NJPW was back in action today, presenting the 6th night of G1 Climax 30 from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The show reported an attendance of 696 people and saw a stacked night of B Block action – highlighted by Hirooki Goto vs Tetsuya Naito in the main event. Let’s take a look at what went down.
If you’ve happened to have missed any of our previous G1 coverage, use the links below:
Preliminary Match – Yuya Uemura vs Gabriel Kidd
As with all the other cards on this tour, things kicked off with a young lion showcase match. This time, it was Gabriel Kidd and Yuya Uemura who squared off in the show opener.
This was a perfectly fine opener but didn’t really hype me up for the upcoming tournament action in the way that previous young lion contests have. Perhaps this was just because of the smaller venue of Korakuen Hall, or the absence of the submissions that we’ve seen in the past.
Things were pretty ground-based for the most part, with both men trying to weaken the other for their bigger moves. Kidd, who recently debuted a new finishing move (a double arm suplex), worked on the arm of Uemura. This ended up being futile in the end, however, as Uemura locked in a Boston Crab and transitioned into the Lion Tamer for the submission victory. Uemura has practically mastered the move at this point, I wouldn’t be against him adopting it as somewhat of a signature manoeuvre in the way Kidd has with the suplex.
WINNER – Yuya Uemura in 9:10
G1 Climax 30 B Block – SANADA vs YOSHI-HASHI
It’s clear that SANADA is struggling to cope emotionally with the split from tag team partner EVIL back in July. His hair and gear mirror that of the King of Darkness, a brilliant little detail that justifies Cold Skull losing every match up to this point – he’s clearly focused on other things, which has allowed his opponents to pick up the crucial two points.
Even with this preoccupation of sorts, SANADA managed to get some good offence in here. His transitions into Skull End, despite the consistently awful application of the move itself, were extremely smooth. The swinging setup for the submission still looks incredibly dangerous, which makes up for the terrible execution of the actual submission hold a little bit. He managed to counter YOSHI’s first attempt at ‘Karma’ pretty well and managed to avoid the Swanton attempt earlier in the match.
YOSHI-HASHI has really impressed since the comeback and continued his impressive run of form here. He’s always been a very reliable in-ring worker, but these past few months have really allowed him to shine. He completely held his own against someone as high-profile as SANADA. His offence was smooth, his counters to Cold Skull’s offence were well executed. And, in typical YOSHI-HASHI fashion, the finish came out of relative nowhere and he picked up the shock win over many people’s heavy favourite for B Block.
This was a strong contest, even with the shock victory. SANADA is one step closer to mathematical elimination from this tournament as a result, meaning his upcoming bouts with Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA and EVIL will be hugely significant.
WINNER – YOSHI-HASHI in 15:15 – YOSHI-HASHI advances to 2 points
G1 Climax 30 B Block – KENTA vs Zack Sabre Jr
Despite being a slower, more methodical match than others we’ve seen in the tournament, Zack and KENTA put on a good showing here. It was somewhat disappointing to see Zack lose in shorter time to KENTA than what he did to Naito, but the shorter time played to both men’s strengths and displayed the irregularity of G1 tournament matches – the wrestlers can tease a draw on one night and then be disposed of relatively quickly on the next.
Both men wrestled exceptionally. KENTA’s more strike-based offence was wonderfully complemented by ZSJ’s technical prowess. KENTA’s strikes were, as usual, on point, while Zack’s submission counters to his adversary’s offence were smooth, strongly executed and (most importantly) logical – going after KENTA’s known arm issue.
A great final third saw a great technical exchange infused with striking exchanges. KENTA eventually picked up the win with a GTS, which Zack sold better than nearly every one that’s taken it in New Japan. A great end to a very good match.
WINNER – KENTA in 15:46 – KENTA advances to 2 points
G1 Climax 30 B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Juice Robinson
Was this your standard face vs face G1 match? Yes. Did both guys come out of it looking really good? Yes. Did Hiroshi Tanahashi get the 2 points? Indeed he did.
Things kicked off with a takedown exchange that led to a deadlock. Tanahashi gave a weak air guitar for the crowd in attendance, in an attempt to evoke the spirit of his former self.
Both guys got in some decent offence, with Juice selling Tanahashi’s leg work (a staple of all of ‘The Ace’s matches at this point) well and Robinson doing the same.
This absence has done wonders for Juice. He has investment from fans, his new look is awesome and he has a more intense style that adds an extra layer to the ‘flamboyant’ persona that we saw before lockdown. It’s really great to see.
Tanahashi eventually won with a roll-up pin, catching many of the audience (and his opponent) off guard after Juice seemingly had things in the bag. It kept Juice looking strong after his great start to the block. But more importantly, it continued Tanahashi’s run of relative bad form. He hasn’t managed to win convincingly for a while. He’s gone for broke and it hasn’t paid off. This may very well be the start of a resurgence though as Tanahashi, and I’m all here for it.
WINNER – Hiroshi Tanahashi in 14:16 – Tanahashi advances to 2 points
G1 Climax 30 B Block – Toru Yano vs EVIL
Oh, how the mighty do fall. EVIL, former IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Bullet Club’s top dog just a month or so ago, loses to Toru Yano. New Japan’s comedy relief. In less than 5 minutes.
This is peak 2020 wrestling, folks.
This was the usual Yano stuff with the loathsome EVIL antics mixed in, which was surprisingly fun. Yano’s corner pad spots are pretty much always funny, and he did a good job at neutralising the ever-present Dick Togo at ringside. Things ended in typical YTR fashion – a Red Shoes distraction, a low blow and a roll-up. Not bad at all.
Yano is *checks notes* undefeated in this tournament. One of only *checks notes again* two people in his block to still have a perfect record.
WINNER – Toru Yano in 4:33 – Yano advances to 6 points
Main Event: G1 Climax 30 B Block – Tetsuya Naito vs Hirooki Goto
Another B Block main event, another great performance from Tetsuya Naito. As a huge LIJ fan, it’s been a lot of fun seeing him prove to everyone that he can still perform at a top tier level after a string of lacklustre PPV main events. He was brutally efficient in his targeting of Goto’s arm, connecting with a series of nasty back elbows throughout which led to an emphatic Destino for the win.
Let’s not discredit Hirooki Goto here, either. Goto is always one of the most consistent guys in New Japan, tournament season or not – he certainly didn’t disappoint here. The selling of his previously injured arm was on point, his offence was excellent. I think we all knew in the back of our minds that Naito was most likely winning here, but Goto made believers out of a lot of people in the closing stretch, connecting with a GTW and getting close to connecting with a GTR that would’ve surely gotten him the 2 points.
All in all, a very good main event. The shortest of Naito’s campaign so far, but an admirable effort from Goto, who very well could’ve gotten the win if his arm wasn’t in the state it was. It was a great example of in-ring psychology outweighing the importance of flashy moves, as the two men built the match around Goto’s right arm being essentially incapacitated. Really great stuff. Naito also put over Goto in the post-match promo, which was a nice touch.
WINNER – Tetsuya Naito in 21:58 – Naito advances to 6 points
Yet another solid night of action from B Block. Yano finishing with a perfect record still intact is something I don’t think anyone saw coming. Tanahashi began (hopefully) an upward trajectory in the blocks after losing 2 straight matches to kick things off. ZSJ and Naito continue to be the MVPs of this block, with KENTA and Goto, in particular, putting on strong performances.
If you’re strapped for time at all, I’d recommend Zack vs KENTA and Naito vs Goto; although nothing outside of EVIL vs Yano was all that bad.
Overall show rating – 7.25/10
Standings after Night 6
Jay White – 6 points (3-0)
Taichi – 6 points (3-0)
Minoru Suzuki – 4 points (2-1)
Will Ospreay – 4 points (2-1)
Kota Ibushi – 4 points (2-1)
Kazuchika Okada – 2 points (1-2)
Jeff Cobb – 2 points (1-2)
Shingo Takagi – 2 points (1-2)
Yujiro Takahashi – 0 points (0-3)
Tomohiro Ishii – 0 points (0-3)
Tetsuya Naito – 6 points (3-0)
Toru Yano – 6 points (3-0)
Juice Robinson – 4 points (2-1)
KENTA – 4 points (2-1)
Zack Sabre Jr – 2 points (1-2)
EVIL – 2 points (1-2)
Hirooki Goto – 2 points (1-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2 points (1-2)
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 points (1-2)
SANADA – 0 points (0-3)