New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual round robin tournament continues, 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 time limit draw will grant both competitors 1 point (both men being counted out will result in 0 points given to anyone). 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 7!]
It’s day eight, and you know what that means: once again the B Block takes the stage. In the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi will face SANADA, while Kazuchika Okada and Hirooki Goto do battle in the penultimate fight. Also on the card, YOSHI-HASHI will fight for his first tournament win against Taichi, a man who YOSHI-HASHI has never deafeated in singles competition, and the Bullet Club collides once again as EVIL faces Chase Owens for tournament points. In the opening tournament match, Tama Tonga looks to make up for a shock defeat against Tanahashi as he faces the unstoppable Jeff Cobb, and starting the show will be a young lion showcase as Ryohei Oiwa tests himself against long time veteran Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
+ Hirooki Goto vs Kazuchika Okada (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): I liked this, but I just didn’t love it. Okada has been on a role and I never really gave Goto a chance to win, so even if that was not the case (hint hint but no spoilers here) then I couldn’t get invested. I’ve been surprised that Goto has gone undefeated this far, but considering YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii have as well, maybe it’s a story. Still, Okada always looks good and I think Goto is really underrated so this was fine. I just think Okada is at the risk of being boring
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Taichi (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): hot damn this YOSHI-HASHI boy is on fire lately. I know that everybody is trying hard this year, with an arguably reduced field is it YOSHI-HASHI that is standing out to me in the B Block. All of that said, Taichi can go when he wants to, and after his loss to EVIL he came out strong. This match started pretty slowly, but it eventually picked up to be well worth it
+ EVIL vs Chase Owens (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): The only time EVIL might even be remotely interesting in his current form is in these intra-Bullet Club matches. Chase once against played the beloved fan favourite (only by proxy, though, as EVIL is so reviled). I enojoyed this a lot more than I thought I would, and probably would rank it as one of the best EVIL has had so far
– Hiroshi Tanahashi vs SANADA (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): I dunno, mates. This did nothing for me at all. SANADA is so boring, and I just don’t care for Tanahashi in these main event spots over the younger guys; I know that’s how NJPW works, but sometimes I wish it wasn’t. Still, the match was perfectly fine in terms of moves itself, one or two small mistakes notwithstanding, but it never clicked into that Shingo/Ishii style second gear
– Jeff Cobb vs Tama Tonga (G1 Climax 31 B Block Match): Cobb is still strong, and Tama is still fast, but the majority of this match was just there. I never felt like these two clicked the way many others have so far for Cobb, and Tama didn’t seem to capitalise on that match with Tanahashi. I dunno, I feel underwhelmed
– Ryohei Oiwa vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru: this was as standard a young lion match as you can get. It was not bad, but if you imagine a short opener, this was it
Should you watch this event: I’d have to say that this show was underwhelming, especially when compared to how much better last night’s show was than expected. You might get something out of Goto/Okada, but overall this was a somewhat forgettable card.