One year ago we witnessed the final singles match of Jushin Thunder Liger’s career with an epic encounter against Minoru Suzuki and Kazuchika Okada making his final title defense ahead of Wrestle Kingdom where he defeated SANADA in Tokyo Sports’ Best Bout. No one thought it would take a year for us to return to the hallowed halls of Ryogoku Sumo Hall in Tokyo. NJPW were scheduled to host the return of Sakura Genesis in April at Sumo Hall until the company closed down during the spring because of Covid-19. But now New Japan has returned for a three night sprint for the G1 finals. And tonight was the conclusion to A Block.
The results in short:
Yota Tsuji defeated Gabriel Kidd by submission
Yujiro Takahashi (2pts) defeated Jeff Cobb (8pts) by pinfall
Shingo Takagi (8pts) defeated Minoru Suzuki (6pts) by pinfall
Will Ospreay (12pts) defeated Kazuchika Okada (12pts) by pinfall
Kota Ibushi (14pts) defeated Taichi (8pts) by pinfall
Tomohiro Ishii (8pts) defeated Jay White (12pts) by pinfall
Gabriel Kidd v Yota Tsuji
Having predicted in my mind that we might be getting a three way tie at the top of the Young Lion’s unofficial C Block it only took a Giant Swing and Boston Crab for Tsuji to throw that idea out. Kidd and Tsuji delivered a hard hitting contest but Tsuji took the decisive win and block with one night to spare. A big statement from the big man.
C Block standings:
14pts – Yota Tsuji
11pts – Yuya Uemura
9pts – Gabriel Kidd
Yujiro Takahashi v Jeff Cobb
On a night where every match had talking points the G1 opener of the night didn’t disappoint. Yujiro has impressed the last few nights but seemed destined to go away on zero. He managed to make the hard work pay off by defeating Jeff Cobb who had an impressive tournament until this point. Yujiro did get his stick involved in the match and a Pimp Juice later gave him his first and only points of the tournament in a huge upset. Not only that but his win meant that Will Ospreay stayed in contention for a final spot due to some extremely complicated maths and 2nd tiebreakers.
Shingo Takagi v Minoru Suzuki
The only G1 match with no finals implications but a crucial encounter nonetheless. Suzuki took the NEVER Openweight Championship from the Dragon back in August. To get a rematch against the King it was imperative that Shingo got the win tonight which he did thanks to a Last of the Dragon after a heavy hitting encounter. Shingo ends on 8 points which is an improvement over last year and is probably par for a 10 man block. Disappointment for Suzuki as his return to the G1 only sees him pick up 3 wins.
Will Ospreay v Kazuchika Okada
Thanks to Yujio’s win earlier this meant that everything was to play for in this all Chaos encounter. However, that wouldn’t be the talking point at the end of the bout. These two have always had amazing chemistry despite Ospreay’s lack of success. They both went for it and tried to finish the match with Oscutters and Money Clips early. A draping DDT on the floor seemed to crank the violence up as Ospreay employed several brutal kicks to the head. Okada would battle through and use the Money Clip again before Ospreay made the ropes. Ospreay used the Poisonrana and Oscutter as a setup for the Stormbreaker only for Okada to reverse that into another Money Clip but Ospreay escaped again.
It was after a Discus Clothesline and yet another Money Clip that the match turned. Bea Priestley, Ospreay’s real life girlfriend and Stardom competitor, came to ringside to cheer on her partner seemingly. But then she got in the ring which drew the referee. While the ref was distracted a suited figure hit the ring and grabbed Okada around the face and slammed him to the mat. This man was a former Young Lion who had been on excursion to NJPW’s British sister promotion; Revolution Pro Wrestling (who Ospreay is the reigning Heavyweight Champion of by the way) by the name of Great-O-Kharn. A shocked looking Ospreay then hit Stormbreaker for the win and 12 points to stay in the G1, at least for now. As Ospreay started to grin he snuck back in the ring and hit Okada with a Hidden Blade before repeatedly shouting “F**k you!” at him and chastising the Rainmaker for holding him down. Ospreay then left with Priestley and O-Kharn. Backstage Ospreay would declare his resignation from Chaos after 4 and half years and the beginning of his own faction.
Taichi v Kota Ibushi
Okada was now out and Ospreay was still in it, just. Ibushi knew a win would eliminate Ospreay and keep in the conversation before White took on Ishii in the main event. What the Golden Star and the Holy Emperor delivered here may end up being one of the most divisive matches in G1 history. In their almost 20 minute match only 2 moves, which weren’t a kick, were attempted; a back suplex that Ibushi escaped from and a Kamigoye. This was 20 minutes of kicks and nothing else. At all. And most of that was Taichi and Ibushi kicking each other’s thighs into hamburger meat. I’m sure some loved it for being different while others probably hated it for being repetitive. Either way, this match won’t be forgotten soon. A Kamigoye would give Ibushi the 2 points and a reason to stay on the edge of his seat for the final match.
Jay White v Tomohiro Ishii
Jay White knew he needed a win here. With that he would match Ibushi on 14 points but progress to the final due a win over Ibushi earlier in the competition. King Switch began the match trying to irritate Ishii as much as possible in an attempt to create an opening. Eventually White would injure the Stone Pitbull’s taped right knee and that would stay his target for the rest of the match. Gedo would prove a nuisance for Ishii as he prevented an Ishii suplex before White used several Dragon Screws and the TTO to do further damage to Ishii’s knee.
Ishii seemed to reverse the tide when he started going after White’s knees and hooking a kneebar only for Gedo to try and interfere. Ishii would eventually get rid of Gedo and get the Vertical Drop Brainbuster for a huge win and send Ibushi through to his 3rd consecutive G1 final. A furious Jay White would blame his defeat on the referee and pass on his best wishes to Evil for the following night.
Final A Block standings:
14pts – Kota Ibushi
12pts – Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White
8pts – Jeff Cobb, Shingo Takagi, Taichi, Tomohiro Ishii
6pts – Minoru Suzuki
2pts – Yujiro Takahashi
Kota Ibushi wins the block and heads to the G1 Climax 30 Final on Sunday.
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