Welcome to the Wrestling Headlines weekly New Japan G1 Climax 30 review where your intrepid New Japan guides, The Implications and Sir Sam rank the top five matches for the week and award the best and brightest performers for the week points towards being the Wrestling Headlines G1 MVP. This week covers matches from night’s nine to twelve, in case you missed last week’s review, you can find it here. To follow along through the week you can find either fella on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat or @Sir_Samuel.
Sam: We’re hitting the middle of a marathon stretch as we run towards the G1 finals my friend. Eleven cards in thirteen days. How are you holding up? Got any friends left after cancelling on them to watch japanese wrestling?
Imp: Being in a pandemic sure does help hide being a social prick for the puroresu. There is nothing to cancel, bring on the marathon!
Sam: Personally I’ve had to give up watching the Giro D’Italia, which in case you aren’t familiar with it, is the NJPW of the cycling world.
Imp: I was not. Whenever I watch cycling I peak at, “It’s bikes, innit.”
I can tell you all about Nottingham Forest’s Transfer Deadline Day however.
Sam: And on that note, I think we best get to the matches.
Top Five Matches of Week Three
5. Sam: Zack Sabre Jr. v Toru Yano (Night 12)
Every year there is at least one Toru Yano match that makes me laugh out loud and this one was it. I won’t go into too much depth because it will be way funnier for you to watch it yourself than for me to explain the jokes.
The best thing about this match though was how it became a hilarious mix of genuinely skilful wrestling and both men indulging in the humour of their characters. Yano wasn’t the only one getting laughs either as Sabre showed he can look like a petulant child one moment and a vicious wrestler the next.
Imp: SANADA vs ZSJ (Night 10)
You, you, give us smooth.
Yes, you, give us silky!
Yah, yah. So nice, so smooth.
Every year this is a sleeper banger slap bang in the middle of the tournament. Climbing the ladder and leaving one smooth & silky stone in the New Japan nest.
So incredibly fluid, the speed they spin around and reverse each other is a marvel. Building and building to point where they hit some damn amazing sequences of constant reversals and halted roll throughs. Arguably one of the most underrated pairings in NJPW, every time the G1 rolls round I’m singing their praises.
You want to watch an almost faultless technical lovely wrestled at a damn fast pace? This is the match of the tournament for you. The final minutes ramped it up like they were competing for the High Speed Championship, so fast, so smooth, so impressive to watch. Once again ZSJ & SANADA showing their fantastic chemistry, the similar styles matching up so perfectly.
4. Imp: Juice Robinson vs Tetsuya Naito (Night 12)
What a treat this was!
How many times have had a Juice match on this list? Only for the G1 to keep on rolling and force us to drop it because Ishii just can’t stop having amazing matches. Finally he makes it! Arguably my favourite of his so far this tournament, matching and rising up really well to Naito’s current G1 style of hitting 20 minutes plus every night.
The number of times they suckered me in deserves so much applause, the false finishes grabbing me again and again. I was certain Naito was winding up to wrap the match, only for Juice to fight back out yet again. The LIJ leader had to dig deeper and deeper as the American just refused to stay down, forced to be ramping up the energy rather than wind up the Destino.
Juice stood right up to the champ and suckered me right in as he fought back again and again, firing with strings of late-match offence snapping into sudden flows of hope. A perfect follow up to Naito’s loss to SANADA, because it’s your head that he might actually do it. We’d just seen Naito get caught, was it to be?
NJPW’s champions very rarely win the G1 blocks, which means they have to lose to someone. Teasing who that person might be creates so much excitement in the moments of their matches and they played to that perfectly in this match.
Sam: Juice Robinson v Tetsuya Naito (Night 12)
Imp will attest to how I have been trying to fit Juice Robinson onto this list every single week but have ended up having him squeezed off in the final crunch of awesome matches. Well, not this week!
There was so much to love about this match. It was great to see Naito get to play the bad guy a little as he is damn good at it, I loved how he constantly taunted Juice, even copying his signature punches. As a big fan of Juice, it was really exciting to see him taking it to the IWGP Champion and I had my heart in my mouth at the end thinking he had a chance at picking up the pinfall. The crowd also really got into this match and you can see how much they love both men.
Juice deserves a lot of praise for how he has got the crowd doing his ‘We will rock you’ clapping pattern and I will never not pop for the Japanese commentators shouting “boom, boom, PAA!”
3. Imp: KENTA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night 10)
Revenge for last year! Those dirty tricks of KENTA reaped rewards when they met in G1 Climax 29, but here at 30 The Ace had that extra will to fight through. A running theme for the IWGP US Championship #1 contender, his heelish ways not exactly reaping much in the way of reward.
That isn’t because of a lack of effort however, this match played so well off of their previous effort, KENTA entering with his calm confidence and quickly realising Tanahashi was bringing an intensity he would have to match. Which was something that didn’t let throughout this match, you could feel it as every hit had extra fire behind it.
Fair to say they work strong together and built the story well, this really did feel like two veterans may not be at their athletic peaks but they have mastered their craft. No wasted motion, firing on all cylinders and ending with impressive flurries. KENTA more trying to grind Tanahashi down as The Ace attempted to finish what he couldn’t last year, such a great follow on from their last meeting.
Honestly, this match might be even better were you to watch their two G1 matches back to back. To see how much they’ve both evolved since that meeting, with KENTA now full blown heel and Tanahashi out for his number.
Sam: Kota Ibushi v Shingo Takagi (Night 11)
This is a match I have had circled since the start of the G1, both men have power and speed, a pairing that tends to yield very good results. Initially, as they tested their toughness against one another with some stiff strikes, I will admit I was sitting on the edge of my seat urging them to turn up the pace. Once they did hit the ‘go’ button boy was it fun to watch, when it comes to athletic, work rate wrestling it is this blend of explosive styles that I enjoy most.
I also really liked the subtle storytelling in the match that saw Ibushi try to wrestle the same match against Shingo that he did against Tomohiro Ishii last week, a match he won. What he didn’t bank on though was that while Ishii has more fire and heart than just about anyone Shingo is on a different level athletically so Ibushi wasn’t able to just outstrike and pace his opponent, as he did with Ishii. The power difference was what did it for Shingo in the end, emphasised by one particular suplex that was thrown with such force that even though Ibushi tried to flip out of it he over-rotated and hit the ropes hard.
In the end, a combination of huge lariats allowed Shingo to hoist Ibushi up for The Last of the Dragon for a very unexpected but exciting win. I believe this was the first time these two have met and I really hope it isn’t the last.
2. Sam: Will Ospreay v Kota Ibushi (Night 9)
If I am honest the last two meetings between these two wrestlers have left me flat. Of course the wrestling moves were top notch and there were some spectacular moments but there was nothing that got me emotionally invested in their matchup or rivalry. That was not the case this time though as early on the nealy arrogant Will Ospreay decided to patronise Kota Ibushi, ruffling his hair and giving him a fake back massage, two things that turned out to be a really, really bad idea. Things immediately turned personal and from that point I was all in on this match as Kota fired back and the pair started a dangerous game of one-upmanship.
Of course these two have some of the smoothest and quickest sequences of the entire G1 so far. Their skill and speed was on full display in the classic New Japan final act as each man dodged and countered as they tried to set up their finishing moves. This time it was Kota Ibushi intercepting an attempted OsCutter with a mid-air V-Trigger that set up the finish for The Golden Star.
These two have always been great together but the added personal dynamic really sold this match for me as every move and strike was given extra weight by the perceived slight.
Imp: Jay White vs TAICHI (Night 9)
An amazing tone set right at the start with both men going to roll to the outside before both looking up simultaneously, “Oi, where are you going?”
“Well where are you going?”
Like versus like, which man’s cheeky tricks would usurp the other? Both trying to out-cheat a cheater, but Taichi was showing you can’t dick kick a dick kicker!
Such a fun match, you very rarely get to see heel vs heel like this, neither man particularly gently drifting to the other role, rather both sticking with their devious ways. Jay White with the numbers advantage with Gedo in his corner, Taichi with the air flow advantage after he ripped his pants off – so who really had the upper hand?
Shenanigans from the opening minute to the final bell, mixed in with Taichi’s strikes and White’s counter style, one hell of an entertaining concoction!
1. Imp: Kota Ibushi vs Shingo Takagi (Night 9)
Like Sam, I had my eye on this match the moment the lineup was announced. Last week I was talking about how Shingo can match Ospreay’s speed, halt his athleticism, counter his power; well it’s the exact same thing here. In this first time meeting Ibushi through so much at the dragon, but just like Billy before him, he found himself spun inside out from that brutal Pumping Bomber lariat.
Kota was trying to amp himself up, feeding off the energy of the crowd to charge at Shingo, but the LIJ man seemed to feed off it too. The bugger only grew stronger as the match went on! As The Golden Star payed tribute to Nakamura with his running knee, Shingo must have been absorbing power from the Gods to swing even more powerful Pumping Bomber.
An incredible contest, as strong in reality as it was on paper. Those lariats in the end turned out too much for Ibushi, who – as Sam said – had entered this match with a similar tactic to his battle with Ishii. They may both be meaty big boys, Shingo Takagi is an entirely different beast however.
As you’d expect, the final stretch hit such an awesome level, as Ibushi tried to control the match into his usual string and aim to roll through into the Kamigoye knee strike. That never came to fruition though, with those lariats coming powerful and fast to send the poor star falling. One mighty Last of The Dragon later and Shingo had secured himself one massive, statement making win over last year’s G1 winner.
A bloody fantastic match.
Sam: KENTA v Tanahashi (Night 10)
I thought that the match between these two was a hidden gem of the G1 and it hinted at such a bigger story that was ready to play out between the Ace of NJPW and former Ace of NOAH. I was very excited to see the animosity that came into that match a year ago had only escalated as these two faced off in the main event of night ten.
While neither of these men is in their athletic prime, they still absolutely know how to tell an incredible story and bring the crowd into their matches. The first hint we were onto something special was when these two exchanged taunts around Tanahashi’s air guitar and KENTA played it as bass before throwing it away. The intensity didn’t lay up throughout either with a constant back and forth of stinging slaps and forearms and KENTA straight up kicked Tana in the face when he lined up a PK. I knew we were cooking with some seriously hot gas when the pair traded top rope moves, a double stomp and second-rope senton, absolutely laid into each other with every ounce of their frames.
It was the little touches though that really elevated this match to the highest level for me. Be it Tanahashi pulling out KENTA’s corner beatdown and pausing dropkick to punish the former Noah Ace or simply the incredible camera shot of a downed Tanahashi with KENTA lining up the Busaiku Knee in the background behind. The chemistry between these two is absolutely off the charts and I really hope they get the chance to develop this story further.
For me, this match was like a good wine: smooth, dynamic and perfectly balanced.
G1 Climax MVP – Week Three
Over the course of the G1 we will be awarding points to three wrestlers for their performances each week and at the end, use them to crown the MVP for the G1.
Sam: Kota Ibushi
I run hot and cold on Kota Ibushi. My favourite New Japan match ever features him but I also sometimes find his work flashy but lacking any characterful substance. That was absolutely not the case this week where all his skill and talent was on display but paired with the fire, heart and desire I love to see from him.
At his peak, there are probably only three or four wrestlers in the world as good as Kota Ibushi and this week there was no one else as good. Three big ones to The Golden Star
Imp: Kota Ibushi
Last week Ishii topped this list after facing Shingo and Ospreay, this time it was Kota running that gauntlet and we end with the same result! This G1 has been about cementing him as one of New Japan’s top stars, one of the Musketeers if you will, when Okada’s busy doing whatever he’s doing, Ibushi’s stepped into that main event spotlight and started to run wild.
At this point he’s A Block’s top babyface, his matches this week really did cement that fact with me.
Imp: Jay White
My G1 Climax 30 MVP rolls on with yet another week scoring right in the top bin. There’s just an aura around him this year, like he’s establishing himself as one of the pillars of the company. It’s his character work on top of the wrestling, controlling the crowd like veteran before transitioning beautifully into the Switchblade. Yet another entertaining week from the Bullet Club leader.
Sam: Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack had two polar opposite matches this week, a technical masterclass against SANADA and then the comedy match of the tournament against Yano. It was the kind of week that showed why he is one of the most valuable members of the New Japan roster.
Sam: Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was a tossup between Tanahashi and KENTA as the two in my favourite match of the week but Tanahashi simply had the better follow up in his match against EVIL on night twelve. The Ace hasn’t had too many chances to main event this G1, but every time he has got the spotlight he has made it count.
I had two TAICHI matches on my list at one point this week, a brace of excellent showings this week. His match with Ishii was as excellent as their previous praised bouts, I adore the second halves of their matches in particular. But his match with Jay White showed so much character, was so entertaining, that I felt I really had to sing his praises. Lord TAICHI’s had a great G1 so far, but this week really cemented just how much.
Jay White – 8 points
Kota Ibushi – 8 points
Tomohiro Ishii – 7 points
Tetsuya Naito – 5 points
Shingo Takagi – 4 points
Will Ospreay – 4 points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 2 points
TAICHI – 1 point
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 1 point
A Block Standings
(After 6 matches)
1 | Jay White – 8 pts
2 | Will Ospreay – 8 pts
3 | Kota Ibushi – 8 pts
4 | Kazuchika Okada – 8 pts
5 | Taichi – 6 pts
6 | Minoru Suzuki – 6 pts
7 | Shingo Takagi – 6 pts
8 | Tomohiro Ishii – 6 pts
9 | Jeff Cobb – 4 pts
10 | Yujiro Takahashi – 0 pts
B Block Standings
(After 6 matches)
1 | Tetsuya Naito – 10 pts
2 | EVIL – 8 pts
3 | Juice Robinson – 6 pts
4 | Zack Sabre Jr. – 6 pts
5 | Toru Yano – 6 pts
6 | Hirooki Goto – 6 pts
7 | Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 pts
8 | SANADA – 6 pts
9 | KENTA – 4 pts
10 | Yoshi-Hashi – 2 pts
That’s all from us this week. What were your favourite matches and who were your favourite performers in the G1 Climax this week? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @TheDamnImplicat and @Sir_Samuel. You can also go deeper on the G1 thread or write a column about it yourself on the LOP Forums here.
Make sure you join us for our increasingly more incoherent ramblings next week. See you then!