushi’s knees. He tries it again however, and this time Ibushi adjusts in mid-air to double stomp him. We get a forearm trade next, which SANADA looks to be winning so Ibushi throws a stiff kick, which is promptly by a stiff European uppercut.
Both men continue to trade their chosen strikes, and eventually it ends with Ibushi turning SANADA inside out with a lariat and then getting a sit out Last Ride powerbomb for two. Ibushi goes for the Kamigoye (Close quarters knee strike to the face) but SANADA manages to keep dodging it and then delivers it himself for two. SANADA heads up top for a moonsault, but Ibushi moves and gets the Bom-Ba-Ye (Running knee strike ala Shinsuke Nakamura). This hurts Ibushi’s knee and ankle though, which pays off the tease from earlier and means he can’t pounce on the advantage the move gives him. Hey, they did pay it off!
SANADA goes to the Skull End (Dragon Sleeper) but Ibushi counters it. After an exchange of counters, Ibushi lawn darts SANADA into the corner and then tries for a Dragon Suplex. SANADA lands on his feet however and ends up managing to get Ibushi into the Skull End. Ibushi gets out of it however and then eventually floors SANADA with a big Mirko Cro Cop like kick following a series of further counters. Ibushi gets another Bom-Ba-Ye, but SANADA kicks out. Kamigoye comes next however, and that’s enough to close out the bout.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (4 PTS)
This was well worked and featured some good action. I always kind of felt like Ibushi was going to win though, even though SANADA had some periods of control. That being said, I’m sure this won’t be the last time these two face one another. Ibushi seems to commiserate with SANADA post-match, but SANADA leaves before it can develop in to anything.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 4
Kazuchika Okada (6 pts) Vs Will Ospreay (2 pts)
This is Heavyweight Champion Vs Junior Heavyweight Champion, which probably means that Ospreay is going to end this one looking up at the lights as I don’t think they’ve ever had the Junior Champion win in such a scenario. In general the bigger the weight class you are the more respect you carry in Japanese combat sport, mainly because Sumo Wrestling is such a big thing over there. In an interesting note, both men are also stablemates in the “CHAOS” faction.
We get some chain wrestling to start, which Ospreay holds his own in as he’s better on the mat than often gets reported I feel. Eventually Ospreay gets a big monkey flip to send Okada outside and then taunts in the ring before offering to open the ropes for him. Okada isn’t having any of that however, so when he rolls back inside Ospreay fires off some strikes at him. Okada manages to catch Ospreay with a dropkick when he tries to come off the second rope however and that sends the Junior Heavyweight Champ tumbling to the outside. Okada now opens the ropes for Ospreay, but Ospreay pulls himself back in instead, where Okada openly targets Ospreay’s heavily taped neck.
Okada gets a lovely slingshot senton back into the ring on Ospreay, as he’s holding nothing back. Ospreay tries to throw some chops, but Okada shrugs them off and slugs Ospreay down. When he tries a DDT however, Ospreay turns it into a suplex, which Okada sells fantastically with a look of shocked pain. Ospreay gets a handspring Pele kick and then follows up with a springboard forearm smash for two.
Ospreay goes for the Storm Breaker (Double Underhook Canadian Backbreaker Rack transitioned into a modified Corkscrew Neckbreaker) but Okada blocks it, so Ospreay fires off a stiff chop that sounds like a gun going off instead. Wowzers that did not look fun to take. Ospreay follows with a 619 attempt, but Okada catches him and then delivers a neck breaker for a double down. Running front dropkick follows next from Okada and he then heads up to the top rope fora flying elbow drop and follows with THE RAINMAKER POSE!
The Rainmaker (Spin Out Lariat) looks to follow but Ospreay gets out of it and tries a standing shooting star press, but Okada gets his knees up and then follows with a dropkick. Tombstone Piledriver looks to set up The Rainmaker, but Ospreay turns it into a roll up for two and then gets the Robinson Special (Spinning wheel kick to the back of the head of a downed opponent). Os Cutter (Handspring into an RKO) looks to be coming next, but Okada puts a stop to that with a dropkick that sends Ospreay to the floor.
Okada pulls Ospreay onto the apron and tries something out there, but Ospreay blocks it and the two men trade forearm strikes. Ospreay wins the strike battle with a big kick and then tries to dive onto Okada, but Okada stops that and tries a Tombstone out on the floor. Ospreay slips out of that however and then hits the Os Cutter on the floor, leading to the referee starting his count. Ospreay makes it back in first and then Okada just about makes it back in at 19, only to find a missile dropkick waiting for him for two. Another Os Cutter looks to set up the win for Ospreay, but Okada just about manages to kick out and the match continues.
Ospreay still has The Storm Breaker and he’s probably going to need it to win here. Ospreay goes for an Os Cutter from the top, but Okada counters it to a German Suplex and then hits a dropkick when Ospreay ducks The Rainmaker. Okada tries The Rainmaker again, but Ospreay counters it into a standing Spanish Fly for two and then heads up top with a shooting star press for another two. Wow, the crowd was buying that near fall there, and so was I as wel! Storm Breaker looks to be incoming, but Okada looks to reverse to a Tombstone.
Ospreay counters that into his own Tombstone though and hits a superkick, but when he tries The Storm Breaker Okada somehow lands on his feet and then hits The Rainmaker. Okada holds on to Ospreay’s wrist and hits another Rainmaker, before trying to finish Ospreay off with one more, but Ospreay flips out of it and tries The Storm Breaker again, only for Okada to slip out and hit a tornado lariat. Some of the counters in this one have been absolutely nuts and I’ve LOVED it! Okada has finally had enough and hits The Rainmaker again to finally put Ospreay away, but what an effort from the Junior Heavyweight Champ!
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (8 PTS)
Watch. This. Match. Watch it, and then watch it again, because it was chuffing brilliant! Okada was fantastic and made Ospreay look like a bonafide superstar, whilst Ospreay rose to the challenge and brought his “A-Game” as well. I was really hoping they’d have Ospreay win there, but hierarchy is hierarchy in Japan sadly.
Following Round 4, A Block looks as follows;
KENTA and Kazuchika Okada are out in the lead with 8 points, Lance Archer, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi and EVIL are all on 4 points, whilst Bad Luck Fale, Zack Sabre Jr, Will Ospreay and SANADA are all at the bottom of the table with 2 points.
Every match was good here in its own way and the main event will be one of the best matches we’ll see in this whole tournament. So yeah, go and subscribe to New Japan World and get ALL of that Ospreay Vs Okada main event! I’ll see you all on Wednesday for more G1 action!