NJPW G1 Climax 30 Night 6 Review: Yano Is Winning

You guys, I really think he's going to win this year

Previously on NJPW’s G1 Climax 30, A Block delivered some exciting matches, with the results leaving only Taichi and Jay White undefeated in the group.

At New Japan‘s September 29 show at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, B Block brings its weakest show yet, but one that’s not without highlights.

Yoshi-Hashi def. Sanada

The match that kicks off B Block competition is unfortunately not one of those highlights! Yoshi-Hashi vs. Sanada is unremarkable in every way except for Yoshi-Hashi winning. Even though Big Hash is a champion now and has been wrestling with a lot more energy and aggression post-hiatus, I was still shocked to see him pin Sanada, in a good way.

This was also a very average performance from Sanada after two consecutive strong ones, and the match result leaves him lonely at the bottom of his block, the only person with zero wins. It’s like this new gear was all for nothing except to generate a billion fantakens! But this loss also puts Sanada in the position for his first win of the tournament to be a huge deal. His next match is against Naito, the double champ who’s undefeated in the G1 30 so far, the guy whose faction he joined, and who he’s never beaten. Whoever you want to win that match – and I’m feeling very Both These Guys right now – these stakes are definitely going to make it more exciting.

Kenta def. Zack Sabre Jr.

Kenta and Zack Sabre Jr. worked really well together during last year’s G1 and they do it again this week at Korakuen Hall. Their match showcases both wrestlers’ strengths, with Zack the most successful whenever he uses his unique submission skills and Kenta dominating most of the match with kicks and strikes. Kenta ultimately wins by sticking to those strengths (that are also his opponent’s weaknesses), with only the opening sequence of grappling and a Game Over attempt the exceptions. That moment when ZSJ tries to get a second round of mat work going and Kenta just starts kicking him sets up this dynamic and is very funny. Zack repeatedly gets too arrogant and tries to play Kenta’s games, but it’s clear that if those are what they’re playing, Kenta’s going to win.

Similarly to Goto vs. Kenta on the first night of B Block (and what I think they were going for with Kenta vs. Juice), this match makes the former NOAH star look like one of New Japan’s most dominant competitors, and someone who could seriously hurt those he steps in the ring with. This run of wins and performances has made Kenta look like one of the strongest serious contenders in B Block so far, along with Naito. While ZSJ doesn’t look all that dominant right now, he’s delivered and provided variety with every match he’s had in G1 30 so far.

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Juice Robinson

Tana and Juice’s Taguchi Japan vs. Taguchi Japan battle is a clean, aggressive, and fairly old school heavyweight bout. Juice is incredibly fired up the whole time and dominates most of the match while looking like the more physically powerful competitor. Tanahashi is consistently able to stay in the game with counters but is rarely on offense for long. He ultimately gets a veteran’s win with a smart (if a little awkwardly executed) roll-up, something it’s always fun to see Tanahashi do, and always credible for the aging Ace of the Universe to be able to do. The match isn’t a standout of the tournament, but it’s well done and a good time.

Toru Yano def. Evil

Yano and Evil’s short comedy match feels at least as much like comeuppance for Evil’s evil-doings as his loss at Jingu Stadium. If that match was revenge for betraying L.I.J., this was revenge for all the illegal tactics he and Dick Togo have been using in matches, especially the exposed corner and low blow spots that were already staples of our favorite curry promoter.

The Evil vs. Yano battle of shenanigans is well-executed, funny, and satisfying to watch, and it, along with the main event leaves only Yano and Naito undefeated in B Block. I feel like having these two chaotic babyfaces at 3-0 over here counters having Jay and Taichi at 3-0 in A Block in a way, like it’s bringing some balance to the NJPW universe.

Tetsuya Naito def. Hirooki Goto

The September 29 main event of Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto has all the pieces of an exciting match, but I still found myself zoning out.

I think part of the reason for this is that these two have wrestled several times in the past, but there’s not much to make their tournament matches stand out from each other, or from other serious, competitive NJPW matches. The targeting of Goto’s injured shoulder brings out Naito’s vicious side early on, which is fun to see, but after that, the match becomes like a generic version of a G1 match between these wrestlers. I think how status quo this match feels also contributes to there never being a sense that Goto could win, which in turn saps the match of potential drama. In the sea of singles matches that is the G1 and as the latest in a long line of Naito vs. Goto matches, this just doesn’t stand out, even as it’s happening.

The show still ends with good vibes though: another win for the double champ, an L.I.J. roll call, and Naito calling Bushi off commentary to put his hat on because these two are adorable. Backstage, Naito promotes the heck out of his match with Sanada and uses a similar psych-out tactic to the one he used against Evil: addressing fan theories. This time, he says the predictions of many (including me!) are wrong, and Sanada will simply lose in Nagaoka, his hopes of making the final will be crushed, and that frustration will help him in the future. I feel like Okada making him cry at least year’s KOPW and also losing to Yoshi-Hashi should be frustrating enough for Sanada to get a win this big if he’s ever going to get one, but we’ll see how this all plays out on October 1.

Match recommendation: Evil vs. Yano is a given, so aside from that I’ll say Kenta vs. ZSJ

Points earned:
A Block:

  • 6 points – 3-0 – Jay White, Taichi
  • 4 points – 2-1 – Kota Ibushi, Minoru Suzuki, Will Ospreay
  • 2 points – 1-2 – Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Shingo Takagi
  • 0 points – 0-3 – Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi

B Block:

  • 6 points – 3-0 – Tetsuya Naito, Toru Yano
  • 4 points – 2-1 – Juice Robinson, Kenta
  • 2 points – 1-2 – Evil, Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yoshi-Hashi, Zack Sabre Jr.
  • 0 points – 0-3 – Sanada

Potential title shots earned (with people who have acknowledged they could challenge for this title italicized):

  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Taichi
  • Contract for an IWGP U.S. Championship match: Juice Robinson
  • IWGP Heayweight Tag Team Championship: Tetsuya Naito, Kenta
  • RPW British Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi
  • NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship: Juice, Kenta, Suzuki, Ospreay, Evil, Ibushi, Naito

Emily Pratt

Emily Pratt is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She used to study, write about, and make theater. Now she writes a lot about pro wrestling. Pratt is a regular contributor for Fanbyte, with other bylines at Uproxx, Deadlock, Mind Games, Orange Crush, and FanSided WWE.

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