The A Block have their final night of tournament action at Budokan Hall. The block comes down to Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi where Ibushi must beat Okada to advance to the final but Okada can make it via time limit draw. We’ve finally reached block final. Let’s get started!
Lance Archer (2-6) def. EVIL (4-4) @ 10:03 via EBD Claw – ***1/2
They charge at each other with shoulder tackles and trade forearms. Archer lands a slap across the face, EVIL collapses to a knee, Archer hits the ropes and catches him in a Black Hole Slam. EVIL bails outside, Archer follows him out, takes out all the young lions and sets up for a senton off the apron. Archer hops over EVIL’s leg sweep and moonsaults off the apron onto EVIL. He unties the turnbuckle pad, sends EVIL back in and drives him into the exposed buckle followed up with a suplex in the corner. Archer puts his knee over EVIL’s throat for a two count, pulls him up for a short-arm lariat and puts his hand over EVIL’s chest for another two.
EVIL avoids a senton over the top and fires off forearms, ducks a lariat, shoulders Archer into the corner and follows him in with a lariat. He fires up, lands a bronco buster but Archer is out at one. Archer puts the brakes on a suplex, connects with a knee and lands a lariat but is cut off on the top by EVIL who superplexes Archer for a two count. EVIL hits the ropes for a lariat but Archer doesn’t go down. He catches Archer’s boot, sends it to the referee but the weight of Archer’ leg sends him flying to the floor.
They hit the ropes where Archer launches EVIL with a pounce and sets up a chair in the exposed buckle. He sends EVIL to the corner but EVIL puts on the brakes and Archer collides into the chair. EVIL lands a lariat followed by a rope-assisted Magic Killer for two, Archer fights off the STO and catches EVIL with a chokeslam for a two count. He puts EVIL on his shoulders and drives him down face first, signals for the EBD Claw but EVIL lands a headbutt. EVIL goes to unload a lariat but Archer turns and locks in the EBD Claw for the win.
Bad Luck Fale (3-5) def. SANADA (4-4) @ 10:39 via “Small” Package – ***1/4
Owens and Jado distract SANADA from the outside giving Fale the early edge. SANADA fights him off, hits the ropes but Jado is there with the cane. Fale takes him outside and chokes SANADA with a microphone cord. He waits for SANADA to come back in and is quick to stand on top of SANADA as soon as he slides inside. Owens attacks SANADA on the apron while Fale distracts the referee and Fale applies the Tongan Death Grip but SANADA finds the ropes. He applies the hold to SANADA’s ribs, stands on his chest and hits his pose for a two count. SANADA slides of Fale’s shoulders and looks for a slam but Fale lands on top of him for another two count, drops a series of elbows and gets two again.
The crowd rally for SANADA as he rolls away from another elbow, delivers a series of forearms and lands a pair of dropkicks before sending Fale over the top with a lariat. Fale, Jado and Owens all eat a plancha which causes the fans to come unglued. He sends Fale back inside, wants the springboard dropkick but Fale moves. SANADA lifts him for a TKO but collapses under Fale’s weight who follows with a splash nd the Grenade for a two count. The crowd continue to rally as SANADA slides out of the Bad Luck Fall and muscles Fale into a scoop slam followed by a TKO for two.
SANADA picks Fale up into position for the Skull End but Owens pulls the referee out of the ring. SANADA is distracted by Owens but ducks the attack from Jado, throws the cane aside and ties both Jado and Owens in the Paradise Lock. He hits the springboard dropkick, Fale avoids the moonsault, gets trapped in the Skull End but floats the hold into a small package to take the win. Fale frees Jado from the hold but they forget about Owens in the ring and have to return to the ring to free him as well.
Zack Sabre Jr. (3-5) def. KENTA (4-4) @ 16:26 via Jim Breaks Armbar – ***1/2
Sabre backs KENTA to the corner and gives a clean break. KENTA takes him down and gets the waist lock, looks to mount Sabre but is kicked off and Sabre makes it back to his feet. He backs KENTA to the corner again and gives another clean break. KENTA takes Sabre to the ropes, fakes a clean break, goes for a roundhouse kick but Sabre ducks and the crowd boos at KENTA’s lack of a clean break. Sabre takes the head, KENTA fights back up but gets taken to the corner where Sabre unloads a series of uppercuts. KENTA walks into the strikes and takes Sabre down with a series of kicks but Sabre gets back up only to get taken back down with a forearm followed by a kick across the back.
Sabre grabs the fingers to escape a sleeper, takes the wrist but KENTA avoids the overhead kick, takes a boot to the face but grounds Sabre and gives him a boot in return. Stomping the arm, Sabre grounds KENTA and applies the Indian Death Lock, pulling him into a kimura which KENTA fights out of with repeated knees to the head. KENTA unloads a series of kicks to the chest, drops a knee over the head but only gets a one count. He goes to follows up with another sleeper but Sabre slides through and pulls KENTA into a pin for one. Sabre snapmares KENTA to the mat and neck cranks, pulls him back up and sets up for a dragon suplex but KENTA fights it off and catches him in a powerslam. KENTA catches Sabre charging in with a boot and drops him throat first over the top rope, catches Sabre’s boot and they trade slaps.
KENTA wins the exchange, lands a boot in the corner followed by a dropkick but misses the double stomp and is caught in a northern lights which Sabre transitions into a cross armbreaker. Sabre stays on the attack after KENTA finds the ropes, goes after the arm even managing to keep the hold despite eating KENTA’s forearms. KENTA finds a way out with a spinning back fist and they meet forehead to forehead on their knees where they begin trading forearms. They make it to their feet and continue the exchange. Sabre lands a flurry of strikes but KENTA catches the PK and connects with a discuss lariat followed by a double stomp off the top for a two count.
KENTA signals for the end, picks Sabre up to his shoulder but Sabre slides out, sweeps the legs and lands a PK but KENTA kicks out at one. They trade slaps, Sabre collapses to the mat, ducks a headkick and catches KENTA in a Japanese leg clutch for two. KENTA fights off a triangle attempt into a cross face but Sabre finds the ropes. He lands a kick to the chin, follows with a knee and signals for the end. Sabre turns the G2S into a guillotine and transitions it into a triangle and turns that into a Jim Breaks Armbar, boots at the head and forces the verbal submission.
Will Ospreay (3-5) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-4) @ 17:12 via Stormbreaker – ****3/4
The crowd breaks into dueling chants which upsets Tanahashi. They lock up and Tanahashi backs Ospreay to the ropes but gives a clean break. Again they lock up, Ospreay manages to power Tanahashi to the ropes and he too provides the clean break. He offers the knuckle lock which Tanahashi obliges and tries powering Ospreay down but Ospreay fights back up and applies a wrist lock. Tanahashi reverses into his own wrist lock but Ospreay counters his hold into a headlock which Tanahashi counters into his own thanks to him stepping on the back of Ospreay’s knee. Ospreay nips up on a shoulder tackle from Tanahashi and hits the air guitar. He fakes Tanahashi out on a dive, Tanahashi rolls in as Ospreay looks for the plancha and dragon screws Ospreay’s knee over the second rope.
Tanahashi stays on the knee and ties Ospreay into an Indian Death Lock. Ospreay tries to slide to the ropes but Tanahashi stands on the hold and bridges back to apply more pressure. Ospreay does manage to find the ropes and fights to his feet where they exchange forearms. Tanahashi loses the exchange but boots the knee to gain the advantage. He sends Ospreay to the ropes where he rebounds with a handspring enzuigiri followed by a flying forearm but is caught rushing in the corner, sent to the apron and has his springboard forearm cut off. Tanahahshi rushes in, gets low bridged over the the top and Ospreay follows him out with a Sasuke Special. He sends Tanahashi back in and lands a standing shooting star press.
The crowd breaks into dueling chants as they have a strike exchange that ends in Tanahashi landing a dropkick to the knee after ducking a springboard forearm. Tanahashi looks for the Texas Cloverleaf, Ospreay boots him off and catches Tanahashi running in with the wallflip but his knee buckles on the follow up enzugiri. Tanahashi catches the boot but eats an enzugiri, keeps a hold of the boot and dragon screws Ospreay before locking in the Texas Cloverleaf. Ospreay finds the ropes, Tanahashi stomps at the knee, Ospreay ducks the slingblade, Tanahashi ducks the hook kick but is caught in a jackknife for two.
Following with a Robinson Special, Ospreay looks for an Oscutter but Tanahashi sidesteps it and turns it into a slingblade for two. Tanahashi locks the arms into a straightjacket German suplex for another two, hits the ropes but is caught with a Spanish Fly for a two from Ospreay who follows with a top rope shooting star press for another two and an Oscutter, still only two. Ospreay muscles Tanahashi up for Stormbreaker but Tanahashi fights out into a slingblade, hits the ropes where he lands a second but that still only gets two. He hits the top rope for a crossbody that Ospreay switches into a pin for two. Tanahashi slaps Ospreay, looks to hit the ropes but Ospreay lands a hook kick, follows with a Hidden Blade and finishes Tanahashi with the Stormbreaker.
Kota Ibushi (6-2) def. Kazuchika Okada (7-1) @ 25:08 via Kamigoye – ****1/2
The crowd breaks into dueling chants at the sound of the bell. They both look to the crowd before locking up. Okada takes the waist, Ibushi grabs a hold of the wrist, Okada picks the leg and pulls at the ankle. Ibushi takes the head, Okada slides through and take the arm to pull Ibushi into a pin but only gets one. They both make it to their feet as the crowd chants and they lock up again. Okada backs Ibushi to the ropes but gives a clean break and tells Ibushi to bring it. Ibushi comes at him with a forearm and the two exchange strikes. Okada flurries, hits the ropes but is taken down with a dropkick from Ibushi. He brings Okada back to his feet and forearms him into the corner, looks to send him to the opposite corner but Okada reverses and sets Ibushi on the top rope before dropkicking him off and to the floor.
Okada follows Ibushi out and DDTs him to the floor, rolls back inside while the referee monitors Ibushi and waits. He calls off the referee’s count and lets Ibushi make it back inside. When he does, Okada drives Ibushi into the corner and lays in back elbows to the neck which causes Ibushi to collapse and Okada follows up with a basement dropkick. Ibushi kicks out at two and the crowd begins rallying for him to come back as Okada applies a chin lock. The crowd continues their chant as Ibushi fights up and breaks free with elbows to the chest. He sends Okada off, eats a boot but catches him running with a frankensteiner. Ibushi brings Okada to his feet, ducks a strike and flurries with strikes of his own, finished off with a standing moonsault. Okada bails to the outside where Ibushi follows him out with a plancha and sends Okada back inside.
Ibushi misses to lariats as Okada gains speed on the ropes and connects with a back elbow, a second in the corner and a DDT for a two count. Okada scoop slams Ibushi and head to the top, Ibushi avoids the dive and catches Okada running in with a leg lariat. They make it back to their feet and begin trading forearms. Okada lands an uppercut, gets a back elbows but Ibushi catches him running in with a powerslam, looks for the second rope moonsault but Okada gets the knees up. Following up with a flapjack that gets him two, Okada scoop slams Ibushi and heads to the top again but Ibushi cuts him off and underhooks the arms. Okada fights free and hammers Ibushi down to the apron but Ibushi pops back up and lands a top rope frankensteiner for a two count.
Ibushi muscles Okada up, hits a Last Ride but Okada grabs the bottom rope. They trade lariat attempts, both ducking the attacks, before Okada lands a German. Ibushi avoids the Rainmaker and turns the piledriver into one of his own. He fires up and challenges Okada to a forearm exchange on their knees. They let out primal screams as they unload their attacks. Okada brings Ibushi to his feet where they continue the exchange until Okada collapses. Ibushi brings Okada back up, lands more forearms, Okada John Woos Ibushi down but he pops right back up and drills Okada with a lariat. The crowd erupts in Ibushi chants. He picks Okada up for a lawn dart but Okada slides out, takes the wrist and lands a lariat.
Okada keeps control of the wrist and drops Ibushi with a second lariat, lets out a shriek, sets up for a Rainmaker but Ibushi ducks and turns it into a German suplex. Ibushi keeps control for Kamigoye but Okada fights it off and connects with a dropkick to the back. Okada looks for a second dropkick but Ibushi catches him into a powerbomb for a two count. Ibushi hits the YeaOh pose, looks for Boma Ye but Okada hits a dropkick, looks for a Rainmaker but Ibushi lands a V-Trigger and follows with a Kamigoye but Okada kicks out at two. He pulls Okada right back up and finishes him with a second Kamigoye.
Ibushi takes the mic and thanks both the fans and the A Block. He will represent the block and promises he will not lose like he did last year.
The A Block rightfully finishes with their strongest show of the tournament. Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada have a classic which ends in Ibushi going to the G1 final for a second year in a row. The surprise of the night goes to IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay, pinning the eight time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi, clean. Absolutely unreal moment and arguably the show stealing moment. Everyone expected the Ibushi win, no one thought Ospreay would beat Tanahashi.
Anyway you slice this, this was a fantastic show. All five tournament matches delivered and there were plenty of surprises along the way. Tons of energy out of Archer and EVIL to kick off the block. I haven’t been a fan of Archer’s G1 but their energy came through the screen and smacked me in the face. Fale winning matches via roll ups has been super comical. I’m not sure what the hell is up with those wins but I’m growing to love them. KENTA and Sabre ended their tournament with another strong match. Sabre had a super consistent tournament in terms of match quality.
What a shocking win for Will Ospreay. Chalk that up as another classic for his career. If you wanted to tell me that was your favorite Ospreay match of the year I wouldn’t argue with you. Absolutely insane moment. The main event wasn’t in question but it didn’t need to be. The moment alone was strong enough to carry the match into being something special. An all around top notch show and a great finish to the A Block.
Ospreay vs Tanahashi
Ibushi vs Okada
Archer vs EVIL
Sabre vs KENTA
Fale vs SANADA
Kota Ibushi (7-2) WINNER
Kazuchika Okada (7-2)
Will Ospreay (4-5)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-5)
Zack Sabre Jr. (4-5)
Bad Luck Fale (4-5)
Lance Archer (3-6)