The final night of A Block is upon us, and there’s only really two matches that mean anything. Fortunately, one of those is Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada and fuck me, that’s never going to be bad. It’s the feud that modern-day New Japan was built upon, and you’d be mental to bet against them delivering another classic.
Togi Makabe (3-6) defeated Michael Elgin (3-6)
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
YOSHI-HASHI (3-6) defeated Hangman Page (3-6)
These two have had wildly different tournaments. While it’s clear that Page is on the up, YOSHI-HASHI is at best standing still and is more likely on his way down. New Japan has made a story out of the fact that he’s a bit useless which is probably not a good thing.
Despite that, YOSHI has had good matches. Something which continued here as he picked up a rare victory. The Headhunter has spent the tournament working from underneath which gave Page a chance to do something a bit different. He added some cockiness to his game, slapping YOSHI around the head and enjoying being dominant.
It all built to one of the best set-ups for a Canadian Destroyer that I’ve ever seen. As Hangman tried to hoist HASHI up for the Rite Of Passage, he was able to shift the momentum and flip over, driving him headfirst into the campus. A Karma later and YOSHI-HASHI has joined the logjam on six points.
Hangman Page grabbed the G1 around the throat and proved he belonged here. However, YOSHI-HASHI also went out there and proved his worth. Yes, he’s a bit awkward and has awful hair, but the guy can go. He deserves the chance to keep proving that, even if he is never going to be at the top of the card.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Minoru Suzuki (5-4) defeated Bad Luck Fale (3-6) by Disqualification
Guess what folks? This wasn’t pretty.
After being tortured by Bad Luck Fale’s performances in recent weeks, I’m not going to lie, watching Suzuki brutalise him was a lot of fun. This was Murder Grandpa at his murdering best as he didn’t give a fuck how big Fale was.
Then, just as he was setting up for the Gotch Piledriver, Tama Tonga attacked and, well, we know how that ends. Another DQ and, to be honest, this can all fuck off. Murder Grandpa deserves to finish his tournament on a stronger note than this.
Verdict: Two Stars
EVIL (5-4) defeated Jay White (6-3)
Jay White needed a win to be a factor in tonight’s result and going in I expected him to do so. Of course, I was wrong because I’m always wrong about these things.
They set this up as a Jay White’s G1 greatest hits set. We got the suplex from the ring onto the apron, the barrier spots, low blows and a couple of steel chairs. I enjoyed it, though, because I’ve enjoyed it all tournament. There’s no denying that I’m the high man on Jay White, so I’m not going to fight it.
EVIL played his part well. In many ways, he’s the perfect foil for White. Someone who revels in going out and dancing along the line of the rules. EVIL was happy to go to the outside and brawl because that’s what he does best.
In the end, Red Shoes would take his hundredth bump of the tournament leaving White open to use a chair. EVIL was ready for that, though. As White came charging in, he stepped under the swing of the weapon and dropped him with Everything Is EVIL. The LIJ man had outsmarted the master manipulator, and it brought to an end his G1.
This was good. Not great, but still very enjoyable. White has done precisely what was asked of him in this tournament, and while it’s annoyed some, I think it’s helped define the Switchblade character. EVIL, meanwhile, has had a quiet showing, but one in which he’s established himself as a solid in-ring hand. He got the victory here, but I think White is the one who will benefit from this in the long run.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-1-1) and Kazuchika Okada (6-2-1) fought to a time limit draw
The storyline for this one was simple. Yes, the G1 was important, but perhaps even more important was Hiroshi Tanahashi proving to the world that he still belongs in the main event. The Ace came out determined to prove a point.
And he went about doing that by attacking the knee of Okada. Every chance he got, he would zero in on that leg, using a combination of strikes, Dragon Screw Leg Whips and submissions to take Okada off his feet and chip away at his biggest foe.
Okada wasn’t just clinging on, though. Tanahashi’s own knee has had its issues, so Okada came straight back at him. Hitting a Dragon Screw Leg Whip of his own and using it to set up for a Tombstone. He wanted this over sooner rather than later, well aware that the draw would send Tana through. Okada needed this win almost as much as The Ace did. He’s lost his way and what better way to prove that The Rainmaker lives than by beating his oldest enemy?
It all built to a final five minutes that was wrestling perfection. When the announcement was made over the tannoy, these two hit the next level, and it’s a level that they’ve been keeping secret from everyone else. They threw everything at each other. Okada was desperately going for the Rainmaker, while Tanahashi clung on, ducking and dodging. The continued announcements of how long was left only raising the tension in a building that seemed to be on the edge of self-combustion.
In the final seconds, Okada pulled Tana in, spinning him out and going for The Rainmaker only to be met with a slap. As Okada collapsed to the ground, he lost that all-important wrist control and with it the chance to win the G1. There were ten seconds left, it was over, but Tana was desperate. He dragged himself to the top rope and came crashing down with a High Fly Flow. Okada knew he had no chance, there was no time left, and yet Kazu still kicked out. He might not be The Rainmaker at the moment, but he had one final act of defiance, he spat in The Ace’s eyes and made sure that even as he entered the final, he still knew that he couldn’t beat Kazuchika Okada.
Nothing could separate these two, because nothing can ever separate these two. Okada and Tanahashi are two halves of the same soul, two wrestlers who are destined to spend forever battling to prove who is the best and the answer is that they both are. We’re just lucky to have them.
Verdict: Five Stars
The final A Block show was all about the main event which is exactly how it should be. Tanahashi vs Okada is an era-defining feud, and quite frankly it deserves a show to itself. The fact White vs EVIL and Page vs YOSHI was decent was merely a bonus. Hiroshi Tanahashi is returning to the G1 Final folks, start getting excited.
Top Three Matches So Far
- Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii – Five Stars
- Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – Five Stars
- Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii – Four And Three Quarter Stars