New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax Night 11
October 7, 2021
Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall
Hiroshima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Welcome to A block action on night 11 of the G1 Climax 31!

The last time we saw action from this block, Zack Sabre suffered his first loss in an amazing match against Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi and Kota Ibushi killed it in the main event, and Great-O-Khan decided to not bow down to KENTA. Was this A block follow-up worthy of a decent last showing? Keep reading.

El Desperado def. Ryohi Oiwa

I have been fast-forwarding Young Lions matches on this G1 tour, so this is my first time seeing Oiwa in action. He did pretty well. This was your standard Young Lion match where the veteran is beating him and then he gets some hope spots, which in this case were executed really well. Desperado ended up making Oiwa tap with the Indian Deathlock. Not much to write home about, just a fun, short opener to start the night’s action. ***

Non-Tournament Match
KENTA def. Hiromu Takahashi

I had forgotten that Hiromu was in this match, so I was surprised and happy when Hiromu’s music hit! He is one of my favorites in NJPW and I have been loving KENTA’s work so far, even if some of the finishes of his G1 matches have ended up with me going “meh”. Still, I got excited about the prospect of this match while the entrance ended and the bell rang. 

Hiromu started hard and fast by immediately jumping on KENTA before he had a chance to stall for time. KENTA was even taken to the outside, but since that is his domain, he was able to get the match going his way. This was followed up with a couple of minutes of KENTA dominating Hiromu, until he fought back, and the obligatory ref bump happened. There was a really cool spot where KENTA went looking for a chair, and just when he was going to hit Hiromu, Hiromu started yelling for KENTA to hit him. KENTA threw the chair down on the ring, they started elbowing each other, until KENTA got tired, picked up the chair again and threw it on Hiromu’s face. That was followed up by two chair shots to the back and a DDT on the chair for a two count. Match ended when KENTA threw Hiromu into an exposed turnbuckle and did a Schoolboy for the 1-2-3.

Decent match that I really enjoyed. I lost a bit of focus when KENTA was on the offense at the beginning of the match, but it ended up being a good time at the end. If you don’t like shenanigans, you probably will eye-roll the ending. ***½ 

G1 Climax 31 A Block
Kota Ibushi (10) def. Tanga Loa (4) 

My favorite member of GoD has been working really hard on this tournament, and this was no exception. The match started with him in control, and what a good job he did. From a spear to the floor to a T-Bone suplex, he was in total control until a kick from Ibushi to his face stopped the momentum. The standard Ibushi offense followed, until it was Kamegoye time. 

I think that everyone and their mothers can block Ibushi’s finisher now, and Loa was no exception. When Ibushi could not hit the normal Kamegoye, he turned Loa around to hit him with the same move to the back of the head, but Loa overpowered Ibushi and got out of it. Loa turned him around and hit his own Kamegoye to the back of Ibushi’s head but did not go for the pin. Loa hit a Poison Rana, Ibushi survived, and tried a Poison Rana of his own (which did not land at all). Match ended with a Tombstone Piledriver and Kamegoye from Ibushi, giving him 10 points in this G1. Really good match that did not overstay its welcome. ***½ 

G1 Climax 31 A Block
Zack Sabre Jr. (10) def. Yujiro Takahashi (4)

I always dread Yujiro’s matches, so I’ve been fast-forwarding him in this tournament, except today. Why? I’m doing the review and I love Zack Sabre Jr. He has been the highlight of the tournament this year and he proved again why in a really fun match against Yujiro. I liked that at the beginning of the match Sabre countered all of Yujiro’s nut shots into a submission. The man did not give Yujiro a chance to breathe, which is why when Yujiro had a chance to bite his opponent’s foot, he did and got the match to his side. He even hit Sabre with his patented pimp stick.

Back in the ring, Sabre worked Yujiro’s shoulder. He got out of Sabre’s clutches, they traded strikes, and Yujiro hit his Pimp Juice DDT for a close 2. Sabre hit a shoulder breaker and a new submission which he calls the Tesco Meal Deal, which stretched Yujiro’s arm while choking him with his legs for the tap out. 

I went in with low expectations and came out with a nice match. Maybe I should go in with the same expectations for all the future Yujiro’s matches that I watch. ***½ 

G1 Climax 31 A Block
Shingo Takagi (8) def. Toru Yano (6)

Is it my social media timeline, or have people been quiet about Toru Yano this year? What happened to all of the “Toru Yano is the best thing in the G1” talk? I get why people love Yano’s antics. I was one of those. He provides a breath of fresh air on a G1 night that has kickass matches and gives the opponent an easy match. If it’s your first or second year seeing Yano, I even understand! It’s funny, amusing, and interesting. What changed? This year’s G1 has not been like in the past. These cards don’t need a breather between kickass matches, so Toru Yano’s stock has gone down. People may also be tired of seeing these matches. I’m also tired of his matches. Maybe I’m grumpy. 

The match was alright, I guess. Only 9 minutes, it had the usual Yano shenanigans (this time with a bag where he blindfolds the opponents), and it had Yano wrestling competitively near the end of it. A Pumping Bomber and a Last of the Dragon later, it was over. You know what to expect from Yano’s matches, so you already know if you want to watch this. Nothing offensive and it was short. ***

G1 Climax 31 A Block
Tomohiro Ishii (8) def. Great-O-Khan (8)

O-Khan is one I have been paying attention to since day one in this tournament, and I’m still high on him. Ishii is Ishii, so of course I was excited for this main event and it did not disappoint. The match started with O-Khan trying to match Ishii’s brute strength, but in the end Ishii knocked him down. O-Khan did not accept that, so he started working Ishii’s arm. There was a great spot where O-Khan put Ishii in the corner, he tried to sit on him on the second rope, but Ishii slowly got out, stared death into O-Khan’s eyes, and the stared was answered with a Mongolian chop from the second rope. Another great and cringe moment was a headbutt exchange between both men, which ended with Ishii knocking him down. 

The match was full of moments like that, where O-Khan, in his unique way, used power moves and submissions while trying to match Ishii’s strength. Most of the time Ishii got the better of him. It was a match that when the 25-minute call came, I was actually surprised because I thought it had been less time. After the minute call was announced, Ishii hit a Lariat and then a Brain Buster to end this. 

If you still don’t believe in O-Khan, I don’t know what to tell you. Don’t know if this match will convince you, but it was a great main event and worth checking out. ****

Final Thoughts

This was a good show, not a great show. There wasn’t a bad match, but nothing to go out of the way to watch either. If you want a tight and good two-hour wrestling show, give this a chance. If you are skipping matches, you can go straight to the main event as a must-watch from this show. 

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