Make sure to check out Rick’s review of Night Four of B Block by clicking right HERE
It’s another day of G1, and I’ve been loving it thus far. By the time this gets uploaded I will be another year older. With Everton top of the table too. What a time to be alive!
I should point out that they’ve uploaded the Keiji Mutoh Vs Yuji Nagata G1 Final from 2001 up as a free video on NJPW World. If you’ve never seen it then I strongly suggest you do so, as it features some sublime technical wrestling and does an excellent job highlighting why Mutoh ended up winning wrestler of the year for 2001.
Anyway, enough chatter, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from (Not Shinji) Kagawa
Gabriel Kidd Vs Yuya Uemura
Young Lion action starts us off again, with Kidd being a Lion who actually has a proper finishing move. Normally the Young Lions tend to just finish one another with basic suplexes and submission holds, but Kidd has been doing an underhook suplex with some of his own flavour on it, to the point that the commentators are actually talking about it. I’m thankful we share a lot of move names with the Japanese, otherwise it’d make following this stuff even harder than it already is with no Japanese language skills.
As usual with the Young Lion matches, both Kidd and Uemura work basic holds and counters, with the action being deliberately less flash than what the more experienced guys would do, as Young Lions aren’t supposed to outshine their elders. The execution is on point and both men look good, with Uemura in particular really impressing me on this tour when it comes to bread and butter stuff like basic execution and selling.
Kidd tries his underhook suplex again, which Uemura is able to block and we get the fishtails sequence into THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB on Kidd from Uemura. Kidd sells that well, before dragging himself to the ropes, but Uemura goes back to it and adds a knee for good measure to pick up the submission win.
WINNER: YUYA UEMURA
Usual solid Young Lion outing
G1 Climax A Block – Round Five
Yujiro Takahashi (0) Vs Shingo Takagi (2)
Yujiro has done a fat load of “naff all” in this year’s G1, with him yet to even hit *** by my watch. Shingo may only have two points on the board, but he’s also had some good matches along the way at least, including a corker in the last round with Tomohiro Ishii.
Seeing someone with a real snap to their offence and movement like Shingo really rams home how sluggish Yujiro’s stuff looks by comparison. Either he’s physically shot or he’s just plain given up, as he seems to be constantly moving at half speed. It’s fun to read Rick’s reviews and see that YOSHI-HASHI is making use of this tournament to work hard and have some good matches, but it also annoys me to a certain degree as well because that’s also exactly what Yujiro should be doing and he just isn’t.
Shingo gets a bit of a shine in the early going, but Yujiro drops him onto the apron and then takes over back inside, working basic heat. The work isn’t horrible or anything, but it really feels with Yujiro sometimes that you’re watching someone wrestle underwater. Shingo sells Yujiro’s stuff well and eventually gets to fight back, and it’s again amazing just how much better his stuff looks in comparison to Yujiro’s. To his credit, Yujiro does bump well for most of it, which helps make it look as good as it does, as he can at least still be trusted to handle that aspect of the job.
We head into the closing stretch, with both men trading strikes and then dodging the others’ big attacks. The crowd gets into it more and more as the match wears on, showing their approval by clapping, and both men get a chance to score some near falls. The ref gets shoved down and that allows Yujiro to go for his pimp cane, but Shingo lariats it right out of his hand before getting the Gory Bomb. Shingo takes Yujiro down with a big lariat and then goes to Last of the Dragon for the three count
WINNER: SHINGO TAKAGI (4)
Shingo looked good and Yujiro bumped and sold well, but the match itself was merely “decent” rather than “good”
G1 Climax A Block – Round Five
Jeff Cobb (2) Vs Jay White (6) w/ Gedo
White has been the highlight of A Block for me so far, being a fantastic heel who has spent every match trying to be as disagreeable as possible. He finally lost a match in the last round of fixtures to Will Ospreay, but he’s still well within contention of taking the A Block. Cobb has looked a bit gun shy at times, but when he’s cut loose he’s looked good.
White looks for cheap shots right from the off, with the idea being that he’s trying to make Cobb angry so that he makes a mistake. Cobb manages to keep his cool in the early stages and refuses to follow White when he bails to the floor, meaning White has to get back in at 19 and eat a dropkick for his troubles. Gedo tries to help out, but ends up getting dragged into the ring for a meeting of the minds. Eventually though Gedo is able to grab Cobb’s ankle from outside the ring, and that allows White to take over. Wow, you’d think White and Gedo were vile heels that you were supposed to dislike or something!
Cobb sells well in the heat and eventually makes the comeback with his usual array of throws and shoulder tackles. The offence looks good and White’s selling/bumping is on point. Gedo getting increasingly worried at his man being close to defeat is a great touch, including him yelling “No, no, no” when Cobb has a sustained period of offence.
We head into the finishing stretch, with White mostly holding his own against Cobb and not needing to cheat too much, whilst Cobb shows guys to survive some of White’s bigger moves in order to stay alive in the match. White tries going after Cobb’s leg for his figure four styled submission move, but Cobb manages to fend him off and does a fantastic spot of lifting White into the air from a seated position in the corner straight into a suplex.
Counters are exchanged, with White grabbing onto the ropes in order to block Cobb from sending off to set up Tour of the Islands. Gedo causes a distraction on multiple occasions, as White continues his quest to win every match by any means, but eventually Cobb is able to survive and successfully hit Tour of the Islands for the three count, in a result you’d have to consider a bit of an upset.
WINNER: JEFF COBB (4)
Not the usual great White match, but it was still a good one and I enjoyed the counters at the end. Cobb surviving the sort of stuff that fell the likes of Okada and Ibushi gave him a rub as well
G1 Climax A Block – Round Five
Minoru Suzuki (6) Vs Kazuchika Okada (4)
Suzuki can really stake a claim for winning the A Block by picking up the win here following that White loss, whilst a win for Okada puts him right back in contention. That’s a good example of why the league system can be a very effective booking tool when used correctly, as it adds intrigue to matches like this because they could feasibly go either way with the result here and it will not only make sense, but also add another branching path to the story of the tournament as a whole, as well as both wrestlers’ own individual paths.
They exchange holds on the mat in the early going, with it being executed well. Okada in particular is very good at doing the patient slow build technical masterclass. You could send him a time machine back to the 70’s and he’d be able to adapt just fine I think. I could totally picture him stealing the show with a guy like Fujinami for instance. Eventually Suzuki gets sick of this technical wrestling stuff and drags Okada outside for some abuse around ringside.
Okada sells his whupping outside the ring really well, with Suzuki focusing on hurting his arms, which continues back inside the ring. Okada manages to survive that though and then fires up following some Suzuki strikes, which seems to amuse Suzuki more than anything else. Suzuki tries to put Okada away with the Gotch Style Piledriver, but Okada counters it into a neck breaker for the double down, which leads into both men trading strikes when they get back up.
I like it when Okada has to wrestle Suzuki because it gives him the opportunity to play a defiant babyface, which is one of the many roles he’s good at performing. It really is amazing to me how Okada can wear so many hats when it comes to in-ring characters and pull them all off so well. His versatility is super impressive. Okada tries to put Suzuki away with his Cobra Clutch hold, but Suzuki manages to survive that and then tries to choke Okada out with a sleeper. Okada sells that fantastically but manages to fight off the Gotch before catching Suzuki with the old Summer Slam 92 pin counter to pick up the win.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (6)
This sort of match is right up my alley, with good technical wrestling to start followed by some classic babyface fighting from underneath stuff by Okada, all paid off with the last gasp pinning hold finish. I think some may find this a bit too slow at certain points, but I generally enjoy this style of wrestling so I was like a pig in filth for most of it
G1 Climax A Block – Round Five
Tomohiro Ishii (2) Vs Taichi (6)
Taichi has been one of the more surprising front runners in the A Block, with his sole defeat coming to Okada in the previous round of fixtures. Okada will of course now be above Taichi in the standings due to winning the head to head battle between the two, so Taichi could do with the win to keep himself two points ahead of the tie-breaker. Ishii only got off the mark in the last round of fixtures, but a dramatic comeback perhaps isn’t completely out of the question, although he’ll need other people to drop points in order for him to have any chance. I think it’s a bit too much of an ask for him to win the Block now, but there’s always a chance that he can play spoiler to someone else.
We open with a strike trade, where Taichi surprisingly comes out of the stronger before taking the fight to the floor, where he hits Ishii with the time keepers hammer. Taichi controls things back inside, but he stupidly allows Ishii enough time to recover and make it back up to his feet, which leads to Ishii catching him with a power slam before delivering a barrage of chops and forearms. Taichi sells all that well, and he eventually manages to fight off the brain buster and catch Ishii with a vicious buzz-saw kick before ripping off his baggy pleather pants.
Ishii pops up following that though, looking offended that such chicanery took place in his match, and we head into the closing stretch. Ishii no sells another buzz-saw kick at one stage before folding Taichi up with a powerbomb for two. The look on Ishii’s face as he no sold that kick was fantastic, as he almost had a look that suggested he was offended in some way. Taichi responds by kicking Ishii right in his Big Mouth Loud before going to the Gedo Clutch, but Ishii is able to kick out at two in a good near fall. The near falls keep coming, with the timing on some of the kick outs being top notch. Taichi gets to no sell some big shots from Ishii, showing some impressive guts, and the crowd is into this. Ishii won’t be denied though and eventually puts a game Taichi away with the brain buster after a highly competitive collision.
WINNER: TOMOHIRO ISHII (4)
Taichi seems to want more of Ishii following that one.
G1 Climax A Block – Round Five
Will Ospreay (6) Vs Kota Ibushi (6)
Ibushi’s sole loss in this year’s G1 has been to Jay White, whilst Ospreay lost to Shingo. Whoever wins this one will top the Block. I suppose a draw isn’t out of the question to make both men joint leaders, but asking both of them to go 30 minutes at the pace they usually work at doesn’t seem very feasible.
Ospreay is cocky in the early going, tussling Ibushi’s hair and just generally being a jerk, which serves only to annoy Ibushi, which could very well mean there’s some pain coming in Ospreay’s future. Ospreay manages to avoid getting killed for a bit though, taking the fight to the outside where he gets a flying forearm off the apron onto Ibushi. Ospreay goes to a modified version of the Tequila Sunrise of all things back inside, but Ibushi manages to make the ropes, so the hold is broken.
Ibushi does manage to fight back and the two men trade fast paced counters, as you’d expect, and the execution is on point. We of course get our mandatory Space Flying Tiger Drop from Ospreay out onto the floor, with the crowd digging the action, and that leads to some near falls back inside. Ospreay gets to do the “land on the feet” counter to a rana from the top, although he doesn’t quite get all of it and it ends up looking sloppy.
That leads into both men trading strikes, with Ibushi hearing voices in his head as a result of Ospreay winding him up just one time too many and taking him down with a big slap to the chest. We head into the closing stretch proper, with both men hitting big moves and looking for covers, and it’s all done well. Both men get some very nice counters out of the others’ finishing moves and eventually Ibushi knees Ospreay out of mid-air before following up with the Kamigoye for the three count.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI (8)
I’m expecting to be on the more miserly range for that one when it comes to my star rating compared to others, but I dunno, it just didn’t really feel like it clicked for me. I was a bit tired when I watched it and that might have affected my view on it, but it didn’t feel higher to me, even though most of the work was good
Ibushi does the victory speech.
So the current scores are as follows;
Ibushi is top of the pops with 8 points whilst Okada, Suzuki, Taichi, Ospreay and White all have 6. With 4 are Shingo, Cobb and Ishii, whilst Yujiro has the big goose egg with 0
Probably the weakest overall night so far, but there were still some great matches and nothing actively bad, so it’d be churlish to complain really.