Photography via New Japan Pro-Wrestling
The lesson on night two of G1 Climax 3o is do not sleep on the B Block. Although “B” may come after “A” in the alphabet, during G1, the B can do more than just follow the A-side.
Vinyl music records back in the day often contained two songs. One song on the A-side, and the another on the B-side. Sometimes songs on B-sides are even better than the A-sides.
The first night of G1 macthups from B Block were not only as good as night one of A Block, but the B Block matches on Sunday in Osaka were possibly even better. Headlining on the second night in EDION Arena was a clash between NJPW’s “Ace” and its reigning double champion.
The Ballad of The Ace & The Destino
Hiroshi Tanahashi finds himself in the B Block after years of being A-level talent, but he proved on Sunday that he, in many ways, is still the Ace of New Japan.
Even in defeat, Tanahashi took a victory over his doubters looking dismiss him as an aging star. Although he lost the match, his loss came at the hands of the top singles champion.
Tetsuya Naito currently holds both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles. The double champion headlined the first night of B Block with a win over Tanahashi in a non-title tournament bout.
Tanahashi spent much of the match working over a leg, and Naito focused on his opponent’s neck. Dragon screws and a cloverleaf leglock punished Naito’s knee, and Tanahashi seemingly had victory within reach. His momentum began to unravel after a trifecta of Twist and Shout suplexes. Tanahashi executed the moves fine, but he paused afterwards to sell his neck.
A few Slingblades later, and Tanahashi was bounding to the top rope for High Fly Flow. He connected, but immediately went for another instead of going for a cover. Naito rolled out of the way, and Tanahashi missed the second attempt of his signature flying body press. That was the beginning of the end.
Naito capitalized to deliver Destino. Though Tanahashi kicked out and blocked a second attempted Destino, Naito nonetheless spiked him with a piledriver. Another Destino came soon thereafter, and Naito covered Tanahashi for the deciding pinfall. Flirting with the 30 minute time limit, the excellent match went just over 27 minutes.
The ring psychology was great in this main event. The semi-main before it played on a different sense of psychology in telling an underdog story. Fighting to overcome underhanded tactics was a technical wrestling wizard, Zack Sabre Jr.
ZSJ Overcomes EVIL and Outside Interference
Sabre from the start was fighting a numbers game. Outnumbered and under attack from outside interference by Dick Togo at ringside, Sabre fought back against EVIL. Sabre would duke it out toe-to-toe with EVIL, only for the villain to cheat with eye rakes and such.
The referee went down in the closing moments, and Togo jumped into the ring after the ref bump. Sabre thwarted his interference. Despite being thrown into an exposed turnbuckles seconds later, Sabre in the closing moments managed to counter EVIL’s finisher.
Sabre defeated EVIL with a bridging cradle out of nowhere. The pinfall caught EVIL by surprise, and no measure of cheating nor Bullet Club interference, could stop the three count. Overall a really good match in spite of the ref bump and outside interference, which has become far too common in Bullet Club matches.
While the Bullet Club faction suffered a setback in the semi-main event, the stable did can claim one win in the tournament thanks to KENTA.
KENTA Submits Goto in Grappling Battle
Hirooko Goto fought valiantly, but KENTA was able to defeat Goto in a bout third from the top of the card. The grappling battle went to the mat throughout the match, and ultimately ended on the mat.
Goto was able several times to counter Go To Sleep, but in the dramatic finish KENTA applied a LeBell Lock. Struggling for the ropes, Goto almost reached the bottom cable when KENTA rolled them back towards the middle of the ring. KENTA kept cranking on the submission hold, and Goto tapped out.
SANADA Struggles With Yano Tricks
Toru Yano in his first G1 bout this year managed to eke out a win over SANADA via countout. The referee in their short comedy match confiscated several rolls of tape from Yano. Ever the trickster, he still found a way to use tape.
SANADA outside the ring tied up Yano in the Paradise Lock, but Yuya Uemura freed Yano. SANADA went to tie up Uemura in the Paradise Lock, and the tricky Yano taped their legs together. SANADA with his ankle taped to Uemura was unable to break the count.
Juice Returns Against YOSHI-HASHI
In his return to having matches in Japan, Juice Robinson defeated YOSHI-HASHI in a really good bout that kicked off the B Block action on Sunday. Juice even sported a new look that fit his “Flamboyant” nickname. At times he looked like a psychedelic Blues Brother, and at others he looked like a maniacal Jack Nicholson ready to scream “Here’s Johnny!”
Both Robinson and YOSHI-HASHI both showed a lot of fire. Juice was as charismatic as ever, and he got the crowd behind him with a simple beat of foot stomps and hand claps he established at the opening bell. The Left Hand of God and a Pulp Friction led to Juice scoring the pinfall.
The card itself opened with a non-tournament match featuring Young Lions where Yota Tsuiji submitted Gabriel Kidd in a great opener. They created drama using basic wrestling holds and moves, and it was strong stuff. Tsuiji eventually was able to apply a Boston crab in the middle of the ring, and Kidd tapped out.
G1 now moves to the northernmost prefecture in Japan for two nights in Hokkaido on Wednesday and Thursday.
G1 Standings After Night Two:
- Kota Ibushi — 2 points (1-0 record)
- Jay White — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Minoru Suzuki — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Taichi — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Will Ospreay — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Yujiro Takahashi — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Jeff Cobb — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Tomohiro Ishii — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Shingo Takagi — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Kazuchika Okada — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Tetsuya Naito — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Zack Sabre Jr. — 2 pts. (1-0)
- KENTA — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Toru Yano — 2 pts. (1-0)
- Juice Robinson — 2 pts. (1-0)
- YOSHI-HASHI — 0 pts. (0-1)
- SANADA — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Hirooki Goto — 0 pts. (0-1)
- EVIL — 0 pts. (0-1)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi — 0 pts. (0-1)
Night Two Results:
- Yota Tsuji defeated Gabriel Kidd via submission (non-tournament match)
- Juice Robinson defeated YOSHI-HASHI via pinfall
- Toru Yano defeated SANADA via countout
- KENTA defeated Hirooki Goto via submission
- Zack Sabre Jr. defeated EVIL via pinfall
- Tetsuya Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall
Next shows: Wednesday & Thursday in Hokkaido at Hokkai Kitayell (Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center), and both cards start at 2:30 AM PDT/5:30 AM EDT/10:30 AM BST
September 23rd Lineup
- Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White
- Tomohiro Ishii vs. Will Ospreay
- Minoru Suzuki vs. Taichi
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Yujiro Takahashi
- Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi
- Yuya Uemura vs. Gabriel Kidd (non-tournament)
September 24th Lineup:
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- EVIL vs. YOSHI-HASHI
- Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano
- Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA
- Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura (non-tournament)