New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 31 Night 16
October 14, 2021
Yamagata City General Sports Center
Yamagata, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

We are here on the penultimate show of the B block and tonight is all about the following: will Cobb beat EVIL or will we groan at the possibility of an almost EVIL final? Will we get Okada vs Cobb, winner-take-all? Tonight is all about the drama of the last two matches, a drama that I was invested in. But before finding out which of those scenarios would take place, Hiromu needed to beat some Young Lions.

Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI def. Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa

Just like the last two nights, Hiromu was just chopping the hell out of Oiwa and Fujita, and then when BUSHI tagged him he started kicking the hell out of them. This was a tag version of the Young Lions matches from the last two nights, and was equally enjoyable. Match even ended the same way, with a Boston Crab. You can just skip it. But I still enjoyed it. ***

G1 Climax 31 B Block
Chase Owens (4) def. Taichi (4)

Poor Taichi. He’s been on a rough patch this G1, making Miho Abe worried every night. I sometimes think that I would like someone to worry about me the way that Miho Abe worries about Taichi, but then I think about it again and it would be a bit annoying after some time. I would be like: “Don’t worry, I got this. Calm down. It’s gonna be okay. You don’t need to feel this way every night”. Part of the reason why Taichi is failing these past few nights is because of that dastardly rib injury.

Owens was once again in full asshole mode trying to start the match with a sumo battle pose, but backing out. He even asked for a kiss from Miho later in the match, with her letting him know that no is no. While Taichi tried to choke Owens on the outside, Owens got the advantage when he threw Taichi on the rail, hitting his injured ribs. Taichi fought back hard, but was always taken down with a hit on his ribs. Taichi eventually hit a backdrop that almost got the win for him, but took a lot out of him. Match ended when Owens hit the Alabama Jam, a shout out to Bobby Eaton, and then hit the Package Piledriver. After the match, an injured and frustrated Taichi shoved the man helping him and left. A good *** match with great effort from both guys.

G1 Climax 31 B Block
SANADA (8) def. Hirooki Goto (4)

Goto keeps losing, but unlike Taichi, I don’t think his fans are feeling hurt about it. That’s his role now, especially in the G1. Goto is still having enjoyable matches, and you can add this to the list. While SANADA and Goto are both eliminated, it always helps to add points, and that is what this match was all about. Goto tried getting SANADA on a couple of nearfalls right when the match started, until SANADA recomposed, threw him outside, then back inside to apply the stupidest move that I like, the Paradise Lock.

Goto kept escaping the Skull End and moved from one Moonsault that SANADA tried. The ending sequence was really fun, with SANADA trying to get Goto more than once with a package pin, with Goto kicking out and trying to hit the GTR, to once again SANADA catching him one last time with the O’Connor Bridge to win. I really liked the pace of the match and the constant quick pins to try to end this. ***½

G1 Climax 31 B Block
Hiroshi Tanahashi (8) def. YOSHI-HASHI (4)

Fired up YOSHI-HASHI is still in the tournament! He was so fired up that he started the match immediately and had the advantage over Tanahashi for like 3 minutes, probably. A dropkick to the knees put down the fired-up man from here on out. YOSHI answered back with chops and trying to hit neckbreakers and suplexes, with one of those suplexes being countered with a Twist and Shout. Eventually, YOSHI got the advantage back with a Dragon Suplex, but failed hitting Tanahashi with Karma. A Swing Blade and High Fly Flow later, Tanahashi won and got two more points in a decent ***½ match that you will forget that happened by the next TV show you watch.

G1 Climax 31 B Block
Jeff Cobb (16) def. EVIL (12)

Jeff Cobb is officially the wrestler of the week. We were worried about EVIL being close to the G1 final, and he is officially out…I think. I’m bad at G1 math. For the correct G1 math and NJPW numbers, follow Chris Samsa on Twitter. It’s a great follow.

Talking about great Twitter follows (and podcast!), the Super J-Cast tweeted:

I mean, I see their point, and it is a good one. Still, I argue that we are not celebrating the demise of the heel. It’s more of a “we don’t have to see this shit again in the main event” celebration.

At least with me, I’m not a fan of EVIL’s matches and my complaints have always been the overabundance of cheating which breaks the flow of the match and just makes me not care. Also he does it with every opponent, not just main eventers or rivals. I don’t complain when KENTA or Jay White do it since their approach is a better one. If EVIL did not do it every match, it would mean even more when it happens. People simply don’t want this in their NJPW main events, and so far it seems like NJPW is following suit. Still, I wanted to share that interesting take that I partly agree with.

On to the match. This is just Cobb beating the shit out of EVIL and out tricking the cheater. He found a way to spoil all of his tactics that have given him the victory all tournament long. When EVIL was applying the abdominal stretch to Cobb with the help of Togo, Cobb countered by arm dragging both men. After EVIL tried to kill the timekeeper once again by throwing his opponent onto him, Cobb got up, put EVIL behind the timekeeper’s table, and threw Togo into the rail and table so EVIL could get a taste of his own medicine. Not even choking Cobb with the garrote was enough and he was able to power out of it. Even a chair shot that was meant for Cobb ended up meeting EVIL’s face. Meanwhile Cobb was just manhandling EVIL and Togo all over the area. The match ended with a Tour of the Island.

If you’ve been watching and hating EVIL, turn on this match to get that deep sense of satisfaction on seeing the man and his manager fail, get manhandled, and then pinned. Get your worries of Main Event Evil out of the system for this week. You deserve this reprieve. For that alone, I’ll go with ****. Maybe the J-Cast guys are onto something…

G1 Climax 31 B Block
Tama Tonga (6) def. Kazuchika Okada (14)

Tonight’s upset was brought to you by Tama Tonga. Just like we predicted last year, the Okada hot streak in the G1 was broken cleanly by Tama Tonga in the main event. I don’t mind this since Cobb won the other match and Tama has been working really hard on this G1. It’s a tournament where upsets are the norm, and I’m surprised that nobody has complained online. This result still makes Cobb vs Okada a winner-take-all situation, making next Wednesday’s match a “sitting on the edge of your seats” one.

As for the match itself, I drifted off a little in the beginning of the match, but my attention was recovered when Tama hit a version of the Stun Gun on the rail to take the advantage. Tama had control of the match until he lost it when he went to the top rope and Okada dropkicked him to the outside. Back inside the ring it was a battle of wills, where not even the Money Clip was able to knock down Tama. Both went all out with Tombstone Piledrivers, DDT’s, dropkicks, but they kept countering each other finishing moves. Still, Tama Tonga ended up being victorious with a Gun Stun and a Piledriver for a clean 1-2-3.

A good main event to close out the show, with my complaint being my lack of interest at the beginning of it. They telegraphed that they were going 20+ minutes immediately and the first minutes weren’t that interesting. This is one of those matches that would have benefited with 5 minutes less. ***½ 

Final Thoughts

A fine show that gave me deep satisfaction in the EVIL match. That is the match that I would recommend from this show if you are short on time, the rest is pretty good but nothing to go out of your way to watch.

If you have a question about the possible winner of the Block, Chris Samsa can help you out:

I think Okada is winning, especially since Cobb beat him the last time. Yet, if Cobb wins, I don’t see it as something weird. If Shingo wins the A block, he even has a rivalry with Cobb. Next two shows are going to be interesting.

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