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NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING G1 CLIMAX 31 – DAY 9
OCTOBER 3, 2021
AICHI, JAPAN AT DOLPHINS ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) KOSEI FUJITA vs. YOSHINOBU KANEMARU
The show kicked off with Kosei Fujita and Kanemaru. Kanemaru had a solid assault of Fujita, who continued fighting from underneath for most of the match. Fujita applied a Boston Crab on Kanemaru, who broke out of it. However, after another exchange it was Kanemaru who returned the favor and Fujita submitted.
WINNER: Yoshinobu Kanemaru by submission (Boston Crab) in 7:34 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Kevin Kelly was kind in his commentary and noted that Fujita knew these matches were likely losses, but the test was how the young lion would persevere while being overmatched. Kanemaru was a decent opponent to help in that regard.)
(2) TORU YANO vs. BUSHI – SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH
This is a special match to account for the loss of Tetsuya Naito on the Block A side. During the match, Kevin Kelly noted that Chris Samsa had reported Yano had not lost a single’s match outside of a tournament format in over 4 years. That would be the case here, after a hood was put on the ref’s head, who missed a clear 6+ count for Bushi. When Bushi got up to remove the hood from the referee, Yano did the low blow/school boy combo to continue his Goldberg-esque streak as a single’s competitor.
WINNER: Toru Yano by pinfall (School Boy) in 7:14 (*)
(Fann’s Analysis: This was fully a yuk yuk special. If anything, the fact this was an extra “special singles match” was nine minutes we could’ve been asleep or doing literally anything else.)
(3) KENTA vs. GREAT-O-KHAN – Block A Match
Pre match, the pair had an exchange on the mic that ended with the loser having to acknowledge the winner Roman Reigns style.
Once the match kicked off, Kenta took a powder and tried to hide under the ring. O-Khan was surprised, and Kenta started the assault on the bigger man outside of the ring. Kenta’s advantage was short-lived, however, as O-Khan used a set of Mongolian chops to drop the smaller man.
After a series of strikes, Kenta seemed to have the advantage. A GTS attempt was countered by O-Khan, but when O-Khan tried an Eliminator, Kenta used a knee to stay alive. O-Khan used a Sheep Killer, but Kenta escaped, and yet another ref bump occurred, allowing the pair to use a chair and a baseball bat. Before the bat could be put into play however the referee revived, so Kenta threw the bat to O-Khan, who caught it and was in full visibility of the ref. After the ref and O-Khan argued, Kenta slipped in for a school boy pin.
Post match, after demanding his acknowledgement, O-Khan seemed to comply, but really hit Kenta with an Eliminator.
WINNER: Kenta by pinfall (School Boy) in 19:39 (***)
(Fann’s Analysis: This was fine. Kenta has had a decent tournament and O-Khan has been B-/C+ so far. The constant referee bumps are starting to – corrected way past – getting old however. The bowing stip mid G-1 was pretty sweet, and brought a whole never level to the match. O-Khan being cheated, as well as not acknowledging Kenta was a fun touch.)
(4) YUJIRO TAKAHASHI (w/PIETER) vs. TANGA LOA (w/JADO) – Block A Match
Trickeration A Block edition for the third time tonight. Or so I thought.
It was clear from the start both men were focused on making this match a solid brawl and that they did. Tanga Loa hit a big Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Loa also opened the match with a sequence that ended with a standing moonsault. Yujiro had a few nifty moves of his own, including a decent tope suicida to counter. After Miami Shine, Yujiro tried Big Juice, but Loa blocked and hit Ape Sh*t for the pin.
WINNER: Tanga Loa by pinfall (Ape Sh*t) in 12:36 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Tanga Loa has continued (along with his brother in B block) a solid G-1 overall. This match was penciled in my head as a slog and I really enjoyed it instead. Yujiro had his working boots on as well, so this was far from a one-sided effort. This match isn’t must see, but I would have it in the three matches you’d need to see from today’s show.)
(5) TOMOHIRO ISHII vs. ZACK SABRE, JR. – Block A Match
This match was a tale of a typical ZSJ-Ishii battle: would ZSJ get the arm/leg/neck weak enough for the submission before the sheer blitzing brutality of Ishii ended the match?
Ishii has the DDP in ‘98 tape on his arm, so ZSJ naturally focused on that right arm throughout the match – with arm bars, kicks and twists as much as possible. As the match progressed, Ishii’s lack of range of motion in the arm deadened his lariats, but didn’t stop the man from slinging them. After an amazing no sell of a set of ZSJ kicks, Ishii hit a lariat and then a sliding edition for a two count. Another sliding attempt was countered into a kimura, then a cross-arm breaker, then a triangle, but Ishii would not submit. Ishii, in full Ishii mode, kicked ZSJ out of the triangle, then slammed his arm into the turnbuckle, ripped off the padding, and hit a vertical drop brain buster for the win.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii by pinfall (Vertical Drop Brainbuster) in 18:40 (****)
(Fann’s Analysis: Excellent match. Ishii works with everyone well, so that’s not a surprise. These two together however are a match made in heaven. Ishii’s final sequence was the epitome of the man – ignore the pain, keep going and if that doesn’t work, do it again.)
(6) SHINGO TAKAGI vs. KOTA IBUSHI – Block A Match
Main event time.
After the opening bell, the match was a game of physicality, which suited both men. After a few headlocks and strikes, Ibushi went “dead eyes Ibushi” and then hit a crazy kick to send Takagi to the ground.
After a rana, Takagi bailed out to the floor, where Ibushi hit an Asai moonsault, then followed with a standing moonsault in ring. Shingo avoided the Last Ride, and hit a neckbreaker which dropped Ibushi.
Both men then went into murder mode, as they traded head and arm suplexes, strikes, and this time it ended with Shingo fighting through and no selling to nail a forearm, after which he collapsed.
At the endgame, the two went for their key moves, Shingo landed a Pumping Bomber which led to Ibushi doing a full flip bump to the amazement of the crowd. Ibushi blocked another with a kick, then hit a Kamigoye, which Shingo kicked out at two of.
Ibushi pulled down the knee pad and went for another, but Shingo instead held the arms and hit a headbutt, which woke me (and the crowd) up to pre-pandemic fervor. Shingo then tried for the Last of the Dragon, but Ibushi hit a poisoned rana. Ibushi then held the arms backward and hit a rear Kamigoye, then again in the front to seal the win. After the match, Ibushi asked to do this one more time, putting his finger in the air.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi by pinfall (Kamigoye) in 23:57 (****1/2)
(Fann’s Analysis: With the few times the pair have faced off with one another, each is a treat. This match was by far the best match since Ibushi’s illness, and Shingo looked to be up for a banger as well. The headbutt Kamigoye counter had me yelping at 8 in the morning.)
Overall thoughts (8.5): Solid A block card. The final 3 matches were all solid (or surprisingly so in the Loa-Yujiro sense) and the Ibushi-Takagi match was awesome. Skip the opening matches and you’re good to go. Up next is the B block’s Okada-Sanada matchup in the main event Monday.