A Block Finals – October 16th
Heading in to the last night of A Block, only four were left in contention to make it to the G1 Climax 30 Final two days later: Jay White, Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, and Will Ospreay. While White, Okada, and Ibushi were tied at 12 points going in, White was the favourite to win the block as a tie with one or both competitors would lead to their records against each other determining the winner, and White had beaten both men earlier in the tournament. Ospreay’s chances were marginal, as he would need all three at the top to lose their matches as well as for Jeff Cobb to lose to Yujiro Takahashi. All of this meant that four of the five matches on the card on this night were critical in determining the winner of the block.
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Jeff Cobb
I wasn’t particularly excited about this match, unfortunately Yujiro’s provided most of the worst matches in the tournament this year. I was interested to see if he would finally get a win though. It started off well for Yujiro, he was able to counter much of Cobb’s offence and stay on top. Cobb took over with shoulder tackles and a belly-to-belly suplex. He hit a spin cycle and standing moonsault for a 2-count. Then, for the first time in the tournament, Yujiro used his cane to get the advantage. After hitting Cobb with it, he slammed him to the mat with Miami Shine for another 2, and then finally hit Pimp Juice for his only win of the tournament.
This match wasn’t great, it moved very slowly and Yujiro’s offence looked weak against Cobb. I felt sorry for Cobb as he had been having better and better matches as the G1 progressed, then he was the only person to lose to Yujiro and to make it worse it was just a dull, throwaway bout. Still, at least Yujiro got a positive result after a month of losses.
Winner: Yujiro Takahashi
Final points: Yujiro Takahashi – 2, Jeff Cobb – 8
Shingo Takagi vs. NEVER Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki
This had an intense start with both Takagi and Suzuki throwing forearms and headbutts. When they traded forearms, they were the loudest and probably hardest of the tournament. Suzuki had the edge, and he looked like he was having fun, even when he was on the receiving end of the blows. The man just likes fighting.
It started looking dire for Takagi as Suzuki repeatedly went back to the arm with submissions and strikes. He came back eventually with a lariat but Suzuki struck him back down and headbutted him. Takagi came back with headbutts of his own, but Suzuki got him back in a sleeper hold. Takagi escaped and hit a desperate right to Suzuki’s jaw, then picked him up for Last of the Dragon and the win.
Suzuki looked like he had the time of his life, and held the NEVER Openweight Championship belt up to Takagi, hinting that he hoped he would challenge to take back the title he lost at the Jingu Stadium show back in August. After that showing, I hope he does too! It was an excellent match between two of the toughest in the G1, I recommend watching this one if you’re looking for highlights.
Winner: Shingo Takagi
Final points: Shingo Takagi – 8, Minoru Suzuki – 6
Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
This was the first of three key matches for A Block. With Cobb’s win, Ospreay still had a slim chance of taking the block with a a complicated set of ties. Okada’s path was more straightforward, he had to win here and have Ibushi and White lose the next two matches on the card. There was also a personal element for Ospreay, as he had been unable to beat Okada in their four singles matches to date.
Ospreay was aggressive from the start, Okada avoided an early Stormbreaker and and Oscutter. Okada tried to get him onto the Money Clip but Ospreay got to the ropes. Okada pulled him outside and dropped him with a draping DDT off the apron to the floor. This was a brilliant fast-paced start to the bout. From here, the two exchanged counters and big moves. At one point Ospreay dropkicked Okada off the top turnbuckle to the floor, then leapt over the corner to strike him again. My favourite counter of the match was Ospreay catching Okada mid-dropkick and dropping him with a powerbomb. Okada was able to avoid several Stormbreaker attempts, and also a Hidden Blade that he must have saw coming out of the corner of his eye. Another highlight was Ospreay turning a spinning Rainmaker into a Spanish fly, his counters are incredibly smooth too.
Eventually, Okada seemed to have Ospreay where he wanted him, with the Money Clip hooked in deep. However, Ospreay’s girlfriend, Bea Priestly appeared at ringside, she distracted the referee while the Great O-Khan appeared and delivered an Iron Claw Slam to Okada! Ospreay then hit the Stormbreaker and scored the win. He went back to the ring and attacked Okada again, this time with Hidden Blade. He was swearing at Okada and shouting that he had held him back! This was a shocking moment, but I can’t wait to see where it’s going.
Winner: Will Ospreay
Final points: Will Ospreay – 12, Kazuchika Okada – 12
Kota Ibushi vs. Taichi
This was another key match as, with Okada having lost, Ibushi had to win and see White lose in the main event for Ibushi to claim the block. The match itself was something I’ve never seen before. Ibushi and Taichi spent the entirety of the time kicking each other. At first Ibushi seemed surprised by the hardness of Taichi’s strikes, but then just wanted to show his were better. After a long struggle, the match featured over 100 kicks, he proved his point and won after wearing Taichi down enough to get him with Kamigoye.
Winner: Kota Ibushi
Final points: Kota Ibushi – 14, Taichi – 8
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jay White
At this point in the evening, everything came down to this match. If White won, he would be through to the Final on Sunday, if he lost, it would be Ibushi.
After White stalled for a while, Ishii dropped him with a forearm. They went outside where a distraction by Gedo let White throw Ishii into a barrier. Back in the ring, White was on top of Ishii with stomps and slams. He taunted Ishii on the mat, slapping his head. Ishii eventually got some space after a powerslam, following up with strikes to White in the corner. After some more offence from Ishii, White turned things around by kicking his taped knee, he was then able to hit a Bladebuster. From there, he zeroed in on the injured knee, using vicious stomps and and submissions. Whenever Ishii started to get some momentum, White was straight back to the knee. At one point Ishii was getting the advantage with forearms but was met with a kneebreaker. White was able to do more damage with a dragon screw through the ropes too. After a painful GTO, Ishii got desperate and hit a kneebreaker on White on top of his own bad knee.
The inevitable Gedo distraction came later in the match, but Ishii was able to fight him off. White was stable able to get a low blow in though. It wasn’t enough and Ishii kicked out of a fisherman suplex pin. They reversed each other’s finishers a few times before Ishii finally took White down and then hit the brainbuster for the win! Ishii eliminated White from the G1! White was irate and Gedo looked frustrated by the result.
This was a great way to end A Block, I fully expected White to win the night but I’m glad it wasn’t to be. Ishii overcoming the knee injury to beat White was a good story to tell and it was a match well worth watching.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii
Final points: Tomohiro Ishii – 8, Jay White – 12
The win by Ishii meant that Kota Ibushi was going through to the G1 Climax 30 Final on Sunday. This will be the third year in a row he’s reached the final, will it be his second win in a row too?
B Block Finals – October 17th
The contenders for the winner of B Block were a bit simpler than in A Block. EVIL, SANADA, and Naito were all still in contention. If EVIL beat SANADA in the main event, he would win the block, if he lost and Naito beat KENTA, then Naito would win. However, if Naito and EVIL both lost, then the block would go to SANADA.
Toru Yano vs. YOSHI-HASHI
This was a fun match to start the show with. Neither man was in contention Yano had 6 points after an initial winning streak turned to straight losses, while YOSHI-HASHI had only scored one victory for 2 points. However, that victory was against SANADA so was still a great achievement in itself.
YOSHI-HASHI found all of the tape hidden around Yano’s person before starting. There was a surprising amount of actual wrestling at the beginning, probably the most Yano’s done in the G1 next to his match with Zack Sabre Jr. It didn’t last overly long though, they went to the outside and YOSHI-HASHI had to dodge a disinfectant spray. Then he turned things around by spraying Yano with it. He tried to keep Yano out of the ring by tying him to his staff through a barrier with tape. Yano made it back after squeezing through the bars! Back in the ring, YOSHI-HASHI avoided a low blow from Yano and rolled him up for the win.
There was some good comedy here, and I was glad to see YOSHI-HASHI finish on another win, he’s been a surprising highlight of the tournament for many. I hope he continues to show the same fire in his matches from now on.
Final points: YOSHI-HASHI – 4, Toru Yano – 6
Hirooki Goto vs. Juice Robinson
This is another match where neither man is in contention for winning B Block, but no doubt both would rather finish strong with a win. They got off to a fast start with both getting shots in, Juice took advantage with an armbreaker over the top rope to Goto’s taped arm. He threw Goto shoulder-first into the ringpost and twisted his arm into a submission hold. Goto got a little offence in but Juice was back on him fast. Juice was really showing his aggression in this match, he struggled to get a superplex but wore Goto down with headbutts until he was able to hit it. They moved into a sequence of reversing each others’ finishing moves, Goto ended it with a roll-up for two. Finally, Juice found an opening for the Left Hand of God and then Pulp Friction for the win.
That was a great, competitive, match for both to finish on. Juice aggressively went after the injured shoulder but took a long time to wear a tenacious Goto down enough to hit pulp friction. I’m glad Juice came back for the G1, he’s a great asset for NJPW and brings a lot of energy to his matches.
Winner: Juice Robinson
Final points: Hirooki Goto – 8, Juice Robinson – 8
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The start of the match was all grappling, Tanahashi’s taken ZSJ on enough times now to know how to take him on. They continued with various submissions and roll-ups wherever they saw opportunities throughout. The match ended with a nice sequence, Tanahashi tried Aces High, ZSJ rolled through it, trying to lock on an armbar, but Tanahashi countered with a roll-up for the pin.
This was a great wrestling match, the submissions looked tough and the counters were smooth. The two know each other so well, and Tanahashi adapted to ZSJ’s style. There’s nothing flashy, it was a strategy game with each exploiting even the smallest mistake to either get a submission or try a quick pin. I hope they have another encounter again soon.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Final points: Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8, Zack Sabre Jr. – 10
IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion Tetsuya Naito vs. KENTA
Naito went into this match needing to get the win to have a chance at reach the block final. He got off to a bad start as KENTA nearly got the pin with a quick roll-up after the bell rang. They followed with some mat work, and Naito trying to work on KENTA’s taped shoulder. After struggling to get an advantage, KENTA shoved the referee and hit Naito square in the head with his briefcase. That did the job and he was able to start wearing Naito down with neck holds. Naito was briefly able to get back on offence with a neckbreaker and leg lace Nelson, but KENTA got to the ropes to break the hold and then intensified his attacks with a tornado DDT onto the ropes and a picture perfect Falcon Arrow for 2. Naito escaped two GTS attempts, the second into a variation of Destino. KENTA blocked an attempt for the full version with hard strikes, and then another into an inside cradle for the win. KENTA had spoiled Naito’s hopes of being the first reigning champion to win the G1 Climax in 20 years.
It was a good match mostly controlled by KENTA. The finishing sequence was great and the quick pin came out of nowhere. It’s possible this puts KENTA in line for a title shot, but there’s not much time between now and Wrestle Kingdom so it looks unlikely in the short term.
Final points: Tetsuya Naito – 12, KENTA – 10
EVIL vs. SANADA
I had been waiting for this match since EVIL turned on Los Ingobernables de Japon. He and SANADA had been a tag team in the group for years and I was looking forward to seeing SANADA get some revenge for the betrayal. After a lot of stalling by EVIL the match finally started. They quickly ended up on the outside where EVIL delivered a snap suplex onto a pile of chairs. This gave EVIL the advantage, and shortly after they got back into the ring he distracted the referee to allow Togo to drag SANADA back out and attack him. SANADA was eventually able to take over, he brought Togo into the ring and wrapped both him and EVIL up in Paradise Locks, then hit the basement dropkick on both. They went back and forth for a few minutes, SANADA almost had EVIL with Skull End, then dropped it to go for the Muto moonsault which EVIL dodged. The end of the match was full of shenanigans, SANADA finally hit the Muto moonsault but Togo pulled the referee out before the 3-count and proceeded to attack SANADA with a chair. Hiromu Takahashi, who was on commentary for the show, had enough after EVIL and Togo hit a Magic Killer and ran in to take Togo out of the ring. After SANADA escaped Everything is EVIL, Togo was in again with a garrotte, Takahashi took him out again, and SANDA rolled EVIL up for the win! SANADA won the match and B Block to go the G1 Climax 30 Final.
I enjoyed this match, and was glad that EVIL and Togo, after all the low blows and chokes throughout the tournament, got their comeuppance and wouldn’t be seen in the final.
Final points: EVIL – 12, SANADA – 12
After this, the main event for the G1 Climax 30 Final was set, SANADA would take on Kota Ibushi to determine the winner of the tournament. I was happy with this result as I had been sure we were going to end up with either EVIL, Jay White, or both in the final trying to win with low blows and other cheap tactics. Instead, we were all set for a great wrestling match.
G1 Climax 30 Final – October 18th
After a month containing 20 shows, it was finally time to see who the winner of G1 Climax 30 would be. Could SANADA finally cement his place in the main event scene of NJPW, or would Ibushi move one step closer to fulfilling his promise to become God and win his second G1 Climax tournament in as many years?
The undercard was only announced a few hours before the event and featured several multi-man tag matches. It was strange seeing a regular NJPW undercard after a month of high quality singles matches.
CHAOS (Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Douki, and El Desperado)
This was a decent opener with the Suzuki-Gun team taking advantage of the injuries accrued by CHAOS over the course of the G1. There was particular focus on Goto’s injured shoulder which ZSJ was all over at every opportunity. YOSHI-HASHI finally got a tag and came in hot, taking down Douki and Desperado to turn the tide. It wasn’t to last though, as ZSJ and Taichi dropped him with Zack Mephisto, then dragged Douki over him to get the pin.
After the match, Douki made a point to show his interest in the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag belts currently held by YOSHI-HASHI, Ishii, and Goto. It looks like this will be Suzuki-Gun’s focus during the Power Struggle tour.
Winners: Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Douki, and El Desperado)
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Minoru Suzuki)
Takagi and Suzuki picked up where the left off the previous night, beating each other with forearms. The strikes sounded as loud and hard as the previous night too, I don’t know how they can stand. In the ring, Kanemaru almost got a pin after hitting Deep Impact, but Takagi broke it up. Takahashi avoided being hit by Kanemaru’s whisky bottle and hit Time Bomb for the win.
After the match, Takagi and Suzuki continued fighting until they were broken up. Suzuki held up his NEVER Openweight Championship, daring Takagi to challenge for it. I think the rematch will definitely happen soon. Meanwhile, Takahashi showed an interest in Kanemaru’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship belt, it looks like he and Bushi will challenge Kanemaru and his partner El Desperado in the near future too.
Winners: Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Minoru Suzuki)
Master Wato, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA, Gedo, and Taiji Ishimori)
The Bullet Club team spent much of the time isolating Master Wato from his teammates. White mocked Tenzan, who was at ringside as he has been mentoring Wato, with Tenzan’s trademark Mongolian chops. Tenzan got a measure of revenge, though, as he was able to chop White when the referee wasn’t looking. After things broke down, Cobb threw Ishimori at Gedo. Gedo was now isolated, and Tanahashi locked in a Texas Cloverleaf for the submission win.
This was a fun, throwaway match, I don’t think anything major is coming out of it but it filled some time.
Winners: Master Wato, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, and Hiroshi Tanahashi
CHAOS (SHO and Kazuchika Okada) vs. Great O-Khan and Will Ospreay
I was surprised to see Okada meeting Ospreay in the ring so soon after Ospreay’s betrayal of CHAOS. Okada took full advantage, attacking Ospreay before he had even taken his own entrance gear off. After they separated, SHO started the match proper with Great O-Khan. Bea Priestley got involved to help attack SHO in the corner. Once Okada came in, he wanted Ospreay but got O-Khan. O-Khan was impressive against the former champion, hitting him with Mongolian chops and a great sliding dropkick while Okada was in a Tree of Woe. Once Okada was down, Ospreay got in and they ended up trading fast strikes. Okada got the tag to SHO, who was aggressive against Ospreay, striking him repeatedly in the corner then hitting three German suplexes in succession. Priestley got involved again with a dragon screw to SHO through the ropes, then Ospreay locked in a figure 4 for the submission victory.
This was the most enjoyable match of the undercard. Ospreay’s team had to get the win to have any credibility as a new force. I’m looking forward to seeing who else will join his faction, it’s a breath of fresh air to see something new like this and it’ll lead to some realignment in the other factions too. I expect that Ospreay and O-Khan will have go into World Tag League, but it’s unclear what they’ll be doing during the Power Struggle tour, I think they’ll keep the singles rematch between Okada and Ospreay until Wrestle Kingdom.
Winners: Will Ospreay and Great O-Khan
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and Bushi) vs. Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and EVIL)
After some action in the ring, things quickly spilled over to the outside. EVIL attacked Naito with a chair while the referee was looking at Yujiro and Bushi on the other side. Naito took control of Yujiro, connecting with a combincion cabron. EVIL got the tag and started giving Naito trouble, taking him down with a lariat and almost locking in Darkness Scorpion. Naito hit a tornado DDT using the ropes and tagged in Bushi. Bushi was able to get some offence in, including a great bulldog dropkick combination to EVIL and Yujiro, but it wasn’t enough as EVIL dropped him with Darkness Falls, then made him tap to the Darkness Scorpion.
After the match, EVIL stared Naito down and Togo choked him out with the garrotte. After hitting Everything is Evil, Evil posed over Naito with the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships.
This was an ok match which was mainly used to set up things for the future. It looks like EVIL will be challenging Naito for his championships once again, likely at Power Struggle. I’m not exactly looking forward to the match right now, but they might have a good build to it over the next few weeks.
Winners: Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and EVIL)
G1 Climax 30 Final: SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi
A month of wrestling action came down to this one match. It was Ibushi’s third G1 Final in a row, and the first time SANADA had made it this far in the tournament. Ibushi came in with his left leg taped up, a result of the kick-intensive match he had with Taichi two days previously. It was SANADA’s second high stakes match in as many days, he had little time to recover from his bout with EVIL the previous night.
They started off slowly, feeling each other out. After neither came out with the upper hand, they started trading strikes. Ibushi went down to one of the strikes slow. Later, SANADA went for a dropkick, Ibushi tried to run under him but SANADA landed right on top of him and he rolled out to the floor. Ibushi seems to be a bit off his game, feeling the effects of hard-hitting matches over the course of the G1. He came back in and got SANADA down into an STF. SANADA took control after this, and locked in a figure 4 to put pressure on Ibushi’s taped leg.
As the match went on, SANADA continued to use the injured leg to his advantage, kicking it to get out of trading forearms. Ibushi started to clear the cobwebs and started picking up the pace, hitting a sunset flip out of the corner and a standing moonsault for a 2-count. Ibushi got another 2 with a springboard dropkick. SANADA came back with a dropkick to knock Ibushi out of the ring and a plancha. They continued one-upping each other, neither could keep the advantage for long. They got to a point where they were trading forearms while they were on their knees. There was a great spot later on when SANADA went for a dropkick off the top and Ibushi caught him with a powerbomb. After another powerbomb, Ibushi called for Kamigoye, but SANADA caught him with a dropkick to the leg. SANADA tried a TKO but Ibushi countered into a dragon sleeper, SANADA reversed it into Skull End. Once Ibushi was almost out, SANADA went for the moonsault, but Ibushi moved out of the way.
Ibushi connected with Boma Ye, but SANADA countered Kamigoye again, this time with a TKO for a 2-count. He hit the Muto moonsault on the back, went back up, and Ibushi got his knees up for the second. SANADA tried Skull End again, but Ibushi turned it into a package piledriver. SANADA dodged a third Kamigoye attempt and tried a quick pin for 2, and a clutch pin for a 2.9!
Ibushi powered out of Skull End, hit a high knee and finally connected with Kamigoye, but SANADA kicked out at the last possible moment! He hit it again and finally put SANADA away! Ibushi had won two G1 Climax tournaments back to back, something that hasn’t been done since Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 2003 and 2004!
Winner: Kota Ibushi
That was a great match to finish on, not as good as some of the classics in the tournament, but could still stand tall in the G1. One thing I didn’t like was SANADA costing himself the match with that first failed Muto Moonsault. He almost had Ibushi out and threw it all away for a move that seems to miss more than it connects. There’s little logic to it for me.
I was concerned about Ibushi at the start, he seemed to be moving sluggishly and something seemed to be wrong when he was too slow to avoid SANADA falling on top of him with a dropkick. He seemed to improve dramatically soon after though, and regained his speed and was wrestling like his normal, fast-paced self though. I’m glad he won again this year, he lost both matches of Wrestle Kingdom last year and it feels like he’ll be able to make up for that in 2021. I think we’ll see the start of the Ibushi era in January.
All G1 Climax 30 shows can be viewed on NJPWWorld.com
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