G1 Climax 31 Day 13 Report: Ibushi vs. Great O-Khan, Takagi vs. Loa

Originally published at G1 Climax 31 Day 13 Report: Ibushi vs. Great O-Khan, Takagi vs. Loa

G1 Climax 31 Day 13 Report: Ibushi vs. Great O-Khan, Takagi vs. Loa

By: Mark Buckeldee

Welcome to this POST Wrestling report for night 13 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 31.

These A Block reports are designed to make it as easy as possible for you to cherry-pick the best matches. To do that we have spoiler-free reviews for each match at the start of the report

G1 Climax 31 Night 13 was a return to Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka.

  1. Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado –
  2. Hiromu Takahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii – An action-packed; bomb filled hard-hitting affair that highlighted why Hiromu Takahashi should have been in the G1 – RECOMMENDED
  3. G1 Climax 31 A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs KENTA – Lots of chippiness and some great grappling but this was too long – RECOMMENDED
  4. G1 Climax 31 A Block: Toru Yano vs Yujiro Takahashi – A good start and finish with a ropey middle. Should have been 4 minutes long.
  5. G1 Climax 31 A Block: Shingo Takagi vs Tanga Loa – A good, hard-hitting match. Loa again looked good, but this felt like a low-end Takagi single match.
  6. G1 Climax 31 A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Great O-Khan – A kickboxing and grappling heavy match, another interesting look at O-Khan but not good enough to seek out unless you’re curious.

Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado

This was the first tag team match on this G1 Climax tour. Oiwa started with Kanemaru, with Oiwa managing to ground Kanemaru and looking strong. Fujita tagged in and controlled Kanemaru with a headlock before Oiwa tagged back in and they used a double shoulder tackle. Eventually, Kanemaru escaped the headlock with a backdrop suplex and tagged in El Desperado.

Desperado and Kanemaru isolated Oiwa, with Kanemaru, suplexing and slamming Oiwa. Desperado blocked a slam attempt by Oiwa, and they fought over a waistlock before Oiwa hit a gut wrench suplex. Fujita tagged in and took it to Desperado with forearms and a dropkick. He tried to apply the Boston Crab, turning Desperado over by kicking him in the back. Desperado used a back body drop on Fujita to regain control before locking in the Indian Deathlock. Oiwa made the save and Fujita came close with a small package. A fired-up Fujita slapped Desperado full force, so the veteran quickly took him down and locked in the Numero Dos to make Fujita tap out.

El Desperado submitted Kosei Fujita via Numero Dos (9:31)

El Desperado has been great against these Young Lions, and this was more of the same. I like how they took advantage of the Young Lion’s amateur wrestling background and let them look strong with the basic holds. This was simple but both Young Lions looked good here. I loved the finish with Fujita showing fire and Desperado immediately shutting him down. I just want to see Desperado work with these Young Lions a lot more, as he seems to know how to get the best out of them.

Hiromu Takahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii

This started with a quick pace before Hiromu tried to beat Ishii with power, only for Ishii to repeatedly knock him down with shoulder tackles. Every time Hiromu tried to fight back with overhand chops Ishii just shut him down with chops. Hiromu gained space with a flying head scissors and a running dropkick, getting a two-count with a Falcon Arrow. They traded forearms and Ishii appeared to be in trouble before he took exception to Hiromu’s attitude. Ishii just absorbed Hiromu’s forearms, only to eat a release German suplex and a running dropkick. Hiromu went for a sunset powerbomb to the outside, but Ishii blocked it, so Hiromu hit a DVD on the apron instead.

Back in the ring, Ishii managed to hit a backdrop suplex. Hiromu used the Dynamite Plunger, but Ishii kicked out at 2. A sliding Lariat by Ishii earned him a two count. Hiromu ended a sequence with what looked like a wheelbarrow bulldog, but Ishii landed right on his head in a scary way. Ishii came back with a German suplex but got hit with a superkick. Hiromu hit the victory royal and a DVD in the corner, before using the Timebomb for a big near fall. Ishii escaped a Time Bomb 2 but got clattered with a Hiromu Lariat for another near fall. Ishii managed to hit a Lariat, but Hiromu got back to his feet before being downed by another Ishii Lariat, with Hiromu only just kicking out. Hiromu countered a Brainbuster with a small package. Ishii only just kicked out before turning Hiromu inside out with another Lariat and pinning him with a Brainbuster.

Tomohiro Ishii pinned Hiromu Takahashi via Brainbuster (18:13)

This is a good example of why people were disappointed that Hiromu was not in the G1 Climax. This match was a hard-hitting affair full of hard strikes and bombs. Hiromu felt completely at home in this match, and it was easily the best non-tournament match on the tour. It would easily be in the top third for the A Block matches. They just went out there and did violence unto each other. There was a scary moment when Ishii landed on his head, and Hiromu took some gnarly bumps, but other than that this was the kind of action that people have come to expect from the G1 Climax. It was a great match and well worth your time. It reminded me of why I like Hiromu after feeling indifferent to him in recent weeks.

G1 Climax 31 A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs KENTA

The match started with strikes before Sabre Jr turned a KENTA kick into a heel hold. Sabre Jr attacked KENTA’s taped left leg before mockingly kicking KENTA in the knee. That earned Sabre Jr a slap, so he went back to the leg. Sabre Jr applied a series of submissions to the leg, forcing KENTA to grab the ropes. KENTA fired back with hard kicks to the chest before throwing Sabre Jr around at ringside. Back in the ring KENTA mockingly kicked away at Sabre Jr, who fired up with a European uppercut before getting caught with a knee to the gut. KENTA repeatedly threw Sabre Jr into an exposed turnbuckle. Sabre Jr managed to fight back with a half hatch suplex and a dropkick to the head. After getting time to rest he used a cunning counter to set up a neck twist, and then followed that with another neck twist.

They traded more strikes before Sabre Jr ran into a powerslam. KENTA then used the tornado neck snap – Diving Clothesline combination, but Sabre Jr reached the ropes before KENTA could lock in GAME OVER. Sabre Jr escaped the green killer DDT by using an Octopus stretch in the ropes before stomping on KENTA’s arm. KENTA eventually fought his way out of an arm wringer and hit the Green killer DDT. He followed that with a hesitation dropkick and a top rope double stomp, but Sabre Jr kicked out. Sabre Jr applied the Cobra Twist and they traded submissions until Sabre Jr applied a double armbar, only for KENTA to reach the ropes. The Japanese Leg Roll Clutch nearly won Sabre Jr the match. KENTA landed a Busaiku knee, but Sabre Jr countered a second one into a heel hold which forced KENTA to reach the ropes.

Sabre Jr continued attacking the leg, but an overconfident Penalty Kick let KENTA slap him silly and hit a rolling clothesline. A KENTA buzzsaw kick was converted into a cross heel hold out of nowhere, which became a modified leg splitter. Somehow KENTA reached the ropes. Sabre Jr repeatedly kicked away at the leg before countering a Go to Sleep attempt into the European Clutch. KENTA then destroyed Sabre Jr with repeated slaps, but the Go to Sleep was blocked and turned into an Ankle lock. KENTA pushed Sabre Jr off into an exposed turnbuckle and hit the Go to Sleep to win the match.

KENTA pinned Zack Sabre Jr via Go to Sleep (22:14)

This was another great match on the first half of this show. It went too long, but it almost feels like I can say that about any tournament match at this point. These two had great chemistry and I loved this when Sabre Jr focused on the leg. It was a little more aimless than usual from Sabre Jr at times, and KENTA’s mid-match high spots feel uninteresting in a G1 setting. If I wanted to be critical then I will say that I didn’t notice much leg selling from KENTA. I liked the finishing stretch and how they naturally set up Sabre Jr going into the exposed turnbuckle. Using that spot to set up a Go to Sleep was such a better finish than the KENTA schoolboy special. I also appreciated the lack of a long ref bump spot.

G1 Climax 31 A Block: Toru Yano vs Yujiro Takahashi

Yujiro started the match by booting Yano off the apron and hitting a Tope Suicida before tying Yano up with a roll of tape. Yano freed himself and avoided a count-out. Meanwhile, Yujiro struggled to remove a turnbuckle pad, so he removed all the other ones. Yano got whipped into the exposed turnbuckles. Yujiro then used his stick on the outside. Yano used trickery to fight back before hitting a belly-to-belly suplex. Yujiro used a Fisherman’s Buster for a two count. Yano used a low-blow schoolboy, but Yujiro grabbed the referee on the way down. Yujiro repaid the favor by low blowing Yano. Both Yano and Yujiro end up under the ring, with Yujiro chasing Yano. The referee started the count and Yano emerged while Yujiro was handcuffed and counted out.

Toru Yano beat Yujiro Takahashi via count out (10:23)

This was not bad enough to call it bad, but it dragged. There were some good moments in this match, mostly at the start and the end. Honestly, most of the turnbuckle pad stuff could easily have been cut out and this would have been a good 4-minute Yano match. In previous G1’s this match would have been shorter than the time it took Yujiro to try and remove that first turnbuckle pad.

G1 Climax 31 A Block: Shingo Takagi vs Tanga Loa

The match started with both wrestlers unloading with forearms. Shingo Takagi took Tanga Loa down with a shoulder tackle before applying a rear waist lock and a body scissors. Loa fought back and they traded forearms on the apron before Loa dropped Takagi back first onto the apron. A senton atomico and standing Moonsault earned Loa a two count. Takagi used a suplex, but Loa popped back up and hit a shoulder tackle. Loa dominated Takagi, getting a two-count with a running powerslam. Takagi fought back with a DDT, a clothesline in the corner, and a vertical suplex. A German suplex attempt by Takagi was blocked, and Loa hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Loa got another two count with a sit-out powerbomb

Takagi escaped a running powerslam but got caught on the top rope and was hit with a top rope powerslam. It looked like Loa slipped but they landed safely. Takagi blocked a spear and escaped the Apeshit, hitting a sliding Lariat. He followed that with a top rope superplex. Loa withstood a Pumping Bomber and a Yukon Lariat before hitting a Spear. Takagi countered a powerbomb into a Frankensteiner and nailed Loa with a Pumping Bomber. Loa won a forearm exchange with a surprise headbutt to the jaw. After a long fight over the Apeshit Takagi hit the GTR and the Last of the Dragon to pin Loa.

Shingo Takagi pinned Tanga Loa via Last of the Dragon (19:08)

After what I felt was a poor match against Yuji Nagata, Tanga Loa has bounced back in the G1. While his performance here was not as good as the Ibushi match, he still looked good and showed a lot of fire. There are still some things that could be improved, but he has been better than I expected and deserves praise for that.

This match was quite simple, and not one of Takagi’s better G1 matches. They did some decent work around the midsection but ultimately this was a paint-by-numbers Shingo Takagi match. It was good but it will soon fade in the memory as nothing made it stand out aside from the top rope powerslam.

G1 Climax 31 A Block: Kota Ibushi vs Great O-Khan

After a cagey start, O-Khan took a glancing blow thanks to an Ibushi head kick. O-Khan tried to match Ibushi in a kickboxing style exchange, but it was clear that this didn’t play to O-Khan’s strengths and that stood out compared to Ibushi’s natural ease with this style. When things went to the mat O-Khan looked stronger as he relied on his amateur wrestling background. Both wrestlers tried for spinning back chops and Ibushi took O-Khan down with a Judo throw. Again, O-Khan soon gained an upper hand on the mat. O-Khan tried some stranger techniques before taking Ibushi down with a kneebar. Ibushi reached the ropes, but O-Khan again took down Ibushi, this time using a modified STO and his head & arm hold.

Ibushi fought back with a series of hard leg kicks and a Figure four leg lock. O-Khan made the ropes and hit an Ippon-Zeoi before downing Ibushi with a big straight punch. He followed that by locking in a calf killer, but Ibushi got into a mounted position, and they traded strikes. O-Khan got the best of that and hammered away at Ibushi in the corner. Ibushi got annoyed by that, unleashing a flurry of straight-armed palm strikes and a Boma Ye. O-Khan escaped a full nelson and rolled through into an ankle hold. Ibushi got to his feet and nearly took O-Khans head off with a vicious knee strike. O-Khan avoided the Kami-Go-Ye, but Ibushi got a near fall with a high kick to the head. Again, Ibushi’s Kami-Go-Ye was blocked, this time with a claw to the knee. It wasn’t enough as Ibushi hit the Kami-Go-Ye at the third time of asking and won the match.

 

Kota Ibushi pinned Great O-Khan by Kami-Go-Ye (20:22)

Many wrestlers approach their first G1 by sticking to their best formula. O-Khan has decided to try and adapt to his opponents, so we have seen him have some vastly different matches. That was the case here. The opening kickboxing segments were not great as it was clear that O-Khan did not have a lot of practice with making this look good. He often looked ropey and showed his back a lot. His grappling and takedown sequences were much better. He felt confident and I like how he used some new elements like the straight-armed punch. The match started slow, but the second half was exciting and had some great ideas and moments.

This match felt like O-Khan trying new ideas and I would love to see him add elements from this to his regular matches, things like the Ippon-Zeoi or the calf killer. I would not call this a great match, but I have a lot more hope for O-Khan as his matches with Ishii, Sabre Jr & now Ibushi has shown that he has a lot of interesting elements that could be pieced together to make a great wrestler. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of faith in New Japan’s ability to let wrestlers play to their strengths.

Show Summary

Talking with Ian Hamilton of 411-Mania and Big Back Body Drop, he called this possibly the best top to bottom show in the G1. While I do not know if I will go that far, it was an above-average 2021 New Japan show. Both Hiromu-Ishii and KENTA-Sabre Jr were great. Loa-Takagi was good and while I disliked the start, I came out of Ibushi-O-Khan with a lot of positivity. It’s still not a show that lives up to pre-COVID G1’s but sadly I don’t think that this is possible in the current environment. There was more to enjoy here than on other shows, but this show is not going to change anyone’s minds about anything.

2 Likes

Not sure if it beats Night 10 but this was definitely my favourite A block card thus far. I really enjoyed the change of pace in the main event, and even if all of the spots and transitions weren’t incredibly fluid, I like how O-Khan’s presence seems to stir up his opponents. Also, off the top of my head I can’t think of a better KENTA match in NJPW.

2 Likes