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    Wednesday, September 23, 2020

    #CafePuro: Recapping The G1 Climax 30 Opening Weekend

    Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi in NJPW G1 Climax 30

    Last weekend we finally saw the start of the G1 Climax 30 tournament.  From baseless declarations to the return of a chair, there's a lot to unpack from nights one and two of NJPW's biggest tournament.

    This year's shows will run much shorter, with an opening preliminary Young Lions match followed by five G1 matches. Unlike previous years, there are no tag matches with the NJPW uncles. Due to the length of the tournament, I will only be recapping each match with a few highlights.

    Day 1

    Young Lions Match: Yuya Uemura vs. Tsuji Yota

    Yuya Uemura vs. Tsuji Yota
    A clean-shaven Tsuji Yota faces off against Yuya Uemura.

    Where did Tsuji Yota's beard go? Tsuji's missing facial hair wasn't the biggest surprise of the match. He unleashed new physical moves that are reminiscent of GBH's style. Once Makabe and Honma retire, I'd love to see Tsuji and Henare continue the legacy of a hard-hitting brawling wrestling style.
    Despite the new moves, Yuya Uemura makes Tsuji tap to an arched Boston Crab that looks like it hurt a lot.

    G1 Climax Matches

    1. Yujiro Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay

    Yujiro Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay at G1 Climax 30
    Yujiro Takahashi prepares to hit the ropes.

    The Tokyo Pimps gave zero effort in the match. Thank you, Yujiro. Will Ospreay looks big now. Too bad it still doesn't seem like he has taken responsibility for his actions.

    If you want to raise your concerns, send a message to the New Japan Office here: https://www.njpw1972.com/contact/inquiry/

    I'm still not a fan of the idea that just because the Japanese audience doesn't care means that we should not raise the important point that The Assassin abused his powers as an influential wrestler in the British wrestling scene. He needs to be checked. The same goes for the likes of Chase Owens.

    Anyway, Ospreay wins with Stormbreaker and cuts a promo for some reason. That seems unfair to the main eventers who traditionally close out the show and earned the opportunity to speak to the audience.

    2. Jeff Cobb vs. TAICHI

    TAICHI vs. Jeff Cobb at G1 Climax 30
    TAICHI damages Jeff Cobb's knee.

    Looks like Jeff Cobb took Tsuji Yota's beard away.

    The match was as physical as expected and I was surprised that referee Marty Asami did not call a DQ after TAICHI used the ring bell hammer on Cobb. I love the fact that refs in NJPW will call the match at their discretion and not call a disqualification immediately.

    We got heavy hitting from TAICHI and Cobb. I was surprised to see the standing moonsault again. Seeing it in person is still amazing. I can only imagine what it was like for the audience in Japan.
    TAICHI hits Cobb with the Black Mephisto for the win and I really hope Cobb did not land on his head.

    3. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki

    Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki at G1 Climax 30
    Tomhiro Ishii prepares for Minoru Suzuki's deadly kicks.

    Murder. There is no other word to describe this match.

    You don't have to be at the venue to get a sense of how physical this match was. Suzuki vs. Ishii was the match of the night as expected and I don't think the matches that followed could even compare to what The King and the Stone Pitbull did to each other.

    There was a scary moment when Suzuki clearly landed on his head though. I definitely got concerned because we tend to forget that the man is 52 years old. Most wrestlers at his age would have retired but Suzuki is like no other man. I hope he's okay after that bump to the head.

    Suzuki wins with a brutal Gotch Piledriver for the win. If you want a sense of Strong Style wrestling, watch this match.

    4. Jay White vs. Shingo Takagi

    Jay White vs. Shingo Takagi at G1 Climax 30
    Jay White attempts a Sleeper Suplex on Shingo Takagi.

    Welcome back, Switchblade Jay White. It's been months since we've last seen the leader of Bullet Club and he hasn't changed. We still got the usual Jay White signature of stalling before starting the match.
    Shingo still took Jay to the limit despite all of the stalling, though. 

    Here's what stands out for me with Jay White matches: he always finds a way to make his opponent adjust to his pace so that Jay can get the advantage. Jay White may not be the best in terms of in-ring skill, but his mental strategy is second to none.

    Shingo Takagi still delivered despite adjusting to Jay's pace. The Dragon showed how much he wanted to win the match with every counter being more brutal than the last. He is another example of what Strong Style is like. However, I would not recommend this match because it ends with the usual shenanigans that have become stale over the years.

    Jay defeats Shingo with the Bladerunner after tons of interference from Gedo.

    5. Kota Ibushi vs. Kazuchika Okada

    Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi at G1 Climax 30
    Okada applying a Cobra Clutch to Ibushi.

    Okada didn't feel like Okada in this match. Not a single Rainmaker attempt was seen. I don't think we even got the signature zoom out that accompanies Okada's pose. I don't think I've seen Okada taken out like this in a very long time. Kota Ibushi is a man on a mission and no one is going to stop him.

    What stood out for me in Ibushi vs. Okada wasn't even the match itself. The backstage segment was much more interesting. Remember when Tanahashi told him to become a god? Kota Ibushi took that declaration to another level. As mentioned by NJPW commentator and translator Chris Charlton on Twitter:
    That's right. Ibushi wants to become God. If you think about it, Ibushi's statement matches his mindset. The dude wants to live to 100 and beyond. He loves breaking his neck and is basically immortal at this point." 

    What else is there to say? Oh! Ibushi destroyed Okada with a powerful Kamigoye for the win. Ibushi finally made up for his loss against Okada in day one of Wrestle Kingdom 14.

    Day 2

     Young Lions Match: Tsuji Yota vs. Gabriel Kidd

    Tsuji Yota vs. Gabriel Kidd at G1 Climax 30
    A beardless Tsuji Yota looks down on Gabriel Kidd after making him tap.

    Yota takes his win back after making Gabriel Kidd tap out. It's nice to see the Young Lions trying to outdo themselves even with the hectic schedule they have compared to their senior wrestlers. 

    G1 Climax Matches

    1. YOSHI-HASHI vs. Juice Robinson

    YOSHI-HASHI vs. Juice Robinson at G1 Climax 30
    Juice Robinsons strikes YOSHI-HASHI with right hands.

    Like Jay White the night before, Juice Robinson was ready to go. YOSHI-HASHI delivered in the match as well.

    Many fans tend to forget about YOSHI-HASHI'S in-ring work just because he has a reputation of being CHAOS's perennial loser. 2020 has been YOSHI-HASHI's year and I'd like to think this match with Juice will show why he'll be the man to steal the show in the G1. My only concern was that the match felt like it lasted a little too long. Cutting the match down by a minute or two would have made the pacing better,

    Despite YOSHI-HASHI's efforts, Juice pinned YOSHI-HASHI with Pulp Friction for his first two points in the tournament.

    2. SANADA vs. Toru Yano

    SANADA vs. Toru Yano at G1 Climax 30
    SANADA pulls Uemura to try and beat referee Marty Asami's count.

    I'm not even surprised that SANADA lost this match. Shiny new gear won't prevent the King of Pro Wrestling and the TRUE Ace of NJPW to score a win over the Cold Skull.

    Everybody knows that Yano will never win the G1, so he's in the tournament to give the talent a lighter workload for the night. We see hints of a serious Yano for a few seconds but most of the match is just Yano being Yano. He even tries to just take a countout loss by sitting on a chair near the entrance ramp. 

    Anyway, Yano finds a way to use the same strategy he made on Jon Moxley and Shota Umino wherein he wrapped tape around the two wrestlers' legs. I thought SANADA was going to get the easy win via countout. 

    I was surprised to see Yano call Young Lion Yuya Uemura to free him from the Paradise Lock and like any Young Lion Uemura followed his senior's orders. This year, Yano wrapped SANADA's and Yuya Uemura's legs together for the easy countout win. 

    3. KENTA vs. Hirooki Goto

    KENTA vs. Hirooki Goto at G1 Climax 30
    KENTA prepares to kick Hirooki Goto's chest.

    Wow. All of the wrestlers who came from abroad are changing their look. Ospreay added more flair to his coat, Juice became a member of the Blues Brothers, Jeff Cobb grew a beard, KENTA cut his hair and dyed it to a darker color, and Jay White still won't shave that damn beard off. 

    I know there are opposing thoughts on Jay's beard, but that's another topic for another time. KENTA is becoming the KENTA of old once again. No more Hideo Itami. Like he said in last year's G1 Climax press conference, he is "F*****G KENTA." His match with Goto shows that wrestling on NJPW 
    Strong helped shake off the ring rust and now he's ready to strike the competition with elbows and kicks until his opponents can no longer take them.

    You could tell that the members of the B Block stepped up their respective games after seeing how much effort that the A Block put out the day before. 

    What was most interesting about this match was KENTA's guarantee before the event. He declared that he would make Goto tap out to Game Over, his facelock submission, and it worked!
    KENTA makes Goto tap out to Game Over.

    4. EVIL vs. ZSJ

    EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr. at G1 Climax 30
    Zack Sabre Jr. pins EVIL with a roll-up for the surprise win.

    No surprise here. EVIL attacked ZSJ before the match could start. The match was chaotic, to say the least. Most of the ZSJ matches I've seen have a slow burn before heating up towards the end. EVIL brought out a different side of ZSJ that nearly matched the pace of Minoru Suzuki when he gets mad.

    It's so weird seeing ZSJ as the face in this match. What was slated to be a heel vs. heel match turned into a traditional match with EVIL's attack before the match and we had this odd view of ZSJ acting like a face which is something I haven't seen in years. I've been enjoying the angry, Boris Johnson-hating Zack Sabre Jr. that I forget that he can play the role of a face so well.

    I loved the clash of styles between the two wrestlers. EVIL is known as a heavy-hitting brawler so it was nice to see him adjust to Zack Sabre Jr.'s technical style.

    ZSJ beats EVIL with a surprise roll-up. You knew that Dick Togo was going to do everything he could to make sure that EVIL would win. What he didn't expect was how much was still in ZSJ's arsenal of moves. That roll-up gave ZSJ a huge upset as he pinned the former IWGP double champion for the first major surprise of the tournament. 

    5. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito

    Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito at G1 Climax 30
    Naito pins Tanahashi after a grueling match.
    • This was wrestling at its finest. Need I say more?
    • Every move told a story. Watching Tanahashi attempt two High Fly Flows was exhilrating. It's as if the Ace of NJPW hasn't lost a step. We had an entire storyline about Tanahashi's body regressing and not being able to keep up with the current stars. He may not have won, but this match proves that Tanahashi can still hang with the staples of the company.
    • Naito and Tanahashi gave us a pro wrestling clinic. I can't really describe this match further. You MUST watch it.
    What was your favorite match from the opening weekend of G1 Climax 30? Share your thoughts below!

    Photos from NJPW

    Steven Maxwell Tan is co-founder of The Geeky Juans Podcast. He's a fan of the Moomin franchise and the Anaheim Ducks hockey team. When he's not at his day job, he's reading comics, playing video games and watching puroresu. You can find his geeky thoughts on Twitter: @steviesaidyup.
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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: Recapping The G1 Climax 30 Opening Weekend Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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