New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 2020 Night 5
September 27, 2020
World Hall
Kobe, Hyogo, Japan

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VOW G1 Climax 30 Standings & Scores: voicesofwrestling.com/g130pickem/

Let’s Go! This is Jeri, and I’ve moved over from B Block to A Block to review Night 5 of the G1 Climax 30 and I am stoked and hyped. I smell sausage, and by that I mean there must be some potential bangers nearby on this card. Three of these matches I have very high expectations for, one match has the potential to be good, and the last tournament match well. .it’s Yujiro so it’s going to be what it’s going to be. All laid out, this has a very real chance at being on the high end of shows when it’s all said and done. I woke up at stupid o’clock Eastern to watch this as it goes down live and I have no regrets. ON TO THE REVIEW!

Gabriel Kidd def. Yota Tsuji

Ah, the Young Lions, always fun and a needed way to open these proceedings up. I am very glad New Japan gives us one of these matches per show. The crowd seems very responsive tonight which is a highly good sign when the main courses come tonight. The match starts off basic and remains pretty standard when Yota gets hold of control, but begins to pick up more when Gabriel Kidd gets himself on the offensive. Then after some exchanges and some nice bit of fire from both the match ends with Gabriel Kidd hitting the butterfly suplex for the pinfall victory.

I’ve preferred some of the other young lion openers honestly, but showcases are showcases, and while I wasn’t quite feeling Yota Tsuji in this match, Gabriel Kidd got to show off some nice fire and seemed pumped in this match, and by all means, it wasn’t bad. I’m really enjoying the butterfly suplex as Gabriel’s finisher and it looks really nice when he does it. Gabriel Kidd gets his second win! I won’t remember this much and falls short of some of the previous Young Lion matches, but you know my rule, don’t skip them. The classy lady three returns! ***

G1 Climax 30 A Block Match
Taichi (6) def. Yuijo Takahashi (0)

There are prices to pay for getting the review gig for this show. That price is having to review Yuijo. This is my penance for being so harsh about Yano matches. Taichi is someone who I also always been on the low end of my opinions, but he’s really stepped up and won me over. What I’m saying is 2020 made me a Taichi fan and I don’t know if I like it. Sometimes you just go with it. As for this match (if I must), I was zoning out of it pretty early on with a lot of Taichi choking the life out of Yuijo, but it picked up a slight bit from there. The crowd willing to applaud for quite a bit helped with that.

Yuijo is trying, I think that’s what we can call it. If there’s any time to prove a lot of people wrong the G1 is it, and while he’s trying, I don’t think he’s succeeding. I won’t pretend he was completely awful this match. Because he wasn’t, he worked solidly and Taichi was gamed to put on a good performance. Also when Taichi ripped off his pants they landed on the cameraman, for that alone I can’t hate this match. In fairness, contrive reasons for not doing so aside I can’t hate this match. They scratched and clawed their way to a solid outing that wasn’t a Yuijo embarrassment.

I think the key for Yuijo matches is to keep your expectations very low (non-existent even) and understand you’re more than likely not going to get anything great or stand out from him this tournament. This opener though was fine and I didn’t end up hating it afterward, also Taichi got the win with a low blow followed by a pin to put our Lord at six points. Is 2020 the year of Taichi? More than likely not, but he’s off to a very good start so far both in standings and in performances he has put in, and that is to his credit. Furthermore, he had a better match with Yuijo than Okada has on several attempts. That alone makes me generous and puts this in the three-star range. ***

G1 Climax 30 A Block Match
Minoru Suzuki (4) def. Jeff Cobb (2)

Jeff Cobb had a pretty lackluster first G1 but has done better so far two matches in. Murder Grandpa doesn’t care who you are and what your credentials are. Murder Grandpa will hurt you. This is evident when Jeff Cobb starts the match grappling with Suzuki and ends up on the short end of that scenario. Match moves along decently enough in the first portion of things and then starts to pick up after a forearm exchange (although I wasn’t quite feeling some of Cobb’s forearm attempts there). Suzuki laughing after getting hit always gives me a bit of a chill by the way.

The match wasn’t always the smoothest and felt clunky at times, and before I knew it the match came to an end as Suzuki got out of a Tour Of the Islands Attempt and hit his Gotch Style Piledriver to earn him two other points. I enjoy that Suzuki’s two wins have been avoiding finisher attempts and immediately making it to his own finisher to end the match. Hope we see that a few more times. I thought there was still meat on the bone to be had, but who am I to argue with Suzuki getting his fill and deciding it is time to leave.

Despite not feeling everything going on in this match, I don’t have much bad to say about it. Wish I had a few more minutes might be the closest to a negative I can have, but that could be a signal we’re about to get some lengthy contests coming up, and with what the upcoming matches are I can’t blame them for the slightest. This isn’t a match you need to go out of your way to see, but if you are a completionist and want to watch whole shows you won’t be upset at sitting through either. ***

G1 Climax 30 A Block Match
Kota Ibushi (4) def. Tomohiro Ishii (0)

Call me crazy, but I think at this point in the show the *** streak I’ve been on (and they’ve all been different levels of ***) is over. Things just feel tenser the moment the bell rings and I’m locked into this match before they even lock up. Damn, whenever Ishii and Ibushi chop or kick, and other various forms of hitting each other it just looks, sounds painful. At one point they take turns hitting moves that the other would then stand up from as if to say “is that all you got” and that pretty much describes the feel of the first portion of the match. Both men hitting each other with hard shots and both men responding with either “That’s all?” or “Give me More!”

This was a fight, with both men trying to take a mile, and both men immediately taking that mile back. There was no game of inches here, both men hit solid, hit hard, and hit often. There was wrestling sprinkled and sandwiched in. Moonsaults, powerbombs, power slams. It was all here as well! At one point Ibushi goes for his Kamigoye knee only for Ishii to spring up and end that noise with a headbutt and I absolutely loved it. Ishii goes for his brainbuster only for Ibushi to nail one of his own and I still absolutely loved it. The crowd clearly absolutely loved it.

I loved this, it was hard-hitting, it was consistent, it was back and forth. Neither man backed down and Ishii did all he could to prevent the Kamigoye from happening, but in the end, he failed to do so and finds himself now in an 0-3 whole. I love a good fight, a good hard-hitting struggle and that’s exactly what it is. This felt way different than the rest of the card so far and was wrestled differently. I said I felt my streak of *** was over, and hopefully, this begins a streak of **** plus. This show has kicked into the next gear in a hard-hitting and great way! **** 1/4

G1 Climax 30 A Block Match
Shingo Takagi (2) def. Will Ospreay (4)

There is a lot you can say about Ospreay, and most of it I probably will nod my head and agree with you. We need to end the “he’s not actually a good wrestler” mindset some people cultivate. Everything else about him? Yes, sure and if that makes you not want to watch him I respect and am on board, but I’m reviewing this show, and I’m not going to pretend he’s a bad wrestler because I dislike a lot about him. This match has a lot of expectations. Their match last year came in first in VOW’s Match of the Year poll and was the runaway winner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Match of the Year. This is a rematch a lot of people have been waiting to happen.

Could they deliver once again?

Just know that I went “oh shit” so hard on a Shingo headbutt at one point it made me start hiccuping. I WAS INTO ALL OF THIS! The exchanges, the counters, the pacing, laying the foundation, and building upon it minute upon minute. This match rocked. This matched absolutely delivered and I was exhausted by the end of it. Exhausted in a good way. Exhausted in the leaning back in my chair and just soaking in the experience kind of way. Both men have such incredible energy to go along with their talent and it just added that extra oomph into this match. Ospreay is just absolutely on an extremely high level and his presence in NJPW has made a massive difference in injecting life. Shingo is one of my highlights of 2020 NJPW and just putting them both back together in this tournament just ended up being a massive “chef’s kiss”.

Did it reach the levels of their BOSJ? Who cares! This was an absolute certified exhilarating match and one of the top matches of the tournament so far. Waking up at stupid o’clock eastern was well worth it to watch that as it went down unspoiled. Both men were absolutely incredible and on fire in this match and I can still feel myself a bit singed from leaning in to close during the final moments. Shingo gets his win back, gets on the board in the G1 Climax 30 by the end of it, and both men are probably sore and tired afterward but both should also be proud. They had a lot of high hopes and expectations for this match and they signed, sealed, and delivered beautifully. Whew. **** 3/4




G1 Climax 30 A Block Match
Jay White (6) def. Kazuchika Okada (2)

Can I level with you? Okada is my favorite wrestler, and in the era of COVID, I’ve been very disappointed and disinterested in him. I greatly loathe that. He’s even had a very underwhelming (IMO) match with Ibushi for crying out loud. On a personal level, I really want and NEED this match to deliver. Jay White is the perfect opponent for that possibility happening. Even with all the interference prone action that happens in his matches no doubt Jay White has been performing well in this G1, and these two do mesh well. So there is high hope of that happening here. The question is though is would that happen?

First, let us start with the good. Jay White is very good at the details and small things. From his expressions, his selling, the mocking of the crowd. Jay White does a lot of story and character elements really well and he peppers them in throughout this match and it helped quite a bit. Okada seemed a bit more awake this match and gelled well with White. Okada had some good selling and some good sequences. I felt he looked solid and put on a good performance. All that laid out, I’m afraid this was not the high-end main event/show ender I was hoping for and perhaps I was foolish in hoping for that at this point. Still, let me be clear that I thought this was a very good match, but I really hoped they hit it on a certain level if not as high as Ospreay/Shingo at least around Ibushi/Ishii and I don’t think they succeeded.

The work was solid, and I didn’t mind the pacing. I just felt this hit a certain ceiling and then did not try to budge or shatter through it. Jay White is having a good G1, and honestly, I was more into him than I was Okada in this match. Okada is still going for the money clip and his insistence on ending this match with it costed him with Jay White countering into the Switchblade. I did like that ending, I liked that the Gedo interference, while it existed, was peppered in and never felt like it halted or ruined the match for me. I appreciate that both men try to do a different style match than the previous two. I appreciated quite a bit, but in the end, not all of it landed. A very good main event, but with the way things have been with Okada I really wanted a great one. You don’t always get what you want, and there’s plenty of G1 yet. Maybe that Okada is coming. Maybe this is the catalyst for that. Maybe I’m just hoping at this point. ***1/2

Final Thoughts

Two **** plus, and a very good main event (even if I was wanting more out of it) how can I not recommend this show? The first three matches are various forms of *** performances and if you have time sit down and watch those as well. Overall, I really had a great time watching this and I think you will also.