G1 Climax 30 Finals Report: Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA from Sumo Hall

Mark Buckeldee reviews the finals of the G1 Climax from Sumo Hall feature Kota Ibushi and SANADA meeting to determine this year's winner.

Photo courtesy: NJPW

By: Mark Buckeldee

Welcome to POST Wrestling’s report on day 19 of G1 Climax 30. It’s the final day, coming from Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo with an attendance of 2,928. As is now traditional, the undercard is full of tag matches before we get to the main event between Kota Ibushi & SANADA to determine the winner or G1 Climax 30. An opening video package covered the events of the A Block and B Block final nights that had an impact on the final.

  1. Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs DOUKI, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi – Basic heel vs face with a couple of throwbacks to previous matches.
  2. Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki – A Heel vs face undercard tag with a nice mix of energy and aggression.
  3. Master Wato, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Gedo, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA & Jay White – Another basic heel vs face undercard match with the main highlight being Jeff Cobb throwing men at other men.
  4. Sho & Kazuchika Okada vs Great O-Khan & Will Ospreay – Okada sought vengeance as Ospreay & O-Khan established themselves as “The Empire.”
  5. BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL – An uneventful heel vs face match designed to set up another Naito vs EVIL title match. Because everyone wants to see that again.
  6. G1 Climax final – Kota Ibushi vs SANADA – A very long match, sometimes messy with a slow start, lots of action and some red hot near falls – RECOMMENDED

Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs DOUKI, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi

Tomohiro Ishii & Taichi started things off before both collapsed due to the leg damage they suffered after their matches on Day 17. DOUKI and El Desperado worked together and targeted Hirooki Goto’s shoulder. Both YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii tried to save him, but they were cut off. Sabre Jr continued to work on the arm with a Manjigatame but Goto used a Lariat and tagged out to Toru Yano. The hot tag consisted of Yano removing a turnbuckle pad and getting caught with a sleeper, although Sabre Jr released it to replace the turnbuckle pad.

Yano would eventually escape Sabre Jr’s clutches with a belly to belly suplex and YOSHI-HASHI tagged in, taking it to Sabre Jr with chops. Suzuki-Gun tried to use the numbers advantage but YOSHI-HASHI fought them off and CHAOS used a corner train and a Headhunter-Russian Leg Sweep combo. YOSHI-HASHI was eventually blindsided by Taichi and hit with the Zack Mephisto before being pinned by DOUKI.

After the match, Suzuki-gun left all of CHAOS laying and it looked like they will challenge for the NEVER Openweight 6-man titles.

DOUKI pinned YOSHI-HASHI (10:34)

A fun but basic match where everyone got a little time. YOSHI-HASHI got some shine and only lost due to numbers. There were a couple of callbacks to moments from matches earlier in the tour, with Sabre Jr & Yano showing more of their chemistry.

Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki

Hiromu Takahashi was excited to be wrestling again as he sprinted around the ring. The action started quickly and there was lots of brawling on the outside early on. Suzuki trapped Takahashi with a Boston Crab and Takagi made the save but Suzuki fought him off and reapplied it. Takahashi fought off Suzuki with a wrist clutch Dragon Screw and tagged in his teammate. Takagi took it to both his opponents and started a forearm exchange, but he was still feeling the effects of the arm work from day 17. Suzuki dominated the exchange but the Gotch Style Piledriver was blocked twice. Both men tagged out and Kanemaru used smarts to overcome enthusiasm and energy. After a Deep Impact, Kanemaru missed a Moonsault and Takagi came in to for a double team. Kanemaru brought in a bottle of Whisky, but Takahashi dodged it and hit the Time Bomb for the win.

After the match Takagi and Suzuki continued to get in each other’s faces, further setting up a match between the 2 for the NEVER Openweight Title. Suzuki took out both Yuya Uemura and Gabriel Kidd in frustration as he went to the back.

Hiromu Takahashi pinned Shingo Takagi (11:54)

Another simple tag match, this time focused on building up Takagi vs Suzuki. Takagi’s arm selling was good to see and Takahashi added intensity without having to do anything excessive. Kanemaru was solid here as well. One nice touch was that Takahashi only needed the normal Time Bomb to win the match, so hopefully, he is re-establishing that move.

Master Wato, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Gedo, Taiji Ishimori, KENTA & Jay White

Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi both showed off their abs before the match begins. Master Wato and Taiji Ishimori started off with a fast-paced start before Bullet Club isolated him. White mocked Wato’s cornerman Hiroyoshi Tenzan by using Mongolian Chops but Tenzan used them on White to let Wato make the hot tag. Jeff Cobb tagged in and ran wild on White and Ishimori with big throws. White escaped a Tour of the Islands and a DDT let him tag in KENTA. Tanahashi and KENTA faced off with big moves before Tanahashi hit the Dragon Screw and applied the Texas Cloverhold. The match broke down as Cobb threw men at Gedo and Wato hit a dive. Gedo tapped out after Tanahashi applied the Texas Cloverhold.

KENTA mocked Tanahashi with his IWGP US Heavyweight Championship briefcase. Liger and Tanahashi shared an air hug which was as bizarre as it sounded. After the match, we had a video package to announce that Wrestle Kingdom 15 would again take place over 2 days on January 4th & January 5th.

Hiroshi Tanahashi submitted Gedo (9:12)

A decent undercard match with some fun moments but nothing of consequence. Cobb looked impressive and he was one of the guys who missed out the most by not having undercard tag matches in this year’s G1. 

Sho & Kazuchika Okada vs Great O-Khan & Will Ospreay

The Great O-Khan used his Mongolian/Jiangshi (Chinese Hopping Vampire) inspired entrance gear from his excursion in Revolution Pro Wrestling. Bea Priestley accompanied them, wearing her ring gear. Sho looked traumatized, either by Ospreay’s betrayal or by O-Khan’s outfit. Okada immediately attacked Ospreay in a rare display of rage. O-Khan started with heel tactics on Sho before tagging in Ospreay, who dialed up the aggression. O-Khan used Mongolian Chops and much of the offense that he used on an excursion. They isolated Sho before he made the hot tag after a spear.

Okada tagged in and took it to O-Khan, with Ospreay avoiding his former teammate. O-Khan managed to regain control over Okada and hit a tree of woe basement dropkick for 2. Japanese commentary repeatedly referred to Ospreay & O-Khan as “The Empire” so that seems to be the name of this new group. After Okada was softened up Ospreay tagged in, only for Okada to fight back with a strike exchange. O-Khan interrupted a Money Clip attempt and Ospreay upped his pace before eating an Okada dropkick. Sho tagged in, taking it to Ospreay in the corner and eventually hit rolling German Suplexes for a near fall. Ospreay recovered and continued to attack Sho’s knee, with Priestley hitting a Dragon Screw behind the referee’s back. The finish came when Ospreay applied a Figure 4 leg lock as O-Khan cut off Okada with an Iron Claw Slam. Sho tapped out soon after.

Will Ospreay submitted Sho (12:36)

This was an effective debut for The Empire. O-Khan hasn’t changed his move set much from his excursion but felt a bit more confident in here. I don’t see him making his singles debut for a while though. Ospreay’s heelish attitude comes through and it felt like he was trying to prove a point with the Figure Four Leg Lock. I like how angry Okada was at being betrayed as he can often come across as stoic.

BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL

With the tournament over Naito dropped the suit and came out with this LIJ cap and t-shirt. Takahashi & EVIL initially had control, but Naito regained it with a cravat on Takahashi. BUSHI tagged in but he quickly got dropped throat first onto the ropes. Bullet Club worked their opponents over on the outside. BUSHI was isolated but he eventually made the hot tag after a flying headscissors. Naito attacked EVIL on the apron, focused more on him than he was on Takahashi.

Naito hit the Combination Cabron, but Takahashi made the tag to EVIL. This was back and forth before Naito tagged out after a swinging DDT. BUSHI nailed EVIL with a Tope Suicida and a DDT in the ring for 2. BUSHI tried to hang on bravely against EVIL’s strength and cheating but he tapped out to the Sasorigatame, which EVIL would not let go of after the match.

Naito stared down EVIL, but Togo interfered and let EVIL hit the EVIL on the Double Champion. It looks like another title match between EVIL and Naito is all but confirmed for Power Struggle.

EVIL submitted BUSHI (14:14)

Another basic heel-face tag match focused on building up a match. It did a decent job and BUSHI looked motivated but it’s setting up the 4th main event between EVIL and Naito since July. I hope Naito actually channels some aggression in this one.

G1 Climax 30 final – Kota Ibushi vs SANADA

After a video package, 5-time G1 Climax winner Masahiro Chono came out for a pre-match introduction before joining commentary. Ibushi’s left leg was taped up after his match against Taichi on Friday. This started cagily with an exchange of holds. SANADA used his athleticism but Ibushi eventually grabbed a headlock on the mat before they engaged in a strike exchange. SANADA initially knocked down Ibushi but he fought back and graduated to kicking the chest, with SANADA using European Uppercuts. Ibushi riled up SANADA but that led to SANADA kicking the bandaged leg. There was a bad botch where SANADA went for a dropkick and Ibushi expected a leapfrog, which would have seriously derailed the match if it had any momentum at that point.

The match had lacked any sense of energy or urgency, but they soon graduated to using more high impact moves. Ibushi eventually fought back and hit a Moonsault for 2. A Frankensteiner by Ibushi set up a Plancha, and that was followed with a springboard dropkick for another nearfall. SANADA regained control with a dropkick and a Plancha of his own. He walked into a Powerslam, but he dodged the Corkscrew Moonsault that followed it. Ibushi booted SANADA off the apron and went for the Golden Triangle Moonsault. SANADA tried to stop it by dropkicking the legs, only for Ibushi to counter it into a Double Stomp.

A double count on the floor was teased after SANADA hit an apron assisted Magic Screw. SANADA won a strike exchange in the ring with a kick to the knee and hit a Magic Screw for a nearfall. Ibushi regained some momentum by countering a Springboard Dropkick into a Sit out Powerbomb. SANADA tried to derail Ibushi with a dropkick to the knee but Ibushi still landed a big Lariat. A 2nd Lariat was countered into a Tiger Suplex by SANADA for a nearfall. That was followed by a Dragon Sleeper swing into the Skull End. SANADA would yet again release the hold to hit a Moonsault that missed. Ibushi hit a Moonsault and a Boma-Ye for a nearfall. A pop-up Cutter set up a SANADA Moonsault to the back but the Moonsault to the front was met by Ibushi’s knees.

A series of reverse chancery reversals ended with Ibushi hitting a Cradle Tombstone Piledriver for a near fall. A Kami-Go-Ye attempt was reversed into a series of pinning moves before a ridiculously close near fall on a Japanese Leg Rolling Clutch by SANADA. The crowd honestly thought that was it and so did the timekeeper. Ibushi hit the Kami-Go-Ye but SANADA kicked out. Ibushi then quickly hit a 2nd Kami-Go-Ye to win the match.

During Ibushi’s backstage interview Jay White interrupted Ibushi with the iciest toast that I have seen. White challenged Ibushi for the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase as Ibushi threw Zima at him.

Kota Ibushi pinned SANADA (35:12)

The start of this match was long and dull, but it built into an action-packed match full of highspots. The length did not help the match as it often felt like it was long just for the sake of going long, and that overshadowed the action. The crowd was firmly behind by SANADA, but I don’t have a connection to him and that hurt the match. These 2 don’t have the best chemistry and that showed with some of the botches. I will say that the match had 2 of the best near falls in the tournament but it really could have done with being shorter or more streamlined. SANADA’s main flaw in my eyes is that he struggles to emote and add any urgency or sense of desperation in his matches. This was recommended because it’s the final but honestly, your enjoyment is dependent on how much you like SANADA.

Show Summary

As is the trend with the last 4 years of G1-Climax finals, this is a series of random undercard tag matches leading to a long final in the main event. While the undercard built-up title matches for Power Struggle it didn’t lead to the angles that people were hoping for. The only undercard match of any real interest was Ospreay & Great O-Khan vs Sho & Kazuchika Okada, which is probably worth a look if you’re cherry-picking. These finals always hinge on the main event and this one was long, full of irritating tropes, and often dull. Your interest is very dependent on your enjoyment of SANADA matches.

Tournament summary

This year’s G1 Climax has had some great matched but overall, it felt less exciting than previous years. The COVID-19 era crowds were a big part of that, but it did not help with things like EVIL’s interference heavy run and the overloaded A Block weakening B Block in terms of great matches. Of course, the G1 Climax being about great matches is a modern thing and nothing lasts forever. Still, it has been an entertaining tournament at times and something to focus on as the summer fades and Autumn starts to make its presence known.