It’s back to Hokkaido as block B of the G1 Climax is in action, with Zack Sabre Jr. looking to make it two wins in a row as he faced Tetsuya Naito in the main event.
Yota Tsuji submitted Yuya Uemura in 8:13 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Hirooki Goto pinned SANADA in 11:03 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Toru Yano pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 7:14 (**¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Juice Robinson pinned KENTA in 17:01 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: EVIL pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 17:20 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Tetsuya Naito pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 28:28 (****¼)
We’re back at the Hokkai Kitayell in Hokkaido for the second of two nights here – it’s block B on the docket tonight.
Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
I swear Tsuji’s hair’s getting more and more wild on this tour.
Uemura’s trying to get back in the winning column after losing to Gabriel Kidd last night, and started brightly, going behind Tsuji for a waistlock as he rolled him to the mat for an early one-count. An attempted toe hold keeps Tsuji down, despite his attempts to kick away, as a rope break proved to be the only thing that saved him. Tsuji takes Uemura into the ropes, knocking him with a back elbow on the rebound, before some elbows back-and-forth led to a slam from Tsuji. That’s followed up with a cravat, then a snapmare into a sleeperhold, forcing Uemura to reach for the rope with his foot.
Another Irish whip takes Uemura into the corner for a leaping forearm, as a shoulder tackle puts him down for a two-count. Chops follow as Tsuji lit up Uemura’s chest, but Uemura’s back with running elbows to get himself a two-count as well. A dropkick follows, but rather than go for a pin, Uemura tries to go for a Boston crab… but Tsuji squirms and instead he’s met with a leglock that forces him into the ropes. Tsuji responds with a dropkick off the ropes, before a deadlift suplex came to nought. The spear was more fruitful though, as Tsuji followed up with a powerslam variation on a Finlay roll for a near-fall… then went over to the Boston crab, dragging Uemura way from the ropes before forcing the submission as he sat down. Some decent back-and-forth here, as Tsuji threatened to break out here… but the camera shows Gabriel Kidd staring a hole through him. They’re opening up the show on Sunday… **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: SANADA vs. Hirooki Goto
These guys have only got three prior singles outings, all in tournaments. Goto’s only win came in the G1 two years ago…
Goto goes in for a waistlock at the start, but instead the pair go back and forth on wristlocks and hammerlocks before a shoulder tackle from Goto put SANADA down. A hiptoss has the same effect, but SANADA low bridges Goto to the outside before faking out a dive… faking *that* out for a moonsault off the apron before he hurled Goto into the guard rails. Goto tries to respond with a clothesline, but ends up hitting the ring post as SANADA instantly capitalised by wrenching the arm around the guard rails. Back inside, a back elbow from SANADA took down Goto for an eventual low dropkick, as Japanese commentary was musing about Goto’s shoulder being taped up this heavily this early in the tournament.
SANADA tries to go for a Saito suplex, but Goto elbows free before hitting a back suplex of his own as SANADA charged into the corner. That’s followed up with a spinning heel kick and a bulldog as Goto looked to push on, only to get taken outside after SANADA’s leapfrogs/dropkick combo. A plancha follows on the outside, but SANADA’s caught as he tries to springboard back inside. An ushigoroshi comes to nought, as they switcharound… leading to SANADA going for an O’Connor roll, instead pulling Goto into a Skull End. Goto gets a foot to the rope to save him, and is quickly back with a discus lariat before an attempt at a GTR was flipped out of, with Goto instead getting caught in another Skull End.
There’s a whole lotta reversals and counters as Goto almost snatched the win with a roll-up… SANADA does the same, before an ushigoroshi into a GTR was countered with a roll-up. SANADA manages to break through with an ushigoroshi of his own as he teased a TKO, before Goto looked for a Shouten Kai… only to get met with a one-man Magic Killer. From there, SANADA whiffs on a moonsault. He recovers with a second moonsault into a Skull End, but Goto switched out for an elevated GYR that almost got the win. A GTW follows, as Goto’s moveset seems to be all about those TLAs, before a mid kick and a GTR put SANADA away. This was a somewhat lively match, although that Hokkaido crowd did this little favours… nor did the exchange of counters and reversals that some may see as contrived. Still, the bigger story coming out of this may be Goto playing the Tanahashi role of wrestling in the G1 with an injury. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Toru Yano vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Now for something completely different…
These two have had a boat load of singles matches dating back to 2013, with Tanahashi winning 17 of 20… and there’s an ominous 30:00 draw between these two from the G1 in 2005. Again, the referee is frisking Yano for tape, leaving Yano exasperated… we apparently have the promise of a clean fight, but Yano rolls outside at the bell. He wants to calm down, it seems. They’re arguing over where to fight, and it’s only the realised threat of an expedited count that gets Yano back in… where he actually, wrestles?!
He and Tanahashi trade holds on the mat, before Yano went to undo the turnbuckle pad. He’s stopped by Tanahashi, who does it himself? Okay… Yano gets the other pad undone first, and plays pass the parcel with it. Tanahashi plays air guitar, before he Dragon screws Yano onto the pad, and now they wander down the aisle. Yano throws Tanahashi into the guard rails, before the pair trade elbows in the entry way. The referee’s started the count, so Yano rakes the eyes, then sprints back to the ring… Tanahashi does the same, beating the count before he’s forced to kick-out from a flash roll-up.
Yota Tsuji tried to cheerlead Tanahashi from ringside as Tanahashi set up for a slam and a flip senton that almost got the win. They’re back outside as Tanahashi misses a plancha, then got taken into the guard rails as Yano found his tape under the ring. Except Tanahashi kicks the tape out of his hands, then proceeds to blindfold Yano with it, yet somehow Yano fumbles his way back into the ring. Still blinded, Yano eats a Twist and Shout neckbreaker, before he found a way to grab the referee, duck a Slingblade, before punting Tanahashi low and snatching the win with a roll-up. Yes, a blindfold Toru Yano just pinned the Ace. A new low for him, surely. **¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
It’s a first-time match under these names, but in another universe, KENTA’s 5-0 over Juice from their time in NXT.
As always, KENTA’s in no rush to get going, as he leans through the ropes to make sure that Juice couldn’t come flying out of the blocks. Rolling outside keeps the delays up, but Juice follows… allowing KENTA to roll back in and put the boots in as the brief chase ended. Juice kicks away a back body drop and instead goes to ground with a headlock takedown, before some Dusty punches forced KENTA to roll back outside. Juice gives chase, but gets caught in between the ropes with some kicks as KENTA then went up top for a knee drop that folded Juice in half. A back elbow off the ropes knocks Juice down for a two-count, before a snapmare and a kick to the back left Juice down… while KENTA mocks the clappy-crowd.
Another knee drop leads to a grounded chinlock as Juice was being worn down… then thrown down after he’d gotten back to his feet. Kicks to the midsection follow as Juice goes back to the side headlocks, right as my feed dropped. It’s back as Juice is getting to his feet, busting out the Dusty punches, faking out the final punch ahead of a DDT that got a solid two-count. An attempt at the Juice Box ends with KENTA raking the eyes, before landing a scoop slam off the ropes, as he looked to regain the upper hand. While clapping like a loon. Kicks wear down Juice ahead of a release Fisherman suplex for a near-fall, before a thumb to the eye set up KENTA to drop Juice with a tornado hotshot across the top rope. A flying clothesline is next for a two-count, before Juice fought back in with a leg lariat.
A corner clothesline is next from Juice, who rattled KENTA with a cannonball for a near-fall, before he looked to get the crowd geed up with some rhythms out of Queen. KENTA’s lifted up top for a chop, but the follow-up superplex came to nought as KENTA headbutts free, knocking Juice down ahead of a missile dropkick. That took Juice into the corner for a running front kick, then a hesitation dropkick as a double stomp off the top almost got KENTA the win. The Green Killer draping DDT is next from KENTA, before a knee to the back as Juice was in the ropes set up for a Busaiku knee attempt… but Juice sidesteps and came back with a full nelson slam.
With both men back on their feet, Juice and KENTA trade elbow strikes, with Juice pulling ahead as he tried to blast through the Bullet Club man. KENTA hits back, hitting backfists for fun before he was caught with a lariat, as it felt that both men were looking for the proverbial Hail Mary. Palm strikes from KENTA looked to lead to a Go 2 Sleep, but he loses Juice… then tries again, only for Juice to slip out for a Pulp Friction. That’s countered as a G2S is caught, with Juice landing a Left Hand of God, knocking KENTA down before Pulp Friction lands for the win. This felt overly-long, and didn’t really land with me. Although “Juice beating KENTA” sure looks weird, I’d suspect this win is more about setting up a briefcase defence, be it in Japan or the US. ***
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: EVIL vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Amazingly, these two have had five prior singles outings, with YOSHI-HASHI winning three of them – but the most recent was a quick stoppage in the New Japan Cup as EVIL squashed an injured YOSHI-HASHI earlier in the year.
YOSHI-HASHI is ready for a pre-match attack, ducking a chair shot as he chokes EVIL with his curtain rod before the bell. The referee starts the match as YOSHI-HASHI batters EVIL into the corner, before a clothesline and a shoulder tackle knocked down the former double-champ. Remember that? EVIL clings onto the ropes to avoid an Irish whip, so YOSHI-HASHI chops him before… he got tripped by Dick Togo, who bounces him off the guard rails. Sigh. A snap suplex on the chairs has YOSHI-HASHI in trouble, before he’s taken back inside as EVIL lands a bodyslam for a two-count.
An Irish whip takes YOSHI-HASHI into the exposed corner, and now EVIL begins to focus on that lower back with forearms and a backbreaker for a two-count. YOSHI-HASHI blocks a suplex, countering with one of his own, before a low dropkick caught EVIL right in the knee. Chops follow from YOSHI-HASHI, but he couldn’t get a slam off as he’s pushed into the ropes… only to rebound with a Head Hunter! A baseball slide dropkick took care of Togo, as YOSHI-HASHI pushed ahead with a suplex into the ropes before a dropkick to the back and a second low dropkick put down EVIL for a two-count. EVIL hits the ropes as YOSHI-HASHI went up top, joining him there for a superplex that led to a huge impact… and a near-fall for the former double champ.
Another Irish whip bounces YOSHI-HASHI into the exposed corner as EVIL follows up with Darkness Falls for another two-count. YOSHI-HASHI elbows away an attempt at Everything is EVIL, then threw EVIL into the exposed corner, before a battle of chops was stopped with a thrust kick and a Western lariat from YOSHI-HASHI. From there, he goes for a kumagoroshi, planting EVIL in the middle of the ring for a two-count, following that up with a Butterfly lock. Dick Togo pops up on the apron to distract… he’s knocked down, before EVIL’s thrown back into him. It’s back to the Butterfly lock, with EVIL getting dragged away from the ropes before he pulled YOSHI-HASHI’s ear to try and get free. It doesn’t work though, as YOSHI just pulls him back down as the pair struggled to get closer/away from the ropes.
YOSHI-HASHI switches into a Key lock, but EVIL got to the ropes anyway after a lengthy struggle. Pushing away the referee, EVIL goes for a low blow, but YOSHI-HASHI blocks it… only to get met with a clothesline as both men were left laying. EVIL keeps going for his finisher, but eats a Dragon suplex and a Meteora for a near-fall as Dick Togo was losing his mind at ringside. A slam follows as EVIL heads up for a Loose Explosion, landing the senton bomb for a near-fall. Now we get the bollocks with Dick Togo hitting YOSHI-HASHI with a chair behind the ref’s back, before he used the piano wire… but YOSHI-HASHI overpowers him and fights back with a rear spin kick to EVIL. Another Western Lariat follows for a near-fall, but then EVIL shuts the door as he pushed YOSHI-HASHI towards the ref, following up with a low blow and Everything is EVIL for the win. I mean, when you need to use your big bag of tricks to put away YOSHI-HASHI, that’s a clear sign your main event experiment is in the rear view mirror, no? This again felt like it went too long, but at least YOSHI-HASHI looked like a real threat in a big role for once… plus, it helped that I was steeled for the Dick Togo stuff, given the lack of BS on the Bullet Club matches yesterday. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito
There’s four prior singles outings here, with the pair splitting two wins apiece, while ZSJ is looking to score his second upset in as many matches.
We’ve our usual Naito opening, frustrating Sabre’s attempts at a hold early on, but Zack did manage to pull Naito into an arm wringer before they broke cleanly. An attempted leg lock from Sabre instantly ends in the ropes, so Naito rolls outside to compose himself, returning as he looked to tie up Sabre in a wristlock. Zack rolls around to reverse it, then trips Naito as we get another rope break to continue the stop-start nature of the match. A series of switcharounds led to Naito grabbing the rope to force a break on a waistlock, which Sabre eventually did as he mocked the LIJ pose. Another wristlock from Sabre followed as he looked to work over Naito’s arm, but yet again there’s a rope break… and this time Zack doesn’t break clean, choosing to wring the arm before using every second of that five-count. Naito responds with an armdrag and a tijeras to take Sabre outside, but of course there’s no dive… and of course Sabre reacts by turning the tranquilo pose into some pinning attempts as he jack-knifed Naito to almost snatch a win.
That finally woke up Naito, who looked to mount some offence courtesy of some grounded headscissors, before Naito took Sabre to the ropes for a hiptoss, eventually getting it after he had to fight out of a Cobra twist. Some neck twists followed from Sabre, before he hung Naito in the ropes with a guillotine from the outside in. Letting go of the hold, Sabre propels Naito backwards into the guard rails, before returning to the ring with some headscissors as he squeezed away on Naito’s head. As he’s want to do, Zack throws in an armbar too before they rolled to the ropes, before Sabre swept away Naito’s legs as he looked to be going for a Combinacion Cabron.
Naito returns, but quickly gets taken down to the mat as Sabre goes for the head and neck, switching into a cravat, but a snapmare proves to be an undoing as Naito rolled through and took Sabre down with a neckbreaker. A whip into the ropes takes Sabre back for a back elbow before Naito connected with Combinacion Cabron, getting him a delayed two-count. More headscissors on the mat are next as Naito keeps the match on the mat, but Sabre swivels his hips as he rolls the pair into the ropes. Naito needs help to release his own hold, then comes back in with a cravat as he tried to keep Sabre at bay. Zack rolls free, but runs into a boot from Naito… before rebounding off the buckles with a tornado DDT to stop that momentum in its tracks. Zack returns with a flying triangle armbar, pulling Naito to the mat before adding some more torque until they roll into the ropes. That always seems to be Sabre’s downfall – trying to reposition the hold and all that…
Some front kicks from Sabre end with Naito sweeping his leg out from underneath him, before dragging him outside for a draping neckbreaker off the apron. Naito rolls him back inside, taking him to the corner for some wild elbows that left Sabre in a heap as we approached the 20-minute mark. More elbows to the neck follow, before Sabre’s taken up top for a ‘rana… but Naito can’t follow up as Sabre hit back with body blows before a swinging DDT left the tag champ down for a near-fall. Naito goes back to Pluma Blanca, but Sabre ties up the leg to try and free himself, before he managed to roll the pair of them into the ropes. Gloria’s next as Naito tries to push on, but Sabre sandbags to save himself… before coming back with an overhead kick to thearm, An enziguiri from Naito looked to give him momentum, but a leaping forearm off the ropes is sidestepped as Sabre ties him up in an Octopus hold as this match passed the mark for their longest outing yet.
Sabre rolls Naito to the mat, but rather than go for a pin, he reapplies the Octopus, wrenching back on the arm before they rolled into the ropes. Another flurry sees Sabre try to land a Zack Driver, but in the scramble Naito gets free and lands a Destino, before a second Destino was countered into a SPIKING Zack Driver! Unable to go for a pin, Sabre comes back in with a front guillotine, wrenching back on the head and neck as he looked to tee up for a second Zack Driver, before spinning Naito to the mat for a Euro clutch. That gets a near-fall, before Sabre came closer still with a Japanese leg clutch. Naito tries to come back in with a Koppo kick, but Sabre still stays on top as the clock began to tick. We’re into the final two and a half minutes, teasing a draw, but Naito counters out of another Zack Driver into a Destino for a near-fall… before he wound up Sabre for one more Destino for the win! This felt like the proverbial game of chess – throwing in a lot of strategy in lieu of anything overly flashy. Some may say this “borrowed” the old Okada formula, picking up steam for the final furlong, but it worked here, as Naito eked out a win with about 90 seconds to go. ****¼
After two matches in each block, here’s the standings:
Will Ospreay, Taichi, Jay White (2-0; 4pts)
Jeff Cobb, Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki (1-1; 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, Yujiro Takahashi (0-2; 0pts)
Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano (2-0; 4pts)
EVIL, Hirooki Goto, KENTA, Zack Sabre Jr. (1-1; 2pts)
YOSHI-HASHI, SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2; 0pts)
(Unofficial) Block C
Yota Tsuji (2-1)
Gabriel Kidd (1-1)
Yuya Uemura (1-2)
The G1’s got two nights off, and returns on Sunday for an 8am UK/3am EST start in Hyogo’s Kobe World Hall. Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White headlines there, in a rematch from the main event of that show at Madison Square Garden that Jay keeps bragging about selling-out “single handedly…” Today’s show was a cut below yesterday’s card, I fear today’s block B outing is going to set the tone for a lot of the tour stops. “When it’s YOSHI-HASHI who saves the show…” is perhaps a misleading statement, it certainly threatened to be the big takeaway up until the main event.