The third and final show of a three night run at Korakuen Hall sees the A Block in their fourth night of tournament action. Zack Sabre Jr. is the lone man without a win in the block as he looks to pick up his first against Bad Luck Fale. SANADA and Ibushi face off in a G1 rematch from last year. The main event features a showdown between the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay, and IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada. The Chaos brothers will collide, let’s get started!
Zack Sabre Jr. (0-3) def. Bad Luck Fale (1-2) @ 6:30 via Count Out – ***
Sabre runs in and puts Fale in a guillotine. Fale powers Sabre off but Sabre is able to transition into a sleeper. He’s thrown off, ducks a pair of lariats and attaches himself to Fale’s leg. Fale drags Sabre to the ropes to force a break, goes for a stomp but comes up empty. Sabre takes the arm but gets whipped into the corner and Fale follows with a splash. Fale comes down with an elbow drop that Sabre catches into a triangle choke but Fale powers him up and drops Sabre with a lariat. He wants the Bad Luck Fall, Sabre slides through and transitions into an armbreaker.
Fale backs Sabre to the ropes where Jado uses the cane, Owens follows with stomps and Fale drives Sabre into the rails. He removes the barricade and the two fight up the stairs to the second level. Fale looks to land a Bad Luck Fall down the stairs but Sabre slides free, avoids OWens’ attack and pulls Fale into a triangle. Sabre keeps the hold until the count of thirteen, sprints down to the ring where Fale is unable to meet him before the count of twenty. Sabre picks up his first win of the tournament.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-2) def. Lance Archer (2-1) @ 12:01 via Victory Roll – ***
Tanahashi lands a pair of dropkicks to the knee followed by a chop block before the bell. Archer bails and Tanahahsi follows him out with a placha before sending Archer into the rails. His flurry doesn’t last long as Archer is able to end Tanahashi’s momentum with a chokeslam to the apron. Tanahashi tries to pull Archer back to the outside but gets flattened with a somersault senton to the floor. Archer sends Tanahashi back inside and drives his knee over Tanahashi’s throat. Tanahashi fires up with overhand chops and the two have an exchange with the crowd giving dueling chants in favor of both men. Archer lands a Black Hole Slam followed by a lariat and stands on Tanahashi’s chest for a two count.
Archer takes Tanahashi by the face and says he’s the ace now before trying to apply the Texas Cloverleaf. Tanahashi fights Archer off, catches a boot and spins Archer around, looking for a German but eats an elbow followed by three more in the corner. Tanahashi catches the fourth attempted elbow with a slingblade and drives Archer’s knee into the mat with a dragon screw. He looks to follow with a Texas Cloverleaf but Archer pulls the chair and takes a second dragon screw into the mat. Tanahashi hits the ropes and gets dropped with a pounce before being taken to the top rope.
Tanahashi fights Archer off and looks for Old School but Archer sends Tanahashi off and looks to do Old School himself. Tanahashi pulls him down into a twist & shout followed by a slingblade but Archer catches the crossbody into a chokeslam for a two count. Archer follows with a splash off the second rope for another two, screams everybody dies and looks for the EBD Claw which Tanahashi tries fighting off but he can’t so he backs to the ropes to force the break. Archer takes him to the top rope and puts Tanahashi on his shoulders for Blackout but Tanahashi rolls through into a victory roll to take the win.
KENTA (3-0) def. EVIL (2-1) @ 15:02 via Go 2 Sleep – ***
The two stare a hole into one another until KENTA rushes in and takes a boot to the gut. EVIL applies a side headlock and keeps the hold as KENTA tries sending him off. KENTA gets free on the third attempt but takes a shoulder tackle back down. He pops back up and delivers a boot that drops EVIL. KENTA backs him to the ropes where he tries rubbing off EVIL’s eye make up before grounding him with a snapemare and a kick across the back. EVIL catches a boot, sends it to the referee and lands a kick, takes KENTA outside and drives him into the rails before pulling a chair out from under the ring.
EVIL wraps a chair around KENTA’s head and hits it off with another chair, takes him backstage and up the stage where he stacks a dozen or so chairs and looks for a suplex. KENTA switches position and drops EVIL with a suplex on the chairs to a chorus of boos. He brings EVIL back inside where he lands a lariat from off the top rope for a two count. KENTA lands a series of kicks in the corner followed by a facewash, EVIL follows him in the corner with a lariat and turns early to cut off KENTA’s retaliation, lands a second lariat followed by a fisherman’s buster for a two count. EVIL facewashes KENTA who captures the boot and stands back up. His slap is blocked but he ground EVIL, follows with a springboard dropkick, corner boot and corner dropkick before landing a double stomp off the top for two.
EVIL fights off KENTA’s shoulders and lands a German suplex. The two meet forehead to forehead and trade forearms. EVIL flurries and powers up, KENTA blocks a strike but gets taken down by a headbutt followed by Darkness Fall for a two count. He brings KENTA back to his feet, looks for the STO but KENTA turns it into a backslie for two followed by a cradle for another two. EVIL makes it back to his feet where he grounds KENTA with a lariat, removes his elbow pad and tells KENTA to get back up. KENTA ducks the lariat, they both hit the ropes and KENTA lands a huge knee followed by a second knee for a two count. EVIL catches the PK, looks for a headbutt but KENTA gets his knee up and connects with EVIL’s skull. KENTA follows with the PK, brings EVIL up to his shoulders and finishes him with the G2S.
Kota Ibushi (1-2) def. SANADA (1-2) @ 19:15 via Kamigoye – ***1/2
After staring daggers and circling, Ibushi takes the wrist. They trade holds, Ibushi takes the leg and grounds SANADA who goes for the arm but Ibushi slides through, picks the legs and applies a headlock. SANADA makes it to his feet, Ibushi snapemares him but SANADA lands on his feet and hits the ropes They trade takedowns, Ibushi puts on the brakes and SANADA comes up empty on a dropkick. The crowd has a dueling chant and they survey the reaction without a desisve winner. Ibushi backs SANADA to the ropes and gives him a clean break. He catches SANADA’s boot and tries for a Paradise Lock but SANADA sends him off, low bridges Ibushi and fakes out a dive.
Ibushi hops back to the apron and lands a springboard dropkick before grabbing his ankle and applies a chinlock. He pulls SANADA from the ropes and locks in a sleeper. SANADA manages to find the ropes but gets stomped into the mat and challenged by Ibushi to bring it. He makes it back to his feet and fires off overhands that Ibushi shrugs off. Ibushi kicks SANADA back down, looks for a standing moonsault but SANADA gets his knees up. SANADA lands the double leapfrog dropkick, Ibushi bails and is followed out with a placha before being brought back inside. Ibushi blocks a backdrop suplex, sends SANADA to the ropes, ducks a springboard dropkick and connects with a powerslam + second rope moonsault combination for a two count. SANADA eats a flurry, they trade pins, he catches a boot and dropkicks Ibushi’s knee.
SANADA wants a second dropkick but Ibushi hops over the attack and lands a double stomp to SANADA’s chest. They meet forehead to forehead and trade forearms on their knees before making it to their feet and continuing the exchange. Ibushi connects with a kick to the chest, SANADA responds with an uppercut and the exchange continues like that until SANADA eventually rocks Ibushi and lands a series of forearms. SANADA blocks one lariat but gets taken down by a second and Ibushi follows with a sitout powerbomb for a two count.
Ibushi comes up short on two Kamigoyes and SANADA keeps the wrist clutch which results in him hitting the Kamigoye himself for two. Fighting back up, Ibushi drops SANADA with a Boma Ye for a two count of his own. SANADA fights off the lawn dart and applies the Skull End which the two counter in and out of until Ibushi fights out and lawn darts SANADA into the corner. Ibushi looks for a German suplex, SANADA flips through and hits the ropes, applies the Skull End and swings Ibushi around. They hit the mat, Ibushi flips through the hold and lands a head kick that grounds SANADA. YeaOh pose and a Boma Ye for two, Ibushi removes the kneepad and finishes SANADA with a Kamigoye.
Ibushi offers his hand to SANADA after the match but it’s not accepted.
Kazuchika Okada (3-0) def. Will Ospreay (1-2) @ 21:57 via Rainmaker – ****1/2
The crowd rallies for Ospreay at the bell. Okada shoots the crowd a disappointed look which causes them to chant for him as well. They lock up, trade wristlocks, Ospreay gets the snapmare and applies a headlock. Okada slides through and takes the wrist, trips Ospreay and takes the head. Ospreay pulls Okada into a headscissors ad they fight back up for a stalemate. They knuckle lock, Okada slides around and takes the head, Ospreay sends him off but gets shouldered down. Ospreay monkey flips Okada who bails outside and gets faked out by a dive. Ospreay sits on the second rope to invite Okada back inside but Okada refuses to come in that way.
Okada decides to slide under the ropes where he’s stomped into the mat. He refuses an Irish whip, eats a back elbow but dropkicks Ospreay off the top rope and sends him crashing to te floor. Okada calls off the referee’s count and sits on the second rope to invite Ospreay back inside. Ospreay slides back in under the ropes where he takes a series of elbows to the back of his neck followed by a slam and a slingshot senton. Okada takes Ospreay to the corner where he lands more elbows to the back of the neck, comes in for more where he eats a flurry of chops that he no sells and goes back on the attack. Ospreay catches Okada in a vertical suplex, sends him to the ropes, ducks the back elbow and lands a handspring enzuigiri followed by a springboard forearm for a two count.
Okada fights the Stormbreaker off but eats a chop that echoes through Korakue Hall and causes him to crumble. He catches Ospreay’s boot but gets blasted with an enzuigiri, catches the top rope 619 and drops Ospreay with a reverse neckbraker. The crowd rallies for Ospreay as Okada nips up and John Woos Ospreay into the corner. He scoop slams Ospreay and climbs to the top where he connects with the elbow drop followed by the Rainmaker pose. Ospreay backs him to the corner, eats a boot, Okada ducks the wallflip enzuigiri, gets his knees p on a standing shooting star press and lands a dropkick followed by the tombstone piledriver. Ospreay turns the Rainmaker into a jackknife pin for two, lands the Robinson Special and goes for the Oscutter but Okada dropkicks him over the ropes to the floor.
Okada pulls Ospreay to the apron where the two trade forearms until Okada is grounded. Ospreay pulls him back to his feet, eats an uppercut but lands a headkick that sends Okada to the floor. Ospreay wants to dive to the floor, Okada pulls him down but eats a hook kick and Ospreay springs off the rails for an Oscutter. Okada makes it back in the ring at nineteen but Ospreay is waiting with a sprinboard dropkick followed by an Oscutter for a two count. Ospreay positions Okada for a Super Oscutter but Okada catches him and drops Ospreay with a German.
Ospreay ducks the Rainmaker, hits the ropes but eats a dropkick. He turns another Rainmaker into a Spanish Fly and climbs to the top for a Shooting Star Press that gets him another two count. Ospreay gets Okada up for the Stormbreaker but Okada flips out and gets Ospreay is position for a tombstone. Ospreay switches position and hits a tombstone of his own, sets up for the Stormbreaker but Okada flips through and gets the Rainmaker. He follows with a second, goes for the third but Ospreay floats over, sets up for the Stormbreaker again, Okada flips through once more and lands a discuss Rainmaker followed by a traditional Rainmaker for the win.
The crowd chant for Ospreay as he’s helped to the back.
Okada takes the mic and says the next time he’ll be in Tokyo is at the Budokan but he’ll have his spot in the final locked up before they reach that point. Backstage he says Ospreay was tough but next is KENTA and he’ll show him what it takes to be in New Japan.
Unlike the other shows, tonight didn’t hit for me until the semi main event. They started solid, the match between Sabre and Fale was creative and fun, Tanahashi and Archer was good but KENTA and EVIL failed to deliver in their spot. The show picked up with Ibushi and SANADA having a very strong match and possibly SANADA’s best of the tournament. Where they hit the next level was in the main event. Okada and Ospreay had the first G1 match so far that I know will be on my end of year list. Absolutely incredible match between these two. Unlike their previous encounters, this felt like more than just a special attraction heavyweight versus junior match. This is the G1 Climax and it felt like the G1 Climax.
Overall I’d say this was another very good show, I never expect the first two matches to be blow-away but I did expect EVIL and KENTA to deliver which didn’t happen. EVIL’s chair brawling is for the birds, nobody else wants to see that side of him. You have a hoss with significant upside. Let him beat dudes down a la Ishii. That was the big complaint of the show, everything else hit its mark. Watch the last two matches, especially that main event. I appreciated that it felt like a match rather than a showcase. It wasn’t one of Ospreay overblown twenty-five minute matches, they kept it compact and extremely rewatchable. Absolutely excellent.
Okada vs Ospreay
Ibushi vs SANADA
Kazuchika Okada (4-0)
Kota Ibushi (2-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-2)
Lance Archer (2-2)
Will Ospreay (1-3)
Zack Sabre Jr. (1-3)
Bad Luck Fale (1-3)
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