As we approach the final weekend, this is the time for wrestlers across the blocks that are dancing on the verge of being eliminated to get some crucial points to stay in the game with. One such match is the night’s main event pitting SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. KENTA will also need to beat YOSHI-HASHI to still have any kind of chance—that’s as long as Yano can put away Naito!
It’s all to play for, so let’s head to the ring and get straight into the action!
If you’ve missed any of our G1 Climax coverage, catch up with the links below!
KENTA vs. YOSHI-HASHI
With both men either eliminated or in a very unlikely position of winning their block, this was ultimately a battle of pride, and for good reason. KENTA, of course, plays the cocky heel with aplomb, and a cocky heel’s ego constantly needs to be satisfied with wins. YOSHI-HASHI, meanwhile, is the Taichi of B Block, in that his performances this G1 will see his stock rise once the tournament’s over.
Both men put in a sterling performance; KENTA as the sneaky tactician, attacking YOSHI’s previously hurt shoulder, while YOSHI-HASHI showed a ‘never say die’ attitude, throwing out hard-hitting strikes, a Butterfly Lock and countering KENTA’s attempt at the Go 2 Sleep with a nice DDT.
YOSHI-HASHI was able to escape one Game Over, but KENTA was able to roll YOSHI around on a second Game Over and prevent him from reaching the ropes, leading the ref to call for the stoppage.
A great match and possibly both men’s best match this tournament.
Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr
I’m a big ZSJ fan, and Juice has been on real good form during this G1 so I was looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint.
Juice proved initially that he could hang with Zack on the mat as the pair ran through a sequence of armbars and reversals. So, Zack threw a stiff uppercut to send a message. Zack, much like KENTA, thrives on being the cocky a**hole heel and a couple of times here he wouldn’t let go of the arm once Juice got to the ropes. The ref had to physically pull Zack off the first time. From there it was easy for Juice to get audience sympathy.
Juice nailed Zack with a big hand and from there Zack worked the arm and hand with a vengeance. He stomped the hand a couple of times while applying an armbar in-between. Zack’s variety of holds, plus his surprising fluidity in being able to switch, transition and counter into submissions kept both Juice and the audience on their toes.
Juice rallied back with a Juicebox and a Right Hand of God, but Zack was able to escape a Pulp Fiction, and a series of roll-ups ended with Zack holding Juice down with the Euro Clutch for the win.
A really good match, it now means Juice is eliminated and Zack still has a chance, however slim, of getting to the final.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano
As always with Yano, your mileage will vary, but I quite enjoyed this one. It helped that it was only eight minutes long. But Yano getting furious as Naito was undressing, causing Naito to undress even slower to wind Yano up, was very funny, as was Yano’s taping escapade. You see, rather than just tape Naito to the guard rail, Yano knocked down Yota Tsuji and taped Naito to him with the guard rail between them!
As the ref counted Naito, Tsuji was able to slip through the rails and, after a panicked scramble, slid into the ring with Naito at the count of 19 and helped to double clothesline Yano. They managed to snap the tape, but Naito double crossed Tsuji, teasing a fist bump but actually picking Tsuji up and body slamming him onto Yano. A quick roll up later, Naito was the winner. Thank God.
That means that Yano, KENTA and Tanahashi are eliminated, while Goto and SANADA need to win to stay in the running. The stats nerd part of me loves this time in the tournament.
EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto
Remember when people used to complain about the likes of The Disciple and Vincent in the NWO? That’s my feelings about Dick Togo. It would be alright if it was just the occasional match, but every EVIL match?
Anyway, rant over. The match itself wasn’t bad but neither did it do anything new or special. Goto looked good on offense, particularly when you consider his injured shoulder made his continuation in the G1 look doubtful at one point.
The problem was this was an EVIL-standard match and, as such, was something we’ve seen already throughout the tournament. For example, Togo pulled Goto to the outside so of course Goto was sent into the guard rail and then attacked with a chair. Of course Goto was sent into the corner where the buckle pad had been removed. Of course Togo came in to try and choke Goto out with his wire (something Goto countered with a ushigoroshi).
The end was surprisingly clean, however, with EVIL escaping GTR before landing Everything is Evil for the pin. But EVIL’s going to have to learn to vary his matches up if he wants to be taken seriously as a main eventer.
SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
As we know, Tanahashi is out of the running to win the G1, but SANADA needed the win here to still be in with a shot.
Tanahashi did not make it easy for SANADA, keeping the pace methodical as tried to out-wrestle the other, leading to a long match to close out the evening.
Throughout, Tana worked on SANADA’s legs, perhaps to set up the Cloverleaf, but this ultimately came to nothing as, although SANADA sold well throughout, he was still able to ascend the ropes and nail the Ace with several moonsaults to take the win and stay in the running by the skin of his teeth.
This was a good match but probably went a little too long to sustain the slower pace. A SANADA win was possibly the right thing here, as they seem to be telling the story of Tanahashi being on the down curve of his career and having to face his own mortality.
This was a solid, consistent card that was enjoyable throughout, even if it didn’t seem to hit many real highs. I was never less than entertained, though, and it led nicely into the final stretch of the tournament. If you only watch one match, make it KENTA and YOSHI-HASHI.
1. Kota Ibushi (6-2) (12 pts)
2. Jay White (6-2) (12 pts)
3. Kazuchika Okada (6-2) (12 pts)
4. Will Ospreay (5-3) (10 pts)
5. Taichi (4-4) (8 pts)
6. Jeff Cobb (4-4) (8 pts)
7. Shingo Takagi (3-5) (6 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (3-5) (6 pts)
9. Minoru Suzuki (3-5) (6 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-8) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (6-2) (12 pts)
2. EVIL (6-2) (12 pts)
3. Zack Sabre Jr. (5-3) (10 pts)
4. SANADA (5-3) (10 pts)
5. Hirooki Goto (4-4) (8 pts)
6. KENTA (4-4) (8 pts)
7. Toru Yano (3-5) (6 pts)
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-5) (6 pts)
9. Juice Robinson (3-5) (6 pts)
10. YOSHI-HASHI (1-7) (2 pts)