The second night of the G1 lands as block B gets going with Tetsuya Naito main eventing against Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Yota Tsuji submitted Gabriel Kidd in 9:15 (***)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Juice Robinson pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 15:57 (***¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Toru Yano defeated SANADA by count-out in 6:16 (**¾)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: KENTA submitted Hirooki Goto in 17:15 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Zack Sabre Jr. pinned EVIL in 14:54 (***½)
G1 Climax 30, Block B: Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 27:16 (****¾)
We’re back in the Edion Arena in Osaka for the second of two shows. Remember, this year’s G1 is doing away with the long undercards, as each line-up is going to be block-exclusive, with only a Young Lion match rounding out the line-ups.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji
It’s Kidd’s first match of the G1, as Yota Tsuji looks to get on the board after yesterday’s loss.
Tsuji started looking for offence, but ended up on the mat as Kidd scrambled to take his back. There’s a quick switch as the pair scramble into the ropes for a break, as Kidd came back by wringing Tsuji’s arm. It’s reversed, but they head to the mat as Tsuji trapped Kidd in headscissors, wrenching on as Kidd eventually flipped his way free. A retaliatory side headlock ends with the pair rolling into the ropes, before we broke in with shoulder tackles and elbows. Osaka’s clapping along as Tsuji charged down Kidd, but Gabe’s back with overhand chops before he got knocked into the ropes. A slam has Gabe down ahead of a big splash off the ropes for a near-fall, as Tsuji followed up with elbows that left him wobbly.
Kidd takes a back elbow in the ropes, but dropkicks Tsuji away as he began a fightback. Throwing Tsuji head-first into the corners led to an elbow that dumped him down for a near-fall. Tsuji powers out of a suplex, throwing Kidd with a back body drop, but Gabe’s back with another dropkick as he rolled Tsuji into a Boston crab. Tsuji got to the ropes as my feed dropped, recovering as he drills Kidd with a spear, then a slam for some two-counts, before his search for a Boston crab… and, having learned from last night, Tsuji pulls Kidd away from the ropes before sitting down on the hold, forcing the submission. I loved the progression from yesterday, with Tsuji showing some urgency as the match progressed, especially when Kidd began to threaten towards the end. ***
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Juice Robinson
It’s Juice’s first match since February – remember, he’d not done NJPW Strong – and on paper this is more of a pick’em than you’d think. Meanwhile, Juice’s new wardrobe had him as something of a sparkly Blues Brother.
After geeing up the crowd, Juice started off working YOSHI-HASHI’s wrist… but of course it’s reversed back-and-forth before a waistlock takedown took one of the NEVER trios champs down. A waistlock from YOSHI ends up in the corner, where Juice hit back with a chop before he was taken down with a tijeras. A headlock takedown has Juice on the mat as YOSHI tried to dictate the pace, but we get a push-off as they go for shoulder tacklers, until Juice leapt over YOSHI-HASHI, following in with an elbow and a squashing back senton for a two-count. Chops take YOSHI back into the corner, before an Irish whip, a Manhattan drop and a side Russian legsweep had him on the mat for a two-count.
A front facelock from Juice leads to a snap suplex as he looked to be going for the Three Amigos, before he avoided a Bunker Buster… only for YOSHI-HASHI to hit the ropes for a Head Hunter instead. YOSHI keeps going, suplexing Juice onto the ropes for a dropkick to the back, as a second low dropkick looked to put him ahead, with the Bunker Buster coming next for a near-fall. Juice looked to fight back, elbowing away YOSHI-HASHI before busting out the Dusty punches, but a chop stopped him briefly, before he recovered with a full nelson slam. That’s followed up with a rapid cannonball into the corner for a near-fall, before they headed up top for a very rhythmic superplex. Man, Juice really does get these crowds going, eh?
YOSHI-HASHI avoids it by flipping over into a powerbomb out of the corner for a near-fall, coming even closer with a lariat moments later after he’d avoided a leg lariat… before a kumagaroshi attempt was blocked. Juice goes for the Left Hand of God, but eats a superkick instead as YOSHI-HASHI nails the Kumagaroshi for a near-fall. From there it’s a Butterfly Hold, with Juice at a hell of an awkward angle before he struggled towards the ropes. YOSHI-HASHI has to readjust the hold, but Juice fights up… only to get dumped with a back cracker! The Loose Explosion senton bomb off the top is next, as Juice ALMOST got put away, before an attempt at Karma was fought out of as Juice sensed defeat. A chop battle breaks out as Juice dug deep, dumping YOSHI-HASHI with a swivelling lariat before the Juice Box gutbuster took us past the 15 minute mark for a near-fall, before Juice’s attempt at Pulp Friction was countered with a roll-up for a near-fall. The GASP from the crowd when he got that roll-up was amazing.
Pushing on again, Juice hits back with two Left Hands of God, then Pulp Friction to get the win. Christ, YOSHI-HASHI put up a hell of a fight, going much longer than I expected, but it’s Juice Robinson who gets on the board first after a banger of a match. ***¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: SANADA vs. Toru Yano
Don’t ask me why, but I think this one isn’t going long… SANADA’s got sparkly new gear, and a funky new mask. At least he’s not an evil bellhop anymore. Toru Yano’s new t-shirt has a QR code on the back – I assume it directs you to his YouTube Channel, but that’s freaking amazing.
The referee checks Yano before the match, and finds rolls of tape stuffed all over him. That’s what a reputation does to you. We get going with a lock-up as SANADA took Yano into the ropes, before Yano returned the favour. SANADA goes in for a waistlock, but calls foul because Yano has more tape in his tights, which led to a roll-up for SANADA as Yano argued with the ref. Yano tries to respond in kind with a roll-up for a near-fall, before he went for old faithful – the turnbuckle pad. SANADA lets him do it, but starts to roll him around on the mat to dizzy him for a near-fall, before Yano went wild, swinging the pad dizzily. He’s still got enough about him to use the pad to free himself from a Paradise Lock, before Yano left the ring and staggered up the aisle.
Yano grabs an unoccupied seat from the crowd to have a breather, but SANADA doesn’t give chase… so Yano has to run back in at the count of 19, before a brief duel of turnbuckle pads ended with SANADA landing a dropkick. A moonsault misses, before he charged into an exposed corner as a roll-up gets a near-fall. SANADA blocks a slingshot into the corner, and came back with more roll-ups as Yano scarpered. A plancha outside knocks the trickster down, before SANADA marched him down the aisle – as we see that someone’s quickly removed that chair from earlier. Instead, SANADA ties up Yano in a Paradise Lock, giving you ample time to scan that QR code on the back of Yano’s tee… but Yuya Uemura frees Yano!
SANADA’s pissed, and goes to tie up Uemura, but Yano’s got one last roll of tape in his gear, and uses it to tie SANADA to Uemura. By the time he’s noticed, Yano sprints back to the ring, and it’s too late as Yano snatches the win via count-out. He’s only gone and done it again! Not much of a match, and there’ll be some upset over how that finish made SANADA look, especially given how he resisted Yano’s earlier tricks, but you know what you get in Yano G1 outings. **¾
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. KENTA
KENTA’s got the Right-to-Challenge briefcase for the US title, so I guess that’s now canon as part of the wider New Japan sphere – rather than just NJPW Strong.
The crowd actually applauds KENTA for booing them. Mockery.
KENTA rolls outside at the bell so he could wander around ringside, before he returned to lock-up with Goto… only to get taken into the ropes for a clean break. An elbow from Goto takes down KENTA, before a whip into the ropes saw KENTA again powder outside. This time Goto follows him and throws him back inside… but KENTA keeps playing keepaway. The Benny Hill chase ends with KENTA catching Goto with stomps back inside, before Goto retaliated with a hiptoss and a shoulder tackle. He stops KENTA rolling out again, but a hot shot on the ropes drops Goto as KENTA takes things outside, where he threw Goto shoulder-first into the ring post. He’s sent shoulder-first into the guard rails next, before some mid kicks back in the ring had Goto laying.
An armbreaker’s next as KENTA proceeds to pull Goto into a Fujiwara armbar, but it ends in the ropes as we hit the five-minute mark. More kicks await Goto, before another crack at the Fujiwara also ended with Goto scrambling into the ropes for a break. Wash, rinse and repeat, with kicks this time setting up for a front boot… but Goto catches it and pushes KENTA down to get himself free. Goto sidesteps a charge and hits a German suplex out of the corner, following up with a lariat and a bulldog for a two-count. An ushigoroshi’s avoided as KENTA ends up coming back with a powerslam… but he’s pushed away as he went for the armbar again as he instead heads up top with a tornado into a hotshot, before he played around with some more kicks.
Goto shrugs off the kicks, but KENTA just pulls him down as he looked for Game Over – but Goto again got to the ropes to avoid the submission. KENTA kicks Goto onto the apron, but a draping DDT is avoided as Goto fought free, only to get caught with a sleeperhold on the apron, with KENTA standing on the ropes for more leverage. The hold’s broken as Goto drops KENTA arm-first on the ropes, before he went for a Fujiwara armbar back inside… but KENTA gets a foot on the rope to force the break. A backdrop suplex lands for a near-fall, before KENTA forced a way back in with a DDT. He looks to follow that with the Green Killer, nailing the draping DDT before a running front kick and a hesitation dropkick left Goto in a heap.
KENTA heads up top next for a double stomp, going through Goto on his way to a near-fall… before a Busaiku knee gets another two-count. A Go 2 Sleep is next, but Goto blocks the knee as KENTA struck back with palm strikes, only to wander into an ushigoroshi before Goto rolled him down for another submission attempt that ultimately ended in the ropes. KENTA still keeps going for the Game Over – having called his shot earlier in the week – but Goto avoids it and goes for a GTR, only for KENTA to drop out of the hold. They stumble as KENTA finds a way to pull Goto down into the Game Over, eventually locking it in before he rolled Goto into the middle of the ring for the submission. This was perfectly fine – boosted by knowing KENTA had already called out his game-plan earlier in the week… but if you didn’t know that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that KENTA was spamming the armbar or something. A solid, if not spectacular win as KENTA starts his G1 with a in. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
EVIL’s got a 2-1 record over Sabre in singles matches – and with Dick Togo by his side here, you’d have to think that may be likely to go to 3-1 tonight.
We’ve a jump start as Sabre went for Togo before the bell – prompting EVIL to jump him as the pair spill outside. An elbow to Zack’s taped-up knee weakens him as he’s then bounced off the guard rails and into a backbreaker on the floor. EVIL grabs a chair, which gets the referee’s attention to hide Togo from putting the boots to Sabre, before EVIL rolled back inside to remove a turnbuckle pad. Sabre beats the count, but his back’s already a mess… and it isn’t helped further as EVIL hurls him into the exposed corner. A half crab follows from EVIL, but Sabre’s able to dive into the ropes to force a break, before he raked the eyes to stop Sabre in his tracks. Zack’s back with an attempted Cobra Twist, but EVIL counters with an abdominal stretch… complete with the old-school obvious cheating from Dick Togo on the apron.
Sabre snaps back in as he took down EVIL for a neck twist, before he worked the arm, torquing it into the mat as a stomp to the elbow left EVIL in pain. EVIL tries to come back, but misses a back senton, before handing off a kick from Sabre to the ref so he could land a thrust kick. A push-down stomp in the corner has Sabre back on the deck, before an overhead kick to the arm and an Octopus hold surprised EVIL. Zack modifies it into a Cobra Twist, but EVIL grabs his ear like Sabre’s a naughty boy, breaking up the hold as he turned into a suplex. A corner clothesline has Sabre down, with a superplex coming up next as EVIL picked up a two-count. Everything is EVIL looks to follow, but Sabre counters out with a sleeper, only to have his eyes raked as he looked for a Zack Driver. Cue disapproving hums on commentary.
From there, Sabre slips out and almost snatched a roll-up, before another wacky submission – a headscissor/armbar combo – looked to force a submission, only got Dick Togo and his piano wire to pop up on the apron. Sabre kicks him away, but ends up getting whipped into the corner, squashing referee Red Shoes… and here comes the bullshit. Dick Togo’s in to land back sentons with EVIL, but Sabre manages to turn the tables by getting out of a Magic Killer. He then blocks a mule kick from EVIL, countering back with an ankle lock, before he’s rolled into that exposed corner. Red Shoes stirs and rolls back into the ring, just in time to make a two-count for a Darkness Falls. Everything is EVIL looks to follow, but Zack rolls out and traps him with a Japanese leg clutch… and there’s your upset! Commentary marks out as ZSJ pins the former double-champion after a match that trundled along well until the EVIL BS threatened to derail it. That’s my pick’ems for this show well and truly shattered anyway. ***½
G1 Climax 30 – Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Tanahashi just about has the edge in singles matches between the two, but they’ve not met one-on-one in over three years, with Naito picking up the win in the G1 back in August 2017.
There’s some hesitation as the pair played chicken going into a lock-up – although that’s just Naito being Naito. Eventually, Tanahashi had to fake out going for a single leg as he muscled down Naito, eventually ending in a side headlock on the mat as the pair cycled between headlocks, headscissors and an eventual stand-off. A low dropkick from Tanahashi has Naito down, with Tanahashi clearly targeting that left knee with stomps, before he drove it into the mat. Tanahashi ties up the legs next, to add more torque to the knee, before he looked to switch the hold into a Cloverleaf, but Naito gets to the ropes before he pulled himself outside.
Returning to the ring, Naito fakes out a dive, and instead poses… then rolled over as Tanahashi went for a flip senton that took away the momentum Tanahashi’d built up. It’s time for the guard rails next, with Tanahashi having to recover on the floor before rolling back inside, where Naito returned the favour for those earlier stomps to the knee. A neckbreaker’s next as Naito pulls Tanahashi into Pluma Blanca, but to no avail as we got a shot of Yota Tsuji banging the mat for Tanahashi at ringside. Interesting the Young Lions are clearly taking a role this year, what with Uemura earlier… Naito keeps going for a Combinacion Cabron, but Tanahashi caught him and hit a… Gunn Slinger? He learned something from Billy!
Tanahashi adds to that with a leaping forearm to take Naito down, before a slam and a flip senton got the Ace a near-fall. Naito tries to boot Tanahashi out of the corner, but it’s caught and turned into a Dragon screw – this time with Tanahashi giving, rather than receiving. A trip to the top rope sees Tanahashi threaten a High Fly Flow… and by God he lands it, going to the floor! Remember when he retired that? Back in the ring, Tanahashi caught Naito with more Dragon screws in the ropes as he upped the urgency – and brought back not-quite-repressed memories of how Suzuki-gun treated him all summer long. A Cloverleaf is next, but Naito squirmed towards the ropes before he rolled up Tanahashi for a near-fall, as he eventually fought back in with a spinebuster to leave both men laying.
Naito charges Tanahashi into the corner as he set up for a top rope ‘rana… but Tanahashi rolled through into a sunset flip for a near-fall, before he went back to the Dragon screws! Whipping Naito’s leg into the mat repeatedly, before a high-angle Cloverleaf finally trapped Naito in the middle of the ring, but unlike three years earlier, Naito doesn’t tap, despite Tanahashi sitting deeper and deeper on him… too deep, in fact, as Naito’s able to roll into the ropes to force a break. Tanahashi looked for a Snow Plow, but Naito slips free, only to get caught with a strait-jacket German suplex that almost ended the match. Naito’s back with a Koppo kick and a swinging DDT off the ropes, before Tanahashi hit a Slingbade to get himself out of a suplex. Another attempt at a Snow Plow’s countered as Naito wriggled into a semi-Destino, before the pair reduced themself to trading right hands.
The back-and-forth continues until Tanahashi got caught with back elbows, taking him down as Naito kept chipping away, leading to Gloria for a near-fall. A Destino’s countered as Tanahashi nails some Twist and Shout neckbreakers, only to miss a Slingblade as Naito tried to come back in. Tanahashi has more luck with as second Slingblade as we hit the final five minutes… then another… and now Tanahashi has to get past the referee to go up top. A High Fly Flow crossbody lands… but Naito rolls away from the frog splash variant as Osaka was RUMBLING. Naito senses an opportunity and runs in for a Destino that nearly wins it, before he pulled Tanahashi back up for a wound-up Destino… which is caught! Instead, Naito scoops up Tanahashi for an Emerald Flowsion, before Destino lands… and puts Tanahashi down for the count! Absolutely fantastic stuff this. Going longer than Okada/Ibushi yesterday, but it damn sure didn’t feel like it, with both men going all out – and the crowd were right behind them every step of the way. A war of attrition in the main event, and one that had me fully invested. The Naitos and Tanahashis of old were on display here, and it was fan-tas-tic. It even got a standing ovation from Jushin Thunder Liger and Milano Collection AT on commentary afterwards – which has to be a seal of approval if there ever was one! ****¾
After a match each, here’s the blocks…
Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Jay White (1-0; 2pts)
Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada, Shingo Takagi, Yujiro Takahashi (0-1; 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
Yuya Uemura (1-0)
Yota Tsuji (1-1)
Gabriel Kidd (0-1)
We’re back on Wednesday for the first of two shows in Hokkaido. It’s Block A this time, with Ospreay/Ishii and Ibushi/White as the top two matches – with a rather more palatable 10.30am start in the UK. Block B shows are always likely to be a step below this year given the way the G1 blocks fleshed out, but the matches on hand today were at worst solid, and in parts extremely entertaining. Make sure you catch the main event today, if nothing else! God bless Juice Robinson for finally drawing a sustained reaction on the undercard in the mask-era… and it helped as both blocks have now started out brightly, with the G1 well and truly underway!