A spot in the main event of WrestleKingdom is on the line as SANADA and Kota Ibushi’s chase culminated at Sumo Hall.
DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & El Desperado pinned YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano in 10:34 (***)
Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki in 11:55 (***¼)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson & Master Wato submitted Gedo, Jay White, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori in 9:12 (***)
Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan submitted SHO & Kazuchika Okada in 12:35 (***½)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi submitted BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito in 14:14 (**½)
G1 Climax 30 Final – Kota Ibushi pinned SANADA in 35:12 (***½)
It’s a third night in the Ryogoku Kokugikan as the delayed G1 Climax reaches its, erm, climax… and after weeks without them, we’ve a card chock-full of undercard tags!
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & DOUKI) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano
It’s a welcome back for El Desperado and DOUKI after they had the rest of the tour off…
Taichi and Ishii start us off, throwing chops and kicks to start us off, like a wacky version of Taichi’s last match. Elbows to the knee stop Ishii briefly, before he got his leg kicked out of his leg… then came in with a shoulder tackle to leave both men down with sore legs. Desperado and Goto tag in, and after a game of “got your nose” Goto charges down Despy before a lariat into the corner and a bulldog out of it drew a two-count. DOUKI kicks Goto in the ropes, giving a distraction as Desperado hit a Codebreaker to the bad arm of Goto, as Suzuki-gun flooded ringside for our usual brawling around the barriers.
Goto tries to chop back with his good arm, as Desperado takes him down for some choking and stomping. Sabre’s in with headscissors on Goto that get broken up by YOSHI-HASHI… who gets speared to the outside by Desperado as Taichi’s nerve hold on Goto’s shoulder was broken up by Ishii. Sabre rips off Goto’s shoulder tape then caught him in an Octopus stretch, only for Goto to get free and hit a spinning lariat. Toru Yano tags in next and gets caught with an uppercut… which sent him towards the turnbuckle pad. Sabre leaps in to stop him untying it… and redoes the knot to stop Yano from going back.
Except the knot wasn’t tight enough, and Yano gets the pad seconds later, only to get caught in a sleeper, so Sabre could drop him and re-do the pads. Just your regular Young Lion, eh? Afterwards, Sabre looks for a Cobra Twist that Yano tried to block, before he eventually caught Sabre with a rebound belly-to-belly suplex. A tag brings in YOSHI-HASHI, who’s immediately kicked before he took Sabre into the corner for a chop. YOSHI-HASHI goes for a Bunker Buster, but Sabre evades and comes back with an overhead kick to the arm before DOUKI comes in to try and win it with lariat. Except YOSHI-HASHI ducks and ends up taking an enziguiri, then a lariat as Suzuki-gun flooded the ring. YOSHI-HASHI clears house on his own though, as the CHAOS team hit the ring for some payback, with triple-teaming to DOUKI, culminating in a side Russian legsweep/Head Hunter to DOUKI for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI remains legal, but gets caught by Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi’s Zack Mephisto… and that’s a shock pinfall win for DOUKI of all people. I’ve missed these undercard tags, in a weird way, and the post-match Suzuki-gun shenanigans that usually follow… and it looks like we’ve got some challengers for those NEVER trios titles too! ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Hiromu’s been on the caffeine as we get this next match to play off of Shingo’s win over Suzuki on Friday.
You’ll be shocked and appalled to learn that there was a jump start here, with Suzuki and Shingo instantly heading outside as they picked up where they left off. Meanwhile, Hiromu caught Kanemaru with some headscissors in the ring before a clothesline and a low dropkick got him an early two-count. Hiromu avoids a low dropkick to land one of his own, before he got shoved towards Suzuki in the ropes, who took him in with a hanging armbar. Suzuki redirects his focus to Shingo as they continue their elbows around ringside. Shingo’s thrown head-first into a table at ringside while Kanemaru took his shots at Hiromu. There’s kicks from Suzuki to Hiromu too as the referee was midway through his 20-count, but of course Hiromu makes it back inside as the double-teaming now happened in the ring.
Suzuki rolls Hiromu in for a Boston crab, walking him towards his corner as the Suzuki-gun lads exchanged quick tags. A running front kick from Suzuki has Hiromu down, but he caught a PK attempt and ended up dragging Suzuki down with a Dragon screw. Shingo gets in to hit a suplex on Suzuki, before things descended into a battle of elbows. Here come the clonkers.
Shingo’s left-right elbows set up for a big shot, but Suzuki just cracks right back in before back-and-forth lariats led to a quick rear naked choke. Shingo back body drops free of the Gotch piledriver, but quickly gets caught in the rear naked choke before he countered out of the Gotch piledriver into a death valley driver. Suzuki instantly pops back up to kick Shingo as both men crashed back down… then tagged out. Hiromu launches into Kanemaru with elbows, but misses a running dropkick and eventually got spun to the mat with a low dropkick. Suzuki comes in without a tag for some double-teaming, which led to him holding up Hiromu for the Deep Impact DDT that gets a near-fall, with Shingo breaking it up. Suzuki throws Shingo outside for another scrap as Kanemaru proceeds to go for a moonsault… which misses as Shingo returned to drop Kanemaru with a pop-up death valley driver… which leaves Kanemaru prey for some more double-teaming.
From there, Hiromu hits a death valley driver into the corner, then almost got pinned with a wheelbarrow roll-up before the referee came into play. Hiromu ducks the whiskey bottle and clotheslines Kanemaru to the mat as Shingo went to choke Suzuki with the bottle… with a Time Bomb then putting away Kanemaru for the pin. A decent enough undercard tag, with some fantastic exchanges with Suzuki and Shingo as the focus was really being put on them as I’d guess they’ll be going for the NEVER title once again at Power Struggle. ***¼
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Jeff Cobb & Master Wato vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo)
After falling at the final hurdle on Friday, Jay White’s got some pride to rebuild…
White and Tanahashi compare their abs before the bell, as White and Robinson start us off. Of course, Juice gets the rhythm going, aso Jay tags in Ishimori, while Master Wato tagged in for some lucha-inspired sequences, ending with a tijeras from Wato. He misses an elbow into the corner as Ishimori springboards in for a seated senton, before Gedo came in and threw Wato outside so Jay White could hurl him into the guard rails. So hard in fact, people fell out of their seats! Back inside, KENTA took over, stomping Wato into the corner before Jay White came in to keep that energy going. A punch to the gut from White leaves Wato down for more mudhole stomping, before a back elbow off the ropes drew a two-count on Wato. My feed drops out, returning as Wato manages to tag out to Jeff Cobb, who instantly clears the apron before landing a leapfrog/dropkick to White.
A leaping back elbow keeps White in the corner ahead of an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Ishimori comes in but gets dumped with a fallaway slam, before White escaped a Tour of the Islands and DDT’d Cobb. Tags bring in KENTA and Tanahashi, with the latter landing a Twist and Shout before KENTA teased a Go 2 Sleep… that’s escaped, as Tanahashi counters a PK into a Dragon Screw seconds later. Tanahashi keeps going with a Cloverleaf, but KENTA quickly gets to the ropes and returned with a scoop slam. Gedo comes in next to hit a jawbreaker on Tanahashi, but the follow-up thrust kick’s countered into a Dragon screw. Jay White hits one of those too as Juice comes in with Dusty punches and chops that keep the train going. Gedo’s thrown into White by Cobb, who then tossed Ishimori into Gedo as things got a bit wild…
A corkscrew plancha from Wato almost saw him crash and burn on the outside as Cobb stayed in the ring for a standing moonsault to Gedo, before Tanahashi forced the submission with a Cloverleaf. An otherwise run-of-the-mill undercard tag, as it seems they’re teasing Tanahashi/KENTA for that US title shot briefcase… either that, or Tanahashi just marvelled at the hole he’d made in it. ***
Announcement time… WrestleKingdom 15 at Tokyo Dome on January 4… AND January 5.
Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan vs. Kazuchika Okada & SHO
Great-O-Khan had his name shortened since Friday… Ospreay was out with Bea Priestley as this trio seems to be a thing now. Apparently the name “The Empire” is being floated around for this unit, and I don’t know how to take that.
You’ll be shocked and appalled to learn that… Okada jumped Ospreay before the bell? Fair enough. He takes him outside as Great-O-Khan stayed in the ring with SHO, going for a slam only for SHO to slip free and go for some kicks, before Great-O-Khan just pancaked SHO. Ospreay comes in with a back elbow to SHO in the corner, then a back suplex for a two-count, before a half crab turned into Ospreay just driving SHO’s knee into the mat. Great-O-Khan tags back in and lands his screeching Mongolian chops, before he sat on SHO in the corner, while Ospreay and Priestley got involved too.
They continue to work on SHO’s knee, but Great-O-Khan misses a charge into the corner as SHO then came back with a spear off the ropes. Okada tags in and catches Great-O-Khan with a sliding back elbow, before he went to swing for Ospreay… another elbow into the corner sets up for a DDT on Great-O-Khan for a near-fall, as the Japanese commentary mentioned Great-O-Khan’s Rev Pro run. He’s still technically half of their tag team champions right now…
Okada’s put in a Tree of Woe by Great-O-Khan, who followed up with stomps and a low dropkick for the sake of it. Great-O-Khan tries for a suplex, but Okada slips out after another Mongolian chop before Great-O-Khan landed a pump kick. Ospreay tags in to hit a springboard forearm for a two-count, before he and Okada traded elbows. Okada escapes a lifting reverse DDT and applies the Money Clip, but Great-O-Khan comes in to break it up… then got tossed outside. Ospreay escapes a tombstone attempt, before flipping out of a German suplex as he eventually fell to a dropkick. SHO tags back in to light up Ospreay in the corner, following up with a clothesline until Ospreay just punched him in the back of the knee.
SHO manages to recover to counter a handspring into some rolling German suplexes, before bridging the third for a near-fall. Ospreay catches a thrust kick, taking SHO into the ropes for a rolling elbow as he hung SHO’s knee up some more. Bea gets involved with a Dragon screw in the ropes too before Ospreay rolled SHO in for a Figure Four, while Okada was restrained with an Iron Claw Slam… which left SHO with nowhere to go as he was forced to tap. That feels like the first time in forever that move has been a winner… this new unit is going to take some time to get used to, but I guess the build to Okada/Ospreay at the Dome starts here? ***½
Bullet Club (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
It looks like they’re destined to do this forever, eh? It certainly feels like it… Naito’s back in his comfy tag team entrance gear of a zip up jacket, as he’s not putting the suit on for an undercard tag!
Naito and Yujiro start us off, but of course it’s bait for EVIL to attack Naito from behind. When that calms down, Yujiro heads to the ropes, but gets armdragged and dropped with a neckbreaker by Naito for a near-fall, before a cravat kept him on the mat. BUSHI’s in to keep Yujiro down with a chinlock, but Yujiro gets free and hangs up BUSHI in the ropes as EVIL took Naito outside for a trip to the barriers. Chairs come out too as EVIL keeps on at Naito with a chairshot, before they returned to the ring with Yujiro continuing to wear down BUSHI. A trio of leg drops, elbow drops and a falling headbutt gets a two-count, before Dick Togo got involved, attacking BUSHI outside as EVIL looked to pick up an easy win.
A slam from Yujiro leaves BUSHI in the middle of the ring for a two-count, before he avoided a low dropkick and caught Yujiro with an enziguiri. BUSHI can’t quite get to Naito in time as Yujiro pulls him into the corner, only for BUSHI to come back with headscissors as he finally tagged out. Naito’s in with a low dropkick to Yujiro, before he took him to the corner for Combinacion Cabron for a two-count. Yujiro bites his way free of Naito, then tagged in EVIL to hit a push-down stomp on Naito in the corner, before some misdirection led to Naito taking a lariat out of the corner for a near-fall. EVIL looks for a Darkness Scorpion, but Naito fights away before hitting a Manhattan drop and an enziguiri.
A swinging DDT from Naito has EVIL down, before he’s taken outside for a wild tope from BUSHI. Back inside, BUSHI lands a DDT for a near-fall, only for EVIL to reply with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall. From there, EVIL signals for the end, but Naito stops him from taking down BUSHI… only for Yujiro to take care of Naito with a reverse DDT. BUSHI avoids some double-team with a bulldog/dropkick combo, before a swinging Fisherman neckbreaker almost put away EVIL. EVIL comes right back with Darkness Falls for a near-fall, before a Darkness Scorpion forces BUSHI to tap. Well, just when you hoped they were done with this feud, it’s rumbling on… Great. At least the live crowd seemed into it. **½
Post-match, EVIL and Naito have a staredown, but Dick Togo chokes out Naito with the garrote wire before throwing Naito into Everything is EVIL.
Masahiro Chono joins the Japanese commentary team for the main event…
G1 Climax 30 – Finals: SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi
They’re 1-1 in prior singles matches, all coming in the block stages of G1s. The winner of last year’s G1, Ibushi, had his left quad taped up, after taking dozens of kicks to it from Taichi in his final block match on Friday.
We open with a lock-up as the pair struggle into the ropes, with SANADA having to break early on. Ibushi returns the favour, before he went to work over SANADA’s wrists, ahead of a drop toe hold as he gingerly looked to apply a side headlock. It’s pushed off as they reset, with SANADA going back in for an overhead wristlock, taking Ibushi down… only for him to counter into a hammerlock as we again end in the ropes. SANADA’s back with a hammerlock after taking Ibushi down, as he tries to bridge it across, but Ibushi countered into another headlock on the mat before they got back to their feet, trading chops to the chest. Ibushi switches it up into elbows, but he gets knocked down before another barrage of elbows had SANADA doubled-over.
Ibushi goes back to the kicks, but SANADA just returns with an uppercut as they kept things slow and steady. More kicks to the quad from Ibushi looked to have him put SANADA on a level playing field, but SANADA just knocks him into the corner before he finally targeted that taped-up leg. SANADA goes for the double leapfrog dropkick, but Ibushi ducks it and gets caught by SANADA’s flailing hand as he went sailing to the floor. Ibushi makes it back inside after that accidental head chop, and ties up SANADA in a STF, but SANADA makes it to the ropes before he chopped Ibushi into the corner. A series of elbows from SANADA has Ibushi down, with a Figure Four following. Ibushi makes it to the ropes, then tried to make a comeback with elbows, only to get dropped with another uppercut.
We finally get a pinning attempt at the sixteen minute mark, with a Code Red out of the corner for a two-count. Some headscissors from Ibushi take SANADA outside for a plancha, before they returned to the ring for a springboard missile dropkick as Ibushi was starting to rack up those two-counts. SANADA manages to hit the double leapfrog dropkick this time, taking Ibushi outside for a plancha, before rolling him back in to get a two-count. A TKO looks to follow, but Ibushi slipped out as he then ducked a moonsault… before grabbing SANADA as he went for a double-leg… and came back with a scoop slam out of the corner.
Ibushi misses a corkscrew press off the top, while SANADA aborted a moonsault so he could hit some headscissors to take Ibushi onto the apron. SANADA tries for a dropkick on the apron, but Ibushi leaps up to avoid it and stomps him on the way down, only for SANADA to hit back with a draping swinging neckbreaker off the apron. They beat the threat of a double count-out, and proceeded to exchange elbows until SANADA went low with a dropkick and hit a swinging neckbreaker off the ropes for a quick two-count. A Dragon sleeper is broken up by Ibushi, before he countered a springboard missile dropkick into a powerbomb as both men were looking spent. Ibushi nails a second sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall, before he called for a Kamigoye… but another low dropkick from SANADA stopped that before he was caught with a clothesline.
SANADA ducks another lariat and hits a Tiger suplex in return for a near-fall. A swinging Dragon sleeper takes him into a Skull End, which Ibushi tries to escape. Of course, SANADA lets go so he can go up and miss a moonsault. Ibushi gets up to drop SANADA again with a head kick, before a Bomaye knee blasted through SANADA for a near-fall, before SANADA came back in with a TKO for a near-fall. Heading up top, SANADA lands a moonsault to Ibushi’s back… but the second one lands in the knees as we’ve sailed past the half-hour mark. Another Dragon sleeper from SANADA is countered as Ibushi tried to backflip free, but instead they go back and forth on that hold until Ibushi caught SANADA with a package tombstone for a near-fall.Ibushi teases a Kamigoye, but SANADA backslides him for a near-fall… then rolled back into another Kamigoye attempt as SANADA kept going for roll-ups.
We get a 2.999999 recurring as a Japanese leg clutch saw Ibushi kick out at the last possible moment, before he crumbled as SANADA looked for a Destino… which was just another Dragon sleeper attempt. Ibushi gets free for another head kick, then followed that up with a high knee for a near-fall before Kamigoye sealed the back-to-back G1 wins for Ibushi. Maybe this time they won’t mess around with mini tournaments and have him lose out?
This was a weird one to watch – a match that somehow didn’t drag, but also felt like they’d padded the hell out of it to fit the “epic” match time that G1 finals recently have had. That dragged it down a LOT – and in turn made this a rather divisive final. I don’t want to say “it was Ibushi wrestling himself,” because that’d have made for a faster paced match. This felt like a 15-20 minute match stretched into the seemingly-mandated long match, which at least had some drama… just all of it after the 30 minute mark. ***½
Your winner of back-to-back G1s for the first time since Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 2003-2004 – Kota Ibushi! Meanwhile, after the show, at the press conference, Jay White challenged Kota Ibushi to defend his IWGP title shot… once he got the briefcase.
We’ve got a couple of days off as New Japan hits the road again this Friday (yep) for a show at Korakuen Hall as the Road to Power Struggle begins.
Built as a one-match show, the G1 Climax finals were accompanied by a solid, if not great undercard that built storylines without being the “big bang” that so many people were expecting to see in terms of a big shake-up. Instead, we got the formation of the Empire – which looks to be the name for Ospreay, Priestley and Great-O-Khan, with nary a tease of dissention within Bullet Club. Slow burn.