We’re back with some more A Block Action, a Block which has been described as, and I quote, “Lovely Stuff”. Not my words everyone, but the words of Shakin’ Stevens!
Here we are with Night Thirteen, and I wonder who will have an unlucky Round 7 in the A Block? Kazuchika Okada currently sits atop the Block with a perfect record and looks as untouchable as Newcastle United did during the Christmas of 1995. However, that eventually all ended going a bit wrong for The Magpies, so Okada being top right now doesn’t guarantee he still will be when all is said and done.
I’m excited to see what happens next, so why don’t we watch some wrestling and find out eh?
The following matches all took place at the Osaka Prefectuarl Gym in Osaka, Japan on the 3rd of August 2019
Calling the action are Kevin “P.S” Kelly, Rocky “Jam” Romero, Chris “Bam Bam” Charlton and Chase Owens (Only for the Fale match)
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 7
Bad Luck Fale (2 pts) w/ Jado Vs KENTA (8 pts)
I do love KENTA’s music actually and I’ve been enjoying his work in this year’s G1, although perhaps not as much as some have. I’ve also been digging Fale as well, as he plays his role perfectly and having him involved brings some variety to the Block, as most of his matches revolve around big man spots and cheating from his seconds, which no one else in the A Block is really combining in such a way.
KENTA gets some big boots to start, but Jado hits him with a Singapore cane when he hits the ropes, which allows Fale to take over with some elbow drops. Outside we go, where Fale rams KENTA into the railings and tries to win by count out. KENTA manages to break the count, but rolls back in to find more punishment waiting for him from Fale. KENTA eventually is able to slip out of a slam attempt and DDT’s Fale across the top rope before coming off the rop with a clothesline to finally knock Fale off his feet. KENTA smartly targets Fale’s legs with dropkicks and then hits Jado for good measure before DDT’ing Fale for two.
KENTA springboards in with a dropkick to Fale and then gets a boot followed by a dropkick in the corner for added measure. KENTA heads up top and comes down with a big double stomp, but that only gets him a two from the referee. KENTA goes for the Go to Sleep, but Fale uses the unique counter of being large to block it and then takes KENTA down with a big lariat for two. Fale preps for The Grenade (Choke slam into a punch) but KENTA turns it into a triangle choke and then transitions to Game Over (The LaBelle Lock). Owen’s leaves commentary to distract the referee, which brings Jado into the ring with his cane. KENTA fends him off, but this allows Fale to catch him with a school boy roll up and that actually gets him the pin!
WINNER: BAD LUCK FALE (2 PTS)
Well, I wasn’t expecting that sort of finish from Fale, that’s for sure. The match itself was the sort of match that Head Honcho Mr. Keith would describe as “Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling”. It had a beginning, middle and an end, it told a story and there was genuinely tight application with all the moves. That’ll do for me. If Okada wins tonight now then that means KENTA is eliminated.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 7
Lance Archer (4 pts) Vs Zack Sabre Jr (4 pts)
Chris Charlton now re-joins the desk following Owen’s brief foray into the broadcasting world. This will be Suzuki-gun Vs Suzuki-gun, but I doubt there’ll be much love lost here seeing as both men are playing for pride now and won’t want to lose bragging rights to their stablemate. Archer of course has the size advantage, but Sabre showed against Fale that raw strength won’t always get you out of one of his holds so long as he applies it just right.
Zack evades Archer to start, but ends up getting caught in a Full Nelson. Zack counters out of that and we actually get some chain wrestling, with Archer holding his own. Zack manages to get Archer down to the mat with an overhead wristlock, but Archer quickly kips up to break out of the hold. Zack decides to throw some uppercuts, but Archer shrugs those off and takes Zack down with a big slap to the chest. Zack tries it again, but ends up getting shoulder blocked down and then ends up on the wrong side of an Archer body slam.
Archer goes for a twisting splash in the corner, but Zack dodges it and then takes Archer down with a leg submission. Archer is able to make the ropes to break that, so Zack goes to a sleeper instead. Archer powers out of that, but you can see that having to power his way out of these holds is causing him to expend a lot of energy, and that could very well be Zack’s strategy here. Put the big man in holds and force him to get tired from having to fight his way out of them because he doesn’t have the technical finesse to do so.
Archer sends Zack outside the ring; clearly thinking a brawl situation would favour him more than his technical wrestling foe, and then goes for a cannonball off the apron. Zack sees that coming however and flees, before tying Archer up in the ropes with two submission holds, one to the body and the other to the leg. Archer goes for DA POUNCE (Period) but Zack counters that to guillotine, only for Archer to reply with an S.T.O out of the corner.
Archer heads up for the rope walk, only for Zack to jam the ropes to crotch him on the top rope. Zack applies a guillotine up there, but Archer powers him out of that and then comes off the second rope with a cross body block for two. Archer goes for a choke slam, but Zack counters that to a triangle choke and then transitions to an Omoplata (That’s what the commentators call it anyway). Very similar to what KENTA did in the last match actually, and considering those two are yet to meet it’s a tantalising teaser to what their bout may be like. Archer uses his long legs to make the ropes, but just barely makes it.
Zack fires off some kicks to Archer’s chest, but Archer catches one and straight flings Zack in the air with a powerbomb for two. Archer looks for THE CLAW next, but Zack counters into an arm bar. Archer powers out of that and then catches Zack with a Black Hole Slam for two. Zack evades THE CLAW again, but eats a straight right hand punch and a big choke slam for his troubles. Archer goes for the pin, but then pulls Zack up at two and goes for Black Out (Inverted Splash Mountain into a forward slam) but Zack counters that into a pinning hold and picks up the three count.
WINNER: ZACK SABRE JR (6 PTS)
A very enjoyable styles clash there, with Archer’s desire to cause mayhem eventually being his downfall. What this and the Fale match have shown is that raw power is probably the best chance you’ve got of getting out of Zack’s holds, but even that won’t protect you forever and if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you can beat him then you need to take it.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 7
EVIL (6 pts) Vs Will Ospreay (4 pts)
EVIL is technically still alive in the tournament, but it’d be a big ask for him to do it now, although he does still have Okada to wrestle so he might have a chance provided other people take points off Okada. Ospreay is playing for pride at this stage, but picking up some wins over Heavyweights is never to be sniffed at when you’re the Junior Heavyweight Champ.
Ospreay snaps off a rana to start and then fakes out on a dive to mess with EVIL’s head. EVIL grabs a chair from under the ring, which Kelly does a good job of explaining by saying they keep them there in case some of the commentator’s chairs get damaged. Good effort on his part. The chair gets removed from the ring and the two men go through a blistering sequence, which ends with EVIL clotheslining Ospreay out of the ring. EVIL grabs some chairs whilst outside and puts one over Ospreay’s head before hitting it with another one. That’s why his name is “EVIL” and not “SCRUPULOUS” I guess (Something my caps lock is exceedingly grateful for)
EVIL works over Ospreay’s neck and shoulder back in the end, which he hurt early doors and still has taped up. Ospreay keeps coming however and counters a vertical suplex attempt into a stunner in mid-air for a double down. Ospreay gets a nice running forearm and then follows up with another one from a springboard for two. EVIL dodges the Robinson Special (spinning wheel kick to a downed opponent) and then suplexes Ospreay into the corner. EVIL goes for a German Suplex, but Ospreay fights that off, only to then take a clothesline in the corner from EVIL.
EVIL sets Ospreay up top and tries for a superplex, but Ospreay fights that off and tries something from the top. EVIL dodges that however and Ospreay lands on his feet, only for EVIL to then try and hit the Magic Killer, using Referee Uno as an unwitting accomplice. Uno manages to avoid that however and Ospreay is able to slip out. Ospreay gets a handspring Pele kick and then follows EVIL out to the floor with a Space Flying Tiger Drop (Running handspring somersault to the floor). Ospreay rolls EVIL back inside and gets a coast to coast dropkick for two when EVIL rolls away from his Shooting Star Press attempt.
Ospreay goes for The Storm Breaker (Double Underhook Canadian Backbreaker Rack transitioned into a modified Corkscrew Neckbreaker), but EVIL fights out of that and then takes Ospreay down with a lariat for a double down. Both men trade strikes from their knees, and eventually get to their feet whilst still throwing forearms. Both men counter the others big moves, with leads to EVIL getting Darkness Falls (Fireman’s carry into a sit out powerbomb) for two. Everything Is EVIL (S.T.O) looks to follow, but Ospreay flips out of it and then delivers a big sit out powerbomb for two. Ospreay throws a big kick and then tries for a back elbow smash, but EVIL is able to dodge it. EVIL head butts Ospreay and then goes for a lariat, but Ospreay counters it into the C4 and then delivers the Os Cutter (Back springboard Diamond Cutter) but EVIL is able to kick out at two.
The Storm Breaker would appear to be the last bullet in Ospreay’s chamber, but EVIL manages to slip out and go for a German Suplex, but Ospreay lands on his feet and gets the Robinson Special before heading to the top rope for a Super Os Cutter. EVIL blocks it however and gets a pair of big suplexes before turning Ospreay inside out with a lariat for two. Everything Is EVIL follows next however and that’s too much for Ospreay to overcome and EVIL picks up a vital 2 points towards his G1 challenge.
WINNER: EVIL (8 PTS)
EVIL is really good and Ospreay is really good, so this match was only ever going to be bags of fun, and that’s exactly what we got here. Ospreay hangs just fine at Heavyweight and EVIL is a deceptively outstanding worker. EVIL has Okada next, so if tag partner SANADA does him a favour later in the main event then he could be looking at making a genuine challenge to top the Block.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 7
Kota Ibushi (8 pts) Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (8 pts)
I’m thinking that Ibushi has to win here, just because Tana lost the tiebreaker to Okada, whereas Ibushi still has to wrestle Okada and him winning here will keep the pressure up on the Block leader, provided that SANADA delivers the beans and liver later on. I can’t see Tana winning the Block now, although it would be one heck of a story if he did it from this position. The commentator’s remind me as well that this was the Final to last year’s G1 Tournament, a great match that went a whopping 35 minutes. Considering the Block matches only have 30 minute time limits, that would mean a draw tonight and that would hurt both men’s causes.
Both men work the headlock early doors, and it’s done well, which will be a surprise to no one. Ibushi manages to take Tana down with a dropkick, but Tana picks his ankle in reply and then works the leg over. Ibushi replies by kicking Tana in the face, but sells the leg in response. Ibushi fires of a nice flurry and then ends it with a standing moonsault for two. Once again, Tana’s main Young Lion, Suji is at ringside and is cheering his mentor on by slapping the mat. It seems to help, as Tana gets back on track with a Dragon Screw. An inverted Dragon Screw comes next, which Ibushi sells perfectly with his fantastic facial expressions, and Tana then goes to the Texas Cloverleaf.
Ibushi gets to the ropes to break that, but ends up taking another Dragon Screw over the middle rope, as Tana is just going to town on his leg, which considering Ibushi had ankle issues right from the start of the tournament, is an intelligent battle plan. Ibushi rolls outside following that and Tana heads up top to leap out onto him, but Ibushi pops back up to rana Tana back into the ring for two. Tana tries going back to the legs with a dropkick, but Ibushi sees it coming and gets a jumping double stomp before lawn darting Tana into the turnbuckles. Tana rolls onto the apron following that, which leads to Ibushi German Suplexing him back into the ring for two. That didn’t look fun to take at all.
Ibushi goes for a powerbomb, but Tana lands on his feet and slaps Ibushi, which serves only to anger up Ibushi’s blood. Tana man’s up to face off with him however, and throws a few more slaps for good measure, only for Ibushi to reply and we have a MANLY SLAP FIGHT!!! Ibushi brings an end to that with a lariat however and both men are down. Ibushi is up first and gets a sit out Last Ride powerbomb for two. Ibushi is now bleeding from the mouth, possibly after biting his tongue during the battle. Ibushi goes for the Kamigoye (Knee to face whilst holding the wrists) but Tana counters it to a multitude of twisting neck breakers and then a Sling Blade for two.
Tana heads up top for a cross body block and then heads up again for the High-Fly-Flow Frogsplash, but Ibushi moves out of the way and Tana now seems to have hurt his knee. Ibushi goes for the Bom-Ba-Ye (Shinsuke Nakamura’s running knee strike) and gets it but Tana is able to kick out at two. Kamigoye looks inbound, but Tana counters it into a roll up for two. Ibushi replies with a Mirko Cro Cop like high kick though and gets the Kamigoye on the third attempt to pick up the win in little over 15 minutes.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (10 PTS)
Interesting that they didn’t try and replicate the epic of last year and did a comparative sprint instead. It was still a great match however and sometimes you don’t need to go 30 minutes if you can still tell a great story with 15, and Ibushi overcoming all of the leg work to convincingly put Tana away like that almost represents a passing of the torch and could mean that Ibushi is going all the way in the Block.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 7
SANADA (4 pts) Vs Kazuchika Okada (12 pts)
This is a match that has seemingly happened quite a lot in the past year or so, and it’s always been good. To me, SANADA winning here makes the most sense, as it keeps everyone else in the Block in the running and could also give SANADA another shot at Okada. It’s a match that’s probably a bit overdone, but SANADA winning would give him a rub and it won’t be as bad for him to lose the Title match to Okada so long as he shows here that he is capable of beating him.
The relationship between Okada and SANADA is an interesting one, as they really seem to be going with the idea that SANADA is knocking on his door, not unlike how Okada knocked on the door of Tanahashi, but the key difference was that Okada beat Tana for the Title straight after coming back from excursion, whereas SANADA is yet to pick up the win on Okada. One way isn’t necesarily better than the other, but it’s interesting to explore the differences.
What also differentiates it is that Okada seemingly wants to bring more out of SANADA and is almost trying to build him into his rival, whereas Tanahashi seemed to more openly dislike Okada in thier rivalry. Okada doesn’t seem to dislike SANADA at all and instead is trying to pull something out of him almost because he likes him and wants to see him reach his potential. It’s definitely intriguing and mirrors much more the Tanahashi and Ibushi relationship. Maybe subconciously the Okada character is trying to prove that he is just as capable of doing what Tanahashi has done for Ibushi and has selected SANADA for that reason?
Anyway, to the match itself, which begins with Okada controlling things for the most part. SANADA manages to get a running dropkick to Okada however, which hurts the Champion, and then follows up by trying to lock Okada in the Paradise Lock (I’m not sure I can explain that one. Basically he wraps the opponent into a ball), but Okada is able to kick him off before that can happen. Okada replies with a running back elbow and then spikes SANADA with a DDT for two. Okada slams SANADA down and then heads up top, but SANADA dodges Okada’s attempted attack. Okada is able to land on his feet however and then dropkicks SANADA off the top rope to the floor.
Okada sends SANADA into the railings outside and then kicks him over the railings into the commentary area, before bringing him back to ringside with a DDT off the railing. Okada is happy to win via count out following that, but SANADA pulls himself back to his feet and manages to roll inside, where he finds a running dropkick to the side of the head waiting for him. Okada acts like a jerk back inside, trying to pin SANADA with one foot to show that he’ll be playing defacto heel tonight. SANADA tries fighting back and manages to dropkick Okada in the leg to buy himself some time. SANADA gets a beautiful dropkick next to send Okada outside and then follows with a dive to a big pop from the crowd, who are thoroughly behind SANADA here.
SANADA goes for a back suplex back inside, but Okada fights that off, only to then find himself getting tied up in the Paradise Lock. With nowhere to go, Okada is trapped and easy prey for SANADA, who dropkicks him right in the bum for two. SANADA misses a moonsault body block from the second rope and then walks into a flapjack from Okada for a double down. SANADA gets a back suplex once both men are back up, but that only nets him a two count. SANADA goes for a fireman’s carry, but Okada slips out and then counters a SANADA springboard attempt into a modified neck breaker. Okada slams SANADA down and then follows with an elbow drop from the top rope before going to THE RAINMAKER POSE!!!
Okada tries for The Rainmaker next (Spin out clothesline) but SANADA counters to Skull End (Dragon Sleeper). Okada pushes off the ropes to flip that over into a Tombstone Piledriver and tries for The Rainmaker again, but SANADA ducks it and then gets a one man Magic Killer, using the top rope as a base, and that leads to another double down. Both men fight up from their knees, trading forearm strikes. The selling from both of them is fantastic here, as Okada fires up and demands that SANADA hit him. This transitions to both men throwing stiff European uppercuts, and again the selling is top notch. That’s the difference between just doing strikes to pop the crowd and doing strikes to tell a story of two tough wrestlers giving it their all to be victorious.
Okada gets a dropkick and goes for The Rainmaker, but SANADA gets out of that and then counters a Tombstone attempt to Skull End. SANADA transitions from that to a Tiger Suplex, which gets him two, and then follows up with a TKO (Fireman’s carry into a Diamond Cutter) for two. SANADA heads up top for a moonsault, but Okada rolls out of the way. SANADA lands on his feet, but runs into a boot when he charges at Okada. SANADA tries Skull End again, but when he tries to hook his legs around Okada, The Champ rolls through and gets a short arm Rainmaker, before following with another one.
Okada goes for the full version next, but SANADA counters it mid spin out with a clothesline of his own and hooks Skull End back in, actually spinning Okada around at one point, and then gets the hooks in. After a struggle, Okada breaks free from the arm grip and tries to make the ropes, but SANADA is able to cinch it in again and gets the hooks again as well. Okada sells it big and starts to fade, but time is running out and SANADA knows this. Okada is able to bridge out into a pinning combination, but SANADA kicks out and cinches in the hold again as we get the announcement that only three minutes remain in the time limit.
What fantastic drama this is! Referee Uno doesn’t check Okada’s arm and keeps asking him if gives up, so SANADA lets go and goes for a moonsault, but Okada gets his knees up to counter it and both men are down. Normally I get mad at SANADA for letting go and going for the moonsault, but time was ticking away there and Uno was clearly not going to stop the match, so he had no real choice. Okada hits SANADA with a big dropkick and goes back to The Rainmaker, but SANADA counters it to the TKO and then hits a pair of moonsaults to FINALLY defeat Okada in 29 minutes and 49 seconds!!!
WINNER: SANADA (6 PTS)
Say, you want to watch nearly 30 minutes of professional wrestling and have it feel like 5 minutes? Well then this is the match for you! Just fantastic stuff and a genuine MOTYC. I was hovering around ****ish, but SANADA getting the clean win in such a strong manner pushed it over the line for me. Just a perfectly executed bout and story that I don’t think could have been improved upon. Okada played the Jumbo to SANADA’s Misawa here, and this win is a huge step in making SANADA look like a genuine star. Fantastic stuff and well worth a watch. I knew this G1 had a bonafide classic in it, and we finally got in, on Night 13 of all nights!
SANADA does the post-match speech, and he’s mega over following that.
So the standings after that dramatic action look as follows;
Kazuchika Okada is still in the lead with 12 points, but Kota Ibushi is nipping at his heels with 10 points and both men are still scheduled to face one another. Meanwhile, EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi and KENTA are on 8 points, whilst SANADA and Zack Sabre Jr are on 6 points. Down on 4 points are Bad Luck Fale, Lance Archer and Will Ospreay, but they need not be ashamed for having that points total due to how competitive the Block has been.
One of the best nights so far, with the last two matches in particular being fantastic. Check them out for goodness sake!