Night 4 of the G1 Climax is a B Block night, and on paper there’s no stand out match ups. The highlight might end up being a hopefully comedy filled match between Toru Yano and Kenny Omega. Omega has a tendency to do too much comedy when it’s not needed, but against Yano he can run amok to his heart’s content.
Tomoaki Honma vs YOSHI-HASHI: Both these guys have been on the losing end of a lot of matches for a couple years now, but both got bigs wins in their first matches. Honma set himself up to challenge Shibata for the NEVER title with his win, while YOSHI got his first major single’s win against Kenny Omega. The win streak will continue for one of these unexpected victors, but which?
This is a pretty strong contrast in styles, as YOSHI isn’t the normal Strong Style opponent that Honma usually faces. Instead of playing that up though, it looks more like Honma is trying to just not hit quite as hard. YOSHI also has a weird moveset that requires a lot of set up, and I’m usually not a fan of those kind of moves. YOSHI shows some resilience, kicking out of a belly to belly piledriver and avoiding the top rope kokeshi. There’s some drama at the end, as YOSHI goes for his new finisher, Karma, a pump handle driver, and Honma struggles to power out of it. Honma eventually wins with a top rope kokeshi. This was fine, but I was hoping they would play up the style differences between the two more. ***
Yuji Nagata vs EVIL: Here we have one of the more interesting match up in the B Block. Nagata is one of the oldest guys in the tournament, while EVIL is in his first G1. EVIL hits hard, but as Nagata proved in his feud with Shibata, he doesn’t let his age stop him from giving as good as he gets.
EVIL attacks before the bell, but Nagata is ready to throw down. The two brawl about as hard as expected, Nagata in particular dropping EVIL with some stiff kicks. It’s really remarkable how much EVIL has improved over the past year. Not just in the ring, but in his character as well. Nagata wins though with the backdrop driver after a good match. ***
Toru Yano vs Kenny Omega: Both these guys lost on Night 2, but while Yano’s lost was not surprising, Omega fell to YOSHI-HASHI. That puts the cap on what’s been a few terrible months for Omega, and now it’s time for him to start winning again.
They open well, with Omega outraged at Yano’s antics, and the support they receive from the crowd. Yano gets a few believable near counts early with roll ups as they battle over a turnbuckle pad. Omega uses the chainsaw, a ridiculous move that normally has no business being used, but is totally appropriate here. They battle over who can low blow each other behind the ref’s back. This is high entertainment right here. Omega switches from comedy to viciousness easily, eventually winning with a running knee. ***1/2
Katsuyori Shibata vs Katsuhiko Nakajima: This will be a battle of big kicks, as both guys are known for kicking hard and often. Shibata has talked some trash on Nakajima before the tournament, but needs to stay focused or risk falling to 0-2.
Shibata has a taped up shoulder after Honma targeted it during their last match. Nakajima lands the first major kick, running along the apron and kicking Shibata’s injured shoulder. Shibata is writhing outside the ring as Nakajima continues attacking the arm. The crowd is not pleased when Nakajima does the delayed dropkick, one of Shibata’s signature moves. Shibata is not pleased either, and it gives him a second wind. Everytime they are face to face, they yell at each other, even when trapped in holds. Nakajima throws Shibata into the turnbuckle with a German suplex and lands several strong kicks. Shibata grabs the PK kick though, and traps Nakajima in a sleeper, followed by his own PK for the win. I’m a big fan of these style of matches, and I really liked this one a lot. ****
Michael Elgin vs Tetsuya Naito: Both these guys also lost in their first matches, so one of them will get some points here, while the other falls 0-2. I’m not sure Elgin and Naito have ever faced each other before, which makes this intriguing. Elgin is the current Intercontinental champion, so a win here against the former IWGP champion is not out of the question.
Naito has his character down to perfection, able to go from indifferent to full speed to back again at the drop of a hat. Elgin is scary strong, lifting and throwing Naito around with ease, but the craftier Naito attacks the legs of the big man. Naito is absolutely ruthless attacking the knee, it’s beautiful. Every attack either attacks the knee or is misdirection to attack the knee next time. Elgin is so strong though, he’s able to take the smallest opportunity to counter Naito and slam him into the mat. This cumulates in Naito trying to hurricanrana Elgin off the top, only for Elgin to counter into a HUGE powerbomb for a really close nearfall. Naito pays him back by countering the Elgin Bomb into a revere rana! The ending is fantastic, as Naito wraps Elgin’s leg in a kneebar, but Elgin lifts him out into a suplex, which Naito counters into Destino. A second Destino gets the win. ****1/2
Two great matches ended this show. Elgin/Naito was my favorite match of the tournament so far. Looking at the standings, B Block is very even, with only Nagata and Honma(!) having 4 points. In A Block, Makabe, Goto, and Tenzan are all in the lead with 4 points. Perhaps the most surprising is Tanahashi, who is still at 0 points.