We’re into a new month, but the G1 rumbles on as Hiroshi Tanahashi and SANADA look to keep pace with the top of the league in today’s block B action.

Quick Results
Yoshinobu Kanemaru submitted Ryohei Oiwa in 7:37 (**¾)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Jeff Cobb pinned Tama Tonga in 12:47 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: EVIL pinned Chase Owens in 12:38 (**¾)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI pinned Taichi in 22:26 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Kazuchika Okada pinned Hirooki Goto in 18:06 (***½)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned SANADA in 25:36 (***½)

We’re at the Hamamatsu Arena in Shizuoka for this one – with Kevin Kelly solo on English commentary again.

Ryohei Oiwa vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
We’ve got an undercard match today, as Yoshinobu Kanemaru gets a go against the new Young Lions. First up, he’s got Oiwa, who was perhaps a little too keen to get going…

…and I’m not talking about the slip into the ropes! Oiwa charges at Kanemaru with a shoulder block to start, but things quickly revert to form as Kanemaru took him outside and into the railings. A half crab back inside sees Kanemaru start the work over the knee, forcing Oiwa to scarper to the ropes for a break.

Oiwa’s forearms earn him a rake to the eyes, then another, before he caught out Kanemaru with a dropkick. Hobbling, Oiwa throws Kanemaru to the corner, following up with a hiptoss and a bodyslam for a two-count, only for Kanemaru to return the favour with a dropkick.

Kanemaru keeps going with a knee breaker as he goes back to the half crab, dragging Oiwa away from the ropes before he drilled the knee into the mat. A Figure Four leglock followed, and that’s enough for Kanemaru to earn the submission as Oiwa had a decent showing, but was utterly outclassed on this night. **¾

G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Jeff Cobb
Having fallen to a banana peel loss against Hiroshi Tanahashi earlier in the week, Tama Tonga should have a rocket under him today…

It’s another first-time singles meeting, and we start with Tama unloading with a flurry of shots, before he had to escape a Cobb slam attempt… only to leap into Cobb’s clutches. Tama escapes a suplex though, only to get thrown outside by Cobb as things briefly headed onto the floor, with Cobb throwing some strikes to wear Tama down.

A delayed suplex from Cobb ends with him just throwing Tama to the mat for a two-count, before a grounded waistlock bearhug looked to wear down Tama some more. Cobb continues to toy with Tama, charging him into the buckles ahead of those chop/clothesline combos in the corner, but you got the sense that Cobb was perhaps taking Tama too lightly here…

A short-arm clothesline dumps Tama, who’s then charged back into the corners once more, only for Tama to roll free and hit Cobb with a dropkick. Tama eventually followed up with the Veleno jumping DDT, throwing in a neckbreaker for good measure after the fact, only for a Stinger splash to get caught.

Cobb pulls Tama back into the corner, but misses a leaping elbow as Tama nails that Stinger splash, following up with a big Samoan drop for a near-fall. Tama seems to go for a Pedigree, but Cobb’s back body drop throws him away, as a dropkick then took Tama into the ropes.

A standing moonsault keeps Cobb ahead as we sail past the ten minute mark, but Cobb mouthing off about Tama’s family prompted a fightback, with Tama landing a Tongan Twist to turn it around. He heads up top for a big splash, but Cobb’s up at two, so Tama tees up for a Gun Stun… but it’s blocked as Cobb then turned a second one into a German suplex. All that’s left is a Tour of the Islands, and that’s pretty much a by-the-numbers win for Cobb, who looks unstoppable in this block. ***

G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Chase Owens vs. EVIL
Are you ready for another Bullet Club Bonanza?

EVIL, Chase and Togo seem to be on the same page to start, but they both want the Fingerpoke of Doom, with EVIL in particular demanding the two points from Chase. Owens slaps him, so we’re off as Owens took EVIL into the corner, then raked his eye on the top rope.

A punch to the head drops EVIL from a headlock position, while a jumping back kick put EVIL on his arse. Dick Togo trips Chase as things then spill outside, with the timekeeper getting wiped out. Off comes the corner pad as EVIL throws Chase outside for Togo to take his shots, before Chase was rolled in… and thrown into the exposed corner.

EVIL gets a bunch of two-counts off of a bodyslam, but a leg lariat has Chase back in it. An enziguiri took EVIL to the corner, where Chase followed in with a springboard back elbow off the middle rope. A short clothesline’s next for a two-count, before EVIL rolled outside as he looked to use Dick Togo’s cover for a sneak attack.

It eventually works, as EVIL attacks and whipped Owens into the guard rails, following with a Darkness Scorpion as EVIL looked to wear out Owens enough to win by count-out. Despite only having a few seconds left, Chase makes it back in, in spite of Togo’s latest interference, only to turn around into Darkness Falls for a near-fall.

Owens elbows out of Everything is EVIL, then blocks a trip to the exposed corner as a neckbreaker gives him an opening… as did an enziguiri before the Jewel Heist almost got the upset. EVIL grabs Chase’s Texas Heavyweight title belt for a distraction, but of course Dick Togo’s garrote wire doesn’t work as he’s taken down with a dropkick, before a slingshot spear to EVIL almost got the win.

EVIL blocks a knee strike, but eventually crumbled after taking a “C Trigger”… only to sandbag on a package piledriver. Dick Togo distracts as EVIL hits a low blow to free himself, before Everything is EVIL condemned Chase to another loss. This was fine, but the Bullet Club shenanigans rarely do anything for me, so you can imagine my eyes rolling as the shenanigans rolled in here. **¾

G1 Climax 31 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Taichi
You’ve got to go back to 2010 for the prior meeting here, where Taichi got the win over a Young Lion YOSHI-HASHI…

Taichi waffles YOSHI-HASHI with a forearm before the bell, then threw him outside into the railings as the cavalcade of choking looked to begin. Throwing aside the ref, Taichi grabs and stands on the NEVER trios title… that’ll angry up some folks’ blood. YOSHI-HASHI returns the favour, taking Taichi into the barriers, before a teased powerbomb on the floor was countered as Taichi charged YOSHI-HASHI into the apron.

Taichi countered an Irish whip with a choke, then posted YOSHI-HASHI shoulder-first. Another one looks to get Taichi the count-out win, but instead he rolls YOSHI-HASHI back in so he could work over the arm some more. An abdominal stretch keeps YOSHI-HASHI on the defensive, before a low dropkick finally forged an opening.

Some headscissors from YOSHI-HASHI take Taichi down, as did a neckbreaker, which earned YOSHI-HASHI a two-count. Taichi goes back to YOSHI-HASHI’s bad arm as he built up to a hook kick, before the pair traded forearms and kicks. Taichi’s focus on the arm paid of for a moment though, but he doesn’t follow with an Axe Bomber and instead hits the jumping high kick.

Off come Taichi’s trunks, as he then hits another jumping high kick – this time targeting the shoulder – before he wrenched on YOSHI-HASHI with the Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum. YOSHI-HASHI holds on though, and manages to make it to the ropes as it looked like he was out cold.

Taichi stays on top, hitting YOSHI-HASHI in the lower back before a Dangerous backdrop was blocked. A rewind kick frees YOSHI-HASHI, but Taichi remained on top as the pair trade clotheslines… YOSHI-HASHI sinks to his knees first, then recovered with a Dragon suplex and a Western lariat, before a Kumagoroshi almost got the upset.

Karma looks to follow, but Taichi countered for Black Mephisto… YOSHI-HASHI escaped by pulling him into a Butterfly lock, only to switch the hold into a sleeper… pulling Taichi up, only for it to get countered into the Dangerous backdrop as we crossed the 20-minute mark. YOSHI-HASHI strikes back, only to get caught with a gamengiri in the corner… the pair trade thrust kicks as Taichi turns it around, only to get caught with a Destroyer as this is starting to feel too “you do a move, I do a move.”

YOSHI-HASHI gets a two-count from that, but going for Karma led to nothing as he instead hits the Western Lariat. Karma’s next… and holy hell, that’s an unexpected win for YOSHI-HASHI. I feel bad for saying this, but this match really did little for me – a good battle between the two, but it ran long and just let me feeling ice cold at the end. Send your grumbles this way… ***

Of course, this being YOSHI-HASHI, they cut his music off and play the G1 theme as both men were tended to in the ring afterwards. Wait, we’ve got two matches left?

G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada
These two are inseparable in their prior matches, winning seven apiece…

We start with Goto and Okada heading into the ropes as the feeling-out process looked rather tentative. Goto seemed to expect a cheapshot on the break, but he doesn’t return the favour before the pair headed to the mat, with Goto looking for a short arm scissors on Okada.

Goto keeps the pressure on with a neck crank on Okada, before he hit the ropes and was caught with a flapjack from Okada. Back outside, Okada stretches Goto’s neck in the railings, following up with a DDT before Okada rolled in to try and take the count-out win. Of course, Goto makes it back in and takes a low dropkick in the ropes, following up with a straitjacket choke that forces Goto into the ropes.

Okada keeps going with some elbows, but Goto fought back as a spinning heel kick and a bulldog got him a two-count. We’re back outside as Okada looked for respite, but he just suckered Goto in as a whip takes him into the ropes before Goto returned with a clothesline. Back inside, an elbow drop off the top is good for a two-count, while Goto then looked for an ushigoroshi… but Okada countered with an over-the-knee neckbreaker instead.

Goto blocks a tombstone, but runs into a dropkick as Okada tried his luck with a Money Clip… it doesn’t get the win, so Okada instead headed up top, and had to leap over Goto before missing a shotgun dropkick. Another clothesline caught Okada in the corner as a hanging neckbreaker out of the buckles earned Goto a two-count.

Kicks lead to an ushigoroshi on Okada, who then pulled his way back up for a clothesline on Goto. A dropkick from Okada keeps the pressure up, before the spinning tombstone planted Goto, building up to a Rainmaker… but Goto countered with a side Russian legsweep as he rolled Okada and almost nicked the win.

Goto blocks a spinning Rainmaker to hit a reverse GTR, but it’s Okada sitting down on a sunset flip attempt that gets the win – as that finish seems to be firmly in Okada’s back pocket, as they never really got out of second gear here, while still putting in a perfectly fine showing. Goto’s really been racking up high-ish profile losses in 2021 – and it’s awfully reminiscent of the path he was on before he joined CHAOS. Time for a change? ***½

G1 Climax 31 – Block B: SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
In their five prior singles matches, SANADA’s won three – and has won two of their three meetings in prior G1s…

Judging by how neither Tanahashi nor SANADA charged out of the corner, this is going to be teasing the time limit, I reckon. Tanahashi grabs a side headlock early on as he looked to restrain SANADA, who tried in vain to free himself. Eventually he manages to escape with a side headlock of his own, before rolling armdrags ended in the ropes.

Tanahashi recovers with a springboard crossbody out of the corner, before he tried to tie up SANADA in a Paradise Lock. It doesn’t go well, as SANADA pushes free and does it properly. After freeing Tanahashi, SANADA uses some Figure Four headscissors to keep the Ace down, but Tanahashi rolls into the ropes to force the break.

Uppercuts keep SANADA ahead, only for Tanahashi to strike back, leading to a flip senton off the middle rope, before he answered a low dropkick with a Dragon screw. SANADA returns with a Dragon screw of his own, focusing on the knee, before a wacky attempt at a dual Dragon screw was negotiated out of, only for SANADA to fake out and hit the move anyway.

A backbreaker takes Tanahashi outside as a plancha followed, but Tanahashi gets ahead of the game with Dragon screws as SANADA was climbing back into the ring. SANADA’s ‘rana gets countered into a Cloverleaf by Tanahashi, but SANADA gets to the ropes… only to be met with a plancha on the outside as Tanahashi returned the earlier favour.

Back inside, Tanahashi counters a Magic Screw with a Twist and Shout… only to get the Magic Screw seconds later. A Skull End is reversed, but SANADA’s able to hit the ropes for a springboard missile dropkick, before a TKO landed for a near-fall. Tanahashi rolls away from a moonsault, before SANADA clambered in for a Skull End, right as my feed drops…

We’re back as Tanahashi heads up top for Ace’s High, before a High Fly Flow lands in SANADA’s knees. Tanahashi returns the favour to block a moonsault, as the pair resume with the trading of forearms… only for SANADA to break the pattern with an O’Connor roll that almost nicked the win. Tanahashi goes for one of his own, but rolled SANADA through for a Dragon suplex, again getting a near-fall as we hit the final five minutes of the time limit… not that we need it as Tanahashi goes back up top for a High Fly Flow, and that’s enough for the win. ***½

Your latest standings: remember, block A dished out points up front after Naito’s withdrawal.

Block A
Zack Sabre Jr (4-0 / 8pts)
Great-O-Khan (4-1 / 8pts)
Shingo Takagi (3-1 / 6pts)
Kota Ibushi, KENTA (3-2 / 6pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (2-2 / 4pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano (2-3 / 4pts)
Tanga Loa (1-3 / 2pts)
Tetsuya Naito (0-9 / 0pts) * Naito withdrew after one match due to injury; all opponents were awarded a win via forfeit

Block B
Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada (4-0 / 8pts)
EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-1 / 6pts)
SANADA, Taichi (2-2 / 4pts)
Tama Tonga, YOSHI-HASHI (1-3 / 2pts)
Hirooki Goto, Chase Owens (0-4 / 0pts)

The tour takes Saturday off, then heads to Aichi for a Sunday show (8am BST/3am EST) start, with Shingo Takagi and Kota Ibushi in the main event of a block A show as we creep towards the halfway mark!

If you’ve been down on New Japan, this night of the G1 probably isn’t going to be for you – with the second half of long matches, especially as we’re in the middle of the tournament, perhaps will feel a little much.