AXS continues NJPW coverage with more from Block A! The Rainmaker takes on the Hangman for the first time ever! Plus, The Ace VS The Underboss once more!
Gifs can be found on http://frentique.tumblr.com/
- Jay White VS Michael Elgin; White wins.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Bad Luck Fale; Tanahashi wins, by disqualification.
- Kazuchika Okada VS Hangman Page; Okada wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS TV set the scene for Round Three!
Kazuchika Okada hasn’t been himself since losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Kenny Omega. He’s also been on a losing streak since then, with a quick 0-2 record in the first two rounds. Okada lost to The Switchblade, Jay White, and perhaps lost all of Chaos to him. Then he lost to Bullet Club OG, the Underboss, Bad Luck Fale. The Rainmaker desperately needs to get on the board before it’s too late. But in his way is Bullet Club new blood, Hangman Adam Page, who would love to make a big splash with a win over the former top champion. Will Hangman be the third defeat on Okada’s downward spiral? Or will Okada use the Problem Solver to solve his losing problem?
But first, the Underboss has his own match in a rematch from the New Japan Cup quarterfinals. Fale lost to Hiroshi Tanahashi back then, but Tanahashi himself lost to Jay White, same as Okada. Can the Once in a Century Talent gain ground against an angry Fale? Or will the Firing Squad make their presence known once again?
NJPW and AXS give us another quick rundown on the other A Block matches.
Minoru Suzuki brutalized Yoshi-Hashi but the Head Hunter held his own. However, Suzuki’s Gotch Piledriver won it for the Man with the Worst Personality. Chaos’ Togi Makabe battled Los Ingobernables de Japon’s King of Darkness, EVIL, and they went all over the arena. The Uncaged King Kong would fall to Everything is EVIL, the signature STO, and Evil would get the win. For the third match of this third round, we jump right into it!
Jay White VS Michael Elgin!
The Switchblade says Chaos is now his faction, but he still has to prove it. We come into his match with The Unbreakable Big Mike as he brings Elgin up for a cobra clutch suplex! White calls for a finish, and brings Elgin up again. Eglin spins out of Blade Runner, but White elbows him away. White goes to run but Elgin reels him into a discus elbow! Elgin drags White up but White slips out. White lifts Elgin but Elgin knees out of the saido suplex. Elgin aims at the wobbly White and hits another discus elbow! Then the Half ‘n’ Half! Elgin runs, and clobbers White with a clothesline! He’s not done, he double underhooks for a sit-out Tigerbomb! Cover, TWO!? White survives by the thinnest of margins! Big Mike is surprised, but the fans are rallying for him.
Elgin drags White back up, takes aim at a corner, but White fights back. White’s huricanrana is blocked by pure strength! Elgin brings White back up, and buckle bombs him in the corner! But the referee gets caught in it, too! Elgin checks on the ref, then he goes back to White. White gives Big Mike a low blow uppercut to Little Mike! Then, Blade Runner! The referee returns to count the cover, White wins!
Winner: Jay White, by pinfall; White earns 2 points, Elgin earns 0
The Switchblade takes the lead in Block A by any means necessary. White wants to reign over Chaos and all of NJPW as THE IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Will his streak continue and bring him all the way to the G1 Climax Finals?
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Bad Luck Fale!
The Ace and the Underboss go around one more time, but this New Japan Cup rematch might be marred if the Bullet Club splinter cell show themselves. Can the two-time G1 Climax winner put Fale away before the Guerrillas of Destiny arrive?
Well that’s gonna be hard to do now, as Tonga Loa accompanies the lean, mean, Tongan machine to the ring. Even so, Tanahashi stays focused on his opponent. Red Shoes checks both men and finds they’re clean. He tells Tonga Loa to hop down off the apron, and Loa obliges. The bell rings, and Tanahashi immediately hits Fale with a dropkick! Tanahashi stomps away at the legs, then puts on leg on the ropes for another dropkick. Fans fire up with The Ace as he goes after the legs with more stomps. Tanahashi whips Fale but Fale reverses. Fale runs in but Tanahashi dodges to chop block! Fans chant for Tanahashi as he stalks Fale. Tanahashi brings Fale around to kick that bad knee. Fale staggers to ropes but Tanahashi refuses to let up. Tanahashi runs, but Fale follows, only for Tanahashi to drop toehold him.
Tanahashi puts Fale’s legs into a deathlock, pulling back on both knees. Fale reaches back to grab at Tanahashi, but then reaches out to grab ropes. Tanahashi honors the ropebreak, but then stomps Fale more. Fale slips out of the ring, and voids Tanahashi’s slingshot plancha. But Tanahashi lands on the apron, to cannonball onto Fale! Fans are thunderous as Tanahashi fires up. Tanahashi drags Fale up, and has camera men clear out. He whips but Fale reverses, sending Tanahashi over the rails into commentary! Roppongi 3K’s Sho almost gets wiped out. Fale grabs a chair from one of the other commentary tables! Red Shoes tells him to put it down, but Fale refuses. Fale even threatens Red Shoes with it! But this is all to distract the ref from seeing Loa stomp Tanahashi out!
Sho and commentary try to get Red Shoes’ attention, but Loa backs off in time. Fale lets go of the chair and goes over to fetch Tanahashi. Fans clear out with help from the Young Lions, and Fale bowls for chairs using Tanahashi! Fans cheer Tanahashi in attempts to power him up, but Fale leaves him to the mercy of the 20 count. The count reaches 10 before Tanahashi reaches ringside. Tanahashi stands and enters at 14. Fale is right on him, and stands on his ribs! He backs off at 4, but then comes back to kick Tanahashi while he’s down. Fale drags Tanahashi up and puts him on the ropes to bend him backward. Red Shoes counts, and Fale lets off at 4 again. Tanahashi grits his teeth but Fale clubs his back. Fale puts Tanahashi back on the ropes for more clubbing forearms.
Tanahashi writhes to a corner but fans continue to rally. Fale wags a finger, their cheers won’t help Tanahashi. Fale gives Tanahashi big body shots, then a scoop slam. He sits on Tanahashi for the cover, TWO! Tanahashi crawls but Fale looms over him. Fale sits Tanahashi up for a nerve hold! Fale digs his fingers into Tanahashi’s trapezius, but fans rally more. Tanahashi feeds off the energy and gets to his feet. He fights back with elbows, then forearms. Fale staggers, but comes back with one big forearm of his own. Fale has Tanahashi in a corner, and gives him clubbing clotheslines from both sides. Tanahashi is down and dazed while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and Fale says “It’s too easy, man.” He looms over Tanahashi in the corner. He brings Tanahashi up and whips him corner to corner. Tanahashi comes running out to dropkick Fale’s bad leg! Tanahashi dropkicks it again, then again! He brings Fale back for a waistlock, but Fale is too big and strong for the German Suplex. Fale elbows out, but Tanahashi hits him back with a palm strike. Fale falls down, Tanahashi grabs the leg, for a grounded dragon screw! The screw drives Fale’s leg into the mat, and now Fale writhes as he clutches the knee. Tanahashi keeps on him with an attempt at the Cloverleaf. He props Fale up and works to roll him over, but Fale is still big and strong. They struggle against each other, but Tanahashi gets the hold!
Fale endures, and he powers his way out, sending Tanahashi all the way out of the ring! Tanahashi and Fale both take a few moments to recover. Fale goes out but Tanahashi gets back in. Tanahashi runs, but into Fale’s grip! Fale rocks Tanahashi with a right, but then Tanahashi dragon screws the leg between the ropes! Fans chant “Go Ace!” for Tanahashi as he takes aim. Tanahashi runs, sunset flip, but Fale sits on him! TWO, but barely! Loa coaches Fale up while the fans are on Tanahashi’s side. Fale runs and splashes! TWO, but still close! Tanahashi gasps for air while Fale brings him up. Tanahashi throws hands, then bobs ‘n’ weaves with Fale. He hits a European Uppercut, but runs into a lariat!
Fale drags Tanahashi up, but Tanahashi palm strikes before he can throw the Grenade thumb spike. Fale fireman carries Tanahashi instead, for the Samoan Drop! Both men are down from exhaustion but Fale makes the cover. TWO as Tanahashi survives. Fans rally up but Fale is first to stand. Fale brings Tanahashi up, preparing a powerbomb. Tanahashi slips out of the crucifix to huricanrana! Cover, TWO!! But Tanahashi comes back with a Slingblade, but Fale’s size and strength help him get out of it. Tanahashi rolls Fale up instead, TWO! Tanahashi tries a fisherman, but Fale scoops him. That bad leg gives way, and Tanahashi comes back with the swinging neckbreaker!
Fans rally again while Loa is worried. Tanahashi runs, the Slingblade hits! But he’s not done, as he goes top rope… High Fly Flow FLOPS as Fale moves! Tanahashi and Fale stir and stand while the fans are thunderous. Fale runs in for a big corner clothesline! Then he grabs Tanahashi, for the Grenade thumb thrust to choke slam! Cover, TWO!? Tanahashi survives that brutal combination, but Fale prepares a bomb! He lifts Tanahashi, crucifix but Tanahashi pops out to bring Fale down with an inverted bulldog! Tanahashi hurries up top, for the HIGH FLY FLOW! Cover, but Loa drags Red Shoes out!!
And he attacks Tanahashi! It was only a matter of time before it came to this. Loa stomps Tanahashi out while Fale slowly sits up. Fans boo the Firing Squad, but they don’t care. Loa brings Tanahashi up, and Fale prepares a lariat. Tanahashi ducks, the lariat hits Loa! Then Tanahashi Slingblades Fale down! But it’s Tama Tonga with a Gun Stun outta nowhere! The quintessential leader of the Firing Squad is here. He tells Tanahashi to never defy them. Fale covers, Tonga drags Red Shoes in, but Red Shoes says F U, Firing Squad! He calls for the DQ!
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi, by disqualification; Tanahashi earns 2 points, Fale earns 0
The Tongans are furious with Red Shoes, and Tama grabs him around the collar. But then they go after Tanahashi, stomping and punching away. No one makes the rescue, so the Firing Squad leave when they feel satisfied. Will anyone, from wrestlers to administration, stand up to this pack of wolves?
Kazuchika Okada VS Hangman Page!
The Rainmaker hasn’t been acting quite like himself since Kenny Omega took the title from him. He’s already lost twice, but is he so vulnerable as to give the Problem Solver a guaranteed win? Or is Hangman’s first G1 Climax too soon to defeat the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion?
The bell rings and fans cheer for Okada. Hangman tunes it out as he jaws with The Rainmaker. The two circle then tie up. Hangman gets the wristlock, but Okada rolls and reverses. Hangman rolls and reverses back to a hammerlock then snapmare. He puts Okada in a chinlock, but Okada gets up and out. Okada gets the hammerlock, but Hangman gets the ropebreak. Okada honors the break, and fakes his punch, to pat Hangman on the shoulders. He’s all smiles, but Hangman scowls. Okada ducks Hangman’s punch, then catches the boot. He shoves Hangman, having fun with him. Hangman runs into a drop toehold, and Okada grins while Hangman gets to a corner. Fans cheer him on but Hangman clotheslines him out! Hangman keeps going, and DIVES onto the downed Okada!
Hangman loves throwing caution to the wind, but even that was crazy. He gets up and mocking asks, “This is Okada now?” Hangman puts Okada back in the ring, then walks circles around him, like a shark with blood in the water. He shows off his strength with a pumphandle deadlift, into a brinding Fall Away Slam! TWO, but Hangman keeps hold of a leg to roll Okada around. Hangman chops Okada bluntly, then stalks him to a corner. Hangman stands Okada for another chop, then continues to question Okada’s character. He snapmares Okada into a chinlock, and he gives slaps to Okada’s head. Fans rally up and Okada fights out, but Hangman clubs him. Hangman runs into a boot, but he avoids Okada’s back senton. Hangman hits his standing shooting star! Cover, TWO, but Hangman keeps his cool.
Hangman toys with Okada, then drags him back up. He scoops Okada for the slam, then slingshots out and in for the senton atomico! Fans applaud his ability, but still rally up for Okada. Hangman sits Okada up for a neck wrench. Okada endures and works his way up. He fights back but Hangman ear claps him. Hangman whips but Okada reverses to a DDT! Both men are down, but Okada kips up! Okada runs and rallies with forearms and elbows. He whips but Hangman reverses, only for Okada to come back with a back elbow. Okada brings Hangman up but Hangman gives body shots and a forearm. Hangman runs, but into a flapjack! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally behind Okada as he runs corner to corner. Hangman dodges, then runs back in, but Okada dodges. Okada puts Hangman up top to dropkick him to the floor! Okada goes out slowly to fetch Hangman, not satisfied with a possible count out win. He rocks Hangman with a EuroUpper, then whips him at barriers. Okada runs and boots Hangman into the crowd! Young Lions help clear fans out while Okada walks over to fetch Hangman. Okada drags Hangman out but Hangman fights back. Hangman rocks Okada, then slingshots for the Buck Shot! Direct hit and both men are down while we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns and Red Shoes checks on both men on the outside. Hangman stands first, and he drags Okada up and into the ring. He positions Okada in the drop zone before climbing up top. Fans rally up, and Hangman MOONSAULT! It FLOPS as Okada evades! Okada stands but Hangman runs in, only to get a boot. Hangman tries again but Okada gets him in Alabama Slam position. Hangman fights out and clubs Okada from behind. He whips Okada but Okada reverses, only to miss the dropkick. Hangman jackknifes and rolls to lift Okada, but Okada fights against the Rite. Okada gut wrenches but Hangman reverses to his own. Hangman changes from Tombstone to inverted cradle piledriver! Cover, TWO!! Okada barely survives, but now fans are dueling between the two.
Hangman sits up, and stares wild eyed at Okada. He brings Okada up, prepares the Rite, but Okada grabs the ropes. Hangman pulls but then dumps Okada off. Okada hits Hangman with a forearm, then hurries up top. Hangman stops Okada, then climbs up to join him. Fans fire up but Okada resists the superplex. Okada fights back with body shots, then throws a forearm. Hangman falls back, but comes back with a forearm of his own. Okada teeters while Hangman climbs up. They stand on the very top, for a SUPER neckbreaker! But Okada rolls out of the ring. Hangman goes to a corner and climbs up again. Fans anticipate what’s coming, it’s Hangman’s SUPER ASAI MOONSAULT! He hits Okada, then puts him in the ring. Fans have sided with Hangman now as he slingshots, for another Buck Shot! Cover, TWO!!
Okada survives again, but his eyes are staring into space. Hangman calls for the finish! He brings Okada up, into position, but Okada sunset flips! TWO, but barely, and Hangman runs into a waistlock. Okada German Suplexes, but Hangman lands on his feet! Hangman aims at Okada, runs corner to corner, for a big dropkick! Then a scoop, but Okada reverses, into the Tombstone! But Okada’s too exhausted to make a cover! Fans duel as they rally up. Okada sits up, but Hangman slowly follows. Okada throws a forearm, but Hangman comes back with one. Now Okada boots Hangman, and he dares Hangman to return it. Hangman swings but Okada ducks to give a EuroUpper. Okada blocks the Superkick but gets the roaring elbow!
Hangman whips but Okada reverses and hits the dropkick this time. He brings Hangman up, wrings him out, but misses to get a SUPERKICK! Hangman runs, but is put on the apron. He rocks Okada agian, slingshots but into the RAIN– No, Hangman tilt-o-whirls through, to powerbomb Okada! High stack, TWO, roaring elbow! Fans fire up again as Hangman brings Okada up. Okada slips out, for a discus clothesline! He’s not done there, he swings Hangman out for THE Rainmaker! Cover, Okada wins!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by pinfall; Okada earns 2 points, Hangman earns 0
Okada is finally on the board! His losing streak ends, but it was still a tough fight. He still has a long way to go, can he climb back up to the top of A Block? And while Hangman goes 1-2, he still shows so much promise. Will he manage his own turn around to the top of the G1?
“Finally, finally, finally, the first victory!” Fans applaud for that. Okada jokingly says it was an easy win. But he is happy, and he thanks the fans. Okada seems to be holding back the tears, but the fans cheer him. But then he’s totally fine as he says, “Still, the G1 tournament has only just begun. I will dominate. And make it rain.” Okada drops the mic, still confident in himself. He may be more relaxed than normal, but will he still make the climb?
Hangman knows that since losing the title, Okada “has been a damn mess.” But this match was more about beating “the man that was the champion”. If Hangman could do that, he could do anything. He felt how close he was to getting those points. But now he’s got a fire burning.
Okada apologizes for the wait. “To all of you enjoying the G1 Climax,” it’s great. He’s enjoying himself, too. He hasn’t lost sight of the prize. He’ll keep having fun as he keeps winning. Okada knows the title matters, his shot at Kenny Omega matters, but what really matters is that it will all be Okada’s. We know from the standings that Okada has a long way to go to catch up to Jay White, but if anyone can do it, it’s the Rainmaker. Will he do it? Or is it already too late to take it all back?
I was hoping to see these moments from the G1 Climax. It was a nice surprise to get the last bit of White VS Elgin, and White going on this quick 3-0 tear is definitely a sign that NJPW appreciates his talent. Even if White doesn’t go to the Finals, his victories will definitely lead him to something. Plus, he and Okada need to settle who is truly leader of Chaos before it ends up like the Bullet Club Civil War. Then speaking of, obviously the Firing Squad would try to cheat. It backfired on them and Tanahashi gets the points, and as we know in real time, NJPW the company would issue a statement and “suspend” the Firing Squad in order to let the G1 Climax finish cleanly. This could go any direction after the “suspension” is over, it’s definitely intriguing.
Okada VS Hangman was great, and the stories involved are well thought out. Okada finally gets points, and he clearly feels some weight off his shoulders now. He vows to be back to his dominant ways soon enough, but that almost promises he’s not. This with White challenging his command of Chaos, Okada has a lot on his plate for the rest of the year. Hangman himself isn’t deterred, he knows he’s getting to that level. It’s only a matter of time before Hangman has his first singles title in NJPW, I’m really excited for when he gets that moment.
My Score: 8.2/10