The A Block have their seventh tournament match as New Japan heads to Osaka for the first of two nights at the EDION Arena. Kazuchika Okada comes into the night at a perfect 6-0 with his next opponent being a man he has a mirrored 6-0 singles record against, SANADA. Half of the block is mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament and the other half is in desperate need of a SANADA win. Let’s get started!
Bad Luck Fale (1-5) def. KENTA (4-2) @ 7:20 via Schoolboy – **
KENTA bows up to Fale before the bell and slaps him across the face. The bell sounds and Fale takes KENTA by the throat. KENTA escapes, runs in and lands a pair of boots but Jado cuts off the third with the cane and Fale goes back on the attack. He drops an elbow and stands on KENTA’s back, takes him to the outside and drives KENTA into the rails. KENTA rolls back in but Fale stays on the attack. When the referee only counts a one, Fale goes after the referee which gives KENTA time to make it back to his feet and deliver a slap across Fale’s face. Fale returns the slap, puts KENTA on the second rope, KENTA fights him off and drops Fale throat first over the top rope followed by a lariat off the second.
KENTA attacks the legs of Fale, knocks Jado off the apron and hits a springboard dropkick followed by a pair of corner boots, dropkick and top rope double stomp for a two count. He signals for the end, pulls Fale to his feet and tries setting up for G2S but Fale fights it off and grounds KENTA with a lariat for a two count of his own. Fale signals for the end, grabs KENTA by the throat but KENTA turns the Grenade into a triangle and transitions into the crossface. Owens hops the apron while Fale taps to distract the referee. Jado runs in with the cane, KENTA blocks him but Fale comes up from behind and rolls KENTA into a schoolboy for the win.
Zack Sabre Jr. (2-4) def. Lance Archer (2-4) @ 10:44 via Leg Scissors Clutch – ***1/4
Archer comes out laying waste to every young lion at ringside. Sabre sidesteps Archer rushing in. Archer sticks out his hand for a knuckle lock, throws Sabre to the corner and takes his wrist into a hammerlock and wristclutch. Sabre escapes, takes control of the wrist and sweeps Archer’s leg but Archer nips up and takes Sabre down. Sabre makes it back to his feet and bows up to Archer with a pair of uppercuts only to get grounded with an overhand chop. He gets back up and tries more uppercutts but gets shouldered down, picked up and powerslammed back to the mat. Sabre fights off an ankle lock, evades a splash and traps Archer in a heel hook but Archer finds the ropes. Archer catches a kick, sends Sabre off, gets caught in a sleeper but throws Sabre off and takes him outside.
Sabre sees Archer setting up for a senton off the apron, avoids it and traps Archer in a knee bar tried up in the ropes. He’s forced to break the hold, Archer rushes in with a pounce but Sabre catches it into a guillotine. Archer slams Sabre, scales the ropes for Old School, Sabre crotches him in the corner, climbs to the top and applies the guillotine. Archer sends Sabre off and follows with a dive off the second. He sets up for a powerbomb, Sabre turns it into a triangle and transitions into Jim Breaks but Archer finds the ropes. Sabre ducks the EDB Claw and tries for an octopus but Archer fights it off. Sabre wants a sunset flip, Archer puts the breaks on and tries for the EBD Claw, can’t get it, sends Sabre off and lands a Black Hole Slam for a two count. Archer wants the Blackout but Sabre slides through and brings down Archer with a leg scissors clutch for the win.
EVIL (3-3) def. Will Ospreay (2-4) @ 17:09 via EVIL – ****
The crowd rallies for Ospreay as the bell sounds. They circle, EVIL lands a boot and they trade wirstlocks. EVIL gouges the eyes, Ospreay ducks a pair of lariats and ranas EVIL to the floor followed by a fake out dive. Pulling a chair out from under the ring, EVIL throws a chair in for Ospreay who taunts EVIL before giving the chair to the referee. EVIL rushes back in, they duck each other’s strikes, come up empty on dives and EVIL shoulders Ospreay to the mat before sending him to the floor with a lariat. He pulls out another chair, wraps it around Ospreay’s head and hits it off with another before sitting on the chair and hitting a pose. EVIL brings Ospreay back inside, hammers on the neck and lands a neckbreaker for a two count followed by a chinlock. Ospreay elbows free, lands a heavy chop, fights off a vertical suplex and turns it into a stundog millionaire.
Ospreay begins to flurry with strikes, lands a flying forearm, gets sent over the top but comes back in with a springboard forearm for a two count. EVIL avoids the Robinson Special, catches a boot and send to it the referee for an assited thrust kick and suplexes Ospreay into he corner for a two count of his own. Ospreay elbows out of a German, EVIL ducks an enzuigiri, gets his leg swept but charges back after Ospreay with a lariat and takes him to the top rope. EVIL wants the superplex but Ospreay fights it off and lands a series of forearms that send EVIL crashing to the mat. Ospreay comes up empty on a dive and EVIL catches him in an attempted referee assited Magic Killer but Ospreay fights it off, sends EVIL outside and follows him out with a Sasuke Special. EVIL rolls out of the way of a top rope Shooting Star Press but having not jumped yet, Ospreay turns it into a top rope dropkick.
Ospreay sets up for the Stormbreaker, EVIL fights it, eats a wallflip enzuigiri but grounds Ospreay with a lariat. The crowd rallies for them to fight back to their feet. They trade forearms on their knees, bring the fight to their feet for a big exchange that grounds Ospreay but he fights off two Darkness Falls attempts before getting dropped on the third. EVIL signals for the end, Ospreay sidesteps the STO and floats through into a sitout powerbomb for a two count. He follows with the hook kick, signals for Hidden Blade but EVIL ducks, eats a headkick, fires a headbutt, rushes in but is caught in a standing Spanish Fly for two. Ospreay stays on the attack with an Oscutter for another two, signals for the end, EVIL fights it to an STO which Ospreay fights, flips through a German and lands a Robinson Special. EVIL catches the Super Oscutter, hits a pair of half nelson suplexes, a lariat for two and finishes Ospreay with the STO.
Kota Ibushi (4-2) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2) @ 15:53 via Kamigoye – ****1/4
Dueling chants to start off the match. They lock up, trade waistlocks, wristlocks and headlocks. Tanahashi sends Ibushi off the headlock, they attempt hip tosses, Ibushi gets Tanahashi down and follows with a dropkick. Ibushi’s leg is swept and Tanahashi takes the toe hold, drops a series of elbows on the knee and goes after the ankle. Tanahashi stays on the attack after Ibushi finds the ropes, lands a flurry for strikes, hits the rope but is met by a kick from Ibushi that takes him down. Ibushi pulls Tanahashi back up, ducks a slap, takes him down and lands a standing moonsault for a two count. Tanhashi avoids a German, catches a boot and dropkicks the other leg, rushes in for a slingblade and catches another kick which he turns into a dragon screw. He follows with a dragon screw into the mat and applies the Texas Cloverleaf.
Tanahashi sits down on the hold but Ibushi manages to find the ropes. More stomps to the knee by Tanahashi as he traps Ibushi on the other side of the ropes and dragon screws his knee over the middle rope. Tanahashi wants the top rope crossbody to the floor but Ibushi rushes back up and gets him with a hurricanrana back inside the ring. Ibushi sets up for the lawn dark, Tanahashi slides out, looks for a dropkick to Ibushi’s knee but Ibushi jumps over the attack and lands a double stomp on the way down. He lands the lawn dart on a second attempt and traps Tanahashi on the opposite side of the ropes for a draping deadlift German back inside for a two count. Tanahashi slides out of the Last Ride, lands a slap which Ibushi eats but does not fall.
Ibushi backs Tanahashi to the corner with slaps but Tanahashi comes right back with slaps of his own as they both eat the strikes but refuse to go down until Ibushi lands a lariat that grounds Tanahashi into the mat. Ibushi gets the Last Ride for another two count and the crowd rallies heavy for Tanahashi. Ibushi wants the Kamigoye but his attempt is turned into a series of twist & shouts followed by a slingblade for a two count. Tanahashi heads to the top rope for a crossbody, heads back up for the High Fly Flow but Ibushi moves out of the way. Ibushi removes the knee pad, hits YeaOh and BomaYe for a two count of his own. He pulls Tanahashi up for Kamigoye but Tanahashi turns it into a jackknife pin for two. They make it back to their feet where Ibushi lands a headkick and finishes Tanahashi with a Kamigoye.
SANADA (2-4) def. Kazuchika Okada (6-0) @ 29:48 via Moonsault – ****1/4
Dueling chants as the bell sounds. The referee surveys the reaction and rules in SANADA’s favor. They knuckle lock, trade waistlocks and wristlocks, Okada takes the leg and applies a toe hold. SANADA looks for a cross armbreaker but Okada rolls him into a headlock. A series of forearm break SANADA free but he’s taken down with a shoulder tackle, takes a hip toss, boots Okada off, they trade pin attempts, all of which not earning a singal count and stalemate back to their feet. The lock up, Okada backs SANADA to the ropes and gives a clean break. He catches SANADA with a boot, SANADA flips through a snapmare and lands a dropkick. Okada is sent to the corner, SANADA catches his boot and tries for the Paradise Lock but Okada fights it off and gets taken down with a back elbow for a one count. SANADA stays on the attack by applying a headlock.
Okada elbows free, ducks a back elbow and lariat before hitting his own back elbow and follows with one in the corner and a DDT for a two count. SANADA gets up before Okada can land the elbow drop off the top, Okada catches SANADA running in and puts him on the top only to dropkick him off and SANADA crashes to the outside. Okada sends SANADA to the rails and boots him over the top. The crowd encourage SANADA to make his comeback as Okada drops him with a draping DDT to the floor. Okada rolls back in he ring and the referee beings the twenty count. SANADA rolls in at fifteen, Okada runs in with a basement dropkick, stands on SANADA’s chest and poses to a chorus of boos. The crowd chant for SANADA as Okada picks him up to his feet. They trade strikes, Okada ducks and hits an uppercut before sending SANADA off to the drops where he’s able to land a dropkick to Okada’s knee.
SANADA leapfrogs two of Okada’s attacks, dropkicks him out of the ring and follows him out with a plancha to a roaring sound of approval from the crowd. He brings Okada back in, looks for a backdrop suplex but Okada fights it off, they catch each other’s boots and SANADA traps Okada in the Paradise Lock. He takes his time dropkicking Okada free but eventually does for a two count. Okada avoids a corner attack, SANADA does the same, he rushes in where he gets caught in a flapjack. SANADA wants a boot, Okada catches and avoids a standing moonsault but SANADA lands on his feet and follows with a dropkick to the back of the head followed by a backdrop suplex. Okada fights off the TKO, SANADA goes for the springboard dropkick but Okada catches him on the top and brings him down with a reverse neckbreaker followed by a scoop slam and top rope elbow drop.
Rainmaker pose, SANADA ducks the Rainmaker and floats through into Skull End but Okada uses the turnbuckle to float out of the hold and into position for a tombstone. SANADA ducks a second Rainmaker and sets Okada up on the ropes for an assited Magic Killer. They trade forearms on their knees, fights back up their feet and Okada fires up telling SANADA to bring it harder. The exchange continues, they begin trading uppercuts which wind up rocking Okada to the mat. SANADA goes to pick Okada up, gets his leg caught and Okada dropkicks him on the back. Okada looks for the Rainmaker, SANADA ducks, gets positioned into the tombstone but slides out into Skull End and turns it into a Tiger Suplex for a two count. SANADA sees Okada move on a moonsault attempt so he lands on his feet, hits the second rope and floats through into the Skull End position but Okada escapes out and takes the wrist for a lariat.
The crowd rally for SANADA as Okada picks him back up by the wrist and lands a second lariat. Okada shrieks, picks SANADA back up for a Rainmaker but SANADA lands a lariat of his own and swings Okada in the Skull End before dropping him in the hold. Okada manages to pop his head free but SANADA still had the body scissored so SANADA pulls him back into the middle of the ring, picks Okada back up to his feet and reapplies the Skull End. He drops Okada back down but Okada pops out and turns it into a pin for two. Okada can’t escape the body scissors and is pulled back into the Skull End where he looks to be passed out but comes alive at the last second and tells the referee he’s not submitted. SANADA climbs to the top for the moonsault but Okada gets his knees up as the crowd encourages SANADA to fight on. He pulls Okada from the ropes, Okada breaks his hold and lands a dropkick, sets up for a Rainmaker but SANADA ducks and pops Okada up for a TKO, lands a top rope moonsault to Okada’s back, turns him and follows with a moonsault to the chest for the win.
SANADA takes the mic and says he’s finally defeated his rival. The lights go out and everyone turns on their phone’s flashlight. He lost to Okada in Osaka last year so it wasn’t his favorite city but now that he’s won, Osaka is his favorite.
Without a doubt the strongest night of the A Block. Three blow-away matches back-to-back-to-back. This felt like a true G1 Climax show, something this block had been missing until tonight. SANADA got the win over his rival and sent the crowd home in memorable fashion.
Sabre and Archer had a fun match. Watching Sabre navigate his way around big guys is some of the most fun I have watching wrestling. Atypical for most Ospreay matches, this match with EVIL didn’t feel overblown. They kept it relatively tight which always helps and EVIL’s selling was next level. I’ve never seen some sell the Oscutter as great as EVIL did here.
Ibushi and Tanahashi going only sixteen was great. They too had a tight match that played off their series and paid off in memorable fashion as Ibushi was able to get his revenge for last year. Big match SANADA came to play in the main event. This was better than their Dontaku match and around the level of the Cup. Wrestling would be in a better place if SANADA was able to put on more performances at this level.
Okada vs SANADA
Ibushi vs Tanahashi
Ospreay vs EVIL
Sabre vs Archer
Kazuchika Okada (6-1)
Kota Ibushi (5-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-3) ELIMINATED
SANADA (3-4) ELIMINATED
Zack Sabre Jr. (3-4) ELIMINATED
Lance Archer (2-5) ELIMINATED
Will Ospreay (2-5) ELIMINATED
Bad Luck Fale (2-5) ELIMINATED