[Please note: there may be spoilers for any and all previous days of this tournament.]
The first day of action from New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament, the G1 Climax 30, is in the books, and with it the first round of action from the A Block of the competitors. On day 2, The B Block will shine when the current IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito, faces off with Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event, and Zack Sabre Jr. battles former champ, EVIL, in the semi-main. Rounding out the five matches of the B Block, KENTA returns to his homeland to battle Hirooki Goto, SANADA matches wits with Toru Yano, and Juice Robinson gets in the ring with eternal underdog, YOSHI-HASHI.
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax 30 B Block Match): to be perfectly honest, I was fixing to hate this for a handful of reasons before it even began, but dammit if it didn’t win me over. For the first time in as long as I can recall, Tanahashi won me over in a singles match and looked like the Tanahashi of old, and Naito appeared to be playing the proud champion in his first G1 match as double champion. The first match for the champion is always interesting, and this was no exception
+ EVIL vs Zack Sabre Jr. (G1 Climax 30 B Block Match): did you know Zack Sabre Jr. faced Dick Togo back in 2011? I know, right. This match was as “bad guy versus bad guy” as you could get in this tournament, which is funny because it made Sabre into the de facto good guy, which is not something I thought I’d get after those recent tag matches against the Golden Aces. I like “final boss” EVIL, and Sabre seems to have a knack of clicking with most NJPW heavyweights, so this was good
+ Hirooki Goto vs KENTA (G1 Climax 30 B Block Match): I really liked the physicality of this match, to the point I was reminded just how much I miss Shibata. The crowd was most indifferent to much of the match (though I realise I’m judging the number of claps as cheers). I can’t say this was great, but the stiff kicks and lariats made it fun to watch and listen to
+ Juice Robinson vs YOSHI-HASHI (G1 Climax 30 B Block Match): despite Juice’s new look, which gave me real “bad guy” vibes, Juice is a fucking megastar to this Japanese audience. The stomp-stomp-clap “chants” rang out at numerous point, and Juice looked genuinely happy that the crowd was doing it by themselves. YOSHI-HASHI looked really on his game, and Juice’s chops echoed throughout the building like a gunshot. I liked this a lot
– SANADA vs Toru Yano (G1 Climax 30 B Block Match): it’s Yano in the G1. You’ll either love this or hate it, but you’d best get used to it because it’s Yano in the G1.
– Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji: I commented about Tsuji’s match on the first day that he was hella impressive, and Kidd has been absolutely on the rise in the last few months in the Summer Struggle and New Japan Cup undercards. I’d wager these two will face each other a million more times in their careers, and most will definitely be better than this, but don’t be surprised to see them going at each other with gold on the line at a Tokyo Dome show in the future
> I think it’s fair to say that A Block will have the better matches (because they have the trio of Shingo Takagi, Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki) but there are a few upcoming B Block matches that have me intrigued: any combination of EVIL/SANADA/Tetsuya Naito is always interesting, but KENTA/Sabre and KENTA/Yano are both ones I think I’ll enjoy.
Should you watch this event: As seems to happen every year, I had already accepted that one block was going to be better than other, and as seems to happen every year, I was proven wrong by just the second night. Naito/Tanahashi and Juice/YOSHI-HASHI were both a lot of fun.