We’re back with some more A Block Action!
This year’s G1 has featured some fantastic wrestling thus far but hasn’t produced a 5 Star Classic by my watch yet. I’d love it if we could get one before the tournament comes to a close, but in general I’d say the standard of this year’s G1 has been excellent and every night has had at least 1 or 2 matches that I would consider “need to see”, with some nights even having more than that!
But anyway, less of me spinning some yarns, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling eh?
The following matches took place from the Takamatsu City General Gymnasium #1 in Kagawa, Japan on the 30th of July 2019
Calling the action are Kevin “The Barber” Kelley and Rocky “The Hammer” Romero
As has become a bit of a tradition for me when putting these together, I caught a glimpse of the last tag match prior to the G1 matches taking place, which featured Shingo, Naito and BUSHI defeating Juice, Cobb and Henare (One guess who ended up looking at the lights in that one?). It was good stuff and featured a strong post-match angle where Naito tried to break Juice’s left hand so as to take his famed punch out of the equasion for their eventual match. It does surprise me how Naito gets so much support from the fans when you consider what an absolute scum bag his character actually is sometimes (Although he’s hardly the first disagreeable person to be cheered by a wrestling crowd).
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 6
Bad Luck Fale (2 pts) w/ Chase Owens and Jado Vs Kota Ibushi (6 pts)
Fale is always liable to beat a top star or two in G1, so it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him win here. The result will be a good barometer to see how serious they are about having Ibushi win the Block, as losing here would hurt his chances quite heavily you’d have to think, especially as Okada is out on 10 points currently. Fale has beaten Ibushi in G1 previously as well, so either man could conceivably win this. As Kelley notes on commentary, if Fale doesn’t win here then he’s officially out of the running.
Fale jumps Ibushi right from the beginning and throws him outside, where Owens and Jado get some cheap shots in. Fale works over Ibushi outside the ring and then tries to win via count out but Ibushi is able to make it back inside, where he finds a big splash waiting for him, which gets Fale two. Fale goes to a camel clutch and then drops an elbow to Ibushi’s lower back as well, as it looks like that’s the part of the body he’s focusing on here. Fale distracts the ref, which allows Owens to get another cheap shot in whilst Ibushi is propped up by the ropes.
Ibushi fires back with some strikes, but Fale shrugs those off and then cinches in a big bear hug. Ibushi sells that big time, doing some great facial expressions to get across the pain of the hold. That sort of thing really makes the difference between just sitting there in a hold to kill time and actually adding something to the story of the match. Ibushi finally manages to fight out of the hold and unloads with a series of kicks for a double down. Ibushi fires off some more stiff kicks to the chest and gets a standing moonsault for two.
Ibushi heads up top, but Owens distracts him and that allows Fale to squish him in the corner and then deliver another splash in the ring for two. Grenade (Choke slam into a punch) looks to be inbound, but Ibushi fights that off and sets up for the Kamigoye (Knee Strike to face whilsy holding wrists) but Fale counters out of that and then distracts the ref so Jado can hit Ibushi with his Singapore cane. Grenade follows after that, but Ibushi is able to kick out at two. Bad Luck Fall (Crucifix Last Ride powerbomb) looks to be next, but Ibushi slips out and then gets a crucifix roll up for two. Ibushi kicks Fale in the face and then delivers the Bom-Ba-Ye (Running Knee ala Shinsuke Nakamura) and then goes to the Kamigoye for the clean pin.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (8 PTS)
Seeing as this is Scott Keith’s Blog, the term “Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling” seems to fit this one quite comfortably. All the moves hit, the match told a decent story that anyone could follow and there was a satisfying clean finish. Sometimes that is all you need.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 6
Zack Sabre Jr (2 pts) Vs Will Ospreay (4 pts)
I’ve been looking forward to this one because Zack is totally capable of working the faster non mat based style that Ospreay likes to do whilst Ospreay is also capable of hanging on the mat like Zack in a technical battle as well. I still remember going to the first show of the FWA reboot way back in 2009 and seeing Sabre Jr and Marty Scurll as the “Leaders of the New School” tearing it up with “Northern Exposure” of Joey Hayes and CJ Banks at the Broxbourne Civic Hall. That match actually featured Zack of all people doing a suicide dive into the crowd, so he can definitely do that stuff if called upon.
We get some lovely chain wrestling to start, with Zack getting visibly annoyed that Ospreay is having the temerity to technical wrestle him. Zack actually tries working a courting hold, which is as old school as it can get, but Ospreay is able to get out of it. Ospreay continues to do a decent job holding his own in the technical battle with Zack and is eventually able to get a dropkick to send Zack outside before taunting in the ring. Zack is angry at ringside over being shown up and things don’t go too much better back inside when Ospreay chops him and then goes to a cravat.
Both men keep snapmaring one another until Zack decides he’s had enough and twists Ospreay’s neck with his legs. Zack throws some stiff uppercuts and then viciously chokes Ospreay on the ropes. This is angry Zack everybody, and you won’t like him when he’s angry, especially if he can grab hold of any part of your anatomy. Ospreay tries to reply with a standing Shooting Star Press, but Zack moves and then cinches in a head scissors, which forces Ospreay to make it to the ropes. Zack undoes the protective tape on Ospreay’s neck and shoulder before going to a strangle hold. Ospreay manages to counter that and then hits a handspring Pele kick to buy himself some time to recover.
Ospreay gets a 619 and then follows up with a rana to send Zack outside. Space Flying Tiger Drop (Twisting somersault splash to the floor) follows next and leads to Ospreay throwing Zack back inside for a springboard forearm smash for two. Robinson Special (Spinning wheel kick to a downed opponent) comes next but Zack stops the Os Cutter (Springboard cutter) and then delivers a Tornado DDT to put Ospreay down. The rest of the tape gets pulled off and Zack throws some kicks to Ospreay’s chest. Ospreay is defiant though and keeps fighting, eventually being able to floor Zack with a thrust kick for a double down.
Storm Breaker (Double Underhook Canadian Backbreaker Rack transitioned into a modified Corkscrew Neckbreaker) looks to be incoming, but Zack counters it into a pinning combinaton, which leads to both men trading roll ups for two’s. Os Cutter is countered to a sleeper, but Ospreay rolls through and hits a high kick before following up with the Os Cutter for two. There was a slight delay there between Ospreay hitting the move and making the cover due to him selling the previous punishment in the bout, which is always a nice touch. Ospreay kicks Zack and goes for a big back elbow smash, but Zack ducks it and applies a submission, but Ospreay is able to make it to the ropes.
Zack goes for the Zack Driver (Michinoku Driver) but Ospreay fights out of that, only to end up in a sleeper and then guillotine choke. Ospreay muscles Zack into a suplex from that however and goes for the Storm Breaker, but Zack counters out of that into the European Clutch pinning hold for two, before adding a PK for a double down. Ospreay sets Zack up top for a kick to the head and then brings him out of the corner with a hanging reverse DDT (Think Goldust’s old Curtain Call) for two. Ospreay heads up top and goes for a Shooting Star Press but gets caught in a triangle choke by Zack. Ospreay powers out of that with a sit out powerbomb for two however and then heads up for a Shooting Star Press for another two. Ospreay gets another kick and then tries Storm Breaker again, but Zack slips out and goes to an Octopus Hold. Zack cinches it in and Ospreay is forced to tap out.
WINNER: ZACK SABRE JR (4 PTS)
Excellent excellent excellent bout. You need to see this one, especially if you’re a fan of either man. Styles make fights at the end of the day, and these styles meshed really well. Well done lads, you did us fellow Brits proud with that performance!
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 1
Lance Archer (4 pts) Vs Kazuchika Okada (10 pts)
Well someone needs to beat Okada to keep this Block interesting, so why not Archer? After a strong start his progress has slowed a bit but a win here will put him right back in the mix with 6 points. It could also set him potentially as a possible challenger for Okada down the line as well. In the past we’ve seen the likes of EVIL defeat Okada in G1 and gain some credibility from it, so they could definitely try it again with Archer here.
Archer wastes no time attacking Okada, jumping him before he can even remove his entrance attire. Okada rolls outside, where Archer follows with a cannonball off the apron. Archer sends Okada face first into the announce table, and then makes a kid in the crowd cry by yelling at him. Haha, that’s brilliant! I love how the kids mum was just laughing during that whole ordeal as well, whilst her wee bairn was wetting himself. Archer continues to destroy Okada all around ringside, with Okada getting nary a sniff of offence in reply outside of a few strikes which are quickly no sold by Archer.
Archer puts Okada back inside and takes him out with a short arm clothesline before mocking him. Hakushi styled rope walk comes next, with Archer coming off with a moonsault to a standing Okada. It’s impressive that Archer was able to perform that but it looked pretty sloppy as well. Just because you can do something sometimes doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. Contrast with the cannonball off the apron from earlier, which always looks good and is just as physically impressive for a guy that size to do.
Okada tries to keep making sporadic comebacks, but Archer remains one step ahead of him. Eventually Okada is able to get a school boy for two and then scores with a running back elbow to hurt Archer. Okada gets another and then follows with a sliding dropkick to send Archer outside, where he follows with a dive. Back inside, Okada gets a back elbow in the corner and then delivers a DDT, for a mere count of one. Okada tries to Tombstone Piledrive Archer, but Archer fights that off so he has to settle for a body slam instead. Okada heads up top and drops an elbow, but before Okada can pose he gets locked in THE CLAW.
Okada manages to make the ropes to break THE CLAW, but Archer follows with DA POUNCE (Period) and then yells at the crowd to shut up. Archer sets Okada up on top and goes for an inverted Splash Mountain Bomb, but Okada slips out and then hits a pair of clotheslines, only for Archer to cut off the attempted third one with one of his own for two. Choke slam gives Archer another near fall, but Okada only just managed to kick out there and looks to be fading fast. Archer sets up Okada and goes for the Splash Mountain Again, turning it into a forward slam for two when Okada gets his foot on the ropes. Archer preps for THE CLAW once again, but Okada dodges it and then dropkicks Archer in the back and then from the front for a double down.
Archer is up first and sets Okada up for a superplex, but Okada holds on and is able to fight Archer off with forearm strikes before following with a missile front dropkick. Okada tries for the Tombstone again, but Archer is just too big and reverses it. Okada slips out of that though and clotheslines Archer before blocking THE CLAW and getting the Rainmaker (Spin out clothesline) for the win.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (12 PTS)
Well I was surprised by that as part of me genuinely thought that was Archer was going to win. To be honest, the fact he took so much of the match should have been a dead giveaway that Okada was eventually going to triumph. Okada really is fantastic though, as no matter his opponent he always seems to be able to craft a good match and work around the style differences between them. In a nice touch, Okada goes over to high five the kid Archer scared earlier.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 6
SANADA (2 pts) Vs KENTA (8 pts)
KENTA really needs to win this, especially as he is now 4 points behind an Okada who already holds the tiebreaker win over him. SANADA is well out of the running now, but a win over KENTA would raise his stock considerably and give him some momentum for the rest of the tournament. He can’t win it but he can still defeat IWGP Champ Okada to earn himself a Title match.
KENTA jumps SANADA to start and sends him outside, where he throws him into the railings and then on to the Japanese commentary table, where BUSHI is currently doing commentary. KENTA adds a DDT on the ramp and then rolls SANADA back inside for a two count. KENTA continues to work over SANADA inside the ring, with the younger wrestler struggling to find a way into the bout. SANADA finally gets a chance to throw some open hand chops and then dropkicks KENTA in the leg a couple of times, which buys him a bit of time to recover. A dropkick sends KENTA outside and SANADA then follows with a dive as well, which pops the crowd.
SANADA really is super over at the moment and certainly has the look and ring ability to go as far as he wants in New Japan. Back inside the ring, KENTA gets some boots up to stop SANADA charging at him and then gets a Tornado DDT onto the top tope followed by a top rope clothesline for two. KENTA gets a powerslam and then springboards into the ring with a dropkick and then follows with a high kick and then a dropkick in the corner. KENTA comes off the top rope with a double stomp next, but SANADA is able to kick out at two. That was one heck of an offensive sequence from KENTA there. SANADA fights off a Go To Sleep attempt but ends up trapped in Game Over (The LaBelle Lock) in the middle of the ring. SANADA is eventually able to drag himself to the ropes, but the damage could very well have been done.
KENTA goes for a running Busaiku Knee, but SANADA is able to block it and then rolls through into a TKO (Fireman’s Carry into a Cutter) for two. SANADA gets the old Great Muta back breaker and heads up for the moonsault, but KENTA is able to get his knees up and both men are down. Both men trade strikes next, with SANADA holding his own against the feared striking ability of the former GHC Champ. SANADA manages to manouvre KENTA into Skull End (Dragon Sleeper) but KENTA slips out and then chokes SANADA down with a sleeper before throwing a PK. SANADA is able to block that, but KENTA slaps him back down and gets a running Busaiku Knee for two.
KENTA motions for the Go To Sleep and hurks SANADA up, but SANADA slips out and goes for Skull End again. KENTA fights out of that however, but SANADA won’t give up and finally gets Skull End in again, even hooking his legs. SANADA looks to have it won as KENTA can’t get out, but rather than let the ref lift KENTA’s arm three times and win that way, SANADA decides to head up top for a moonsault. SANADA does get the moonsault and that’s enough for him to pick up a big win. I really thought that he was going to miss that and KENTA was going to beat him, as usually happens when SANADA just lets go of the hold like that.
WINNER: SANADA (4 PTS)
KENTA is Mr. Solid in this G1, and this was another example of that as KENTA looked his usual legitimate self with lots of strikes and nice looking offence. SANADA really is pretty over though and I’d honestly have him beat Okada in their G1 match. It’s a match they’ve done a lot this year in New Japan, but SANADA hasn’t beaten him in any of them and it’s time I think. The only thing is that you would then have to do ANOTHER Okada Vs SANADA match to pay that off, and you don’t want to run the risk of burning people out on the match.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 6
EVIL (6 pts) Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 pts)
This one is huge for both men, but EVIL especially as he hasn’t wrestled Okada yet and he could still catch him if he wins here, defeats Okada and then Okada drops points elsewhere. Tana’s chance of winning gets slimmer every round that Okada picks up another 2 points, as Okada holds the tiebreaker over him. He ultimately needs to win all his remaining matches and hope Okada loses all of his remaining matches.
EVIL and Tana open up by fighting over a headlock, which ends with Tana taking evil down with a flying head scissors. EVIL replies by clotheslining Tana over the top to the outside and then quickly grabs some chairs whilst out there. EVIL puts one chair over Tana’s head and then clocks it with another chair. Back inside the ring, EVIL targets Tana’s leg and even busts out a Figure Four Leg Lock. Tana manages to turn it over though, and they actually work that for a bit, which isn’t something you always see when someone rolls that hold over. Tana eventually goes to the rope and the referee breaks the hold, but Tana at least did a small bit of damage to EVIL in the process.
EVIL tries a jumping back senton splash, but Tana sees it coming and moves out of the way, before throwing some forearm strikes and then delivering a flying forearm for added measure. Tana gets a slam and then heads up to the second rope, where he comes off with a somersault senton splash for two. Tana tries the Sling Blade and EVIL blocks it, but he can’t block a Dragon Screw. EVIL replies by throwing Tana over the top rope and then German Suplexing him when he tries to skin the cat back in. Tana is undeterred though and delivers a Sling Blade before jumping from the top rope onto EVIL on the floor with a cross body block, which isn’t exactly the smartest move to do with an injured leg. I don’t know why Hiroshi Tanahashi seems so determined to kill himself like this, but he’s certainly no afraid to do the big moves in the big matches
EVIL responds by hitting a one man Magic Killer outside the ring, using Tana’s own Young Lion (Suji) as an unwitting base. Both men only just make it back into the ring at the count of 19 and EVIL is the first man up to his feet. EVIL targets the leg with kicks, but Tana catches one of them and then takes a page out of EVIL’s book by throwing one of his legs at the referee to catch and then dropkicking it. Tana gets the inverted Dragon Screw and then attempts the Texas Cloverleaf, but EVIL is able to get to the ropes before the move can be properly applied. EVIL responds by flattening Tana with a big clothesline and both men are down. EVIL is up first and gets a big clothesline in the corner before setting Tana up on the top rope.
EVIL tries to bring Tana down from the top rope with a big superplex, and gets it, but Tana is able to kick out at two. EVIL goes for Darkness Falls (Fireman’s carry into a sit out powerbomb) and manages to get it, but Tana is still able to kick out at two. EVIL tries Everything Is EVIL (S.T.O) next, but Tana counters it to the Twist ‘N’ Shout (swinging neck breaker) and hits two more before delivering the Sling Blade for two. Tana heads up top and goes for the High-Fly-Flow (Frogplash) but EVIL gets his knees up and then turns it into an inside cradle for two. Both men trade strikes next, with neither being prepared to give up in a fantastic display of guts. EVIL eventually manages to get a lariat, but Tana is able to kick out at two.
EVIL gets another big lariat, but Tana is once again able to kick out. This match is now officially epic! EVIL calls for Everything Is EVIL again, but Tana fights it off, only to receive a head butt for his troubles. EVIL tries it again, but Tana counters to a Dragon Suplex for two and then heads up again, where he gets a cross body block and then heads up again to deliver the High-Fly-Flow to pick up the win and keep the pursuit of retaining his G1 crown alive.
WINNER: HIROSHI TANAHASHI (8 PTS)
Miracles are required for Tanahashi to win this Block now, but you have to be in the fight to win it, and so long as he keeps winning then there’s always a slim chance things could go Pete Tong for Okada at some point. The match itself was brilliant and was one of those matches that just continued to build and build as it went on. Definitely worth a watch this one, especially if you’re a big Tanahashi connoisseur like I am.
So with the sixth round of fixtures in the bag, let’s take a look at how the standings shape up;
Kazuchika Okada is out in front with 12 points, and looks darn near uncatchable at this stage. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA and Kota Ibushi all have 8 points on the board, but they’re going to need the rest of the field to do them some favours if they’re to have a chance of winning the Block. EVIL is an island unto himself with 6 points, whilst Zack Sabre Jr, SANADA, Will Ospreay and Lance Archer all have 4 points. And bringing up the rear is Bad Luck Fale, with a paltry 2 points to his name thus far.
Another G1 show where nothing was bad and two of the matches were excellent. The overall competency of this roster genuinely impresses me, with even guys like Fale knowing how to play their role perfectly so that they add to the whole process. There isn’t a single person in this G1 who hasn’t deserved to be there in regards to the role they are playing, and that’s what makes watching it such a joy.