We’re back on the road as Yokohama Budokan sees SANADA take on Hiroshi Tanahashi in the penultimate round of block B matches.
Yota Tsuji submitted Yuya Uemura in 7:56 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: KENTA submitted YOSHI-HASHI in 17:40 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Juice Robinson in 14:30 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Tetsuya Naito pinned Toru Yano in 8:04 (**¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: EVIL pinned Hirooki Goto in 15:33 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: SANADA pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 28:25 (***¾)
The G1’s final stop before Sumo Hall sees them hit the newly-opened Yokohama Budokan in Kanagawa.
Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
The hometown hero Tsuji is looking to reclaim top spot in the unofficial “block” here…
Uemura looks for a waistlock early, but Tsuji manages to avoid his grasp in the opening seconds, before the pair traded arm wringers. Tsuji gets ahead with a headlock takedown, which Uemura tries to roll into a pin, before they went back-and-forth with arm wringers again. A full nelson from Tsuji quickly gives way to a snapmare as Uemura rolled through to grab the armbar once more. Uemura switches back to that scissored armbar, forcing Tsuji to roll as he looked to get a pin, before he finally powered up and threw Uemura away. Tsuji keeps going with a slap, a flip senton and a splash for a two-count, but Uemura manages to find a way back in with an armdrag as he was continuing to viciously stay on that arm.
It turns into a Corning hold, but Tsuji drops down and rolls into a half crab, but Uemura gets to the ropes. The pair trade elbows, with Uemura looking to have a sore back… a right hand from Tsuji earns him an elbow in the ropes before he speared Uemura out of his boots, following up with a Giant Swing! After the landing, Tsuji rolls Uemura into a Boston crab, and there’s a rapid submission as the hometown lad wins!
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. KENTA
We’ve one prior meeting here, with KENTA successfully defending the NEVER title over YOSHI-HASHI a little over a year ago on the Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour stop in New York…
KENTA takes his time, circling the ring before locking-up with YOSHI-HASHI. We’re straight into the ropes as KENTA may as well have pinched YOSHI-HASHI’s cheeks like a baby’s. Wash, rinse, repeat, but this time YOSHI-HASHI gets mad and hits back with a chop. A running Headhunter takes KENTA outside, where he casts eyes on YOSHI-HASHI’s stick… which distracts YOSHI-HASHI, drawing him outside as KENTA threw him shoulder-first into the guard rails. For crying out loud KENTA, he’s only just gotten used to not having that taped up! Back in the ring, KENTA rolls YOSHI-HASHI in a double wristlock, but YOSHI-HASHI gets a foot to the rope. KENTA’s back to jar the arm of YOSHI-HASHI, then catch him with a kick on the way down as he went for a cross armbreaker. YOSHI-HASHI rolls him up to avoid the hold being fully applied, before finding himself back in the ropes.
Chops from YOSHI-HASHI just get his arm jarred again as KENTA yanked it over his shoulder, before YOSHI-HASHI came back in with a suplex to get himself free. YOSHI-HASHI fires back with palm strikes before he hung KENTA in the ropes for a dropkick to the back. A running double knees is next, getting YOSHI-HASHI a near-fall, before KENTA countered YOSHI-HASHI with a back body drop. YOSHI-HASHI runs out of the corner into a powerslam as KENTA shook off the cobwebs, blocking YOSHI-HASHI with a boot ahead of a tornado hotshot. More kicks rock YOSHI-HASHI, who tries to fire back with elbow strikes before KENTA just went back to the arm. Another chop from YOSHI-HASHI misses in the corner as he gets booted down for a hesitation dropkick, before he crushed YOSHI-HASHI with a stomp off the top.
YOSHI-HASHI returns with a rear spin kick, then a thrust kick as KENTA ran his way, following up with a Ligerbomb for a near-fall. From there, it’s into a Butterfly lock, but YOSHI-HASHI initially has trouble maintaining the grip with his bad arm… yet he’s able to drag KENTA away from the ropes before he did the SANADA thing of switching up the hold for the hell of it. KENTA’s still in trouble with the double wristlock, but he’s able to fight towards the ropes… only for YOSHI-HASHI to change it into a sleeperhold, that turned into a back cracker. Somehow KENTA evades the running double knees and looked to trap YOSHI-HASHI on the mat with Game Over, but YOSHI-HASHI is a slippery bugger and got to the ropes before KENTA could fully get it on.
More kicks from KENTA seemed to wake up YOSHI-HASHI, who responded with kicks to KENTA’s bad shoulder, then with elbows, until KENTA hit back with backfists that took YOSHI-HASHI down. A Go 2 Sleep looked to follow, but YOSHI-HASHI counters out with a DDT.. eventually following up with a Western Lariat for a near-fall as KENTA’s slim chances of staying alive in the G1 stayed on. A kumagaroshi forces another near-fall out of KENTA, before YOSHI-HASHI nailed him with a superkick, setting up for Karma… but KENTA rolls out and into Game Over, only for YOSHI-HASHI to drag himself to the ropes. KENTA rolls him back into the middle of the ring, forcing the eventual submission. KENTA’s going to need a LOT of results to go his way, but he played his part here with a hard-fought win over a game YOSHI-HASHI. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
ZSJ’s 2-0 in their prior meetings – including a win in the G1 two years ago. Like KENTA in the previous match, Sabre needs a lot of results to go his way to make it to the final…
He starts with an armbar on Juice, who countered into a wristlock, wrenching Sabre to the mat before Zack spun free and locked in one of his own. Juice cartwheels free as he reapplied his wristlock, taking Sabre down into an armbar, stopping for a spot of air guitar on the way. Zack rolls out again and clocks Juice with an uppercut, before Juice fought back with a shoulder tackle, then a Manhattan drop as Sabre went for a leapfrog. A side Russian legsweep keeps Sabre down, but Juice’s back senton lands him firmly in a cross armbar that he needed to break via the ropes.
Sabre goes back to the arm, wrenching Juice down as he stomped on the elbow, following up by twisting Juice’s arm between the legs. Juice rolls back into the ring, but Zack’s right back on the arm… until a right hand knocked him down. Of course, Sabre’s not down for long, tripping Juice before going back to the armbar. Juice avoids an overhead kick to the arm as Sabre wound him up, then landed the back senton before a one-handed slam dropped Sabre by the corner. Dusty punches follow, then a chop, as Sabre’s bid to cut him off led to him running into a spinebuster. A clothesline and a chop in the corner has Sabre rocked, with Juice lifting him to the top rope for a superplex… but Sabre counters with an armbar instead.
Juice headbutts his way free, only to get knocked down as Sabre leapt off the middle rope for a guillotine choke. That’s changed into a mounted cobra twist as Juice tried to counter out, but the pair fall into the ropes as Sabre kept switching holds. Boots from Sabre have Juice by the ropes, before Sabre ran into a Juice Box… which he caught as he came back with a pair of PKs instead. A triangle armbar from Sabre drags Juice down, and after an awkward landing for Sabre, Juice musters the strength to powerbomb his way free for a two-count. Juice keeps going with a cannonball into the corner, before Sabre countered Pulp Friction into an Octopus stretch… only for Juice to switch back in with a Juicebox for a near-fall.
Another overhead kick to the arm from Sabre looked to get him but, but a Right Hand of God from Juice led to a Pulp Friction… only for Sabre to drop down ad see-saw roll-ups led to Zack snatching the win with a Euro clutch. That’s Juice eliminated, while ZSJ’s razor-thin chances of winning the block stay alive, even if it’s through convoluted means. This was fine, but never really got out of second gear for me, with Sabre working the arm really restricting Juice’s game. ***
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito
All of their prior meetings have been in tournaments, with Naito winning six and Yano three – including their last in last year’s G1. Their longest match? Just over 14 minutes… and by the way, a win for Naito here would eliminate a LOT of people.
Yano’s agitated by how long Naito takes to trundle down the aisle. We’re talking Iron Sheik at WrestleMania 17 speeds here. I mean, Naito’s theme almost looped, that’s how long we’re talking. FINALLY we get going, and now Yano wants to slow it down. Naito backs off from a lock-up, before Yano ducked a lock-up, then almost got beaten with a roll-up. Yano heads into the aisle, only to run back towards the ring as the referee started counting. Naito scares Yano away, grabbing Yano’s chair for extra menace, before Yano rolled in at the count of 19. Of course he gets stomped on.
A cravat in the ropes ties up Yano, who’s then elbowed before he low bridged Naito to the outside. Yano calls for a dive, but he fakes it out into the shrug. In among all that, Naito played hide and seek, returning to try and undo a turnbuckle pad as it turned into a race. Yano won out, whacking Naito in the back with a pad, before using the other one to clothesline him with. Naito rolls outside, right as Yano finds tape. He charges Yano into the railings then thought about using that tape… only to instead try for an Irish whip that’s reversed into the railings. Yano blinds Naito and Yota Tsuji with his disinfecting spray, then tried to tie them between the guard rails with another roll of tape. Except Tsuji can fit between the railings, and ended up hitting the ring with Naito at the count of 19.
Tsuji hits an accidental double clothesline with Naito as they tried to undo the tape, before he went for a fist bump… and got slammed onto Yano. Poor Tsuji. The referee’s next, but he manages to wriggle out as Yano hits a low blow… then a spear to the arse. Naito avoids the pin, hitting a low blow of his own before rolling up Yano for the win. This one didn’t outstay its welcome, but the usual G1 story of Yano’s tricks backfiring on him is well and truly playing out here, as Yano’s loss eliminates himself, plus KENTA and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both Hirooki Goto and SANADA now need to win their matches today to keep their slim hopes alive. **¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto
There’s been just the five prior singles matches here, with Goto just about edging the win loss record – although EVIL does hold the most recent win back in this year’s New Japan Cup.
EVIL charges in at the bell, grabbing a side headlock before Goto switched around and clung on with a side headlock of his own. A hair pull gets EVIL back in as he shoves off Goto for shoulder tackles, but Goto won out there too, before a snapmare and a kick to the back left EVIL on the mat. EVIL grabs onto the rope to stop an Irish whip, before he reversed it to send Goto into the general direction of Dick Togo, who tripped and pulled him outside. He’s joined as EVIL throws Goto into the guard rails, where the injured arm is wrapped around the railings and kicked. Out come some chairs as EVIL plays baseball, hitting the home run, before they returned to the ring… where EVIL threw Goto into the conveniently-exposed corner.
Wash, rinse, repeat, as a body slam followed for a series of two-counts on Goto. Elbow from Goto offered some fight back, before EVIL looked to throw him into the corner. It’s stopped as EVIL ends up hitting the exposed corner ahead of a back suplex from Goto, before a bulldog out of the corner gets Goto a two-count. A kick from Goto’s passed onto the ref for EVIL’s thrust kick, before some misdirection saw EVIL run into an ushigoroshi. Goto goes after Togo on the outside, which creates enough of a distraction for EVIL to press slam Goto when he tried to go up top. A clothesline from EVIL drops Goto for a near-fall, before Darkness Falls drew another two-count. Sensing a win, EVIL pulls up Goto for Everything is EVIL, but it’s elbowed away as Goto pulled EVIL into a backbreaker.
Goto adds to that as he clotheslines EVIL outside, following up with a plancha for good measure, before an elbow drop back inside almost put EVIL away. EVIL tries to charge back with clotheslines, before he distracted the referee… of course Dick Togo comes up, but his garotte wire’s stopped with an ushigoroshi as Goto sent the beret flying. From there, Goto prepares to blast through EVIL with a kick, but a GTR’s fought out of… so he goes for a reverse GTR instead for a two-count. Goto picks EVIL back up for a GTR, but it’s switched out of as EVIL finally spun his way into Everything is EVIL for the win. That’s Goto out of the G1, following a template EVIL match. Oh God, they’re not having him win the G1 to get to another match with Naito, are they?! ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
These two are surprisingly even in their past matches, with the pair trading wins – last year’s G1 saw Tanahashi get the victory in 18 minutes, but with Tanahashi out of the running this year, he’s just playing for pride as it’s win or bust for SANADA.
We start this one with a lock-up as Tanahashi takes SANADA to the ropes – with a quick switcharound too. SANADA breaks cleanly, then tried to go for a waistlock as a series of standing switches ended with him grabbing a wristlock, before they rolled to the mat ahead of a stand-off. Tanahashi goes for a wristlock, but gets tripped down ahead of another stand-off. A side headlock takedown has SANADA on the mat, but he escapes with headscissors as the pace remained low. Tanahashi gets out by grapevining the legs, but a bow-and-arrow hold came to nought as I have a feeling this one’s going to push the time limit…
They both go for kicks at the same time, as they argue who’ll let go first. Of course they fake each other out, before SANADA’s attempt at a Paradise Lock ended with an inside cradle that he kicked out of as Tanahashi came back in with a low dropkick. Another leg lock from Tanahashi sees him morph the hold into a leg spreader, bridging back before SANADA got to the ropes. An Irish whip by SANADA’s followed up with a Dragon screw on Tanahashi, before a double leapfrog/dropkick combo had Tanahashi outside for a plancha. Back inside, SANADA gets a near-fall before a sunset flip from Tanahashi was rolled out of and into a Paradise Lock. For once, a different set-up! A low dropkick frees Tanahashi, who’s then tied up on the bottom rope as SANADA then talked around ringside to take the applause ahead of another low dropkick to free the Ace.
Tanahashi tries to get back in, ducking under a backflip from SANADA before a teased Dragon screw was pushed out of. A low dropkick lands as Tanahashi finally gets off the Dragon screw, taking SANADA outside ahead of an Ace’s High crossbody to the floor. Back inside, more Dragon screws weaken SANADA ahead of a Cloverleaf, which Tanahashi ends up sitting down on in a high angle ahead of the eventual rope break. A Twist and Shout from Tanahashi spins SANADA down, as does a second, before SANADA came back in with a TKO for a near-fall. When Tanahashi avoided a Skull End, SANADA just clocks him with a dropkick before a whip took SANADA onto the apron so he could come back in with a missile dropkick.
SANADA jars his knee with a backflip off the top, allowing Tanahashi to come in with a Slingblade for a two-count. A German suplex followed for a two-count, but a High Fly Flow lands on SANADA’s knees as his momentum came to a shuttering stop. Tanahashi knocks SANADA into the corner, but SANADA stops him with an elbow before he flipped into a Skull End, dragging Tanahashi down to the mat. Tanahashi manages to slip out of the hold, because of course he does, but he took too long to follow up with something else as SANADA just reapplies the hold. Of course, SANADA’s fatal flaw appeared as he let go of the hold to go for a moonsault, as Tanahashi gets his knees up, and began a comeback with a series of Dragon screws.
SANADA looks for a ‘rana, but it’s caught as Tanahashi countered into the Cloverleaf again, putting SANADA in big trouble as the time limit entered its final five minutes. He tries to crawl towards the ropes, but Tanahashi sits down on him, before SANADA finally dove for the rope to force a break. Tanahashi hits the ropes for a Slingblade, but SANADA sidesteps… and ends up getting caught in an O’Connor roll for a near-fall. A Skull End is quickly escaped as we hit the final three minutes, with both men backflipping into and out of Dragon Sleepers. An attempt by SANADA’s countered into a reverse DDT by Tanahashi, who added a Slingblade before he headed up top, only to High Fly Flow into a cutter from SANADA for a near-fall.
SANADA adds to that with a moonsault to the back, before he rolled Tanahashi over for a second moonsault… and that’s all folks! Within the first five minutes you got the vibe this was going long – and thus was going to be SANADA looking to out-wrestle the veteran. He almost ran out of time, but SANADA managed to eke out the win to keep his shots of winning the block alive, while Tanahashi faces the real prospect of finishing in the bottom half of the block – only two years after winning the whole damn tournament. ***¾
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.
EVIL, Tetsuya Naito (6-2; 12pts)
SANADA, Zack Sabre Jr. (5-3; 10pts) * ZSJ all but 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 (5-4-2)
Yuya Uemura (5-5-1)
Gabriel Kidd (4-5-1)
We’re down to 8 names that have any shot of winning the G1 overall… and that’s it for the touring portion of the G1 – they’ve got Thursday off, before we hit Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo for the block A finals on Friday, the block B finals on Saturday, then the overall finals on Sunday. Friday sees Kota Ibushi hoping to avoid Black Mephisto to get his spot in the finals, while a win for Jay White over Tomohiro Ishii in the main event will book his ticket. As for Okada/Ospreay, well, if Okada wins and both White and Ibushi lose, Okada sneaks through… whereas Ospreay needs a win here AND three other results to go his way: namely, Yujiro beating Jeff Cobb, Taichi beating Ibushi and Ishii beating White (with the Yujiro win to avoid the already-unprecedented situation of tiebreakers going to “results against those below you”).
Oh, and some good news… all of the remaining shows will have English commentary too! Today though was another good, but not great round of G1 action as more of the drama starts to come from the permutations rather than the matches. A night of action that continued to play out existing storylines – while seeing some heavy hitters fall.