NJPW continued their annual G1 Climax tournament today, coming to us from the ZIP Arena, Okayama, for night 6 of B Block action. A somewhat flat card saw EVIL take on Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event. Let’s take a look at how things played out.
If you’ve missed out any of our G1 coverage, feel free to catch up with the links below!
Preliminary Young Lion Showcase – Yuya Uemura vs Gabriel Kidd
I think this was my favourite YL match of the tour so far. Short and sweet but technically excellent. Things kicked off with a wonderful knuckle lock grapple off, which saw some silky smooth monkey flips and a near-superhuman display of neck strength with various bridges. I really love it when the fundamentals are perfected and both of these men made no noticable mistakes (although they could be somewhat forgiven if they did, considering their lower status in the company) which is great to see.
Both men applied the Boston Crab/Half crab submissions in the match, which is always a great way to hype up the crowd and get them engaged with the in-ring performances.
Kidd eventually picked up the win with the Double Arm Suplex.
Good stuff all around. Not overly flashy, but a brilliant showcase of both men’s abilities—exactly what this match needed to achieve.
G1 Climax 30 B Block – Hirooki Goto vs YOSHI-HASHI
Well, this was certainly surprising, wasn’t it?
I don’t think anyone foresaw Goto getting bullied in the way he did here, or for this match to go on for as long as it did considering the state of his arm. I’m certainly not going to complain about either. YOSHI-HASHI put on a really great performance, while Goto was his usual excellent self.
The two men told the story of YOSHI’s development as a wrestler this year. He was more aggressive, no longer content with being the CHAOS afterthought. He wanted the attention, and wanted to beat Goto in order to do that, like so many others have in the past. I think he managed to achieve that, even in defeat.
YOSHI brought his A-game here, matching Goto in his signature style in an attempt to surpass him and rise to a level he’s never been able to reach. He got incredibly close to getting the win after being all over his adversary throughout the match in a surprisingly dominant performance. He’s been one of the less talked about MVPs of the B Block, which is really great to see after he was excluded from last year’s field.
Goto picked up the 2 points though, perhaps sending a message to YOSHI in the process—don’t try to mimic, forge your own path.
G1 Climax 30 B Block – Toru Yano vs Zack Sabre Jr
Even after watching their brilliant encounter in the G1 2 years ago, I went into this with pretty low expectations. ZSJ is nearly always great, but Yano’s reputation of ‘the comedy wrestler who doesn’t wrestle for too long’ made me fearful that things would fall a bit flat.
But I was very pleasantly surprised.
Sabre, as I mentioned, is great almost all the time. This was no exception. He had some great comedic moments (notably the sprint back to the ring after dragging Yano in an Ankle Lock, as well as the reaction to being tied to a steel chair), while working a more technical-based match in areas too.
Yano, to his credit, had a great showing too. Sure, we got his usual schtick with the tape, the ref distractions and the corner pads, but he worked some solid ground-based stuff that reminded many of his accomplished amateur background. It really showed that he’s more than a comedy wrestler, which is why I enjoy it so much when Yano and Zack square off.
ZSJ got the submission win in the end, continuing Yano’s expected decline after a perfect run in his first 3 matches.
This was a really, really fun contest that I highly implore you to check out.
G1 Climax 30 B Block – KENTA vs SANADA
Honestly, it’s hard to view this as anything more than a slight letdown. Both KENTA and SANADA can have stellar outings on any given day, but something about this match failed to connect. It left a lot to be desired. Both guys didn’t seem as interested as they possibly could be, which damaged the quality. It’s a real shame, especially when we know that they’re both capable of high quality contests.
Things picked up toward the end, primarily because of KENTA, but I personally don’t feel that was quite enough. SANADA got the win with a bridging roll-up, keeping KENTA looking pretty strong while giving him the much needed 2 points.
Semi Main Event – G1 Climax 30 B Block – Tetsuya Naito vs Juice Robinson
Tetsuya Naito has done a great job at silencing his critics throughout this tournament (well, at least in my opinion). Every match he has had so far in the blocks has been at least good, with this contest against Juice being no exception.
The two men share great in-ring chemistry with one another. This was clear from the offset. Naito had a lot of fun with his opponent, mocking the stomp-clap routine with the LIJ chest pump at the start and mocking Juice’s JUICE chant later in the match—while having the Pluma Blanca locked in.
Juice put on an absolutely phenomenal performance here, too. He had many people, myself included, eating everything he did right up. He brought a fire that we hadn’t seen in a fair while. This was a different Juice, and it reflected the high stakes of the match. I found myself wanting The Flamboyant One to win, even as an ardent supporter of LIJ. After this match (and the strong tournament campaign he’s been having), I don’t think I’d be too against him being a bit closer to those main event spots. He’s more than earned it.
A great match came to a close with a great finish. Juice connected with a lot of his bigger moves, but Naito escaped Pulp Friction and hit a running Destino before wrapping up the arm to hit the full version to pick up the two points, taking his record to 5-1. This was the expected result. What wasn’t expected, however, was Naito needing three Destinos to keep Juice down. It was a great example of a wrestler getting hugely over in defeat; something that Juice will really benefit from moving forward after being more of an underdog before the lockdown.
Really great stuff.
Main Event – G1 Climax 30 B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL
The ultimate battle of (quite literally) good and evil. Judging by how this year has gone so far, we could’ve probably expected The King of Darkness to win.
What we likely didn’t expect, however, was the relatively decent match that we got.
Many people (myself included) expected this to be the EVIL snoozefest that we’ve gotten in nearly all of his matches since the restart. And, at some times, it was. The usual Togo interference was present throughout, but something felt different. His opponent.
Even in his declining physical state and slightly lower status, Tanahashi salvages things and makes them work. He’s still the ace. Still the quintessential wrestling good guy. He can get so much audience investment out of so many opponents. It was no different here.
Tana’s status as one of the more clean-cut good guys in the business juxtaposed his adversary’s position as one of the more chaotic heels really well, which allowed a pretty good match narrative to be built up. The finish kept both men looking good. Tanahashi fell victim (albeit indirectly) to the Dick Togo interference, being hit whilst perched on the top rope and being hit in the groin by the exposed turnbuckle. EVIL, to his credit, capitalised on things really quickly; hitting Darkness Falls (which was kicked out of) and EVERYTHING IS EVIL for the 3 count, picking up a huge win over The Ace ahead of the rematch with Tetsuya Naito at the end of this week.
Of course, this wasn’t the best match of either man’s campaign thus far. In my eyes, both had their best encounters on the first night of the B Block – with EVIL having a great outing against Zack Sabre Jr and Tanahashi writing a new chapter against old foe Naito. It was a decent, slightly uninspired main event. That’s perfectly fine.
While this was a weaker card on paper, the majority of matches on the show delivered. If you’re strapped for time and can only watch one match, I implore you to watch Zack and Yano, or perhaps Naito vs. Juice. No match was inherently bad though, which is good to see. A strong undercard, a decent main event, a brilliant opener. Not more you could ask for, really (well, the main event could’ve been better, but it was good for an EVIL match plagued by Dick Togo interference)
B Block have put on more of my personal favourite matches throughout this tournament, with some sleeper hits from the likes of YOSHI HASHI and EVIL, both of whom I don’t usually care for.
1. Kota Ibushi (4-2) (8 pts)
2. Jay White (4-2) (8 pts)
3. Will Ospreay (4-2) (8 pts)
4. Kazuchika Okada (4-2) (8 pts)
5. Taichi (3-3) (6 pts)
6. Minoru Suzuki (3-3) (6 pts)
7. Shingo Takagi (3-3) (6 pts)
8. Tomohiro Ishii (3-3) (6 pts)
9. Jeff Cobb (2-4) (4 pts)
10. Yujiro Takahashi (0-6) (0 pts)
1. Tetsuya Naito (5-1) (10 pts)
2. Juice Robinson (4-1) (8 pts)
3. EVIL (4-2) (8 pts)
4. Toru Yano (3-3) (6 pts)
5. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-2) (6 pts)
6. Hirooki Goto (3-3) (6 pts)
7. SANADA (3-3) (6 pts)
8. Zack Sabre Jr. (3-3) (6 pts)
9. KENTA (2-3) (4 pts)
10. YOSHI-HASHI (1-5) (2 pts)