New Japan was back in action today with the G1 Climax 30 block finals just a few nights away. Another stacked night of B Block action saw Tetsuya Naito take on EVIL in the main event. We also saw Hiroshi Tanahashi take on Hirooki Goto for the first time in 3 years in the semi-main, as well as KENTA taking on Toru Yano.
A Naito win in the main event would’ve seen everyone at 6 points mathematically eliminated and the odds for everyone at 8 made smaller – but was the champion’s momentum cut short by EVIL? Let’s take a look!
The show came to us from Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, with a reported attendance of 2,550 people.
If you’ve missed any of our G1 Climax coverage, catch up with the links below!
Gabriel Kidd beat Yota Tsuji in the Young Lion showcase, hitting the Double-Arm Suplex in 7:09
G1 Climax 30 B Block – YOSHI-HASHI (2 points) vs Zack Sabre Jr (6 points)
YOSHI, on behalf of all wrestling fans – please get a new submission hold. The Butterfly Lock is naff and doesn’t look like it hurts in the slightest. Please stick to using Karma, it’s a better move.
Now that all that’s out of the way…
After solid performances from both men against Hirooki Goto and Toru Yano respectively on night 12, Zack and YOSHI put on a pretty decent showing to kick off tonight’s block action.
Zack was, as usual, brilliant. He was delightfully cocky throughout, clearly not taking his opponent seriously. This tournament has done a great job at slowly making YOSHI seem like a credible singles guy after years of being the afterthought.
Even in defeat here, he continued to show promise, hitting some great strikes and holding his own against the Technical Wizard. As with nearly all his other matches though, it wasn’t enough.
Zack was brutally efficient in his attacking of the arm. He hit multiple kicks and stamps on it, before building to his winning submission with a number of arm based holds that weakened the limb for later. This laser focus eventually led to him locking in a modified Clarky Cat for the submission victory and the crucial two points.
WINNER – Zack Sabre Jr via Modified Clarky Cat in 13:34
G1 Climax 30 B Block – KENTA (4 points) vs Toru Yano (4 points)
This was nowhere near close to the ZSJ match from night 12, but this was another fun match involving the Sublime Master Thief.
Both men showed off their comedy chops here, with a stalemate on the outside and KENTA refusing to put down his briefcase being the highlights.
A fun finish saw Yano tied up to the metal entrance frame, being beaten in the same way he’d beaten so many in the past. Fitting, in a way.
I would’ve liked to have seen more actual wrestling, but an occasional focus on comedy and not much else is perfectly fine and fun.
WINNER: New Japan Cup USA winner KENTA via Count Out in 8:56
G1 Climax 30 B Block – SANADA (6 points) vs Juice Robinson (6 points)
There wasn’t too much to complain about in terms of execution, but I feel that this match left a lot to be desired. SANADA, one of the best talents in the current New Japan landscape, continued to go back to the Skull End despite clearly having other moves in his repertoire. Even what seemed to be a setup for the TKO turned out to be yet another set up for Skull End.
It wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but when he does it in so many of his matches and doesn’t apply it properly half the time, it becomes irritating.
Juice played his part well though, engaging with the crowd really well like he has done all tournament, and got close to hitting Pulp Friction on a number of occasions.
As many people predicted though, SANADA eventually got the fall and the two points with the moonsault press.
WINNER: SANADA via Moonsault Press in 15:06
Semi-Main: G1 Climax 30 B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points) vs Hirooki Goto (6 points)
This was the match I was most looking forward to tonight. Boy, did they deliver. Was it shorter than I expected? Yes, it was, going just under 14 minutes. But the two more than made up for it by maintaining the high standard we’ve come to expect from them. Leg work from Tanahashi that was sold really well by Goto; a great striking exchange that played to the strengths of both guys; an insane Ushigoroshi from the middle rope.
It’s a real testament to the abilities of both men that they had such a strong showing in such a compressed time-frame. Things could’ve easily been drawn out to let everything breathe, but I don’t feel that they needed to in this case. Both Goto’s arm and Tana’s knee (the latter, especially) can not afford to keep going over the 20-minute mark. Goto’s (hopefully) kayfabe injury has been consistently exploited over this tournament, and to go for a period of more than 20 minutes with someone like Tanahashi, who understands the importance of targeting a limb, would be a mistake.
Goto picked up the two points in a somewhat surprising result, all but eliminating The Ace from this year’s tournament.
Easily my match of the night.
WINNER – Hirooki Goto via GTR in 13:38
Main Event: G1 Climax 30 B Block – EVIL (8 points) vs Tetsuya Naito (10 points)
I went into this much more optimistic than I was at Summer Struggle in August.
The shorter time limit often turns lacklustre feuds into something worth watching, and this was largely the case in this rematch between Naito and EVIL.
I think this tournament has really proved that EVIL works so much better when he works a more explosive, urgent style instead of drawing things out as he did in his short-lived title reign.
A relative lack of Dick Togo interference showed the signs that EVIL wanted to prove himself as one of the best on his own. This is important if he wants to challenge the Bullet Club leadership of Jay White like he has alluded to since King Switch’s return.
Things started out quite slowly but picked up substantially toward the end, due in no small part to the ‘out of nowhere’ nature of EVIL’s finisher consistently coming into play. Naito took his opponent lightly, it seems; laughing in areas, mocking EVIL while applying the Pluma Blanca, and being more cocky than usual—something which caused his downfall, despite being in control for lengthy portions.
Togo did get involved toward the end, which allowed EVIL to connect with a low blow, but it wasn’t enough. Naito continued for a short while longer but failed to connect with the arm-rigged Destino—which was countered by the King of Darkness into Everything Is EVIL, keeping the double champion at 10 points and everyone at 6 points still alive by extension.
Not as bad as their previous two affairs, but not one that we’ll all be rushing back to see either.
Another decent main event showing from both men.
WINNER: EVIL via EVIL in 23:57
Overall, another solid night of tournament action. While not as good as Night 1 (which I still view as the best night of the tournament so far), it provided some strong showings from everyone. The added potential for eliminations made things much more interesting, as did the main event result. It’s clear that EVIL and SANADA will be the final two in the block, with the two former tag partners yet to square off after EVIL’s brutal betrayal in the New Japan Cup.
Tanahashi, Goto and ZSJ are still in the running and are all having strong tournaments, while YOSHI-HASHI and Juice Robinson have really raised their stock in the company. It’s probably been the best block in terms of building lesser talent up, which is always great to see.
I’m extremely excited for the rest of the tournament now that we’re entering the last week of the blocks.
Standings After Night 14
1. Kota Ibushi (5-2) (10 pts)
2. Jay White (5-2) (10 pts)
3. Will Ospreay (5-2) (10 pts)
4. Kazuchika Okada (5-2) (10 pts)
5. Taichi (3-4) (6 pts)
6. Minoru Suzuki (3-4) (6 pts)
7. Shingo Takagi (3-4) (6 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (3-4) (6 pts)
9. Jeff Cobb (3-4) (6 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-7) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (5-2) (10 pts)
2. EVIL (5-2) (10 pts)
3. Hirooki Goto (4-3) (8 pts)
4. SANADA (4-3) (8 pts)
5. Zack Sabre Jr. (4-3) (8 pts)
6. Juice Robinson (3-4) (6 pts)
7. Toru Yano (3-4) (6 pts)
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-4) (6 pts)
9. KENTA (3-4) (6 pts)
10. YOSHI-HASHI (1-6) (2 pts)