Let’s get to another night of A Block action. We’re in the second half of the fixtures now, as A Block is really taking shape.
You can read Rick’s review of Night Five of B Block by clicking right HERE
If you’ve got the time, I’ve also written an article on Roman Reigns’ recent heel turn called “The Rejuvenation of Roman Reigns” over on the website Gaming Respawn. If you fancy a read you can do so by clicking right HERE
The event is emanating from Hiroshima
Yota Tsuji Vs Gabriel Kidd
The Young Lions kick us off again, with Tsuji being the most charismatic of the Tsuji, Kidd and Uemura trio in my opinion, whilst Kidd has the best mix of character and ring work with his intensity and cool double under hook suplex finisher.
I think they should keep this format in a post pandemic world actually, as six matches means the show is usually all done in around 120-150 minutes and one Young Lion match followed by the five G1 matches means that everyone gets more of a chance to rest up on the tour. Don’t get me wrong, the tag matches are nice, but you don’t really need them and it probably makes more sense to give everyone in the other Block a breather whilst you put the Lions out there to gain some experience.
Kidd dominates large periods of this one, with his stuff looking good as usual, and Tsuji does a good job of selling it all, with some great facial expressions in particular. Tsuji makes the comeback, getting a nice spear and then going to THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, with Kidd fighting it until Tsuji sits down and really wrenches it for the submission win.
WINNER: YOTA TSUJI
More solid Young Lion action there. I’m genuinely excited to see where Tsuji will have his excursion once it becomes possible. If New Japan and AEW can ever sort out their relationship, then I could totally see him teaming up with that Will Hobbs lad over there. It’d probably be a fun strong lads team actually and they could both continue to gain experience
G1 Climax A Block – Round Six
Tomohiro Ishii (4) Vs Yujiro Takahashi (0)
Ishii has won his last two matches and really needs to win here as well in order to keep his challenge going. Yujiro’s quest for a ***+ rating continues here, and you have to think that this will be the best chance he’s had yet due to Ishii being such a work horse? Ali Choudry mentioned in the comment section for Night Five that he thinks Yujiro is working hurt, which would certainly go some way to explaining the slow-motion underwater movement he’s seemed to have so far in this year’s tournament. Let’s hope Ishii can find a way.
Yujiro jump starts this one by attacking Ishii as he gets in to the ring and we are off to the races. Yujiro DDT’s Ishii out on the floor and then works some heat inside, with his offence again looking sluggish and not really having much in the way of snap. Yujiro does get a nice power slam though, which is the same one Rock does on WWF No Mercy for the N64 actually. Ishii hasn’t even been able to get his shirt off yet due to being on the defensive for the whole match.
Ishii sells well during the heat, but it’s not the most exciting action going. I almost think the best way to get something out of Yujiro would be for him to be on the defensive for large periods before making the comeback. Have someone like Jay White batter him and batter him until the fans are ready for him to make a comeback and then have him fight. He did that with Suzuki and that was probably his best match in the tournament so far.
Ishii fights back a bit, but Yujiro bites his hand to stop his momentum and continues to control things. Part of me thinks this is Ishii’s “night off” match, where he gets to lay around and sell for Yujiro’s lighter offence so he can save himself for other big matches on the horizon. Fair enough, that’s a valuable role in one of these things I guess, although I prefer Toru Yano’s comedy antics over Yujiro’s generic heel heat techniques.
Yujiro gets a fisherman buster and Ishii sells his hand big after that, and either he’s a great seller or its legit hurt. It could be either, because Ishii is an all-time great worker. In our first proper sick spot of the match, Ishii German Suplexes Yujiro into the turnbuckle for a double down and then gets a fantastic CW Anderson styled hanging brain buster off the second rope for two.
We head into the closing stretch following that, with both men selling well and each of them getting some near falls. Ishii’s selling in particular is great here, as he’s so good at getting that right mix between showing pain and defiance in these sorts of situations. Yujiro gets a very close two count, with Ishii timing his kick out to the very last second, which I think would have got an audible pop if the crowd were allowed due to how well timed it was. For a second there I bought it was over.
I love Ishii’s enziguri, as I always forget he does it so it always pops me when he pulls it out of the bag in an unexpected situation. Ishii keeps trying for a brain buster but Yujiro keeps fighting it off and eventually gets one of his own instead. That execution from Yujiro was sloppy, but I appreciate them fighting over the move as it made the match feel like a struggle. Yujiro counters another brain buster attempt into a cradle for two in another good near fall, and then gets to kick out of a sliding lariat, as they’re giving him a lot here and Ishii is of course working hard to make him look good. Ishii finally gets the brain buster on his third attempt, and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: TOMOHIRO ISHII (6)
If you wanted further proof of how great Ishii was, then I give you Yujiro’s best match in forever! Yujiro was clearly working hard in that closing stretch to be fair, even if his execution was a bit sloppy and his offence was still lacking the snap you’d want. Ishii made up for it though by selling consistently and delivering some nice offence, which in turn led to it being a good match
G1 Climax A Block – Round Six
Kazuchika Okada (6) Vs Jeff Cobb (4)
I’m hoping Okada can drag Cobb out of his shell here and the two can have a good match. You’d think that Okada would be the winner here to keep his push for the tournament going, but they could decide to keep the block super close and have Cobb win here, which would be interesting if nothing else.
They start this one pretty quick actually, which takes me a bit by surprise as I was kind of expecting another technical battle like Okada had with Suzuki in the last round of fixtures due to Cobb’s amateur grappling credentials, but instead they go with a much faster pace, with Okada getting a series of neck breakers to wear Cobb down before cranking in a chin lock in an attempt to wear his opponent down.
Cobb replies with his usual array of throws and tackles, and he’s showing some good charisma here too. I don’t know what it is about Cobb, but he always feels like he has another level he can kick into but he hasn’t quite worked out how to kick into it yet if that makes any sense? Like, he’s a good worker and he’s got an interesting “better proportioned Rhino” look going on, but it just always feels like something is missing for me with him, which is why he stays in the *** range and so rarely gets into the **** range by my watch.
Okada sells all of Cobb’s stuff well and Cobb shows some hugely impressive power by muscling Okada up into three gut wrench lifts before getting a back suplex for two. We need more “this dude is scary strong” spots with Cobb I think, as it’s certainly one of the most impressive aspects of his work. Okada survives Cobb’s ridiculous strength and goes to his Cobra Clutch hold in an attempt to get a submission win.
Cobb survives that and hits Okada with a dropkick. Oh girlfriend, you just did not hit Okada with his own move! Cobb even does The Rainmaker pose, but when he tries Tour of the Islands Okada is able to counter it into a nice cradle for two. That was done very well. He then catches Cobb with the old Summer Slam 92 pin counter, just like he did with Suzuki in the previous round, to pick up another two points and keep his challenge alive.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA (8)
I’m liking Okada the pin counter master. This was a good match and the two worked pretty well together
G1 Climax A Block – Round Six
Will Ospreay (6) Vs Minoru Suzuki (6)
This will be the litmus test on how serious they are in regards to Ospreay in this year’s G1 I guess. If he wins here then you have to think that he’s going to be a potential winner of the Block itself, whereas if he loses it means they probably aren’t quite ready to push him at that level yet and instead will focus on giving him some wins to elevate him, but not go all in with the push. This has potential to be like the Styles Vs Suzuki G1 match from, I think, 2015, where it seemed like a really random pairing but they ended up having a great match anyway.
Ospreay gets the high flying shine on Suzuki to start, but Suzuki takes over outside the ring and viciously goes after Ospreay’s arm. Suzuki talks some trash back inside the ring, calling Ospreay a “boy” and even slapping him around, as he continues to meticulously break him down. I love how Suzuki will just let people get back up and hit him, almost as if he’s just genuinely interested to see if they can actually hurt him. It’s like his life is a constant quest to find someone capable of kicking his arse and he’s almost happy when he does. He’s like a real life Akuma!
Ospreay sells the arm well to give him credit, and has the odd hope spot to show he’s still alive in the match, but Suzuki will invariably go back to the appendage like the vicious psychotic 50 year old he is. Man, I would have loved this version of Suzuki taking on early 90’s Terry Funk. It would have been incredible to watch them try and out crazy one another. I do have to question why Ospreay keeps hitting Suzuki with his injured arm though. I know you’re not the brightest bulb in the box, but you have another arm that isn’t hurting William, so how about you try hitting him with that one instead?
Ospreay gets to make a comeback on Suzuki and finally decides to try kicking instead, knocking Suzuki to the mat for a double down. Ospreay is up first and tries the Storm Breaker, but Suzuki goes to the arm to block it and then no sells some forearm shots before delivering some snug ones of his own. I think by law all reviewers should be required to add an extra * to every match if there’s a segment where Minoru Suzuki hits Will Ospreay really hard.
Suzuki gets an incredible La Mistica at one stage and decides to go to the sleeper instead of an arm bar, with it of course being to set up the Gotch Style Piledriver. That looked amazing from Suzuki there, as he continues to pull wacky stuff like that out when you least expect it. Ospreay manages to fight off the Gotch though and ends up getting a desperation Storm Breaker to pick up the three count, although he continues to sell his arm following the bout. Maybe that will be the storyline reason he doesn’t win the Block?
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY (8)
Ospreay sold consistently there and Suzuki was nothing short of fantastic as the vicious heel going after the body part. Seriously, someone needs to turn that La Mistica into a gif or something though, as it looked incredible and I wasn’t even remotely expecting it!
G1 Climax A Block – Round Six
Taichi (6) Vs Jay White (6) w/ Gedo
It’s the two most despicable guys in the Block having a Heel-Off, and I can’t wait!
We actually open with a bit of a pose down of all things, as both men seem amused by the other and the crowd claps along to show they are enjoying their interplay. Both men bail as soon as the bell rings in a funny bit, as it looks like they might have both met their villainous match, and Taichi actually sees White coming when he tries to attack him outside, which leads to him choking White with a cable. The idea of Taichi being disgusting enough to be able to foresee when White is going to do something nefarious and vice versa is really fun.
White eventually manages to control things a bit, with Taichi selling it well, but he eventually manages to go to the eyes to get him back into the match before getting an enziguri for a double down. We head into the closing stretch following that, with both men getting some near falls and the action being fun. There are some good counter sequences too, such as Taichi fighting off the Blade Runner and getting a Saito Suplex instead for another double down. Both men’s timing has been really good here and the execution has been on point.
We actually get a strike trade off, with both men actually taking it in turns, showing there may indeed be some honour amongst thieves sometimes. Taichi wins that battle with another enziguri and then goes to Gedo’s own Gedo Clutch, which leads to Gedo distracting the ref to save his man. The ref of course gets bumped, but Taichi is able to survive the two on one and ends up low blowing both Bullet Clubbers before getting the Gedo Clutch on White again for two from the ref.
Heels trying to out cheat one another is always a whole lot of fun and I’m a real sucker for it, especially when it’s done well like it is here. We get another great counter sequence, which leads to White catching Taichi with a desperation Blade Runner out of nowhere for the comparatively clean win at the end.
WINNER: JAY WHITE (8)
I think that probably means Taichi isn’t going to be in contention, but he’s picked up enough wins in G1 so far this year to help him going forward.
G1 Climax A Block – Round Six
Kota Ibushi (8) Vs Shingo Takagi (4)
This would be a good chance to give Shingo a big win whilst also keeping the Block itself interesting by stopping Ibushi getting too big a lead over the people on 6 points, thus keeping them all within reasonable contention. It will also give Shingo a tie-breaking win over Ibushi, meaning that if he could make up the 2 point gap between them then he’d actually finish ahead of him in the standings. Sadly New Japan World gets a bit stuttery for me this at this stage, but thankfully I have my laptop nearby so I just switch onto that instead, where you can at least pause live streams and go back if you miss something. It’s really annoying that you can’t seem to do that on the Fire stick when it comes to live broadcasts.
Ibushi has control of things in the early going, but Shingo manages to get a foothold by clotheslining him out to the floor, where he DDT’s him onto the mats. Shingo has control of things back inside thanks to that, with his offence looking good and Ibushi selling it well. It’s interesting to think that both of these guys were Junior Heavyweights at one stage but they’ve both made the transition to Heavyweight with little to no issue and fans now have no problems with buying them in their respective roles. It just shows that size isn’t everything if a worker is talented enough and they are booked properly.
Ibushi manages to fight back with a snap rana to set up the comeback with his usual array of slaps and kicks, before heading out with a dive onto Shingo, who had bailed to regroup. We head into the finishing stretch back inside, with both men getting progressively bigger moves for near falls, and the execution is very good. Both men are selling as well, with some especially good facial expressions on display. We get both men fighting up from their knees into the strike battle, with the snug shots both looking and sounding good.
I love Shingo’s punches when he just snaps them off at relevant points in the match. They look great and work really well as an out of nowhere quick shot that takes the opponent unawares. Ibushi tries landing on his feet from a German Suplex but doesn’t quite get it, although the big follow up kick he delivers distracts the fans from it. In a great spot, Ibushi is prepping for a running knee but Shingo sees it coming and gets a really nice pop up Spicolli Driver. The timing and execution of that was spot on and it looked great. In another great spot, Shingo gets his Made in Japan pumphandle styled move and he holds Ibushi up for a moment before slamming him, and Ibushi has this incredible facial expression of worry and fear going on. Someone needs to turn that one into a MEME.
The near falls keep coming, with Shingo getting the majority of them whilst Ibushi keeps kicking out and looking for a way back in. Ibushi eats three more lariats, but that serves to fire him up a bit and he gets one of his own before delivering a running knee strike for two in a good near fall. Kamigoye looks to end things, but Shingo blocks it and gets Last of the Dragon for the upset win.
WINNER: SHINGO TAKAGI (6)
Excellent match there, as they did an interesting finishing sequence where Shingo controlled most of it, making you think that Ibushi was going to rally, but then Ibushi got just the one more near fall of his own before Shingo neutralised his finisher and hit his own to beat him pretty decisively. Despite that though, they managed to achieve the outcome of making Shingo looks strong without having to make Ibushi look weak, which isn’t easy to do
Shingo does the victory speech.
So our standings are currently;
8 Points – Jay White, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Kota Ibushi
6 Points – Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi
4 Points – Jeff Cobb
0 Points – Yujiro Takahashi
Another fine day of G1 action. Even Yujiro hit the *** range today!
The A Block is setting itself up nicely too, with plenty of guys still in with a shout, and it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that they might have someone on 6 points still go all the way.