The G1 moves to Hokkaido for some more block A action, with Jay White and Kota Ibushi headlining a stacked card.
Gabriel Kidd pinned Yuya Uemura in 7:20 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jeff Cobb pinned Shingo Takagi in 11:43 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Kazuchika Okada submitted Yujiro Takahashi in 12:00 (**½)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Taichi pinned Minoru Suzuki in 12:13 (***¼)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Will Ospreay pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 18:20 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block A: Jay White pinned Kota Ibushi in 20:29 (****)
Two days off, and we’re back! This time it’s the Hokkai Kitayell that’s hosting here, with back-to-back nights meaning that Hokkaido gets to see both blocks. Let’s dive in…
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuya Uemura
We start with some Young Lion action, as Kidd and Uemura look for a hold early on, scrambling to the mat before they hit a stalemate.
Kidd looks for a double-wristlock early, but Uemura swivels out into a wristlock of his own, only for Kidd to reverse it. Uemura slips out into a side headlock, then snapmared Kiddd down into a chinbar, then an armbar that was quickly countered out of with some headscissors. Uemura keeps looking for a hold, but it ends in the ropes before Kidd began to fight his way back in with elbows and a slam. That gets him a two-count, as he proceeded to chop Uemura into the corner, prompting his foe to hit back with elbows, only for Kidd to respond with an uppercut and a back elbow off the ropes.
More elbows from Kidd keep Uemura at bay, as do chops, before Uemura struck back with a dropkick. A shoulder tackle dumps Kidd for a two-count, as did a hiptoss, before Uemura looked for a half crab, but Kidd gets to the ropes, only to find himself having to scramble back there to avoid Uemura’s capture suplex. Chops and elbows have Kidd staggered, but a front kick knocks Uemura back as they go back to elbow strikes. They go back-and-forth briefly until Kidd hit a dropkick, before he busted out a double-underhook suplex… and that’s Gabe’s first win under his belt! A pretty solid opener, and what a day to finally hit that finisher, eh? **3/4
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb
Both men lost on Saturday, so someone’s getting on the board here!
We open with a power lock-up, with Cobb taking Shingo to the corner, but Shingo switches around and throws a chop on the break. Cobb retaliates with a whip into the other corner, before resisting a shoulder tackle, as the pair broke down into back-and-forth elbow strikes. A double chop from Shingo works, before he avoided a leapfrog and bulled down Cobb… who returned fire with a nice dropkick. Cobb resists an Irish whip, and instead throws Shingo into the corner before an overhead belly-to-belly tosses Shingo across the ring. A bear hug follows, but Shingo bell claps his way free before he got charged into the corner, ahead of a leaping back elbow and a running back suplex as Cobb was having his own way here.
That gets Cobb a two-count, but Shingo gets free and looks for a suplex… only to slide out of a reversal before a elbow, jab and clothesline combination took Cobb down. A suplex follows, then a sliding lariat… but Cobb caught him and stood up for another suplex attempt. Instead, it’s blocked as Shingo hits a rebound back suplex off the ropes for extra propulsion. The pair clatter into each other again before Cobb hit an Exploder, as things went back to strikes, courtesy of Shingo’s elbows. A jab from Cobb earns him a headbutt, before the back-and-forth ended with a lariat from Cobb. Shingo escapes the Spin Cycle and returned fire with a noshigami, following that with a Pumping Bomber that spun Cobb to the mat for the near-fall.
Shingo looks for Last of the Dragon, but Cobb shifts his weight and came back with a side Salto suplex, chaining those things together like he’d just seen a bunch of Timothy Thatcher tapes. Unlike Thatcher though, he throws in a gutwrench powerbomb and a standing moonsault at the end for some near-falls, before Shingo clung onto the ropes to block a Tour of the Islands. Instead though, Cobb picks him up in a Fireman’s carry, but Shingo spins out into a DDT before the Danielson elbows and crossface punches wore down Cobb for a sliding lariat. From there, Shingo went for Made in Japan, and lands it for a near-fall, before Last of the Dragon came to nought as Cobb slipped free. Elbows stop Cobb, who eventually came back with a headbutt before he sidestepped a charge from Shingo and turned it into a rebound German.
All that’s left there is a Tour of the Islands, and that my friends is what we call an early coupon-buster. This was a good throwback to the early days of Shingo as a heavyweight last year – finding that his offence wasn’t quite as effective against the bigger lads, and it led to him coming unstuck here. Solid, but not spectacular. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Please let this be it. This has been the feud nobody asked for this summer, and a lot of people have circled this one down as a potential upset win for Yujiro as a result.
We’ve a tentative opening, starting with a lock-up as the pair head into the ropes for a clean break. Yujiro’s quickly in with his teeth, but Okada hits back with elbows before he’s caught with a clothesline, as he proceeded to take Okada into the aisle for a neckbreaker. A low dropkick follows as Yujiro looked to be going for a count-out, but of course it was never going to work, as Okada made it back in as leg drops, elbow drops and a falling headbutt waited for him. Okada’s up at two after that, as he’s taken into the corner for some more elbows and a running front kick. Another low dropkick gets Yujiro a two-count, before a slam got a similar result. A facelock follows as the match stayed somewhat lifeless, and it’s back to the low dropkick before another facelock kept Okada down.
Okada fights out, but his front kick is swept away… he avoided yet another low dropkick and came in with a diving uppercut to Yujiro. A sliding back elbow keeps Yujiro down, before a leaping back elbow and a DDT out of the corner… led to Yujiro rolling outside. Not to worry, Okada livens it up with a plancha, then returned to the ring as he looked for a neckbreaker slam… but Yujiro blocks it and took Okada to the corner. Another attempt from Okada’s blocked as Yujiro wriggles free, following up with a front kick and a Fisherman buster for a near-fall. Okada slips out of Miami Shine and comes back in with elbows, but Yujiro actually took him down with his exchange… prompting Okada to stop messing around as he came back with a tombstone and the modified cobra clutch… only for Yujiro to bite his way free.
More uppercuts from Okada lead to him taking an Incolle Slam from Yujiro. Okada looks for a rolling Rainmaker, but had to push away the Pimp Juice as he ends up taking the Miami Shine for a near-fall. Another Pimp Juice is attempted, but Okada pushes into the ropes before he returned with a front kick, an elbow and… gets splatted with a lariat from Yujiro. Yujiro looks for the Tokyo Pimps, but Okada slips out… and can’t quite get the modified cobra clutch on. He misses a dropkick, and is left in position for the Pimp Juice, but he tries to counter out, eventually hitting a rolling lariat before Okada’s persistence on that cobra clutch variation (which they’re calling the Money Clip… which… just no) paid off as Yujiro had enough and tapped at the 12 minute mark. Just like me. I mean, everything they did was technically sound, but coloured against the backdrop of that God-awful feud they wrapped up, this was flat and lifeless – and I guess continues the story of Struggling Okada? **½
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Taichi vs. Minoru Suzuki
It’s something of a homecoming for Taichi – who’s only wrestled Suzuki once before, on a show he had a hand in producing (alongside TAKA Michinoku). Suzuki eked out the win that day – and I’d be inclined to think it’d be a similar result here.
Suzuki went straight for Taichi, grabbing him by the throat as they went to the ropes. Taichi returns the favour, choking Suzuki on the mat before he was pushed away, which took out the referee briefly… he’s back to try and force a separation, but he gets bumped and spills to the outside. Suzuki and Taichi grab a chair each and have a little duel – Suzuki’s chair falls apart first, but he’s able to knock Taichi to the outside with a body blow, where the guard rails come into play. Christ, there’s a stack of chairs under the ring, which Suzuki uses one of as he jabs, then cracks Taichi on the back, before he choked Taichi in the railings with another chair.
Taichi’s left laying as we still have no referee, and it’s very much one-way traffic. The referee’s finally back in the ring as he had the thankless job of trying to stop Suzuki. No luck. He’s shoved aside as Taichi jabs Suzuki with the mic stand, before they head back outside with Suzuki going into the guard rails, where he’s kept as Taichi choked him with a camera cable. In the aisle, Taichi cracks Suzuki on the back with a chair shot, before Taichi ripped off his trousers – they’d already started to tear. They’re back inside as yet again the referee tries to stop Suzuki grabbing a chair, and this time had some success. Taichi goes for Kawada-ish kicks, but Suzuki laughs them off as he battered his stablemate with elbows.
Taichi stings back with kicks, but the CLONKING elbow sinks the singer. Suzuki gees himself up as Taichi pulled himself to his feet, eventually catching Suzuki with a head kick, an Axe bomber, then a leaping head kick as we somehow crossed the ten minute mark. Both men get back up, with Taichi missing an Axe bomber, as Suzuki quickly went for a rear naked choke, only to spin himself in as a Dangerous backdrop driver planted him on the mat. A second leaping head kick has Suzuki wobbling, but he’s back with a second rear naked choke as he dragged Taichi down, then spun him in for the Gotch piledriver… but Taichi counters out! Another go around is countered into Black Memphisto, and there’s the upset! Taichi is the first to hit four points this year – after a weird brawl of a match that was looking more likely to end up as a no-contest than anything else. ***¼
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Will Ospreay vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Ospreay wants a handshake at the bell, but Ishii just opts to charge at him with shoulder tackles… but eventually gets knocked down.
Ospreay tries to go in with kicks, but Ishii goes for a German suplex. It’s flipped out of, with Ospreay missing a standing shooting star press before they reached a stalemate. Kicks from Ospreay just earn him a chop, as he’s taken taken into the corner for Ishii to do his thing… but Will wants to try chops himself, before he got charged down by Ishii. Headbutts from Ishii have Ospreay in the corner, where he goes back to the chops that seem a little high, before a snapmare and a kick to the back had Will down. Elbows from Ospreay earn him another chop, before he’s met with a suplex that took him into the corner.
Ospreay tries to fight out as Ishii had him cornered, but those elbows just earned him another high chop. Ishii gets caught with a handspring enziguiri, then a Manhattan drop and some chops before Ospreay found his way in with a standing shooting star press for a two-count. A springboard forearm’s next, before some elbows met Ishii in the corner. He monsters up from there, backing Ospreay away before taking him down with another elbow. Ospreay’s back as he suplexes Ishii into the ropes for an attempted flying stomp, but Ishii avoids it… only to get dropkicked off the apron as Ospreay went for a Sasuke special.
Ishii avoids it, then countered a lifting reverse DDT attempt, before falling to an OsCutter as Ospreay bounded off the railings. Ospreay looks to get the count-out, but Ishii dives in at 19… and into the path of a dropkick that nearly ends the match. A slam looked to set Ospreay up for something off the top rope, but Ishii hits the ropes to crotch him, before a leaping headbutt in the corner dazes him. Ishii heads up top for an avalanche brainbuster, before the rapid-fire elbows followed. Ospreay avoids a sliding lariat as the pace suddenly quickens, coming in with a thrust kick, then a head kick before a second OsCutter misses. An elbow from Ishii has Ospreay fall backwards, before a folding powerbomb gets Ishii a near-fall.
A sliding lariat keeps Will down for a near-fall, before a German suplex was followed up by Ospreay hitting a standing Spanish Fly for a two-count. An OsCutter’s next, but Ishii just kicks out in time. He wriggles out of a Storm Breaker, returning to headbutt Ospreay before an OsCutter off the top rope was caught. Ospreay’s in with a hook kick, but another lariat has him down, before he flipped over a lariat and dumped Ishii with a powerbomb. Another Storm Breaker comes to nought, as Ishii avoids and hits an enziguiri, before spinning Will down with a lariat for a near-fall. A headbutt’s next, but Ospreay hits back with a Stundog Millionaire before the pair traded elbows and lariats, until a reverse ‘rana folded Ishii in half.
Hs pops back up, but eats a rolling elbow, before a Storm Breaker was rudely turned into a Tiger Driver. That looked like it sucked. The Hidden Blade’s next as Ospreay pushed on, before a Storm Breaker sealed the win. This was good, but at the same time disappointing – they kept this grounded, which did little to get the crowd going, and it wasn’t until the final moments that this really seemed to pick up. Had this been a sprint, or the crowd been hot, I’m sure I’d have been into it way more… ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block A: Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi
These two are 1-1 in singles matches, both in the last year-or-so, with Ibushi beating White in last year’s G1 finals, before losing in the unofficial “runners up match” at WrestleKingdom back in January.
For a change, White doesn’t roll outside at the bell, as he instead mocked the crowd for not chanting. When he returned to the ring, Ibushi kicks him right back outside for a plancha, before taking White into the corner for some stomps. Jay’s back to catch him with a TKO/hotshot onto the apron, before joining him on the edge of the ring for a knee breaker on the hardest part of the ring. The charges into the guard rails follow as White tried to give Miki Motoi on commentary a close-up of the action, before he broke the referee’s count so he could elbow away on Ibushi’s knee, using the apron to give him a leg up. Stomps keep Ibushi on the outside, before a knee-breaker back inside continued to keep the focus on the joint.
Eventually Ibushi broke free with a dropkick – which helped and hindered at the same time – before a flurry of strikes took White down ahead of a standing moonsault for a near-fall. A scoop slam from Ibushi led to a moonsault that misses, allowing White to sneak back in with a DDT, before a Blade Buster landed for a near-fall. A snap Flatliner and a rude German suplex dumps Ibushi, before Kota elbowed away… and found himself downed with a Dragon screw to the leg. Ibushi returns the earlier favour with a German suplex, before he scooped White up for a tombstone… but the Kiwi fights free. Pulling himself to the apron, White can’t avoids kicks from Ibushi, who tried to deadlift him back into the ring with a German suplex, but instead throws some elbows to the head before Gedo interfered to stop the deadlift German.
A Dragon screw traps Ibushi in the ropes before a uranage from White got himself a two-count. Ibushi blocks Kiwi Krusher and went for a package tombstone, spiking White despite attempts to chop block the knee out. White keeps clubbing away on the knee, forcing Ibushi to click him with an elbow shot that knocked him flying to the outside. Ibushi ducks a shot to the knee, then clotheslines White as he tried to build momentum, but couldn’t avoid another grounded Dragon screw. White tries for a sleeper suplex, but Ibushi counters with a half-and-half, before a head kick had White down for a Kamigoye. It’s avoided and turned into a roll-up, with White spamming those Dragon screws like he’d joined Suzuki-gun.
White followed that up with the move he used to call the TTO – but apparently that’s now the Ibushi TO for this match. Ibushi didn’t tap out, and instead grabbed the rope to force the break. White followed that up with a sleeper suplex, dumping Kota on his head… but somehow Ibushi’s back with a Bomaye knee, then a sit-out Last Ride powerbomb for a near-fall. A Kamigoye’s next, but White grabs onto the referee to save himself, then tried to lay in with elbows. Ibushi doesn’t register those and instead drops White for a buzzsaw kick, before Gedo popped up on the apron and teased throwing in the towel. Of course, it’s a ruse as the referee’s distracted, and misses a low blow, as White tried to win “clean” with a bridging suplex.
Ibushi comes back, pushing away a suplex to hit a bicycle knee… then dumped Gedo off the apron with a high kick, before White caught him out with a Blade Runner for the relatively-clean win. This was a pretty damn good main event – again, an active crowd would have buoyed this, but White largely kept the shenanigans to a minimum until the end. Good. More like this please! ****
Your standings, then:
Will Ospreay, Taichi, Jay White (2-0; 4pts)
Jeff Cobb, Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki (1-1; 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, Yujiro Takahashi (0-2; 0pts)
KENTA, Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson, Zack Sabre Jr., Toru Yano (1-0; 2pts)
EVIL, Hirooki Goto, SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, YOSHI-HASHI (0-1; 0pts)
(Unofficial) Block C
Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura (1-1)
The G1’s back tomorrow in Hokkaido again for some block B action, with Zack Sabre Jr. looking to add to his upset win over EVIL on Sunday in the main event against Tetsuya Naito. While not on the same level as Saturday’s opener, this was a pretty good night for the A block. I have a feeling that we’ll be facing these crowd issues throughout the whole tournament, which could drag things down – especially when you consider just how great some of these matches could be in front of a vocally enthusiastic crowd. These G1 shows will have to go some to be below average, but this show served as a reminder that even in the “best block”, not everything will be gold.