Tonight’s G1 card sees us return to A Block, where we get the first meeting of Jeff Cobb and Kota Ibushi, plus a big hoss fight between Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi in the main event. Let’s head to the ring and get things underway!
If you’ve happened to have missed any of our previous G1 coverage, use the links below:
Preliminary Match: Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
We open tonight with the third match, I believe, in this tournament between Uemura and Tsuji. At this point, it’s even Stevens between all the Young Lions competing here at the G1.
This was nothing especially different from their previous matches; basic but compelling mat-and-striking action. But there were a couple of moves, both by Tsuji, that really stood out.
Near the end, Tsuji decimated Uemura with an absolutely killer spear. He then nailed Uemura with the Giant Swing, taking a leaf out of the Cesaro playbook. Nice.
The Boston crab put Uemura out of his misery. Will Gabriel Kidd face the same misery when he wrestles Tsuji and his Andre the Giant retro haircut tomorrow?
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki
Look, I know I’m a Suzuki mark, but don’t let it be said of me that I’m sycophantic…
I wasn’t the biggest fan of this. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t awful or anything. But I didn’t find it terribly exciting either. It started off at a fast-enough pace, with Suzuki getting right in Takahashi’s face before the two men traded boots to the face. They quickly found themselves outside, where Takahashi threw Suzuki into the guard rail then throttled him with his cane.
Suzuki took over and sent Takahashi outside for his own encounter with the guard rail, plus two chairs and a choking with a camera cable.
All fine and good, but once they returned to the ring again, the match seemed a bit half-hearted. To be fair, it was short and Suzuki won with the Gotch-style piledriver, so certainly not a matter of doom and gloom. It was just…there. Just don’t tell Suzuki because he’ll kill me!
Kota Ibushi vs. Jeff Cobb
I really enjoyed this one. A first-time match, as far as I’m aware, it pitted Cobb’s strength against Kota’s speed. It was interesting to see how the match escalated through stages quite quickly, as they started on the mat, Cobb going for the wrist and Kota going for the head scissors before they quickly turned to strikes—Cobb with the elbows, Kota with kicks—before an overhead belly to belly suplex gave him an advantage.
From there, Kota used his athleticism to take over, taking Cobb outside with a hurricanrana, hitting a plancha outside, and leaping over a charging Cobb to hit a double stomp.
This didn’t derail the Cobb power train, though, as Cobb came out with the big moves: a leaping uppercut; a standing moonsault; an F5; a series of big rolling gut wrench suplexes. Cobb really looked like the beast we know he can be. Which perhaps makes it a little deflating that it only took a knee and a Kamigoye for Kota to take the win. I will say I do think Kota will get the big push out of this G1, so I will reserve judgement on the finish. But otherwise, a really enjoyable match.
Taichi vs. Kazuchika Okada
There was a time I couldn’t stand Taichi. Now I really look forward to his matches, such has been his improvement over the last 12 months.
He started off strong against Okada here, attacking as soon as the bell rang and sending him to the outside and into the guard rail and the ring post. Taichi couldn’t grab a chair, so El Desperado on commentary offered his chair, which distracted the ref and allowed Taichi to hit Okada with a different chair.
Back in the ring, Taichi kicked Okada like a dog, until Okada came back with boots to the face to counter a charge, followed up by a running uppercut and a jumping dropkick to Taichi sitting on the top turnbuckle, knocking him to the outside. Taichi drove Okada into the guard rail, but Okada returned the compliment and nails Taichi with a DDT onto the unforgiving concrete.
A top rope dropkick found nothing but mat for Okada. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a single-leg crab—complete with disdainful head kicks—didn’t stop Okada, as he countered a powerbomb attempt with a neck breaker slam. Taichi became difficult to hit, dodging out of a charge into the corner and a dropkick. Intriguingly, the crowd seemed to be as much behind Taichi, to my ears, as they are Okada. They even clapped when he takes his trousers off (but then, don’t we all…)
Both men were starting to tire and were looking for big moves to end things. Okada hit a Rainmaker and kept the wrist. A second Rainmaker attempt was countered by Taichi pulling in the referee and cracking Okada in his personal rainmakers. Eventually, Taichi went for Black Mephisto but Okada countered into the Money Clip. Taichi escaped, so Okada locked it in again, taking Taichi down with a modified backbreaker. The ref called for the bell, ending the match by stoppage.
This was a really strong match, one in which Taichi continued to make his star shine. He really does look like he could be a headliner now, whereas I wouldn’t have said that 12 months ago. It’s also interesting to note Taichi never tapped out, rather the ref called for the bell. Will that little detail come back into play at a later date?
Jay White vs. Will Ospreay
Jay’s crowd-baiting routine—mocking the crowd for not being able to join in with the ‘too sweet’—is great fun. Even Ospreay had a smile at that.
Jay started by trying to get to the floor, but he soon found himself chopping Ospreay in the corner. Ospreay returned the favour and clotheslined Jay to the outside of the ring. Ospreay went for the dive but bounced back off the ropes into the ring and into his usual pose. The showoff.
Jay then sent Ospreay to the outside, via a nasty bump to the apron, and threw him twice into the guard rail. Back in the ring, Jay unleashed some stomps and went into a half crab. A bodyslam and leg drop only got a one-count.
Ospreay fought out of a headlock, only to find himself taken down with a Dragon Screw. A handspring knocked White down, but Ospreay appeared to be limping. He hit his own leg for feeling before nailing a standing shooting star press. Another dive to the outside is derailed as Gedo pulls Jay out of the way.
Jay nailed Ospreay with a great DDT as Will tried to get back into the ring. A Tiger flip from Ospreay seemed to hurt his leg even more and he was seeing clutching at the limb and limping after an enziguiri. He somehow climbed to the top but Jay countered his leap with a crisp flat liner, followed by a big release German suplex. A superplex attempt followed, but Ospreay escaped and nailed a springboard dropkick. The leg couldn’t have been hurting him that much then…
It was back to the outside for Jay, but Ospreay was relentless, flattening both Jay and Gedo with a handspring moonsault. A springboard 450 followed for a near-fall. Jay unloaded with fists, only to be superkicked, to which Jay came back with a uranage and a Kiwi Krusher for a near-fall of his own.
A Blade Runner attempt is flipped out of by Ospreay, only for Jay to escape the Oscutter and attempt another Blade Runner, to which Ospreay escaped and finally hit the OsCutter! Great sequence. Elbows and punches followed to a grounded Jay, before the ‘Switchblade’ intentionally pulled the ref down with his legs, allowing Gedo to sneak in. Ospreay cracked him with an elbow that really was ‘too sweet’. White hit a low blow that seemed to have no effect on Will’s balls of steel?!? A series of counters and reversals follow, and Ospreay finally nails the Hidden Blade and the Storm Breaker for the pinfall victory.
This was a great match, whatever my feelings about Ospreay. He seemed to tone down the aerial offence, which I was surprised about, but it worked well with White and proved he can wrestle other types of match. Jay, meanwhile, never felt like he had complete control of the match, but his offence looked sharp and crisp as always. Second best Match of the night.
And the first?…
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi
I would never have expected that we would get this far into the G1 with Shingo only having one win and Ishii none. Could Ishii get that first win here?
Shoulder blocks started, then a barrage of forearms before it was back to the shoulder blocks—the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Shingo gets knocked down, so he moves to chops. Ishii knocks him down again and hits a big kick to the back—and Shingo asked for more!
Outside, Shingo was sent into the guard rail, which has seen a lot of punishment today. Ishii was then sent into the rail, only to bounce back and charge into a Shingo clothesline that took both men down! Elbow drops and jabs followed, as did a knee drop to cement a Shingo advantage.
A chop fest followed and the crowd actually clapped in time with the chops! Amazing. A suplex took Shingo down, and an absolute onslaught of fists and forearms followed in the corner. Shingo returned fire with some big shots and followed up with a big back suplex to match.
At which point Ishii asks Shingo to kick him in the head. Shingo obliges and Ishii responds by battering Shingo in the corner again. Shingo returned the favour, smashing Ishii with several chops in the other corner before hitting a kind of wheelbarrow suplex. Shingo set the rhythm for the crowd’s clapping by chanting “oi, oi, oi!” before he and Ishii knocked each other down with a series of big clotheslines.
Ishii hit a clothesline in the corner before an impressively massive superplex took Shingo down. Shingo returned fire with a modified gutbuster, a DDT, Made in Japan and a pumping bomber in an impressive sequence. Two backdrop drivers brought Ishii a little time, and a big powerbomb bought him a near-fall. Two lariats and a full nelson suplex weren’t enough to put Shingo away, as he kicked out and up onto his feet, only to fall down again into a heap! Call it a survival instinct.
Ishii misses an enziguiri and Shingo punishes him for it with a massive elbow to the back of the head. This lead to both men on all fours like animals, butting heads. A series of Shingo forearms followed before Ishii had his turn. An absolutely nasty Pumping Bomber earned Shingo another near-fall. Ishii counters a Last of the Dragon attempt with a lariat and counters a further attempt with a swinging DDT. Stereo clotheslines follow and Ishii finally nails the enziguiri. A lariat follows, and finally, the Sheer Drop Brainbuster seals Shingo’s fate and gives Ishii the well-deserved win, although I would have said the same had Shingo won.
This was an excellent main event, the match I really wanted Shingo and Cobb to be last week, and a match that showcased both hard-hitting hoss fighting and big high-impact wrestling. It was brutal and it was full-on, a true heavyweight spectacle to end the night. And Ishii got his first win of the tournament!
After a bit of a misstep—Suzuki-Takahashi was a bit lightweight—the card picked up with Ibushi-Cobb, and every match seemed to improve on the last. This created a lovely building-up effect, which felt like it really did pay off with that excellent main event between Ishii and Shingo. A slow burner of a card but very much a rewarding one.
1. Jay White (3-1) (6 pts)
2. Taichi (3-1) (6 pts)
3. Will Ospreay (3-1) (6 pts)
4. Minoru Suzuki (3-1) (6 pts)
5. Kota Ibushi (3-1) (6 pts)
6. Kazuchika Okada (2-2) (4 pts)
7. Jeff Cobb (1-3) (2 pts)
8. Shingo Takagi (1-3) (2 pts)
9. Tomohiro Ishii (1-3) (2 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-4) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (3-0) (6 pts)
2. Toru Yano (3-0) (6 pts)
3. Juice Robinson (2-1) (4 pts)
4. KENTA (2-1) (4 pts)
5. Zack Sabre Jr. (1-2) (2 pts)
6. Hirooki Goto (1-2) (2 pts)
7. EVIL (1-2) (2 pts)
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-2) (2 pts)
9. YOSHI-HASHI (1-2) (2 pts)
10. SANADA (0-3) (0 pts)