[Please note: there may be spoilers for any and all previous days of this tournament. Because real life doesn’t stop when daylight savings changes, I am also one day behind for the foreseeable future.]
It’s once again time for the A Block to shine as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament, the G1 Climax 30, reaches day 9. In the main event, Wil Ospreay looks to solidify himself as the gaijin ace when he battles Kota Ibushi, while Taichi and Tomohiro Ishii bring something special out of each other in the second to last brawl. Pre-tournament favourite, Kazuchika Okada, faces off with a man he knows very well, the veteran Minoru Suzuki, Jeff Cobb tries to overpower the sinister Jay White, and Yujiro Takahashi enters the dragon’s lair when he faces Shingo Takagi.
+ Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay (G1 Climax 30 A Block Match): I really liked this match. It was not too long, it wasn’t full of garbage near-death experiences and it was the perfect illustration of two athletes that have speed, power and technical abilities on their sides. Ibushi’s kicks were deadly and Ospreay used his signature speed to make for a great back and forth contest. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like Ospreay really wants to be the new version of what Omega was to NJPW, but he has a long way to go in that regard
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi (G1 Climax 30 A Block Match): Ishii really brings out the best in Taichi, and Taichi brings out something only a few others can in Ishii. This was hard hitting, with quick strikes and strong reversals, and another great entry in their singles match history
+ Jay White vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax 30 A Block Match): this was fine, but not nearly as good as either man’s match against Ibushi. Cobb once again seemed comfortable showing off his power, and White’s shit talking felt as fresh as ever, especially as Cobb was able to reply in turn. This was good, but not quite the great match I was hoping they’d have
+ Gabriel Kidd vs Yuya Uemura: after the banger between Kidd/Tsuji on day eight, I figured this would be Uemura’s match to shine. Frankly, both guys are so, so impressive it was hard to concentrate on just one. As always these two are better than their experience levels suggest, and it was a perfectly fine but still preliminary match
– Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki (G1 Climax 30 A Block Match): once again, I was simply bored out of my skull when Okada made his entrance. I don’t know if the lack of crowd noise is the problem, or if Okada truly is only going half-speed, but every exciting thing about this match was due to something Suzuki did
– Shingo Takagi vs Yujiro Takahashi (G1 Climax 30 A Block Match): if there was ever a match that needed to go three minutes with a zero-offence loser, it was this. I was incredibly surprised at how long and how not one-sided this match was between Shingo, one of the best wrestlers in the world, and… Yujiro? He’s like the fifth top of the Bullet Club. This was not for me
Should you watch this event: I never in my life would have thought that two of my least favourite matches on any show, let alone a G1 Climax, would feature any combination of Okada, Suzuki or Shingo. All of the positives listed above are worth seeing, but this was not a ‘can’t miss’ show.