The G1 rumbles on as Zack Sabre Jr. and Great-O-Khan look to keep up their 100% starts in the tournament.
Master Wato submitted Kosei Fujita in 6:22 (**½)
Shingo Takagi pinned Yuji Nagata in 16:51 (***¾)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Great-O-Khan pinned Yujiro Takahashi in 14:16 (***)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Toru Yano pinned Tanga Loa in 10:46 (**½)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: KENTA pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 21:09 (***½)
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Kota Ibushi in 19:54 (***¾)
We’re at Kobe World Hall for this fifth night of the G1 – with Kevin Kelly running solo on English commentary.
Kosei Fujita vs. Master Wato
The new Young Lion Fujita’s perhaps not getting thrown to the wolves as badly as he was last week here, and started out scrambling for a hold with Wato before resetting.
Shooting Wato into the ropes just earns Fujita some shoulder tackles, which led to a grounded camel clutch that ended in the ropes. Fujita’s back with a slam as he launched into the typical Young Lion comeback, leading to a Boston crab that ends in the ropes. Wato’s back with a back body drop for a two-count, then a dropkick, before Wato put on a Boston crab – almost like a Lion Tamer – for the stoppage. This felt like Wato intentionally barely touched second gear, and didn’t come under much threat in doing so. **½
Yuji Nagata vs. Shingo Takagi
Shockingly, this is a first-time meeting… until you remember that Nagata’s recent singles matches have mostly been against Young Lions.
Shingo’s arm is taped up after the number Zack Sabre Jr. did to it on Thursday, which looked to create some nervousness that quickly dissipates by way of a shoulder tackle. Chops follow into the corner, before a scrap on the apron led to Shingo looking for a Khali chop off it… only to get caught and met with an Exploder on the floor. Back inside, Nagata goes to work with an armbar, then with some kicks before the arm breakers finally began to target the injured right arm. A Fujiwara armbar adds pressure, with kicks greeting and rocking Shingo after he’s made the rope break. Breaking free, a clothesline puts Nagata down, as did a suplex, then a death valley driver, which was good for a near-fall.
Nagata pushes into the ropes for a rebound German suplex, before he pulled Shingo into a knee strike as Shingo looked to work the arm. A swift brainbuster keeps Nagata’s hopes of an upset alive, as did the Nagata Lock II… my feed drops, but recovers as Nagata counters a sliding lariat into the Shirome armbar. Shingo rolled free and nearly nicked a win, but got back up for a sliding elbow strike, before a spinning heel kick took Shingo into the corner. A running knee and a superplex looked to follow, but Shingo chops away from the superplex… only to get thrown down with an Exploder that nearly gets the upset. More knees from Nagata look to set up a backdrop hold, but Shingo slips out for a German suplex, before landing a Pumping Bomber.
Shingo took too long to follow up and ends up taking a Saito suplex on his return, as the pair resort to trading close-range strikes. A lariat drops Nagata again, while a Pumping Bomber draws a near-fall… leading to a Last of the Dragon finally got the win as Shingo was put under some real pressure on the proverbial night off. That right arm’s absolutely going to be problematic for the rest of the tournament, but if we can run this back with both men closer to 100%, you’d have a certified banger on your hands. ***¾
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Great-O-Khan
I miss Yujiro’s old saxophone theme music… I also wish that O-Khan sold those question mark tea towels.
O-Khan goes to the mat as he tries to Inoki-Ali his way to victory, but thankfully he doesn’t spend the entire match on his arse. Getting back up, O-Khan tries for a waistlock takedown, eventually rolling Yujiro down, before Yujiro bit his way free. O-Khan chops the ear in response, before things headed outside, where Pieter distracted the ref so Yujiro could march O-Khan up the walkway so he could knock him down the ramp via a pimp cane shot. Yujiro heads back in to try and grab a count-out win, but O-Khan makes it back in, only to take a low dropkick. Legdrops, elbow drops and a falling headbutt keeps Yujiro ahead, as O-Khan looked to be having issues with his back. A running boot looked to keep O-Khan in trouble, but a gutwrench suplex out of the corner buys him time, as he proceeded to take Yujiro into a Tree of Woe ahead of a baseball slide.
Yujiro gets back to his feet to trade chops, but a belly-to-belly drops him for a near-fall, ahead of a grounded head-and-arm choke. A scooping reverse DDT from O-Khan’s countered by Yujiro, who’s back with an Incolle Slam for a near-fall, before O-Khan countered Pimp Juice and looked for the Eliminator. Instead, O-Khan’s met with a clothesline as Yujiro got free, before the Big Juice implant DDT was broken out of. O-Khan locks in a Sheep Killer, hits an Eliminator, and that’s enough for him to remain undefeated, undefeated, undefeated, undefeated in the block, and guarantee he’ll remain atop block A with 8 points going into a top of the table clash with ZSJ in midweek. ***
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Tanga Loa vs. Toru Yano
A first-time meeting, and one that could be pretty good or really sour depending on how deep they go into shenanigans.
Saving time, Yano’s packaged his fetish gear into a drawstring bag, which was emptied to reveal lots of tape and handcuffs. We open with a tie-up into the ropes, with Tanga Loa checking Yano for any extra tape or handcuffs on the break, before the pair broke into back-and-forth forearms that sunk Yano to the mat. A quick burst of the McDonalds’ slogan later, and Tanga’s charging Yano to the outside, but ends up in the barriers. A hockey fight breaks out at ringside as Yano’s t-shirt becomes an impromptu blindfold… Kosei Fujita’s thrown into Yano in a bid to get the count-out, but to no avail, as Tanga Loa’s back in with stomps as Yano beat the count. Tanga Loa’s knee strike gets a two-count, before an Exploder chucked Yano across the ring for a near-fall.
Yano recovers with his shtick – hooking in the ropes, head bopping and a rebound belly-to-belly – before Yano removed a corner pad. He bats Tanga Loa with it, then sidestepped a charge before a takedown had Tanga on the deck. Tanga’s right back with the OJK crossface, forcing Yano to grab his own nipples to distract from the pain before getting to the rope. A roll-up nearly nicks the win for Yano, only for Tanga Loa’s spear to get him back in it. A Manhattan drop and a slingshot takes Tanga into the exposed corner, but the ref blocks a low blow as Tanga Loa recovered… and shoved Yano into the ref. We’ve a clothesline as we all fall down…
Attempted interference with the Kendo stick backfires as Yano pulled an Eddie Guerrero, leading to a distraction as a low blow and a roll-up gets Yano the win. In prior years this’d have been done in half the time. **½
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: KENTA vs. Tomohiro Ishii
KENTA’s 2-0 over Ishii, with both wins coming in 2019 – including a win at Royal Quest, when a battered KENTA won the NEVER openweight title…
KENTA rolls outside at the bell as he tries to play matador with Ishii. There’s a difference between a bull and a pitbull… Ishii pulls KENTA inside for a clothesline and a shoulder block, before we head back out for trips into the guard rails. The ref’s knocked down as KENTA manages to clock Ishii with the ring bell, then sent him shoulder-first into the ring post for extra effect, before a second charge into the rails was so hard, KENTA ended up tripping through the gate. Back inside, kicks to the shoulder keep KENTA ahead, leading to a Fujiwara armbar that ends in the ropes. KENTA undoes a turnbuckle pad as we waited for him to take Ishii back into the corner… but a whip’s reversed as KENTA bounced into the exposed corner. Ishii fights back with chops and elbows in the corner, before KENTA returned fire with a tornado hot shot out of the corner.
A flying Kane clothesline keeps Ishii down for a two-count, before an armbar ends in the ropes. KENTA looks for a Green Killer draping DDT, but has more luck with an armbreaker to soften up Ishii for that DDT. Going back up top, KENTA misses a double stomp, then got thrown into the corner with a German suplex, only to strike first with another series of tit-for-tat elbows. Ishii’s “beh beh” elbows lead to a clothesline from KENTA, who then threw a Busaiku-ish knee in the ropes… only to get pounced back down. Kicks from KENTA allow him to pull Ishii into the Game Over, but KENTA’s having trouble keeping the grip, and Ishii’s able to drag his way to the ropes.
Frustrated, KENTA fires off some crucifix-like elbows, but his follow-up PK’s caught as Ishii struck back, then took things up top for a stalling superplex. A clothesline drops KENTA, who returns with a Busaiku knee to cut off Ishii’s momentum in a hurry… while a second one almost gets the win. A Go 2 Sleep’s blocked by Ishii, who’s swatted down to the mat as KENTA pulled down his knee pad… only to get cracked with a headbutt. Ishii’s sliding lariat nearly wins it, but he’s able to hit another one, before KENTA charged him into the exposed corner and stole the win with a handful of trunks. Ishii’s bad start to this year’s G1 continues, as KENTA pulled one out… ***½
G1 Climax 31 – Block A: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi
After initially being even, Ibushi’s pulled ahead in the one-on-one meetings between these two, winning five of their seven matches, including all three G1 matches.
We start with Sabre grappling Ibushi into the ropes, perhaps suspecting that Ibushi’s cardio remained a weakness after his recent aspiration pneumonia. Pulling ahead, Sabre looks for a backside, but misses an overhead kick to the arm as Ibushi swung with kicks to make Sabre back away. Second time’s the charm as Sabre grabbed a wristlock, but Ibushi kicks his way free, sending Sabre to the apron before Ibushi knocked him down. A switcheroo sees Sabre knee away a springboard attempt as a guillotine in the ropes and an overhead kick to the arm dropped the two-time G1 winner back outside.
Returning to the ring, Sabre stomps on Ibushi’s wrist, before Ibushi popped back up… and gets pulled into a scissored Key lock by the ropes. Going back to the wrist, Zack torques and stomps away on Ibushi, who retaliates with kicks and a standing moonsault, before a springboard missile dropkick led to a two-count. Sabre gets back in it, working over Ibushi’s arm, but that ends quickly in the ropes as the pair proceed to trade kicks. It looked to end badly for Sabre, who’s knocked down before he’s backslid into almost a Rainmaker. Sabre’s quickly back with a sit-out powerbomb, before he rolled Ibushi into a grounded Octopus hold, which doesn’t lead to a stoppage as Ibushi’s able to return with a German suplex.
Ibushi lands a powerslam, only to get his knee dropkicked as Sabre stopped the springboard moonsault out of the corner, before Sabre rolled in with an ankle lock. The ankle’s torqued as Ibushi’s dragged back down, before a palm strike breaks up the hold. Another exchange ends with a leaping knee from Ibushi… a Bomaye knee nearly ends it… before Ibushi telegraphed the Kamigoye. Sabre popped Ibushi up into a cross armbar, but Ibushi’s able to roll free and hit a head kick, before a Kamigoye’s countered once more, this time into an Octopus stretch, before Sabre morphed it into a scissored Stretch Muffler… and that’s enough for Sabre to force Ibushi to verbally submit and keep his 100% start to the G1 intact. Ibushi had some brief moments of hope here, but that conditioning and Sabre’s pitbull-like mentality for submissions in this tournament just proved to be too much on the night. ***¾
Your latest standings: remember, block A dished out points up front after Naito’s withdrawal.
Great-O-Khan (4-0 / 8pts)
Zack Sabre Jr (3-0 / 6pts)
KENTA (3-1 / 6pts)
Shingo Takagi (2-1 / 4pts)
Kota Ibushi, Yujiro Takahashi, Toru Yano (2-2 / 4pts)
Tanga Loa (1-2 / 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (1-3 / 2pts)
Tetsuya Naito (0-9 / 0pts) * Naito withdrew after one match due to injury; all opponents were awarded a win via forfeit
Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Taichi (2-0 / 4pts)
EVIL, SANADA, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tama Tonga (1-1 / 2pts)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Chase Owens (0-2 / 0pts)
The G1 takes two days off – then returns on Wednesday for its first stop at Korakuen Hall, with Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI main eventing in a night of B block action. We’re starting to settle into a pattern with the G1 – some high points, some not-so-low points – and with the pace of the G1 set to ramp up from next week, we may start to see some big names falling off sooner rather than later.