Block A of the G1 is onto its penultimate night, and names continue to fall as the tour hits Shizuoka.
Yuya Uemura pinned Gabriel Kidd in 8:38 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jeff Cobb pinned Will Ospreay in 12:22 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kota Ibushi pinned Yujiro Takahashi in 12:26 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Taichi pinned Shingo Takagi in 16:21 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jay White pinned Minoru Suzuki in 20:20 (****)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kazuchika Okada defeated Tomohiro Ishii via referee stoppage in 26:14 (***½)
Shizuoka’s Hamamatsu Arena is the host for this night of the tour…
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuya Uemura
We open up at a pretty fast clip here, with Kidd and Uemura looking for wristlocks – with the Brit getting his on first before Uemura took him down in some headscissors.
Kidd headstands free and transitions to a side headlock, but almost gets rolled up as Uemura had learned a few tricks on this tour. A faked-out Test of Strength saw Kidd roll Uemura down into a toe hold, which he then manipulated into a Muta lock, then into a camel clutch and a chinbar as Kidd cycled through holds. Eventually Uemura gets to the rope, but Kidd cartwheeled back in for a front facelock, only for Uemura to counter with a hammerlock. He drags Kidd to the mat, before he got back up to trade wristlocks once more. Again, Uemura takes down Kidd, who eventually fought free with some forearms and elbows.
A shoulder tackle helps get Kidd a two-count before Uemura looked to block a suplex attempt. Kidd gets it off at the second attempt, landing it for a near-fall before Uemura dove for the ropes as Kidd teed up for the double underhook suplex. Uemura replies with an armdrag into a scissored armbar, rolling Kidd back into the middle of the ring only for Kidd to roll back and slap his way free. Things descend into strikes, with Uemura’s elbows earning him plenty of returns, only for him to run into a dropkick from Kidd for a near-fall. Another armdrag into an armbar from Uemura has Kidd back down, but he’s rolled up for the capture suplex… and that’s enough to get Uemura the win that puts him at the top of their group. Solid enough as an opener, but I fear this is going to be a tough crowd tonight… **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jeff Cobb vs. Will Ospreay
A rematch from the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden, where Cobb unseated Ospreay as NEVER champion back in April 2019 – and while Cobb needs a lot of bizarre results to win, he could put a big dent in Ospreay’s G1 chances here.
Ospreay dives at Cobb with a shotgun dropkick at the bell, taking him into the corner before sidestepping a leaping back elbow from Cobb. We quickly go to chops, with Cobb felling Ospreay, who responds with a tijeras to take Cobb outside… but Cobb catches a handspring as Ospreay tried to fake out a dive, and dragged him into the apron as he teased a powerbomb to the floor. Instead, Ospreay flips back inside the ring and knocks down Cobb for a Sasuke special, before they returned inside with Ospreay hitting a low dropkick in the corner for just a one-count. Cobb gets back up to shrug off Ospreay’s elbows, but the “free shot” was a con as Ospreay kicked Cobb in the midsection before he hit the ropes for a springboard forearm… which Cobb caught and turned into an overhead belly-to-belly.
The leaping elbow in the corner followed, as did a running back suplex out of it. A no bump suplex from Cobb followed, but Ospreay fought back… and ran into a bear hug. He elbows free, but Cobb comes right back as he tossed Ospreay in a gutwrench before blocking a sunset flip attempt, only for Ospreay to dropkick him away. A standing shooting star press from Ospreay keeps Cobb down for a near-fall, before the springboard forearm landed for another two-count. Cobb ducks a Hidden Blade, then clotheslined Ospreay away as his standing moonsault landed for a near-fall. An attempted Tour of the Islands changed into a Code Red for a near-fall, before he looked for a Storm Breaker… which Cobb back body drops away.
Cobb keeps going, blocking a superkick to land one of his own, only for Ospreay to return with a standing Spanish Fly for a near-fall. He heads to the apron for a springboard 450, which still doesn’t put Cobb away, as Ospreay goes back with hook kicks before an OsCutter’s blocked… with Cobb turning that into an F5.
It almost gets Cobb the win, before another Tour of the Islands was avoided… as was another OsCutter, before Cobb pushed Ospreay into the corner, from where that OsCutter finally lands. From there, Storm Breaker is again avoided, before an elevated German suplex from Cobb and a Tour of the Islands gets the win. This was perhaps the clunkiest I’ve seen from Will yet as a heavyweight. That reliance on trying to do the same flips he could twelve months ago is a facet of these matches that badly needs to be polished or removed. Their match at MSG was miles better. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kota Ibushi
Yujiro holds a win over Ibushi in their only prior match – in 2013’s G1.
The bell goes, with neither man in a hurry to engage. When they do, they lock-up into the ropes with Yujiro breaking cleanly… only to throw Ibushi outside, but not follow-up on it. Hair pulling back inside sees Yujiro throw Kota back out, and now he follows him, only to get thrown into the guard rails. Yujiro dives back inside to avoid Ibushi following up on him, and manages to get a boot in, before Kota took him outside… only to have his plancha blocked. A reversed whip into the rails ends with Yujiro raking the eyes before he took Ibushi into the rails, with a reverse DDT on the floor following. So far, this is feeling very half-speed this match…
Back inside, Yujiro’s putting the boots to Ibushi, before a falling headbutt gets him a near-fall. It’s the same frustrating gameplan from Yujiro, who’s kept hitting and running before finally getting the opening. A battle over a suplex ends with Yujiro landing it, before Ibushi came back in with a kick off the ropes. Ibushi finally turned up the speed a little with a flurry of strikes ahead of a standing moonsault for a near-fall, but Yujiro hangs up Ibushi in the ropes before a running boot and a lariat dropped him for a two-count. Ibushi finds a way back in with a stomp to counter Yujiro’s low dropkick, but some biting gets Yujiro back in it as he avoided an Ibushi dropkick. A second low dropkick misses, as Yujiro tries his luck with an Incolle Slam, but Ibushi escapes with a head kick, before a Last Ride turned into an Incolle Slam.
Ibushi’s taken up top for an avalanche fisherman buster, before a regular one drops him for a near-fall. Yujiro avoids a Kamigoye attempt, but his Miami Shine’s escaped as Ibushi countered back with a leaping knee… which finally led to Kamigoye for the win. This felt very lifeless for most of the match, with the “Yujiro trying to get his win” story working on paper, but just not translating well. ***
That win means that Will Ospreay can’t win A block by himself anymore – and would need a multi-way tie-breaker to get to Sunday’s final.
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Taichi vs. Shingo Takagi
A rematch from last year’s G1, where Shingo beat Taichi in the mid-way part of the tournament – but both men are now out after Ibushi’s win meant that everyone who started the day on six points is out.
Shingo seemed amped up at the bell, while Taichi just wanted to chill in the corner. When they do lock-up, Taichi does his usual thing of backing into the ropes, offering no resistance, before a boot to the gut and an eye rake took Shingo down. He’s quickly back with a clothesline and a shoulder tackle, sending Taichi outside… and of course, Taichi grabs the timekeeper’s mallet and whacks Shingo with it. The ref gets thrown aside when he spots it, as Taichi chokes on Shingo by the railings, before he took him back inside for more choking. A snapmare and a kick to the back from Taichi has Shingo hurt, but Shingo wins out on a battle of backdrop suplexes to buy him some time.
A suplex from Shingo keeps him ahead, as did a sliding lariat, but Taichi manages to come back with a leaping enziguiri in the corner. The Shingo combination of an elbow, a jab and a lariat has Taichi down as Shingo quickly followed up with noshigami for a near-fall, before he looked to go for Made in Japan. Taichi gets free, then absorbs a lariat as the pair went back to trading strikes. Kicks and chops leave both men rattled, with a double chop from Shingo taking down Taichi, before an Axe Bomber and a leaping enziguiri from Taichi had Shingo back in the corner. Duelling clotheslines follow, before Shingo’s Pumping Bomber was countered with a Dangerous backdrop driver.
Taichi keeps up with an Axe Bomber for a near-fall, but Shingo’s back with left-right elbows before Taichi’s attempt to go for a low blow almost backfired as Shingo caught the low blow and rolled him into a Gedo clutch for a near-fall. A missed head kick from Taichi allows Shingo to land Made in Japan for a near-fall, before a Pumping Bomber got Shingo even closer to the finishing line. A rake of the eyes gets Taichi free from Last of the Dragons, as he proceeded to hit one of his own (?!) for a near-fall. Off come the trousers as he proceeds to hit another leaping enziguiri before a Gedo clutch drew a near-fall. A headbutt from Shingo looked to have him ahead, but Taichi returns with a superkick and Black Memphisto for the win. An enjoyable war of match, with Taichi not-so-secretly becoming one of the block’s more reliable figures this year. They made me give a damn about who was winning an otherwise-meaningless match at this part of the tour. ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jay White vs. Minoru Suzuki
Another match with only one prior meeting, with Suzuki getting the win over Jay White in 2017’s G1. White needs to get that win back here to stay alive going into the finals in Sumo Hall on Friday…
After too-sweeting Gedo outside before the bell, White rolls outside to start the match. Suzuki was NOT happy with that, and began to give chase, before he kicked White squarely in the quad. I mean, it may as well have been a kick to the arse. White tries to go for a waistlock takedown, but Suzuki grabs the arm and torques away on the wrist until the Kiwi backed into the corner. There’s an eventual break, before Suzuki went for a front facelock… letting go in the corner so he could light up White with chops before he caught the former IWGP champion with a hanging armbar.
Gedo tried to interfere, but stopped himself as Suzuki let go and stared him down… creating an opening for White to attack from behind as he charged Suzuki into the railings. A chop by the rails just pisses off Suzuki, as did White attacking him on the way back to the ring. White’s neckbreaker barely gets a one-count, so he takes down Suzuki for a chinlock… but Suzuki gets free, only to get taken into the ropes with an eye rake as Gedo again threatened with a chair in hand. That distraction allows White to go out for a chair, but Suzuki disarms him and waffles him with it several times before Red Shoes returned to grab the hardware. White tries to kick Suzuki away, eventually kicking out Suzuki’s knee before suplexing him at short-range into the buckles.
Suzuki tries for a rear naked choke, but White backs into the corner and starts elbowing away, only for those to get returned with interest. CLONK. White’s sent outside, but he pulls himself back in… and gets nailed again. Those death stares from Suzuki are always immense, eh? In the corner, Suzuki hits some gut punches to White, who finally responded by jarring Suzuki’s knee over his shoulder, then with a chop block. Game on. Dragon screws on the mat keep Suzuki at bay, before a running death valley driver drew a near-fall. Chops just seem to fire up Suzuki, only for a DDT to leave him laying once more.
White tries to pull Suzuki up for a sleeper suplex, but Suzuki goes back to the armbar instead as some more shots sent White rolling outside for cover. Back inside, White evades a rear naked choke, only to get caught… before he countered out of the Gotch piledriver with Dragon screws. Suzuki returned with a heel hook, that forced White to scratch and claw his way to the ropes. Another elbow sinks White, bouncing him off the ropes before Gedo crawled into the ring. The distraction works as White chop blocks Suzuki’s knee again, then dropped him with a Blade Buster. White looks for a Blade Runner, but Suzuki deftly counters into a cross armbar, dragging White away from the ropes as Gedo again ran in. White taps as Gedo distracts, and then Suzuki gets go so he could deck Gedo. Finally.
White’s still down though, and gets back to his feet in time for Suzuki to use him as a speed bag. Another Blade Runner’s attempted, with Suzuki grabbing the hair to escape before another clonking elbow dropped White. From there it’s a rear naked choke to drop the Kiwi again, but as he went for the Gotch piledriver, Gedo grabbed the referee by the heel. That masks a low blow, as White eventually got the win with a Blade Runner. This got way too interference-heavy towards the end, which will hurt some’s enjoyment – but until then this was a cracking match from the already-eliminated Suzuki, who went back on the warpath afterwards. ****
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kazuchika Okada
Is it today where Okada hits a Rainmaker? He’s got a pretty heavy record over Ishii, going 3-1 in prior singles matches – all in tournaments, as well, with Ishii’s win in 2016’s G1 being the only blot on Okada’s record.
Our main event starts with Ishii staring a hole through Okada, before the opening lock-up saw Ishii take Okada into the ropes for the mock-clean break. Wash, rinse and repeat, except with Okada on top, before things broke down to the pair hitting the ropes for shoulder tackles. An armdrag from Okada has Ishii down, but he avoids a low dropkick as we’re back to see-saw shoulder tackles, with Okada winning out. Okada takes Ishii into the corner for elbows… which rocked the Stone Pitbull ahead of a snapmare down and a low dropkick by the ropes. A senton atomico from Okada misses, as Ishii returned fire with a suplex, following up with a series of chops that kept Okada in the corner… while simultaneously annoying him to boot.
Okada fires back with chops and elbows, only for Ishii to go for the throat to knock him down. More chops eventually get a receipt from Okada, who again gets chopped in the throat before he returned with a flapjack to take Ishii down. Back elbows see Okada build up steam, only to get caught with a headbutt to the gut as Ishii refused to stay too far behind. A DDT from Okada has Ishii down, but slapping Ishii went down as a Very Bad Idea, with Ishii getting up to trade elbow strikes that eventually had Okada down in a heap. Ishii takes Okada up top for a superplex, but he’s knocked down… only for the follow up headbutt from Ishii to go south
Ishii avoids Okada coming off the top, but runs into a neckbreaker slam out of the corner, before a scoop slam off the ropes… barely fazed Okada. He’s back with a boot, then an elbow, before Ishii was backed into the corner… where he pulled Okada in for a German suplex into the buckles. Staying on top, Ishii went for a lariat, but had more luck with an enziguiri before Okada caught him with a dropkick. A tombstone follows, and then Okada goes to the Money Clip as he’s apparently set himself a challenge to win matches with an inferior move. Ishii manages to drag himself to the ropes to force a break, before he blocked another tombstone attempt.
Ishii manages to come back with a German suplex, before a counter to the neckbreaker slam ended with Okada sitting down on him for a two-count. Wash, rinse, repeat, but this time Ishii nearly sneaks the win with the sunset flip counter, before he swatted away a discus lariat. Elbows have Okada staggered, as he then caught a sliding lariat from Ishii and turned it back into the Money Clip. Ishii gets his way back up with a chicken wing, turning it into a DDT as he then proceeded to for an armbar, but that too ends in the ropes as we approached the 20 minute mark. Okada lifts Ishii up top as he ran at him, but the leaping dropkick doesn’t knock Ishii to the floor as Okada instead got met with a knee drop to the back of the head.
After a sliding lariat, Ishii tries to finish off Okada, but got caught with a spinning tombstone. He’s back up to clonk Okada with headbutts and an enziguiri, before another Okada dropkick knocked Ishii loopy. A spinning lariat has Ishii down, and then of course, Money Clip. Ishii looks to be fading, just like Okada’s grip, so Okada flips him back over… and gets cracked with a headbutt from Ishii. A lariat off the ropes from Ishii almost put Okada away, but the sheer drop brainbuster is escaped as they fumbled back and forth into that Money Clip. Ishii counters out with a Codebreaker of all things, before Okada teased a backslide into a Rainmaker… eventually landing a lariat. He pulls Ishii up for a Rainmaker, but instead lands a dropkick as we of course go back to the Money Clip… will Ishii be the first to submit to it in the G1? Not yet, as he monsters up, only for Okada to take him down with a Randy Orton backbreaker and back into the Money Clip as Red Shoes again waved off the match. After the match, the three Young Lions tried to revive Ishii, which I guess is to help make the Money Clip more deadly… but only after so many tries. I get where they’re going with Okada, but the journey isn’t making for good matches – although it is setting up for a big finale on Friday. ***½
Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White (6-2; 12pts)
Will Ospreay (5-3; 10pts)
Jeff Cobb, Taichi (4-4; 8pts) * eliminated
Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, Shingo Takagi (3-5; 6pts) * eliminated
Yujiro Takahashi (0-8; 0pts) * eliminated
Block A tie-breakers: Ibushi has beaten Ospreay and Okada; White has beaten Okada and Ibushi; Ospreay has beaten White and faces Okada on Friday; Okada has no wins over the others in this group – which effectively means a win for White on Friday will win him the block on tiebreakers.
Block B (not taking tie-breakers into account)
EVIL, Tetsuya Naito (5-2; 10pts)
Hirooki Goto, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA (4-3; 8pts)
KENTA, Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano (3-4; 6pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-6; 2pts) * eliminated
(Unofficial) Block C (W-L-D)
Yuya Uemura (5-4-1)
Yota Tsuji (4-4-2)
Gabriel Kidd (4-5-1)
Block A returns on Friday with Ospreay vs. Okada, Ibushi vs. Taichi and Ishii vs. White and the key deciders… but first, it’s off to the new Yokohama Budokan tomorrow for block B’s penultimate round, with SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi on top. Today wasn’t hitting the same prolonged heights as Saturday’s show, but at least the block made their key matches count, as we head into Friday’s block finale facing a possibly-headache-inducing four-way tie.