Block B is in the spotlight on the latest night of the G1, as Tetsuya Naito, Toru Yano and Juice Robinson look to keep their perfect starts intact.
Yuya Uemura submitted Gabriel Kidd in 9:10 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: YOSHI-HASHI pinned SANADA in 15:15 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: KENTA pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 15:46 (****)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Juice Robinson in 14:17 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Toru Yano pinned EVIL in 4:33 (**)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Tetsuya Naito pinned Hirooki Goto in 21:58 (***¾)
On the day that Harold Meij announced his resignation as president of New Japan Pro Wrestling, we’re at Korakuen Hall for the first of the only two shows in the tournament here…
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuya Uemura
Kidd’s on a run of form, all starting with his win over Uemura last Wednesday…
We get going with the pair of them scrambling for a hold on the mat, before Uemura eventually took down Kidd with a front facelock. It’s escaped as Kidd goes in for a double wristlock, only to have his arm wrung in response. He reapplies the hammerlock, while stretching away at Uemura’s head, before going to ground for a nice bridging hammerlock. Uemura gets free and keeps Kidd on the mat with a side headlock, but Kidd counters out and goes back to the wristlock, taking Uemura into the ropes for a clean break. From a lock-up, Kidd flips Uemura over him to the mat for some headscissors, trapping the armbar as well, but Uemura flips free and grapevines the legs before Kidd got to the ropes.
Rushing in led to nothing as Kidd’s taken down with a side headlock again, and again, before getting up and to the ropes for the break. Uemura batters him with elbows to the neck before he was shoved off for a dropkick. Kidd returned fire as he charges Uemura head-first into the corner, following up with a slam for a two-count, then some elbows and stomps to trap Uemura back in that corner. Uemura hits back with a running dropkick into the corner as he returned the favour from earlier, laying in with stomps, following up with a hiptoss out of the corner for a two-count, before locking in a chinlock. Kidd easily escapes with a backdrop suplex, as we go to back-and-forth elbows. Strikes continue until Kidd went for a suplex, but Uemura slips out and dropkicks him in the back before landing a second dropkick off the ropes, ahead of the obligatory Boston crab.
Kidd’s dragged away from the ropes, but he powers up… only for Uemura to increase the angle as the Lion Tamer-ish hold gets the submission. Gabe’s streak ends at two, but this was a fantastic match from the Young Lions, with plenty of intensity – but Kidd tweaking his arsenal a little may be seen by those purists who only like basic moves out of their Young Lions to have cost him. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: SANADA vs. YOSHI-HASHI
These two have only had two prior singles matches, with SANADA winning both…
YOSHI-HASHI starts brightly, taking down SANADA with a headlock to the mat, before SANADA got up and shoved him off, only to get met with elbows and a tijeras. SANADA’s taken outside, but he whips YOSHI into the guard rails before using the guard rails to help with a one-man Magic Killer. YOSHI-HASHI makes his way back inside after beating the count-out, but SANADA stays on the neck with elbows, before he stretched YOSHI-HASHI on the mat with a chinlock. Elbows get YOSHI-HASHI free, as did chops, but SANADA goes right to the knee with a low dropkick before a suplex attempt ended with SANADA briefly locking in a Skull End, before YOSHI-HASHI swivelled out to counter with a Bunker Buster.
SANADA tries to fight back, but can’t avoid a Head Hunter, nor getting hung in the ropes for a dropkick to the back. A low dropkick followed as YOSHI-HASHI got a two-count, but SANADA’s right back with the double leapfrog/dropkick, taking YOSHI-HASHI outside for a plancha, before a backdrop suplex back inside got SANADA a two-count. An elbow in the corner looked to set up SANADA for a moonsault, but YOSHI-HASHI caught him… only to get ‘rana’d away. YOSHI-HASHI returns with a lariat and a running powerbomb for a two-count, before heading up top… but SANADA gets the knees up to block the Loose Explosion, as YOSHI-HASHI splats onto the mat.
SANADA capitalises on another exchange, backflipping over YOSHI-HASHI before he pulled him into a Skull End, but YOSHI-HASHI manages to slip out! Not to worry, SANADA reapplies it instantly, but rather than hold on for the ref stoppage, he lets go and goes up for a moonsault… but YOSHI-HASHI got the knees up. I think. The pair trade elbows from their knees, which led to back-and-forth strikes as YOSHI-HASHI upgrades to chops… before he ran into a TKO for a near-fall. SANADA signals for the end, but YOSHI-HASHI rolls out of a Skull End and comes back in with a Dragon suplex, before spiking SANADA with a kumagaroshi for another near-fall! Karma’s next, but SANADA slips out into a Dragon sleeper, swinging YOSHI-HASHI around… before almost falling to a small package!
More back-and-forth led to YOSHI-HASHI cracking SANADA with a headbutt, before a Meteora lands for a near-fall. Karma’s next, and my God, that’s the upset! YOSHI-HASHI wins! SANADA remains winless in this tournament… and you know what? Neither of these guys are going to win the tournament, but they gave this a damn good shot. They really seem to be trying to establish YOSHI-HASHI as “not a joke”, and with it’s slowly working. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. KENTA
Surprisingly, these two have only two prior meetings in one-on-one matches – one coming in the last night of last year’s G1 Climax block A matches (which ZSJ won). Before then? You’ve got to go back to May 2011 in Wolverhampton, England, with KENTA winning on a Pro Wrestling NOAH show.
Neither man rushes in at the bell, with KENTA just chilling in the corner before he decided to have a sit down. He’s trying to bait Sabre in on the mat, but to no avail at first, as Sabre eventually entered his guard, before blocking a key lock attempt, returning with a leg lock as KENTA just got to the ropes. Rolling outside, KENTA looks for a breather, and takes his time to come back in as Sabre tried to repeat the trick. He went to ground… and just got stomped on by KENTA, who followed in with a series of kicks that pinned Sabre to the ropes, before he got sent outside. The guard rails await…
Back inside, KENTA Keeps going with kicks as Sabre’s shoulder looked rattled, but Zack snaps out with another leg lock… instantly ending in the ropes. Although Sabre went for an eye rake as he looked to make the most of that five count… Sabre plays around with KENTA, throwing kicks before he got rattled with a knee to the midsection. A neckbreaker follows, but Sabre kicks out before one, and ends up having to escape a front facelock, as he instead finagled himself into a submission attempt that KENTA snuffed out. Uppercuts follow, but KENTA just slaps Sabre down, before Zack hit an overhead kick to the arm and a leg sweep to keep things level.
Sabre manages to grab a keylock on KENTA, but that too ends in the ropes as Zack was more than focused on that surgically-healed left arm of KENTA… who came back with a tornado hot shot in the corner, before he went up top for a flying forearm that knocked Sabre down. A STF follows, but Sabre escapes… and gets battered with elbows before Sabre ran into a lariat. KENTA adds the Green Killer draping DDT to that for a near-fall, before a running front kick and a hesitation dropkick clattered into Zack in the corner. Heading up top, KENTA goes for a double stomp, and SMASHES into Sabre, getting a near-fall before a Busaiku knee gets another near-fall. Sabre blocks a Go 2 Sleep, but can’t avoid backfists as he got knocked down by KENTA…
Another Go 2 Sleep’s countered out of as Sabre drags KENTA down into an omoplata, but KENTA escapes and countered with Game Over. Sabre switches out into another omoplata variation, trying up both arms, before KENTA dragged himself to the rope for the break. More kicks from Sabre led to him getting slapped as KENTA caught him in the ropes as things looked to be heading into the home straight. A PK’s caught by KENTA, who eats more palm strikes before he decked Sabre with a knee strike… that led to a Go 2 Sleep, and that’s all folks! Maybe not the much-vaunted “KENTA of old”, but this was a delight at points, with the strikes in particular cutting through a lot of the submission attempts as Zack went outside of his comfort zone and paid the price dearaly. Some of those strikes and landings… OOF. ****
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Juice Robinson vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
A second-time match-up here, with Tanahashi winning their only prior meeting in 2018’s New Japan Cup – a match that went just under 30-minutes. So, for those of who prophesising draws in the G1, this may be one you’ll have had an eye on…
This was Juice’s first match in Korakuen in seven months, and we start with a lock-up as Tanahashi switches to a waistlock… leading to standing switches and a side headlock from Juice. An overhead wristlock from Juice is eventually broken as Tanahashi sweeps the legs, leading to an eventual stand-off… and some air guitar! Tanahashi takes them into the ropes, but both men pull the other’s hair as they roll into the corner, each clearly jealous of the other’s ‘dos. Body blows from Tanahashi keep Juice at bay, but an Irish whip into the corner sees Juice rebound out with a leg lariat, before a backbreaker and a back senton squishes Tanahashi for a two-count.
On the mat, Juice follows in for a full nelson… but Tanahashi fights up and powers out of the hold… only to get a forearm to the lower back as Juice remained a step ahead. Chops keep the Ace by the ropes, but Tanahashi returns with a low dropkick… as he then built up with a Dragon screw. A second one takes Juice out of the corner, as Tanahashi looked to capitalise with a Cloverleaf, but it’s countered with a small package for a near-fall. Juice hits a spinebuster on the comeback, before Dusty punches and a DDT dropped Tanahashi for a near-fall. A suplex is countered out of into a Twist and Shout by Tanahashi, before another full nelson from Juice was fought out of… so he just lariats Tanahashi instead. Tanahashi goes to the corner, where he’s splatted with a cannonball as Juice geed up the crowd with stomping from Queen, before Juice took Tanahashi up top for a superplex.
Tanahashi tries to fight out of it, returning elbows from Juice to knock him loopy, before Juice recovered and landed the superplex. He follows that up by swivelling up into a Jackhammer for a near-fall, as the straps then come down… but Pulp Friction gets fought out of as Tanahashi countered out with a Slingblade. That’s followed up as Tanahashi went to the top rope for the Ace’s High… but Juice rolls through and almost stole the win, before landing the Left Hand of God to drop Tanahashi. The Ace gets pulled back up for Pulp Friction, but he slips free and rolls up Juice for the win! Perhaps not quite the way you’d imagine that finish going, but Tanahashi is finally on the board, capitalising on Juice wanting to land his move – rather than just going for the pin when he had him. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: EVIL vs. Toru Yano
It’s been a while since these two met one-on-one, but EVIL’s got a 2-0 record over Yano in singles action. Both of those were in the G1, and those matches went less than five minutes long. Combined.
Red Shoes Unno doesn’t check Yano before the bell. What Yano does at the bell though, is go for the turnbuckles. He gets it at the second try, as EVIL lost that particular race… and for some reason Yano’s undoing ALL the turnbuckle pads. Uh oh. Dick Togo distracts as EVIL whacks Yano with a pad, before throwing him outside. Togo stomps on Yano as the referee is sorta distracted… but Yano reverses an Irish whip to send Dick into the guard rails, before he bust out some tape to tie him to the railings! EVIL stops Yano, but gets sent into the railings himself… and it’s back to the tape!
EVIL rakes the eyes to get free, but can’t quite get going with the tape as Yano rakes the eyes and dives back inside, but EVIL also breaks the count. A thrust kick from EVIL finds its mark, before Yano’s bounced into the exposed corners. All four of them, in fact. A shoulder tackle knocks him down for a two-count, before Yano blocked a charge into the corner. He side-steps EVIL’s charge as Dick Togo – who’s somehow freed himself – pops up… and has returned with a pad to save EVIL. That’s good timing. A Fisherman buster’s next from EVIL for a two-count, before he sidestepped a low blow attempt from Yano. Togo’s back up to distract as EVIL instead punches Yano in the dick, but Everything is EVIL is blocked.
We’ve more dick punches as EVIL takes one, then Yano (from Togo), before shenanigans upon shenanigans led to Yano upsetting the former double champion. Yeah, Togo had to use the piano wire, and still EVIL loses. It was what it was, but man, EVIL is not doing too good since he lost the belts. **
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito
Finally, a G1 match today with some history! Eight prior meetings here, with five of them being in G1s… and both men have won four of their eight outings.
Goto starts out working the arm, but Naito flips free as the pair went back-and-forth into a side headlock. Naito returns the favour, but he’s shoved off into the ropes as Goto lands a shoulder tackle, before Naito went to that taped-up arm of Goto, yanking it as a dropkick took the former NEVER champion to the outside. Naito follows him outside for the obligatory trips to the guard rails, before a cravat wore down and choked Goto in the railings. It led to a count-out tease, but Goto makes it back in at the count of 19, before a neckbreaker and some headscissors on the mat forced Goto to scramble to the ropes.
A neckbreaker follows for a two-count as Naito looked to focus on that neck and shoulder, trapping Goto in a key lock that ends in the ropes, before Goto had to fight out of a cravat. Goto gets his foot up in the corner to push away Naito, but has to take a Manhattan drop before a back suplex got him free. A bulldog followed out of the corner for a near-fall, as Naito then blocked an ushigoroshi before hitting a back elbow and a low dropkick to try and stop Goto from building momentum. Goto blocks Combinacion Cabron in the corner, but Naito goes back to the arm, yanking it ahead of a low dropkick for a near-fall. Pluma Blanca follows as the pressure’s kept up on the shoulder, but that too ends up in the ropes as Naito continued to wear down his foe. Throwing Goto into the corner, Naito followed up with an attempted top rope ‘rana, but Goto slips out and instead knocked Naito down for a superplex, which did about equal damage given Goto’s bum shoulder.
Naito rolls outside after the impact… but Goto followed him with a plancha, before rolling him back inside for an elbow drop off the top for a near-fall. A swivelling lariat from Goto followed, but it’s with the bad arm so he can’t follow up as quickly, as Naito then took advantage with a tornado DDT off the ropes. Goto tries to resist Gloria, but Naito just goes back to the arm and shoulder with elbows. Naito tries to go in for Destino, but Goto counters into a reverse GTR, before an elevated reverse GTR gets Goto another two-count. Naito manages to counter back in with a Destino, as the match descended into back-and-forth strikes… but Naito edges ahead with several unanswered elbows to the head, following that up with an enziguiri.
Goto’s able to strike back with an ushigoroshi, but Naito runs in with a Destino for a near-fall. A second Destino’s caught as Goto countered into a GTW, before he measured up Naito for a mid-kick. It lands, but Naito is able to hit back with a Destino, before winding up for the big one, which gets the match-winning pin. Naito remains undefeated in his block, in a match that saw Goto push him surprisingly hard given the injury, but in the end it wasn’t to be. A familiar story for Goto. ***¾
Your standings… and wow, if you told me a few weeks ago that after three matches, Toru Yano and Taichi would be undefeated, I probably would have laughed at you.
Taichi, Jay White (3-0; 6pts)
Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay, Minoru Suzuki (2-1; 4pts)
Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Shingo Takagi (1-2; 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi (0-3; 0pts)
Tetsuya Naito, Toru Yano (3-0; 6pts)
KENTA, Juice Robinson (2-1; 4pts)
EVIL, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-2; 2pts)
SANADA (0-3; 0pts)
(Unofficial) Block C
Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura (2-2)
It’s back to Korakuen Hall tomorrow for block A action, with Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi being your mouthwatering main event. Long tours like the G1 are notorious for the shows seemingly being “better” at Korakuen. Maybe it’s a perception thing, but this to me was one of the better in-ring shows of the tournament. Yano aside, when your “floor” is above ***, you’re in for a heck of a show. KENTA all-but rolling back the years stole the show for me here, on another relatively-swift G1 card that’s had more hits than misses this year.