By: Mark Buckeldee
Welcome to POST Wrestling’s report on G1 Climax 30 day 12. New Japan now start to head back east towards the finale in Tokyo. This show comes from ZIP Arena in Okayama.
The start of these Block B reviews will feature a short, spoiler free summary for each match highlighting any matches that I recommend. This should help give you, the reader, an idea for what is worth your time without spoiling any surprises for you.
- Yuya Uemura vs Gabriel Kidd – Similar to their previous match, some clumsiness but a good definitive finish.
- B Block – Hirooki Goto vs YOSHI-HASHI – A decent match based around Goto’s arm but nothing special or memorable.
- B Block – Zack Sabre Jr vs Toru Yano – The funniest, and best, Yano match this year. This had great chemistry, innovation, and an evolving story. – RECOMMENDED
- B Block – SANADA vs KENTA – A heel vs face match with very few strikes from KENTA and a lethargic face in SANADA. Dull and listless.
- B Block – Juice Robinson vs Tetsuya Naito – Naito dominated the popular Robinson, who had some good comebacks. A typical Naito formula match, too long and it dragged at the slow start.
- B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL – The worst main event so far. Too long, dull and with so much interference that it made EVIL look useless.
Yuya Uemura vs Gabriel Kidd
After a cagey start the Young Lions traded holds, using the same sequence from their last match against each other. They repeated the monkey flip sequence from that match, although it still had some rough edges. Uemura used a Full Nelson in a sequence designed to show his tenacity and Kidd’s British influenced escapes. They exchanged submissions on the mat before Kidd applied a single leg crab, which Uemura quickly escaped. He applied a Boston Crab of his own and Kidd had to reach the ropes. Kidd then blocked a double arm belly to belly suplex, and the match devolved into a forearm exchange. Kidd fought back with a dropkick, suplex and then a Double Arm Suplex to win the match.
Gabriel Kidd pinned Yuya Uemura (8:47)
This was one of my least favorite Young Lions matches so far. Early on they rehashed sequences from their previous encounter and they still need to work on the Monkey flip sequence. The submission work was good, and the finish was simple but definitive, but this felt like the clumsiest Young Lions match so far.
B Block – Hirooki Goto vs YOSHI-HASHI
The match started with Goto winning a shoulder tackle sequence, but he was still suffering with his right shoulder. YOSHI-HASHI quickly capitalized, using a Yuji Nagata-esque armbreaker before applying a short arm scissors. Goto gained some space after a backdrop suplex and delivered a flurry of his usual offense before he fell foul to a Headhunter. Goto withstood his opponents chops before hitting an Ushi-Goroshi. YOSHI-HASHI hit a Dragon suplex and a running Meteora before applying the Butterfly lock to Goto’s bad arm. That was switched into a Kimura and then a Backcracker. Goto managed to win a strike sequence with his strongest right forearm in weeks. YOSHI-HASHI appeared to have problems with his right ankle before he lost to a middle kick and a GTR.
Hirooki Goto pinned YOSHI-HASHI (14:12)
This was a good match but nothing memorable. YOSHI-HASHI did well in terms of working the arm, even switching up how he usually applied his Butterfly lock. Goto’s arm looked stronger here but I do not know if that was the story or him having to use sequences that suited YOSHI-HASHI. The finishing stretch was decent but lacked a little something, and that is before the weird scene where YOSHI-HASHI got distracted by his own ankle. One of the weaker showings from these two in this G1.
B Block – Zack Sabre Jr vs Toru Yano
Yano declared himself as a clean fighter and threw away multiple rolls of tape. Seeing a Yano match with multiple lock ups and a focus on grappling was a bizarre experience. Both wrestlers tried to start an amateur wrestling match before things broke down on the outside. Yano dragged Sabre Jr’s arm through the ringside barrier and taped it to a chair on the other side for a great nearfall sequence. Yano apologized and then pulled out a belly to belly suplex of all things. Sabre Jr applied an ankle lock on the outside and dragged Yano back to the entrance, but Yano managed to limp back in.
Yano’s ankle was now the focus of the match. He removed the corner pad and swept Sabre Jr’s legs with it. Sabre Jr caught a low blow with his legs and both wrestlers exchanged multiple cradle pins before the Brit caught a mule kick and applied an ankle lock. Yano tried to use the turnbuckle pad to escape but Sabre Jr was not fazed by the padding, so he transitioned into a double heel hold and Yano tapped out.
Zack Sabre Jr submitted Toru Yano (12:20)
For me this was easily my favorite Yano match of the tournament. This was constantly funny at the start with Yano and Sabre having great chemistry. Sabre Jr is an excellent foil for Yano, and I laughed harder than I have done for a Yano match in a long time. The match evolved while always relying on both good comedy and good technical work. It may have gone a little too long after the 2nd count out spot, but I liked the fact that you never knew when it would end. This was one of the best all round Yano performances that I have seen in years in terms of selling, technique, and comedy. If you only watch 1 Yano match in the G1, make it this one.
B Block – SANADA vs KENTA
KENTA’s briefcase was damaged after the previous show and he used it as a distraction to jump SANADA. KENTA dominated SANADA early on, grounding his opponent and targeting the neck. SANADA eventually fought back with a dropkick to the knee and a backdrop suplex. He then used the Paradise lock for the 1st time since the 1st B Block show. KENTA soon got back on top with a powerslam and the usual run of offense that follows it. An attempt by SANADA to fake out a dive ended badly when KENTA knocked him onto the apron.
KENTA fought for the GAME OVER, but this sequence felt disjointed and lethargic. The match was back and forth as SANADA hit the TKO, but KENTA then shoved him into the referee. An attempted briefcase shot failed as SANADA dropkicked it into KENTA’s face. A follow up Moonsault landed on KENTA’s knees, which was soon followed by a series of reversals which ended with SANADA pinning KENTA with a Japanese Leg rolling clutch.
SANADA pinned KENTA (11:24)
KENTA’s matches are often clever, aside from the briefcase spots, but he works a slow pace, so the excitement needs to come from either his stiff strikes or his opponent. KENTA did not hit any big strikes in this match and SANADA brought no sense of urgency or peril whatsoever. Technically this was a decent match, but it just felt dull and listless with a lack of energy. The kind of match where SANADA’s lackadaisical attitude hurt the match. This one is an easy choice to skip if you are short on time.
B Block – Juice Robinson vs Tetsuya Naito
The winner of this match would be top of B block at the end of the show. Robinson got the crowd behind him before things got going with some basic chain wrestling. The early goings saw Robinson gain control, so Naito rolled outside where he eventually gained the advantage. Naito applied a neck lock and mocked Robinson by pumping his fist. Robinson eventually fought back with a spinebuster after being dominated and mocked for almost 5 minutes. The Champion upped the pace to cut off Robinson’s come back before he applied the Pluma Blanca. Robinson got his 2nd big hope spot when he countered a flying forearm into a Full Nelson Slam. He then went on a run of big moves, with a nearfall after a Jackhammer.
A short counter sequence ended with Robinson punching Naito in the face, which he soon regretted when Naito eventually replies with a reverse rana. Naito used his elbows to yet again control Robinson before he was turned inside out with a side kick. The counter sequences were on full display, but they felt a little slower and a more deliberate here. The 1st Destino was countered with a falling Powerbomb and both men were spent. Naito and Juice got into a vicious strike exchange, slapping and mocking each other in equal measure. While trying to regain control with his elbows Naito ate a big left hand from Robinson. In the end, Robinson kicked out of a Destino variation but the follow up Destino did its job.
Tetsuya Naito pinned Juice Robinson (25:01)
This was yet another long Naito match with the usual formula being slightly more obvious here. The start was slow and dull with a slower than normal finishing stretch due to Robinson’s style. On one hand that made it feel a little more impactful, on the other hand the 2nd half felt slightly less exciting. Naito mocking Robinson and the crowd being firmly behind the American helped a little. While it was good by the end this was also one of the more forgettable Naito matches from this tournament and not worth the time it took to watch it.
B Block – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL
The match with relying controlling the match with the headlock that he started using after fighting Kurt Angle many moons ago. The advantage was with him until Dick Togo dragged him out of the ring and started a beat down. It is amazing how many of EVIL’s matches have used that exact same spot in that situation. Except this time EVIL also brought back his convoluted chair spot and suplexed the Young Lion Yota Tsuji onto some chairs. When Tanahashi was back in the ring EVIL targeted Tanahashi’s knee. Tanahashi uses a Dragon Screw to gain some momentum and the crowd was firmly behind him. For the 2nd time in the match EVIL gained control, and for the 2nd time it was because of Togo.
EVIL used a nice-looking release German suplex and followed it with an attempted Sasorigatame. The Ace attempted a Texas Cloverhold, but EVIL grabbed his ear. It backfired when Tanahashi took out Togo and fired back with some Dragon Screws. The Texas Cloverhold was successfully applied but EVIL reached the ropes. Tanahashi repeatedly avoided the EVIL’s EVILs and countered a Darkness Fall into the Sling Blade. Togo was neutralized by Yota Tsuji, aka Chekov’s Young Lion.) The Ace then hit as High Fly Flow followed by the Texas Cloverhold, the combo he used to beat KENTA. So of course, Togo attacked Tanahashi from behind. Tanahashi wiped out Togo, hit the Sling Blade and hit a High Fly Flow to the back. A 2nd High Fly Flow was stopped when Togo crotched him. That was the 4th time that Togo interfered when EVIL was in trouble. EVIL hit a big superplex, Darkness Falls and then the EVIL to pin Tanahashi and deflate the crowd.
EVIL pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi (19:58)
For a former IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Double Champion it is crazy how much of EVIL’s matches seem to be designed to make him look weak and utterly reliant on Dick Togo. There is a difference between a heel looking strong but still cheating when they need to and what we are getting with EVIL’s G1 matches. Every time that EVIL overcame Tanahashi it was because of Togo. EVIL looks like a bully who could not even beat up a little kid without his gang helping him.
This was the worst main event of the tour so far. It was slow and felt both formulaic and over booked. EVIL’s control sequences were brief and mostly dull, and the interference kept breaking up any momentum. I would not have minded this if it had been half the length and had half the interference. The sad thing is, EVIL can be much better if New Japan sat down, looked at the pieces and rearranged them. Imagine how much better these matches could be if EVIL wiped people out in 8-10-minute sprints, cheating once at a crucial point in the match and using the Sasorigatame as a secondary finisher.
This was probably the worst main event and the worst day of the tournament, with the shows high point being a Toru Yano match. The rest of the card was either fine or hampered by either slow pacing, excessive length, or a combination of both. The trend of 2 back to back 20-minute matches when Naito is not in the main event makes the end of these shows drag. Honestly, if you are struggling for time or motivation then the best thing that I can recommend is watching Yano vs Sabre Jr and then moving on to something else.
B Block Standings after day 12:
- Tetsuya Naito – 10 points
- EVIL – 8 points
- Hirooki Goto – 6 points
- Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 points
- Juice Robinson – 6 points
- SANADA – 6 points
- Toru Yano – 6 points
- Zack Sabre Jr – 6 points
- KENTA – 4 points
- YOSHI-HASHI – 2 points