Block B of the G1 heads to Korakuen Hall as Kazuchika Okada looks to retain his spot on top of the table against YOSHI-HASHI in the main event.
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: EVIL defeats Taichi via referee stoppage in 11:30 (***¼)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: SANADA pinned Chase Owens in 11:58 (***¼)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Jeff Cobb pinned Hirooki Goto in 15:08 (***¾)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Tama Tonga in 14:17 (***½)
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Kazuchika Okada pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 26:53 (****)
We’re at a sold-out (in covid-times) Korakuen Hall for this one, with no undercard matches… Chris Charlton’s back too on commentary alongside Kevin Kelly as I’m covering this on a delay.
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: EVIL vs. Taichi
It’s a first-time meeting this, and we come into it with Taichi joint top of the block.
We’re in early with the cheating as Taichi tries to choke EVIL with camera cable on the outside, but Dick Togo distracts as EVIL returned to the ring to land a clothesline. Going back outside, EVIL shoves Taichi into the timekeeper’s table, a spot that’s going to end up real bad one of these days…
Back in the ring, EVIL throws Taichi into the exposed corner pad, but the ref refuses to count a pin, before Taichi retaliates with a hook kick. Togo tries to intervene, but Taichi just chokes Dick before Taichi booted EVIL off the barrier and into the poor timekeeper’s table. Time to make that a work from home gig, I feel…
After taking EVIL into the exposed corner, Taichi’s back with an Axe Bomber as it’s time to remove the trousers… both men swing and miss on their finishers as an enziguiri puts Taichi back on track, but EVIL looks for a low blow, only to get caught with one himself. Fortunately for EVIL, Dick Togo distracts as a Gedo Clutch would have gotten the win, so Taichi just dumps them both with Axe Bombers.
Black Mephisto followed, but EVIL wriggles out and gets caught with another jumping high kick. The Dangerous backdrop gets Taichi a two-count, before Dick Togo kidnapped Miho Abe at ringside. The distraction allowed EVIL to hit a low blow, before Everything is EVIL left Taichi laying… ahead of a Darkness Scorpion to a KO’d Taichi that led to the ref stoppage. They kept this short and light on shtick, as we wallowed in sarcasm on the English call! ***¼
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Chase Owens vs. SANADA
Another first-time meeting, and we start with SANADA trying to trap Chase in a Paradise Lock… before Chase tried it himself.
Owens thought he’d had SANADA in the hold, but to no avail as things went outside and into the railings, before Chase looked to stretch out SANADA with a Bow and Arrow hold. Getting free, SANADA builds up to the Paradise Lock, trapping Chase ahead of the low dropkick to free him.
A TKO from SANADA’s blocked, unlike a ‘rana, or a springboard dropkick as SANADA powered through for a TKO. That gets a near-fall, before SANADA heads up for the moonsault… but Chase rolls away. He can’t follow up too quickly though as SANADA satellites into a Skull End, before Owens took SANADA up top for a NICE cravat’d version of an Iconoclasm for a near-fall.
SANADA’s caught with a Shining Wizard seconds later, before Chase pulled down the ref as SANADA went for an O’Connor Roll. That means the pin’s of no use, but SANADA stays on top with a ‘rana out of a package piledriver as everyone’s figured out how to flip out of that move. Owens tries for an O’Connor roll of his own, but SANADA kicks out, traps him in a Skull End, then went up for the moonsault to get the win. Again, they kept this short, and my word Chase is actually shedding the tag of being “that comedy guy whose matches are loathed.” ***¼
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Jeff Cobb vs. Hirooki Goto
We’ve three prior meetings between these two, with Goto winning their prior G1 meeting, in addition to a NEVER title defence in 2018. Cobb’s sole win so far was on 2019’s Honor Rising tour, defending the ROH TV title in Korakuen Hall.
Goto tries his luck with shoulder tackles early on, but Cobb easily charges him down before we went outside, with Cobb getting posted. Back in the ring, Goto looks to work over that arm, but Cobb’s right in the ropes, and manages to overpower Goto with a spin-out back suplex after catching Goto’s leap in the corner.
A shoulder charge keeps Goto down as commentary muses over his losses against junior wrestlers in 2021. Standing backbreakers come next, but it’s a rather nonchalant series of two-counts for Cobb, who then charged Goto into the corner as if he were nothing. Those chop/clothesline combos in the corner keep wearing down Goto, but Goto grabs the leg to block the standing moonsault… before he had to roll away from it seconds later.
Goto manages to take Cobb into the corner with a spinning heel kick, landing a second one ahead of a bulldog. A standing dropkick from Cobb’s enough to turn it back around though, and it’s pretty much one-way traffic from there – a running back suplex, then a standing moonsault land for a two-count, before Goto landed almost a desperation ushigoroshi.
A swivelling lariat from Goto drops Cobb, but a GTR’s countered before the search for a belly-to-belly suplex was won out by Goto. After getting to the rope to break a cross armbar, Cobb’s able to drop Goto with a thrust kick, before the inevitable Tour of the Islands was cut short… with a side Russian legsweep giving a detour as Goto tries to win with a roll-up.
Instead though, Goto followed in with a reverse GTR, then a clothesline, but Cobb kicks out at two before he powered out of a GTR… the pair trade headbutts, before Cobb pulled Goto effortlessly into a Tour of the Islands, and that’s Cobb moving to 3-0. There’s a fire under Cobb right now, and it’s leading to a fantastic run in this G1 as all roads look to lead to that Cobb/Okada finale next month. ***¾
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: Tama Tonga vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
You may be shocked to learn that Tama has the edge here – beating Tanahashi in their only prior singles outing back in 2016’s G1…
We start slowly with the pair trading wristlocks, before Tama tried to cheapshot Tanahashi in the ropes. Tanahashi returns with a springboard crossbody out of the corner, but took too long to follow up and had to escape Gun Stun attempts, landing a forearm and an elbow drop to put himself on top.
Tama manages to wrest control of proceedings, grounding Tanahashi with a neck crank before locking in a sleeperhold that took Tanahashi back to the mat. Eventually Tanahashi manges to get free after an age in the hold, but Tama… busts out a Tongan Death Grip?! Tanahashi manages to break out of that, but the hold’s applied again before Tanahashi busted out one of his own.
Tanahashi’s Dragon Screw takes down Tama, with a Cloverleaf following as Tama tried to block it. Another Tongan Death Grip breaks the Cloverleaf as the pair end up in the corner, but it’s Tama who pulls ahead with a Tongan Twist and a Slingblade… before he headed up top, looking to mock Tanahashi with a High Fly Flow.
Tama nails it, and almost gets the win, before Tanahashi won a struggle and nailed a Twist and Shout. The Slingblade’s next, before Tanahashi leapt up top for a High Fly Flow, landing the Ace’s High crossbody before the High Fly Flow came up short. Tama capitalises with a Gun Stun, but he can’t make the cover quickly enough… and by the time he was able to make the cover, Tama laid on Tanahashi, who countered with a crucifix pin to snatch the win. This was a lot closer than you’d have expected, as Tama brought his A game… only to come up short with the unforced error. Well worth the watch as they kept this short – a match I’d like to see them go back to at some point. ***½
G1 Climax 31 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kazuchika Okada
YOSHI-HASHI is an impressive 0-12 against Okada, but is also a touchstone in Okada’s New Japan history, being the first man he hit the (crappy version of a) Rainmaker to at WrestleKingdom 6 in 2012…
We start with Okada and YOSHI-HASHI on the mat, but it’s YOSHI-HASHI who pushes ahead with a shoulder tackle as the first five minutes were pretty much “feeling out.” A chinlock from YOSHI-HASHI is broken, as the pair then trade strikes before YOSHI-HASHI slid to the outside, dragging Okada with him into the rails.
Okada returns the favour, looking to take YOSHI-HASHI into the rails before he opted to hit a DDT on the outside, returning to the ring in order to take a count-out win. Of course, that wasn’t happening this early in a main event…
Back inside, Okada elbows YOSHI-HASHI into the corner, before another DDT back inside stood YOSHI-HASHI upright on the way to a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI pushes back in with a Head Hunter and some chops as he began to find his feet, lifting Okada into the ropes for a dropkick to the back… but instead a low dropkick knocks Okada off the apron before a plancha greeted him on the floor.
A Blockbuster from YOSHI-HASHI nearly gets the win after the pair returned to the ring. He tries to follow it up with a Destroyer, but a back body drop frees Okada, before a Butterfly Hold looked to have Okada in trouble… Okada escapes and found a way in with a Money Clip, but that ends in the ropes, before Okada just reapplied it as the eyes looked to pop out of YOSHI-HASHI’s face.
Okada slams YOSHI-HASHI, then went up top for an elbow drop… leading to the Rainmaker zoom out, before we finally made our way to the short-arm lariat. Not a proper Rainmaker, mind you… which YOSHI-HASHI clotheslines away as Okada telegraphed the move. Surging ahead, YOSHI-HASHI looks for Karma, but Okada escaped… only to get pulled down into a Dragon suplex.
Okada looks for a dropkick, but YOSHI-HASHI holds onto the ropes and charged back with double knees for a near-fall as the crowd started to clap louder… a second Western lariat dumps Okada, before a Kumagoroshi took YOSHI-HASHI back in for the Butterfly lock as he looked to sneak out the unlikeliest of wins.
YOSHI-HASHI switches the hold around into a sleeperhold as he pulled Okada up for a back cracker… and then it’s back to the Butterfly lock. A chicken wing’s next as YOSHI-HASHI flipped between holds, with a sleeperhold almost leading to the submission… before YOSHI-HASHI finally went for Karma… only for Okada to counter out into a spinning tombstone.
Okada tries to follow with a shotgun dropkick, but YOSHI-HASHI sidesteps it as we hit the final five minutes. YOSHI-HASHI hits a slam before he went up top for a Loose Explosion, but the senton bomb misses as Okada proceeded to capitalise. A pair of dropkicks have YOSHI-HASHI down on the mat, before YOSHI-HASHI cradled his way out of a Rainmaker for a near-fall. Arguing with the ref almost led YOSHI-HASHI into a spinning Rainmaker, but he kicks Okada away, before a landslide tombstone plants YOSHI-HASHI… all that’s needed is a Rainmaker – the classic, not the original – and that’s the win. All heart from YOSHI-HASHI, but in the end perhaps going to the Butterfly lock time after time epitomised the extra gear that’s missing in his game right now. Still, threatening to take Okada to the draw will do him wonders, even if the result does YOSHI-HASHI no favours… ****
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 (3-0 / 6pts)
EVIL, SANADA, Taichi, Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-1 / 4pts)
Tama Tonga (1-2 / 2pts)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Chase Owens (0-3 / 0pts)
We’re back at Korakuen tomorrow, with KENTA and Shingo Takagi on top while we have the two undefeated lads in the middle of the card, with Zack Sabre Jr. and Great-O-Khan looking to end the other’s winning run.
The mantra for this year’s G1 is “good, not great” so far, with both blocks outperforming those pessimistic predictions while not yet generating much in the way of those match-of-the-year calibre matches that spreadsheet lovers had previously banked on the G1 to produce.