Well, we’ve had one heck of a tournament with lots of great matches and now it’s time to tie things off with a nice bow, with A Block Winner Kota Ibushi taking on B Block Winner SANADA.
Let’s find out who will be taking home the bacon!
You can read Rick’s review of the Final Night of B Block by clicking right HERE
Rick should also be doing a review of this particular show as well, so keep a look out for that!
The event is emanating from Tokyo, Japan
Handling the English call are Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton
Suzuki-gun (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champs: Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr, IWGP Jr Tag Champ: El Desperado, and DOUKI) Vs CHAOS (NEVER Openweight Trios Champs: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI, and Toru Yano)
Jushin Liger and Milano Collection are doing the call on the Japanese broadcast, with Liger actually being the more snazzily dressed of the two in some ways, which isn’t something I was expecting. This is good eight man action early on, with the lads who have been in the G1 still being banged up, which works in the favour of Desperado and DOUKI, seeing as they haven’t been getting battered for a month. Interestingly the commentator’s discuss whether they should keep the six match show format for next year’s G1, and I must say I’m in favour of that as it gives the Young Lions a chance to shine in singles action and also helps with keeping the G1 guys fresh. It also gives me as a reviewer less work to do, which allows me to dip into the NJPW World archives like I’ve been doing with the Special Bonus Matches.
Goto and his taped shoulder gets worked over for a bit by Suzuki-gun, and he sells it well, but eventually he manages to tag in Yano, who runs wild in the way only he can. In a funny bit, Yano tries to undo a turnbuckle pad like usual, but Zack stops him and then politely does the buckle back up again. Well, us English lads do like to keep things tidy sometimes. Zack as the exasperated straight man bouncing off Yano is good fun actually. YOSHI-HASHI gets to come in and do a bit also, and he continues to look good, as he has for the duration of the tournament. He’s been a bit of a surprise package and has really stepped up to the plate. Let’s see if they build on it and let him have a bit of a push going forward. A job to DOUKI following Black Mephisto from the Tag Champs might suggest otherwise though.
Standard Multi-person tag action to give Suzuki-gun a win
Suzuki-gun do the heel beat down following that, with the idea being to get them in the NEVER Trio’s picture if DOUKI posing with the belts is anything to go by. Shame they had poor YOSHI do the job when he’s had a chance to build some steam during the tournament itself, especially to chuffing DOUKI of all people, but maybe it’s going somewhere?
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi) Vs Suzuki-gun (IWGP Tag Team Champ: Yoshinobu Kanemaru and NEVER Openweight Champ: Minoru Suzuki)
Hiromu helped SANADA out against EVIL last night, in a great payoff to the whole “EVIL keeps cheating” story where he was finally undone. Shingo pinned Suzuki in the last round of fixtures in A Block, so this will continue that issue and will hopefully lead to another singles match between the two with the belt on the line.
They waste no time going to the brawl with this one, and its good action. Hiromu takes some heat in the heel corner, selling it well as you’d expect, and Suzuki is in great form as his usual Crazy Old Man self. Hiromu is eventually able to catch Suzuki with a Dragon Screw though, which leads to the Shingo hot tag, where he runs wild and looks good in the process. Shingo’s right arm is still hurting from the tournament, but he still trades elbows with Suzuki, which brings a grin to the latter’s psychotic face.
I wonder if Vince McMahon would “get” Minoru Suzuki? I mean, he’s in his 50’s and has never been pushed by a US company, so he’s never getting booked in WWE anyway, but I just wonder if Vince would see how great Suzuki is and appreciate his act? He booked Crazy Old Man Terry Funk more than once since the 90’s I guess, so anything is possible. Things break down in the match, which leads to a fun finishing stretch and ends with Hiromu catching Kanemaru with The Time Bomb for three.
Good tag match there that continued the Suzuki and Shingo feud whilst also giving Hiromu a win to possibly put he and BUSHI in the mix for the Jr tag belts.
Suzuki and Shingo have to be pulled apart following that, whilst Hiromu plays with Kanemaru’s Title belt.
Unaffiliated (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Jeff Cobb and Master Wato) w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan Vs Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA, Taiji Ishimori and Gedo)
Tana spent most of this G1 putting others over, which I know upset quite a few people but is yet another example of him being one of the biggest team players in the history of any company. I’m sure his feelings aren’t hurting over it. People like Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima did the honours for him on his way up and now he’s just paying it forward. Juice managed to make it to 8 points in G1 this year, as did Cobb. White also won the A Block, but was denied due to a loss to Tomohiro Ishii. Wato is one of the up and coming Jr’s, but I’m not sure this gimmick is really working for him. They could always tweak it though I guess.
Gedo looks to be in shape, but I’m not exactly sure he’s in ring shape if that makes any sense? There’s a difference between having a nice physique and actually being physically up to regularly wrestling matches. Wato gets worked over for a while in the BC corner, and he sells it well, as he’s mechanically sound if nothing else. White is his usual scummy heel self, mocking Tenzan by giving Wato some Mongolian Chops, but he ends up taking one from Tenzan in reply in a funny bit, which leads to the Cobb hot tag.
Cobb looks good during that and this leads to things breaking down, with everyone coming in to do a bit and oh, hang on, *checks watch* I do believe it’s time for FINISHER MADNESS! Eventually Tana locks in the Texas Cloverleaf on Gedo and he uncles to give the babyfaces the win. Hey, as a guy to do a move or two before taking an L for the team, Gedo is more than competent.
WINNERS: TEAM TANAHASHI
Tana and KENTA have a nice passive aggressive chat following that, which makes me think some matches between them are on the horizon.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 will be two nights again in 2021, with both of them being at the Tokyo Dome. That’s actually not as crazy an idea as it sounds, seeing as pandemic restrictions might mean they couldn’t have a full stadium anyway so that will allow more people to attend at least one night of the show.
Will Ospreay and Great O-Khan w/ Bea Priestley Vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Sho)
Chris says that O-Khan’s look is modelled on Mongolian spirits that mirror zombies. I think that’s what the Pionpi from Super Mario Land are based on as well actually. Ospreay went full on heel on the Final Night of A Block, bringing in Priestley and O-Khan as his back up, but they don’t have an official faction name as of yet. The Git Club maybe? Okada is of course looking for vengeance, but after a quick brawl at the start we settle into Ospreay and O-Khan getting heat on Sho in their corner, with even Priestley joining in at one stage.
Sho sells it all well and eventually makes the hot tag to Okada, who runs wild on O-Khan but clearly would rather get his hands on Ospreay. They do a good job of making O-Khan looking dangerous here, as he holds his own with Okada and even lays a whupping on him at points. They could have something with him here.
Ospreay of course is happy to come in once O-Khan has softened Okada up a bit, but Okada fights back and tags in Sho, who shows some good fire because Ospreay betrayed him as well by dropping out of CHAOS in the way he did. I’m thinking that if they want to push Sho as more of a serious wrestler then they should probably give him his surname back. Priestley gets involved again, and that allows Ospreay to get a figure four on Sho, whilst O-Khan gives Okada the face claw slam, and that leads to Sho uncling to give the heels the win.
WINNERS: OSPREAY & O-KHAN
That was what it needed to be, as they put the new three person unit over but Okada didn’t eat the pin, thus laying the table for the feud to continue
The heels mug for the camera, whilst Okada sells the face claw slam big.
Bullet Club (EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi) w/ Dick Togo Vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (IWGP Double Champ: Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI)
EVIL lost out to SANADA on the Final Night of B Block, whilst Yujiro got just a paltry 2 points in the A Block. Interestingly, one of the matches he lost was to Jay White, where it looked like he might have laid down for White at first, but he ended up feeling disrespected and actually had somewhat of a proper match with him first. Since then it seems like he’s on Team EVIL instead of Team White when it comes to the possible schism in Bullet Club. Yujiro also of course used to team with Naito as Team No Limit, a team mostly remembered for winning both the Heavyweight and Jr Tag Titles and the fact they actually came out to the song by 2 Unlimited.
It’s a neat twist actually that both of Naito’s opponents in this one betrayed him at one stage. As a match it’s what you’d probably expect, with EVIL and Yujiro cutting off BUSHI and working him over, with Togo getting the odd cheap shot in when opportunity allows. I’ve never been much of a BUSHI fan and I’ve also had my fill of Yujiro’s slow-motion wrestling, so I find this pretty dull to be honest.
Naito and EVIL look good at least, and I do like EVIL’s music, which feels like it could be right out of a role playing game boss battle. BUSHI gets a chance to survive for a bit against the combined forces of EVIL and Yujiro, but he’s the designated job guy of his team and eventually EVIL is able to put him away with the Sharpshooter.
WINNERS: EVIL & YUJIRO
Just a match, although the Naito and EVIL bits were decent
EVIL cranks the hold a bit more following the bout and Togo garrottes Naito to set up Everything Is EVIL. I think that means we’re probably getting one more Naito Vs EVIL match for the belts, with the winner taking on the G1 briefcase owner at Wrestle Kingdom 15. I’m thinking Naito probably wins that, seeing as EVIL beat Naito in the G1, so Naito getting his win back would make sense and would set him up nicely for Ibushi/SANADA
G1 Climax Championship Bout
A Block Winner: Kota Ibushi Vs B Block Winner: SANADA
Masahiro Chono joins us before the match. They dub the music out, so I’m not sure if they’re giving him his Team 2000 theme or going with his classic Fantastic City one. Because he’s all in black I’m guessing it’s the Team 2000 one. Chono of course won the G1 in 91, 92, 94, 2002 and 2005, thus earning the nickname “Mr. August” as a result. He says that New Japan has faced difficulties due to the pandemic, but he’s thankful for them still having G1 this year. It looks like he’ll be doing the commentary with the Japanese announcers.
SANADA came back from a bad start to win the B Block, whilst Ibushi looked good in the A Block, only dropping 2 matches along the way to picking up the win, one of which was to Jay White. His leg is heavily taped though, due to he and Taichi deciding to kick the roast potatoes out of one another’s legs in the Final Night. Ibushi reached the Final in 2018 and lost, but then came back in 2019 to win, although he did eventually fail to wrest the IWGP Heavyweight Title from Okada at The Dome. Perhaps he can win the G1 again and then go one further by closing out The Dome on top as the IWGP Heavyweight Champ?
Losing in the early stages but coming back to win it all isn’t unheard of in G1 of course. Indeed, the first proper G1 of my fandom was 2003, where Hiroyoshi Tenzan came back from a bad start to win the whole thing, defeating Jun Akiyama in the Final after losing to him in the Block. It should have been the moment he became the top star in the company, but sadly Inoki was around at the time and he ended up getting a token month long IWGP Title reign before losing it to Super Rookie Shinsuke Nakamura in December 2003, in a booking move that caused me to resent Nakamura for many years after, with me not finally turning the corner on him until he had that fantastic match with Ibushi of all people at the Tokyo Dome. SANADA will hope to follow somewhat in Tenzan’s steps by winning the tournament here, although he may hope for his push to go better should it happen.
This one features some trading of strikes in the early going, with SANADA actually being able to put Ibushi down with an elbow at one stage, which seems to only fire Ibushi up and tease him going to that special place in his mind where he becomes a cold blooded killer. SANADA avoids going after the leg for a bit, but does eventually target it with some kicks, which leads to SANADA missing a dropkick but seeming to land on Ibushi in the process, which leads to Ibushi rolling outside for a bit to catch his bearings. Hopefully he’s okay following that, as it didn’t look like part of the match, but then again maybe it was and he’s just excellent at selling?
Ibushi is on the defensive for the most part following that, with SANADA giving a shout out to his mentor Keiji Mutoh by working a figure four to target Ibushi’s injured left wheel. Ibushi of course sells all of that well, with his fantastic expressive face really getting across the pain he’s in. Ibushi eventually makes the comeback though, sending SANADA outside and following with a body press to pop the crowd. SANADA replies with a dive of his own, and he gets the crowd to clap along as he puts Ibushi in for two. They’ve built this one gradually and it’s starting to pick up a bit now, which makes me think we’re going to get a big closing stretch.
There are some fantastic spots, such as when SANADA tries to give Ibushi a running low dropkick when he’s stood on the apron, only for Ibushi to see it coming and counter it with a double stomp at just the right moment. The timing on that was excellent! SANADA replies with the Magic Killer out on the floor though, and that gives us our count out tease, with both managing to make it back inside in time. We get a great bit of crowd interaction back inside, as both men trade elbows and the people clap along with each one. That’s a clever way around the pandemic regulations to still give the match some atmosphere.
We get the 25 minute call, which shocks me as this feels like they’ve been wrestling for less time than that. The near falls and submission teases pick up, with SANADA wearing Ibushi down with the Skull End, but then deciding to go up for the Moonsault and Ibushi is able to dodge it and gets the Bom-Ba-Ye running knee strike for two in a good near fall. There have been a few moments here where they don’t appear to have been on the same page, but the action for the most part has been really good and the sustained crowd heat has helped a lot. SANADA does get the Moonsault, but goes up for it again and that leads to Ibushi getting his knees up to lead us into a great counter sequence that ends with Ibushi getting his leg hooked Tombstone move known as The Bastard Driver for two.
We get some incredible roll up near falls, with SANADA getting a 2.99 with one of them that I honestly thought was the finish. Ibushi keeps coming though, and gets the Kamigoye for another fantastic near fall. The near fall game from both men has been on point here. Ibushi gets one more Kamigoye, which actually causes some involuntary noise from the crowd, and that’s finally enough to hold SANADA down for three.
WINNER AND G1 CLIMAX CHAMPION: KOTA IBUSHI
I’ll be honest, for the first two thirds of this one I was thinking it was fine but not really amazing, just due to the fact it really didn’t feel like both men were on the same page at times, but once it hit the closing stretch it really picked up and the last few minutes were classic stuff, especially with some of those nail biting near falls. Coming in I thought Ibushi was sure to win, but they got me with a couple of those SANADA near falls, which is a testament to how well they worked it
Chono presents the trophy to Ibushi following that, although he sadly doesn’t follow it up with a Yakuza Kick before going all nWo Japan on his ass with the big heel beat down. Ibushi seems really moved to have Chono there and has to fight back tears. That was a lovely moment actually. I personally think they should go the whole hog with Ibushi this time and have him win the Title at The Dome, but it wouldn’t be the first time they held off someone’s big win, and considering Naito had to wait so long for his then it would be almost poetic for him to be the one to deny Ibushi this time.
Ibushi heads backstage to the press area for the usual interviews, but Jay White interrupts and says he’s coming after the briefcase. And thus Ibushi has his dancing partner going into Wrestle Kingdom 15. White showed his usual amazing heel charisma there.
Basic show up to the Main Event, but the Main Event was what we were here for and it delivered, so the show becomes thumbs up by proxy.
Thank You so much to all of you who have stuck with me during the A Block reviews this year. I’d like to also thank Rick for bringing me on board for another year and I strongly suggest you check out his archives for plenty of great New Japan reviews. He’s a great reviewer and he loves Toru Yano. How can you hate someone who loves Toru Yano? It’s like hating someone who loves dogs or something.
Speaking of Archives…
SPECIAL BONUS MATCH REVIEW
Sumo Hall – 28th March 2004
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Champs: Yoshihiro Takayama and Minoru Suzuki Vs Genichiro Tenryu and Manabu Nakanishi
One last dive into the New Japan archives before we sign off. We started with a Nakanishi match and had a couple of Tenryu ones, so why not finish with a match that involves them both? This one has special English commentary from Kevin Kelly too, so I’ll make sure to pass on any relevant story stuff that he divulges.
Takayama and Suzuki worked both NOAH and New Japan at the time, and they would both go on to have Title shots at Kenta Kobashi during his epic GHC Title run. Suzuki would in fact be Kobashi’s last defence before Kobashi would finally drop the belt to Takeshi Rikioh in the spring of 2005. Tenryu and Nakanishi had actually wrestled one another at the Tokyo Dome earlier in 2004, and I’m guessing that led to some mutual respect, hence the teaming up here.
It’s good heavy hitting action to start, with Takayama and Tenryu in particular doing a good segment together. Suzuki was more of a cocky jerk rather than the outright psychopath he is today, but he had credibility with the fans thanks to his days in Pancrase. Suzuki has a heavy knee brace on his left leg, but the Nak-Ten team doesn’t really go after it, and instead tries to out slug Suzuki instead, which ends up leading to Suzuki bobbing and weaving to dodge some Tenryu shots in a cool spot before going to a sleeper. That’s finally enough for Tenryu to attack the leg, as he may be a tough old sod, but he’s no fool either.
Suzuki replies by locking Tenryu in a guillotine choke over the ropes, but Nakanishi breaks that up to save Tenryu from going out completely, before rolling Tenryu into their corner so he can make a tag. There’s just something so awkward about the way Nakanishi moves around, but he manages to make it work for him and I’d honestly say that he was a pretty decent worker. He was never on the level of a Nagata or Tenzan, but he had ludicrous strength and bags of charisma, so it didn’t really matter. I could almost see Yota Tsuji filling that role when he eventually steps out of Young Liondom and becomes a full-fledged roster member.
Nakanishi gets worked over for a bit in the No Fear corner, with Takayama being another big awkward bloke who was able to make it work thanks to being a heavy hitter and having a healthy dose of charisma. I’ve not seen a lot of Takayama prior to 2001, but apparently he used to be absolutely awful in late 90’s All Japan until it finally clicked for him. It just goes to show that it’s not always the end for you provided you’re willing to learn and adapt. Sadly Takayama is in very ill-health these days due to seriously damaging his neck, on a sunset flip of all things.
Nakanishi doesn’t really suit the role of face in peril that well, but he does as good a job as he can and the offence from Takayama and Suzuki looks good at least. It’s unnerving to me how much this version of Suzuki kind of reminds me of Taichi when it comes to his personality and behaviour. Wrestling is cyclical I guess. Tenryu eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, getting Takayama with his trademark short brain buster, but a Suzuki causes a distraction and that allows Takayama to cut Tenryu off.
Tenryu fights back though and we head into the finishing stretch, with Nakanishi and Tenryu both taking it to the Champs. Nakanishi actually gets Suzuki in the Argentine Backbreaker (Torture Wrack) but Suzuki counters it into a choke in a cool spot, putting Nakanishi out in the process for the cocky pin and gob of spit for good measure.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: TAKAYAMA & SUZUKI
This one threatened to start getting good, but it just never settled into a real proper flow. There wasn’t enough of Suzuki Vs Tenryu either, especially as they were teasing that all match. The offence was snug and looked good for the most part, but the match just never came together for me.