The B Block had their ninth and final night of action in front of 12,023 fans at the Nippon Budokan. Including the tags, there were ten matches on the show but all throughout the tournament I’ll only be discussing what happened in block action. Tonight the B Block featured their last five tournament matches. Let’s get into what happened!
Toru Yano (3-6) def. Tama Tonga (3-6) @ 5:08 via Disqualification – *3/4
Tanga Loa is barred from ringside and taken to the back before the bell. Yano looks to take advantage early on with a couple of roll ups but is unsuccessful. He runs for the pads and knocks Tama into the exposed buckle but this only enrages Tama who takes Yano to the outside and begins choking him. The referee attempts to stop Tama but is shoved aside. This happens again and Yano is able to sneak behind the distracted Tama, delivering a Belly-to-Belly, follows by a chop block to the back of the knee. Fale and Tanga come rushing from the back with referees at their sides trying to stop them. Tama jumps Yano from behind and goes back to choking him. He again shoves the referee, causing a second ref to come in and put a stop to Tama’s shenanigans. The brave referee eats a Gun Stun for his troubles but this causes a disqualification. NJPW president, Harold Meji, makes an appearance as he takes the Tongans backstage. The match quality from Tama Tonga during the G1 wasn’t the best but the character work was very strong. He’s been much more memorable than in year’s past so even if match quality suffers, it’s a thumbs up from me.
Juice Robinson (3-6) def. Hirooki Goto (3-6) @ 10:37 via Pulp Friction – **3/4
Juice wins heavy crowd support by giving a young fan his hat and glasses while making his entrance. He removes his cast and they’re on their way. This time it’s Goto who has the injury to exploit. His arm was messed up in the match against Sabre and Juice is close to healed. So it was Juice who attacked Goto’s injury, going after the arm the entire match and showing off that he can use his left once again. Big kicks from Goto were met with big Lariats from Juice. Goto landed a headbutt onto Juice’s hand, hit a reverse GTR but Juice slides out of the standard GTR, catches Goto’s PK and lands Pulp Friction for the win. Nice, standard match. They didn’t go beyond the level they needed to for their positioning which is a trademark for Goto. Not a bad match but definitely felt like Goto just wants the tournament to be over with already which is perfectly fine even if underwhelming.
Before the next match, New Japan announces at the Tongans have left the building. A big cheer breaks out as we’re now guaranteed a clean main event.
Tomohiro Ishii (5-4) def. SANADA (4-5) @ 17:01 via Brainbuster – ****
Tomohiro ‘Show Stealer’ Ishii was back at it again. The crowd erupted at the announcement of this match. SANADA looked the best he has all tournament and that’s saying something cinsidering his strong showing this year. He stood toe-to-toe with Ishii early and all throughout the match, not looking concerned once. SANADA gained control from the start and attempted to wear Ishii down with a headlock. Then he made a mistake. SANADA made the same mistake everyone makes against Ishii. He began to take him lightly. Ishii took some disrespectful boots across the face and shot SANADA a terrifying look of “really?”. He then decides to stop selling anything SANADA throws his way and launches SANADA into the corner with a forearm, following up with a Brainbuster off the second rope. SANADA blocks the backdrop suplex and Ishii is able to avoid a dropkick and standing Moonsault but does eat a standing Hurricanrana. Ishii fights out of the TKO and locks in his own version of Skull End. SANADA fights out and lands a sliding Lariat, earning a loud chant from the crowd. Ishii punches his way out of Skull End and no sells a suplex, gives one of his own which SANADA also no sells.
SANADA locks in Skull End and follows with a Moonsault, misses and jams his knee on the landing. Aware of the situation, Ishii dropkicks the knee and hits a sliding Lariat to the back of the knee but SANADA flips out of a suplex, landing a rolling elbow, spin kick and Tiger suplex combination. Again, he misses the Moonsault and Ishii delivers a Shining Wizard but SANADA ducks the sliding Lariat and rolls Ishii into Skull End. They trade positioning going back and forth between Skull End and Brainbuster. Ishii hits an Enziguri but SANADA hits one right back and screams in Ishii’s face. Screaming right back, Ishii pops SANADA up for a headbutt and a desperate SANADA flurries with forearms but it’s too late. Ishii has him in his sights. Lariat, sliding Lariat, Brainbuster, Ishii wins. Incredible match. SANADA’s best showing by a sizable margin and Ishii continues doing what he does best. Most nights this would be a bonafide show-stealer but fortunately that wasn’t the case here. SANADA showed up big time and had what may have been his best showing since his debut in New Japan. Ishii is MVP.
Zack Sabre Jr. (6-3) def. Tetsuya Naito (6-3) @ 18:18 via Zack Driver – ***3/4
Naito matches are at their best when his opponets sell the frustration of his stalling. Sabre lost it early on and rushed Naito, playing right into his game. Naito would bail, Sabre would follow and Naito would immedately get back in the ring and tap his wrist like he was the one waiting for Sabre. Excellent dynamic between these two. Naito hit his pose but that’s where Sabre struck by diving for the arm and applying an armbar. This upset Naito, who bailed to the outside and spit at Sabre. The next few minutes were dominated by Sabre on the mat but he let Naito up and showed he can beat him at his own game by sweeping the leg on the springboard corner dropkick and stood on Naito’s head. This fired up Naito who flurried with a Hurricanrana, springboard corner dropkick, Atomic Drop and caught Sabre’s boot, turning it into a neckbreaker.
Sabre gained control once again by catching a spin kick and transitioning at an STF but in a stupid move, lets Naito up to his feet. Naito begins drilling Sabre with back elbows repeatedly, hits a Tornado DDT but Gloria is turned to a Triangle Choke. He turns Sabre’s submission into a pin and follows with a Reverse DDT and more back elbows. They trade slaps, Naito lands Gloria but his flying forearm is turned into an Abdominal Stretch. Sabre drills him with two PKs but Naito catches the third and lands a German suplex and flying forearm. Sabre is able to turn Destino into a European Clutch but Naito kicks out, drills him with an Enziguri and Destino. Naito isn’t done, he goes for a second Destino and out of nowhere Sabre turns the Destino into a Zack Driver for the win. Crazy finishing sequence to a match with a ton of attitude. Their character dynamic was really strong and helped bring the match to the next level. Sabre’s win eliminates Naito which means the winner of the main event heads to the finals.
Kota Ibushi (6-3) def. Kenny Omega (6-3) @ 23:14 via Kamigoye – ****1/2
The match every wrestling fan had circled on their calendar. Ibushi and Omega haven’t stood across from each other in the ring for six years. Omega is a completely different wrestler since the last time they met but they come into this match as best friends. Words can’t do this match justice but here we go. Ibushi gets the best of Omega early, dropkicking him out the ring. Omega, not to be one-upped, rushes back in and chops Ibushi down only to be floored once again. He bails once more, and baits Ibushi in for a dive, evading said dive and slamming Ibushi back first onto the apron. They head back into the ring and begin trading similar combinations, both blocking each other’s Moonsaults. Ibushi goes for the Golden Triangle but Omega cuts it off and teases a One-Winged Angel off the apron to the floor. Ibushi slides off his shoulders and looks for the elevated German over the top but Omega avoids and lands a Piledriver onto the apron, followed immediately by a top rope dropkick to the back of Ibushi’s head. Ibushi eats a V-Trigger followed by Croyt’s Wrath, another V-Trigger, Slingshot DDT and a Tope con Hilo.
Ibushi looks to be dead but is able to cutoff Omega on the top rope with an overhead kick and teases a top rope Piledriver. Omega fights out and sends Ibushi to the apron but Ibushi rebounds quickly and lands a top tope Hurricanrana, quickly followed up with the Golden Triangle. Ibushi looks for a springboard dropkick but Omega cuts it off and sets up for One-Winged Angel which Ibushi fights out of and hits a standing double knee Moonsault. Omega attempts a desperation V-Trigger that Ibushi blocks but can’t block the second and Omega continues the knee strikes before taking it to the top, looking for a Dragon Suplex. Ibushi flips through the suplex, eats a V-Trigger but won’t go down, delivering a Dragon, Half & Half Suplex, Lariat, Last Ride and Kamigoye for only a two count.
He removes his kneepad and keeps wrist control while Omega tries to break free. Omega lands a V-Trigger but Ibushi hits a flurry of strikes, heads to the top for a Phoenix Splash, comes up empty and takes a V-Trigger to the back of rhe head. He sets up for the One-Winged Angel, Ibushi attempts to Poison Rana his way out but Omega stops the momentum and drops him on his head. Another V-Trigger and looks for a One-Winged Angel off the top. Ibushi fights out and double stomps Omega from the top, Tiger Driver-Style Golden Star Powerbomb from the top, Kamigoye for the win. Excellent match. This win means Ibushi advances to the finals tomorrow where he’ll meet Tanahashi. Omega lets Ibushi have the moment in the ring but head to the back together and issue the backstage interview in each other’s arms.
When people talk about the classic G1 Climax shows, this will be one that’s in the conversation. Three absolute blow-away matches back-to-back-to-back. Omega and Ibushi gave everything you could have wanted yet visibly let you know that they have more in store for whenever they meet again. Tremendous main event. One of the year’s absolute best matches without question. Tama Tonga’s match quality hasn’t be anything to write home about but he’s never been one of those guys anyway so the fact that he’s at least standing out this year gets a thumbs up. Goto/Juice qas perfectly fine but very much just there while Ishii/SANADA tried their hardest to steal the show. That was an impossible task though as Ibushi/Omega would never let that happen. SANADA has had a breakout year and ended this G1 on the highest note he’s ever achieved in his New Japan run. You can argue a few different G1 MVPs but as far as I’m concerned, Ishii has been the man all throughout the tournament. He’s stolen shows left and right, never giving anyone in the block a night off. Naito/Sabre was such a fun dynamic. Watching them try to get under each other’s skin was a whole lot of fun. This was Sabre’s best of the tournament, ending his G1 on a high note like SANADA. Kota Ibushi receiving this huge win and advancing to the finals was an amazing moment to cap off the show. This was a classic NJPW show.
Ibushi vs Omega
Ishii vs SANADA
Sabre vs Naito
(6-3): Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega, Zack Sabre Jr., Tetsuya Naito
(5-4): Tomohiro Ishii
(3-6): Juice Robinson, Hirooki Goto, Tama Tonga, Toru Yano
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs TBA
Everything Else TBA