We’re back with some more A Block Action, the Block that has been making all the other Blocks jealous!
Last time out in the A Block Kazuchika Okada and SANADA had a fantastic bout that I went all in with a ***** rating for the first time in this year’s G1 Climax tournament. Tonight Okada takes on SANADA’s regular tag team partner in the form of EVIL. Will he be able to get another ****+ match this time out?
Let’s settle in and find out shall we?
Hamamatsu Arena in Shizuoka, Japan on the 7th of August 2019
Calling the action are Kevin “Too Sexy” Kelly and Rocky “Too Hot” Romero
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 8
Lance Archer (4 pts) Vs SANADA (6 pts)
SANADA is officially out of the running here, but after beating Okada last time out a strong showing for the rest of the tournament should set him up nicely for a future Title shot at Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Title. Archer has been working his backside off in this tournament and has a string of enjoyable matches. Hopefully he can deliver a fun outing once again here.
Archer jumps SANADA during his entrance and the fight is on, with Archer even mockingly trying on SANADA’s entrance mask. SANADA catches a kick back inside however and delivers a Dragon Screw before going for the Paradise Lock. Archer blocks that, but then runs into a rana. Archer avoids a SANADA dive and then comes off the apron with a cannonball, just barely getting all the way over in the process. He’s hit that perfectly other times so it might have just been a timing issue. That or he’s starting to get a bit beaten up now and it’s making him harder to hit his usual big spots.
Back inside the ring, Archer no sells some SANADA open hand slaps to the chest and takes SANADA down with one of his own. SANADA replies by attacking the leg, but then ends up running into a Black Hole Slam (Spinning Sidewalk Slam) for two. Archer adds his wacky springboard splash out of the corner for two and then starts openly choking SANADA to scattered boo’s from the crowd. Archer gets a series of elbows in the corner, but SANADA manages to take him down with a dropkick to the legs and then hits a normal dropkick to the face to send Archer rolling outside.
SANADA follows with a dive onto Archer and then goes for a back suplex back inside. Archer fights that off and then goes for a choke slam, but SANADA flips out of that and goes for Skull End (Dragon Sleeper). Archer slips out of that however and gets a reverse DDT for two before following up with a big choke slam for another two. Archer heads up top for a moonsault, but SANADA rolls out of the way and attempts one of his own, only for Archer to get his knees up to block and then turn it into a cradle for two.
SANADA back flips from the second rope into Skull End, but Archer counters that with THE CLAW, which leads to SANADA making it to the ropes to break the hold. Archer goes for the Black Out (Reverse Splash Mountain into a flipping slam) but SANADA counters that back into Skull End. Archer slips out of that though and goes for DA POUNCE (Period) but SANADA leap frogs to dodge that and gets a roll up for the three count.
WINNER: SANADA (8 PTS)
Standard fare here, as both men are starting to look a bit tired and this never really got into a higher gear. It was still perfectly watchable though and it’s nice to see SANADA pick up another win.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 8
Bad Luck Fale (4 pts) w/ Jado and Chase Owens Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (8 pts)
It’s now impossible for Tanahashi to win the Block due to Okada having the tiebreaker over him, so his defence of his G1 Climax Title has come to an end and he’s now just playing for pride. It wouldn’t surprise me if they double down on his misery by having him do a job to Fale now as well. It’s genuinely starting to feel like his time on top is starting to come to an end, which is very unfortunate but his legacy is not under question.
Fale wastes no time by attacking Tana during his entrance, but Tana skins a cat back in and then targets Fale’s legs with low dropkicks. Jado gives Tana a cheap shot with his Singapore cane however, which puts Tana back on the defensive. Fale sends Tana outside and distracts the referee, which allows Chase Owens to attack him. Fale then rams Tana’s leg into the railings and then the ring post, before stomping away at it back inside. Chase Owen’s continues to throw in cheap shots as well when the opportunity presents itself.
Tana tries fighting back with strikes, but Fale is able to shrug those off, so Tana goes for a slam instead. His leg gives out on him however and Fale falls back on top of him for a two count. Fale clobbers Tana in the corner with big swinging half-punch/half-clothesline attacks, but Tana goes back to the leg with dropkicks again and then gets a Dragon Screw. Tana goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, but Fale is just too big for him to muscle over, so he goes to a Figure Four Leg Lock instead. Fale is able to roll the move over (Which apparently doesn’t reverse it in real life according to an “MMA guys try pro wrestling submission holds” video I saw on YouTube. Although it does turn out the Boston Crab is legit because an MMA fighter actually won a fight with it quite recently) and it gets broken up.
Fale ploughs through Tanahashi with a shoulder tackle and then goes for The Grenade (Choke slam into a punch) but Tana counters that with a good old fashioned slap and goes for a German Suplex, but Fale is too powerful and blocks it. Tana goes for a sunset flip next, but Fale aloha-Arn’s to block it and then sits on Tana for two. A big splash that would make Giant Haystacks proud comes next, but Tana is one again able to kick out at two. Fale goes to The Grenade, but Tana counters it into the Twist ‘N’ Shout (Swinging neck breaker) and then follows with a Sling Blade before heading up top with the High-Fly-Flow Frogsplash to Fale’s back.
Another one to the front looks to follow, but Owen’s distracts the ref and this allows Jado to hit Tana with his cane. Grenade follows, but Tana is able to kick out at two. The crowd is super behind Tanahashi now, but Bad Luck Fall (Crucifix Last Ride powerbomb) looks to end things. Tana slips out of that and tries a backslide, but he can’t power Fale down and Fale is able to counter it to one of his own for the three count. That’s the second roll up Fale has won with in this G1 now, as he’s starting to show off some genuine technical acumen. Who knew?
WINNER: BAD LUCK FALE (6 PTS)
A well worked match with a fun surprise ending that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Fale could have won sure, but essentially clean with a pinning hold? I don’t think many people had that in their accumulator, that’s for sure! Tana sells the loss big and the result just completely deflates the crowd, who were completely behind Tanahashi and clearly still seem to love him even if his days on top of the card could be on the wane.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 8
KENTA (8 pts) Vs Will Ospreay (4 pts)
After a strong start KENTA’s G1 kind of went off the rails following him dropping his 0 to Kazuchika Okada. Since he has lost matches to SANADA and Bad Luck Fale as well. Kelly says on commentary that KENTA can still possibly win the Block, but it’s going to be an uphill battle and I’m not sure it’ll happen. Ospreay is way out of the running now and is just wrestling for pride, but he’s given an excellent account of himself in this G1, even if he has fallen into the trap that befalls most Junior Heavyweight Champs when they enter G1 by losing the majority of his matches. Hey Will, it happened to Jushin Liger too, so you’re in good company! Kevin Kelly actually mentions the now sadly departed Wrestling Channel that used to be on satellite TV over in the UK, which featured Pro Wrestling NOAH and New Japan, and was a gateway for a lot of us into Puro, Ospreay included.
According to Kelly, KENTA’s excellent match at the NOAH Destiny show in 2005 with Yoshinobu Kanemaru was the first time Ospreay ever watched Japanese Wrestling and it hooked him. That is a great match but I actually prefer Kanemaru’s match the previous year with Jushin Liger, which is definitely required viewing in my opinion. Anyway, to this match, which starts with both men trading strikes and then dodging each other’s attacks. It’s a fabulous start and ends with both men high kicking one another for an immediate double down. It kind of reminded me of a sequence in a Kotaro Suzuki Vs Ricky Marvin match I saw once actually. In fact, Ospreay against either of those guys in their prime would have probably been an excellent match. KENTA gets control of things once both men are up when he DDT’s Ospreay’s neck across the top rope and then follows with a clothesline from the top.
The fight spills outside, where KENTA flings Ospreay into the railings around ringside, making sure to get every side of the ring for added douchiness. KENTA even adds a body slam onto the concrete whilst outside the ring and then throws Ospreay into the ring post as well. Back inside the ring, KENTA goes for a cover after all of that but Ospreay is able to kick out at two. Ospreay tries to fight back, and KENTA even gives him some free shots, but he’s been worked over pretty badly and KENTA quite easily regains control with strikes of his own. KENTA disrespectfully kicks away at Ospreay, so Ospreay replies with some stiff chops and then counters a KENTA vertical suplex attempt into a cutter. Ospreay knocks KENTA down with a running forearm, but gets back body dropped onto the apron and then DDT’ed back in by KENTA for two.
KENTA hangs Ospreay over the top rope and goes for a double stomp, but Ospreay dodges it and then springboards into the ring with a forearm smash for two. Ospreay goes for the Storm Breaker (Double Underhook Canadian Backbreaker Rack transitioned into a modified Corkscrew Neckbreaker) but KENTA back body drops out of it. Ospreay lands on his feet however and delivers a springboard Pele kick. KENTA rolls out after that and Ospreay preps for a dive, but KENTA catches him with a sleeper and then drags him onto the apron for a Falcon Arrow. They do a count out tease following that, and Ospreay only just makes it back in at 19. KENTA tries a springboard of some kind but sadly slips, which means he has to improvise with a running big boot in the corner and then a running dropkick for added measure. Shame that didn’t work out but they covered it as best they could. KENTA compensates for the botch by almost killing Ospreay with a double stomp from the top rope for two. KENTA tries the Go To Sleep (Fireman’s carry into a knee strike) but Ospreay fights out of it, only to then run into a Busaiku Knee (Running front knee strike).
Both men trade strikes from their knees, which ends with KENTA going for a clothesline but Ospreay flips out of it and goes for a powerbomb, only for KENTA to turn that into a guillotine choke. Ospreay tries countering that into a suplex, but KENTA switches to a sleeper instead and then goes for a PK, only for Ospreay to counter that into a sit out powerbomb for two. Ospreay heads up top and goes for a Shooting Star Press, but KENTA counters it by getting his knees up and then transitions to Game Over (The LaBelle Lock). Ospreay fights that and tries to make the ropes, eventually getting to them to break the hold. KENTA knees Ospreay in the back and then follows with a Busaiku Knee for two. KENTA makes the call for the Go To Sleep, but Ospreay counters it into a roll up for two and then gets the Os Cutter (Springboard Diamond Cutter) for two. Osprey goes for the Storm Breaker again, but Ospreay gets out of it, so Ospreay rocks KENTA with a kick and then elbow strikes him in the back of the head. Storm Breaker follows next and that’s enough for Ospreay to be able to keep KENTA down for the three count.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY (6 PTS)
There was a tad few occasions where the execution wasn’t quite there, possibly because it was the first match they’ve had and also because we’re getting near the end of the tournament now and everyone is getting tired and beaten up. It’s understandable that everything might not be as tight as usual in those circumstances. I still enjoyed it though and it was the sort of hard fought clean win that Ospreay needs to have at this level. Ospreay bows to KENTA post-match, so KENTA offers him a handshake and leaves him to enjoy his moment.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 8
Zack Sabre Jr (6 pts) Vs Kota Ibushi (10 pts)
Ibushi really has to win here, or at the very least he needs Okada to lose if he also loses. If Ibushi wins here then the match between him and Okada in Round 9 will be the decider even if Okada beats EVIL because Ibushi will have the tiebreaker over Okada if he wins and they’ll be level on points. Zack doesn’t like Ibushi though, so he will be very happy to play spoiler here, especially as he can still reach double figures if he wins his final two matches in the Block. Ibushi also hurt his ankle in the very first round of fixtures, so Zack will surely be targeting that part of his body with his wicked submission skills.
We actually get a clean break to start, which seems to annoy Zack more than anything else. That leads to some nice chain wrestling, where Ibushi is able to hold his own against “The Vegan Hydra”. Zack tries throwing a sly kick to Ibushi’s leg, so Ibushi kicks him back to show he isn’t going to tolerate such behaviour. Zack responds by going to a leg lock in his usual grappling octopus style, but Ibushi is able to make the ropes. The damage appears to be done however, as Zack now targets the leg and ankle, outright standing on it at one point. Zack gets cocky and lets Ibushi get back up, so Ibushi chops him in the chest a few times and then snaps off a rana, although the ankle means he can’t immediately make the advantage it gives him count.
Ibushi shrugs off some Zack uppercuts and kicks him back down, but Zack is able to kick him in the arm and then kick his leg out from under his leg. Ibushi responds with a powerslam and tries to follow up with an asai moonsault, but Zack pops back up to kick him off the rope and then goes back to a leg lock to work over Ibushi’s injured body part. Zack throws some European uppercuts, but Ibushi replies with a flurry of kicks to take him downa nd then follows up with a back flip double knee drop to Zack’s mid-section. Ooof, that did not look fun at all! Ibushi tries a powerbomb, but Zack slips out like an anaconda and then transitions to an STF, which then transitions to a combinaton STF and Rings of Saturn. It’s absolutely nuts just how fluidly Zack can transition between these submission holds, almost as if he’s coming up with them on the fly. It’s outstanding technical wrestling. Ibushi manages to get free however and then cleans Zack’s clock with a lariat for a double down.
Ibushi goes for a powerbomb but Zack slips out and goes for the Zack Driver (Michinoku Driver) but Ibushi slips out of that and gets a half Nelson suplex for two. Ibushi was only able to bridge with one leg though. Sit Out Last Ride Powerbomb comes next, but Zack is able to kick out at two. Ibushi goes for Kamigoye (Knee Strike to the face whilst holding the opponents wrists) but Zack blocks that with a kick and goes to Orienteering With Napalm Death (I can’t even explain what this is, you’ll have to Google it I’m afraid. Rest assured, it’s a punishing looking hold that works both the upper and lower legs). Referees have actually stopped matches when people have gotten trapped in this hold, but Ibushi is able to make it to the ropes before the referee ends the bout. Zack gets cocky again though and allows Ibushi to get back to his feet, which leads to Ibushi slapping him down and pulling down his knee pad for the Bom-Ba-Ye (Running knee strike) but Zack is able to dodge it and gets a trio of roll ups for three sets of two counts. Ibushi responds by kicking Zack in the head and then following up with the Bom-Ba-Ye for two. Kamigoye comes next however, and that’s enough for Ibushi to finally put Zack away.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (12 PTS)
This was one of my favourite wrestling stories, the clash of ring styles, and it delivered on that premise. Zack Sabre Jr’s submission styled wrestling certainly isn’t for everyone, but its right up my street and this was a really fun battle of two worlds colliding. So now even if Okada wins tonight, Ibushi can still win the Block on Night Seventeen provided he beats Okada.
G1 CLIMAX A BLOCK – Round 8
EVIL (8 pts) Vs Kazuchika Okada (12 pts)
EVIL holds a win over Ibushi, so if he beats Okada here then he’ll have a tiebreaker over both of them. However, that will leave him 2 pts behind both men, with Okada and Ibushi to face one another. A draw would see EVIL eliminated in that case, so the only way he can win G1 now would be to beat Okada here, win his last match and then hope Okada and Ibushi go to a double count out or DQ, meaning that neither man gets any points and EVIL wins it on the three way tiebreaker with everyone holding 12 points. That seems a bit unlikely to me, but I guess it could happen if they fancy throwing a twist in there. It’s not like EVIL couldn’t tear the house down with any of Jon Moxley, Jay White or Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Final. I think the commentators are a bit confused because they are saying that EVIL beating Okada here would mean he wins the Block if Okada beats Ibushi, but if Okada beats Ibushi he’ll have 14 points and that’ll be enough for him to win the Block outright, as the most EVIL can get is 12 points. I don’t blame them though, this stuff can get confusing. And indeed, as I type that, the commentators realise their mistake. Don’t worry lads, it happens to the best of us, although don’t be surprised if this footage finds it’s way to Maffew somehow.
EVIL bulls down Okada to start, but Okada replies by working a headlock. Okada gets a neck breaker for a one count and takes his time trying to get the advantage over EVIL, which makes sense as EVIL has defeated Okada a few times in the past, most notably in G1 a couple of year’s ago. The fights heads outside, where Okada sends EVIL into one of the railings, only for EVIL to return the favour and then clothesline Okada over the railing into the crowd. EVIL gets a neck breaker back inside and then goes to a chin lock, which at least makes sense as it works the same part of the body that the neck breaker does. Okada is able to get out of that however, which leads to EVIL chopping him down and going for a senton splash, but Okada is able to dodge it.
Okada takes EVIL down with a running back elbow and then follows with a dive when EVIL rolls outside to recover. Okada gets a jumping elbow in the corner back inside and then follows up with a DDT for two. Okada gets a slam and heads up top, but EVIL dodges whatever Okada has planned and then hangs him up in the ropes before stomping him down to the mat. EVIL fires up the crowd and gets a running seated senton in the corner for two. Okada fights off a suplex attempt and gets a lovely looking flapjack for a double down. Okada kips up and goes for his modified neck breaker over the knee, but EVIL fights it off twice and then catches Okada with a thrust kick. Okada responds by getting his modified neck breaker on his third attempt and then heads up for an elbow drop. This leads to THE RAINMAKER POSE!!!
Okada goes for The Rainmaker (Spin out clothesline) but EVIL fights him off. Okada responds by setting EVIL up on the top rope and then dropkicking him down to the floor. Okada sends EVIL into the railings outside the ring and then boots him over into the crowd before following with a big cross body. However, EVIL sees this coming and flings a chair at Okada to block it. EVIL now pulls out a pair of chairs, puts one over Okada’s head and then hits it with the other one. EVIL rolls Okada back inside and gets a big clothesline in the corner before setting him up on the top rope. EVIL looks to go for a superplex up there, and gets it for two. EVIL goes for Everything Is EVIL (S.T.O) but Okada fights it off and goes for a dropkick, only for EVIL to avoid that by grabbing the ropes.
Okada manages it on the second try however and both men are down, as the previously pro-EVIL crowd is now coming over to Okada’s side. Both men fight up from their knees and trade strikes as they make it to their feet. Okada unloads with a series of uppercuts but EVIL fires back with some forearms and that leaves Okada wobbly legged. EVIL goes for darkness Falls (Fireman’s carry into a sit out powerbomb) but Okada slips out of that and goes to a Tombstone Piledriver. After a struggle, Okada is able to deliver the Tombstone and pulls EVIL up for The Rainmaker. EVIL is able to duck it and both men counter the other’s big moves, which ends with EVIL lariating Okada for two.
That was a fantastic sequence there! EVIL manages to deliver Darkness Falls, but Okada is able to just manage to kick out at two. Everything Is EVIL looks to be on its way, but Okada counters again to a short arm Rainmaker and keeps hold of the wrist of EVIL so that he can throw another. Okada then goes for the full version of the move, but EVIL counters it into a pair of suplexes and the crowd is now at fever pitch. Okada ducks a big lariat and dropkicks EVIL in the back of the head as we get the 5 minute call. Okada delivers another dropkick to the front and goes for the Rainmaker, but EVIL counters it again and drops Okada with a head butt. Big lariat follows from EVIL, but Okada is able to kick out at two. Wow, that one was a nail biter! Okada replies with another short arm clothesline before getting a running front dropkick, a spinning clothesline and finally a full version of The Rainmaker to put EVIL away.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (14 PTS)
So all Okada needs is a single point against Kota Ibushi in Round 9 to win the Block. I was hoping that they’d have EVIL win here, just so that they could get possibly the biggest pop for a double count out tease ever in the Okada Vs Ibushi match, but keeping Okada strong makes sense because Okada is the Champ and the Champ should look strong. I would personally have Ibushi beat Okada in the decider, just because I don’t think you need to have the IWGP Champ win the G1. It’d be like the WWE Champ winning the Royal Rumble. It just makes more sense for a challenger to win it rather than have the Champ decide who he wants to face, especially as I don’t think we’d get the scenario of the briefcase being defended if Okada won the tournament and I always like that part of the road to Wrestle Kingdom. This was an excellent match. I liked the SANADA one a tad more because we got the big win for SANADA, but this was a brilliant outing from Okada and EVIL and definitely in the “must-watch” list.
So with Round 8 in the bag, let’s see how things are shaping up;
Kazuchika is in the lead with 14 points, whilst Kota Ibushi has 12. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA, EVIL and SANADA are all out of the running on 8. Zack Sabre Jr, Bad Luck Fale and Will Ospreay are all on 6 points, whilst Lance Archer is surprisingly bringing up the rear on 4 points.
The last two matches are definitely worth going out of your way to see, although that might be my personal bias for Zack Sabre Jr’s outrageous submission wrestling prowess talking. Either way, the main event is a legit slam dunk and you should definitely watch it.