Night four of the 26th G1 Climax featured matches from the tournament’s B BLOCK. The stories evolving from the B BLOCK have been the surprising flourishing of Tomoaki Honma and YOSHI-HASHI; the renewed late-period career of Yuji Nagata; and the unexpected early match losses taken by favorites Kenny Omega and Katsuyori Shibata. Here’s the rundown from night four.
Tomoaki Honma vs. YOSHI-HASHI started off the night and continued the story of Honma’s early G1 victories and YOSHI-HASHI’s surprising uptick in his in-ring output. The match consisted of an early, evenly-matched back and forth exchange of forearm smashes, knife-edge chops, and trading of shoulder blocks. Honma caught an early advantage with a suplex that got a two count. Honma continued with ax-handle smashes and forearms to the back of YOSHI-HASHI’s head but missed with a falling headbutt off the ropes after which HASHI went on the offensive.
HASHI is becoming more confident and aggressive during this tournament as he went on an aggressive attack against Honma outside of the ring. A couple of Irish whips into and the draping of Honma’s throat over the security railing later and both men were back on the inside. From there it was Honma looking for his signature power moves to put HASHI away and the smaller HASHI chaining together suplexes and kicks. Ultimately though, Honma was able to hit a flying headbutt from the apron back into the ring which set up the Kokeshi Otoshi (over-the-shoulder-Tombstone Piledriver) followed by a top rope headbutt for the win.
Night four’s second match featured Los Ingobernables’ EVIL vs. Yuji Nagata. EVIL ambushed Nagata as he made his way into the ring, achieving an early advantage which he did not relent for the majority of the match. He worked over Nagata’s left knee for the majority of the match, including one spot that saw him beating it with a steel chair after having locked Nagata’s head into the furniture and bouncing him off the ringpost while on the outside. Nagata managed to fend off the younger EVIL however and after a finishing sequence of a side suplex followed by a flurry of kicks and strikes; ending with a bridging side suplex; got the three count and another win.
The third match saw Kenny Omega taking on Toru Yano. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good comedy spot in wrestling and even a good comedy match but I don’t think it has a place in what is supposed to be the preeminent pro wrestling tournament on the planet. And comedy’s all Yano has been good for this tournament. Yes, it has been funny I think it’s pointless having him in this tournament and so if he continues to serve mainly as that I’m just going to tell you the outcome of his matches as there’s nothing really worthwhile to review with any of them. Kenny Omega won with a running knee trembler.
The fourth match of the night was Katsuyori Shibata vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima. NOAH’s Nakajima looked impressive here again, though this time his efforts weren’t enough to get a win against Shibata. I’ve been critical of Shibata’s matches as boring and one-dimensional but I preferred his matchup against Nakajima much more than his previous match against Honma. The two began tentatively with Nakajima feinting some kicks which Shibata blocked. This was followed by a slow lockup and grapple where Shibata took the advantage with knee strikes to the midsection followed by a snapmare into a head scissors and triangle arm bar attempt.
Nakajima was able to drag himself to the ropes for a break and the action went to the outside. Nakajima took the lead with superior strikes (he’s not called “Genius of the Kick” for nothing) including one nasty spot wherein Nakajima locked Shibata’s arm into the bars of the steel railing and delivered a vicious front kick into the appendage. The crowd began voicing their support for Shibata who mustered up the vigor needed to mount a comeback. The two traded repeated running strikes and chops for the next few minutes, punctuated by suplexes and a few submission attempts by Shibata who eventually won the match via pinfall after landing a PK to a seated Nakajima.
The night’s final match pitted Los Ingobernables de Japon leader Testsuya Naito against current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Michael Elgin. Naito was much more serious here than in his previous match against Nagata and went on the offensive early inside the ring but his strikes had little effect on the stronger, bigger Elgin. Naito achieved a brief advantage when he lured Elgin to the apron where he snuck in a few successful strikes to Elgin’s knee. Elgin shook it off however and put Naito on the mat with a powerful delayed vertical suplex. Naito blocked Elgin’s next attack however and went back to striking the knee. Elgin rolled out of the ring where Naito chased after, connecting with a running missile dropkick to Elgin’s knee and then draped Big Mike’s hurt leg over the railing for another striking attack.
Naito continued his relentless kicks to Elgin’s knee once back inside the ring, going to that attack whenever his other move choices were blocked or powered out of by Elgin. This pattern continued for the remainder of the match, with Naito looking for winning signature moves and Elgin powering out and returning with attacks of his own. Eventually though, Naito wore Big Mike down and scored the win with two instances of his finishing Destino (standing backflip, three quarter, reverse DDT).