It’s the penultimate round in block A, as Great-O-Khan looks to knock Shingo Takagi out of contention.
Hiromu Takahashi submitted Kosei Fujita in 7:47 (**½)
Kota Ibushi pinned Satoshi Kojima in 14:56 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Tomohiro Ishii pinned Yujiro Takahashi in 17:00 (***¼)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: KENTA pinned Tanga Loa in 22:12 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Toru Yano in 6:40 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Shingo Takagi pinned Great-O-Khan in 25:50 (****)
We’re back in the Xebio Arena in Sendai, with Kevin Kelly on English commentary… and he’s looking forward to the JAM Project playing the Max the Max theme live on next Wednesday’s Budokan show.
Kosei Fujita vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Ryohei Oiwa took a lot of chops from Hiromu yesterday… I’d expect more of the same here.
Fujita tries to start off hot, but he’s quelled with a side headlock before Hiromu moved for a Boston crab that ended in the ropes. Hiromu starts uncorking those chops, like yesterday, which led to a series of two-counts.
A dropkick from Fujita gave him some hope, but Hiromu’s right back with chops as he ends up grounding the Young Lion to get the win with a Boston crab. Basic, but exactly the template we had yesterday, complete with Hiromu bloodying up another chest – and that’ll be a touchstone in both young lads’ careers you’d think. **½
Satoshi Kojima vs. Kota Ibushi
A first-time meeting as we’ve prior G1 winners head to head in the fill-in match, as Ibushi was meant to have faced Tetsuya Naito here.
Ibushi took things to the mat early on as both men scrambled for a hold, with a cross armbar from Kojima quickly ending in the ropes. A side headlock from Ibushi takes things back to the mat, before Kojima pushed off… and charged down Ibushi with a shoulder tackle.
A plancha from Kojima’s avoided by Ibushi, who then chucks Kojima into the guard rails before a chinlock back inside wore down the bread lover. Forearms keep Kojima away, before he looked to fight back with chops, only to get kicked back down. Ibushi keeps going with a missile dropkick, but Kojima’s back with the Machine Gun chops in the corner, which led to the top rope elbow drop for a two-count.
Kojima’s rolling elbow just earns him a diving mid kick from Ibushi, then a standing moonsault for a near-fall, before a DDT from Kojima bought him some space. The pair head onto the apron as Kojima looked for a suplex on the edge of the ring, but instead found a way through with a DDT that led to a nasty sounding landing for Ibushi.
Kojima rolls Ibushi back into the ring as a count-out loomed, but it looked to be a bad idea as Ibushi was able to recover and nearly beat Kojima with a sit-out powerbomb. A Bomaye knee’s next for a two-count, as the Kamigoye ends up getting blocked as everyone’s learned how to block that knee. Ibushi ends up getting caught with a Koji cutter instead, before a brainbuster dumped Kota for another two-count.
Kojima tees up for a lariat, eventually hitting it as Ibushi ran into the arm, but a second Cozy lariat’s stopped as Ibushi hit a clothesline first… only for both men to lariat each other. Ibushi went down from it, but Kojima wants another Cozy lariat, only to run into a half-and-half suplex as Ibushi hits a knee strike, then the Kamigoye to finally get the win. Perhaps not a convincing win as you’d expect, but Ibushi keeps building going into his final G1 match on Monday. ***
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
These two last met back in April on the Road to Wrestling Dontaku tour, with Ishii adding another win as he currently has six Ws over Yujiro in head to head competition, with one loss going the other way. Ishii needs to win both remaining matches to have a chance of even being part of a convoluted tiebreaker…
Yujiro attacks Ishii as soon as he came through the ropes, and it’s not long before we’re outside with Ishii meeting the guard rails. The pimp cane’s put to good use as Pieter distracted the ref, but all that just led to a one-count back inside. Some headbutts get a two-count for Yujiro, who then raked the eyes as Ishii threatened to respond.
Eventually Ishii charges through Yujiro out of the corner, before chops in the ropes led to Ishii being hot shotted into the strands. Yujiro can’t follow up as he runs into a powerslam, before a front kick took Ishii into the ropes. The pair trade blows until a suplex from Ishii settled things down… if you count a superplex from Ishii as “settling down,” that is!
Ishii only gets a two-count from that, but Yujiro bit back as he tried to hulk up while biting not unlike someone who we don’t speak of anymore. Another flurry ends with a DDT on Ishii, as Yujiro then looked for an Incolle Slam… but Ishii blocks it and fires back with elbows. Beh-beh. The Incolle Slam lands seconds later as Yujiro pulls Ishii back, but a Miami Shine’s avoided, as was an Ishii enziguiri, before a clothesline took down Ishii off the ropes.
Yujiro celebrates a little too soon, and just threw Ishii into the corner with a nasty-looking powerbomb. That could have been better, but that could have been so much worse. Miami Shine’s next for a near-fall, before Ishii returned with a Saito suplex, only for Yujiro to close out a battle of suplexes with one of his own.
Pimp Juice follows, but Ishii’s out at two, before a back body drop threw away a Big Juice attempt. Blocking a headbutt with a forearm doesn’t help Yujiro much, but a clothesline lands to take Ishii down, before Ishii finally landed that headbutt. Getting back up, Ishii counters another Big Juice with a German suplex, before a clothesline lands for a near-fall… with a sheer-drop brainbuster from Ishii putting an end to a somewhat scary match that keeps Ishii’s feint hopes alive. For now. ***¼
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Tanga Loa vs. KENTA
A first-time singles match as we’re back to the Bullet Club Bonanzas… and a win for KENTA here – and his final match being against Kota Ibushi on Monday – means that 12 points likely won’t be enough to win the block, unless we’ve a weird double DQ between them.
We’ve a very tentative start as the opening luck-up sees KENTA get thrown down, before KENTA tried to throw a kick in return. A shoulder block takes KENTA to the outside, as he tries to bait Tanga to the outside… but Loa has to be literally talked into going outside. KENTA rolls back in, as we wash, rinse and repeat until Jado stopped KENTA from sliding out… as Tanga Loa ends up just throwing KENTA to the outside.
KENTA’s charged into the guard rails, but he replies by charging Tanga into the edge of the ring… only to get thrown back into the rails. Clubbering forearms from Loa lead to a back suplex onto the edge of the ring, before both men rolled back in. A slam lands on KENTA for a two-count, while a chinlock gave him something to fight out of. A crossface from Tanga Loa ends with the pair backing into the ropes. Tanga Loa takes too long to follow up and eats a tornado hotshot, then a flying clothesline before KENTA’s attempt at a powerslam was blocked. Instead, KENTA boots Tanga down, following up with kicks, only for Tanga Loa to loft KENTA into a Blue Thunder bomb for a near-fall.
Tanga Loa looks for Apeshit, but KENTA slides to the outside… Tanga Loa followed him and dropped him onto the barriers as he looked to get a count-out. Changing his mind, Tanga rolls KENTA back in, but KENTA meets him in the ropes, then hit a leaping knee drop and a draping Green Killer DDT to buy him some more time.
The pair trade running clotheslines in the corner, but KENTA manages to boot Tanga down for a hesitation dropkick into the corner. A double stomp off the top squashes Tanga Loa for a near-fall, before another exchange of strikes ended with KENTA charging Tanga Loa into the ref in the corner.
With no referee, KENTA low blows Tanga Loa, before he grabbed the Kendo stick off Jado… we get the “I’m sorry, I love you” spot as KENTA pulled the Eddie Guerrero trick. Thankfully, the ref doesn’t fall for it, but tends to Jado as KENTA went to swing at Tanga Loa… who cut him off with a low blow instead. From there, we’ve a powerbomb attempts that KENTA tries to escape, eventually charging Tanga Loa into the corner before KENTA stole the win with a roll-up – with his feet on the ropes. This was good, but went too long as Tanga Loa dominated KENTA from start to end… only to lose to some cheap tricks. Shave ten minutes off and this’d have been a corker. ***
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Toru Yano
Sabre’s won both prior meetings in the G1 – but took a loss last year in a no corner pads match for the KOPW trophy. A repeat would pretty much end Sabre’s G1…
Sabre doesn’t want to hear about the distance to Ebrietas, or any of Yano’s other side-hustles, and jumped him with a rear naked choke as Zack wanted an early night. A Cobra Twist into a roll-up nearly ends it in under a minute, as Yano then powdered to the outside so he could take off his coat and sash.
Yano wants to bait Sabre outside to do some wrestling, but Sabre wants “his fat arse” in the ring. When Yano did get his oversized rear in the ring, we got some grappling before he baited Sabre into a rebound belly-to-belly. Zack rolls outside, but gets frogmarched to the entrance way, and through the curtain to the back, as we hear NOISES.
Yano returns on his own, looking for a count-out, as Sabre then emerged, blindfold. Zack removes the blindfold and charges back into the ring, as the pair trade cross armbreakers, leading to a rope break for Yano. Yes, we’re back outside as Yano crawled under the ring again… Sabre pulls him out in an ankle lock, only to roll Sabre into the side of the ring as S&M Yano looked to strike again. Except Sabre handcuffed himself to Yano, as the pair fight in the aisle. They stop to head back to the ring, trading more strikes at close range, then some ref-trolling two-counts before a triangle armbar forces Yano to reach into his boots for the key. He can’t use it though as Sabre forces him to tap. This was perhaps the closest we’ve had to a “proper” Yano G1 match, length and all, and it was all the better for not going absurdly long. ***
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Great-O-Khan vs. Shingo Takagi
A first-time meeting closes out today, and it’s O-Khan’s final match in the G1 – since he was scheduled to face Tetsuya Naito on the final night in the block. A win for O-Khan will effectively eliminate Shingo, who’d need to win his final match and hope for that wacky double DQ/double count-out permutation to get into the tiebreaker picture.
Shingo came in with taped-up ribs, and takes things to the mat early on, before an exchange of shoulder tackles has Shingo ahead. Going into the corner, Shingo’s shoulder charges have O-Khan laying… right as my feed drops. When NJPW World resumed, Shingo’s on the outside as O-Khan tries to charge him in the ropes… opting to use a head claw to lift Shingo onto the apron, only to boot him down to the floor. O-Khan charges Shingo into the barriers, before back inside a chinlock wore Shingo into the mat.
Heading into the corner, O-Khan sits on Shingo, before we moved into a chop battle that the crowd clapped along to. Mongolian chops stun Shingo, who replies with some of his own, before a punch and a DDT took O-Khan down. Shingo retaliates, but a suplex is initially blocked by O-Khan, before a sliding lariat’s caught and turned into a head and arm choke.
An armdrag from O-Khan ends Shingo’s resistance, before running clotheslines took Shingo into the corner, with a Tree of Woe and a baseball slide in the champion’s future. O-Khan makes Shingo kiss his boot, and that just riled up the champion to reply with chops and forearms in the corner. A throat thrust and a forearm dropped Shingo at the 15-minute mark, before we head back to the back-and-forth, ending with Shingo’s sliding lariat as both men looked out on their feet.
O-Khan starts to go after Shingo’s ribs, dumping him in the ropes with a front suplex for a two-count. The Sheep Killer follows, as does a powerslam, before O-Khan picked up Shingo for the Eliminator… but it’s countered into a cross armbreaker instead, as the champion suddenly weakened O-Khan’s arm. Clotheslines ripple across O-Khan’s chest as his attempt to kick Shingo’s countered into a Made in Japan for a near-fall.
A Gourdbuster drops Shingo as O-Khan closed the gap again. Another exchange of forearms ends with an O-Khan punch and a Shingo headbutt… before O-Khan ran into a forearm to the throat. Ow. From there, the limp O-Khan’s able to escape a Last of the Dragon as he face-claws Shingo, before a clothesline took Shingo down for a near-fall.
Another Eliminator’s countered with a Dragon suplex, as a sliding forearm has O-Khan loopy, before a Pumping Bomber dropped him for another near-fall. O-Khan’s on those jelly legs as we hit the final five minutes of the time limit, but we don’t go too further as a Last of the Dragon gets the win. O-Khan was a heck of a threat here, but in the end Shingo had too much in the tank as he sets up a headache-inducing finale on Monday. ****
Your latest standings: remember, block A dished out points up front after Naito’s withdrawal.
Kota Ibushi, KENTA, Zack Sabre Jr., Shingo Takagi (6-2 / 12pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (5-3 / 10pts)
Toru Yano (eliminated) (4-4 / 8pts)
Great-O-Khan (eliminated) (4-5 / 8pts)
Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi (eliminated) (2-6 / 4pts)
Tetsuya Naito (withdrew) (0-9 / 0pts)
Monday’s final block A matches (card order TBC): KENTA/Ibushi, Ishii/Yano, Shingo/Yujiro, Sabre/Loa. KENTA’s got tie-breaker wins over Sabre and Ishii; Shingo’s got tie-breakers over KENTA and Ishii; Sabre’s got tie-breakers over Shingo and Ibushi; Ishii’s got a tie-breaker win over Sabre. It’s a headache to think about, so we’ll wing it on Monday!
Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada (7-0 / 14pts)
EVIL (6-1 / 12pts)
SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi (eliminated) (3-4 / 6pts)
Hirooki Goto (eliminated), Taichi (eliminated), Tama Tonga (eliminated), YOSHI-HASHI (eliminated) (2-5 / 4pts)
Chase Owens (eliminated) (1-6 / 2pts)
The week of G1 action wraps up tomorrow in Yamagata as block B gets their penultimate round in, and everyone’s circling that Jeff Cobb vs. EVIL semi-final as Tama Tonga could also upset Kazuchika Okada in the main event.
Once again, business remained steady in the G1 – but not at the heights of years gone by. Block A’s heading for a headache-inducing finale on Monday in Yokohama Budokan, with that KENTA/Ibushi match likely to headline as this block bizarrely looks to be KENTA’s to lose.