Tonight, factions go to war in the B Block as Tetsuya Naito takes on SANADA in an all-LIJ main event! Meanwhile, EVIL battles KENTA in a Bullet Club battle!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
A Block (Michael Fitzgerald):
B Block (Rick Poehling):
Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji
They must have put something extra in the Young Lions’ cornflakes today, because they tore it down in this opener. Just a great showcase here, albeit simple stuff, with two guys who are trying to impress as much as possible. Tsuji has some fabulous expressions during a stepover toehold, for example, that made me sit up and notice. Little things always do it. Crowd gets deeply into it on a few nearfalls, including a Tsuji cradle with 10 seconds left that I totally bought as the finish. Regardless, we get a draw here and the two trade strikes afterwards. Really, this wasn’t revolutionary wrestling, but it was really, really well-worked, especially for a Lions match. (Draw, 15:00)
“The King of Pro-Wrestling Champion, B Block leader and future IWGP double champion” Toru Yano vs Juice Robinson – B Block match
Now then, in his promo after the last show, Juice promised that he absolutely would not fall for any of Yano’s shenanigans. No sir! He even says to Yano “No bullshit!” before the match starts, and Yano agrees! This is going to be a fine Greco-Roman contest and Robinson isn’t going to fall for any of Toru’s nonsense! So when Yano tosses him a shirt as a gift, Juice swats it away because he’s ready to take care of business and he…..
…..oh, who am I kidding? He puts the shirt on and while it’s over his head, he gets rolled up by Yano for two. That should have been the finish because Juice is a dumbass. Then he gets mad and charges, so Yano distracts the ref and sprays him in the face with sanitizer, then rolls him up for two. Man, Juice REALLY is a dumbass.
From there, we settle into a normal match, or as normal as Yano ever really has, complete with more sanitizer to the eyes, turnbuckle pad removal, and Juice ripping THE SHIRT YANO GAVE HIM off like Hogan and stomping on it. I think that officially qualifies as a heel turn in any reasonable universe. Juice goes outside to track Yano down, and ends up getting his legs taped together and being forced to hop back to the ring because, as we have now established ad nauseum over the course of this match, JUICE IS A DUMBASS.
Juice hits the ring with his legs still taped together and Yano runs around him in a circle, laughing the whole time. Wrestling is fun! Not sarcasm there, either – Juice is really just popping his facial expressions in anger and it’s like a big cartoon and while I don’t want most matches to be like this at all, sometimes it just works. He gets a full-nelson bomb on Yano and that buys him enough time to free his legs and he ends up going for Pulp Friction. Yano slips out of that, but goes for a roll-up and Juice sits on him to bring the streak to an end for Toru Yano and hand the sublime master thief his first loss in the 2020 G-1. (Juice Robinson over Toru Yano, pinfall, 6:43)
THOUGHTS: ***. Yeah, I don’t care – this was great. Yano’s matches are really all about how his dance partner reacts to them, and Juice’s over-sized sells and expressions were perfect here. If only he hadn’t been such an idiot most of the match, although there’s a case to be made that he looks better if Yano gets to do all of his usual bullshit and Juice ends up getting to beat him anyway. I think that folks sometimes think it’s hard to ‘rate’ a Toru Yano match, but I’ve grown to do it like I did for stuff like Bucks’ matches and the like – what was the primary objective and did they achieve it? Here, they wanted to make me laugh and they did. Not rocket science. Therefore, good match.
Juice celebrates his win as people in the crowd openly weep over Yano’s loss. Bastard.
Zack Sabre Jr vs Hirooki Goto – B Block match
Goto comes in wearing tape on his shoulder, and ZSJ all but licks his lips like Sylvester seeing Tweety Bird. Grappling to start and Zack goes straight for the arm, grabbing a wristlock and yanking on it, forcing Goto to make the ropes. Kick after kick to the shoulder of Goto, and ZSJ shoves the ref to the mat because no one ever gets DQ’d for ref abuse in NJPW. I wonder if they all commiserate together after the show, pointing out their wounds from the wrestlers beating the crap out of them.
Anyway, Goto puts up some feeble resistance with some left-handed chops, but he’s got nothing and Sabre hooks the Octopus so he can make Goto’s arm hate life just that much more. Goto tries to escape, but only gets kicked in the arm multiple times as a reward when he does. Finally, Goto pops up off a Penalty Kick with a lariat and hits an Ushigoroshi, but Sabre rolls him through into a European Clutch for the pin. (Zack Sabre Jr over Hirooki Goto, pinfall, 3:59)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. Match was one of GEDO’s reminders that things could end at any time, at any moment. ZSJ looked dominant here as he honed in on Goto’s arm immediately and destroyed it, then easily pinned an increasingly desperate Goto as Hirooki was trying to hit a big move to win and pressed too hard. The match was all story and was meant to really put Sabre over, while Goto continues his freefall in the Block.
Intermission time! Clean that ring!
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs YOSHI-HASHI – B Block match
Considering the roll that both guys have been on in this G-1, I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t looking forward to this, because I most certainly was. YOSHI had a kind-of rough match with SANADA in my eyes, but he’s been ON in this G-1 and deserves credit for it, while Tanahashi is…..you know, Tanahashi. Ace of the Universe.
Grappling goes to the mat to start, advantage Tana, then they get to their feet and trade off on a wristlock a few times. YOSHI backs Tana into the corner with forearms, but a cross-corner whip results in YOSHI taking an elbow and a second rope crossbody. Tana comes off the ropes with a kick, but YOSHI fires off a dragon-screw legwhip to stun Tana.
YOSHI goes to work with a stepover toehold, then a kneebar, but Tana makes the ropes to escape. Tana fights back with forearms, but YOSHI swats away a dropkick. Tana charges YOSHI in the corner, hobbling all the way, and catches YOSHI on a kick for a dragon-screw of his own. Somersault senton gets two for Tana. They have a chop battle and Tana blocks the neckbreaker, so YOSHI gets a kick to the midsection. I’m kind of waiting for this match to speed up a bit, because they’re clearly heading towards it.
Sitout powerbomb gets two for HASHI. They trade off grappling for suplexes, and Tana gets a straightjacket German for two on the bridge. Slingblade and he goes up, but the HFF hits the knees of HASHI. They slug it out with strikes in the center of the ring and YOSHI WINS that, giving Tanahashi the chance to do this crazy awesome glassy-eyed sell as he crumples to the mat. This man is a god in that ring. Lariat gets two for YOSHI and he goes for the Butterfly Lock.
Tana is in the Lock for a long time, and when it looks like he’s finally going to make the ropes, YOSHI lets go and applies a sleeper back in the center of the ring. Well, well, look who’s a ring tactician now? Lungblower and YOSHI goes for Karma, but Tana turns that into Twist and Shout. Rolling dragon-screws from Tana, they trade cradles, then another dragon-screw. Sling Blade is countered by YOSHI into a dragon suplex, then a Meteora for two as YOSHI is criminally not selling his leg that just got destroyed. Grrrrr.
Kuma Goroshi gets two for YOSHI. Karma looks to finish, but Tana reverses that to a sling blade for two. High Fly Flow hits and Tana goes up again, HFF #2 and we’re done here. (Hiroshi Tanahashi over YOSHI-HASHI, pinfall, 18:42)
THOUGHTS: ****. I almost didn’t go 4 for this, mostly due to YOSHI’s lack of selling near the end of the match. But this was definitely the Tanahashi equivalent of Flair and a broomstick, except the broomstick was an actually motivated YOSHI-HASHI. The match moved well and transitioned to the big moves part near the end at exactly the right pace, and Tanahashi’s selling was simply off the charts fantastic the entire way. I stand in awe of this man. And YOSHI, because I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve given 4 snowflakes to one of his matches, but what can I say? This has been the best G-1 of his career.
Tana gives YOSHI some kind words after the match in a nice moment.
EVIL (w/Dick Togo) vs KENTA – B Block match
Well, this should certainly be interesting. This is one of those heel/heel matches that the G-1 produces where both guys are complete dicks, like ZSJ vs EVIL, KENTA vs ZSJ, or in A Block, Will Ospreay vs…..well, just Will Ospreay is enough. Regardless, with EVIL bringing Togo and KENTA bringing his briefcase, I would assume that EVIL is going to be the de facto heel here.
KENTA is the first one to offer the ‘Too Sweet’ olive branch, but EVIL declines that by only giving one to Togo instead. KENTA rolls out to start and keeps doing it for the first minute and a half of the match before we get any contact. Finally, KENTA comes back in and they go at it, trading a few shots before a KENTA boot sends EVIL to the floor, and KENTA follows him there. He beats on EVIL out there, sending him to the barricade and the post, then holding him up for Togo to take a shot, but Dick won’t do it so KENTA rolls EVIL back in for two.
KENTA with some methodical work now, kicking EVIL in the face and hitting a DDT for two. He comes off the ropes, but Togo trips him and that ends up with KENTA on the floor and EVIL attacking him from behind, then wrapping a chair around KENTA’s arm and sending it to the post. Back in and EVIL exposes a corner buckle, then sends KENTA shoulder-first into it. Fujiwara armbar by EVIL as he bends the fingers back, but KENTA manages to make the ropes. This match is dreadfully boring.
KENTA fires back with a few kicks and a powerslam, then a fisherman’s buster for two. Flying clothesline gets two. EVIL comes back with some arm snaps and a fisherman’s buster of his own for two. KENTA bumps the ref and DDTs EVIL, then goes out and gets his briefcase and clobbers Togo with it. Back in the ring, he clobbers EVIL with it. Top rope double stomp and a running knee gets two for KENTA as Red Shoes is back. GTS is countered by EVIL into Darkness Falls for two. KENTA retaliates with palm strikes that kill EVIL dead.
He goes for the GTS, but Togo is on the apron. Togo gets brought in and KENTA tries to GTS him, but the ref gets distracted and bumped again, allowing EVIL to hit a low blow on KENTA. Everything is Evil finishes. (EVIL over KENTA, pinfall, 15:40)
THOUGHTS: **. I thought this was the mayor of sucktown, honestly. Match was paced glacially and all story, but I hated the story and the ending sucked. Selling was spotty and all over the place, and no one really seemed to give a damn. This one just straight-up missed me completely and I don’t even hate these guys. But there was no chemistry between these two and I hope they don’t fight again any time soon, to be honest.
Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA – B Block match
SANADA gets the hero’s welcome in his hometown, or at least as much of one without anyone being able to yell. He has to win here, as he’s where Jay White was last year – he’s 0-3, just like Jay. And White did win his block.
Feeling-out process starts here, and you can buy it because they’re from the same stable and ostensibly would train together on a certain level. They go to the ropes and Naito takes the cheap shot with a kick, but SANADA tosses him and taunts him from the ring. Naito wanders around outside the ring before coming back in. I love that Milano just moved on from EVIL being his favorite wrestler to SANADA without breaking a sweat.
Back in and Naito works the shoulder a bit, then they head out to the floor again, where Naito tosses SANADA to some barricades. Back in and Naito stomps away. Sleeper and neckbreaker, then to the corner for the legsweep/dropkick combo, as Naito is in complete control here. More punishment to the shoulder until SANADA dropkicks the knee of Naito. Proper dropkick follows, then a plancha onto Naito which almost missed, as SANADA keeps shorting that damn thing.
Back in and Naito comes back with a seated dropkick to the back of the head. Match has been very good so far. Neckbreaker gets two for Naito. They trade advantage a few times and SANADA hits a rope-assisted Magic Killer. Inverted atomic drop and a tornado DDT are the answers from Naito. They’ve been working each other without anyone having a super-long advantage here, a lot more back and forth than normal. Naito puts him on top and goes for the ‘rana, but SANADA slips out and dropkicks him to the post. Ouch.
SANADA goes up and hits a crazy top-rope neckbreaker on Naito, then a Tiger suplex. Yikes. Naito back with a spinebuster and both guys are down. Naito with elbows in the corner and he controls now, hitting the top rope ‘rana for two. Inverted DDT by Naito, but a Destino attempt is countered by SANADA hitting a TKO. They slug it out and SANADA come out of the corner and puts Naito in Skull End, and the hooks go in on the mat.
Naito fights it and fights it, and SANADA holds him in it harder as a result. It finally looks like Naito’s going out…..so SANADA releases and goes up for the moonsault. Idiot. And he is, because Naito moves and SANADA eats the mat. 25 minutes in and we might be heading for a draw here. Naito goes for Destino, SANADA manages to awkwardly transition that into Skull End, Naito escapes that and hits Destino this time for two. Naito goes for Valentia, but SANADA knees him in the head to put a stop to that and both guys are down.
Valentia again and this time, SANADA escapes with what I think was supposed to be Destino, but really was just more a regular inverted DDT for two. SANADA goes up, moonsault! He goes up again, second moonsault…..hits! 1, 2, 3!! And no one is undefeated in B Block anymore, and no one is winless in B Block anymore either. (SANADA over Tetsuya Naito, pinfall, 27:08)
THOUGHTS: ****. They really, really wanted to do an epic and for a good part, I think they got there. It was surely SANADA’s best match of the tournament, but I thought it was below the ZSJ and Tanahashi matches for Naito. Overall, I can’t really think of a ton to complain about here, but the thing is that there wasn’t anything super, super memorable about the match. It was just a very, very good wrestling match. I think there is probably a tighter version of this match that shaves about 5-8 or so minutes off that is probably better, but this did a good job at putting SANADA over in his hometown and put him on the board finally. One would think that this absolutely seals the deal that SANADA will not win the Block, because now he has his title shot in his back pocket and doesn’t need the G-1 win to get it.
Post-match, SANADA offers the LIJ fist bump and Naito considers it, then offers it back. Awww.
SANADA does the speech to end the show in his hometown.
FINAL THOUGHTS: For a show that had two **** matches on it, this also had a lot happening, as we had Yano and Naito both losing for the first time and SANADA finally getting on the board. The Block is still very much up for grabs as we get ready to go past the halfway point on the next show. Overall, this one was good even if we all had to endure the pain of Yano losing.
B BLOCK STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 4:
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 6 Points
Juice Robinson – 6 Points
KENTA – 4 Points
EVIL – 4 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 4 Points
Zack Sabre Jr – 4 Points
Hirooki Goto – 2 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
SANADA – 2 Points
Yeah, I’m leaving Yano on top until I have to drop him down – as far as I’m concerned, the King of Pro-Wrestling champ deserves his top spot. Overall, this Block looks like it’s going to be a mess until we get much closer to the last few days, as there’s no one with zero points and 7 guys within one win of each other. One would think that indicates that this one is going down to the wire, to be perfectly honest; I’m still holding out hope that Tanahashi pulls this thing off.
No scrum this time, I’m kind of out of time to do it, as it’s been a very long week. I will have the next one. See you all in a few days.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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