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NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING G1 CLIMAX 31 – DAY 16
OCTOBER 14, 2021
YAMAGATA, JAPAN AT YAMAGATA CITY GENERAL SPORTS CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) BUSHI & HIROMU TAKAHASHI vs. KOSEI FUJITA & RYOHEI OIWA
This was a bit of a deviation from the normal G1 and NJPW tournament opener in general. Instead of grizzled veterans taking the young lions to task, this was two stars of the jr. heavyweight division taking the young lions to task. Overall the match had a similar pacing with the stars getting work in early and late, with a few hope spots. But in the end Bushi was able to win with a submisiion.
WINNER: Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi
(Sage’s Analysis:I like that these four will battle in 1/2/3 years down the road, besides that it was an opener.)
(2) CHASE OWENS vs. TAICHI
Owens acted like he was going to sumo wrestle a number of times, but he went for water and then on the fourth try Taichi threw him out of the ring. Here he choked him with a wire, Owens countered and threw Taichi into the barricade. Taichi’s ribs were wrapped so he sold that injury. Owens threw his opponent back in the ring, here he stomped and worked over the injured ribs. Taichi eventually countered with a heel kick and tehn he worked kicks in on Ownes. The men then went back and fourth, with owens getting the advantage in the end.
Owens hit a double knee gut buster, then kicked Taichi in the ribs as he asked for kisses from Taichi’s partner. A now angry Taichi came back and delivered several kicks and chops, leading to a side suplex. Owens went for the piledriver, but Tachi hit a back drop. Owens then dropped Taichi and hit an Alabama Jam from the top and then a package piledriver for the pin fall victory.
WINNER: Chase Owens
(Sage’s Analysis:A fine match, at this point in the G1 a Owens and Taichi match for literally nothing is hard to put much stock in. But, its nice to see Owens get some wins.)
(3) SANADA vs. HIROOKI GOTO
Sanada and Goto traded wrist locks and holds, Goto won the exchange and hit a lariat to the outside. Goto then threw Sanada back into the ring and tried to cover a number of times. Sanada was able to rip Goto off the middle rope as he tried a move, to take over the offense. Sanada took the match to the outside and pummeled his opponent as the 20 count started. Goto got back in, Sanada then continued the attack. Sanada locked in a head lock that Goto need to break with a rope break.
The two men then traded chops and punches, with Goto winning the exchange with a lariat. Next, Goto hit a spin kick and a bulldog for a two count. Sanada hit a pair of leap frogs, set Goto outside, then Sanada dove to the outside. Back in the ring , Sanada tried a springboard dive, it was dodged and Goto hit a neck breaker. The men were then in a kneeling position as they traded forearms. They then stood, keeping the elbows flying. Goto sent Sanada to the mat, Sanada got up and hit a kick, he then hit a neck breaker of his own on Goto.
Sanda tried Skull End, but it was countered. Sanada then got Goto on the top rope and hit a cutter. Goto then hit Sanada with a DDT while on the middle rope. Goto tried a reverse GTR, but Sanada tried a roll up then another but both were two counts. Goto then did the same and got a two count from a tool up. Sanada then rolled up Goto once more for the win.
(Sage’s Analysis: A really solid second from the top match. Sanada is always way underrated in my mind. Also a guy like Goto is so important to have on your roster to lose a lot but make matches like this feel like they could go either way.)
(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Yoshi-Hashi started with a head lock and took it to the mat, the two men then stood up and hit a shoulder tackle on Tanahashi. Yoshi-Hashi then hit a number of chops, but Tana was able to counter with an elbow then a cross body, finally with a knee. Tanahashi then locked in some painful holds and slapped his opponent. Eventually Yoshi-Hashi was able to break the hold with a rope break. The men then traded strikes and kicks in the middle of the ring. A kick to the knee of Yoshi-Hashi created a second opening for Tana.
Y-H countered two times, ending with a head hunter. Y-H then hit a series of chops and kicks leading to a two count on Tanahashi. Yoshi-Hashi hit a vertical suplex, but Tana countered with a twist and shout. Yoshi-Hashi and Tana hit another vertical suplex and another Twist and Shout. A third Twist and Shout broke this stalemate and Tana was on the winning end. The two traded forearms in the middle of the ring, no one really won the exchange. Yoshi-Hashi took down Tana and then landed a two count after a series of moves.
Yoshi-Hashi tried to set up Karma, but Tanahashi was able to counter with some elbows. Y-H hit a neck breaker and double knees, he then hit a vertical suplex for a near fall. Tana hit a twist and shout after, leaving the men laying on the mat. Tana then hit a slingblade, Y-H hit a thrust kick, Tana hit another slingblade. Tanahashi went to the top rope and hit Aces High, he went up once more and hit High Fly Flow for the win.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi
(Sage’s Analysis:A good singles match, not really much more beyond that. I though of the opening matches this had some of the best action. But, some of the worst match storytelling, there just wasn’t much there beyond it being a Tana match.)
(5) JEFF COBB vs. EVIL
The match started with the normal evil running and Dick Togo getting the distraction. Evil hit a few chops and then ran the ropes, Cobb hit a drop kick and then began to work over Evil. Cobb hit a headbutt and went to run the ropes but was once again distracted by Dick Togo, Evil then threw Cobb out of the ring. Evil threw Cobb into the barricade and then he put a chair around Cobb and Evil hit the chair with another chair.
The 20 count started, Togo was stepping on the foot of Cobb, but Cobb was able to get in the ring. Back in the ring Evil chopped Evil over and over. Cobb was able to counter, but Evil got the eyes of Cobb. Evil then threw Cobb into the timekeepers table, as is tradition. Cobb then slammed Togo and Evil at the same time on the outside, Cobb then began to work over Evil outside the ring. Cobb Seated Evil at the timekeeper table and threw Togo into the table at Evil, for some sweet pro wrestling poetry.
Back in the ring, Cobb hit a running backdrop, a standing Moonsault, both leading to two counts. Cobb tried Tour of the Islands, but Evil hit the eyes of Cobb once more and then threw Cobb into the exposed turnbuckle. Evil hit a big lariat for a two count on Cobb, Evil then called for everything is evil. Cobb picked him up and slammed Evil all over the ring and into the ref. Dick Togo then hit Cobb with a chair and then beat on Cobb. Evil and Togo hit Magic Killer, Togo then rolled the ref into the ring. Evil then picked up Cobb and he hit Darkness Falls, but Cobb kicked out.
Cobb began to fight back, but he was thrown into the exposed steel. Cobb then hit a running clothesline. Togo prevented a tour of the islands, Togo then hit Cobb as the 15 minute mark was called out. The ref was taken out once more and Togo then choked Cobb with a cable. Cobb then pump kicked Togo. But, Evil hit a low blow and then went for a chair. Cobb dodged the chair and hit a German Suplex, Cobb hit a Tour of the Islands and got the pin fall.
WINNER: Jeff Cobb
(Sage’s Analysis: That was an excruciating match to watch, it would be one thing if this was a one or even two off. But, every single Evil match is like this, the double ref spot was where it crossed a line. Don’t do one of the two it cheapens the spot and makes every evil match feel so contrived. If I was not covering this show I would have skimped over this match for my own sanity. But, Cobb won and is 8-0 so far in the G1. So that is very cool.)
(6) KAZUCHIKA OKADA VS. TAMA TONGA
A collar and elbow tie-up start the affair, with Tama Tonga transitioning that into an arm hold. Okada was able to transition that into a leg hold, that Tama Tonga had to use a rope break to get out of. The two battled slowly in the ring area, Tama attacked Okada as he was about to do his chest tap move. After a flurry of offense Tonga was on the mat with Okada continuing to to apply a head lock. The hold was broken in the ropes, Okada then threw Tonga to the outside, the men began to fight on the outside.
Tama hit a Gun Stun on Okada and then went in the ring and tried to win via count out, Okada beat the count. Tama continued his offense on Okada as soon as he reentered the ring. After a series, Okada hit a flapjack to swap the momentum in the match in his favor. Okada then hit two forearms and then an elbow, a DDT and a two count followed for Kazuchika. Okada was able to get Tonga on the outside once more, slamming Tonga in the barricade and then hitting a boot to send him onto the exposed floor. Okada then perched Tama on the barricade and hit a DDT onto the padded area.
Both men were laying on the outside floor as Red Shoes started the 20 count. Back in the ring Okada tried and did apply the Money Clip submission hold. Tama was able to get his foot on the rope to break the hold a third time in this match, foreshadowing how Tama’s night would end in a few minutes. Okada then hit a elbow off of the top rope. After a number of counters Tama hit a DDT and then the Tonga Twist for a two count.
Okada hit a spinning Rainmaker as a counter to send both men to the mat as the 20 minute mark was called out. Tama dodged a shotgun dropkick, Okada the caught Tama, but it was countered into a Death Valley Bomb by Tama. He then hit a move off the top and got a near fall on Okada. Tama tried a series of moves, Okada countered and hit a drop kick, then the spinning tombstone. Tama hit a Gun Stun variant as he slapped the mat to get the crowd’s affection. After an attempted counter Tama hit the Gun Stun and PINNED OKADA!
WINNER: Tama Tonga
(Sage’s Analysis: HOLY S&@t! This is why the G1 is such a special event. I had 100% certainty that Okada would win this match so that he and Cobb could go into the final night, both undefeated. Now the matchup with Cobb feels even more dire and important for a now underdog Okada. The match itself was slow for the first 10 minutes, and it was set up to make you think that Okada would win with the Money Clip, but wow that was a finish.)