We’re in Sumo Hall for the final night of block A’s matches in the G1, as four men all aimed to make Sunday’s final.
Yota Tsuji submitted Gabriel Kidd in 6:53 (**½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Yujiro Takahashi pinned Jeff Cobb in 10:30 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Shingo Takagi pinned Minoru Suzuki in 12:29 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Will Ospreay pinned Kazuchika Okada in 17:04 (****)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kota Ibushi pinned Taichi in 17:12 (****½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Tomohiro Ishii pinned Jay White in 24:35 (****¼)
We’re into the final stretch with the first of three night’s at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan – and for once, we’ve got English commentary with Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji
The pair charged at each other like bulls to start, but it’s Tsuji who’s on top from the off, taking Kidd to the corner before some snapmares and stomps led to a splash for an early two-count.
A win for Tsuji here wins him the “block”, so you can understand the drive here as Kidd came in with some flash pins of his own, before a hiptoss left Tsuji down on the mat. Kidd takes Tsuji into the corner for a series of elbows, following up with a palm strike and some boot chokes, with a chinlock slowing the pace down some more. Tsuji breaks via the ropes before Kidd’s chops and elbows knocked him back down for a two-count. Kidd goes for a suplex, but Tsuji counters with one of his own, before taking Kidd to the corner for a leaping elbow before a follow-up flip senton backfired, with Kidd countering with a crucifix pin for a near-fall.
They go back-and-forth with elbows before a dropkick from Kidd knocked Tsuji down for a two-count. It’s off to the races from there as Kidd teed up for a double underhook suplex, but Tsuji countered with an inside cradle for a near-fall before having his face kicked off by Kidd. A spear from Tsuji stops Kidd in his tracks, before a Giant Swing from Tsuji and a quick Boston crab forced the sudden submission. That’s the block win for Yota Tsuji after a very efficient performance against Kidd. **½
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Jeff Cobb
A first-time meeting, and a key one for Will Ospreay, who needs Yujiro to get his first tournament win here to have any chance of winning the group. It’d need to be a historic win too – as Yujiro’s not had a singles win in Japan against non-Young Lions since he beat Tomoaki Honma at the end of his last G1. Five years ago.
Cobb shoves Yujiro into the ropes from the opening lock-up, before some biting from Yujiro gave way to shoulder tackles. Of course, Cobb resists the first one, then picked up Yujiro for a slam… but Yujiro slips out before he thumbed Cobb’s eye, only to run into a Cobb dropkick. Yujiro’s seemingly gone for a different game plan today… They head outside, with Cobb giving chase, only to get caught with a reverse DDT on the floor. Back inside, Yujiro snapmares Cobb for a legdrop, some elbow drops and a falling headbutt which gets a two-count, with Yujiro throwing ever more dejected-looking glances at the camera after each kick-out. Poor lad.
Cobb fights back with chops before a back elbow led to a missed standing moonsault, which allowed Yujiro to come back in with a low dropkick. A second one misses, as Cobb charges down Yujiro with shoulder tackles, following in with charges into the corner and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex out of it. A leaping back elbow greets Yujiro next, who’s then met with a running back suplex for a near-fall, before Yujiro tried to find a way back in, hotshotting Cobb into the ropes., Front kicks and clotheslines just annoy Cobb, who then got caught with a release Fisherman buster for a two-count, but Cobb’s right back with the spinning gutwrench suplexes… that Yujiro bites free from.
Yujiro keeps going with another front kick, but Cobb just pulls him out of the corner into the Spin Cycle, following up with a standing moonsault for a pair of near-falls. A Tour of the Islands is blocked, before Yujiro almost snatched the win with a roll-up, as Yujiro then shoved the referee at Cobb. That masks a cane shot, as Yujiro manages to haul up Cobb for an Incolle Slam, then Miami Shine for a near-fall as we all had our hearts in our mouths.
Pimp Juice follows, and hell has frozen over! Yujiro has finally broken his losing streak – and that win keeps Will Ospreay’s feint hopes of making the finals in a multi-way tie alive. It’s tenuous at best. **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Shingo Takagi vs. Minoru Suzuki
A rematch from Summer Struggle in Jingu, where Suzuki wrestled the NEVER Openweight title from Shingo…
The two pick up where they left off in Jingu Stadium, laying into each other with elbows before Shingo took Suzuki into the ropes… only to get caught with a hanging armbar. Suzuki lets go and proceeds to whip Shingo into the railings, as we pick up with the elbows again, which knocked Shingo back into the rails. Headbutts from Shingo offered some fight back, but Suzuki knocks him back with another headbutt, before they made it back to the ring where Suzuki kicked out at Shingo once more. That arm remained a focus, with it getting wrapped around the ropes, but a PK from Suzuki’s caught as he ends up just grabbing Shingo in a front face lock… that’s countered out of into a suplex.
Shingo clobbers Suzuki with a clothesline in the corner, then with an elbow as Suzuki tried to pick his spots, before two more lariats had the NEVER champion down. We get the clonking elbows next as both men looked to lay the other out, but Shingo’s more than holding his own as they battered each others heads, eventually staggering Suzuki towards the ropes. Suzuki just laughs it off though as we get more elbows, before he ducked a Shingo combination and went for the Gotch piledriver. It’s escaped with a back body drop, before Suzuki went back to the rear naked choke… this time holding it on. The Gotch piledriver follows, but this time Shingo countered by popping up for a death valley driver instead.
Shingo tries to follow up with a lariat, but Suzuki leaps in with a cross armbar that dragged Shingo to the mat, turning it into a triangle armbar that Shingo had trouble breaking out of. In the end, Suzuki lets go and goes back to the arm with kicks, before a Fujiwara armbar almost forced Shingo to tap… but he manages to drag his way to the bottom rope for a break. Suzuki picks Shingo up for a rear naked choke, but Shingo spins into a lariat as Suzuki went for the Gotch piledriver. Chops just annoy Suzuki, as do lariats, as Suzuki fought back with a series of palm strikes as we went back to headbutts from Shingo… another rear naked choke from Suzuki’s countered as Shingo looked for Last of the Dragon, but Suzuki reapplied the choke, only for Shingo to eventually punch him out.
From there, Shingo lifts him up for one more crack at Last of the Dragon, and gets it for the win. A pretty good outing in what was a match that meant little to the G1 standings and as such could have been real hard to get into with this crowd… but the result more than likely books a rematch for the NEVER title at Power Struggle next month. ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
Okada’s yet to lose to Will Ospreay, having first beaten him in 2015 under the Rev Pro banner, before picking up wins in last year’s New Japan Cup, last year’s G1 and in the main event of the 46th Anniversary Show two years ago. Ospreay’d written “RYAN” and “ADS” on his wrist tape, as a tribute to the recently-passed Ryan Smile, for those who were looking out for stuff like that.
Ospreay charged into Okada with a shotgun dropkick, taking him outside for a Sasuke special at the bell, before the springboard forearm saw him try to end this in 20 seconds. Of course, Okada kicks out, then back body dropped out of a Storm Breaker before he blocked an OsCutter and trapped Ospreay with an early Money Clip. After a rope break, Okada takes Ospreay outside for a draping DDT off the apron, before they came back in to hit a neckbreaker for a two-count. Elbows keep Ospreay in the corner as a snapmare and a low dropkick kept Okada in control. Ospreay reverses an Irish whip to propel Okada skyward with a back body drop, before a chop and a standing shooting star press drew a near-fall.
Another chop has Okada doubled over, but he’s back with a back elbow off the ropes, before a second back elbow and a DDT spiked Ospreay. The neckbreaker slam looked to follow, but Ospreay gets out and hits the rope for a springboard enziguiri. Another shotgun dropkick from Okada’s avoided as Ospreay instead got lifted up top… he kicks Okada away, before lifting HIM up top for a dropkick to the floor. In the background, Yota Tsuji’s opened the railings gate for a reason… and with one look at the wrist tape, Ospreay hits the corner for the over-the-corner dive. For Ryan. Back inside, Ospreay hits a forearm off the top rope for a near-fall, before an attempted Storm Breaker was again blocked by Okada.
Kawada-style kicks just irk Okada, who gets back up and trades elbow strikes, before a wall-flip enziguiri from Ospreay led to him missing a standing shooting star press. Okada’s dropkick’s deftly countered into a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall, as Ospreay was trying to keep his G1 hopes alive. Okada’s knocked down, but avoids a Hidden Blade before grabbing Ospreay’s wrist… Will tries for Storm Breaker again, but Okada floats out for a lariat instead. Keeping hold of the wrist, Okada pulls up Ospreay and swings for a Rainmaker, but instead gets a dropkick off, then a tombstone piledriver before he wrapped Ospreay into the Money Clip.
Ospreay managed to get his feet to the ropes to force a break, before he’s sent sailing into the corner with a shotgun dropkick. Another tombstone’s wriggled out of by Ospreay, who charges Okada into the corner, before an attempted discus Rainmaker was countered into a standing Spanish Fly for a near-fall. A sit-down pin from Okada nearly gets the win, as Ospreay kicks out and hit back with a reverse ‘rana, before landing an OsCutter… but he keeps hold of the head and neck of Okada, rolling him back to his feet for a Storm Breaker, only for Okada to counter out into a Money Clip.
Okada goes for a backslide and eventually spins into a lariat after avoiding a Storm Breaker once more… and then it’s back to the Money Clip. Then, out of randomness, Bea Priestley appeared at ringside to cheer on Ospreay as the Japanese commentary team mentioned her being in Stardom. She gets into the ring as Ospreay was in the Money Clip… and that provides a distraction as THE GREAT O-KHARN appeared to take down Okada with an Iron Finger Slam. Once everything calmed down, Ospreay got back to his feet and hit a Storm Breaker… and that’s the win. That whole final few minutes kinda took the steam out of what was a real good match, and now I guess there’s questions over Ospreay in CHAOS and just what the hell the Great Okharn is doing. Especially after Ospreay waffled Okada with a Hidden Blade after the match… ****
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Taichi vs. Kota Ibushi
Ibushi needs a win to keep his chances alive – but he’s not had that many singles matches with Taichi. A win in 2009’s Best of the Super Junior was Ibushi’s only victory over Taichi, who got the win earlier this year in the second round of the New Japan Cup.
The rather stoic Ibushi wasn’t in any hurry to get going as the two men circled around each other at the bell, before they started by looking to give each other a dead leg. All the kicks to the quad! They relent, then go back to the kicks, trading up to front kicks as they continued to go back and forth into the ropes like a wrestling version of a Newton’s cradle. Eventually Taichi boots down Ibushi, who just popped back up to knock him down with a front kick of his own, as I now hope they do the same, but just using their arms. Except they don’t, as the kick-only contest continued with kicks to the back, with both of them sitting to take their turn, before they get back to their feet to trade kicks to the chest, which eventually has Taichi on the mat in pain.
We pass NINE MINUTES OF KICKS as Taichi leaves Ibushi in a heap, before we finally get something other than a kick – Ibushi flipping out of a Dangerous backdrop driver. I’m not hating this – in fact, the opposite. Ten minutes of this just being an unconventional strike battle is absolutely great. It’s back to the kicks, with Ibushi running into a boot in the corner before the pair traded head kicks… leading to both men again collapsing to the mat. Taichi rips off his trousers – this time in ANGER – as they continue the kicks. Taichi’s efforts just about seem to be wearing down Ibushi, but one big shot from the Golden Star leaves them both down with dead legs… until Ibushi found the strength to try for a Kamigoye, only for a leg sweep to knock him down.
The steam’s starting to go in those kicks after fifteen minutes, as Taichi had Ibushi by the head to keep themselves at close quarters. Taichi finally has Ibushi down for a buzzsaw kick, but Ibushi avoids it to land one of his own, before he pulled Taichi in for a Kamigoye… and the one wrestling move of the match that lands wins it. This was a fantastic change of pace – no wacky flips or anything like that, just two men trying to out-do each other in one part of their game… it’ll be divisive, but I loved this. ****½
With the adrenaline waning, Kota hobbles to the back, feeling each and every one of those kicks as he now needs Tomohiro Ishii to do him a favour…
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii
A second-time meeting here, with Jay White knowing that he can win the block on tie-breakers with a victory here… although he’s not beaten Ishii before, with Ishii having won in their meeting in last year’s G1.
White rolls outside at the bell, as usual, then gets dropped with an elbow as he tried to toy with Ishii. Gedo offers a distraction as Ishii followed White outside, allowing the Kiwi to charge him into the guard rails before he ran back inside to try and take the count-out win. Ishii beats the count, so White stays on top of him with some kicks in the corner ahead of a neckbreaker that doesn’t even get a one-count. White knocks him down by the ropes, then went in for a side headlock… but it’s pushed away as Ishii instead caught White with a scoop slam out of the corner.
A Violence Party of chops and elbows to the back of White traps him in the corner before Ishii bounced out of an Irish whip and charged through White once more. White gets to the ropes and kicks Ishii in the knee, then dropped him throat-first across the top rope ahead of a DDT to turn things back around. White keeps going with a Blade Buster, before he tried to roll Ishii into the leg-trap submission – I guess calling it the ITO today? Instead, a Dragon screw drives Ishii’s already-worn knee into the mat, as kicks the knee continue to soften it. White toys Ishii with more playful kicks to the knee, but Ishii monsters up as he walked through White’s elbow strikes, before knocking him into the corner. White ducks a clothesline, sending Ishii into the corner as that knee gets jarred some more… and despite a comeback attempt, White’s able to catch Ishii with a German suplex to stay on top.
White slaps Ishii’s arse (seriously), and ends up getting decked with an elbow for doing so… before Ishii hit the ropes… and ran into a uranage. Pulling Ishii up for a sleeper suplex ends with White getting backed into the corner, but a kick to the knee stops Ishii again as he gets suplexed into the buckles. That knee right now is more than a weak point for Ishii, who hit back with a German suplex into the corner as White teased the sleeper suplex there again. Ishii looked to set up for a superplex, but White slips free as Gedo again provided a distraction, allowing White to go for the knee again. An eye rake stops Ishii on the ropes as he’s dragged through for another Dragon screw, before he shoved White into the guard rails. Ishii drags himself outside effectively on one leg, so he could take White back up to the top rope for the eventual superplex.
That gets Ishii a near-fall, before he hit a headbutt… only for a leaping enziguiri to be caught and turned into another Dragon screw. White pulls off some of the tape on Ishii’s knee ahead of more Dragon screws, before he rolled Ishii into the ITO, which had Ishii clawing at the referee for some kind of help as White dragged Ishii away from the ropes… only to get overpowered as Ishii made it to safety. White tries to pull Ishii back to his feet, looking for the sleeper suplex, but instead he goes low for a chop block. A back elbow and chops from Ishii offered feint hope as he took the sleeper suplex instead, before a Kiwi Krusher landed for a near-fall. White calls for a Blade Runner, but Ishii slips out and hits a Dragon Screw of his own!
Ishii goes for a Kiwi Krusher, but instead made White land on his knee as he began to issue receipts. A knee jarrer, then a chop block spins White to the mat before a half crab kept the tables turning, with Ishii dropping into a knee bar on the mat as we hit the final ten minutes. Gedo comes in to try and break it up, but Ishii lets go, only for White to charge Ishii into the referee. Gedo eventually gets elbowed away before White kicks out the knee to save Gedo from a brainbuster. A German suplex from Ishii has White down after Gedo’d been taken care of, with a sliding lariat almost getting the win as the referee came to. Gedo’s distracting again as White hits a low blow, before Axel Dieter Jr’s old Landungsbrücke suplex almost eked out the win. Ishii fires himself up for a lariat, but White caught him with a sleeper suplex… then another, before he pulled Ishii up for a Blade Runner.
That’s countered out of as they switch around finishers, leading to Ishii hitting a Stundog Millionaire. Welcome to 2020! More Gedo leads to him getting spun down with a lariat, before White ate one too, before a sheer drop brainbuster planted White… and with that, Tomohiro Ishii got the win that booked Kota Ibushi’s spot in the G1 finals, while also putting fresh doubt over Jay White in the Bullet Club. Absolutely superb stuff this until all of the interference, with Ishii having to dig deeper than ever to get the win. ****¼
Post-match, Gedo threw a fit in the ring, while Jay White looked dejected as he was helped to the back by Gedo and Gabriel Kidd. There’s a lot more in that story to tell.. especially going by White’s post-match comments, which seemed to be laced with sarcasm at times.
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)
EVIL, Tetsuya Naito (6-2; 12pts)
SANADA, Zack Sabre Jr. (5-3; 10pts) * ZSJ eliminated
Hirooki Goto, KENTA (4-4; 8pts) * eliminated
Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano (3-5; 6pts) * eliminated
YOSHI-HASHI (1-7; 2pts) * eliminated
Block B tie-breakers: Naito has beaten ZSJ; EVIL has Tetsuya Naito; ZSJ has beaten EVIL; SANADA has beaten ZSJ and Naito. Saturday’s final matches include SANADA vs. EVIL, Naito vs. KENTA, ZSJ vs. Tanahashi. Sabre would need to win his match and hope for Naito to not win AND SANADA vs. EVIL to end in a double count-out/double-DQ/no-contest.
(Unofficial) Block C (W-L-D)
Yota Tsuji (6-4-2)
Yuya Uemura (5-5-1)
Gabriel Kidd (4-6-1)
We’re back for block B’s finals tomorrow – as SANADA vs. EVIL main events in what could be the decider, especially if KENTA manages to upset Tetsuya Naito in the semi-main event, but tonight was a night full of surprises: Yujiro’s first major singles win in forever… the return of the Great O-Kharn… Will Ospreay going heel… seventeen minutes of kicks… and the avoidance of the headache-inducing tiebreak situation by the end of the evening.