It’s gonna be a packed weekend full of early-morning alarm clocks and afternoon naps as we gear up for another series of G1 shows Saturday and Sunday, but first it’s time to catch up with Day Five action from the A Block! This is, for me, the less exciting block but I’m sure a number of the matches will have the opportunity to steal the show and I’m more than looking forward to Minoru Suzuki breaking YOSHI-HASHI in half.
Zack Sabre Jr & TAKA vs Shota Umino & Toa Henare
Listen, I don’t know Japanese. I don’t read it and I don’t speak it. I’m trying to learn it but I’ve got a long way to go. That being said, TAKA gives one hell of a promo hyping ZSJ up every match that you can appreciate in any language. Plus he’s got that god damn ridiculous “Come Over Here” t-shirt. This one goes about how you’d expect it – the young boys get an advantage here and there, but Umino takes TAKA’s advice along the way and just taps out to ZSJ. Nothing to write home about and a return to form for Sabre who was thrown off his game by Toru Yano the night before in a competitive match that saw Sabre narrowly escape with a victory.
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs Toru Yano & Gedo
Yujiro is out with a companion this time so my complaints about Ibushi not donning the bunny ears getup go unfounded for at least one more night. It’s gotta happen at least once on this tour, though, right? More ridiculous things have happened, like letting Mike Elgin and YOSHI-HASHI into the G1. Yujiro and Ibushi gain an early advantage on Gedo here with some beard-based offense, pulling on and double-teaming the follicles of the Raintaker. Once YTR enters the fray he pauses in mid-removal of the corner turnbuckle pad only to have Ibushi charge in, stop short from hitting the exposed buckles, and find himself feeling the brunt of the steel back-first. Cheaters never win, Yano! Except all those times you punched dudes on the dick and rolled ’em up. But you’re better than that! I believe in Toru Yano! Yujiro and Gedo find their way back in the ring here with Yujiro picking up the win before celebrating with his attractive friend and also the woman who came to the ring with him.
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs Juice Robinson & David Finlay
On the way to the ring Naito commits perhaps the most unforgivable act of the year when he fist-bumps Kevin Kelly but fakes Rocky Romero out and feigns spitting on him. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where Kevin Kelly gets a fist-bump and Rocky doesn’t. Naito is very interested in targeting Juice’s left hand here, attempting to dropkick it once before unsuccessfully attempting to convince the US Champion to engage in a knuckle lock with the injured hand. After Finlay and SANADA are tagged in Naito is able to target Juice’s hand with an elbow drop on the English commentary table before wrenching on his fingers for good measure. Juice finds a way to fight his way back but once he and Naito are legal again but is stopped by the referee before he can connect with the big left hand. Naito uses this opportunity to capitalize and finally hit the dropkick on the injured hand before tearing at the phalanges with a gruesome submission until Finlay makes the save. If Naito, and others, keep up with the assault on Juice’s hand he’s going to reach “Iron” Mike Sharpe lengths of time keeping that sucker taped up. With SANADA and Finlay once again legal Naito continues to damage the left hand on the outside of the ring while SANADA’s Skull End elicits a tap out from Finlay. Naito and Juice meet on Day Six and we’ll have to see how incapacitated Robinson’s left hand is at that point. Before leaving, Naito shadow boxes Rocky at the commentary in Juice’s line of sight to rub some salt in the wound.
Kenny Omega & Chase Owens vs Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
BATTLE OF THE BULLET CLUBS~! We’ve seen Bullet Club members clash on the tour already but not yet has Omega been involved outside of saving Hangman Page on Day One. Omega and Owens slide into the ring together and are immediately attacked by the Firing Squad who take the immediate advantage on Chase until Omega reenters to take both men down. Kenny, by the way, has different tights tonight with mesmerizing pink fringe that are sure to catch opponents off guard. Quite a strategy from the Best Bout Machine. Owens finds himself the prey here but eventually fights Loa off before crawling toward Omega for a tag. Unfortunately, Tama is there to pull Omega off of the apron to prevent the tag from being made. Omega scrapes his way back into the ring and lays both Firing Squad members out before attempting a V-Trigger on Tama which he finds intercepted by Loa with a spear. After a pair of Gun Stuns from Tama, Loa connects with a sitout inverted piledriver on Owens to grab the victory. The Firing Squad send a clear message to The Golden Elite ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Omega and Tama.
But we’re not done there! As Omega tends to Owens in the ring, Tama Tonga returns to the ring to pull the IWGP Heavyweight Champion down with another Gun Stun before walking off defiantly.
Hirooki Goto & YOH vs Tomohiro Ishii & SHO
Goto and Ishii are both fresh off of hard-fought losses against Omega and Naito respectively and looking to gain some momentum before their Saturday matchup. Goto and Ishii start off and trade barbs briefly before SHO tags himself in and calls out his RPG3K partner YOH. The partners find themselves fairly evenly matched proving to the world that forcing them to fight each other on this tour is patently inhumane when they should be cracking skulls in the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag division. SHO buries a knee into YOH’s stomach before tagging in Ishii who gets caught with a dragon-screw leg whip by YOH who rolls to Goto for the tag. YOH uses some misdirection by shoving Ishii into Goto and then nails a Falcon Arrow on the larger man for a two count. SHO catches his partner with a kick from the outside before he and Ishii double-team YOH with a backstabber into a clothesline for another near-fall. From here it’s academic as Ishii connects with a big brainbuster for the pin and the win on YOH.
Mike Elgin vs Jay White
If there is any justice in this world Elgin will come nowhere near beating White in this match. Elgin enters wearing a stupid looking jacket with stupid weights on it and he looks like a giant idiot baby. The meathead gains an early advantage hurling chops into the chest of White before connecting with a suicide dive on a recovering White. Elgin attempts to use his strength to suplex the Switchblade into the crowd but White is able to counter and pull the lunk into the barricade before dumping him on the spot where his brains would be with a backdrop driver on the arena floor. Jay is able to keep the advantage for a short time until his submission forces a rope break on Elgin. Elgin fights back from the apron with a leaping kick and a double stomp leaping from the apron into the ring on his prone opponent. In a truly scary moment, White attempts to hit the Kiwi Krusher on the apron but loses his balance sending both men toppling to the floor in a balled-up mass. It was ugly and could’ve gone way worse than it did. Elgin is able to fight back and avoid the Blade Runner in the ring as White survives a knee to the face, lariat, and Tiger Driver. As Elgin sets off to powerbomb White into the corner, Jay grabs hold of the referee sending him to the canvas. With the referee out of commission Switchblade connects with a low blow on Elgin before finally successfully hitting the Blade Runner to remain undefeated in his block.
Minoru Suzuki vs YOSHI-HASHI
Suzuki looks pissed and YOSHI takes sixteen thousand years to make his entrance. He’s got the red curtain rod again and all I can imagine is Suzuki breaking over his expressionless face. YOSHI jumps Suzuki before the bell knowing that it’ll be his only chance at surviving more than three minutes with The King. Suzuki regains the advantage outside of the ring and twists YOSHI’s arm around the ring post before hurling him into the railing where he winds up in the crowd. Suzuki continues the onslaught amongst the people but all I can see is this old dude in the background with a gray goatee and hot pink button-up shirt and I’m not even mad about it. At one point, back in the ring, Suzuki hits YOSHI with a forearm so hard that it causes my stream to skip. My main takeaway here is that YOSHI-HASHI is bad and he should feel bad. I’m no longer hoping for him to pull out anything impressive in this tournament and instead look forward to him picking up the big ole goose egg when all is said and done. Suzuki slaps the ever-loving shit out of YOSHI who attempts to steal the match with a small package but Suzuki comes back with the Gotch-style piledriver to grab the points.
Togi Makabe vs EVIL
Time for another Spooky Boys~ Sweep! This one is wild and wooly with the fight taking both men high into the crowd before making their way back into the ring. Why does Makabe laugh after he finishes the corner ten-count-punches? I like to imagine it’s because he doesn’t know how to count to ten himself and gets a kick out of the crowd doing it. Anyway, EVIL locks in the Banshee Muzzle too close to the ropes to pull out the victory as Makabe just barely reaches the bottom rope with his foot. Back on their feet Makabe fights out of subsequent EVIL STO attempts before the men begin trading clotheslines. A pair of double clotheslines in the center of the ring leave EVIL on his knees but he’s able to lay Makabe out with a clothesline of his own as the Unchained Gorilla rebounds from the rope. From here, EVIL finally connects with the STO and picks up another win in A Block.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Bad Luck Fale
I make no bones about the boredom Bad Luck Fale insights within me, but he’s not on YOSHI-HASHI levels for sure. Plus, I know the Ace of New Japan can pull a good match out of him. Fale, like the bully he is, chases the ring announcer from the ring as he enters. RUDE. Tana lays some focus on the left leg of Fale and stays in control for the greater portion of the beginning of this match until Fale launches him into the railing and onto the Japanese commentary table. As Fale threatens to bring a chair into the ring, thus distracting the referee, Tanga Loa takes the opportunity to stomp away at Tana on the arena floor. Fale slows things down and batters Tanahashi until the Ace is able to use a burst of strength to deliver a series of dropkicks to the previously worked knee. Tana can’t follow up with a German suplex but does lock in a Texas Cloverleaf until Fale kicks him out of the ring. Fale would attempt the Bad Luck Fall but it would be his undoing as Tanahashi would counter with a Frankensteiner before netting a handful of near-falls. After missing High Fly Flow in his attempt to end the match, Fale would crush him in the corner with a splash and the Grenade. Tana would manage to kick out and counter the Bad Luck Fall once more following up with a successful High Fly Flow. As the referee’s hand came down for the three count, Tanga Loa would insert himself into the match yet again to pull Red Shoes out of the ring. From here the Firing Squad would lay waste to Tanahashi allowing Fale to cover him for the cheap victory.
That is, until Red Shoes refused to count the three, flipped Bullet Club double birds and called for the bell in a disqualification victory for Tana! The Tongans would continue to put a beating on Tanahashi after the match before departing.
Kazuchika Okada vs Hangman Page
Can Okada finally break the slump? Last night Page demanded that the Okada of old show up as the two went head-to-head screaming at Okada that he was “tired of this bullshit”. Time to find out if Page will regret riling the Rainmaker!
Okada makes his entrances with even more, and larger, balloons than ever before so it looks like, much to the chagrin of Hangman Page, that Okada’s bullshit is still in full effect. Scooby Dooby Doo, baby! Okada looks to be having fun with Page until Page knocks him from the ring and hits a weird dive to the floor that maybe was supposed to be a suicide dive if Okada was standing? Weird wild stuff. Page yells that Okada is a piece of shit and tells the crowd, “This is Okada now!”. The fortune cookie I just opened says “there is no recipe for success but there is a recipe for dinner” and I might have to disagree because Page maintains control of the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and looks like he may have the recipe and the ingredients to pick up a win on the Rainmaker.
Okada finally earns himself some breathing room when he dropkicks Page from the top rope to the arena floor. He follows shortly after to stay on the attack perhaps getting his head a bit more in the game. Unfortunately, Page seems to have an answer for everything Okada throws his way. For every brief moment Okada has the upper hand Page is able to block or counter a move to put himself back on top. Okada looks to plant Page with the Tombstone but Page reverses that as well before packaging Okada up and driving him down with a Tombstone of this own. Page pulls out all of the stops here as he brings Okada to the mat from the top rope with a neckbreaker before connecting with a picture perfect moonsault from the top turnbuckle to the arena floor and finally a flipping clothesline back in the ring which leaves Okada laying and barely able to escape before the three count. Okada is finally able to connect with a Tombstone of his own after Page escaped a German suplex attempt but Page kicks out and fights back with some hard forearm shots to the balloon freak.
Page builds his comeback and folds Okada up with a powerbomb for a two count but can’t connect with the Rite of Passage to end things. Instead, Okada is able to fight out of Page’s final attempt at the move to knock him flat with a discus clothesline before pulling him back to his feet and connecting with the Rainmaker to finally pick up points in the tournament. For me, Hangman Page has always just been another guy in the background of the Bullet Club but this match made me a believer. I love Okada, but I was heartily pulling for Page to get the victory here as the match went on. If he wasn’t already, I think Page just made himself a name in New Japan.
That’s it for Day Five! Let’s check out the standings and see where everybody lands as we head into the weekend.
Jay White: 6
Mike Elgin: 4
Togi Makabe: 4
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4
Hangman Page: 2
Bad Luck Fale: 2
Kazuchika Okada: 2
Minoru Suzuki: 2