By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Day 11”
July 30, 2019 in Kagawa, Japan at Tkamatsu City General Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero served as the English broadcast team…
1. Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, and Yota Tsuji beat Tomohiro Ishii, Tomoaki Honma, and Yuya Uemura. Yoshi-Hashi beat Uemura with the Butterfly Lock.
2. Toru Yano and Ren Narita beat Jon Moxley and Shota Umino. Yano rolled up and pinned Umino.
3. Jay White, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi beat Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Owens beat Kanemaru with a package piledriver.
4. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, and Bushi beat Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, and Toa Henare. Takagi beat Henare with a Pumping Bomber.
Powell’s POV: The results of the first four matches are straight from the New Japan website. I am watching the tournament matches listed below from bell to bell.
5. Kota Ibushi vs. Bad Luck Fale (w/Jado, Chase Owens) in an A-Block tournament match. Owens came out selling a left shoulder injury during Fale’s entrance. Kelly pointed out that a draw or a loss would mathematically eliminate Fale. Ibushi was attacked from behind by Fale during the introductions. The referee admonished Fale, allowing Jado and Owens to work over Ibushi at ringside. Fale worked over Ibushi on the floor and returned to the ring. Ibushi had to race back and duck under a Jado kendo stick swing to beat the referee’s 20-count.
Fale continued to wear down Ibushi, who eventually came back with a couple of kicks to the chest, a dropkick on a kneeling Fale, and a standing moonsault for a two count. Ibushi got on a roll, but Jado hit him with a kendo stick while he was running the ropes. Fale followed up with his Grenade finisher for a good near fall. Fale went for the Bad Luck Fall, but Ibushi slipped out and went for a crucifix. Fale held on, then Jado reached in and grabbed Fale to keep him upright. The referee kicked Jado’s hands, then made a two count when Ibushi had him pinned with the crucifix. Ibushi performed a bomaye knee (a/k/a Kinshasa) and a Kamigoye knee and then scored the clean pin…
Kota Ibushi beat Bad Luck Fale in an A-Block match.
Powell’s POV: This was a logical match with Ibushi working from underneath, escaping a couple close calls, and winning in the end. It felt like a night off for Ibushi in that he didn’t have to work a long, grueling match. Perhaps my favorite part of the match was the good statistical talk from Kelly about how Fale’s average match time during his wins has been a little over five minutes, while matches he’s lost have averaged over nine minutes in length. Romero explained that it makes sense that the big man would fade the longer he’s in the ring. I love that type of sports-like discussion and I hope that’s the type of thing that AEW has in mind when they talk about using more analytics.
6. Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in an A-Block match. Romero said this was the match he’d been waiting for all night due to the familiarity the wrestlers have with one another and their conflicting wrestling philosophies. Kelly said it was the first singles match between the two in NJPW, and their first singles match against one another in two years. Ospreay had his neck and right shoulder heavily taped. Ospreay got the early advantage. Sabre threw a fit at ringside by kicking the barricade a couple times. Back inside the ring, Sabre put his feet around the neck of Ospreay and then wrenched his neck in a cool spot.
Sabre targeted the neck of Ospreay with his submission style offense. Ospreay was able to reach the ropes to break one of those holds. Most of the tape that Ospreay was wearing as hanging. Ospreay came back and performed a big dive from the ring onto him at ringside. The broadcast team agreed that Ospreay needed to work a stick and move style against Sabre. Ospreay performed a Robinson Special and then set up for his finisher, but Sabre grabbed him and kicked his arm, then followed up a short time later with a tornado DDT. Sabre toyed with Ospreay with some light kicks. Ospreay called for more, then Sabre blasted him with one. Ospreay called for more and Ospreay obliged with another ick to the chest.
Ospreay blocked a kick, but Sabre slapped him. There was a good sequence where they avoided various moves and strikes, which ended with Ospreay catching Sabre with a kick to the head. Ospreay went for Storm Breaker, but Sabre countered into a pin. They went back and forth with pins, which resulted in near falls. Ospreay went for his OsCutter finisher, but Sabre caught him on the way down in a sleeper. Ospreay pushed off the ropes and into a pin that the referee didn’t count for some reason. Ospreay connected with a high kick and an OsCutter. Ospreay was slow to cover and it only resulted in a near fall.
Ospreay threw another kick to the head and then went for a strike behind Sabre, who ducked it and applied another neck based submission. Ospreay quickly reached the ropes to break it. Sabre blasted Ospreay with an uppercut, then Ospreay came back with a move attempt, which Sabre countered with another sleeper and then moved into a guillotine. Ospreay powered up Sabre out of the guillotine and performed a brainbuster. Sabre avoided a Storm Breaker and rolled Ospreay into a pin for a good near fall. Sabre stood up and hit a PK (kick). Sabre charged at Ospreay in the corner. Ospreay moved and Sabre ended up on the middle rope. Ospreay threw a nice kick and then performed a reverse Bloody Sunday for a near fall.
Ospreay went up top and performed a shooting star press, but Sabre caught him in a triangle on the way down, then rolled him into a submission hold in the middle of the ring. Ospreay powered up Sabre and powerbombed him for a near fall. Ospreay performed a shooting star press onto the back of Sabre and then rolled him over for a near fall. Ospreay showed frustration over not getting the pin. Ospreay kicked Sabre and went for a Storm Breaker, but Sabre countered into an octopus hold, turned it into a modified version of the hold, and Ospray tapped out…
Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Will Ospreay in an A-Block match.
Powell’s POV: A terrific match. This looked great on paper and I found myself wondering if they would find their groove about halfway through the match. My concern was completely ill founded, as they killed it for the remainder of the match. I like that Sabre went over. I’ve given up on Ospreay winning the tournament. And with Ospreay having the out due to the neck injury, they can always have a rematch once he is healthy. Had an injured Ospreay beaten Sabre, then it would have seemed like Ospreay was simply superior.
7. Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer in an A-Block tournament match. Archer attacked Okada and then the bell rang to start the match. Kelly said it was the five year anniversary to the day of when Okada and Archer last met and it happened in the same building. He said the result was Okada beating Archer for the third straight year in the G1. It was all Archer early, as he worked over Okada at ringside and scared a little kid in the front row by yelling at him. The kid was in his mother’s lap and his mom was laughing the entire time.
Archer brought Okada back to the ring and mocked him with his own Rainmaker Post. Archer did the Old School rope walk and flipped off the top rope into a moonsault for a two count. Okada fired back with some uppercuts, but Archer no sold them and fired back with one of his own. Okada threw a dropkick, but Archer swatted him away. A short time later, Okada threw an uppercut, which Romero said was out of desperation. Archer was first to his feet, but Okada ducked a couple of clothesline attempts and hit a back elbow and a sliding dropkick that sent Archer to the floor. Okada performed a pescado. Back inside the ring, Okada DDT’d Archer and covered him for just a one count.
Archer stuffed a Tombstone piledriver attempt, but Okada bodyslammed him moments later. Okada performed a long distance top rope elbow drop. Archer reached up and applied the EBD Claw. Okada was backed into the ropes and thus Archer had to release the claw. Archer performed a Derailer (a/k/a Pounce). Archer went for a Blackout, but Okada slipped away and threw short-arm clotheslines that knocked Archer to his knees. Okada went for a third, but Archer blasted him with a lariat for a near fall. Archer performed a big chokeslam for a good near fall. Archer performed his Blackout finisher and went for the pin, but Okada put his foot on the bottom rope. Archer teased the claw again, but Okada dropkicked him. Archer got up first and charged, only to have Okada dropkick him again.
Archer was up first again and set up for a superplex. Okada punched and forearmed his way out of it and knocked Archer off the ropes. Okada performed a missile dropkick. Okada went for a Tombstone, but Archer countered into his Blackout finisher, but Okada slipped out. Okada blasted Archer with a lariat, but Archer didn’t go down. Archer went for the claw, but Okada blocked it and performed a Rainmaker lariat and got the pin…
Kazuchika Okada defeated Lance Archer in an A-Block match.
Powell’s POV: A nice match. There was more drama than I expected with some good near falls for Archer, who continues to do the best work of his career in this tournament. It was a very good match for Archer and a throwaway outing for Okada if that makes any sense. Okada is now 6-0 in the tournament and Kelly noted that he has gone 13 straight tournament matches without a loss (he had a draw during that stretch last year). In a nice touch, Okada went to ringside and shook the hand of the young fan that Archer tormented earlier.
8. Kenta vs. Sanada in an A-Block tournament match. Kenta was dominant early. Kenta powerslammed Sanada several minutes in and Romero noted that Kenta had been in the driver’s seat the entire match. Kenta performed a springboard missile dropkick, then followed up with a boot to the head in the corner, and a running dropkick on a seated Sanada. Kenta performed a top rope double stomp for a near fall. Kenta applied his Game Over submission finisher, which Romero noted was successful in his win over Lance Archer. Sanada eventually reached the ropes with his foot to break the hold.
Sanada came back with a TKO for a two count. Sanada performed a backbreaker and then performed a Muta moonsault, but Kenta put his knees up. The wrestlers traded forearms shots. Kenta fired some kicks, but Sanada responded with Skull End. Kenta rolled out of the hold and into a sleeper. Kenta released the hold and threw a PK, but Sanada caught his foot. Kenta fired palm strikes at him and then performed the Psycho Knee. Kenta hoisted up Sanada for the GTS, but Sanada slipped out and applied Skull End. Kenta fought free quickly and powered up Sanada for the move again, but Sanada slipped back into Skull End and performed the spinning version before hooking Kenta with his legs on the mat while holding onto Skull End. Sanada released the hold and performed the Muta moonsault for the clean pin…
Sanada beat Kenta in an A-Block match.
Powell’s POV: A solid match. Kenta was made to look dominant throughout the match before he lost in the end. I’m surprised that they gave this one to Sanada, as it creates a lot of distance between Kenta and Okada in the standings, particularly with Okada holding a win over Kenta.
9. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Evil in an A-Block tournament match. Kelly noted that Tanahashi has the record for the best G1 tournament with a 7-1-1 record and 15 points (so Okada is two wins away from breaking it). Kelly said the average match length of a Tanahashi win is 14:42, while the average match length of his losses is 20:20. After an early back and forth feeling out stretch, Evil clotheslined Tanahashi over the top rope to the floor. Evil ran Tanahashi into the barricade, then picked up a chair and wrapped it around Tanahashi’s head. Evil picked up another chair and hit the first chair. Referee Red Shoes watched the whole scenario play out and simply scolded Evil a bit at ringside. Weird.
Powell’s POV: I believe this put Kelly in a tough spot. I don’t remember the match, but I seem to remember a wrestler putting the chair around the neck of his opponent and failing to use a second chair like Evil did, and I believe Kelly said the referee surely would have disqualified the wrestler had he connected with the second chair. Kelly and Romero usually do a good job of trying to explain about blatant moments that should result in disqualifications, but in this case they didn’t even try. I don’t blame them.
Back inside the ring, Evil applied a figure four. Tanahashi reached the ropes to break it. Tanahashi fired back with forearms, but Evil grabbed his left leg and elbowed his knee. Evil went for a senton, but Tanahashi avoided it. Tanahashi threw a flying forearm while Kelly reminded viewers that the shorter the length the better it was for Tanahashi, yet the opposite is true for Evil. Kelly said Evil’s average match length in losses is 13:18, while 17:48 is the average match time for matches he’s won. Tanahashi caught Evil going for a kick and took him down with a dragon screw leg whip. Evil tried to toss a charging Tanahashi over the top rope. Tanahashi skinned the cat and struggled to get back inside the ring, which allowed Evil to perform a German suplex.
Tanahashi rallied with a sling blade clothesline, which sent Evil to the floor. Tanahashi went up top and performed a high fly flow cross body block onto Evil at ringside. Tanahashi came up selling his right knee. Romero said it was a risk that Tanahashi should not have taken. Evil picked up Tanahashi in suplex position, then dropped his legs onto one of the unaware young lions and turned it into a Magic Killer. Both wrestlers returned to the ring at the referee’s 19 count. Tanahashi caught going for a kick, then swung his leg at the referee, who caught it, allowing Tanahashi to dropkick the bad knee. Romero said it was a page out of Evil’s book. Tanahashi performed a dragon screw leg whip, and went for a cloverleaf and then a Scorpion leg lock, which Evil frantically fought to avoid by blocking it and then reaching the ropes.
Tanahashi whipped Evil toward the corner, but Evil reversed it and Tanahashi limped as he ran. Tanahashi limped as he ran the ropes and was blasted by a lariat from Evil. Kelly noted that they had passed the 15:00 mark and once again played up the idea that it was bad for Tanahashi given his average match time history in losses. Evil performed a superplex from the top rope for a near fall. Evil hoisted up Tanahashi and slammed him down for another near fall. Romero said Evil needed one last shot to put Tanahashi away. Evil signaled for his finisher, but Tanahashi blocked it and performed his twist and shout neckbreaker three times. Tanahashi got a two count off a sling blade clothesline. Tanahashi went up top and went for a high fly flow frogsplash, but Evil put his knees and up and rolled him over for a strong near fall.
Both men got to their feet and traded forearm flurries. Evil leveled Tanahashi with a lariat for a near fall just past the 20:00 mark. Evil waited for Tanahashi to get up and then ran the ropes and nailed him with a running lariat that resulted in another good near fall. Evil made a throat slashing gesture. The wrestlers jockeyed for position and Evil caught Tanahashi with a headbutt. Evil let out a primal scream and went for his finisher, but Tanahashi countered into a dragon suplex and a bridge for a great near fall. Tanahashi went up top and performed a high fly flow crossbody block, then went up top again and hit the high fly flow frogasplash for the 1-2-3…
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Evil in an A-Block match.
After the match, Evil was helped to the back. Tanahashi eventually got to his feet and sold a knee injury. Tanahashi was on the verge of leaving, but the fans cheered and he took the mic and delivered a promo in Japanese. One of the young lions threw the “invisible” guitar into the ring, and then Tanahashi played air guitar. Tanahashi stopped to sell the right knee. He got back to his feet and then went to the ropes and played to the crowd, then went back to playing air guitar. Tanahashi left the ring and celebrated with fans at ringside while Kelly noted that Romero had already left the broadcast table because he’s so popular in Japan that he had an autograph signing to get to. Kelly also thanked a fan on Twitter for sending him some stats, and said one of his greatest thrills of calling pro wrestling over the years has been calling Tanahashi matches…
Powell’s POV: I really enjoyed this match. I was lukewarm on it going in and it started slow, but the match just kept getting better the longer it went. Evil’s near falls were great and made me a believer more than once even though I suspected Tanahashi would win to keep him in the upper mix of the standings. This felt like a big match for Evil even though he took the loss. Overall, this was a good night of tournament matches with the main event and the Ospreay vs. Sabre matches being the standouts, and only Ibushi vs. Fale feeling truly missable.
The scoring for the round robin tournament is two points for a victory, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss.
The A-Block Standings: Kazuchika Okada has 12 points, Kenta, Kota Ibushi, and Hiroshi Tanahashi have 8 points, Evil has 6 points, Lance Archer Zack Sabre Jr., Sanada, and Will Ospreay have 4 points, Bad Luck Fale has 2 points.
The B-Block Standings: Jon Moxley has 10 points, Tomohiro Ishii and Juice Robinson have 6 points, and Jay White, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Jeff Cobb, and Taichi have 4 points.
The B-Block resumes Thursday in Fukuoka, Japan at Fukuoka Prefectural Gymnasium with the following matches: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto, Taichi vs. Jay White, Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito, Toru Yano vs. Jon Moxley, and Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi.
The A-Block resumes Saturday in Osaka, Japan at Prefectural Gymnasium with the following matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Sanada, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay vs. Evil, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lance Archer, and Kenta vs. Bad Luck Fale.