G1 Climax 30 Report: Sept. 20 – Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Mark Buckeldee reviews the second night of the G1 Climax featuring Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, EVIL vs. ZSJ & more.

Photo courtesy: NJPW

By: Mark Buckeldee

Welcome to the second of POST Wrestling’s G1 Climax 30 reports. This is the first B block show report. I will be handling all the B Block shows while The A Block shows will be handled by Mike Murray. John and Wai will be releasing shows to accompany each day of the G1 Climax for POST Wrestling Café members. It is a great time to try out the POST Wrestling Patreon. Become a Post Café member and listen to their reviews of every G1 show, as well as access to all the other exclusive content for only is $6 (U.S.) per month.

B Block reports will be a little different to A block as I try to make it a little easier for readers who want to cherry pick the better matches. The start of these Block B reports will feature a short, spoiler free summary for each match. It will also highlight any matches that I recommend, highly recommend or anything that is must see. This should help give you an idea for what is worth your valuable time without spoiling any surprises for you.

Like yesterday’s show, day 2 of G1 Climax 30 comes from Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan. This is the 2nd of 3 G1 shows from Osaka. The crowd is slightly larger than day 1, with an announced attendance of 2,640. In terms of reactions today’s crowd is much livelier, more invested, and more vocal.

  1. Yota Tsuji vs Gabriel Kidd – A good match where Tsuji has the power advantage, but Kidd relies more on technique and timing.
  2. B Block – YOSHI-HASHI vs Juice Robinson – A good back and forth match where both got time to shine.
  3. B Block – Toru Yano vs SANADA – A fun comedy match with lots of roll ups and rolls of tape.
  4. B Block – Hirooki Goto vs KENTA – A particularly good match where cocky heel KENTA tries to neutralize Goto’s clear power advantage by targeting the arm. – Recommended
  5. B Block – Zack Sabre Jr. vs EVIL – EVIL relies on dubious tactics while Sabre Jr uses speed and technique. More of the same from EVIL’s Bullet Club run.
  6. B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito – A fantastic battle between 2 longtime rivals, full of counters, desperation, and heart. – Must See

Yota Tsuji vs Gabriel Kidd

Yota Tsuji is coming off a loss to Yuya Uemura on day 1 while this is Gabriel Kidd’s 1st match of the tour.

This match has the same structure as the Young Lions match on day 1; Tsuji dominates with a clear power advantage and Kidd must pick his spots. Kidd tries to rely more on technical moves, but he is still at the stage where he does not have his own specialty move, unlike Tsuji and Uemura. Kidd comes close with a single leg crab after a dropkick but Tsuji escapes and chains together a good-looking spear and a falling powerslam. That is enough to let Tsuji apply a crab hold, where he really sits down on it to get the win.

Yota Tsuji submits Gabriel Kidd (9:15)

This is a good Young Lions match, and both have clearly defined strengths. Tsuji is really coming on as a power guy and Kidd has those LA Dojo elements in his striking and mat work. It is clear that this is the same structure as the night 1 opener, and I personally preferred that match. It will be interesting to see if they switch things up in terms of structure as they repeat these matches throughout the G1 tour.

B Block – Juice Robinson vs YOSHI-HASHI

Juice Robinson’s entrance gear can be best described as looking like one of the Blues Brothers after an explosion in a glitter factory. He has taken to wearing a white tank-top in the ring, which reminds me of Ganbare Pro’s Ken Ohka. Robinson is still very over with the crowd and introduced his own signature clapping rhythm that the crowd bought into really quickly.

This is a good little match where both wrestlers put on a good showing. They are both wrestlers whose match quality usually depends on their opponents, but they did well here by their own standards. Robinson used some new offense, including a Kobashi-esque Lariat, and is a little more no-nonsense in his approach. YOSHI-HASHI looked good for much of this match although the Butterfly lock is badly applied. This built with some good counters and a delicious roll up near fall that saw the crowd more vocal than at almost any point during night 1. In the end, Robinson strung together 2 left-hand punches and the Pulp Friction for the win.

Juice Robinson pinned Yoshi-Hashi (15:57)

This match went a little too long, being the 5th longest match in the G1 so far. Despite that, it is a good showing by both wrestlers and a fun little match with an invested crowd. It is on the simple side at times but that worked in its favor, especially with the big near falls and counters. Despite Robinson’s questionable fashion sense, he has added some nice new elements to his in-ring arsenal. There will be many, many matches better than this in the G1 but it is a good example of the base level for these guys.

B Block – Toru Yano vs SANADA

SANADA has a new look, with a futuristic black entrance jacket and a new skull mask that would fit in at a masquerade ball. Yano brought along his KOPW trophy and the obligatory DVD.

The referee finds multiple rolls of tape while checking Yano. In a nice touch, a SANADA waist lock is released when something does not feel right and…. Yes, it is more rolls of tape hidden in Yano’s waistband. We have some of the usual comedy antics and lots of roll-ups throughout the match. Yano tries to goad SANADA onto the entranceway, but he is not having any of it and Yano nearly gets counted out to audible laughter. The finish sees SANADA apply a paradise lock in the entranceway and call for a count-out. Young Lion Uemura inexplicably breaks the hold and Yano somehow tapes Uemura and SANADA together. Yano gets the count-out win in the same way that he beat Jon Moxley at G1 Climax 29.

Toru Yano beats SANADA by count-out (6:16)

You know what you are getting from Yano in the G1 Climax these days: A short match with roll ups and humor. This is quite fun with some of the usual spots being subverted and SANADA’s roll ups working well in the match. It felt fresher than many Yano comedy matches, especially with Yano nearly counting himself out. The finish is a little goofy and almost inexplicable (unless Yano is paying Uemura off with some of that sweet DVD money) but this is a fun little break in the pace. Although I would argue that Yano would have been a better fit in A block this year.

B Block – Hirooki Goto vs KENTA

From the start, they make it clear that Goto is much more powerful than KENTA and establishes his superior forearm strikes. KENTA stalls for time and finds an opening, targeting Goto’s right arm to neutralize this superiority and set up the GAME OVER. This is a very tactical match, with KENTA being clinical targeting the arm while also channeling his cockiness with multiple mocking kicks to the head. After being dominated for a long time Goto uses a rope-assisted armbreaker to try and get back into the match. It is refreshing to see Goto rely on technique in his desperation and trying to win with the ShoryuKekkai armbar. The match really picks up until a rather messy transition into KENTA’s GAME OVER kills the crowd a little. Pretty quickly after that Goto taps out to the submission hold.

KENTA submits Hirooki Goto (17:15)

In 2020 KENTA is obviously limited in what he can do compared to his prime, but he has found a good compromise here. He channels his natural cockiness well and comes across as a calculating veteran using experience to overcome physical barriers. This match felt very fresh with a clear strategy from KENTA, Goto fighting from underneath and then finding an unusual opportunity. It is not a common story in New Japan, and it made the match feel more compelling than most of KENTA’s G1 performances from last year. It does go a little long and sadly the set up to the finish is very messy and sucked both me and the crowd out of this one at the end.

B Block – Zack Sabre Jr. vs EVIL

EVIL is accompanied to the ring by Dick Togo and this immediately comes into play at the start, leading to EVIL attacking Sabre Jr outside the ring with a side slam on the floor. It takes a long time for Sabre Jr to get back into this match and he initially relies on European uppercuts and leg-based holds. It is a rare match when it takes Sabre Jr 5 minutes to apply his 1st submission hold. This is a match of 2 speeds as Sabre Jr quickens the pace as soon as he is on offense and EVIL then slows things back down when he gains control.

Sabre starts to get a string of offenses together including a double-arm pin and a ground Octopus hold. Togo makes himself known and we get the seemingly inevitable ref bump. The crowd sounds like it is fully behind Sabre Jr as he fights against the odds. It feels like nefarious tactics will steal the match but Sabre suddenly counters EVIL’s EVIL into the European Clutch for the win.

Zack Sabre Jr pinned EVIL (14:54)

One of the sad realities of this year’s G1 Climax is that each block will have matches involving ref bumps and run-ins. In Block A it is Jay White, while Block B will see EVIL take the role. Sabre Jr and EVIL have good chemistry together, but it felt slower than their previous matches. It is a decent match, especially when Sabre Jr fought back, and the crowd is firmly behind him but the ref bump and interference at the end did hurt the match. That said, the finish is a big shock and a nice surprise.

B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito

This is the 6th G1 Climax match between these 2 and Tanahashi has never beaten Naito in the G1 Climax before today. The match starts off cagily, with Tanahashi faking out a lock-up before shooting behind for a waistlock to get things started. Naito used his traditional stalling early on, including a lovely spot where Tanahashi tried to hit a senton during the Tranquillo pose but the LIJ leader just casually rolled out of the way.

Tanahashi used his usual game plan of targeting the knees, especially effective with Naito’s history of knee problems. It soon became a case of Tanahashi working over the legs and Naito targeting the neck. The match built and built, with Naito controlling at one point before Tanahashi regained momentum with a Catatonic. Maybe Tanahashi did learn something from his short time in TNA.

Tanahashi hit the big High Fly Flow to the floor and followed up with multiple Dragon Screws. Naito’s attempt to regain momentum with a top rope Frankensteiner is countered by Tanahashi rolling through and applying the Texas Clover Hold. At this point, the match has built into an engrossing struggle, with facial expressions and selling really elevating things. Naito eventually reaches the ropes, and this is followed by a forearm exchange punctuated by Naito spitting on the floor. It is good to see how Naito has adapted for COVID, although it is still a little unseemly and inadvisable in these times. Both men struggle and desperately spam moves together to try and keep control as it veers towards the crescendo.

The crowd thinks it is over when Tanahashi goes for two consecutive High Fly Flows, but Naito rolls out of the way. After that, they both struggle for victory but Naito is the one who gains enough momentum, finishing Tanahashi off with the Destino.

Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi (27:16)

This is the best match of the G1 Climax so far. I recommend comparing it to Okada vs Ibushi from night 1, as this match is much more satisfying and engaging. A lot of that is the way that Tanahashi and Naito use their mannerisms and selling to add more heft to the match. It feels like more of a fight and a struggle, with pride, bragging rights, and 2 vital points on the line. This is an example of how 2 guys who know each other so well can tell the same general story but just keep tweaking it to stay fresh. The crowd are enraptured and fully on board, making a phenomenal amount of noise considering the restrictions on chanting and shouting. This is a perfect example of why Tanahashi is the ace of New Japan and Naito is so beloved. This will definitely be up there in the best match stakes towards the end of the year.

Show summary

Overall, this is a good show with a magnificent main event. While the overall quality may be weaker than day 1, the main event has been the best thing in the G1 Climax so far. I honestly did not think that the crowd could get that hot. None of the block matches were bad, we got a nice bit of variety and KENTA vs Goto is very good and what I want to see from KENTA this year. If you have 2 ½ hours to spare, then it is worth watching through the whole thing. If time is at a premium, then I recommend KENTA vs Goto and Tanahashi vs Naito.