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NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING G1 CLIMAX 30 – DAY 18
OCTOBER 17, 2020
TOKYO, JAPAN AT RYOGOKU KOKUGIKAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) GABRIEL KIDD vs. YUYA UEMURA
The show kicked off with a Young Lion battle between Kidd and Uemura, essentially for second place in the “C Block” after Tsuji’s strong showing in the tournament openers. Rocky Romero mentioned that David Finlay, the “C Block Chairman” had the trophy enroute for the winner. Kidd and Uemura started with a test of strength via a Greco-Roman knuckle lock mid-ring which Uemura took the early advantage. Uemura continued his advantage with a focus on the left arm of Kidd, and was relentless with his wrist control throughout.
Kidd did not go away quietly however, with toeholds and hamstring stretches as his weapons against Uemura. Kidd locked Uemura into a leglock / butterfly combination that finally transitioned into a single leg crab until a rope break. Both men then exchanged tight roll ups. The finish came when Gabriel Kidd hit a dropkick out of nowhere and his butterfly suplex for the pin.
WINNER: Gabriel Kidd by pinfall (Butterfly Suplex) in 8:16 (***)
(Fann’s Analysis: Like Romero, I’ve been impressed throughout the tournament with the Young Lions, and how much growth this month has afforded their development. Kidd and Uemura despite falling short in the “C Block” clearly are taking the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and bringing themselves into conversation for whatever excursion situation occurs in this environment.)
(2) TORU YANO vs. YOSHI-HASHI – Block B Match
This next match was an inter-Chaos matchup – and the question whether Yoshi-Hashi would get his second win. Yoshi-Hashi opened with the removal of all the extra tape and shenanigans equipment Yano brought to the ring. Both men brawled outside, where Yoshi-Hashi taped Yano to Yoshi-Hashi’s bo staff against the railing. Yano squeezed amazingly through the railing and made it into the ring by 15 count. Yano attempted several quick pins and his patented groin kick was blocked by Yoshi-Hashi for the pinfall.
WINNER: Yoshi-Hashi by pinfall (Roll Up) in 6:10 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Yoshi-Hashi’s win got him to 4 points, and I enjoyed the strong showing the six-man champ had in this G-1 after not featuring in 2019. Chaos being aware of Yano’s chicanery is always a fun aspect of these matches.)
(3) JUICE ROBINSON vs. HIROOKI GOTO – Block B Match
The battle in this match was between men who had suffered big injuries in the tournament – Goto this year, and Juice two years ago. The camera caught a fan that was dressed in a complete Juice Robinson appreciation outfit in the crowd, which is always nice. Juice began the match focused on the injured shoulder of Goto, with the claps of the fans echoing as Juice pushed his advantage.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton praised the fans for maintaining the rules established by the Japanese government to allow supporters during matches. An attack in the corner from Juice was countered with a backdrop by Goto, but Goto couldn’t stop Robinson’s corner cannonball. Juice hit a superplex but couldn’t follow with the Jackhammer, as Goto slammed Robinson’s head across the knee to drop both men. Back on their feet, both men delivered a series of double clotheslines to each other, but neither man went down until Goto changed things up and slipped an Ushigoroshi onto Robinson. After an exchange of finisher attempts, Goto slipped a Shibata like sleeper onto Robinson, who fought out and hit a Left Hand of God. Robinson waited for Goto to get up and hit a second Left Hand of God and Pulp Friction to get the win.
WINNER: Juice Robinson by pinfall (Pulp Friction) in 12:07 (***)
(Fann’s Analysis: Solid match with a clunky Pulp Friction to end the proceedings. Robinson ends with 8 points as does Goto. Post match, the look of frustrated respect on Goto’s face as he departed was a great juxtaposition from the joy of Juice as he celebrated with the fans.)
(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. ZACK SABRE JR. – Block B Match
Tanahashi and ZSJ continued their battles from the IWGP Tag title scene as well as their many battles in the UK and NJPW. And as their tradition this match started with a strong mat based exchange. Chris Charlton noted that Tanahashi, like his mentor has moved into the Mutoh role of elder statesman that holds off the youth in these tournaments. Kelly also noted that ZSJ’s knee was a focus of this match entirely because of the work done during the tag title battles Ibushi and Tanahashi had with Dangerous Tekkers. ZSJ finally got in charge via focus on Tanahashi’s neck area, as Tanahashi fought to regain control. Sabre Jr. transitioned from a leg based neck crank to the cravate and a cobra twist, until Tanahashi reversed the twist.
Tanahashi then took over and focused on both ZSJ knees via dragon screw legwhips. A ZSJ PK attempt was countered with a sling blade, and Tanahashi got the crowd fired up. ZSJ moved out of the way of an Aces High, but Tanahashi rolled him up for a 10(!!) count. ZSJ was beside himself for being pinned for that long as Tanahashi stared down his vanquished opponent.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi by pinfall (Rolling clutch hold) in 12:01 (***1/2)
(Fann’s Analysis: Shorter than some of their normal matches, but this was a great balanced technical spectacle. ZSJ’s offense to Tanahashi’s length of the pin was a great touch, as the disdain the two have held in matches over the years has spilled into their matches each time.)
(5) TETSUYA NAITO vs. KENTA – Block B Match
Kenta entered the match out of contention, but can eliminate Naito from the final with a win. Both men opened with mind games and delayed time to first contact to unnerve their competition. The match proper focused on Naito wearing Kenta’s arms and neck and Kenta stalled and begged to get space.
This plan worked perfectly, as with the ref otherwise engaged, Kenta brained Naito with the U.S. Title briefcase as Naito reached outside of the ring to grab Kenta. Kenta then worked Naito into the barricades and mocked the crowd. Back in the ring, Kenta got a two count on a body press, but really focused on transitioning back to Naito’s head and neck for Game Over or GTS. Naito got back into the match with Combinacion Gabron, and used the crucifix as a submission attempt to wear down both the shoulders and neck of Kenta. Rocky Romero noted that Naito may be playing for the draw, and Kevin Kelly followed that the confidence Naito showed in his wrestling this G-1 has been remarkable.
After a failed Gloria attempt by Naito, Kenta ascended to the top rope and hit a clothesline for a solid two count. A turn in the match came when Kenta hit a ridiculously vicious knee to Naito’s head from the ground, and Naito countered with a poisoned rana and a series of elbows to the head of Kenta. Both men had little regard for the other person’s vertebrae from this point on in the match. Naito hit a high angle Gloria for a two count, and the fans began to clap furiously. Kenta countered a Naito rope attack with the Dream Killer, and a busaiku knee for 2.9.
The finish came as Naito went for Destino, but ate several backfists from Kenta – until Naito hit Valentia. As Naito set up for Destino, Kenta snuck an inside cradle for the flash pin.
Naito was distraught as the announcer stated that regardless of the main event result, Naito had been eliminated from the G-1 Final.
WINNER: Kenta by pinfall (Inside Cradle) in 21:06 (****1/4)
(Fann’s Analysis: Kenta in the corner counting three in the background as Naito rolled out of the ring completely spent was a perfect visual. The smugness of Kenta being a thief of joy to the desired Hiromu-Naito match at Wrestle Kingdom within LIJ was a phenomenal touch.)
(6) SANADA vs. EVIL (w/”The Spoiler” Dick Togo) – Block B Match
Chris Charlton set the stage – a draw, no-contest or win gets Evil into the final, and Sanada’s only path is victory.
Sanada had to endure Evil’s early powders to the outside – as did Hiromu, who was still ringside for commentary. Evil began to harass his former faction teammate, but Hiromu refused to take the bait. Finally back in the ring, Evil attempted Everything is Evil, but Sanada blocked and sent Evil back outside. Evil continued to bait Sanada into coming outside but Sanada would not, until Dick Togo interjected himself opposite Evil outside of the ring. As is traditional is Evil matches now, chairs a-plenty were used outside while Red Shoes was distracted by Togo. These tactics took over the middle portion of the match, until Sanada was sick of Togo’s antics and brought the Spoiler into the ring. Sanada put Togo in the Paradise Lock and dared Evil to come back into the ring. Both Evil and Togo were put in the hold to the cheers of the crowd – and Rocky fairly pointed out that Togo would be better served locked in the hold for the duration of the match.
As the match heated up, a Sanada moonsault was missed and both men laid on the mat exhausted. Evil moved to a corner to allow Togo to coach him up, and then from there Evil focused on the back of Sanada. Evil hit Sanada with a backbreaker, then threw him into the exposed turnbuckle for a near fall. Evil hit a superplex and immediately followed with the Scorpion Deathlock. Evil hit Darkness Falls for a 2.9 count and Evil’s annoyed face gave away his frustration.
Sanada and Evil traded finisher attempts, until Sanada hooked in Skull End in the middle of the ring. Evil pulled on Sanada’s ears and hair to temporarily escape, but Sanada instead returned to the hold long enough to set up his moonsaults to the back and front of Evil. However, before Sanada could get the pin, Togo pulled the ref out of the ring and came in the ring with a chair. Togo and Evil hit Magic Killer on Sanada, and Hiromu came into the ring to help his LIJ teammate. Hiromu however got a low blow from Togo and also ate a Magic Killer, then was thrown outside. Togo then rolled Red Shoes back into the ring, only for Sanada to attempt the third flash pin of the night – but Evil kicked out. Togo again tried to help out with the garrote, but Hiromu superkicked him off the apron, and when Evil ran in to attack Sanada, Sanada rolled Evil up for the third such victory of the evening – and B Block of the G-1 30.
WINNER: Sanada by pinfall (O’Connor Roll) in 27:01 (****)
(Fann’s Analysis: The battle of my dear sons EVIL and SANADA was a struggle at times in the middle with the interference and the shenanigans, but SANADA now has an opportunity to have a strong G-1 final with Ibushi. Evil moves on to the continued Bullet Club strife and we’ll see if that leads to Gedo or Togo gaining ultimate control via their charges – Jay White or Evil.)
FINAL THOUGHTS (8.0): Solid B block finale that was highlighted by a series of sudden wins (3 of the 5 matches), the Naito-Kenta match to me was the best of the night, followed by the main event and ZSJ-Tanahashi. An Ibushi-Sanada finale looms tomorrow, where hopefully Sanada can prove he belongs on that stage.
Contact Rich at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.