Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Climax 31 (Day 4) (2021)

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual round robin tournament is underway, as twenty competitors contend to win the G1 Climax 31. Two blocks of ten competitors face each other once, and for each match up, the rules are simple: a win will earn the winner 2 points while the loser earns nothing, and a draw of any kind will grant both competitors 1 point. Once everyone has faced each other once, the two overall winners meet with a Wrestle Kingdom main event up for grabs.

[Please note: there may be spoilers for all previous days of the tournament so far. Please click here for my thoughts on Day 3!]

Day four means a return to action for the B Block side of the tournament. In the main event, long time rivals renew hostilities as the head of Bullet Club’s House of Torture, EVIL battles former G1 winner, former IWGP Champion, and arguably the best wrestler of his generation, Kazuchika Okada. Second from the top, both SANADA and Taichi will look to continue their winning ways at the expense of the other. A long and sordid history has played a part in the build to this match, as each man uses the styles and hard hitting moves of their All Japan Pro Wrestling, or NJPW trainers. Meanwhile, YOSHI-HASHI has the thankless job of attempted to get his first points of the tournament against Jeff Cobb, who tore through Chase Owens in the first week, and is eagerly awaiting the tie-breaker with Kazuchika Okada on the final night of tournament block action. Following KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi facing off on the previous show, the Bullet Club once again must fighting within itself as one of the OGs of the Bullet Club Tama Tonga faces Chase Owens, and finally, in a sleeper match of the night, sleeper match of the B Block and potential sleeper match of the entire tournament, two former G1 Climax winners collide when Hiroshi Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto do battle in the opening match. Eight years ago, Tanahashi defeated Gotoand in the process broke his jaw, something certainly neither man has forgotten in the intervening years. No young lion match will take place on this night, so it’s sure to be a short and sweet show from the B Block of NJPW’s G1 Climax 31.

njpw_g1climax31_2021_day4
The King of Darkness, The Head of the House of Torture, The Great Betrayer: EVIL

+ SANADA vs Taichi (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): this started off pretty slowly, and I was ready to write it off as a dud. But each man soon turned it up a notch, leading all the way to a fantastic ending. I hate how hot and cold I am on SANADA, because if he was like this all the time, there is no way anyone could not be a fan
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): YOSHI-HASHI has stepped it up over the past year, as I have said before, and Cobb can really go when he has the right opponent. To my great surprise, YOSHI-HASHI may well be one of those opponents for Cobb. This was far better then either man’s first round match, and hopefully a sign of things to come. And that new chop/lariat combo in the corner Cobb has been doing is a 10/10 wrestling move for me, I just love it
+ Tama Tonga vs Chase Owens (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): Tama Tonga is not really known for stellar singles matches (at least not in the way his brother Tanga Loa might be), and Chase has been up and down at best, so imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed this match. A fantastic final stretch really put the excitement exclamation mark on what was really set up to be a poor match. Good on them for proving me wrong
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): there is a lot of history between these two in G1 matches, and this was another one that I think will be talked about in all their future meetings. This was nothing flashy, and perhaps not quite as good as I was expecting, but everything looked good, there were lots of teases and callbacks to past events, and I really liked the ending and immediate aftermath

Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): if Okada didn’t insist on trying to make the Money Clip a real finisher, and if EVIL wasn’t the only Bullet Club member still doing the shole interference and cheating shenanigans, then this could have been a really good match. And the latter half of the complaint bothers me the most, because I can’t decide if I am the fool for being angry at something that is meant to make me angry, but it doesn’t make me want to see EVIL lose, it just makes me not want to watch his matches. This was probably fine through non-jaded lenses, but I just could not possibly care less

> with Zack Sabre Jr.’s success last night, and Taichi/SANADA tonight, commentary was quick to mention that Suzuki-gun and their deadly leader is doing big things on AEW and NJPW Strong in the United States right now. Not to even mention how ZSJ defeated the Japanese Dragon, only to call out the American Dragon… this inter-connected wrestling world is just beautiful

Should you watch this event: Outside of the main event, this was a quick and easy show to watch. Tama Tonga and Chase Owens was probably the surprise highlight of the show for me, only because I expected Tanahashi, Goto and Cobb (yes, with YOSHI-HASHI) to put on good showings. I may have been too quick to judge this B Block after the announcement of each block’s competitors, because the B Block has had two good shows in a row.

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