By: Mark Buckeldee
Welcome to POST Wrestling’s report on G1 Climax 30 day 8. As October starts, New Japan presents this show from Ao-re Nagaoka in Nagaoka, Niigata. The crowd wasn’t the loudest, but they really got behind the main event.
The start of these Block B reviews will feature a short, spoiler-free summary for each match highlighting any matches that I recommend, highly recommend, or anything that is must-see. This should help give you, the reader, an idea for what is worth your time without spoiling any surprises for you.
- Yota Tsuji vs Gabriel Kidd –The longest Young Lions match so far. A little loose in the middle but some great opening hold work and an extravagant finishing run by Young Lion standards. – RECOMMENDED
- B Block – Juice Robinson vs Toru Yano – Robinson joins Yano for another episode of “things to do with tape.” This had some good reactions from Robinson
- B Block – Zack Sabre Jr vs Hirooki Goto – A sprint based on arm work vs big bombs, a refreshing change of pace. – RECOMMENDED
- B Block – YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – An even match where YOSHI-HASHI was booked to look like a match for his opponent. One of YOSHI-HASHI’s strongest looking performances. – RECOMMENDED
- B Block – KENTA vs EVIL – A heel vs heel match with no one for the crowd to root for and no one changing their strategy.
- B Block – Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA – Probably SANADA’s best match so far in the G1 but it was often aimless, clunky, and arguably Naito’s weakest match of the tournament.
Yota Tsuji vs Gabriel Kidd
The opening mat work was rather good with Kidd having a clear advantage. Even when Tsuji gained control with a leg lock Kidd quickly managed to work his way back on top. This was the most that Kidd or Uemura has dominated Tsuji so far. Tsuji used scoop slams to fight back, forcing Kidd to grab the ropes after a single-legged crab. Kidd’s Double Arm Suplex was countered into an Avalanche Hold by Tsuji. Kidd was the first to apply the Boston Crab, but Tsuji reached the ropes. Tsuji used a Big Back Body Drop to set up the Boston Crab on Kidd. After its role in his win the night before, Tsuji again went for a Giant Swing, but Kidd used it as a chance to escape. The time calls became more and more urgent as both wrestlers used impact moves before the time limit expired while Kidd had Tsuji in a small package.
Yota Tsuji vs Gabriel Kidd went to a time limit draw (15:00)
As the 1st time limit draw, this was obviously the longest Young Lions match so far and for the most part, it was quite good. The opening exchanges and mat work were great from Kidd and Tsuji looked good as well. Kidd has gained a lot by sprinkling in a few British Style touches to his grappling and I loved that he escaped a leg lock by grabbing Tsuji’s ankle instead of grabbing the ropes. The match got a little flabby in the middle but by the end, we got both wrestlers fighting off the Boston Crab. This was the most counter heavy Young Lions match so far and we had a hot finish with both wrestlers trying to steal a win in the dying seconds. It might not be my favorite Young Lion match so far but it’s in the top 4.
B Block – Juice Robinson vs Toru Yano
Yano dug into his bag of tricks today. He tried to steal the win early by giving Robinson a T-shirt and then spraying alcohol in his opponent’s eyes. Neither of those tactics worked and Robinson got his own back by emptying an alcohol spray bottle on Yano’s face. After trademark turnbuckle-pad buffoonery from Yano, Juice tore off the T-shirt that Yano gave him. There was a close count out spot as Robinson had his feet tied together and had to hop back to the ring. Yano running rings around a hopping Robinson might be my personal comedy highlight of Yano’s G1 this year. After an impressive Full Nelson slam from Robinson, the match ended with a roll-up. Except, this time, it was Robinson who used a pinning combination, having blocked Yano’s cradle with one of his own.
Juice Robinson pinned Toru Yano (6:42)
This was a decent comedy match thanks to Robinson’s reactions and some of the taped leg spots. Other than that, this felt like Yano playing his greatest, with a lot of the spots being very reminiscent of Yano vs Moxley or Yano vs Omega.
B Block – Zack Sabre Jr vs Hirooki Goto
From the start, it was obvious that neither wrestler was going to drag this one out as Sabre Jr quickly went for a Jujigatame. Goto used some big chops but he only used his left arm. Sabre Jr controlled the match as he targeted the arm before Goto absorbed a Penalty Kick and hit back with a desperate right arm Lariat. That was the only time that Goto used the right arm to hit Sabre Jr. Goto chained some big bombs together, but Sabre Jr countered the GTR into a European Clutch for a very quick win.
Zack Sabre Jr pinned Hirooki Goto (3:59)
It’s nice when we get the occasional sprint in the G1 Climax. This felt like a breath of fresh air with a quick pace and a clear but simple story. It was actually the shortest match of the G1 so far, even shorter than Yano vs EVIL. Goto did a great job switching to left-handed strikes and only used his right arm for the main turning point of the match. There was a lot left on the table, but this was a refreshing change of pace.
B Block – YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match started with basic chain wrestling before Tanahashi hit the reverse crossbody really early. YOSHI-HASHI then hit a surprise dragon screw and briefly targeted the leg. YOSHI-HASHI showed a couple of flashes of ring smarts, like dodging a dropkick to the knee. After a chop exchange, Tanahashi tried to end it early but a High Fly Flow met a pair of knees. A forearm exchange was won by YOSHI-HASHI after he out slapped the Ace.
We then got a long Butterfly lock sequence. While I hate how he executes the move I did like that YOSHI-HASHI converted into a Kimura. I also loved that he decided to break the hold before Tanahashi reached the ropes and hit a Backcracker instead of letting his opponent get some rest with the rope break. It was a rare bit of good ring psychology from him. The match moved into a cavalcade of dramatic near falls, including 2 well-timed roll-ups. Eventually, though, Tanahashi was just too good and he won the match with 2 High Fly Flows
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned YOSHI-HASHI (18:41)
I would have expected YOSHI-HASHI to be the underdog here, but that wasn’t the case. YOSHI-HASHI has been booked strong throughout the G1, often getting long periods of control, and being made to look like one of the better strikers in the B block. While I think it doesn’t play to his strengths, I do get why he isn’t playing the underdog. After all, how far can an underdog match go when the crowd is unable to scream for someone to overcome the odds.
This was probably YOSHI-HASHI’s best match in the G1 this year (I still prefer his match vs Kenny Omega). Tanahashi helped smooth over some of the cracks and it was constantly competitive, with Tanahashi using more chops than I can ever recall. It built well with another strong YOSHI-HASHI finishing run before Tanahashi finally succeeded.
B Block – KENTA vs EVIL
This started out with KENTA calling for the Too Sweet, but EVIL chose to do it with Dick Togo instead. This started like most KENTA matches, with him stalling on the outside before dominating. Like most of EVIL’s matches so far, his big turning point was when Togo interfered for him. It says something when one of your big heels needs to rely on his manager early on in almost every match. This honestly felt like both KENTA and EVIL’s standard matches stitched together, except that EVIL briefly targeted the shoulder. After a clumsy ref bump KENTA hit’s EVIL with the US Championship title-shot briefcase. Not only did the spot only generate a near fall after 2 other moves but it looked very weak. That spot was definitely nowhere near its ancestor from KENTA vs SUWA in September 2005. Eventually, Dick Togo got involved, EVIL hit a low blow and then got the win with the EVIL.
EVIL pinned KENTA (15:40)
This was a dull heel vs heel match that got way too much time. They made no real concessions to adapting and basically stitched their usual matches together. It says something that EVIL applying a meaningless Fujiwara armbar stood out for me in this match. This was pretty skippable, and it didn’t even seem ill-natured enough to be a tease to some kind of drama in the Bullet Club.
B Block – Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA
The match started with some respectful chain wrestling before SANADA countered Naito’s Tranquilo pose and Naito dodged a Plancha. Naito was the 1st to get down to business and he went back to his numero uno strategy: working the neck to set up the Destino. The crowd was firmly behind SANADA as he was dominated by Naito before the momentum changed with a dropkick to the knee. This was the only time that SANADA attacked the knee. The match then moved into both wrestlers using their big signature moves, including SANADA using what’s best described as a top rope Randy Orton Backbreaker.
The pace suddenly accelerated, and the match entered “counter mode” with fast, occasionally clunky counters. It slowed down again with a long Skull End sequence where Naito eventually popped his head out and SANADA reapplied it. In typical SANADA fashion, he then released the hold to go for a Moonsault, which missed. Again. The Destino countering portion was ugly at times before SANADA countered Valentina with his own Destino. This let SANADA hit 2 consecutive Moonsaults to win the match and end the last undefeated streak in G1 Climax 30.
SANADA pinned Tetsuya Naito (27:08)
This was probably SANADA’s best match so far. In my opinion, it was also Naito’s worst match so far. SANADA has a lot of skill, athleticism, and talent but he just can’t seem to make it work. It really does not help that the Skull End is a key part of his offense and it just looks awful. He can do all the counter chaining that you want but when the end result is the Skull End it just sucks out a lot of the drama.
The match was decent and both wrestlers put in a lot of effort with all the usual signature spots except for the Paradise Lock, which has been dropped since it cost SANADA against Yano. In this G1 it has been treated like the Marco Boogers of wrestling moves. The match felt aimless before the finishing stretch and clunky afterward, with some obvious indecisiveness and clumsiness in the last few minutes. Many people will like this match but to me, it felt soulless and the Skull End was a big part of that. I will say that I did love the finishing combination that SANADA used, almost like he was channeling 1990’s Keiji Mutoh.
Overall, this was a good show with a disappointing finish. I don’t think it had the highs of the previous B block shows but it had some good variety in the 1st 4 matches. Unless you like SANADA I’d recommend watching those 4 matches and then moving on to something else.