New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 30: Night 8
October 1st, 2020
Aore Nagaoka
Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan

Watch: NJPW World
Daily Audio Reviews: patreon.com/voicesofwrestling & patreon.com/wrestlingomakase
VOW G1 Climax 30 Standings & Scores: voicesofwrestling.com/g130pickem/

Gabriel Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji – Time Limit Draw

The show kicked off with the usual young lion opener, as Gabriel Kidd and Yota Tsuji squared off for the third time on this tour. They were 1-1 coming into Night 8, as Tsuji won their first encounter in Osaka on Night 2, while Kidd evened things up on Night 5 in Kobe. When the dust settled, we ended up getting an unexpected twist, as these two wrestled to a fifteen minute time limit draw. Since we’re seeing each variation of young lion singles matches (Kidd vs. Tsuji, Kidd vs. Uemura, and Tsuji vs. Uemura) six times on this tour, I figured they would all end up at 6-6, so the fact that this ended in a draw was a big surprise (I’m sure that throws things off a bit for those of you keeping track of this C Block). The match itself was your standard young lion affair up until the final few minutes, when the intensity started to pick up as they approached the time limit. Even though it went the full fifteen minutes, the match really flew by, at least when I watched it. Both men survived Boston Crabs from the other, and we got some nice exchanges and pin attempts in the final minute or two. What made this draw even better is that Kidd and Tsuji still wanted to beat the crap out of each other, even when the match ended. They didn’t care that the bell rang! Personally, this was my favorite young lion bout on the tour thus far. ***1/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block

Juice Robinson (6) def. Toru Yano (6)

While Toru Yano is a guy who always manages to score a decent amount of points in the G1 Climax, it’s been a bit of a surprise to see him go undefeated this deep into the tournament. The fact that he’s only one win away from his usual point total likely means he’s going to be getting a lot of losses on the backend of the tournament as we head deeper into October. Well, he suffered his first defeat at the hands of Juice Robinson, who sat down on a rollup attempt by Yano to pick up the win.

This was a total comedy match. Now while that isn’t really much of a shock (we’re talking about Toru Yano here), I would say that, on the spectrum of Yano comedy matches, this was closer to the G1 bouts that Yano had with Kenny Omega (though not quite as funny). Yano nearly caught Juice early with a rollup while Juice was trying to put on the T-Shirt that Yano gifted him. Then the spray bottle came into play, as Yano sprayed the disinfectant right in Juice’s eyes, before Juice returned the favor on the outside by dumping the entire spray bottle all over Yano’s body and face. This led to a bit on the outside where Yano tied Juice’s legs together with tape, and not only did Juice beat the count, but he managed to hit a Full Nelson Slam before he managed to cut the tape off. Yano would counter a Pulp Friction attempt moments later, and that led to the finish I mentioned previously.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this match. I didn’t love it that much, but I didn’t really have intense hatred for it either. As a whole, that’s been the story of Yano’s tournament up to this point (at least for me). I haven’t hated anything he’s done, but at the same time, none of his bouts have left a lasting impression on me. I would say the EVIL match on Night 6 was his tournament highlight thus far, but even then, I only went **3/4 on that one. I thought this match with Juice was Yano’s worst of the G1 thus far, even though I didn’t dislike it that much. Juice moves to 6 Points, while this is probably the start of a long losing streak for Yano. **1/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block 

Zack Sabre Jr. (4) def. Hirooki Goto (2)

It’s fair to say that this bout was definitely the surprise of the night, and that’s mainly due to the length. This clocked in at around four minutes (yes, you read that right), as Zack Sabre Jr. scored a very quick victory over Hirooki Goto after trapping him in the European Clutch. While it was disappointing that these two didn’t get the chance to have a much better match, it was actually pretty cool to see something like this. It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten a sub-five minute match in the G1 Climax that didn’t involve Toru Yano, and it’s a nice little reminder that these tournament matches can end at any time (kind of like how we always get a count out finish to remind the fans that it’s a possible finish). They managed to tell a solid story in this as well, as the bulk of the match revolved around Sabre going after Goto’s injured right arm/shoulder, which has been taped up since suffering damage during his match with KENTA on Night 2. Goto did manage to get his shots in (even connecting with the Ushigoroshi), but Sabre managed to catch Goto in the aforementioned European Clutch after countering the GTR. This was one of those matches that’s very difficult to rate, but they made a good use of their time, and I really like the story they told here. This’ll get the ol’ Gentleman’s Three from me. ***

G1 Climax 30 B Block

Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2)

Both of these men were coming off their first wins of the tournament on Night 6 in Korakuen Hall (Tanahashi defeated Juice Robinson while YOSHI-HASHI managed to score an upset victory over SANADA), and were looking to get their second win here to build some momentum as the G1 gets deeper into the month of October. Tanahashi ultimately got the win here after connecting with the High Fly Flow, in what turned out to be a very strong match. There was very solid action throughout (particularly in the second half), and both men really put forth a ton of effort here. Of course, that’s what you would expect from Tanahashi in the G1, in most cases anyway (his match with Juice on Night 6 was a tad underwhelming), but YOSHI-HASHI more than held up his end of the bargain here. He showed a lot of fire here, and really took the fight to Tanahashi at various points. In the latter half of the bout, Tanahashi managed to barely survive a long Butterfly Lock spot (this wasn’t as good as the Butterfly Lock spot from the EVIL match, but it wasn’t far off), and YOSHI-HASHI managed to connect with several big moves in the closing stages. However, he wasn’t able to put Tanahashi away, and he fell just short of getting his second win. This never got into “great” territory for me, but it was really good. A strong effort from both guys. ***3/4

G1 Climax 30 B Block 

EVIL (4) def. KENTA (4)

This was the first of two Bullet Club vs. Bullet Club matchups in the tournament. There was an interesting moment before the match began, where KENTA offered to do the Too Sweet sign with EVIL, but instead, EVIL faked him out and did the Too Sweet sign with Dick Togo. Now that some of the main Bullet Club members (talking about Jay White and KENTA of course) are back in Japan, I’m curious to see if there will be any sort of friction between them and EVIL coming out of the tournament. As for the match itself, it was relatively solid for what it was, but that’s about it. KENTA beat up EVIL for a bit on the floor before EVIL took control after Dick Togo got involved. EVIL would target KENTA’s arm/shoulder for a little bit, which eventually led to KENTA making his comeback. We then got into the expected shenanigans, as Red Shoes getting taken out led to KENTA using his IWGP United State Title Challenger Briefcase on both EVIL and Dick Togo. In retaliation, Togo tried to get involved a minute or two later, and just as KENTA went to Togo a GTS in the ring, EVIL hit a low blow while Togo grabbed Red Shoes. A few moments later, EVIL pinned KENTA following Everything Is EVIL. This was by no means the worst match of the tournament, but it’s definitely in the bottom half for sure. While these two did enough to where I can say it was solid, there’s not much else to add beyond that. Plus the shenanigans at the end obviously didn’t help matters either. With regards to KENTA using his briefcase, I wouldn’t take that as a sign that he’s going to start using it more during the rest of the tour. This was a heel vs. heel match, so both guys cheating in the ways that they did was pretty much expected. ***

G1 Climax 30 B Block 

SANADA (2) def.  Tetsuya Naito (6)

This was easily the most anticipated matchup on the entire show, and even though the result was never really in question (SANADA had to win if he had any hopes of staying alive in the block standings), these two still managed to have a really strong match. There were certainly a few minor hiccups here and there (particularly in the closing minutes), but those didn’t hinder the match too much for me. We got the usual back and forth early on, which led to Naito gaining the advantage, and even taunted SANADA at one point. Once SANADA managed to start fighting back, we got some very nice back and forth between the two. While battling on the turnbuckle, SANADA connected with this devastating move that’s honestly hard to describe (with Naito on the top rope, his back facing the ring, SANADA leaped off the second rope and dropped Naito neck first onto his knee). The final few minutes saw a couple of cool sequences between the two before SANADA connected with a Destino of his own, before finally getting the win over Naito after two Moonsaults.

While this was probably Naito’s weakest match of the G1 thus far (even though my star ratings for this match and Naito/Goto are the same, I would give the edge to Naito/Goto if I had to rank them), it was also SANADA’s best match of the G1 by a pretty decent margin. For someone who’s a favorite to win the B Block, SANADA isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in terms of match quality. He still has some big name opponents left (Tanahashi, EVIL, KENTA, Sabre, and Juice), so we’ll see how his matches turn out as the tournament continues. ****

Final Thoughts

I really don’t know what to make of this show. You had two matches that were both in the very good to great range (Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Naito vs. SANADA), a very quick match involving two guys who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have a quick match (Goto vs. ZSJ), and two other bouts that you can probably skip if you’re pressed for time (Juice vs. Yano and EVIL vs. KENTA). Honestly, I believe your thoughts on Night 8 will vary depending on your opinions of the wrestlers. If you’re someone who’s into Yano’s tricks, then you might love his match with Juice. If you’re interested in EVIL interacting with other top Bullet Club members for the first time (and the ramifications of that) you might like EVIL vs. KENTA. If you’re not a huge fan of SANADA, then you might be down on his match with Naito. It seems like opinions on this particular G1 show are all over the place. This show didn’t help to change the general perception of the A Block being stronger (which it clearly has been), though I would say the B Block is still capable of producing very solid matches. Again, your opinions may vary, but you can definitely find some good matches on this card.

Here are the updated B Block Standings after Night 8:

Tetsuya Naito – 6 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Juice Robinson – 6 Points
KENTA – 4 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 4 Points
EVIL – 4 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 4 Points
Hirooki Goto – 2 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
SANADA – 2 Points