New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 31 Night 6
September 29, 2021
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld

G1 Climax 31 – B Block
EVIL (4) def. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Taichi (4)

This night of A Block action from Korakuen Hall kicked off with a battle between two guys who aren’t shy about breaking the rules (though one of them doesn’t break the rules nearly as much these days). When the dust settled, EVIL managed to move up to four points after defeating Taichi in what was an above average opener. The wrestling was perfectly fine throughout, but the blatant interference by Dick Togo (a little bit in the early minutes, but A LOT late) obviously took it down a notch. Taichi actually managed to thwart the late cheating attempts from the House Of Torture members, at least initially. He blocked an EVIL low blow, and had the bout won with the Gedo Clutch when Togo once again got involved.

Even though EVIL and Togo got taken out again, that didn’t change their tactics. Togo resorted to holding Miho Abe hostage, and that was the opening that gave EVIL the opening he needed. He connected with a low blow and Everything Is EVIL, before finishing Taichi off with the Darkness Scorpion. A relatively solid bout that was, of course, ruined by the constant interference of Dick Togo. I guess the biggest compliment I can give to this match is that it only went just over eleven minutes, so it didn’t overstay its welcome. We also got an insane line on commentary from Chris Charlton when (during a spot where Taichi was choking Dick Togo) he said “Taichi just strangling Dick out here in Korakuen Hall” so yeah…..there was that too. **3/4

G1 Climax 31 – B Block
SANADA (4) def. Chase Owens (0)

While he doesn’t have the points to show for it, Chase Owens has been off to a great start in this year’s G1 Climax, with really strong performances in losing efforts against Jeff Cobb and Tama Tonga. Unfortunately for Chase, his losing streak in this tournament continued on this night, as he was defeated by SANADA in what was a pretty solid professional wrestling match. It was just shy of twelve minutes, but they managed to pack in a lot of good back-and-forth action in that timeframe. I don’t have any real complaints about the in-ring work in this one.

My biggest issue is with the referee bump we got late in the bout. SANADA was attempting to go for his bridging pinfall that frequently uses as a finish, and as he was pushing Chase into the ropes, Chase got a hold of the referee. He dragged the referee with them, and he took a bump as SANADA was able to trap Chase in the pin, preventing a pinfall from occurring. What was so odd about this spot is that it had absolutely no impact on the finish, as the two just continued to trade moves before SANADA eventually locked in the Skull End, which then led to the Muta Moonsault for the victory. There really wasn’t a point to the referee spot at all, and it particularly didn’t make sense when you realize that Chase wrestled his first two matches with no major shenanigans. It’s a shame, because this was definitely trending towards ***1/2 territory (for me, at least) before that spot happened. It was still a good match, though the removal of that one sour moment could’ve made this a little bit better. ***1/4

G1 Climax 31 – B Block
Jeff Cobb (6) def. Hirooki Goto (0)

We’re still in the early stages of the G1 Climax, but already we’re getting bouts between guys who are in completely different situations. For Jeff Cobb, he was looking to get his third victory in a row as he attempted to (along with Kazuchika Okada) solidify his spot at the top of the B Block standings. For Hirooki Goto, he was just trying to get on the board.

In the end, the G in G1 Climax didn’t stand for Goto on this show, as Cobb put him away with Tour Of The Islands. This clocked in at just over fifteen minutes, and I thought it was definitely a contender for the show’s best bout. I wouldn’t call it a great match, but it was certainly pretty close.

While the opening minute or so was on the slower side, the action quickly picked up as the two started to trade shoulder tackles before spilling out to the floor. Cobb actually managed to control a decent chunk of the bout early (really showing off his power), though Goto was eventually able to mount a comeback to make it a more even affair. The two continued to trade big moves in the closing stages before Cobb finally managed to put Goto away. Again, this was by no means a great match, but with guys like Jeff Cobb and Hirooki Goto out there working hard, it’s going to be difficult to have a match that’s anything less than really good. ***3/4

G1 Climax 31 – B Block
IWGP United States Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) def. Tama Tonga (2)

These two came into this match with 1-1 records in the tournament thus far, so whoever emerged victorious would get themselves over the .500 mark. Much like the previous bout, this got off to a slower start, as the two exchanged wrist locks before Tanahashi locked in a side headlock. The pace picked up pretty quickly after that, as Tama Tonga nearly connected with a Stun Gun after Tanahashi had just connected with his second rope crossbody. Tama eventually managed to gain control, and he even busted out the Tongan Death Grip to help him maintain that control. A big turning point occurred when Tama utilized some of Tanahashi’s signature moves, including the Slingblade and the High Fly Flow. This only seemed to fire up Tanahashi, and the two would continue to trade back-and-forth.

While Tanahashi wasn’t able to hit the High Fly Flow, Tama was able to connect with the Stun Gun, though he was too tired and wasn’t able to immediately go for the cover. When he tried for a cocky cover, Tanahashi just….caught him in a crucifix and pinned him. Not much else to say about that finish other than it came out of nowhere. I know that we did see Tanahashi try for a similar cover on Tama earlier in the bout, only for Tama to catch Tanahashi in a crucifix pin attempt, so it was based on something that happened earlier. That being said, it was still an odd finish to what was otherwise a really solid match. It certainly didn’t blow anyone away, but there was good action throughout. Tanahashi was his usual awesome self, and Tama Tonga had another fine, Bullet Club nonsense-free outing in this tournament. ***1/2

G1 Climax 31 – B Block
Kazuchika Okada (6) def. YOSHI-HASHI (0)

In terms of the B Block standings, the main event of this show was basically a carbon copy of Jeff Cobb vs. Hirooki Goto. One guy was looking to remain undefeated, while the other was just trying to get on the board. On paper, I thought this had the chance to be a really strong main event and, for the most part, it delivered. This was a very good bout between the CHAOS stablemates. It got off to a slow start (as most big time Okada matches tend to do), but it soon picked up once YOSHI-HASHI started to show some fire. Okada would deliver a series of DDTs (both on the floor and in the ring) before the two would take turns going for their main submission holds, with the Money Clip nearly putting YOSHI-HASHI out. For the most part, I thought the closing stretch was really good, though it did feel….uneven at a certain point, I guess you can say. It was really when YOSHI-HASHI had Okada locked in a sleeper hold. The timing of that just felt strange, because I was starting to get into the closing stretch, the pace was picking up….then it slowed down again.

Fortunately, the pace picked up again once Okada got out of the hold, and I thought the match ended on a strong note, as Okada put YOSHI-HASHI away with the Rainmaker. As a whole, I would say the match was very good, with Okada looking awesome and YOSHI-HASHI never fails to put forth the effort in spots like this. That being said, that brief period when Okada was in that sleeper hold just really put a damper on the closing stretch, and (at least for me) prevented this match from reaching notebook territory. ***3/4

Final Thoughts

I watched Night 6 a few days after it took place, and I went into it with lowered expectations, after seeing some of the reactions from people who had already seen the show. While there weren’t any of the truly great or truly epic matches that we typically associate with the G1 Climax (especially a G1 Climax card in Korakuen Hall), I thought this was still a relatively solid show. The best thing I can say about it generally is that the match times were all very reasonable, especially if you’re looking for a quick watch. The first two matches are around twelve minutes, the next two are about fifteen minutes, and the main event was the length of your typical G1 main event. In terms of the matches themselves, again, while nothing was great, I would say everything outside of EVIL/Taichi ranged from solid to really good. A perfectly enjoyable show, but not spectacular…and with the G1 Climax, spectacular is the expectation.

Here are the standings for the B Block, as of Night 6:

  • Kazuchika Okada – 6 Points
  • Jeff Cobb – 6 Points
  • EVIL – 4 Points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi – 4 Points
  • SANADA – 4 Points
  • Taichi – 4 Points
  • Tama Tonga – 2 Points
  • Chase Owens – 0 Points
  • Hirooki Goto – 0 Points
  • YOSHI-HASHI – 0 Points