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NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING G1 CLIMAX 31 – DAY 18 – BLOCK B FINALS
OCTOBER 20, 2021
TOKYO, JAPAN AT NIPPON BUDOKAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) HIROMU TAKAHASHI & BUSHI vs. KOSEI FUJITA & RYOHEI OIWA
Fujita and Bushi opened. Mat scrapping to start, and neither guy could get hold of the other. Reset and Bushi worked a headlock. Bushi ran the ropes and blocked Fujita to the mat. He ran the ropes into a Fujita dropkick. Fujita threw some rights and shoulderblocked Bushi, then covered for two. Backdrop by Bushi, who threw Oiwa to the floor. Hiromu stormed over and tossed Oiwa into a barricade for fun. Bushi threw a big palm strike and an elbow, then tagged Hiromu. Chops and palm strikes put Fujita on the mat. More loud chops by Hiromu. Fujita tried some but they didn’t have the mustard of Hiromu’s. Hiromu chopped Oiwa to the floor again and covered Fujita for two, then covered again and once more to make Fujita work. Bushi tagged in again and stomped Fujita in a neutral corner, then he chopped poor Oiwa off the apron to the floor as well. Bushi covered for two. Bushi snapped on a half-crab and Fujita crawled to a rope while Hiromu held off Oiwa. Bushi leaned on Fujita’s head, then chopped him to the mat again. Hiromu tagged in and Fujita missed a dropkick. Chop by Hiromu, but he ran himself into a dropkick. Fujita fought his way to a tag, and Oiwa dropkicked Bushi hard from the apron to the floor. There’s a dropkick for Hiromu and a beautiful gut-wrench suplex. Boston Crab by Oiwa. Bushi tried to break it up but Oiwa fought through it. The Young Lions blocked Bushi to the mat and out, and Oiwa worked the Boston Crab on Hiromu again until Hiromu reached a rope. Bushi threw a chop and Oiwa wanted more. They exchanged some shots but Hiromu caught Oiwa in a Crab and Oiwa tapped.
WINNERS: Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi at 8:08. (**1/2)
(Wells’s Analysis: As Hiromu and Bushi have been doing against the Young Lions for a couple of weeks, the two used a very limited moveset just like the Lions themselves. Fun subplot with Oiwa being tortured needlessly until he got some revenge.)
-JAM Project hit the ring to perform Max the Max.
(2) YOSHI-HASHI vs. CHASE OWENS – B Block match
Both guys sit at four points. Kevin Kelly hit his usual line about Yoshi-Hashi proving he can beat anyone on any night even though he’s not doing so, which has been the talking point on him for at least 4-5 years now. Owens wrenched Hashi’s arm, and ashi reversed. More quick reversals and Hashi blocked Owens to the mat. Hashi wrenched Owens’s arm and dropped an elbow on it, then kept working it until Owens dragged Hashi to a rope to break, then clipped Hashi’s neck on the top rope. Action went outside and Owens put Hashi into a barricade. Owens put Hashi back inside and went up and hit a double ax-handle. Owens claimed a hair pull to distract the ref from an Owens closed fist on Hashi’s head. European uppercut to Hashi and Owens covered for two.
Owens came off the top for another ax-handle but Hashi hit a thrustkick to create some separation. The two exchanged some shots and Hashi ran the ropes and hit a basement dropkick. Hashi hit a running knee, then a running chop in the corner. Hashi put Owens on the apron and hit a superkick to drape Owens on the second rope, then hit a dropkick and covered for two. Owens caught Hashi with a thrustkick and a neckbreaker. Clothesline and a cover for two by Owens. The two hit their feet and worked repeated standing switches. Hashi missed a kick and Owens hit a knee. Owens went for the Package Piledriver, but Hashi backdropped him. Neckbreaker and Hashi covered for two. Hashi wanted Karma but Owens hit an inside cradle for two. Big chop by Hashi, then another. Hashi ran the ropes but Owens followed and hit a flash knee. Owens tried the Package Piledriver again but Hashi turned it into an armdrag and followed up with a lariat, then hit Karma to finish.
WINNER: Yoshi-Hashi at 8:28. (**3/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: Fine, brief match between the two. The two have both gotten much stronger in the ring over the past few years and definitely made something with their short window here. No idea if Owens will make the cut when borders are open next year, but he certainly did everything he could to warrant inclusion again)
(3) HIROOKI GOTO vs. TAMA TONGA (w/Jado) – B Block match
Tama is at six while Goto is at four, well below his normal but probably at the beginning of a downward trend for the rest of his career as a singles guy. Quick reversals led to a Goto hip toss. Tama threw some body shots but Goto hit a lariat to stay in control. Rope run and a back elbow by Goto, who covered for two. Goto drove his elbow into Tama’s head and went for a suplex, but Tama slipped out and took down a running Goto with a knife-edge chop. Tama dropped an elbow and covered for two. Tama hit some back elbows in the corner, then hip tossed Goto and elbowed his head to put him on the mat. Tama worked a headlock and Goto hit a snap mare, but Tama held on. Kevin Kelly noted that the all-time singles record between the two is Goto 6, Tama Tonga 0.
Goto tried some elbows to escape, and finally drove Tama to a corner to break. Tama missed a running charge and Goto hit a lariat to buy some time. Spinning heel kick in the corner by Goto into a bulldog for two. Goto threw some kicks to Tama’s chest and Tama tried to fire himself up to fight them off. Tama begged for more and absorbed a few, but got taken down by a block. Tama rolled to the outside and Goto wanted a plancha, but Tama dragged him out. Goto reversed and put Tama into the barricade. Goto elbowed Tama’s head on the outside and ref finally started counting, after which point action went inside again. Goto went up but Tama popped up and met him on the second turnbuckle. Goto fought off a superplex and headbutted Tama to the mat, but Tama popped up again and hit a thrustkick, then pulled Goto off the top and hit a Tongan twist.
Tama hit a splash in the corner, then baited Goto into a flatliner. SRC by Tama, who went up and hit Supreme Flow for a near-fall. Tama sold frustration while trying to maintain focus. Double-underhook by Tama, blocked. Goto reversed into an ushigoroshi. Tama missed a big corner splash and Goto put him up for a neckbreaker from the top. Goto covered for a long two. Goto set up GTR and Tama fought it off just for Goto to hit a reverse GTR and a lariat right after. Goto fired up and Tama collapsed to the mat. Tama caught a kick and went for a Gun Stun. Both ran the ropes and attempted their finishers and setup moves, and Tama hit Bloody Sunday for a long two after a great sequence of spots. Tama tried the Gun Stun again and Goto trapped him in a cradle for the win.
WINNER: Hirooki Goto at 15:20. (***3/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: More great work from Tama Tonga, who absolutely should see this tournament again next year after this run. Goto got the win, but not a strong win with his finisher, so even in victory he’s being deemphasized. A good match with an excellent final few minutes)
(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. TAICHI (w/Miho Abe) – B Block match
Tanahashi, not ready to slip all the way down the card yet, is at eight (which is his final total for the last two tournaments). Taichi comes in at four points after six straight losses. Headlock by Tanahashi but Taichi hit a Saito suplex immediately for a near-fall. Taichi threw his pants uncommonly early, and he tried Black Mephisto but was selling a painful midsection injury and couldn’t finish. Taichi hit an axe bomber but Tanahashi came back with some body shots to Taichi’s taped midsection, throwing him back into a corner to recuperate.
Taichi went for a kick but Tana caught his leg and threw another body shot to Taichi’s target. Tana stomped Taichi and leaned on him using the ropes, essentially working heel so far. Tana dropped an elbow on Taichi’s leg and trapped and wrenched the leg. He turned Taichi over and tied up his legs and added a bridge and a Muta lock. Tana dropped back, continuing to torture the legs of Taichi. Taichi crawled excruciatingly slowly to the ropes and finally made it.
Taichi tried to fight off Tanahashi with some kicks. Tana caught one and punched Taichi’s midsection again. Taichi reversed a whip into a hook kick to finally get back into it as Miho Abe violently slapped the mat in support of Taichi. Taichi threw some kicks to Tana, hit a snap mare and kicked Tana’s back. Taichi missed a big kick and Tana punched the rib cage yet again. Tana charged and missed in the corner. Taichi missed a kick and Tana put him up in the tree of woe and threw more cheap body shots, trying to partially block his work from the ref. This is so strange. Tanahashi dropkicked the injured ribs.
Tana went at a grounded Taichi, who kicked up at him. Taichi scored with a kick and went for a thrustkick, but Tanahashi hit a dragon screw. Tanahashi worked a Texas Cloverleaf and Taichi fought long to get to the ropes again. Tana ran the ropes and Taichi kicked him, then tried a few things but his midsection gave out and Tanahashi hit a sling blade. Backdrop and a thrustkick by Taichi. Taichi covered for two. The two exchanged some shots and Taichi took Tanahashi down with a big right. Taichi tried to hit Black Mephisto but Tanahashi wriggled free and hit a sling blade for two. Tanahashi went up for Aces High, then again for High Fly Flow, but he missed and Taichi trapped Tanahashi in the Gedo Clutch for the win.
WINNER: Taichi at 14:59. (***1/2)
(Wells’s Analysis: It had a slower pace given the injury story they were telling, and a very unconventional story it was given that Tanahashi was remorselessly attacking the heel’s injuries and the heel overcame, but it was a pretty strong psychological affair despite (or perhaps because of) the unorthodox booking. Tanahashi sits at eight for a third straight year while Taichi slips, but there are always midcard guys who have to do poorly in the standings in some years, and it was Taichi’s turn)
(5) SANADA vs. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) – B Block match
For the second year in a row, these two meet on the final block night. Sanada is at eight while Evil is at twelve, and could finish with 14 just to have it only be good enough for third place.
Evil rolled out to the floor immediately and said there was no point in wrestling, and he rang the bell a few times and started walking off with Dick Togo. Sanada chased him down, tossed Evil into the ring and rang the bell himself to signify the match was on to pop the crowd. Togo distracted Sanada long enough for a back rake by Evil, and Evil pulled off a corner pad and charged Sanada into the exposed corner. Evil kicked Sanada out to the floor and charged him into a barricade. Evil put a chair into Sanada’s midsection, then did his two-chair spot with one around Sanada’s neck. Evil rolled inside and the ref started the count. Evil casually sat on the mat as the announcer reached 17 and Sanada finally made it to the ring. Evil covered for two.
Sanada threw a right and Evil put up a knee, then threw Sanada outside for a shot from Togo, who took a shot and rolled him inside to get covered for two, and again for two as Evil tried to end it quickly. Evil booted at Sanada’s head cockily and Sanada came back with a chop and some palm strikes. Sanada hit a suplex and both guys sold on the mat. Sanada kipped up and took down Evil with a forearm, then an armdrag and a knee lift. Sanada snapped Evil quickly into the Paradise Lock, and Dick Togo tried to interfere only to be caught in one as well right next to Evil. Sanada warmed up the crowd and dropkicked both in the rear. Togo fell outside the ring and Sanada covered for two. Sanada did Evil’s ref-assisted dropkick spot and Evil slipped outside the ring. Sanada tried a plancha and missed but landed on his feet. Evil drove him into the barricade, and the announcer, seated just behind it, went sprawling.
Evil restarted the ref’s count and went back out and snapped on a Scorpion Death Lock for a moment, then went back inside. Evil distracted the ref so Togo could pull Sanada to the floor again, but Sanada made it inside the ring at 19. Evil hit Darkness Falls for two. Evil went for Everything is Evil but Sanada slipped out and reversed Evil into the exposed turnbuckle, then hit a big backdrop and the two men sold on the mat again. The two exchanged a number of reversals and Sanada hit a springboard dropkick, then a TKO for two. Sanada went up for his moonsault, but Togo threw him a chair when the ref wasn’t looking, and the ref threatened Sanada with disqualification. Sanada dropkicked Togo to the floor and snapped on Skull End. Sanada went up for the moonsault rather than wait to see if Skull End would finish, and Evil got his knees up. The two sold again.
Sanada hit a couple of stiff uppercuts. He begged for Evil to fight back. Evil faked a chop and instead raked Sanada’s eyes. After a series of misadventures, the ref got bumped, and Dick Togo entered and ended up unwittingly helping Sanada hit a Magic Killer on Evil for two. Sanada briefly worked Skull End, but Evil hit a low blow. Sanada hit a low blow of his own and then trapped Evil in an O’Connor Roll, but Togo dragged the ref out of the ring on two. Togo tried using the garrote on Sanada, but Sanada fought him off and tossed a chair to Togo and dropkicked him with it. As the ref got tangled up with Togo, Evil hit Sanada with a chair and then hit Everything is Evil to finish.
WINNER: Evil at 17:48. (***1/4)
(Wells’s Analysis: It’s tough to rate a match like this, which often wasn’t a wrestling match but totally achieved its goal of having Evil continue to come off as the worst sort of slime in the company just to beat Sanada in a match he doesn’t need to win. The Evil act wears extremely thin on me in general, but between tonight’s opponent being his former best friend and the relentlessness of the act, this one comparatively worked for me)
(5) KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. JEFF COBB – B Block final
Cobb is two ahead of Okada, so he only needs a draw while Okada needs a win. Quick shots to start. Forearms by Okada. Hard lariat by Cobb, who nearly hit Tour of the Islands. Okada hit a shoulder breaker and both guys took a moment. Cobb sold a ringing in his ear and it was hard to tell if it was kayfabe or not. Okada booted Cobb and hit a running basement dropkick. Okada hit a neckbreaker and covered for one. Okada snapped on a chinlock and Cobb elbowed his way out. Okada threw some forearms, then ran the ropes, but Cobb hit an ax-handle to get a breather. Cobb took down Okada and stood on him near the ropes for a moment.
Okada rolled to the floor and Cobb followed and threw a hard right, then a forearm to the back. Cobb stood on Okada again, this time staring at Shingo Takagi, who was on color commentary with the Japanese team. Cobb went back inside and the ref counted. Okada got back inside and Cobb hit some chops in the corner, then a delayed suplex after walking around the ring holding him up. Cobb covered for two. Belly-to-belly suplex by Cobb, and another, and a cover for two. Cobb put some knees into the small of Okada’s back, then made a casual cover for two. Okada got back into it with some rights, then Cobb drove Okada into corner after corner, then ran and hit a backdrop for two. Standing moonsault missed for Cobb. Flapjack by Okada. Okada ran the ropes and hit a back elbow. DDT by Okada got two.
Cobb drove Okada in to a corner, but Okada dumped Cobb. Okada hit a plancha, but Cobb caught him and hit a release Northern Lights suplex on the floor. The ref made it to 14 and Cobb put Okada back into the ring and followed. Uppercut and a huge dropkick by Cobb. Corner elbow by Cobb. Cobb got dumped to the apron and Okada dropped him to the floor with a dropkick. Okada hit a huge tope con giro on Cobb – there’s a rarity from Okada.
Okada rolled Cobb into the ring and went in and hit a big dropkick. Body slam by Okada, who followed up with a flying elbow. Okada hit the Rainmaker pose and went for the Rainmaker, but Cobb caught him in the Spin Cycle instead. Cobb drove Okada into a corner pad and hit a powerslam, then a standing moonsault for two. Cobb tried to set up Tour of the Islands but Okada saw it coming and slowed down. He tried again and Okada slipped out at the last moment. Frequent reversals led to Cobb hitting a tombstone piledriver, then holding on and hitting a second one. Cobb did a Rainmaker pose with “aloha” hand signals. Again Cobb couldn’t hit Tour of the Islands, and Okada hit a lariat and both guys sold on the mat.
Cobb booted Okada a few times, then ran the ropes right into an Okada dropkick. Okada tried the Money Clip but Cobb fought it off. Okada hit a tombstone piledriver of his own, then snapped on the Money Clip. Cobb fought to the ropes and it led to a flurry of reversals into another near-tour of the Islands. Okada hit a backdrop and trapped Cobb’s legs for a two count. The match reached twenty minutes.
Cobb set up Okada on the top buckle, then dropkicked him. Okada got wrapped up awkwardly on the buckle, and referee Red Shoes Unno checked on him and Okada freed himself but sold the effects. Cobb went to the second rope and wanted a deadlift superplex, but Okada punched him to the mat. Cobb went up again and Okada reversed to a DDT from the top instead. Rainmaker missed and Cobb wanted a German suplex. Reversals again. Cobb tried yet another way to get into Tour of the Islands but once again, Okada found a way to slip out of it. Okada slammed Cobb, then hit the Rainmaker to finish.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 23:36. (****1/2)
(Wells’s Analysis: At the outset of the tournament I picked Ibushi and Cobb to win their blocks, but with Cobb running the table before tonight and Okada having a loss to overcome, I came into tonight figuring Okada was just about a lock. Taking off my booker hat, though, I was wildly into the psychology, as the entire tournament was all about Cobb figuring out a way to hit Tour of the Islands on everyone in his path, no matter how many times they turned it away, until he finally met his match and Okada wouldn’t be denied. Okada and Ibushi might seem like a really obvious way to finish this thing, but I have absolutely no complaints. I’ll cautiously predict Okada to win it all tomorrow, bailing on my pre-tournament pick of Ibushi)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s always a mixed bag on these final nights when most matches don’t matter. I’m not going to accuse anyone of not giving it their all in the matches, but it did seem like something was left on the table in all but the main event. On the other hand, you don’t want to upstage this main event either. A fun night of matches that was also wildly varied in style, which made for a wholly enjoyable show from start to finish. Tomorrow night, Sean Radican is on the call as the tournament ends. Thanks for reading Torch coverage of the G1, everyone.