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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Nights 14 & 15 Review

October 13, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW G1 Climax 31
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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Nights 14 & 15 Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 14
October 12th, 2021 | Xebio Arena Sendai in Sendai, Miyagi | Attendance: 961

I had a busy day yesterday so I couldn’t get around to reviewing Night 14. So, here you’re getting coverage of both nights 14 and 15!

B Block: Taichi [4] vs. Tama Tonga [2]
They’ve met a lot in tag matches but in singles stuff, they had a ladder match this year at Wrestling Dontaku. It went 27 minutes and was very bad (DUD). Thankfully, this was an improvement on that, though I guess that’s not hard to do. They actually put together some decent back and forth here, and the length played into their strengths, only lasting 12:58. It still wasn’t anything I’d go out of my way to see but it was fine. Tama did some brawling outside by throwing Taichi into guardrails and such, while Taichi fought back with some solid looking kicks. That has become a good part of his game lately. Tama Tonga won with Gun Stun in the end and I didn’t hate it but I’ll likely forget about it in five minutes. [**½]

B Block: SANADA [4] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [4]
If you want to know how lame SANADA is these days, he has the same points total as YOSHI-HASHI. They’ve met three times before, with SANADA winning in the 2017 New Japan Cup (***¾) and at the 2018 Anniversary Show (***), while HASHI won in the G1 30 (***¼). This was a case of two guys who can have a good match together but one that was ultimately near impossible to get invested in. They never really hooked me even though the stuff they did was good from a technical standpoint. I liked that SANADA still had confidence despite his struggles, cockily applying Paradise Lock and doing a kip-up. Both guys got their knees up on the high flying offense of the other, putting them on a level playing field. They went into a string of trading offense later on before SANADA won with Skull End at the 17:35. A bit long, though I do appreciate when SANADA wins with Skull End and not his stupid moonsault. [***]

B Block: Chase Owens [2] vs. Kazuchika Okada [12]
First time match alert! Owens had a banger with Tanahashi but can Okada pull the same out of him? Unlike against Goto, Owens started slowly, not looking to burst out of the gates. I dig Owens as the guy who is doing his all to make a name for himself in this tournament, even if it’s a futile effort. He came close a few times to pulling out the upset and considering he beat Tanahashi, you could understand why some fans might have believed he’d pull it off. I never did but it was a spirited outing nonetheless. It wasn’t totally the overdone Okada formula and I liked that. When he couldn’t get the Rainmaker to connect, Okada switched up and won with the Money Clip in 15:37. I appreciated the Money Clip win here and that was a good match. [***¼]

B Block: EVIL [10] vs. Hirooki Goto [4]
A long history here. Goto won at Power Struggle 2015 (**¾), Dominion 2016 (***½, and New Beginning in Osaka 2018 (**½, while EVIL won at Wrestling Dontaku 2016 (***¾), the 2020 New Japan Cup (***½), and G1 30 (***¼). BIG MEATY MEN BUMPING MEAT. Of course, it’s 2021 Goto and EVIL, which is ROUGH. It’s honestly tiring at this point to go into detail about the Dick Togo cheating and how these are basically redundant handicap matches. But hey, that’s “genius booker” Gedo for you. This was every other EVIL match in the tournament with almost the same underhanded tactics and it ended with Everything is EVIL after 14:16. It existed and I’m over it. [**¼]

B Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [6] vs. Jeff Cobb [12]
Another first time match and one I’m excited for! THE GOD against the arguable MVP of the tournament. On paper, I think this is great as Tanahashi can fight from beneath really well and Cobb has been an excellent dominant monster. While I think NJPW is going with the Okada/Cobb unbeaten vs. unbeaten finale, Tanahashi is good enough to make me believe he’d pull off the upset here. He’s incredible. Cobb was arrogant because he has been so unstoppable but Tanahashi found ways to get free and attack the knee, chopping the big guy down to size. Cobb gets all the praise for how well he sold this, making it look like Tanahashi would actually win. Even when Cobb got his knees up on High Fly Flow, it hurt him more. Alas, Cobb was able to connect on a German Suplex and the Tour of the Islands to improve to 7-0 after 19:05. A very good match that bordered on great. [***¾]

NJPW G1 Climax 31 Night 15
October 13th, 2021 | Xebio Arena Sendai in Sendai, Miyagi | Attendance: 1,303

A Block: Tomohiro Ishii [8] vs. Yujiro Takahashi [4]
They’ve had seven matches in the past, with Ishii winning 6. I’ve only seen two though, both Ishii wins in the G1 25 (**¼) and G1 30 (***¼). Ishii needs to win his last two matches to have a chance at winning his block. Yujiro got going with some classic Bullet Club cheating, including the pimp cane being used and PIETER distracting the referee. Of course, you can’t keep Ishii down as he fought back and managed to take control before we got the expected back and forth down the stretch. Yujiro celebrated prematurely after a bit of offense and Ishii responded with some big blows before taking the W with the Vertical Drop Brainbuster in 17:00. Probably a big long for Yujiro but it was something that was pretty damn good. [***]

A Block: KENTA [10] vs. Tanga Loa [4]
It’s a first time matchup. Tanga Loa can be a spoiler as KENTA is still somewhat alive. If I’m right, his last match is against Ibushi and a win here would put them both at 12 points. Both men were tentative at the start, likely due to their Bullet Club brotherhood. In a lot of ways, this felt like your classic match of two Bullet Club members as it started slow but got a bit more aggressive as things moved on. They got to the point where guys were trying low blows and such behind the referee’s back and Jado was trying to bring his kendo stick into play. Interestingly, KENTA won with a rollup after 22:12. I thought that was an odd ending but whatever. The issue is that Tanga Loa shouldn’t be going 22:12. It was better than I’d expect but still not very good. [**½]

A Block: Toru Yano [8] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [10]
Sabre Jr. holds a 2-1 record over Yano, winning in the G1 28 (***½) and 30 (***), while Yano bested him at Power Struggle (**½) last year. Typically, if they don’t go long, they can have a fun little match with their differing personalities. Thankfully, this was kept really short and that worked to its benefit. This had goofy stuff early on, including both men fighting through the curtain while we just heard what was going on. Yano returned and wanted a countout with Sabre Jr. following blindfolded. Oh, that Yano. He managed to beat the countout but they went back to fighting outside soon after. They got handcuffed to each other and Sabre Jr. ended up using a triangle armbar to make Yano submit in 6:42. That felt like classic Yano and I had a blast. [***]

A Block: The Great-O-Khan [8] vs. Shingo Takagi [10]
First time main event again! Again, Shingo needs a win to stay alive, though his hopes are slim. I’m getting to the end here and again, time is precious so I’ll be quick. This was a good case of two strong dudes battling it out. O-Khan has a very unique offensive style at times that separates him from other guys of his size. Shingo is just a beast, flat out. Shingo had taped ribs, which O-Khan targeted a bit though not enough that it was the entire concept of the match. The thing was that I never bought into him winning as Shingo is exactly the kind of guy who would certainly be in play, even if its barely, on the final night. As they neared the time limit, Shingo won with Last of the Dragon after 25:50. A good match that didn’t need to go as long as it did. [***¼]

Kota Ibushi 12 (6-2) Kazuchika Okada 14 (7-0)
KENTA 12 (6-2) Jeff Cobb 14 (7-0)
Zack Sabre Jr. 12 (6-2) EVIL 12 (6-1)
Shingo Takagi 12 (6-2) Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 (3-4)
Tomohiro Ishii 10 (5-3) SANADA 6 (3-4)
Toru Yano 8 (4-4) Taichi 4 (2-5)
The Great-O-Khan 8 (4-5) Hirooki Goto 4 (2-5)
Tanga Loa 4 (2-6) YOSHI-HASHI 4 (2-5)
Yujiro Takahashi 4 (2-6) Tama Tonga 4 (2-5)
Tetsuya Naito 0 (0-9) Chase Owens 2 (1-6)
The final score: review Average
The 411
Some middle of the pack stuff here. There is only one match that passed ***½ and it doesn’t crack ****, so it’s not anything overly great. Still, it was nice to bunch these together as it feels like the G1 shows prior to 2015 when the blocks were on the same night.

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G1 Climax 31, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja