By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Day 15”
August 7, 2019 in Shizuoka, Japan at Hamamatsu Arena
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero served as the English broadcast team…
1. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Toru Yano, Yota Tsuji, and Yuya Uemura. Kanemaru beat Uemura with a Boston Crab.
2. Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi beat Jon Moxley and Shota Umino. Yoshi-Hashi beat Umino with the Butterfly Lock.
3. Jay White, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi beat Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma, and Toa Henare. Owens used a package piledriver to beat Henare.
4. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, and Bushi beat Tomohiro Ishii, Jeff Cobb, and Ren Narita. Bushi hit MX on Narita and pinned him.
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. Sanada vs. Lance Archer in an A-Block tournament match. Kelly noted that both men were already eliminated from the tournament. He said Archer wants to beat the man who beat the man, and Sanada wants another match Kazuchika Okada. Archer entered first and then attacked Sanada during his entrance. Archer’s behavior was rewarded by the referee calling for the bell to start the match while Archer was roughing up Sanada at ringside. Ugh. Archer brought Sanada to the ring where Sanada came back and hit a leaping huracanrana. A short time later, Archer avoided pescado at ringside, then returned to the apron and performed a diving shoulder block onto Sanada. Back inside the ring, Archer performed a Blackhole Slam for a two count.
Kelly noted that Sanada had logged the most match time of anyone in the tournament coming into the match with a total time of two hours, 19 minutes, and 47 seconds. Kelly plugged Chris Samsa’s G1Boxscore.com. Sanada rallied while Kelly spoke about how he is becoming one of the most popular wrestlers in NJPW. There was a good sequence with Sanada springboarding into a chokeslam attempt, but backflipping out of it and going for Skull End only to have Archer counter into a reverse DDT that led to a two count.
Archer chokeslammed Sanada and got another two count. Archer went for a moonsault, but Sanada rolled out of the way. Sanada went up top and went for a Muta moonsault, but Archer put his knees up and rolled him into a pin for a near fall. Sanada came right back with a backflip off the middle rope into Skull End, which Archer broke and applied the EBD Claw. Sanada reached the ropes to break the claw. Archer set Sanada on the top rope and went for his Blackout finisher. Sanada countered into a Skull End, which Archer escaped. Sanada avoided a Derailer and then rolled up Archer and bridged into a pin for the three count…
Sanada defeated Lance Archer in an A-Block tournament match.
Powell’s POV: A good tournament opening match with Archer continuing the best stretch of his career and Sanada wisely getting the followup pin after beating Okada in his last tournament match. Sanada faces Bad Luck Fale in his last tournament match, so I assume that he will be finishing the tournament strong, which is a nice story to tell for him as one of the early eliminated wrestlers.
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale (w/Jado, Chase Owens) in an A-Block tournament match. Kelly and Romero spoke of how surprising it was that Tanahashi entered this match eliminated from the tournament given his long history of success. Tanahashi was posing on the ropes before the match when he was attacked from behind. Tanahashi skinned the cat and went after Fale. Tanahashi ran the ropes and took a kendo stick to the back from Jado while Fale distracted referee Marty Asami. Owens worked over Tanahashi at ringside. Fale went to ringside and went to work on Tanahashi’s knee, which included wrapping it around the ring post.
Later, Tanahashi went for a sunset flip, but Fale sat down on him for a two count. Fale followed up with a running splash for a near fall. The crowd rallied behind Tanahashi. Fale set up for the Grenade, but Tanahashi slipped into a twist and shout neckbreaker. Tanahashi hit him with a sling blade clothesline for a two count. Tanahashi went up top and performed a High Fly Flow frogsplash. Tanahashi went up top again. Owens distracted the referee while Jado hit Tanahashi with a kendo stick to knock him off the apron. Fale performed a Grenade for a two count. Fale followed up with a Bad Luck Fall attempt, but Tanahashi slipped into backslide attempt, but he couldn’t power the big man over. Fale reversed into a backslide of his own and pinned him…
Bad Luck Fale defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in an A-Block tournament match.
Powell’s POV: Wow. Who didn’t have Tanahashi penciled in as the winner? We got the usual Bullet Club interference and it was enough to stop Tanahashi from hitting the second part of his High Fly Flow finisher, but I still just assumed Tanahashi would rally to win. I’m curious to see where this leads, as they are telling a story with Tanahashi’s tournament struggles. Meanwhile, NJPW does a better job than any of the major promotions when it comes to presenting their product as a simulated sport. But one area where they come up short is the referees rewarding the heels for attacking the babyfaces prior to the match by then immediately starting the match. Imagine how silly it would be if that were to happen in boxing or MMA.
7. Will Ospreay vs. Kenta in an A-Block tournament match. Kelly noted that Ospreay was eliminated, and Kenta was barely alive and needed a four-way tiebreaker to occur to have a chance. Ospreay’s neck and shoulder were taped and the broadcast team recapped the details of the stinger he suffered early in the tournament. Kenta took Ospreay to ringside and threw him into the barricade several times, then threw a running kick that knocked him over the barricade. Kenta bodyslammed Ospreay on the exposed floor in an aisle and then threw some kicks to the back of Ospreay. Kenta brought Ospreay back to ringside and ran him into the ring post, then threw him back inside the ring and covered him for a two count.
Ospreay got back to his feet and the both men fired away with forearms. Kenta got the better of it and threw a kick at Ospreay’s chest, then ran him into the ropes and delivered a knee that flipped Ospreay over, which led to Kenta covering him for a two count. Ospreay knocked Kenta down with a flying forearm. Ospreay went for a shoulder block from between the ropes, but Kenta caught him and turned it into a draping DDT that led to a two count. Kenta placed Ospreay over the top rope and went for a top rope knee drop, but Ospreay moved and Kenta crashed and burned. Ospreay went for a Storm Breaker, but Kenta stuffed it and tried to backdrop him, but Ospreay landed on his feet and performed a handspring into the ropes and came off with a nice kick that sent Kenta to ringside.
Ospreay ran the ropes, but Kenta returned to the apron and put him in a choke while dragging him to the apron. Kenta performed a falcon arrow on apron that sent both men tumbling to the floor. Kenta returned to the ring, then Ospreay returned at referee Red Shoes’s 19 count. A short time later, Kenta performed a top rope double stomp for a good near fall. Ospreay sold it wonderfully by coughing and holding his ribs and abdomen. Ospreay hit an enzuigiri, but Kenta came right back with a flying knee. The wrestlers got to their knees and traded forearms, then got to their feet and continued. Ospreay started getting the better of it, but Kenta caught him with a punch instead. Kenta applied a guillotine. When Ospreay started to escape, Kenta turned it into a rear naked choke. Kenta gave up the choke and went for a PK kick, but Ospreay avoided it and executed a powerbomb for a near fall.
Ospreay went up top and went for a shooting star press, but Kenta put his knees up. Kenta applied a crossface. Ospreay struggled and eventually reached the ropes to break it. Kenta hit a Psycho Knee for a near fall. Kenta lowered his knee pad and made the throat slash gesture. Kenta went for the GTS, but Ospreay countered into a pin for a two count. Ospreay threw a kick to the head and followed up with an OsCutter for a near fall. Ospreay made the throat slash gesture and went for the Storm Breaker, but Kenta avoided it. Ospreay avoided a Kenta kick and then caught him with one of his own. Ospreay drilled Kenta with an elbow to the back of the head. Ospreay hit the Storm Breaker and scored the clean pin.
Will Ospreay defeated Kenta in an A-Block tournament match.
After the match, Ospreay bowed to Kenta, who got up and shook hands and patted Ospreay on the stomach before leaving the ring. The broadcast team agreed that they would like to see the match again…
Powell’s POV: A very good match with some legit mystery and suspense over who would score the pin. I thought they might go with Kenta to set him up as a challenger for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Instead, Kenta’s losing ways continues following his hot start. That said, Kenta had the majority of the offense and the match was entertaining enough that they could easily go back to Ospreay vs. Kenta in a title match at some point.
8. Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in an A-Block tournament match. Kelly noted that Sabre was eliminated from the tournament, but he could play spoiler as he did last year when he defeated Tetsuya Naito on the final night of block play to eliminate him from the tournament. Kelly also played up Ibushi’s ankle injury. Kelly said an Ibushi loss in this match and an Okada win in the main event would give Okada the block. Sabre teased a clean rope break early, then threw a kick at the bad ankle, but Ibushi saw it coming and ended up getting the better of an exchange. Sabre came back quickly and went to work on Ibushi’s injured left ankle.
Later, Ibushi performed a powerslam and quickly went to the ropes, but Sabre dropkicked his leg out from under him and then worked over the bad ankle in the ropes. Ibushi came back with a series of strikes and then performed a backflip into double knees into the abdomen of Sabre, which led to a two count. Sabre came right back with an STF and various holds that he switched into before Ibushi stood up to break it. Ibushi blasted Sabre with a lariat around the 10:00 mark. The wrestlers jockeyed for position and Ibushi got the better of it with a suplex into a bridge for a two count. Kelly noted that Ibushi was only able to use one leg while performing the move. Ibushi performed a Last Ride powerbomb for another two count. Ibushi clutched his ankle, then set up for the kamigoye, but Sabre avoided it and rolled Ibushi into a calf crusher. Ibushi reached the ropes to break the hold.
Sabre threw some kicks at Ibushi, who caught his leg. Sabre continued to throw light strikes until Ibushi knocked him down with a palm strike. Ibushi went for a bomaye (Kinshasa), but Sabre moved and Ibushi crashed into the corner. Sabre tried three different rollups for good near falls. Sabre slapped Ibushi, who dropped him with a kick. Ibushi performed the bomaye for a two count. Ibushi drilled Sabre with a kamigoye knee and then pinned him clean…
Kota Ibushi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in an A-Block tournament match.
Powell’s POV: A good match with the expected Ibushi win to guarantee that he and Okada will meet in a winner take all match on Saturday to determine the A-Block winner. Kelly noted on commentary that Evil is still alive because he would win a three-way tiebreaker if the wrestlers all ended up tied at 12 points, but that would take Evil winning his last two matches and the Okada vs. Ibushi match going to a double count-out or a double DQ or something that resulted in neither man getting any points.
9. Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil in an A-Block tournament match. After the early feeling out start in the ring, Evil ran Okada into the ringside barricade and then clotheslined him over it. Back inside the ring, Okada went on the offensive and then hushed the crowd as he went to the top rope. Evil avoided whatever Okada was going for. Okada ended up tied up in the opposite corner’s ropes and then Evil stomped him onto the mat and played to the crowd and pounded the mat. Evil performed a Bronco Buster (minus thrusting) in the corner and covered Okada for a two count at the 10:00 mark.
Evil charged at Okada, who put him down with a flapjack. The wrestlers jockeyed for position. Evil caught Okada going for a kick, threw his leg at referee Red Shoes, who caught it, then Evil threw a thrust kick at Okada’s abdomen to knock him down. Okada caught Evil charging and put him down with a sidewinder neckbreaker. Okada slammed Evil and then followed up with a top rope elbow drop. Okada struck the Rainmaker pose. Evil stuffed it by backing Okada into the corner and then throwing several elbows at him. Evil charged at Okada, who caught him, placed him on the top rope, and then dropkicked him to the floor. Romero said Okada looked awesome and added that it had been all Okada (even though the match seemed fairly even).
Okada went to the floor and ran Evil into the barricade, then hit a running boot that sent Evil over the barricade. Okada got a running start and then charged at Evil, who threw a chair at his face. Evil wrapped a chair around Okada’s neck, then shoved the referee aside and hit the chair with another chair. Evil brought Okada back to the ring and hit him with a running lariat in the corner. Evil placed Okada on the top rope and superplexed him and covered him for a two count. Okada stuffed an Everything is Evil attempt and went for a dropkick, but Evil held onto the ropes to avoid it. Evil went for a misdirection move only to have Okada dropkick him.
Okada and Evil got to their knees and traded forearms and continued as they got to their feet at the 20:00 mark. Okada threw a few uppercuts and knocked Evil to his knees. Evil got up and fired three more forearms at Okada, who wobbled around the ring and fell to his knees. Okada stood up and Evil went for Darkness Falls, but Okada slipped away. Okada went for a tombstone piledriver, but Evil slipped out. The wrestlers jockeyed for position and Okada ended up hitting the tombstone piledriver, then let out a primal scream. The wrestlers took turns ducking Rainmakers and other moves before Evil connected and got a two count. Evil performed Darkness Falls for a good near fall.
Okada avoided Everything is Evil, performed a backslide, and then hit Evil with a short lariat once he stood up. Fans chanted for Okada, who got to his feet and dropped Evil with a Rainmaker lariat. Okada let out another primal scream and went for the the big Rainmaker, but Evil avoided and then performed two half and half suplexes. Evil went for a lariat, but Okada ducked it and dropkicked the back of Evil’s head right before the 25:00 mark. Evil ran the ropes and ate another dropkick. Okada went for a spinning Rainmaker, but Evil ducked it and headbutted him. Evil performed a running lariat and covered Okada for another good near fall. Evil set up for Everything is Evil, but Okada caught him with a short-arm Rainmaker. Okada knocked Evil down with a shotgun dropkick. Okada ducked a lariat and knocked Evil down with a spinning Rainmaker. Okada hit the big Rainmaker and scored the clean pin…
Kazuchika Okada defeated Evil in an A-Block tournament match.
After the match, Okada spoke to the crowd in Japanese. Romero did some very basic interpreting and indicated that Okada spoke about winning the tournament while being the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Okada said that he’s on a whole other level. Kelly noted that Romero had an autograph signing and sent him off, then hyped the matches for Thursday’s show.
Powell’s POV: The first half of the match was slow and methodical and it was pretty obvious they were going to go deep into the time limit. The second half was very good and the last ten minutes were strong and suspenseful, as I thought there was at least a chance they would keep Evil alive in the tournament heading into the final day. But the A-Block officially comes down to Okada vs. Ibushi on Saturday. Okada is ahead by two points and needs a win or a draw to to win the block, while Ibushi needs to win the match and would then have the tiebreaker due to defeating Okada in their head-to-head tournament match. That match should be a gem and it could very well be a preview of the IGWP Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom in January.
Overall, this was a strong night of tournament action. There weren’t any contenders for best match of the tournament, but all five matches delivered in some way, including the Tanahashi vs. Fale match thanks to Fale’s upset win. I have a busy Thursday morning with a Paul Levesque conference call and the Dot Net Weekly audio show recording, so I may be a little later than usual with my report on the penultimate B-Block show, which also looks really good on paper.
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 14 points, Kota Ibushi has 12 points, Evil, Kenta, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Sanada have 8 points, Zack Sabre Jr., Will Ospreay, and Bad Luck Fale have 6 points, Lance Archer has 4 points.
The B-Block Standings: Jon Moxley has 10 points, Jay White, Tetsuya Naito, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooki Goto have eight points, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano, Taichi and Jeff Cobb have 6 points, and Shingo Takagi has 4 points.
The B-Block resumes Thursday in Kanagawa, Japan at Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium with the following matches: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi, Juice Robinson vs. Jay White, Hirooki Goto vs. Jon Moxley, Jeff Cobb vs. Tetsuya Naito, and Toru Yano vs. Taichi.
The A-Block concludes on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan Hall with the following matches: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Will Ospreay, Kenta vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Evil vs. Lance Archer, and Sanada vs. Bad Luck Fale.
The B-Block concludes on Sunday, August 11 in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan Hall with the following matches: Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson, Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White, Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi, Jeff Cobb vs. Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi.
The NJPW G1 Climax 29 Finals will be held on Monday, August 12 in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan Hall with the A-Block vs. the B-Block winner.