The G1 returned to Osaka for the latest stage of the tournament, featuring Okada vs. Shingo in the main event.
Yuya Uemura pinned Yota Tsuji in 9:03 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jeff Cobb pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 14:57 (****¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jay White pinned Yujiro in 3:40 (**)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Will Ospreay pinned Taichi in 16:26 (****)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kota Ibushi pinned Minoru Suzuki in 16:59 (****½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kazuchika Okada defeated Shingo Takagi via referee stoppage in 27:45 (****¾)
We’re back in Osaka for this, with the Edion Arena having its third night of G1 action…
Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
Uemura started this one by trying to take out Tsuji’s legs, but ended up being rolled to the mat and into the ropes.
Another scramble leads to a stand-off, before they went back and forth on wristlocks. Tsuji goes in for a hammerlock, then a side headlock as he wrenches away on Uemura, before a headlock takedown had them back on the deck. Uemura uses headscissors to try and free himself, but Tsuji just grapevines the legs before the pair reset. Uemura’s back in with a drop toe hold off the ropes, before dropping an elbow on Tsuji’s arm. He’s going for that body part today, including wrenching it back with his legs, before he locked in an armbar that ended in the ropes. A hiptoss doesn’t quite go to plan as Tsuji gets taken down for a scissored armbar, but Tsuji gets free and fought back with a leaping elbow and a shoulder tackle.
A big splash gets Tsuji a two-count, but he can’t follow up with a Boston crab as Uemura pulls him back down for a Fujiwara armbar. Uemura keeps going with a scissored armbar, but Tsuji scrambled into the ropes for another break. Uppercuts to the elbow do further damage, but don’t stop Tsuji firing back with a dropkick before he rolled Uemura back into a Boston crab. Tsuji loses the grip, so instead holds a cross-legged crab as Uemura bounced his way to the ropes for the break, before Uemura hit back with an armdrag into an armbar. Tsuji can’t fight his way free, and eventually gets caught with a bridging capture suplex as Uemura picked up the win! I absolutely loved this – a change of pace from the two, with Uemura working the arm and realising he’s pretty good at that for a newbie! ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii
We’ve some history here, with these guys having three prior matches – one in last year’s G1, and two within the space of a month in 2018, at WrestleCon and for OTT in Ireland. Ishii’s got a perfect record against Cobb thus far…
As usual, we start with a lock-up as Cobb… just stands up and walks Ishii to the ropes from a side headlock. He talks trash to Ishii, who elbows back at him before see-saw shoulder tackles led to Cobb missing a leap into the corner. Cobb recovers to charge at Ishii again, but he’s taken down with a shoulder tackle… only to kip up and take a back suplex. Ishii keeps going with chops, but Cobb has some of his own before he got clonked with a headbutt. More chops fall Cobb, as Ishii began to toy with him, only to get FLUNG across the ring with a T-bone suplex. Yikes. A running backdrop suplex gets Cobb a near-fall, before he looked to haul up Ishii for a suplex… but it’s blocked as a struggle for the move led to Ishii landing it.
Chops from Ishii have Cobb by the ropes, with resulting elbows knocking Jeff down. Cobb elbows Ishii, which just sparks more back-and-forth, leading to Cobb walking into a massive elbow strike as he was messing around with a Roman Reigns-like motion. The referee’s gotta check on Cobb after that shot, but not to worry – Jeff’s quickly back as he ragdolled Ishii into an overhead suplex. Ishii quickly responds with a scoop slam, then a German suplex, before an Exploder had Ishii back on jelly legs. These big lads like throwing each other, eh? The pair trade headbutts, with a diving headbutt from Cobb almost diving through Ishii, before a German suplex lead to a near-fall. They are absolutely NOT holding anything back here, eh?
Cobb calls for the finish, but Ishii clotheslines away from a Tour of the Islands, only to get taken down for a standing moonsault that gets Cobb a near-fall. Another Tour of the Islands is escaped, with Ishii nailing an enziguiri, before Cobb punched him out. Ishii’s pulled back up and lands a clothesline, before a sliding lariat was caught by Cobb, who looked to counter back, only to get caught with a sorta-Dragon suplex. Another lariat spins Cobb to the mat, but it’s not enough to get the win, as Ishii then went for the sheer drop brainbuster, only for Cobb to slip out and hit a Spin Cycle. Ishii tries to fire up again as the pair butt heads, before another headbutt from Ishii sank Cobb. A superkick from Cobb leads to a pop-up powerbomb, as he then pulled up Ishii into a Tour of the Islands for the win. This was absolutely fantastic – two big lads knocking lumps out of each other, and it made for a cracker of a match. Yeah, I worry about the headbutts too… ****¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Jay White
A first-time meeting between Bullet Club members, and don’t look so surprised. I’m expecting shenanigans based on comments made by EVIL after Thursday’s show… and also because Jay White’s out in a cut-off tee and tracksuit bottoms. Oh, and wearing Red Shoes too. As in the footwear, not the ref…
At the bell, White’s more focused at getting the crowd going as he totally dismisses Yujiro… who then lays down for him. Of course it’s a con, as White breaks the count willingly, further taking the piss. Yujiro kicks out to keep the con going, then surprises White with a roll-up! Yujiro’s not sticking to the plan, and clobbers White with a clothesline, following up with an Incolle Slam for a near-fall. Miami Shine looked to be next, but White escapes… and gets pushed towards the ref as Yujiro looked to win with a low blow and a roll-up. White’s up at two, then eats the Miami Shine as they continue to tease that big Yujiro win.
Gedo pops up on the apron as Yujiro went for the Pimp Juice – that distracts the referee again as White low blows his way free before nailing a Blade Runner for the win. Short and sweet, and it’s clear there’s something amiss within Bullet Club given what Yujiro did… to the point that White went out for a chair, but Gedo talks him out of it. Oh, they’re gonna screw Jay aren’t they?! **
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Taichi vs. Will Ospreay
It’s a first-time meeting in the G1, but these two have prior tournament form behind them – with Taichi beating Ospreay in 2017’s Best of the Super Junior, as well as at a Rev Pro show in Altrincham in 2018. Ospreay’s only singles win came in December 2018 as part of the World Tag League tour…
Taichi’s in no rush to get going, and willingly backs into the ropes from the opening lock-up. Wash, rinse and repeat as Ospreay was being extra vocal, before Taichi walked to the ropes to break a wristlock. A kick to the gut and an eye rake has Taichi back in, but Ospreay ducks a clothesline and lands a tijeras, taking Taichi outside as he faked out a dive. Taichi grabs the timekeeper’s hammer and clobbers Ospreay with it as he leapt off the apron, then choked him with it. Cables are used next as Taichi tried to con the referee, before they returned to the ring as Ospreay continued to get throttled. Eventually changing tactic, Taichi throws Ospreay down, only to get caught with a handspring enziguiri off the ropes, before a double hand chop had Taichi down.
A low dropkick helps Taichi to the outside as Ospreay nailed a Sasuke special that I swear commentary’s rebadged. Back inside, Taichi knees his way out of a reverse DDT, before missing a gamengiri in the corner as Ospreay went back in with a chop. A slam sets up Ospreay for a moonsault, but that misses… as does the second one, so Ospreay hits a standing shooting star press before a corkscrew senton out of the corner got a near-fall. Ospreay looked for Storm Breaker, but Taichi slips out and looked for the backdrop driver, only to land a leaping enziguiri instead. They get back up to trade elbows and kicks, as Taichi looked to give Ospreay a dead leg, but a kick to the chest seemingly caught Will off-guard. A second one’s caught as he comes back with a chop, before a handspring was caught and countered into a Dangerous backdrop driver.
A gamengiri in the corner helps Taichi set up for an avalanche Black Memphisto, but Ospreay slips out and hits a Cheeky Nando’s. Ospreay heads up top for a 450 splash, but lands in the knees of Taichi, who followed with an Axe Bomber to the back of the head. A second Axe Bomber’s floated out of, but Ospreay ends up taking a head kick and a Last Ride for a near-fall. Off come the trousers, but Taichi took too long on his superkick and got caught by Ospreay’s, as a hook kick followed, before Ospreay went for an OsCutter and was superkicked away. Dear Lord. Black Memphisto looked to follow, but Ospreay counters out, only to get met with an elbow, before they counter back and forth.
Ospreay flips out of a back body drop, then nails an OsCutter for a near-fall… Hidden Blade follows as Taichi’s laid out, before a Storm Breaker gets the win. A heck of an outing for Taichi, who’s unfortunately hit a bad slump… I’m still not sold on Ospreay trying to shoehorn his old flippy style in with his extra size, but he’s going to keep trying. ****
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kota Ibushi
For the first time in over seven years, these two meet one-on-one, with Suzuki having won the last meeting as part of 2013’s G1.
We’ve a tentative start as Suzuki tries to sting Ibushi with a kick to the legs, before he went in with a flurry of palm strikes as he tried to bully Kota into the corner. Body blows keep Ibushi by the ropes, but we’re still feeling out as the sparring continued. Eventually, Suzuki goes for a double-leg, taking down Ibushi before they were dragged into the ropes for a break. A keylock from Suzuki is countered as Ibushi trips him, then entered the guard as he looked for a similar double-wristlock of his own. The pair trade leglocks on the mat, but Suzuki pushes Ibushi away as he clung onto his, only for Ibushi to roll into the ropes for a break. Except there’s no break as Suzuki rolled away from the rope and reapplied the hold, only to get taken onto the apron as he got booted into the railings.
Ibushi whips him back into the railings as he then geed up the crowd… but Suzuki is back on his feet and looks enraged as he teased walking out. Instead, he sits in the aisle and dared Ibushi to meet him there… and Kota did. They trade elbows on the raised entrance ramp, with Suzuki knocking Ibushi down with those GODDAMN ELBOWS. Suzuki puts the boots in as Ibushi was left laying, but Kota’s quickly up and staggering back to the ring to beat the count-out. Kicks keep Kota down, but he’s back up with elbows, only to get swatted away by another one of those from Suzuki. A running front kick traps Ibushi in the corner, but Ibushi’s back with a dropkick, then some kicks as Suzuki was staggered… then eventually knocked down.
A PK keeps Suzuki raging, as he resisted being knocked down with all of his might, but that third PK knocked him flat on his back. Suzuki gets back up as Ibushi toyed with him, and another elbow just KO’s Kota. Wash, rinse, repeat, as all of Osaka heard the clonks, before he shrugged off a head kick and knocked Kota down once again. We’re back to clonking headbutts as both men just laughed at creating the other’s demise, and now we’re back to rapid-fire elbows. Glorious. They spar again with the palm strikes, as Ibushi was being knocked loopy, before he swung and missed… Suzuki caught him with a rear naked choke, but the Gotch piledriver doesn’t come off as Ibushi went for Kamigoye.
That’s blocked as Suzuki rolls through into a Boston crab, but Ibushi gets back up and went for a running knee… but he’s caught as he ends up cracking Suzuki with a standing Kamigoye. A second Kamigoye follows, and my word, that was an absolute cracker of a match. Kota Ibushi wants to win the G1 and ascend to God-like status – some of those shots almost knocked him out of his skin, but Ibushi survives and leaves the night with a share of the lead. ****½
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Shingo Takagi vs. Kazuchika Okada
We wrap up with a first-time meeting – and one that under circumstances where Okada wasn’t fannying around with the Money Clip, would have a lot more people buzzed.
Shingo looked to work Okada’s arm with a wristlock early, but Okada rolls free and trips him before they reached a stand-off. In the ropes, Okada does the mock-clean break, then caught Shingo with a boot to the gut before Okada got knocked down with a see-saw shoulder tackle. A second one keeps Okada down, but Okada’s back with a snapmare and a low dropkick to take Shingo to the outside. Frustrated, Shingo reaches into the crowd for a chair, but returned to the ring… and into the path of a boot from Okada. A neckbreaker drops him next, as elbows trap Shingo in the corner before a slam led to a missed senton atomico… Okada tries to roll through for a plancha, but Shingo sidesteps and DDTs him on the floor instead.
Shingo grinds Okada’s face by the ring post, then charged him into the side of the ring before throwing him back into the railings. Back inside, Shingo lands a slingshot stomp on Okada, before a back senton drew a near-fall as some body scissors drew some weird noises out of Okada as he got to the ropes. Forearms to the lower back keep Okada down ahead of a snap suplex, before he replied to a kitchen sink knee with a flapjack. A running back elbow keeps Shingo down, before a jumping back elbow and a DDT keeps the flow going for a two-count. Okada goes for the neckbreaker slam, but Shingo blocks it… then teases a noshigami, as Okada elbowed free. Instead, Shingo clobbers Okada with a clothesline in the corner before surprising him with a pop-up death valley driver for a near-fall.
Hip strikes from Shingo keep Okada to a knee, before Okada snuck back in with the neckbreaker slam. Shingo’s back with jabs only to get taken outside with a dropkick. Okada follows him to take him to the guard railings, before landing a draping DDT off the apron. Referee Red Shoes Unno starts counting both men out, but Okada’s back up and throws Shingo back inside, where Shingo nailed the elbow/jab/lariat combination to knock the former IWGP champion down. Okada goes in for a Money Clip, but Shingo broke free to hit noshigami, before a wheelbarrow German suplex almost got the win. A dropkick from Okada sees him roll the clock back again, before a tombstone spikes Shingo … but then he goes to the Money Clip again. Shingo easily gets to the rope for a break, then caught Okada on the top rope with a chop ahead of a superplex.
A clothesline in the corner from Shingo starts some fresh back-and-forth, but Okada misses a dropkick before he got clobbered in the back. The pace increases as Okada lands a shotgun dropkick, only to get caught on the rebound with a sliding lariat, before we went back to strikes, with Okada landing uppercuts. Elbows from Okada follow, but Shingo fires back with the left-right elbow combinations, before a diving elbow knocked Okada loopy. Okada tries to nick the pin by sitting on Shingo after the neckbreaker slam was countered, but a second, spinning tombstone spikes Shingo before we go back to that goddamn Money Clip. Shingo stands up, but gets backslid into an-almost-Rainmaker, that gets some cheers. Okada keeps hold of the wrist, but takes too long as Shingo headbutts free and hits a Rainmaker of his own?!
Shingo hits the ropes for a Pumping Bomber, but instead drops Okada for a near-fall with a Made in Japan – complete with the aghast Okada being held in mid-air for a second. A Pumping Bomber connects, but it’s still not enough as Okada popped up a shoulder just in time as we entered the final five minutes. Last of the Dragon looks to follow, but Shingo swats Okada away as he tried to break it. Second time’s the charm, buth Okada wriggles out and… Money Clip. Shingo throws Okada aside, only to get caught with a shotgun dropkick and a rolling clothesline. He’s getting closer to ol’ faithful there. Yet still, Okada goes back to the bastard Money Clip, which almost gets the win, but Shingo pulls back the referee as he went to call the match.
Okada jams Shingo down as we entered the final three minutes, with Shingo having stood up… but Okada wrenches the hold on tighter as the crowd got louder. In the end, Red Shoes waves it off as Shingo passed out – another crucial note as Okada’s two wins from that hold have been via stoppage, not via submission, but it keeps the G1 alive for Okada and effectively narrows the field. This was an EPIC – and had this been the match where Okada went back to ol’ faithful for the win, you can bet I’d have had no fear, but still this was right up there with the matches of the year from New Japan. ****¾
Block A (not taking tie-breakers into account)
Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Jay White (5-2; 10pts)
Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Shingo Takagi (3-4; 6pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (0-7; 0pts) * eliminated
Block B (not taking tie-breakers into account)
Tetsuya Naito (5-1; 10pts)
EVIL (4-2; 8pts)
Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano (3-3; 6pts)
KENTA (2-4; 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-5; 2pts) * eliminated
(Unofficial) Block C (W-L-D)
Yota Tsuji (4-3-2)
Yuya Uemura (4-4-1)
Gabriel Kidd (3-4-1)
For block A’s run-ins, barring a major set of weird results (like no contests), it’s a four-hourse race. Here’s who the current joint leaders have left – I’ll start counting tie-breakers from the penultimate show, to save us all headaches! That Ospreay/Okada match next Friday sure does look like it’s going to be the decider, huh?
Ibushi – Yujiro, Taichi
Okada – Ishii, Ospreay
Ospreay – Cobb, Okada
White – Suzuki, Ishii
Tomorrow, the G1 hits the road once more and heads to Aichi for block B action, with Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL in a rematch from Dominion and Summer Struggle in Jingu – except neither of the belts are on the line here. This though, was the first truly great show of this G1 tour – with the truncated cards, its a much bigger ask, but literally everything delivered on here. When your “worst match” is a Bullet Club storyline match, which was kept brief, you know you’ve got a great show on your hands, starting with the Young Lions trying something different, going through Ishii and Cobb whaling away on each other, through to Suzuki and Ibushi going one better. If you’ve been cherry picking the G1, this is a show to sit down and watch in full!