New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 30: Night 2
September 20, 2020
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World
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VOW G1 Climax 30 Standings & Scores:

Greetings, my name is Jeri and it is my privilege to be reviewing night two for you all. This girl loves herself some G1 Climax, and tonight’s main event has the potential to be one of the highlights of the tournament. The undercard tournament matches aren’t the strongest of the tournament, but a few of them have a fair chance to hold their own all the same and I’m low key excited to see who is able to step up and stand out! Enough of an intro, let us dig into this!

Yota Tsuji def. Gabriel Kidd

Rule number one of watching NJPW, never skip young lion matches. That goes for reviewing also. They always are trying to prove themselves and make it to the next level, and it’s rewarding to watch them work their way up the ranks and eventually grow into the performers they are destined to become. This is no different and was a very fun non-tournament opener. They both had a small pep in their step whether it be grappling or striking. Even in non-tournament matches people up their game in the G1! Gabriel Kidd was good before he started on his NJPW journey, and Yota Tsuji is becoming a solid talent in his own right.

Every main course (the G1 Climax) is amplified by a good appetizer and Yota and Gabriel delivered in that regard. It doesn’t overstay its welcome (under ten minutes), stays moving along at a nice pace, and whether it be victory or defeat both men got to look good and shine a little. A crowd that was gamed to get into both performers helped elevate even the simplest offense and exchanges and both performers seemed more than willing to give them the young lion showcase the crowd craved. That I crave. The kryptonite of most Young Lions (Boston Crab) is what Yota Tsuji uses to end this very good opener. They are only going to continue to grow and get better from here, and matches like this on a platform like this will guarantee that’s going to happen. Give this a watch, don’t skip it. I repeat you will always do yourself a disservice if you skip young lion’s matches. ***1/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block
Juice Robinson (2) def. YOSHI-HASHI (0)

To pretend that I had a high excitement level for this match would be a lie, but it’s the G1 and the G1 is always the time for people to stand up and put their best foot forward. On a side note Juice Robinson’s new look is kind of like a Randy Orton match, a lot of people are going to like it but I’ll never figure out why.

“ahem”, back to you know reviewing the match, haven’t seen Juice in months and YOSHI-HASHI being . . . YOSH-HASHI both men needed to step up their game here and they absolutely did. Juice throughout the match you could tell was glad to be back, and it showed in his performance throughout the match. He was clearly enjoying himself whether it was stomping the match at the beginning of the match to get the crowd pumped, or delivering his offense to YOSHI-HASHI to even being on the receiving end of offense from YOSHI-HASHI. Juice was glad to be back, and it showcased in his performance. 

That’s not to sell YOSHI-HASHI short here. He came to wrestle and prove he should be in this year’s tournament and if we can get more of this YOSHI-HASHI with higher caliber performers later in the tournament, YOSHI-HASHI could be leading himself toward some really good to great showcases. This match on it’s own was a really good showcase, hell it was bordering on great at times. That’s not a knock or a criticism, just it hit a certain level and couldn’t fully rise above it but despite that still managed to be really good and worth your time viewing. I do wish YOSHI-HASHI got himself a better submission as I never buy it as a potential match ender and think it looks awful, and it was no different here when he locked Juice in it. Still, it’s better than Okada’s current submission. Both men should be proud of how they started off the G1 and if they can keep up this energy the further we go into the tournament, they can both really enhance the B-Block which is right now overshadowed by the A-Block line up and potential. ***3/4

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G1 Climax 30 B Block
Toru Yano (2) def. SANADA

Why did I pick B-Block knowing full well I have to review Yano? Okay, look here’s the deal, I do get it. To many of you, Yano is a palate cleanser in this tournament. A bit of harmless fun to clean your palate after match after match of hard-hitting, excellent action. Here lies the problem right off the back with this matchup, we’re only into night 2 and this is the second tournament match of B-Block, there is no need for a palate cleanser just yet. For me, Yano is just someone who takes the place of someone who could deliver some better matchups. Still, Yano always has a spot in the G1 and it’s one of those things that some are going to like and have fun with, and some (like me) are going to be a no-fun grumpy girl about. 

At the very least Yano matches often understand their shelf life and don’t overstay their welcome, and this was no exception as it went under ten and was finished. I can appreciate this time frame, just as I can appreciate it wasn’t a half-assed effort either. That’s not to say I’m going to rate it very highly, just that both men were gamed to perform. Also, Yano is full of personality and that does make up for Sanada’s extraordinary skill at lacking personality at times. 

The one bit of intrigue Yano matches do bring admittedly is there’s always a chance for a Yano upset, Yano can and will defeat you no matter how high up you are through various shenanigans, some admittedly entertaining and some that are just groan-worthy. You know what, I admittedly was being too hard. This doesn’t hit three stars by any means, but it was a worthwhile above two-star effort (if that makes any sense). It successfully hit the Yano notes you Yano fans will want. Yano shenanigans, it is kept short, and Yano gets a ridiculous upset (count out by taping Sananda’s leg to someone else) over someone who may potentially do well in this tournament. Also even though this match ends in count-out I totally bite on some of those Yano near falls. Maybe I should be less grumpy about Yano matches as we go further into this tournament? NYAHHHHHHH.  **3/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block
KENTA (2) def. Hirooki Goto (0)

Welcome back KENTA, and we start things off with a match against Goto which I highly approve of! Kenta listening for jeer when fans aren’t allowed to jeer amused me more than it should. You go into these matches not expecting fancy or crafty or anything like that, just potentially good solid work that potentially can turn into great. We got the good solid work here and it ended up being a very well done contest.

Both men gelled well in this tournament match, and while I feel/know they could put on a better match what we got here was still a good outing and even had a limb work story with KENTA constantly going after Goto’s arm. I’m not always a fan of stories involving targeting one body part, but that changes when the story is told to completion and in this match, they successfully did that when KENTA submits Goto. Don’t fear thinking this match is all about the arm and Goto protecting the arm, you get those Kenta kicks you crave and they sound and look good. 

Goto was quite fine this match, but it’s not until late into the match I felt he really got to shine a bit more. I appreciate that Goto got to do a bit of a story where he returned the limb work and targeted KENTA’s arm as well with hits and submission attempts. Not the most exciting of stories but I appreciate the “You’re doing it to me, so allow me to return the favor” mentality. Still, this match never got into another gear I felt was needed to get to a higher level and I never felt my investment reach its full peak. It’s a damn good match though, and I feel everyone will be able to enjoy it at some level whether it’s less than me but still enjoyable or higher than me and much more favorable. ***1/2

G1 Climax 30 B Block
Zack Sabre Jr. (2) def. EVIL

I’m not looking forward to EVIL matches in this tournament, because  I know ref bumps and interference is probably going to be involved in all of them, and not sure I am ready for nine G1 matches that are going to follow that formula. (That worry exists with Jay White as well). Still, at least this match immediately establishes they aren’t always going to work, so that’s good, but I would like to see EVIL sink or swim on his own merit a few times this tournament. I mean, I know with Bullet Club right now interference is the norm and should be expected, but doesn’t mean I have to like it or be entertained by it.

Anyway, that tangent over, I do appreciate the quick start to the match, as my interest level was low and I needed a bit of a jump start to get myself hooked and invested in it. Both men worked well with each other, and of course, with EVIL you get the removing turnbuckle pads, the ref assisted offense, the ref bumps, and the Dick Togoing ons. Depending on how you feel about those things might increase or decrease your opinion of this match. Zack was an excellent opponent whether it was taking the abuse EVIL dished out or getting his moments to lock on his holds and pin attempts, all that looked good as expected from Zack. I also appreciated this match shifted gears appropriately, speeding up at times, and slowing back down when things needed to shimmer again.

As alluded to above, the ref goes down, and Dick Togo enters the match and does his interference deal which takes me out of a match I was enjoying much more than I was anticipating, and immediately guarantees I’m docking stars. Frustrating because I was actually getting quite invested, even if Zack is successfully able to fight it off. I also appreciate that it didn’t lead directly into the finish AND that as said above Zack gets the win showcasing to us all interference will not always equal victory. Maybe, just maybe in the story EVIL will now learn he’ll have to do things on his ow…oh who am I kidding. Still a good match. ***1/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block
Tetsuya Naito (2) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (0)

Damn, Tanahashi appeared in fabulous shape. “ahem”, um moving on the moment the bell rings, heck a few moments before the bell rings this matchup has a vibe, energy, an atmosphere that every other match on this show was lacking. It feels different, feels important, feels significant, and that feeling already has me leaning in from the very beginning to take it all in. The crowd which has been a fine crowd all night just give off the vibe THIS is what they’ve been waiting for all night. 

This is where I feel like a rookie reviewer my inadequacies in my current abilities, unfortunately, come into play. This was an incredible match that I don’t best understand how to detail and describe. I don’t want to go hold for hold, but I also don’t want to leave you with just a blank fill in the spaces yourself kind of review. I think the best I can do is say this match was two artists collaborating on a duet and while sticking to the notes they both know how to do well, they both sang them beautifully enough with and against each other to make a song that while long you’ll listen to until the end without tuning out or fast-forwarding through any of it to get to the good stuff. In fact, you’ll pay close attention to the setups and the slow goings just to make the payoffs and speed ups more rewarding and satisfying.

Tanahashi is that one of a kind performer I can’t do justice in speaking about. You know who Tanahashi is and every time I find myself foolishly wondering if we are done with great Tanahashi performances, he gets himself in shape, then goes out there and proves me for the fool I am. Sometimes I can’t help but feel lucky that I tuned into NJPW in time to watch this craftsman at work with the art he’s damn near perfected, but yet continues to find new ways to be even better at it.

Then there’s Naito. Naito is the current IWGP champion, a championship definitely deserved, definitely earned, and he’s definitely wanting to put out those performances of the highest caliber both in the title and nontitle matches to showcase why he deserves this spotlight after all these years of being so close to it but it always felt like it would never shine on him. Combine those factors you have a match that a lot would have to go wrong in order for it to fail and it does not come even a fraction of close to doing that. The crowd which has been a good crowd all night is ready from the moment go to enjoy this fine dining of pro wrestling. The type of meal you don’t go through quickly, but you savor each bite and allow a moment of appreciation before moving to the next one.

The match builds and builds, layer upon layers of work, and if I can find any petty knock or criticism it would be the Destinos didn’t look particularly good near the end. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me though. Doesn’t affect my feelings on this match. Sometimes imperfections like that are fine by me as it feels like exhaustion/struggle rather than sloppy execution. This felt like an aging ace still trying to keep his place and a champion wanting to remind/prove everyone that this is his time now, and it’s going to be his time for as long as he can make it. This was a contest, and when Naito won  I felt I needed a cigarette afterward.  .and I’ve never lit up one. This was a match worth waking up at stupid o’clock eastern to witness. I have that match rating fear, but I’m overcoming it here. *****

Final Thoughts

The undercard is fine and good, but you’re coming for and staying for the main event. Naito and Tanahashi absolutely put on a clinic of great professional wrestling and set the bar and standard that the rest of the big time G1 matches will now compete against. The undercard holds up it’s end of the bargain though and shows that B-Block is game and willing to step it up.