The A Block has their first tournament match in Japan as we see the second of two nights at the Ota City General Gymnasium. An absolutely loaded card with Hiroshi Tanahashi versus KENTA featured in the main event. Let’s get started!
Lance Archer (1-0) def. Bad Luck Fale (1-0) @ 10:13 via EBD Claw – **1/4
Archer enters taking out every young lion on his way to the ring. The match starts with a shoulder tackle stalemate, a Fale pie face and an Archer shove. Archer tackles Fale through the ropes and takes the fight outside. He wants to chokeslam Fale but Jado hits him from behind with the cane. Fale uses the distraction by throwing Archer into a sea of chairs until he’s backed off by the referee. Archer makes his way back in at thirteen but is immediately met by Fale’s boots. He manages to stagger Fale after a jab but it’s not enough, Fale stays on the attack and backs Archer into the corner with a series of forearms. Fale comes up empty on an elbow drop, eats a boot followed by a pair of shoulder tackles and a lariat.
Fale sends Archer to the corner but Archer scales the ropes and lands a crossbody for a two count and stays in control by taking the wrist and going up for Old School. Fale grabs the referee while in the hold and Jado hits Archer with the cane to break it off. With Archer staggered on the corner, Fale drops him with a superplex for a two count. Fale then takes Archer’s hand and looks for Old School but Archer cuts him off and sets up for Blackout. Fale slides out of the hold and lands Grenade for two, wants Bad Luck Fall but Archer blocks and gives a boot. Archer applies the choke, Jado comes in with the cane but Archer shrugs off his attack and pounces Fale followed by the chokeslam for another two count. Staying on the attack, Archer grabs a hold of Fale’s head and finishes him with the EBD Claw.
Will Ospreay (0-1) def. SANADA (1-0) @ 17:07 via Stormbreaker – ***1/4
They lock up and trade wristlocks. Ospreay grabs a hold of the head, SANADA flips through, comes up empty on a dropkick, wants a moonsault but sees Ospreay move so he lands on his feet. They both come at each other with dropkicks for a stalemate. SANADA surveys the crowd’s split and determines they’re even so he offers Ospreay his hand. Ospreay catches the boot and tries for the Paradise Lock but can’t figure it out. SANADA shows him how it’s done only for Ospreay to flip out of the move which frustrates SANADA so he bails outside. Ospreay fakes out a dive and invites SANADA back in. SANADA lands a dropkick to Ospreay’s knee and ties him up in the ropes before dropkicking him free and brings Ospreay back inside the ring.
SANADA applies a headlock which Ospreay fights out of with forearms followed by a handspring enziguri. SANADA catches a boot, eats the other followed by a 619, dodges the springboard forearm but is caught with a standing shooting star press for a two count. He bails outside, Ospreay follows him out with a Sasuke Special and sends SANADA back inside where he then connects with the springboard forearm for a two count. SANADA fights out of a ragon suplex, ducks a hook kick and lands a dropkick followed by a plancha. He brings Ospreay back in for a backdrop suplex that gets him two, eats a series of forearms and asks Ospreay for more before hitting an uppercut which Ospreay quickly responds to with a hook kick.
SANADA takes Ospreay’s boot and rolls him up to his shoulders for a TKO but Ospreay fights out and hits a hook kick but as he comes off the ropes, SANADA catches him with a TKO. They trade forearms on their knees and continue the exchange up to their feet before it breaks down into a series of kicks. Ospreay avoids a springboard dropkick and catches SANADA in a sitout powerbomb for a two count followed by a shooting star press off the top for another two. He looks for Stormbreaker but SANADA slides through into Skull End and spins Ospreay around before looking for a moonsault off the top. Ospreay moves but SANADA lands on his feet only to get caught with a standing Spanish Fly for two. Ospreay connects with the Robinson Special, SANADA catches the Oscutter and looks to hit it on Ospreay who also catches the move to block it. Once again Ospreay looks for the Oscutter, this time connecting and follows up with the Stormbreaker for the win.
Kazuchika Okada (1-0) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (0-1) @ 11:59 via Rainmaker – ***1/4
Sabre takes Okada down with a waistlock and rolls him into a pin but Okada shoves him off. Sabre grabs the wrist and uses it to take Okada back to the mat. Okada breaks free and rolls through Sabre does the same and they stalemate. They trade strangleholds, Okada makes it to the ropes where Sabre lets go and pie faces him. Okada sends him to the ropes, gets caught in an abdominal stretch, hip tosses out, gets caught in a Japanese leg clutch for two followed by a cradle for another near fall and immediately into Orienteering with Napalm Death.
Okada manages to force the rope break but Sabre goes on the attack with stomps to the knee before playing with Okada with light boots across the face. Okada stands up, eats a couple of uppercuts, shrugs them off and land a series of back elbows followed by a DDT for two. Scoop slam, wants the top rope elbow drop but Sabre avoids it and turns Okada’s flapjack into a guillotine which Okada in turn transitions into a reverse neckbreaker followed by another scoop slam and lands the top rope elbow drop.
Okada signals for the Rainmaker, Sabre kicks his way free but gets caught in a tombstone and Okada again sets up for the Rainmaker. Sabre ducks and applies an armbar with a headscissors but Okada finds the ropes. He stays on the arm with kicks and stomps, Okada fires up, eats a series of uppercuts before landing strikes of his own. Sabre slaps Okada back down, Okada catches the PK and eats several slaps but takes Sabre down with a dropkick. He again gets reversed into a multitude of pin attempts but manages to power Sabre up to his shoulders and connects with a discuss Rainmaker followed by the traditional Rainmaker for the win.
EVIL (0-1) def. Kota Ibushi (0-1) @ 19:12 via EVIL – ***1/2
EVIL runs in with a shoulder tackle and the two immediately have an extended forearm exchange. Ibushi lands a kick, EVIL shrugs it off. Ibushi has to hit another two before EVIL goes down but EVIL is quickly back up to shoulder Ibushi to the mat. EVIL takes the injured ankle but Ibushi finds his way to the ropes to force the break. He tries begging EVIL off but EVIL stays on the attack. Ibushi fires up with kicks, EVIL catches one and sends the leg to the referee and lands one of his own followed by a bronco buster and an ankle lock. Ibushi again finds the ropes but EVIL stays on the attack.
EVIL wants to send Ibushi to the corner but Ibushi holds the ropes and eats several chops before relenting and stumbling to the corner. Ibushi fights EVIL off and lands a dropkick followed by a flurry of strikes and a standing moonsault for a two count. EVIL puts the brakes on a German, they trade blocking lariats before EVIL connects with a double overhand and a senton for a two count of his own. He wants Darkness Falls but Ibushi fights it off and catches EVIL running in with a powerslam followed by a moonsault off the second for two. Ibushi sets up on the top rope but EVIL crotches him and runs in with a lariat before meeting him on the top for a superplex.
EVIL charges in and turns Ibushi inside out with a lariat for two, wants the STO but Ibushi lands a German. EVIL hits a German of his own and the two charge at each other with lariats, collapsing to the mat. They trade forearms on their knees and fight their way up to their feet to continue the exchange. Ibushi rains down a series of forearms but is cuts off after EVIL stomps his foot and applies the Scorpion Death Lock. Ibushi gets to the ropes before EVIL can fully turn into the hold and connects with a flurry of strikes and boots EVIL into the ropes. EVIL shoves the referee into Ibushi, lands a flurry of headbutts but Ibushi fires back with a lariat for two.
Ibushi wants Kamigoye but EVIL catches the strikes, rolls through and applies the Scorpion Death Lock. He manages to make the ropes but gets slammed, EVIL climbs to the top for a seton, Ibushi rolls out of the way and lands a knee to the back of the head. Ibushi removes his knee pad and hits one to the face for a two count. He sets up for Kamigoye, EVIL powers up and sets up for an STO but Ibushi elbows out. They trade lariats, neither willing to budge. EVIL connects with a headbutt, muscles Ibushi to his shoulders for Darkness Falls for two and finishes Ibushi with EVIL.
Katsuyori Shibata comes out from the back to call the main event.
KENTA (1-0) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-1) @ 18:36 via Go 2 Sleep – ****
They lock up, KENTA backs Tanahashi to the ropes and slaps him across the face. They lock up again, Tanahashi backs KENTA to the ropes and slaps him across the face. A big forearm exchange, a Tanahashi flurry followed by an elbow drop. Tanahashi hits the air guitar but KENTA is there to kick him on the back of the head. Tanahashi sweeps the leg and takes KENTA outside, driving him into the rails. KENTA returns the favor before booting Tanahashi over the rails and dropping him on the floor with a DDT. He brings Tanahashi back inside for a two count and follows by dropping him with a swinging neckbreaker but only gets one this time.
KENTA removes his knee pad, drops a knee over Tanahashi’s head and applies a headscissors. Tanahashi makes the ropes, takes a kick across the back which fires him up but KENTA is there to take him back down into a headlock. He fights out and catches KENTA’s boot, turning it into a dragon screw. A Tanahashi flurry is punctuated by a somersault senton off the second for two. KENTA catches him running in with a boot, follows with kicks, a powerslam, a springboard dropkick, a corner boot, corner dropkick and a top rope double stomp for a two count. Tanahashi fights off the G2S and catches the leg into a dragon screw followed by a second into the mat and the Texas Cloverleaf. He pulls KENTA from the ropes but gets cradled for two.
Tanahashi charges in, KENTA sidesteps and catches Tanahashi with a draping DDT. KENTA follows with a running knee to the back of the head, sets up for another but Tanahashi catches him in a slingblade. They trade forearms, land a couple of slaps, KENTA gets a discuss lariat and sets up for G2S but Tanahashi counters into a series of Twist & Shouts followed by a slingblade for two. Tanahashi sprints up to the top and lands a crossbody, runs back up wanting the High Fly Flow but KENTA gets his knees up. KENTA charges in the corner, eats boots, ducks a slingblade and applies a sleeper. He lets go and looks for the PK but Tanahashi catches, only to eat a knee followed by the PK and KENTA finishes Tanahashi with G2S.
KENTA offers his hand to Tanahashi but gets waved off.
He takes the mic and says whether you remember him or not, he’s winning the G1 Climax. He isn’t here to play around, he will win the tournament on his first attempt.
A strong show from the second match on. All four matches had their own style and for my taste, progressively got better as the show went on. Ospreay and SANADA showed off their freaky athleticism, Sabre and Okada had a good grapple, Ibushi and EVIL threw bombs and the main event was a big mood match. This had the highs of the previous nights and built steadily as the show went on. Without a doubt the show of the tournament so far with still plenty of room to grow as the tournament progresses.
There were several big upsets as we saw SANADA get defeated by the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, EVIL got his biggest win in what feels like years and KENTA managed to beat Tanahashi. Three huge moments in each of their own rights. Tanahashi, Ibushi and Sabre all starting at 0-2 is wild. How the block will play out from here is already extremely interesting.
KENTA vs Tanahashi
Ibushi vs EVIL
Okada vs Sabre
Ospreay vs SANADA
Kazuchika Okada (2-0)
Lance Archer (2-0)
Will Ospreay (1-1)
Bad Luck Fale (1-1)
Zack Sabre Jr. (0-2)
Kota Ibushi (0-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2)