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NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING G1 CLIMAX 31 – DAY 7
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) YUJIRO TAKAHASHI vs. BUSHI – Non-Tournament Match
Takahashi dominates with power over the smaller Bushi throughout the early part of the match. He tries for a handful of covers, but only gets two counts. Eventually, Bushi gains momentum with a basement dropkick and follows that with a suicide dive through the ropes. Bushi connects with a neck breaker and makes the cover, but only gets a two count. Bushi continues with his offense including a missile dropkick off of the top rope. In the end, Takahashi hits Bushi with Big Juice and covers for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Takahashi via pinfall
(Heydorn’s Analysis: Slow paced throughout and A to B in nature in terms of the psychology of a heavyweight wrestler facing off against a junior heavyweight.)
(2) TANGA LOA vs. ISHII – A Block Match
The match begins with a pseudo test of strength featuring combating shoulder tackles from each man on the other. Both men stare each other down and then exchange strikes in the middle of the ring. This goes on for a long time and until Tanga Loa finally gets the upper hand and drops Ishii to the mat. Ishii rolls out of the ring and Loa follows. Loa throws Ishii into the guardrail and then slams him back first into the metal ring post. From there, he brings the action back into the ring and keeps pressure on Ishii with submissions and strikes to maintain control. Eventually, Ishii counters a Loa vertical suplex into his own and takes the upper hand in the match. He follows with a devastating number of chops to Loa’s chest, while leaning in the corner. Ishii connects with a power slam and covers, but only gets a two count. Loa halts the momentum with a spinning neck breaker. Loa lifts Ishii to his feet for a move, but ishii counters with a German suplex. It has not effect on Loa as he gets right back up and connects with a Blue Thunder on Ishii before covering. He only gets a two count. Out of the pin, Loa locks in a cross face submission on Ishii. Ishii reaches the ropes and forces the break. The momentum shifts back and forth throughout the rest of the match. Loa hits a nice headbutt off the top rope and follows with a spear before connecting with a sit out powerbomb. He makes the cover, but Ishii kicks out. In the end, Ishii counters Loa offense into his vertical brainbuster and covers for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ishii via pinfall
(Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match. Both brought loads of physicality with Loa hanging with Ishii on all striking battles. The back and forth control of the match by both guys made for an environment in which both felt like equals to each other. This created effective drama and made the physicality all the more intriguing.)
(3) GREAT-O-KHAN vs. ZACK SABRE JR. – A Block Match
Both men attempt to grapple at the start of the match to get an early upper hand. Neither is able to get traction, with ZSJ getting closest with a drop toe hold takedown that Khan slithers out of quickly. ZSJ secures the first real take down and tries to capitalize with a side headlock. Khan battles out of the hold and both exchange some mat wrestling before Khan gets back to his feet. ZSJ wins another takedown and starts to control the match with his patented ZSJ style holds and transitions. Khan plays the ZSJ game and tries to work in submission holds himself. Eventually, the action pivots to Khan’s style. Both have a strike-off in the middle of the ring with ZSJ unable to phase Khan with his European uppercuts. Khan took over with his double arm strike to ZSJ’s neck and dropped him twice. From there, the momentum of the action swung between both men. ZSJ won the match after Khan submitted to an aerial arm submission that almost broke his arm.
WINNER: Sabre Jr. via submission
(Heydorn’s Analysis: Throughout the G1 thus far, Zack Sabre Jr. has been the most fascinating star to watch. The smooth nature of his style has really been shown off nicely and the victories he’s getting give it credibility. Great-O-Khan didn’t have the best chemistry in the world with ZSJ, but was able to showcase a contrasting style effectively enough that made things interesting to watch. With Naito out, the block is seemingly wide open. Gedo likes to book guys to go on early hot streaks and then fizzle. This ZSJ run doesn’t feel like a repeat of that strategy, though.)
(4) KOTA IBUSHI vs. TORU YANO – A Block Match
Yano owns the early part of the match after draping Ibushi’s head in black bag. With Ibushi being unable to see, Yano rolls him up for a quick pin, but only gets a two count. From there, Yano maintains momentum and tosses Ibushi out of the ring. There, Yano wraps Ibushi the ring apron and then climbs into the ring as the referee starts to count Ibushi out. Ibushi escapes his trap and gets back into the ring at 19. Yano removes the ring pad, but Ibushi dropkicks him into it. From there, Ibushi takes over with a slingshot over the top rope and other standard Ibushi maneuvers. Ibushi connects on enough that Yano stays on the outside until the 19 count. They then trade offense in the ring. with Ibushi grounding Yano with kicks and then hitting a reverse Kamigoye. After, Ibushi tries for the real thing, but Yano rolls him up for a two count. Right out of the pin, Ibushi connects with a running knee strike and then nails Yano with Kamigoye for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ibushi via pinfall
(Heydorn’s Analysis: Exactly what it should have been given Ibushi’s stature in New Japan and Yano’s. Yano got his spots in, but was ultimately outclassed by Ibushi. Short, as I like all Yano matches to be.)
(5) SHINGO TAKAGI vs. KENTA – A Block Match
Kenta very much dominated the early part of the match. He beat Takagi up on the outside of the ring and worked over his right arm. Later, Kenta removed the ring pad to expose steel and threw Takagi back first into it. After, he continued to target Takagi’s right arm with grinding knee strikes. Kenta mocked the crowd by attempting to throw off their unity claps for Takagi with out of rhythm claps of his own. Takagi turns the tide of the match with blistering strikes and chops in the corner. He then drops Kenta with a left armed lariat due to his right arm being incapacitated. Later in the match, both men battle out onto the ring apron. There, they exchange head-butts and are slow to get to their feet. Takagi gets up first and tries to lift Kenta for a move. Kenta counters and smashes Takagi’s arm into the steel ring post. Again, both men are slow to get up, but Kenta does first, rolls into the ring to break the referees count, and then rolls back out to keep offensive pressure on Takagi. Kenta hits Takagi with a DDT off the edge of the ring apron. The match breaks down into a strike exchange featuring chops, punches, and clotheslines from both men. The exchange drops both men to their knees. Takagi overcomes a brutal right arm submission in the end and hits Kenta with Last of the Dragon after Kenta hits the exposed steel on the ring post. Takagi then makes the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Takagi via pinfall
(Heydorn’s Analysis: Match of the show for sure. Takagi and Kenta exchanged some brutal blows and outside of those the match was physical as expected. This contained an element of story and psychology as well. Kenta used the exposed steel to his advantage early in the match and cheated to do so. In the end, it came back to haunt him. They also utilized Takagi’s injured arm as a pillar of the match and Shingo sold it well while it was getting worked, but also when he was on offense and using it too.)