We’re heading towards the end of the G1 here, and we’re reaching a point where we’ll start to see who’ll pull away and lead the pack. Today, Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay and Jay White will all be aiming to consolidate their place at the top of A Block.
There’s no time to lose, 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!
Will Ospreay vs. Jeff Cobb
This match falls amongst a category of a few matches in this year’s G1 that have told a compelling story but has not at all been gripping in its action.
Ospreay perhaps told the clearest version yet of the story of his struggle to compete in the heavyweight range. He couldn’t do much damage to Cobb with strikes and power moves so his reliance on aerial moves comes back to the fore. The problem for Will is that he’s not as fast as he used to be so Cobb is able to catch him at times, like in the latter part of the match where Will couldn’t land the OsCutter. Cobb just threw Ospreay around like a rag doll whenever he could get his hands on him.
Tour of the Islands eventually sealed Will’s fate and ended a passable match. It will be interesting to see how Ospreay comes back in the next match.
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kota Ibushi
This was another match that, while fine on the surface, was less than compelling by the end. The problem is Takahashi—when he has the advantage, matches tend to slow to a crawl.
Here he utilised his usual hair pulling and finger biting shtick, as well as throwing Kota into the guard rail. Kota, as always, looked crisp with his offence, and he hit a nasty double stomp on Takahashi’s shoulder to avoid a low dropkick. Takahashi did do something impressive, to be fair, when he hit a brainbuster off the top turnbuckle, followed by one from the mat for a near-fall.
The Kamigoye earned Kota victory in the end, but the result was never in doubt.
Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi
This was a match that started a little slowly to my mind but soon picked up into a bruising battle that saw both men batter each other with high-impact moves and big clotheslines.
Taichi lulled Shingo out near the start and attacked him with the timekeeper’s hammer and a camera wire, but thankfully the cheating was kept to a minimum after that. There was a low blow attempt but Shingo caught Taichi’s foot and countered into a Gedo clutch.
Shingo brought some solid elbows and chops to Taichi, nailing him with a noshigami, Made in Japan and a Pumping Bomber. Taichi, meanwhile, made his presence felt by nailing Shingo with a nice enziguri, an Axe Bomber, a Dangerous backdrop driver and even his own Last of the Dragon! Impressive.
Shingo seemed to have control at the end, but a superkick and Black Mephisto was enough to put Shingo down. I honestly didn’t expect Taichi to win, not because I thought he wasn’t capable or deserving, but because I thought the New Japan office would be behind Shingo. Taichi is definitely someone who will leave the G1 with his stock higher than it was beforehand.
Jay White vs. Minoru Suzuki
This was a match that will see your mileage vary. I know there are already positive reviews out there, and I understand why, but I found this a little too slow-paced for my liking. Or maybe not slow-paced, rather I didn’t feel there was any urgency in the action. The Bullet Club shenanigans were here in force, too, which detracted from my enjoyment. A shame, because I liked the story that Suzuki and the Switchblade were telling in the ring.
Suzuki was very much all business here. He grounded White early on and wore him down until Gedo distracted Suzuki, allowing White to attack from behind and send Suzuki outside. A trip to the guard rail and a choke with a camera cable followed. This seemed to only p**s Suzuki off more.
Back in the ring, White had flurries of offence but Suzuki was undeterred. Gedo distracted the ref, allowing White to try and attack with a chair, but Suzuki disarmed him and gave White a good pasting with the chair.
White managed to get finally get an advantage by taking out Suzuki’s knee, following up with a chop block and dragon screws to try and disable his fearsome opponent. Suzuki came back with some fierce forearms that looked genuinely agonizing. Suzuki tried for a rear-naked choke, followed by a Gotch-style piledriver attempt, which White countered with a dragon suplex. But he couldn’t escape a cross armbar…
That is until Gedo distracted the ref so that he didn’t see Jay tapping out. Suzuki smacked Gedo to the floor and countered a Blade Runner attempt and going once more for the Gotch-style piledriver. The win looked certain, but Gedo distracted the ref, allowing Jay to hit a low blow and a Blade Runner to finally get the pinfall.
Like I say, your mileage will vary. I did like the idea that an all-business Suzuki would terrify Jay to the point he had to have help to win. But in practice, the idea wasn’t as perfect…
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Okada has been a contentious figure during this G1 Climax. There’s been talk that Okada has not been at his best during the tournament, but I would argue that in his last match against Shingo, and in this match here with Ishii, we have seen a bit of the Okada of the old, which is great of course, but there’s been a recurring problem in all of his matches that cropped up again here and it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later because it is affecting Okada’s matches.
First, the good news—this was a really good main event. Ishii and Okada have great chemistry together, which was clear by the number of counters and reversals throughout the match. Ishii was his usual physical self, battering Okada with furious strikes and big impact moves like a German suplex right into the turnbuckle pad. I was actually rooting for Ishii by the end because he was so viciously compelling.
Okada, meanwhile, utilised his athleticism and comparative speed to hit big dropkicks, while utilising moves like his tombstone piledriver and the Rainmaker. And herein lies the problem.
It takes me out of the story being told if I know a wrestler is focussing on a move that is less effective than his tried and tested finisher. I get that wrestlers might want to keep their move sets fresh to prevent the audience from getting bored with them. But you never saw Ric Flair, for instance, swap out his Figure Four. Or when you saw Steve Austin swap the Million Dollar Dream for the Stunner, you knew he was trading up to something more effective and lethal.
With Okada, you know that the Money Clip (Cobra Clutch) is nowhere near as effective as the Rainmaker, which he has won many an important match with. The fact that it took Okada five attempts to lock it in before Ishii succumbed to it lowers its value further. At least wear your opponent down enough that when you apply it the first time, it does the job. Or have your opponent try and desperately scramble out of it to put over how deadly the move is. Neither of these things tend to happen.
A really good match but something needs to be done about the Money Clip.
This card did more for me on paper than it did in actuality. Cobb/Ospreay and Ibushi/Takahashi weren’t bad matches, but they didn’t go anywhere exciting. Suzuki/White told a good story but elements of the booking left a lot to be desired. And Okada/Ishii was very good but hampered by the Money Clip. Only the Shingo/Taichi match, I’d argue, was an unqualified success. If you only one match, watch that one.
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. Minoru Suzuki (3-5) (6 pts)
7. Shingo Takagi (3-5) (6 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (3-5) (6 pts)
9. Jeff Cobb (4-4) (8 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-8) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (5-2) (10 pts)
2. EVIL (5-2) (10 pts)
3. Hirooki Goto (4-3) (8 pts)
4. SANADA (4-3) (8 pts)
5. Zack Sabre Jr. (4-3) (8 pts)
6. Juice Robinson (3-4) (6 pts)
7. Toru Yano (3-4) (6 pts)
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-4) (6 pts)
9. KENTA (3-4) (6 pts)
10. YOSHI-HASHI (1-6) (2 pts)