The second week of the G1 Climax tournament had a lot to live up to after an exciting first week of action. There was already a lot of potential going in, with matches including Will Ospreay v Shingo Takagi, Jay White v Kazuchika Okada, and SANADA v Tetsuya Naito announced.
Night 5 – September 27th
The week started off with A Block action and a match between two of dirtiest heels in the tournament, Taichi and Yujiro Takahashi. It lived down to it’s premise, with Yujiro attacking Taichi with his cane straight off. Taichi came back from this by choking Yujiro on the outside with the bell hammer. Throughout the match they were more likely to counter each other with eye gouges and biting rather than through any sort of wrestling technique. Saying that, they did get some solid wrestling in, and Yujiro’s Olympic Slam, while not quite Kurt Angle standard, was still pretty good. The match ended with Taichi hitting a low blow and using his Taichi clutch pin for the win. This took Taichi up to 3 straight wins and 6 points, while Yujiro was still to get a single victory.
The next match on the card saw Jeff Cobb taking on NEVER Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki was fresh off his shocking loss to his stablemate Taichi the previous week, so I thought he would be coming out with violence in mind. However, it was a pleasant surprise when they started off with a sequence of great mat-based wrestling. Suzuki ended up on top after Cobb had to reach for the rope break to escape an ankle lock attempt. After this, the match broke down into a striking contest in and out of the ring, with Suzuki getting the upper hand again. Cobb was finally able to overpower Suzuki with heavy slams and a great jumping uppercut in the corner. However, Suzuki ended it by countering a Tour of the Islands attempt into the Gotch-style Piledriver for the win. I enjoyed the different styles in this match, Cobb put in a good showing and Suzuki can adapt to almost anyone. This year Suzuki’s showing that it was a crime to leave him out of the last G1. He came came out of the match on 4 points, and Cobb still on 2.
Next up was Kota Ibushi against Tomohiro Ishii. They had a forearm strike contest early, then Ishii just ran through Ibushi. Striking was the theme of the match as Ibushi goaded Ishii into brutal attacks while Ishii absorbed a lot of punishment from Ibushi. It got to the stage where it felt like Ishii was telling Ibushi not to get back up by repeatedly kicking him down.
When both were on the mat, they started kicking each other in the head, with the contest turning into a slap contest as they got back up until Ibushi knocked Ishii back down with a huge chop. The battle continued until Ibushi got a thousand yard stare and punched Ishii right in the throat, followed by a stiff kick and sit-out powerbomb for 2.
Ishii managed to come back from this, but when he went for a German suplex, Ibushi jumped straight out of it and hit him in the face with a Boma Ye. He followed up with another Boma Ye and Kamigoye for the win.
This was easily my match of the match of the tournament so far. Ishii’s matches are always fairly brutal and filled with stiff moves, but I forget that Ibushi can bring the same level of violence when he’s against that sort of opponent.
Afterwards, Ishii was still trying to fight, he didn’t realise it was over. The young lions had to drag him to the back.
Ibushi was now up to 4 points, while Ishii was yet to get on the board.
The semi-main event was a rematch from the finals of last year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament where Will Ospreay beat Shingo Takagi in a bout many regard as the best match of the year. There were high expectations going into their first meeting as heavyweights. For me, it absolutely lived up to those expectations. These two have such great chemistry, I’m glad they ended up in the same division again so that we can see more of their matches together.
The match itself was a great mix of high-flying and hard-hitting moves. While Ospreay was hitting Takagi with moves like the Coast to Coast, and Sasuke Special, Takagi would take him down with Pumping Bombers and Made in Japan. There were also some great striking contests with both putting in their all. The counters were superb too, at one point Ospreay was able to turn a Pumping Bomber attempt into a Liger Bomb.
Takagi got a decisive win over Ospreay with a Made in Japan from the top turnbuckle, Pumping Bomber (both for 2) and Last of the Dragon for the pin. Takagi avenged his loss from last year, and got his first 2 points in the process. Ospreay remained on 4 after his first loss of the tournament.
I recommend anyone who is just watching the top matches of this tournament adds this as a ‘must-see’ along with Ishii v Ibushi. These are two of the best of the tournament so far and possible the year.
The main event was another rematch, this time the fourth in the series for Kazuchika Okada and Jay White. White first met Okada in singles competition during the G1 in 2018, he scored a shocking victory over the Rainmaker in that match. They went on to face off again in a special singles match at Wrestle Kingdom 13, where White showed his first victory was not a fluke by once again overcoming Okada. Okada was finally able to score a singles victory over White in April last year, beating him for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the G1 Supercard show in Madison Square Garden.
While this match wasn’t as good as some of their previous encounters, it was one of Okada’s better outings of the G1 so far. White clearly enjoys riling the crowd, once again trying to get them to chant for Okada knowing they can’t. Even his sarcastic clapping is enough to irritate. White spent most of his time focusing on Okada’s back, which Okada is selling superbly, to the point where he’s showing that it’s a bit worse for wear every match.
Part of the story of Okada’s G1 is that he refuses to use the Rainmaker, preferring to go for his new Money Clip submission. It was once again on display here, as even after a tombstone piledriver, he went for the Money Clip where a Rainmaker would be more appropriate. White made it to the ropes for a break fairly easily. Another Money Clip attempt ended up with White escaping by gouging Okada’s eye. The final time he attempted in the match also ended badly as Gedo distracted the referee allowing White to hit a low blow to escape, leading to White getting Okada with the Bladerunner to win.
This was another Bullet Club match I was enjoying until the low blow followed by finisher ending. I get that they’re heels, but there’s no creativity to the cheating and it just ends up cheapening the match for me. White was now at 6 points, and Okada on only 2.
Night 6 – September 29th
B Block kicked off the week with YOSHI-HASHI v SANADA. This was a good match with some good back and forth. YOSHI-HASHI once again put in a great performance, he’s almost definitely coming out of this year as ‘most improved’. During the match, SANDA took every opportunity to lock in Cold Skull, but YOSHI-HASHI countered and blocked his attempts. When YOSHI-HASHI went up for a Swanton, SANDA got his knees up to block it and applied Skull End. YOSHI-HASHI tried to free himself but couldn’t overpower SANADA. However, SANADA made a mistake he makes far too often, breaking the hold to go for the Muto Moonsault. When he jumped off the top, YOSHI-HASHI got his knees up. After trading strikes, SANADA hit the TKO, but YOSHI-HASHI came back with Kumagoroshi. SANADA countered a Karma attempt into Skull End. I was sure it would be over here, but when SANADA started to spin YOSHI-HASHI around, he countered it into a roll-up for a 2-count, then hit Karma for the win!
I was convinced that this would be SANADA’s first victory of the tournament, but it was YOSHI-HASHI’s instead and I couldn’t be happier for him. The positives for YOSHI-HASHI far outweigh the negatives for SANADA. Now, he’s gone from just putting in impressive performances to being genuine threat to anyone in the block. Also, he deserved the big upset win for how much effort he’s been putting in the last few months. YOSHI-HASHI now had 2 points, and SANDA was still on a losing streak with 0.
Next up was a match I had been looking forward to, Zack Sabre Jr. v KENTA. This was their second encounter, having faced off at last year’s G1 where KENTA came out on the losing end.
They started off with some mat-based wrestling, but KENTA managed to change things up and start kicking ZSJ relentlessly. ZSJ was able to grab his leg and drag him back to the mat before bringing out some strikes of his own. There was a lot of this during the match, with KENTA being able to stop ZSJ’s submission attempts and coming back with strikes. However, KENTA was able to lock ZSJ into his own submission, the Game Over, as well. Later, ZSJ countered a GTS attempt into a triangle hold, KENTA turned it into Game Over, and ZSJ came back with Clarky Cat before KENTA was able to get to the ropes. This was a brilliant series of submission holds. KENTA finally put ZSJ away with a GTS to get the pin. I thought this was a great match, another one where different styles worked well together, in this case KENTA’s strikes against ZSJ’s arsenal of submission holds. It was KENTA’s second victory of the G1, bringing him up to 4 points, while ZSJ remained on 2.
The third match of the night featured two huge fan favourites in the ‘Ace’ Hiroshi Tanahashi and the ‘Flamboyant’ Juice Robinson. The match started off slow with Juice using headlocks on Tanahashi. During a lock-up, in an unusual move, Tanahashi pulled on Juice’s hair, Juice reciprocated until they were forced to break up. This was a fun match that saw Juice in control most of the time, whilst he got the crowd behind him with the ‘We will rock you’ stomps and claps again. He hit some big moves on Tanahashi including a superplex and jackhammer. Tanahashi eventually ended Juice’s streak when he countered a Pulp Friction attempt into a roll-up pin. The match was fun and mostly quick-paced after the start, it helped that the crowd was into both guys as well. I would happily watch these two go at it again in future.
The semi-main event of the night saw EVIL take on Toru Yano. Dick Togo accompanied EVIL wearing his ‘Spoiler Club’ t-shirt, but Yano’s the real spoiler in any G1 tournament. Yano managed to get all of the turnbuckle pads off early, then when he was attacked by Togo on the outside, taped him to the railing to take care of that threat. Honestly, everyone in the block should take a page of his book and carry tape out to their matches with EVIL. Yano then tried to tape up EVIL, but EVIL escaped with an eye gouge. Back in the ring, they tried to throw each other into the exposed turnbuckles, when Yano eventually manage to do it, Togo had managed to escape and provided a pad for EVIL. The finishing sequence had Togo interfering to allow EVIL to hit Yano with a low blow, but then Yano got out of Everything is Evil, pushing EVIL at the ref, this let him get in a low blow of his own. Togo got in the ring while the ref was still distracted and gave Yano a low blow, then tried to garrotte him. Yano managed to get out with a low blow to Togo, shoved him into EVIL, hit low blows to both and rolled EVIL up for the pin. This was one of the best comedy sequences I’ve seen in a while, and it was great to see EVIL get a taste of his own medicine from the still undefeated ’Master Thief’. Yano moved up to 6 points, while EVIL stayed on 2.
The main event of the evening was IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito v Hirooki Goto. Naito had been dismissive of Goto heading into the match, saying “I guess he used up his miracle” in beating SANADA, so “in Korakuen Hall, just as everyone expects, I will win.”
During the match, Naito focused on Goto’s taped shoulder. Goto was on the backfoot for a lot of the encounter, as every time he started to get some momentum, Naito would go back to the shoulder to take him down. Later in the match, Naito went for Destino but got caught with two GTR’s. Goto tried for GTW but Naito countered into a Destino. Naito took back control of the match, but when he went for Valentia, Goto turned it into an Ushigoroshi. Naito was caught with another GTR and a stiff kick. However, Naito finished him off with Valentia and Destino for the win. This was a good match, but not on the same level as Naito’s matches against Tanahashi and ZSJ the previous week.
Night 7 – September 30th
The second night of A Block for the week started off with Yujiro Takahashi against Minoru Suzuki. Yujiro went on the offensive immediately with a boot to Suzuki’s face, Suzuki responded in kind and they went back and forth with boots. On the outside, Yujiro continued to attack, throwing Suzuki into the barriers and choking him with his cane. Eventually Suzuki snapped, attacking Yujiro with a chair and choking him with a microphone cable. Suzuki dominated much of the rest of the match, looking even more aggressive than normal. To his credit, Yujiro kept coming back only to be taken back down. Suzuki put him away with a sleeper followed by a Gotch-style Piledriver for the win. This was Yujiro’s best showing in the G1 so far, he showed more fire in his comebacks than he has in previous matches. Suzuki’s anger was on a different level to normal, he might still be getting over his loss to Taichi the previous week. This wounded Suzuki is a danger to every one of his remaining opponents in the tournament, and Taichi had better prepare himself for the inevitable rematch. Suzuki had now gone up to 6 points, while Yujiro still hasn’t managed to get any.
The following match was between Ibushi and Cobb. Cobb took the opportunity to show off his athleticism during this match, leapfrogging and dropkicking Ibushi. Then, he switched to his power game with an overhead belly to belly suplex. He used this power advantage for the most part in this match, with big slams and a lariat that turned Ibushi inside out. Ibushi was no slouch himself, using his strikes to wear down the bigger man, but showing his own athleticism with a Frankensteiner and countering an attempted takedown by jumping on Cobb with a double foot stomp. Cobb thought he had it with an F-5000 that sent Ibushi spinning horizontally in mid-air, but the Golden Star kicked out at 2.9. Ibushi managed to counter a takedown with a Boma Ye, and followed up with Kamigoye for the pin. This was a great match, and easily Cobb’s best of the tournament so far. He was able to showcase his diverse moveset, something I’m hoping to see more of in future. Ibushi continues to put in great performances, and helped Cobb look great in this one with his selling ability. This brought Ibushi to 6 points, while Cobb remained on 2.
Next up was Okada facing off with Taichi, who was undefeated at this point in the tournament. Taichi went on the attack immediately, trying to overwhelm Okada. Desperado distracted the referee so that Taichi could hammer Okada with a chair. Taichi dominated the first part of the match, focusing on Okada’s back. Okada was able to hit a high dropkick to Taichi on the top of the turnbuckle, but it took its toll on Okada’s back. On the outside, Okada hit a DDT that looked like it hurt both as they thumped to the ground. Taichi came back with a huge kick to Okada. He pulled his trousers off to go for another, but showboated enough for Okada to recover and hit a dropkick. Okada hit a lariat, when he tried for another, Taichi blocked it with the referee and hit a low blow and Taichi clutch pin for 2. Taichi continued to control the match, hitting Okada with his own variant of the Rainmaker for a long 2.
Taichi went for Black Mephisto, but Okada countered it into the Money Clip. Taichi escaped the hold, tried for Black Mephisto again, but Okada once again got him into the Money Clip. Taichi tried to power his way to the ropes, but Okada picked him up and delivered a back breaker while still holding the Money Clip. Taichi was unable to respond to the referee, who called for the bell, giving Okada the victory. This was a very enjoyable match. The use of the Money Clip was more effective than in previous matches, and the back breaker while Okada kept the hold on made it seem more devastating. The big moment of the match, however, was Taichi refusing to give in to the hold, only losing because he had passed out rather than submitting. In the end, Okada had got himself up to 4 points, while Taichi still had an impressive 6.
The semi-main event for the night saw Jay White taking on Will Ospreay in only their second singles match in NJPW. In their previous encounter, when Ospreay was the NEVER Openweight Champion and White the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Ospreay gave an impressive performance but White ultimately took the victory.
After a slow start, White picked up momentum with shoulder tackles and strikes to Ospreay in the corner. Ospreay took him down with a big chop. Ospreay controlled the first part of the match, until White dumped him to the outside. White threw Ospreay into the barriers. White’s strategy throughout the match was to try to keep Ospreay grounded, going for his knees and taking him back to the mat wherever possible. Ospreay got some momentum with a big chop and handspring lariat, but White was able to stagger away. White got Ospreay to the top turnbuckle, setting up for a superplex, but Ospreay was able to escape and connect with a springboard dropkick. With White hanging in a Tree of Woe, Ospreay tried to go for a Coast to Coast, but Gedo pulled White free. Later in the match, Ospreay countered a Bladerunner attempt into a Liger Bomb. White tripped Red Shoes to allow Gedo to come in with his brass knuckles, but Ospreay trook him out with a spinning elbow. White attempted a low blow, Ospreay stopped it with a kick to the face, he tried Bladerunner but Ospreay blocked it, then hit Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker for the win. It was good to see someone finally overcome the interference and low blow wins of White’s G1 so far. Overall, it was a strong match, and an important victory for Ospreay as he continues to impress in the heavyweight division. He went up to 6 points here, while White remained on 6 as well.
The main event was between two of NJPW’s bruisers in Ishii and Takagi. I expected this to be a brawl, and what a brawl it was.
They started out as they meant to go on with a ton of striking, ending with Ishii getting the advantage. Shingo goaded him on to kick him, then hung him up in the ropes. On the outside, the strikes resumed with Ishii once again taking the advantage, Takagi came back to take him down with a clothesline. The match continued with more brutal strikes being traded between the two, including a chop to Ishii’s throat. This is the second time in the tournament Ishii’s been struck directly in the throat, he might end up speaking like Honma before the G1 is out. They also used big power moves against each other, from suplexes to gutbusters and powerbombs.
Ishii hit a massive vertical suplex to Takagi off the top turnbuckle, but it wasn’t enough to put Takagi away and he kicked out at 2. After a few attempts, Takagi was able to hit Made in Japan for 2 followed by a Pumping Bomber for another 2. Towards the end, they started trading headbutts on all fours, and then continued while standing up. They traded elbows to the head, then Takagi hit Ishii with a GTR to Ishii off the ropes, followed by a huge Pumping Bomber for a long 2-count. Ishii countered two Last of the Dragon attempts before they started trading headbutts again. Ishii hit a big lariat for 2, then finally hit the brainbuster for the pin. They started trading headbutts again after the match, with Takagi having to be dragged away by young lions.
This match went on a lot longer than I expected, almost to the 30 minute limit, considering the punishment they put each other through. It was a joy to watch, though, as two of the toughest guys went all out on each other. This finally got Ishii on the board with 2 points, while Takagi remained at 2 as well.
Night 8 – October 1st
The eighth night began with a fun match between the surprisingly undefeated Toru Yano, and Juice Robinson, who was coming off a great bout with Tanahashi. Yano got going early, presenting Juice with the gift of a t-shirt and persuading him to put it on, then promptly trying to pin him when he got it halfway over his head. Yano then sprayed some disinfectant in his face. Juice got his own back on the outside, pouring the whole bottle over Yano’s head. There were some turnbuckle pad shenanigans, Yano tried to remove them, while Juice put one back, sternly saying “No cheating!”, meanwhile Yano removed another one. Juice ended up chasing him out of the ring by swinging it at him. Yano went outside, Juice refused initially, but gave in and got an atomic drop for his troubles. Yano tied up his legs and got back in the ring. Juice managed to bunny hop back before the 20 count, the image of him doing that while looking incredibly angry was a one of the funniest things in the tournament. Back inside, Yano grabbed the referee while he tried for a low blow, Juice prevented it and hit the Left Hand of God. He went for Pulp Friction, Yano tried to counter into a roll-up, but Juice crouched down on him for the pin. This was a good time for Yano to take his first loss, as much as I enjoy his comedy work, it would get a bit much if he stayed undefeated for any longer. It was a good win for Juice too, being able to do what the likes of EVIL and Tanahashi couldn’t, by beating the ‘Master Thief’. This brought Juice up to 6 points, and Yano stalled at the same 6.
Next we had Zack Sabre Jr taking on Goto. Goto’s shoulder was still in bad shape from his previous matches, and ZSJ went for it from the off. He moved to strikes, which was a mistake as Goto took him down and then hit an Ushigoroshi. He then went for a buzzsaw kick but ZSJ caught him and turned it into a European Clutch pin for the win. This was the shortest match of the tournament at 3:59, and goes to show that anything can happen in a G1. This left Goto on 2 points, while ZSJ moved up to 4.
The third match had my favourite underdog, YOSHI-HASHI, against Tanahashi. Tanahashi was in charge at the beginning, but YOSHI-HASHI came back with strikes and caught the ‘Ace’ with his own Dragon Screw. Tanahashi mounted a comeback, returning the Dragon Screw on YOSHI-HASHI and hitting him with chops, but this wasn’t enough to keep the ‘Headhunter’ down, as he struck back and hit a sit-out powerbomb for 2. After Tanahashi tried to pin YOSHI-HASHI with a straitjacket German suplex, he went for High Fly Flow, but YOSHI-HASHI got his knees up. Following a striking contest, YOSHI-HASHI took the advantage with a Butterfly Lock. This was great and made me think YOSHI-HASHI was going to get another victory, especially as he pulled Tanahashi to the middle a second time. After the second time, YOSHI-HASHI picked him up with a sleeper and hit double knees to his back. Tanahashi was able to counter a Karma attempt into a neckbreaker. Tanahashi took control after this, taking YOSHI-HASHI down with two inverted Dragon Screws. However, when he attempted the Texas Cloverleaf, YOSHI-HASHI rolled him up for a 2-count. After some counters, YOSHI-HASHI hit a Dragon Suplex followed up with running double knees for 2, and Kumagoroshi for another 2. Tanahashi got back into the match, hitting a Slingblade, Aces High, and finally a High Fly Flow for a hard fought win. YOSHI-HASHI had his fourth great match in a row, I was convinced he was going to win a few times, the win over SANADA really has made it seem possible. This was also a good performance from Tanahashi, but I don’t expect anything less from the ‘Ace’. This was Tanahashi’s second win, bringing him to 4 points, while YOSHI-HASHI stayed on 2.
The semi-main event was the first of two inter-factional matches of the night, with the two newest Bullet Club members EVIL and KENTA squaring off. KENTA offered the Too Sweet to EVIL, EVIL looked like he would reciprocate, but gave the sign to Dick Togo instead. KENTA dominated with strikes to start, and was acting friendly to a confused Dick Togo, even giving him a thumbs up at one point. I suspect this was to try to get in the head of EVIL, but I doubt anyone seriously thought Togo would leave EVIL for KENTA so soon.
Togo stopped a pin attempt, allowing EVIL to stage a comeback. He wrapped KENTA’s taped shoulder in a steel chair, ramming it into the ringpost. EVIL was fully focused on the arm now, locking in a Fujiwara armbar, and back in the ring, twisted it up and rammed it into a now exposed turnbuckle. KENTA was able to stop the momentum with more strikes. Once he had taken the referee out, KENTA went outside and grabbed his briefcase (which holds the contract for an IWGP US Championship match). Togo tried to talk him out of using it, but he hit him over the head with it, then in the ring did the same to EVIL. He followed up with a double foot stomp and Basaiku knee. EVIL escaped a GTS attempt and hit Darkness Falls for 2. KENTA got out of an Everything is Evil attempt, going at EVIL with stiff shots again. Togo interfered again, this time KENTA grabbed him for a GTS, but Togo grabbed the ref allowing EVIL to hit a low blow, then Everything is Evil for the win. This was a decent heel v heel match, I’m interested to see where Bullet Club is going right now. With de facto Leader, Jay White, and KENTA back in Japan, and now there’s no love lost between EVIL and KENTA, there could be friction to come at the top of the group in the near future. EVIL was now on 4 points, while KENTA remained on the same.
The main event was the second inter-faction match, this time between the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Tetsuya Naito, and his teammate SANADA. SANADA was coming off a string of losses, while Naito was still undefeated going into the match. Neither of them were able to get the advantage to start with, but Naito took charge, delivering strikes to SANDA in and out of the ring. SANADA turned the tide with a low dropkick to Naito, then played to his home crowd, getting them behind him. This might have been a mistake, as Naito was able to stop SANADA’s momentum in short order. The two went back and forth for much of the rest of the match. SANADA was able to dropkick Naito on the top turnbuckle, which rammed his shoulder into the ringpost, while one of Naito’s counters saw him jump over SANADA, hitting a DDT in the process. Around 20 minutes in, they started a hard striking contest, SANADA ended it by flipping over into Skull End, he was able to spin Naito and fully lock it in on the mat. Naito tried to power out a couple of times, but SANADA dragged him back in. SANADA dropped it and went for a Muto moonsault, but Naito rolled out of the way, then hit a short Destino for 2. He went for a full Destino, but SANADA countered back into Skull End, Naito tried for a suplex, but SANADA kneed him in the head to escape. SANADA reversed an attempted Valentia, hitting a reverse Destino, then a Muto moonsault to Naito’s back and another to his front for the huge victory! Afterwards, SANADA offered an LIJ fistbump, which Naito eventually reciprocated in contrast to the Bullet Club members earlier in the night. This wasn’t as good as Naito’s previous tournament matches, but still worth watching. It was great to see SANADA finally get a victory, and it’s a shortcut to a championship match down the line. So, SANADA is on the board with 2 points, while Naito remained on 6.
Week 2 of the G1 delivered some great matches, with Ishii v Ibushi and Ospreay v Takagi remaining my highlights. Also, some surprising results, I still can’t believe YOSHI-HASHI beat SANADA, and Yano reaching a 3 match winning streak was a shock too. Nobody has come out of the week undefeated, and on the opposite end, Yujiro is the only participant to remain at 0 points. Next week, we have more action to look forward to, with Okada v Suzuki, Ibushi v Ospreay, and Ibushi v Suzuki promising to be some of the highlights.
We will be posting full results for G1 Climax 30 every day throughout the tournament, so make sure to check back regularly for news, results and analysis.