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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 18 Review

October 20, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW G1 Climax 31 - Night 18
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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 18 Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 18
October 20th, 2021 | Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 2,088

The A Block ended in the most boring way possible. Can the B Block do better? It’s Gedo booking, so doubtful.

B Block: Chase Owens [4] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [4]
YOSHI-HASHI won their only other match in the New Japan Cup 2019 (**½). Although these are wildly uninteresting wrestlers for the most part to me, they’ve both worked really hard throughout this tournament and that’s par for the course for them. This was just what you’d expect from them as they gave it their all and had the definition of a solid match but it never really got taken to the next level to really stand out for me. Owens hit stuff like C-Triggers and went for the Package Piledriver but had it countered several times. That allowed YOSHI to nail Karma and win after 8:27. That was a fine enough way to start the show. [**¾]

B Block: Hirooki Goto [4] vs. Tama Tonga [6]
Speaking of wrestlers I don’t care to see. Goto enters with a 6-0 record against Tama Tonga. I’ve seen the last four in the 2016 New Japan Cup (**¾), G1 26 (***), G1 28 (½*), and Castle Attack (*). Goto is such a dweeb. Tama Tonga came out oozing confidence after beating Okada. This was yet another case of two guys having a perfectly acceptable match that didn’t go beyond that. Honestly, at this point in the G1, I’m beyond tired of talking about those matches but it’s most of what this tournament has been. They went back and forth throughout with things like the Gun Stun, USHIGOROSHI, and Bloody Sunday. Goto won with a rollup because he’s a dweeb at the 15:19 mark. It happened and was solid. [***]

B Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [8] vs. Taichi [4]
They’ve split their past in the New Japan Cup 2018 (***½) and 2020 (***). Leave it to Tanahashi to get me invested in a match with nothing on the line. That man is a miracle worker. I liked Taichi going for quick wins, desperate to get off of his losing streak and end this quickly due to his bad ribs. That made a lot of sense. Tanahashi wasn’t afraid to work the ribs, even doing some jerk like stuff including simply standing on the ribs. That’s rude as hell. Some of Tanahashi’s usual leg work felt a bit off given the rib stuff but it was still fine. Taichi was so damaged that he even got checked on by the doctor during the match, though he recovered well enough to hit a backdrop driver. Taichi managed to avoid the High Fly Flow before rolling Tanahashi into the Gedo Clutch, stealing this in 14:58. I just watched a heelish Tanahashi against an underdog babyface Taichi and it worked way better than you’d ever expect. [***½]

B Block: EVIL [12] vs. SANADA [8]
Long history for these former LIJ buddies. SANADA won in the G1 27 (****), G1 30 (**½), and at Wrestle Kingdom (***) this year, while EVIL won in the G1 29 (***¾) and 2020 New Japan Cup (***½). As I said about Goto, SANADA is a dweeb. EVIL requested a pre-match forfeit but SANADA wanted none of it. Dammit, now this match has to happen. Again, I’m over discussing some of these tropes because we see them far too often. EVIL had tons of help from Dick Togo including distractions, removing the corner pad, and bringing a chair into play. I’ve said the G1 can get repetitive and that’s especially true when matches all follow this same cheap formula. Remember Tama and Fale a few years ago? Thankfully, this didn’t break 20 minutes, with EVIL hitting his finisher to win 17:47. [**¼]

B Block: Jeff Cobb [16] vs. Kazuchika Okada [14]
It all comes down to this, as expected. Okada holds a 2-1 advantage head to head, winning in the G1 30 (***) and in July at Wrestle Grand Slam (***¾) before Cobb won at the September Wrestle Grand Slam show (***½). The interesting move is to have Cobb go unbeaten into the finals and win the whole thing, creating a new star. The uninteresting move is to have Okada back in the top slot. I dug Cobb trying for his finisher early. I’ve always said that wrestlers look smart kayfabe wise to attack Okada early and often. It worked for Kenny in the G1 27. The pace was still too slow in the early stages, likely because they wanted to tease the time limit a bit since a draw would ruin things for Okada. Cobb took control and Okada made the spirited comeback, leading to them countering each other’s signature moves, including both the Rainmaker and the Tour of the Islands. Cobb called for his own Rainmaker but Okada avoided it. He also proceeded to counter the Tour of the Islands several more times before connecting on the Rainmaker to take this in 23:35. Not total Okada formula but still nothing overly great. Gedo did exactly what I predicted because this company is bland and creatively bankrupt. [***¾]

Kota Ibushi 14 (7-2)*WINNER* Kazuchika Okada 16 (8-1)*WINNER*
Shingo Takagi 13 (6-2-1) Jeff Cobb 16 (8-1)
KENTA 12 (6-3) EVIL 14 (7-2)
Zack Sabre Jr. 12 (6-3) Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 (4-5)
Tomohiro Ishii 10 (5-4) SANADA 8 (4-5)
Toru Yano 10 (5-4) Taichi 6 (3-6)
The Great-O-Khan 8 (4-5) Hirooki Goto 6 (3-6)
Tanga Loa 6 (3-6) YOSHi-HASHI 6 (3-6)
Yujiro Takahashi 5 (2-6-1) Tama Tonga 6 (3-6)
Tetsuya Naito 0 (0-9) Chase Owens 4 (2-7)
The final score: review Average
The 411
It’s 2021 New Japan. That’s basically all I have to say here. There are some good matches, an overbooked lame one, and everything else was bland. NJPW is the unseasoned chicken of pro wrestling.

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G1 Climax 31, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja