We’re back for another round of the G1 from Hiroshima, with Kota Ibushi and Shingo Takagi on top amid a night of first-time matchups.
Yota Tsuji submitted Gabriel Kidd in 6:43 (**½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Tomohiro Ishii pinned Yujiro Takahashi in 15:26 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kazuchika Okada pinned Jeff Cobb in 11:03 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Will Ospreay pinned Minoru Suzuki in 14:26 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jay White pinned Taichi in 15:17 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Shingo Takagi pinned Kota Ibushi in 21:58 (****½)
We’re back at the Sun Plaza Hall in Hiroshima for this one…
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji
After another draw yesterday, Yota Tsuji will be looking to get back to winning ways, and we start with both men charging out of the blocks as Kidd and Tsuji traded shots in the corners.
A hiptoss from Kidd has Tsuji down, with a chinlock keeping him there, before a snapmare and an elbow drop got Kidd an early two-count. Elbows from Kidd wear down Tsuji for another two-count, before they go back to strikes, with Kidd’s uppercut knocking Tsuji into the ropes. Tsuji returned fire with a dropkick, following that up with a leaping elbow into the corner, a shoulder tackle and a splash for a two-count on Kidd, who hit back with a slam off the ropes. A suplex from Kidd is blocked, but he eventually pulls it off for a two-count, as the pair descend into a battle of elbow strikes, ending with a dropkick from Kidd as he racked up another two-count.
Kidd goes for the double underhook suplex, but Tsuji wriggles away and slapped Kidd down to the mat. A spear keeps Kidd there for a near-fall, before a Boston crab rolled Kidd over in the search for a submission. Tsuji drags Kidd away from the ropes, then sits down on him… and that’s the win in a pretty rapid fashion given his last two time limit draws. **½
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
A loss will put Yujiro out of the G1, and he’ll be looking to get only his second win over Ishii, with a win in June 2014 – where he also won the NEVER title – being the only blot on Ishii’s copybook.
Yujiro attacked Ishii as he hit the ring, knocking him down with a clothesline as they went outside… and yes, I’m nervously looking at the taped-up knee of Ishii. An attempt at the Pimp Juice in the aisle is countered, so Yujiro hits a reverse DDT instead before he rolled Ishii into the ring. Elbows from Yujiro take Ishii to the corner, ahead of a front kick that gets just a one-count, before he bounced Ishii out of the opposite corner for a powerslam. A snapmare sets up Ishii to take a low dropkick before Ishii finally came back in with a suplex. Finally Ishii takes off his shirt to whip Yujiro with, but that’s all the offence he gets for now as Yujiro raked the eyes. Ishii’s back with a headbutt, but he gets bitten next, before Yujiro swept the leg and went for a low dropkick. More shots keep Ishii groggy, but then he switches on like we all do after our morning coffee, and takes down Yujiro with a back suplex.
A release Fisherman buster takes down Ishii, who’s writhing in pain into the corner… the same corner that he throws Yujiro into with a German suplex. That’s followed up with a stalling superplex, but Yujiro returns with an Alabama slam of all things as this match remained shockingly even. Yujiro keeps pushing on with a lariat before landing an Incolle slam for a near-fall. Ishii escapes a Miami Shine, but just runs into the move seconds later as Yujiro almost got the win. Pimp Juice looks to follow, but Ishii instead takes a thrust kick before he switched out of the move, dropping Yujiro with a short German suplex.
A lariat from Ishii drops Yujiro for a two-count, before Ishii tried to haul him upf or the sheer drop brainbuster. Yujiro’s proving elusive, but eventually Ishii hauls him up… only for Yujiro to wriggle away and hit a suplex of his own. From there, Ishii just goes “eff it” and hits a lariat… before a small package nearly had the internet rioting. Ishii kicks out, then shoves off Pimp Juice before properly chinning Yujiro with a headbutt. A sliding lariat’s next for a near-fall, as a sheer drop brainbuster got the win for Big Tom. Well, that’s Yujiro absolutely out before you consider tie-breakers – but Ishii does not look to be in a good way. A decent try from Yujiro, but it’s not to be, and I wasn’t as down on this as the Shingo match as Yujiro’s almost-desperation for a win showed through from the off. Not counting the New Japan US shows or wins against Young Lions, that would have been Yujiro’s first win since the last time he was in the G1. In 2015. Waiting. ***
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jeff Cobb vs. Kazuchika Okada
Surprisingly a first-time singles match, and I wonder what the over/under is on the number of times Okada tries that Money Clip?
From the opening lock-up, Cobb took Okada into the ropes, as a switcharound gave Okada the chance to do his patronising clean break. Okada’s shoved into the ropes, as he’s bulled down with a shoulder tackle, before his leapfrog was countered into a stalling suplex from Cobb, forcing Okada to roll outside for respite. Okada returned to land a neckbreaker, but that lower back’s clearly nagging him as Okada goes slow and steady with his offence, chaining neckbreaker after neckbreaker as Hiroshima seemed to be liking this. A chinlock keeps Cobb down, but Okada loses ground when he whipped Cobb to the corner, as the big man came back with shoulder tackles and a charge into the corner.
An overhead belly-to-belly tosses Okada across the ring, before a leaping forearm and a running back suplex out of the corner got Cobb a two-count. Okada fought back with back elbows and a DDT out of the corner for a near-fall, before Cobb put the brakes on a neckbreaker slam attempt. Cobb’s back with a clothesline to take down Okada, before he deadlift Okada, tossing him around in a gutwrench before Okada was popped up into a spinning side suplex. A standing moonsault followed for a two-count, before Okada fought out of a Tour of the Islands, replying with a dropkick.
Okada followed in with a tombstone… and there you go. Money Clip. Cobb looks to get to the ropes, but Okada backslides him into the middle of the ring and teased a Rainmaker, but Cobb ducked it and hits a dropkick instead. Okada again tries for a spinning Rainmaker, but Cobb dumps him with another suplex, before a roll-up out of Tour of the Islands nearly nicked Okada the win. A superkick drops Okada moments later, before he came back with a spinning Rainmaker… it has no effect, so he looked to go for a Money Clip, instead he lifts up Cobb for a neckbreaker slam, but drops down on Cobb and sits on him for the pin. That’s another win for Okada in a match that felt like it never really got going – kinda like when you drive off and realise you’ve left the handbrake/parking brake on? ***
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Will Ospreay vs. Minoru Suzuki
Another first-time meeting here, and it’s a match quite a few people had circled for… reasons.
We start with Ospreay running in with a front kick, as we quickly descend to elbows from Suzuki. He holds onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick from Ospreay, but couldn’t avoid the second one as he’s taken outside for a plancha. Suzuki fights back with elbows before he went to throw Ospreay into the rails… it’s blocked, as Ospreay leaps into a Fujiwara armbar on the floor, which the referee tries to break up, rather than start a count-out. Suzuki grabs a chair, flinging aside referee Marty Asami in the process, before he wrapped Ospreay’s arm in the guard rails and booted it. More armbars follow as Suzuki used the ring post for extra torque, before he continued to work the arm back in the ring. Ospreay tries to chop his way back into the match, but Suzuki just brought him to his knees before uncorking those elbows, with another chop having Ospreay on the deck.
An Octopus follows in the middle of the ring, but Ospreay gets free and returned with a handspring enziguiri as blood was trickling down his chest from that earlier chop. A chop and a standing shooting star press gets Ospreay a two-count, before a springboard forearm was sidestepped, with Suzuki quickly turning it into a Fujiwara armbar. He pulls Ospreay into the middle of the ring to wrench away some more, before Ospreay managed to get a foot to the rope to force a break. Heading to the corner, a running front kick waits for Ospreay, who then got his arms up to block a PK, but that wasn’t exactly smart. Suzuki dares Ospreay to throw some elbows, but like an idiot he throws them with the injured arm, which doesn’t help him. He eventually uses the other arm, but Suzuki just clonks him with elbows before Ospreay found the ropes and hit the springboard forearm for barely a two-count.
Ospreay heads up top, but he’s caught in a double wristlock by Suzuki. Headbutts knock him down, before Ospreay rolled through a 450 splash and eventually caught Suzuki with a hook kick. An attempt at Storm Breaker’s countered by Suzuki, who just waffles Will with elbows before he countered a handspring back elbow into a rear naked choke. Ospreay escapes with a suplex, before Suzuki… broke out a Mistica?! He followed that up with a rear naked choke, but the spin into a Gotch piledriver’s countered with an enziguiri. From there, Ospreay goes for a Storm Breaker, eventually landing it, and that’s the win for Will. This was a pretty good outing, with Suzuki clearly working his game plan from the start, while Ospreay largely avoided flying. Whether that arm injury from Suzuki plays a part going forward remains to be seen though. ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jay White vs. Taichi
A rematch of sorts from last year’s G1, with Jay White beating Taichi at about the same stage in the tour in 2019… White takes a seat in the corner and claps along as Taichi sang at him. I think I… like Jay White?
The crowd pop for both men’s flexing and posing, so I think that makes Hiroshima a body crowd? We start with both men looking to roll outside, as they’re trying to out-shithouse the other. They eventually head outside, before rushing back in as White looked to hit Blade Runner, only for both men to bail back outside. Taichi tosses White into the guard rails, then began to choke him with some camera cables, before White got his way back in, stomping on Taichi on the floor before he threw him into the railings. White rolls in and out of the ring to break the count, then rolled Taichi back in… but Taichi log rolls across the ring and back outside, so White just hurls him into the railings again.
White taunts Taichi with his mic stand, asking for an encore, before he took down the singer with a neckbreaker. An eye rake in the corner forces referee Red Shoes to step in, before White chopped Taichi out of the corner. Taichi returns the favour, then clocked White with an enziguiri in the corner as both men were left laying. A second gamengiri in the corner’s avoided as White chop blocks Taichi’s knee out, then came back with a DDT, following up with a Blade Buster for a near-fall. Another chop fells Taichi, before White tried to avoid a Dangerous backdrop driver… and instead got clocked with a clothesline to the back of the head as White was sent flying into the ropes. White pancakes himself to avoid an Axe Bomber, but ends up standing up into one anyway as Taichi nearly nicked the win, before White again pancaked himself to avoid a Last Ride powerbomb.
Some Kawada kicks looked to weaken the Kiwi, but he snaps back in with a Dragon screw to the leg, before White landed a uranage. Taichi responds with the Dangerous backdrop driver as we crept past the ten minute mark. White elbows back, but just gets kicks from Taichi as he tried to incite some back-and-forth… so he kicks Taichi in the gut as he got fed up of being given a dead leg. The charley horsing worked to some extent though, as it led to White being unable to block another leaping enziguiri. Gedo pops up on the apron to distract the referee as White was being pinned… then let go just in time for Red Shoes to catch a low blow attempt. White shoves Taichi into the referee as we go to Dick Kick City, all of which the referee misses as a Gedo clutch almost puts the former IWGP champ away.
Taichi returned with a Last Ride for a near-fall, before White looked to counter Black Memphisto with a Blade Runner… but instead he’s elbowed away, before he just popped back up and landed the Blade Runner to definitively put Taichi away. An entertaining battle of the shithouses, with Jay White edging out after all of the shenanigans before winning clean. ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Shingo Takagi vs. Kota Ibushi
We main event with one more first-time match-up – and one that a lot of fans have been waiting for as guys who were associated with other promotions for the lion’s share of their careers (Dragon Gate, DDT) finally collide. A real dream match.
We’ve got, at most, thirty minutes of this, as we start with both men taking in the crowd before the opening lock-up ended with Shingo pushing Ibushi into the ropes… only for Kota to switch around and break cleanly, a la Okada. Shingo tries to swing for a chop, but misses as Ibushi sets of a brief see-saw of shoulder tackles that led to him getting knocked down before he kicked down a running Shingo as they quickly reached a stand-off. Shingo takes Ibushi to the corner for a couple of elbows, which Ibushi’s more than happy to throw back, but Shingo has Kota knocked backwards before he’s taken into the ropes and sent outside with a dropkick. Ibushi looked to follow with a plancha, but Shingo just walks away as he teased going for some weaponry.
Instead, cooler heads prevail as Shingo returned to the ring, where he’s met with some kicks from Kota, who elbowed Shingo back into the corner. Shingo floats Ibushi onto the apron, then caught a springboard as he turned it into a hot shot before he clotheslined Ibushi over the top rope and to the floor. On the outside, Shingo charges Ibushi into the side of the ring, before a snap DDT left him laying in front of the commentary team. Back inside, a slingshot knee drop keeps Ibushi by the ropes, as Shingo stomps away, following up with an elbow as he looked to snuff out Kota’s comeback. A suplex drops Kota, with Shingo then diving in for a chinlock, only for Ibushi to get free as the match quickly descended into rapid-fire elbows between the two. A kick’s countered with a Dragon screw as Shingo saw it coming, before he clobbered Ibushi with a clothesline in the corner.
A ‘rana takes Shingo down as Ibushi was looking to stem the tide, before kicks and a standing moonsault get Ibushi a two-count. Shingo rolls outside, and this time eats a plancha before they went back inside as Ibushi looked for a powerbomb. It’s blocked as Shingo back body drops his way free, only for Ibushi to throw more kicks… only to get caught with the jab/elbow/clothesline combination from Shingo. Ibushi elbows free of a noshigami, then hits a backslide as he tried to roll Shingo in for a Kamigoye… but Shingo avoids it and hits a noshigami anyway for a near-fall. The pair trade lariats until Shingo properly folded Ibushi with a Saito suplex… but Kota’s back up for a half-and-half suplex as both men were left laying. They throw more elbows as they got back to their feet, before they upgraded to chops and kicks, with the odd jab thrown in there for good measure.
Shingo tries for a German suplex, eventually hitting it as Ibushi flipped into the ropes, before regaining his feet to punt Shingo in the back of the head. A sit-out powerbomb’s good for a near-fall for Ibushi, before Shingo returned with a pop-up death valley driver. Ibushi tries his luck with a leaping knee, but couldn’t instantly follow through with Kamigoye, having to deal with more strikes from Shingo before a missed kick forced Ibushi into a delayed Made in Japan. Oh my word, that look as Kota was held up. Another lariat drops Ibushi, as Shingo nailed a Pumping Bomber to the back, then the front, almost winning the match right there and then as we crossed the twenty-minute mark. Shingo tries to pick up Ibushi for a Last of the Dragon, but another lariat dumped last year’s G1 winner on his head. More lariats stagger Ibushi down to his knees, before Ibushi returned with one of his own, knocking down Shingo.
From there, Ibushi looked to tee up for another crack at the Kamigoye, but first… Busaiku knee! That gets a near-fall, before a Kamigoye is blocked, then turned into Last of the Dragon for the win! An instant classic, and one that felt like there was definitely more left in the tank – with these two almost sure to go one better when we’re able to get rematches in front of “old school” crowds. For what we got though, this more than slaked the thirst of those who’d dreamt about this match for years. ****½
Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Jay White (4-2; 8pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Shingo Takagi (3-3; 6pts)
Jeff Cobb (2-4; 4pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (0-6; 0pts) * eliminated
Tetsuya Naito (4-1; 8pts)
EVIL, Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano (3-2; 6pts)
Hirooki Goto, KENTA, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (2-3; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-4; 2pts)
(Unofficial) Block C (W-L-D)
Yota Tsuji (4-2-2)
Yuya Uemura (3-3-1)
Gabriel Kidd (2-4-1)
The G1 hits the road again, with Thursday’s night in Okayama being the final on this stretch of the tour – and it’s back to the B block with EVIL returning to the main event against Hiroshi Tanahashi, while YOSHI-HASHI will need to beat his tag team partner Hirooki Goto to have a hope of staying alive in the G1. It’s funny, given that we all wrote off block B as the “story block,” but today’s show seemed more story-heavy than ever. Yujiro desperately trying to find a big singles victory in Japan after five years. Okada sticking resolutely to his “new ways” yet squeaking out victories. Sure, the latter means we’re not getting “classic Okada”, but I’m a sucker for stories that are executed and actually play out in front of my eyes.