NJPW Live: G1 Climax 31 Day 13 – 2021 10 09
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Main event: Great-O-Khan (4-3) vs Kota Ibushi (5-2)
Great-O-Khan and Kota Ibushi meet in O-Khan’s second consecutive main event in Osaka, and with both competitors still very much in the hunt when it comes to finals contention.
This first time matchup will present an interesting stylistic clash that has the potential to wow the Osaka crowd; after mat wrestling with Yujiro Takahashi and grappling Zack Sabre Jr.,
O-Khan openly discussed that he wanted to strike with a run of strikers in the tournament. In Aichi, O-Khan got a different opposition than he was expecting,
and outside the ring antics would add up to O-Khan’s second loss of the tournament.
Four nights later in Hiroshima meanwhile, the hard hitting war that unfolded when O-Khan went toe to toe with Tomohiro Ishii again ended in defeat,
and the Dominator now has to contend with the frustration of three consecutive losses.
With it being fairly safe to say that Ibushi will be much more straightahead than KENTA in the ring tonight in Osaka, how will O-Khan fare against the kicks of Ibushi? Indeed, will the Dominator seek to continue his plan of wrestling to his opponents’ strengths in order to test himself and show his superiority, or might he change tact and adopt some more underhanded tactics to help assure his spot in the Budokan final?
5th Match: Shingo Takagi (4-2) vs Tanga Loa (2-4)
After a tough defeat to Kota Ibushi in Aichi, Shingo Takagi, and now stands in strong shape going into the final third. His tiebreak losses to Zack Sabre Jr and Kota Ibushi could prove dangerous however, as would letting his guard slip against Tanga Loa. After Loa secured his first earned G1 victory against Yujiro Takahashi, the Silverback has been self assured and confident in the ring, hanging with Ibushi with power moves and even a standing moonsault and poison rana. The match ended in defeat though, and with his road to the final now effectively ended, Loa is mainly fighting for pride, and spoiling Shingo would mean a lot of well earned pride indeed.
4th Match: Toru Yano (3-3) vs Yujiro Takahashi (2-4)
Singles record: 5-1 Yano, G1 record: 3-1 Yano
With three matches left for each to wrestle in this year’s G1, chances of victory for Yujiro Takahashi are extremely slim.
With his four points coming from Tetsuya Naito’s forfeit and one victory, Yujiro has the scantest of mathematical chances to stay in the hunt.
Yet just as it was the quality of his sole win, against Jeff Cobb in G1 Climax 30 that paved the way for the Tokyo Pimp to be in this year’s tournament, so too is Yujiro’s pinfall win over front runner Kota Ibushi potentially crucial.
That potential tiebreaker is what keeps Yujiro alive, but if he is to stay in the game past Osaka Saturday, he’ll need to beat Toru Yano.
That’s something Yujiro has only achieved the once, and back in 2014’s tournament at that. Seven years without a win for Yujiro over Yano is somewhat misleading though, as the two haven’t wrestled for over five years and a New Japan Cup victory for Yano in just 1:16. Will both men show the benefit of their intervening experience? Will this match be equally brief? We find out in Osaka.
3rd Match: Zack Sabre Jr. (5-1) vs KENTA (4-2)
Singles record: 2-1 KENTA, G1 record: 1-1
Although both Zack Sabre Jr. and Kota Ibushi head to Osaka with ten points apiece, Ibushi’s bout with Great-O-Khan tonight will be his penultimate of the league,
while Sabre still has three opponents left to face, giving him one match in hand, and the defacto top spot in A Block,
a loss to Tomohiro Ishii his sole blemish. Could KENTA provide a second blot on his record?
The two men have been linked since long before Sabre even came to Japan, let alone New Japan Pro-Wrestling,
a test against KENTA on a European tour for Pro-Wrestling NOAH giving ZSJ a foot in the door to Japanese competition.
Well ovcer a decade later, Sabre and KENTA have met in two consecutive G1s, each proving to be one of the unsung classics of their respective tournaments.
This match has every chance to be another hard fought encounter on paper, but KENTA’s recent track record may raise questions. Exposed turnbuckles,
chair shots and low blows have all been part of KENTA’s repertoire in his recent matches,
and with some success to boot. While he fell to Shingo Takagi, KENTA has beaten Tomohiro Ishii and, in non tournament action,
Hiromu Takahashi all while irritating the NJPW fanbase to boot. Is this, as the man himself suggests, simply who the ‘2021 KENTA’ is?
Will the proud fighter that still very much exists within KENTA be pitting his wits tonight, or will corners be cut?
2nd Match: Hiromu Takahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii
Singles record: 1-0 Takahashi
Tomohiro Ishii’s make up match for Tetsuya Naito’s absence will see the 4-3 Stone Pitbull go up against Hiromu Takahashi.
After a hard fought win against Great-O-Khan in Hiroshima this week, Ishii confessed that he thought of himself as being 3-3, and will be wrestling tonight as if two points were on the line, and Hiromu will gladly step up and confront Ishii on his own terms.
In fact, Ishii will be looking for revenge against a man who can, and has beaten him in the past, during the empty arena stages of New Japan Cup 2020.
Could Ishii be the first to lose his makeup match in this G1?
It certainly wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility, and would let Hiromu truly show the ability and power of the junior heavyweights.
1st Match: Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
After Young Lions Ryohei Oiwa and Kosei Fujita each battled El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru in singles contests over four G1 nights,
Osaka kicks off with tag team action.
Oiwa and Fujita are heading into their first ever tag team match against the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag team Champions;
the results are not in doubt, but what kind of fight will the newcomers be able to bring?