The second day of the G1 Climax means the first matches for the B Block! As you could tell yesterday, Mathew and I are splitting the G1 this year.
B Block does contain most of the “less sexy” names, but that doesn’t mean it will be outright terrible. ZSJ, KENTA, SANADA, Naito and Tanahashi can all put on great matches. So I guess we see what we’re in store for.
Since predictions are the norm, here are mine:
- A Block: Jay White
- B Block: Tetsuya Naito
- Dark Horse: Minoru Suzuki
Jay has been my choice to win for a few weeks (even before I knew he was officially in, check POD is War if you don’t believe me). Naito has a story if they think there’s money in Naito winning and choosing Hiromu, to give fans the match they never got for the Anniversary show. Then there’s Suzuki; with Pro Wrestling NOAH flirting with the prospect of Keiji Muto getting a shot to complete the major Triple Crown*, New Japan could always try to pull in more fans with their own historic possibility.
*The Triple Crown being referred to is for the major Japanese promotions Heavyweight Titles. All Japan’s Triple Crown, NOAH’s GHC Heavyweight and New Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight. Only Kensuke Sasaki and Yoshihiro Takayama have achieved this feat.
Now on to the show!
- YOSHI-HASHI vs Juice Robinson: Juice wins Pulp Friction @15:57 – *** ½
- Toru Yano vs SANADA: Yano wins via Count Out @6:16 – ** ½
- KENTA vs Hirooki Goto: KENTA wins via Game Over @17:15 – *** ¾
- EVIL vs Zack Sabre Jr: ZSJ wins via Prawn Hold @15:54 – *** ¾
- Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Naito wins via Destino @27:16 – **** ½
YOSHI-HASHI vs Juice Robinson
Juice comes out in a new Blues Brothers inspired look, and hot damn is it an improvement. Then with how he’s got his new look, he looks a bit like Joey Lawrence. YOSHI-HASHI comes out looking like…well…himself. So let’s go Juice, ya know?
Juice really plays to the crowd more than any other wrestler I’ve seen during quarantine. He basically teaches them to do the “We Will Rock You” stomp and clap combination, and it works well for his character. Juice takes an early advantage with the return adrenaline, but YOSHI-HASHI manages to interrupt a Three Amigos, on tres, with a Neckbreaker attempt, and then hits a Head Hunter to start making this more competitive.
We see a lot of Juice looking for the Left Hand of God, but HASHI avoids it for a while. Few nice strikes, a Modified Version of the Butterfly lock with a head and arm choke, coupled with a Swanton Bomb; but Juice still kicks out. Juice manages to hit the Juice Box, goes for Pulp Friction once, and gets Rolled Up…but HASHI over rolled and Juice slips out.
HASHI moves towards Juice, gets snuck with a big right, and followed by Left Hand of God and then Pulp Friction for the win! Pretty good match and a lot of energy for the returning fan favorite.
Juice Robinson 'Full Nelson Slam'
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 20, 2020
Toru Yano vs SANADA
There’s a little tension here since Yano won the KOPW trophy and SANADA was involved in that match as well. So aside from normal Yano tactics, SANADA should have a LITTLE more motivation.
Early on a combination of the referee and SANADA find tape on Yano so there’s a few amusing spots and Cradle attempts from both men. Yano tries to powder out to goad SANADA to get him, but it’s SANADA, he don’t care. Yano gets progressively more anxious as the count gets higher, and runs in at 19.
We get a turnbuckle pad duel, and the pad countering the Paradise Lock the first time. SANADA eventually goes out to the ramp and he has an idea. He puts Yano in the Paradise Lock on the ramp and walks off telling the referee to count.
I really wonder if Yano pays off some of these Young Lions. Yuya Uemura gets involved to flip over Yano, and SANADA gets annoyed and starts to put Uemura in the Paradise Lock. Yano takes advantage of this, has EVEN MORE tape, and the patented Three Legged Man race to beat the Count Out, never wins.
I wonder if SANADA adopts Uemura like Moxley did Shota? Yeah…probably not.
KENTA vs Hirooki Goto
KENTA wasn’t lying, as soon as he got to a Japanese barber, he did cut that blonde highlighted mop that he had during Strong. So at least he looks like himself.
KENTA’s game plan was evident from the beginning, but didn’t pay off until the very end. KENTA focused a lot of early heel tactics on Goto’s right shoulder. Fujiwara Armbars, driving him into the ring post and general strikes. One might have thought that was to take some sting out of the GTR or other power moves of Goto; but it was all to set up for Game Over.
KENTA tried his usual half-assed pace, but Goto wasn’t having any of it and at one point you could see it on KENTA’s face that he would have to tap into “old KENTA” a little. Hanging Goto over the rope to the apron with a Sleeper Hold, Hesitation Dropkick, Busaiku Knee, Double Foot Stomps, this was all great classic KENTA; with the new Bullet Club smell of course.
Goto managed to catch KENTA a few times for Ushiguroshis, blocked the Go 2 Sleep and tried to finish things off with a GTR, but KENTA slipped it. Goto tries to fight off the heel hook, but KENTA grabs the arm instead and works to sink in Game Over. Once it’s in, he rolls to the middle of the ring, and Goto is forced to tap.
EVIL vs Zack Sabre Jr
Well, for a dynamic we don’t get to see often, ZSJ is the babyface. EVIL jumps a Suzuki-Gun member before the official bell, and things get sticky early. Zack doesn’t appreciate the tactic, so we see him fire back and trade more than he usually does; and he’s not winning that fight.
Dick Togo gets a few cheap shots in, and ZSJ gets tossed around like a ragdoll for a good bit of the early going. Zack did a good job at calling for the referee, taking quick moments to employ his offense, Cobra Twists, Octopus Holds and just quick looks at submissions kept everything look close.
EVIL dominated this match, but ZSJ mostly played his game in a very smart underdog babyface way. After Red Shoes gets splashed by EVIL, Dick Togo gets involved and ZSJ eats more offense. EVIL and Dick go for Magic Killer, but ZSJ counters the move, knocks down EVIL and puts Dick Togo in a Flying Armbar. Granted submissions are pretty dumb in a 2 on 1 affair, so EVIL takes advantage of the prone ZSJ and tossed him into the exposed turnbuckle.
At this point, Red Shoes slowly comes back into the ring; EVIL hits Darkness Falls, but only for 2. So EVIL’s slow and cocky assumption that the match is in the bag bites him in the ass when he tries Everything is Evil, but ZSJ manages to get him down, get wrist control, slip on the Prawn Hold and pick up the flash win!
Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Ace versus current champion, so one should assume this will be good. Tanahashi is going through a bit of a crisis of character. As we’ve seen often in the last 3 or 4 years, the Ace goes through spells of not being able to get it done. Will this be the year he can’t bounce back? Let’s also remember Tanahashi had his worst G1 showing since 2008, so there’s a lot to prove.
Tanahashi shows nice aggression as he goes after Naito’s knees, which is almost poetic since Naito is probably the only member of the New Japan roster with worse knees than Tanahashi. Naito did try to stay his usually confident self, as he does his Tranquilo pose, dodges Tanahashi’s Senton and just grins and shoos him out of the ring to recover.
A big thing that could be noticed was Tanahashi’s knees looked a lot better. A beautiful High Fly Flow to the outside landed perfect, numerous Sling Blade variations didn’t look like he was barely getting off the ground; this was a great version of Tanahashi. Naito was getting beat on for a while, with a great early submission spot where Tanahashi has Naito in the Texas Cloverleaf for a while, but Naito fights out. It was believably close.
.@tanahashi1_100 'HIGH FLY ATTACK'
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 20, 2020
Whenever Naito would put a few things together, Tanahashi would strike back and go after the knees. It wasn’t until Naito tapped into a small bit of viciousness and grabbed Tanahashi’s wrist and smashed him about 20 times with clubbing back elbow strikes. Tana did manage to hit a few Sling Blades after that, but it was at that point that Naito looked to be building towards an idea.
Tanahashi hit a Standing High Fly Flow, so he went to hit it flush once Naito was down, but Naito rolled and Tanahashi ate mat. Gloria, Valentia, Running Destino and finally the full arm wringer Destino. A really well paced match, with great offense from both and showed a lot of character from both men.
Overall Score: 8/10
Since there are more question marks in this block than guarantees, I wasn’t sure what we’d get for our first B Block day. Everyone stepped up nicely, and even if Yano’s match was the worst, it was solid for what you expect from Yano. There was a reference to last year’s G1, he did win the KOPW trophy so he needs some solid wins, and SANADA tends to lose in dumb ways quite often.
Even if that isn’t your thing, every other match was solid and brought a different style of match. Juice and HASHI was a really good match between even opponents, Goto and KENTA was pretty rough and we know the history there, EVIL and ZSJ showed that Zack plays face really well and the Bullet Club cheating isn’t infallible. Plus we all had to expect the main event was going to be at the very least, decent; and it was much more than that. Great start, so let’s see the standings.
B Block Standings:
- KENTA: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Tetsuya Naito: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Toru Yano: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Zack Sabre Jr: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Juice Robinson: (1-0) – 2 Points
- Hirooki Goto: (0-1) – 0 Points
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: (0-1) – 0 Points
- SANADA: (0-1) – 0 Points
- EVIL: (0-1) – 0 Points
- YOSHI-HASHI: (0-1) – 0 Points