Tonight’s G1 Climax 30 card gives us the second night of Block B action. The main event is set to be a killer battle, pitting Zack Sabre Jr. against IWGP World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito. Let’s head to the ring and get things underway!
If you’ve missed any of our coverage for any previous G1 shows, check them out here:
Preliminary Match: Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
Tonight’s opening Youn Lion battle is a rematch from night one, with Uemura winning their first encounter but also coming in from a loss yesterday to Gabriel Kidd.
This was similar to their earlier match, with hard strikes and mat work building up to bigger moves. The ending stretch saw Uemura block a suplex attempt but fall to a spear and a neat rolling power slam before the Boston Crab finished the job.
So Uemura’s on a two-match losing streak, while Tsuji has Gabriel Kidd to contend with on night five. Tsuji best be prepared—Kidd’s got his first Young Lion win under his belt and he’s hungry for more.
SANADA vs. Hirooki Goto on G1 Climax 30
Goto entered the ring all taped up on his right shoulder, forming a target for SANADA from the start, who faked out a couple of aerial moves on the outside before driving Goto into the guard rail. Goto then missed a clothesline, doing his hurt arm no favours by driving it into the ring post.
SANADA went after the arm on the ring, but the story quickly changed to one of neither man being able to really get a grip on the other, a series of reversals and counters throughout suggesting that both men knew each other’s move sets so well that they were able to counter each other easily. Actually, I’ve since read that Goto and SANADA have only met three times in singles encounters before. But it was a nice idea!
Goto is able to withstand the Skull End but the larger story is Goto trying to land a GTR and failing, SANADA being too wily to get caught by it. But get caught he did, Goto countering a Skull End into a GYR and following up with a GTW and a GTR for the win.
An energetic, fun start to the evening’s tournament matches.
Toru Yano vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi on G1 Climax 30
Your tolerance of this one will depend on what extent you enjoy Yano’s shenanigans but be warned—this one was full-on comedy from the bell. You have been warned!
Yano objected to being searched for tape by the ref, so he took a powder, leading to an argument with The Ace as to whether they should start the match on the floor or in the ring. Only the referee’s count drove Yano back in the ring.
What followed was duelling ring posts, complete with Tanahashi post-guitar solo; a fight in the aisle, followed by both men racing back to the ring to avoid the count-out; Yano attempting to tape Tanahashi to the ropes, only to find himself with his own eyes taped; and a surprise roll-up by Yano to take the victory?!?
As it was, I was entertained enough by this, particularly as Tanahashi seemed so game. But that result…?!?
Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
Juice came to the ring dressed as what appeared to be an office worker stripagram—and somehow pulled it off in his way—while KENTA took his sweet time as always, mocking the crowd with sarcastic handclaps.
After the quick pace of Goto/SANADA and the comedy show from Yano/Tanahashi, this was a noticeable step down in pace. KENTA is really methodical with his offence, which makes it look crisp and sharp, but it can slow a match down more than it needs to. Consequently, though this match was entertaining, it did feel like it was overlong.
KENTA dominated the early parts of the match with a knee drop, a snapmere and kicks to the back. Juice kept pushing back, though, and by the home stretch, he was nailing just as much offence as KENTA was. Both men slipped out of each other’s finishers, the ‘Go2Sleep’ and ‘Pulp Friction’, but it was Juice Robinson who finally broke through with the ‘Pulp Friction’ to put a full stop on an entertaining yet overlong match.
Afterwards, Juice pointed at KENTA’s briefcase, potentially setting up another match in the future for the case. A nice, simple bit of storytelling.
EVIL vs. YOSHI-HASHI on G1 Climax 30
You know what? I really enjoyed this one. I can understand why some people won’t: too much Dick Togo, and maybe a little bit too simplistic in its action. But after the over-methodical KENTA-Juice match, this nicely picked up the pace a little and actually was just fun.
It started in full throttle with EVIL trying to nail YOSHI-HASHI with a chair, only to be nailed with YOSHI’s stick. YOSHI-HASHI unloaded with fists in the corner, but the devious Dick Togo pulled him out of the ring and sent YOSHI into the guard rail. EVIL followed up with a suplex onto a pile of chairs to hurt YOSHI-HASHI’s back.
EVIL worked the back with power moves and, while as methodical as his stablemate earlier, was not as slow, and was offset by a fairer share of the offence with YOSHI-HASHI, which made the match more balanced. On his comebacks, YOSHI-HASHI actually looked spirited and really good, countering a suplex with one of his own, landing a series of dropkicks, a Head Hunter, a butterfly lock and a key lock, a dragon suplex, and a meteora. Not too shabby. The pace picked up nicely whenever he was on the offence and the crowd got really behind him.
Sadly, it was not to be. YOSHI-HASHI had managed to deal with Dick Togo on a couple of occasions, but Togo finally got his moment, hitting YOSHI-HASHI on the back with a chair and choking him. YOSHI-HASHI fought back but was pushed into the ref by EVIL, allowing a low blow and ‘Everything is EVIL’ to seal the deal.
Yes, it was over-booked. Yes, EVIL having to cheat so much to beat YOSHI-HASHI devalues him as a main event player. But YOSHI-HASHI put in a real spirited performance and came away looking much stronger than normal, and it was just a fun match—sometimes that’s all you need.
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Tetsuya Naito on G1 Climax 30
Maybe I’m biased. Maybe it’s because it’s my fellow countryman. But I really do think Zack Sabre Jr. is one of the best wrestlers in the world right now. Put him in the ring with the likes of Naito and you know you’re going to have a great match, which is exactly what we got.
This was a stunning match, dictated by Naito working Sabre’s style of match and proving that he’s no slouch in that department either. Sabre proved to be the more adaptive of the two, being able to change tact or counter at the last moment to surprise Naito and tie him in knots.
Naito, conversely, found himself more reactive, having to push back with flurries of offence to overwhelm Sabre and punishing him with the likes of a hurricarana, a swinging DDT, big fists and enziguiris. The Pluma Blanca proved to be a dangerous weapon in Naito’s artillery, while Sabre unleashed the Octopus stretch to pull Naito into an agonised state.
The ending came down to a battle of the finishers. A Zack Driver attempt was countered into a Destino, a second Destino was countered itself into the Zack Driver! Zack followed up with two bridging pin attempts, followed by a kick right to the face, but another attempt at the Zack Driver was again countered into a Destino. Surprisingly, this only got a two count, so Naito dropped Sabre again with Destino to claik the decisive 1-2-3.
What a great match! Zack has been on fire so far in the G1, and Naito put in an excellent, compelling performance which really put emphasis on his mat skills and saw him overcome the mat master. Match of the night, easily.
This was a little bit of a mixed card, to be honest. Goto and SANADA had a good little match, and YOSHI-HASHI put in a hell of a performance en route to his loss to EVIL. Even Yano was bearable. Sort of. On the flip side, KENTA and Juice was too plodding and there was only the main event that really rose to the occasion. And what a main event! We’re going to be talking about that one for a long time to come.
The G1 Climax 30 continues on Sunday, September 27th.
1. Jay White (2-0) (4 pts)
2. Taichi (2-0) (4 pts)
3. Will Ospreay (2-0) (4 pts)
4. Jeff Cobb (1-1) (2 pts)
5. Kota Ibushi (1-1) (2 pts)
6. Minoru Suzuki (1-1) (2 pts)
7. Kazuchika Okada (1-1) (2 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (0-2) (0 pts)
9. Shingo Takagi (0-2) (0 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-2) (0 pts)
1. Juice Robinson (2-0) (4 pts)
2. Toru Yano (2-0) (4 pts)
3. Tetsuya Naito (2-0) (4 pts)
4. Zack Sabre Jr. (1-1) (2 pts)
5. KENTA (1-1) (2 pts)
6. Hirooki Goto (1-1) (2 pts)
7. EVIL (1-1) (2 pts)
8. Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2) (0 pts)
9. YOSHI-HASHI (0-2) (0 pts)
10. SANADA (0-2) (0 pts)