Block B of the G1 looked to boil down to former and current LIJ members, as EVIL, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito started the day in the running.
Gabriel Kidd pinned Yuya Uemura in 8:17 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: YOSHI-HASHI pinned Toru Yano in 6:10 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Juice Robinson pinned Hirooki Goto in 12:08 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 12:02 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: KENTA pinned Tetsuya Naito in 21:06 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: SANADA pinned EVIL in 27:00 (***¼)
We’re back at Sumo Hall to see who’ll join Kota Ibushi in tomorrow’s finals… we started the day with EVIL in the driving seat, needing a win to win the block, but like we saw with Jay White yesterday, nothing’s ever that simple.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuya Uemura
The lads are playing for pride here, with Yota Tsuji having won the “block” last night… although we don’t know what anyone bar the finalists is doing tomorrow…
We start with a lock-up and a wristlock from Kidd, who was looking to not finish bottom of the group by himself here. A knuckle lock from Uemura forces Kidd to his knees, but Gabe powers back up and bridges Uemura back over a knee before his attempt to break the bridge was countered with a monkey flip and a Dragon screw to the arm. Yup, you know what Uemura’s going for. An armbar wears Kidd down some more, with Uemura rolling him back to the mat in a double wristlock, before he rolled him around the ring in the scissored armbar until Kidd got to the rope. Uemura wrings the arm, forcing Kidd to cartwheel free as he then wrenched back on Uemura’s leg.
Kidd followed that up with a toe hold, before he wangled Uemura into an Indian deathlock… lifting him up in a butterfly lock as well to complete the stretch. The hold switches into a keylock as well before Kidd let go of it, as a follow-up half crab quickly ends in the ropes.
Uemura hits back, countering a suplex into a small package for a near-fall, before a schoolboy from Kidd almost got the win. Things descend into back-and-forth elbows, with both men swinging like they mean it before Kidd slapped Uemura silly. Uemura stops Kidd from running by grabbing on with a waistlock, eventually knocking him back down, only to get caught with a dropkick as Kidd went for the double underhook suplex to get the win. An enjoyable opener with Kidd ensuring Uemura finished tied with him in second place – and once again, it’s the wooden spoon seemingly for Uemura. **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Toru Yano
These two only have one prior meeting, at the end of 2016’s G1, where Yano took the win in under four minutes.
Of course, Yano’s hiding tape, which YOSHI-HASHI found acting as makeshift knee pads. They get rid of them all as we start with an honest-to-God lock-up, with Yano taking YOSHI-HASHI into the ropes. We get a clean break, then a side headlock from Yano, which YOSHI-HASHI pushes off… with Yano coming back with a shoulder tackle. YOSHI-HASHI responds with chops, so Yano goes for the turnbuckle pad. He’s stopped by YOSHI-HASHI, but then whips him into the corner before freeing that pad. A swing and a miss allows YOSHI-HASHI to get it, but the referee stops him before YOSHI-HASHI just clotheslined Yano with it.
More chops from YOSHI-HASHI have Yano rocked ahead of a neckbreaker, which gets a two-count, before they headed outside as YOSHI-HASHI got whipped into the barriers. Yano grabs his disinfectant spray and chases down the referee, before YOSHI-HASHI turned the tables, spraying Yano in the eyes with it. The guard-rails await for Yano, as YOSHI-HASHI then pulls tape out of his tights, and ties Yano to the bo staff… which of course can’t fit through the railings. Yano eventually could though, and he finds a way back to the ring as he tried to charge at YOSHI-HASHI, holding the stick in much the same way an action figure would. After removing it, Yano avoids a whip into the corner, then went for some roll-ups on YOSHI-HASHI, only for YOSHI to avoid a mule kick.
YOSHI-HASHI seemingly went for a low blow, but the ref stops him. Yano shoves the ref, then went for a low blow, but YOSHI-HASHI caught that and rolled Yano through to get the pin. After such a bright start, Yano’s G1 really fizzled out, but so is life. **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Juice Robinson
In four prior matches, both men have two wins each – but Juice holds the edge having gotten those two wins in the last two G1s.
The bell sounds as both men charged at each other with shoulder tackles and elbows, but it’s a side headlock from Goto that stops the momentum, with Juice having to fight to push him away for some see-saw shoulder tackles. A hiptoss from Goto lands, then a shoulder tackle, before Goto got lifted onto the apron as Juice dropped the bad shoulder across the top rope. A plancha sees Juice sail into Goto on the floor, as Juice then shut the crowd up so they could do his favourite rhythm – the one Liger called “don don pah”. Goto rolls back inside, where Juice keeps working the bad arm, throwing him shoulder-first into the ring post before a Corning hold wore the arm some more. Who knew watching NXT UK would teach me that?
Juice keeps going with shoulder charges, but a missed clothesline into the corner allows Goto to bring Juice out with a back suplex. A spinning heel kick and a bulldog keeps Goto ahead for a near-fall, before Juice struck back with a back senton. A cannonball follows in the corner, as Juice then went for a superplex… but Goto tries to fight it, before he’s stopped with headbutts. Having taken a superplex, Goto then pulls Juice into a backbreaker before duelling lariats left both men groggy. Juice is able to shake it off first, but can’t avoid an ushigoroshi before he had to fight out of a GTR. Juice eventually comes back up for Pulp Friction, but Goto pushes him off, only to get caught with the Right Hand of God.
From there, Juice pulls Goto up for Pulp Friction, but it’s countered with a sleeperhold, dragging Juice to the mat before a surprise roll-up almost got Goto the win. Juice’s attempt to counter the GTR with a wheelbarrow also led to a near-fall as Goto sat on it, before a Left Hand of God knocked him down… a second one followed, before Goto’s pulled up for Pulp Friction as Juice ends his G1 with a victory. A really spirited performance from Juice, who used referee Marty Asami as a makeshift David Finlay for his post-match celebrations – and hopefully this is something Juice can push off of for the remainder of the year. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Oh, there’s history here, and a lot of it. Especially last year! In August and September 2019, these two traded the Rev Pro title, with Tanahashi winning it at Royal Quest, only to lose it back to Sabre at Destruction in Beppu as they have four wins apiece against each other.
Sabre looks for early roll-ups as he looked to put away Tanahashi early, getting some two-counts within the opening minute of the match. A backslide nearly nicks it, before Tanahashi finally got into first gear, taking down Sabre with a headlock takedown, squeezing in tight and frustrating Zack’s attempts to counter out with headscissors. The pair get back to their feet, where another headlock takedown from Tanahashi quickly ended with headscissors and a neck twist, before Sabre came in with headscissors of his own. Eventually Sabre relents and lands another neck twist, but Tanahashi manages to get back in, going for another headlock takedown… and Sabre’s right back with those headscissors.
A cravat follows from Sabre, who then went up for a Cobra twist… but Tanahashi counters with one of his own, before Sabre caught him with a triangle armbar. Except Tanahashi neatly repositions it and turned the hold into a Cloverleaf, with Sabre having to crawl for the ropes having seen his attack turn into defence in a heartbeat. After getting back to his feet, Sabre traps Tanahashi in an Octopus stretch, but Tanahashi gets free and tries to put Sabre away with a Japanese leg clutch, before rolling out and crashing into Zack’s knees with a low dropkick. Sabre goes for an overhead kick, but Tanahashi sidesteps it and hits an inverted Dragon screw instead, before an inside cradle almost ended things from Sabre.
Tanahashi tries for a backslide, but instead Sabre switches into a guillotine choke, only for Tanahashi to stand up and counter out with a Twist and Shout. From there, Sabre tries to counter a roll-up with a Euro clutch, before Tanahashi caught a PK… and came back in with a Slingblade. Ace’s High – the crossbody off the top – is next, but Sabre rolls through… only for Tanahashi to keep on rolling and snatch the pin, leaving Sabre irate as he clearly wanted more. A sour ending to a good G1 for Sabre, in a match that teased hitting top gear but never really got there. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: KENTA vs. Tetsuya Naito
A rematch from the New Beginning in Osaka earlier this year, Naito needed 35 minutes to win there – and needs to win in less time than that to have any chance of winning the block.
So, with that level of urgency, I’m not exactly surprised at that the pair stayed in their corners at the bell, with KENTA leaning between the ropes to keep Naito away. He’s wasting time like a poor football team defending an early lead… After heading outside, Naito counters a hammerlock as he went to work on KENTA’s historically-injured shoulder, eventually tripping him to the mat as KENTA tried to swivel in for a cross armbar. That ends in the ropes as Naito came back with a headlock, which KENTA tried to roll out of, before some headscissors took KENTA to the outside.
Naito chokes KENTA across the top rope as he tried to get back into the ring, before some elbows wore down KENTA… who bails to the outside again. KENTA grabs his New Japan Cup USA briefcase and nails Naito with it as the referee was distracted… and there’s the opening. Back outside now, and KENTA hurls Naito into the guard rails, before a chinlock back inside ended with KENTA just kicking him in the back. An Irish whip took Naito to the ropes for a back elbow, which gets a two-count, before figure four headscissors from KENTA looked to wear down the double champ, following that up with a chinlock as Naito endured ten minutes of frustration.
A Manhattan drop and a neckbreaker puts Naito back in it, as does a low dropkick before he took KENTA into the corner for Combinacion Cabron. More headscissors follow as Naito worked KENTA’s neck, dragging him away from the ropes before KENTA finally got a foot to them. KENTA blocks Gloria as Naito tries to push on, then got a boot up in the corner as he came back with a tornado stun gun. A Kane clothesline off the top’s next for a near-fall, as KENTA kept looking for the win as we passed the halfway mark in the time limit with a DDT for another near-fall. A running boot follows, as does a hesitation dropkick that crashed into Naito, before a double stomp off the top crushed through Naito for a near-fall.
My feed drops, and returns with KENTA blasting through Naito with a knee strike, before he got caught with a reverse ‘rana. KENTA tries to come back, but elbows from Naito end up knocking KENTA into the corner ahead of a top rope ‘rana. Naito doesn’t go for the cover, and instead lifts up KENTA for Gloria, which gets a near-fall, only for KENTA to come back with the Green Killer draping DDT for a near-fall of his own. A shotgun dropkick from KENTA keeps Naito down for a two-count, before an attempted Go 2 Sleep was avoided. KENTA comes back with palm strikes before his Go 2 Sleep was countered into a sorta-Destino for a near-fall. Elbows and back chops from KENTA just annoy Naito, who hit back with Valentia… only to get shocked with a small package as KENTA snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! This one didn’t connect with me at all – it felt like they were going for a time limit draw, only for Naito to get caught out… and that’s his G1 over, because both SANADA and EVIL have beaten him, tie-breakers will cost him. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: EVIL vs. SANADA
The former multi-time World Tag League winners have had three prior meetings, with them sharing a win apiece in the G1 in 2017 and 2019, while EVIL beat SANADA to win the New Japan Cup earlier this year. This time, its winner take all.
EVIL rolls outside at the bell, knowing all he has to do is not lose. Can I stand thirty minutes of stalling? He grabs the timekeeper’s stopwatch to see how long he had left – AT ONE MINUTE FORTY-SOMETHING SECONDS. Are we there yet? EVIL returns to the ring as SANADA tried to snatch a roll-up, before he threw out the former double champion and faked-out a dive. Back inside, EVIL pushes away a Paradise Lock, before sending SANADA to the ropes for a trip from Dick Togo. A clothesline takes SANADA outside, where EVIL followed as he grabbed some chairs before suplexing SANADA into them.
As the referee checked on SANADA, EVIL untied the turnbuckle pad before he slammed SANADA in the middle of the ring, before handing him off for Togo to throw SANADA into the railings on the floor. Back inside again, a half crab ends in the ropes before SANADA pumped the brakes on a suplex and instead hit a low dropkick and a backdrop suplex of his own. The double leapfrog/dropkick takes EVIL outside, as SANADA followed with a plancha, before he turned his sights on Togo, throwing him inside the ring so he could tie him up in a Paradise Lock. SANADA dared EVIL to come in and save his buddy, only for EVIL to get tied up in a Paradise Lock too until a low dropkick freed them both.
EVIL comes back, redirecting a SANADA kick so he could land a thrust kick, before Fisherman buster landed for a two-count. A TKO’s attempted, but EVIL elbowed out, only to get caught with a dropkick off the middle rope, before SANADA went for a TKO into a Dragon sleeper. EVIL punches out of it, but SANADA goes right back to the hold… which ended with EVIL escaping, only to get caught with a rope-assisted neckbreaker.
SANADA keeps pushing on with a Tiger Suplex for a near-fall, before a swinging Dragon sleeper looked to lead to the finish… but SANADA missed a moonsault off the top. EVIL tries to push on with a superplex, dropping SANADA off the top before he followed that up with the Darkness Scorpion, which ends with SANADA hand-walking his way towards the ropes for a break.
Darkness Falls is next, getting a near-fall before SANADA came back in with a TKO. EVIL’s back as he tries to take SANADA into the exposed corner, but a backflip out of there has SANADA back in with a Dragon sleeper… but EVIL escapes, as the usual merry-go-round of finishers and counters led us to the Skull End. EVIL cheats to get free, but SANADA drags him back down as EVIL looked to eke out the final seven or so minutes…
EVIL pulls the ears again to try and get free, but this time it doesn’t work as SANADA lets go and hits a moonsault off the top rope, landing on EVIL’s back. He’s rolled over and lands it for a second time, but Togo pulls out the referee just in time before he hit the ring and jabbed SANADA with a chair. Throwing his suit jacket over SANADA means he can’t see some punches, before a Magic Killer left SANADA down.
Hiromu Takahashi, who was on Japanese commentary, throws down his headset and goes to help… but EVIL hits a low blow as we get all schmozzy. A Magic Killer’s next on Hiromu, who’s then tossed outside before SANADA almost snatched the win with an inside cradle on EVIL. A lariat drops SANADA as we’re into the final five minutes, with another lariat dropping SANADA.
From there, EVIL calls for the finish, but Everything is EVIL is countered into a Skull End… but EVIL grabs the ref and drags SANADA towards a waiting garrote wire choke. Hiromu breaks it up, as SANADA comes right back in with a Japanese leg clutch… and that’s the win! EVIL’s the second Bullet Club guy to throw away a lead, and that’s going to make for some rather uncomfortable moments within that group. As for the match, well, it was exactly what it was – good going until we got all of the run ins at the end… ***¼
We’re back tomorrow for the G1 finals – SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi – and a card that will be announced in the hours before bell time. Join us – it’s a 7am UK start time (2am EST, or 11pm Saturday night for those of you on Pacific time)!
Final Block A Standings
Kota Ibushi (7-2; 14pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Jay White (6-3; 12pts)
Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii, Taichi, Shingo Takagi (4-5; 8pts)
Minoru Suzuki (3-6; 6pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (1-8; 2pts)
Final Block B Standings
SANADA (6-3; 12pts) * wins on tie-breakers
EVIL, Tetsuya Naito (6-3; 12pts) * loses on tie-breakers
KENTA, Zack Sabre Jr. (5-4; 10pts)
Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-5; 8pts)
Toru Yano (3-6; 6pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-7; 4pts)
(Unofficial) Block C (W-L-D)
Yota Tsuji (6-4-2)
Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura (5-6-1)
While block B’s finale was never going to match yesterday’s in terms of match quality, they damn sure tried to do that in terms of drama, especially with KENTA making sure the main event was the only thing that mattered in the shootout.