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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 2 Review

September 19, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 2 Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 2
September 19th, 2021 | Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 2,188

Night one was about what I expected in that some guys put on lackluster matches while a few others did their thing. Night two features the much less interesting B Block, though.

B Block: EVIL [0] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [0]
Commentary mentioned that fans are worried that EVIL will win this G1 and that’s true because he’s been pretty bad in recent months. YOSHI-HASHI beat EVIL in the G1 26 (***½) but EVIL has won every meeting since including in the G1 28 (**¾), New Japan Cup 2020 (NR), and G1 30 (***½). Dick Togo tripped HASHI in the early stages, which allowed EVIL to get in the driver’s seat. He spent the next ten or so minutes beating him down and getting help from exposed buckles and more Togo interference. HASHI weathered the offensive storm and slapped on the Butterfly Lock. That led to Togo coming in even more, fighting with HASHI, and distracting the referee on a pin attempt. EVIL then hit a low blow and won with Everything is EVIL after 17:15. I actually didn’t mind the interference at first because I expect it but then it ventured into overboard territory and bogged this match down. I get that it’s part of the gimmick but it doesn’t need to be the meat of every outing. [**¾]

B Block: Chase Owens [0] vs. Jeff Cobb [0]
Cobb won their only prior meeting, which came at the When Worlds Collide event in the US (***). Owens took a powder to start and tried to avoid taking big offense but then ate a belly to belly suplex on the floor. Owens was game to bump, making sure everything Cobb did looked vicious. He used an enziguri to send Cobb to the outside and get himself going. Interestingly, Owens has said he wants to win in the ring and not with cheating, so he’s certainly not a House of Torture boy. He managed to hit the Jewel Heist but Cobb was too much for him. The former Olympian got going again with big offense and won with Tour of the Islands in 12:11. That’s my kind of G1 match. Entertaining, good back and forth, and kept short. Owens impressed the hell out of me and Cobb was a beast. He’s on a roll. [***½]

B Block: SANADA [0] vs. Tama Tonga [0]
They met in three straight G1s from 2016-2018 (***¼, ***, and *½), with SANADA only winning the most recent. Man, as soon as I hear the Guerrillas music, I’m just about ready to tune out completely. They started with some smooth arm drags before they traded taunts. SANADA had to contend with Jado and then he slapped on the Paradise Lock for a bit. Following that, Tama took control and nearly won with an inside cradle and Jay Driller. That set the stage for the series of counters we’re used to from these matches, with SANADA taking the W thanks to an O’Connor Roll in 19:04. Too long for these guys and I’m assuming that will be a consistent problem of this year’s tournament. It was far from bad though and just wildly average. [**½]

B Block: Hirooki Goto [0] vs. IWGP Tag Team Champion Taichi [0]
I’ve seen them wrestle four times. Taichi won at Destruction in Beppu 2018 (¾*) and the G1 29 (**¼), while Goto took the matches at Power Struggle 2018 (*¼) and this year’s New Japan Cup (***¼). Taichi taunted Goto with the Tag Title before the bell since he did just win a three-way match over them. We got the old Gedo Special here as they headed outside for a bit of brawling and the classic whip into the guardrails. Taichi used all of his old heel tricks, which included choking Goto repeatedly. It just veered into overdone territory but it wasn’t awful. As things progressed, you could tell that both guys were exhausted since they were throwing big shots at one another. Taichi got desperate late and even used a choke to block Goto’s finisher. I did like that bit of continuity. Taichi then hit Black Mephisto to get two points after 18:30. Good, hard hitting stuff that told a consistent story and was engaging throughout. [***½]

B Block: IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [0]
Talk about a long history. I’ve seen all of their matches outside of the 2010 one. I’ll just bullet point them since it’s cleaner and there are so many.
• New Beginning 2012 – ****
• Dominion 2012 – ****½
• Wrestle Kingdom 7 – ****¼
• Invasion Attack 2013 – ****¾
• G1 23 – ****½
• King of Pro Wrestling 2013 – ***** (their best match)
• Wrestle Kingdom 9 – ****½
• Wrestle Kingdom 10 – ***¼
• G1 26 – ****¼
• Wrestling Dontaku 2018 – ****½
• G1 28 – ***½
• Destruction in Kobe 2018 – ***¾
• G1 29 – ***¾

Okada leads the series 6-5-3, with the three draws coming in the G1. At this point, you know what you’re going to get from these two. They jockeyed for position early on, with neither man giving much ground considering their history. They just know each other too well. Okada brought the attitude here, going for things like cocky pins. I’ve said before that cocky Okada is my favorite Okada. They started going into their signature stuff as it hit the halfway mark of the time limit. Tanahashi went after the leg with various dragon screw variations and the Cloverleaf. Okada survived a countout and weathered the storm before going to the Money Clip. As the close neared 30:00, you got the sense that they’d add another draw to their G1 history. I liked that both guys were going for pins late, knowing how desperate the times were. Okada hit a dropkick, Michinoku Driver, and Rainmaker to win in 29:36, making good use of the time limit tease. A great match that is par for the course for these guys. My favorite of theirs since the title match in 2018. [****]

Shingo Takagi 2 (1-0) Kazuchika Okada 2 (1-0)
Zack Sabre Jr. 2 (1-0) Taichi 2 (1-0)
Toru Yano 2 (1-0) SANADA 2 (1-0)
The Great-O-Khan 2 (1-0) Jeff Cobb 2 (1-0)
Yujiro Takahashi 2 (1-0) EVIL 2 (1-0)
Tomohiro Ishii 0 (0-1) Hiroshi Tanahashi 0 (0-1)
Tetsuya Naito 0 (0-1) Hirooki Goto 0 (0-1)
KENTA 0 (0-1) Tama Tonga 0 (0-1)
Tanga Loa 0 (0-1) Chase Owens 0 (0-1)
Kota Ibushi 0 (0-1) YOSHI-HASHI 0 (0-1)
The final score: review Good
The 411
This B Block is considered one of the worst ever on paper but they actually put on a slightly better show. Nothing was as high as Ishii/Shingo but this had a great main event and two very good matches, with the other two bouts also being solid.

article topics :

G1 Climax 31, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja