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    Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    #CafePuro: G1 Climax 30 Fallout

    Kota Ibushi won the G1 Climax 30 tournament last Sunday.

    After a month's worth of Young Lion C-Block matches and G1 main tournament matches, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has concluded the 30th G1 Climax Tournament. 

    The day started with an introduction video by narrator Baron Yamazaki recapping the wrestlers with the most points in the tournament before covering our main event of A Block winner Kota Ibushi and B Block winner SANADA.

    For the A Block, we had four wrestlers who could have made it to the final including Kazuchika Okada, Kota Ibushi, Jay White, and Will Ospreay. We saw Ibushi sneak into the winner's circle via Jay White's loss to Tomohiro Ishii, while Will Ospreay betrayed Kazuchika Okada with the help of the returning Tomoyuki Oka, now going by The Great-O-Khan, and Ospreay's girlfriend Bea Priestley.

    The B Block, on the other hand, involved a three-way tie among Naito, EVIL and SANADA. It took a Naito loss for SANADA to get into the final by account of him having a win over both EVIL and Naito. A whirlwind month was about to conclude in a gut-wrenching final match.

    G in G1 stands for God

    Five-time G1 Climax winner Masahiro Chono makes his way to the ring.

    Before the match began, we got a very rare appearance by five-time G1 Climax winner Masahiro Chono. He thanked the fans for supporting New Japan even during the pandemic and said that New Japan will keep going. Chono would join the commentary table after his short message to the fans and we went into our main event.

    Wow. I don't even know how to describe the rest of the match. We had a Kota Ibushi with a taped-up leg and a healthy SANADA in the match. I really thought this match was SANADA's to lose. One of the scary moments from the match was Ibushi attempting to dodge a dropkick but SANADA hit him in the head with his arm while in mid-air. I really hope he didn't get a concussion from that accidental mid-air chop.

    That was just the beginning of an intense match. While the first act was kind of slow, the last quarter of the match was intense. Near-fall after near-fall was made and we got the closest three-count by Red Shoes in a very long time. 

    The last stretch of the match was one of the most heart-stopping sequences that I've seen since Hiromu vs. EVIL in Sengoku Lord. It wasn't Ibushi's best match of the tournament—that still goes to Ibushi vs. Suzuki—but I still enjoyed the match very much.

    Kota Ibushi pins SANADA                                                                    Kota Ibushi pins SANADA

    One of Ibushi's Kamigoye knee strike attempts was even countered by SANADA just by clinching onto Ibushi's wrist so that the Golden Star couldn't pull SANADA's head in for the strike. Despite the slow start, Ibushi and SANADA knew how to increase the intensity of the match to the point where every moment was heart-stopping and every finisher attempt felt like the end. I was left with no words after the match. All I got from Ibushi's post-match speech was that his mission to become God, yes, with a capital G, is not yet over until he becomes IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

    There were two things that stood out the most from the post-match festivities. First of all, we got the visual of Chono, the five-time G1 Climax winner, handing over the trophy to Ibushi who is the first back-to-back winner since Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 2003 and 2004. 

    Jay White challenges Kota Ibushi for the prize Ibushi had just won.

    The other memorable moment was when Ibushi was speaking to the press during his post-match interview. He mentioned that he could still lose the briefcase before WrestleKingdom in January. That sentence alone scared me because we had Jay White appear to challenge Ibushi for the briefcase. Don't forget that Jay has a win over Ibushi and that means he has the right to challenge the Golden Star for the briefcase. Unlike last year's run to WrestleKingdom which had about a five-month wait, this road to WrestleKingdom is only about three months long. You can't turn a blind eye to what happens next. 

    What happens next?

    Ibushi poses with the G1 Climax trophy and the Right to Challenge Contract.

    During this week's G1 Climax post-event press conference, we found out that Ibushi's G1 Climax contract guarantees a title shot for Naito's double championships at WrestleKingdom 15. We also know that Ibushi will defend his G1 Contract against Jay White in the main Power Struggle show. As per tradition, the G1 Climax winner defends their contract against anyone who pinned them in the tournament. There are only two people who have the right to face Ibushi for the contract: Shingo Takagi and Jay White.

    Ibushi defends the Right to Challenge Contract for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Jay White.

    Most fans expect Ibushi to successfully defend the contract against opponents. There are two ways I can see Kota Ibushi's road to WrestleKingdom going:
    • Jay White wins the contract and we're stuck with the double belt story for another excruciating period. 
    • Ibushi successfully defends the contract and holds onto it all the way to the Tokyo Dome and Gedo will find a way to split the belts on the way to January 4th and 5th in order for Ibushi's sole focus to be on the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
    Regardless of what happens between now and January 4 and 5, Kota Ibushi only has one person in mind as an opponent: Tetsuya Naito. Get ready for some broken necks!

    Side Note: New Japan booked themselves into a corner by not splitting up the Heavyweight and Intercontinental belts. We should be having 1A and 1B level matches but all we have now is this convoluted nonsense where NJPW doesn't want to split the belts up. Even Naito mentioned that NJPW needs to make up its mind on whether or not the titles will be combined or be split in his Jingu press conference. Split the titles already! We don't need the two belt story anymore. 

    EVIL Intentions

    EVIL applies the Scorpion Deathlock on Tetsuya Naito.

    This match was surprisingly alright for an EVIL match. Most of his matches as a Bullet Club member have been boring but I actually enjoyed this one. EVIL sold a lot of BUSHI's offense quite well and generally made his former stablemate look good despite the loss.

    What happened after the match was interesting because EVIL invoked his right to challenge Naito for the double belts again. 

    What happens next?

    Naito defends the double championships against EVIL on November 7th's Power Struggle show

    Since EVIL defeated Naito in the G1 Climax, he has the right to challenge for Naito's double championship. We got confirmation during this week's press conference that the Shuyaku will face EVIL and defend his double belts. I am personally not a fan of the double belts situation anymore. It was fun when Naito was chasing both belts because there was a story behind the situation. 

    Naito needed to appreciate the Intercontinental belt to truly value the Heavyweight belt and properly achieve his dream of becoming New Japan's top champion. EVIL isn't the only one who has a shot at Naito's two belts. KENTA also has a right to challenge Naito because he pinned the champion on the last night of the B Block finals. 

    KENTA has a similar situation to Shingo Takagi, though. The former NOAH Ace will defend his U.S. Championship opportunity against Hiroshi Tanahshi. The Once in a Century Talent pinned the New Japan Cup U.S.A. winner so KENTA is going through a similar situation to Kota Ibushi. However, I don't see KENTA losing the right to challenge contract for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship any time soon.  

    Enter The Empire

    The Great-O-Khan screams at a prone Kazuchika Okada.

    One of the biggest returns from last weekend's G1 Finals was Tomoyuki Oka coming back from his excursion in the U.K. Now going by the name The Great-O-Khan, he helped Will Ospreay defeat Kazuchika Okada on the last night of A Block matches to form an unlikely alliance between the RevPro Heavyweight Champion and the former Young Lion. 

    What makes O-Khan a logical partner for Ospreay is the RevPro connection. O-Khan went undefeated in Revolution Pro Wrestling for nearly two years. He's a great monster wrestler to act as a bodyguard of sorts for The Assassin.

    Another surprise appearance was made by Bea Priestley. You might be wondering why a female talent was allowed in the ring when valets such as Miho Abe and PIETER weren't allowed to appear in New Japan shows. The reason why Bea Priestley could appear is that she's contracted to World Wonder Ring Stardom, the sister company of NJPW under Bushiroad. Sadly, Miho Abe and Pieter are not contracted to New Japan which is why we never saw them last weekend. 

    The arrival of O-Khan and Priestley signified the beginning of a new faction called The Empire. We don't know if that's officially their name but Chris Charlton made a point to emphasize it so it's safe to assume that is the name of NJPW's newest stable. 

    Last weekend, SHO and Kazuchika Okada teamed up against Will Ospreay and the Great-O-Khan. I never saw Okada as ticked off as he was when he attacked Ospreay before the bell could even ring. They went at it immediately and so did SHO and O-Khan. There's something so annoying about Birdboy and his girlfriend. I can't exactly tell what it is; they just seem so easy to hate. Birdboy got the win after his girlfriend attacked SHO's leg and he locked in the figure-four on the latter.

    Anyway, if you want to raise concerns about New Japan promoting someone who shamed a wrestler for leaving a tour midway to go back home to mourn a dead relative, I suggest contacting New Japan through its contact form

    What happens next?

    The Great-O-Khan faces Kazuchika Okada in his first singles match in NJPW for two years.

    Once the dust settled from the G1 Finals, we learned that Okada will face The Great-O-Khan at Power Struggle on November 7. We haven't seen O-Khan perform in singles action, excluding U.K. shows. I'm interested to see how the anime fan in O-Khan will face the husband of an anime seiyuu or voice talent.

    I don't know how we got here but this is a hilarious case of coincidental long-time booking. Tomoyuki Oka is known to be a huge anime fan and Kazuchika Okada is married to Suzuko Mimori, a well-known voice talent in Japan who is famous for roles such as Umi Sonoda in the Love Live! franchise and Sora in Digimon Last Evolution: Kizuna

    For all we know, the anime fan in Oka is ready to bash Okada's head in with his signature Mongolian Chop for being married to an idol.

    CHAOS: Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Ishii, and Goto vs Suzuki-Gun: DOUKI, ZSJ, TAICHI, and El Desperado

    TAICHI heaves DOUKI onto YOSHI-HASHI for the pin.

    We saw the return of chaotic multi-man tag matches last weekend, too. I got so used to the Young Lions opening the show that I totally forgot how fun and hectic the energy of a multi-man tag could be. We got CHAOS and Suzuki-Gun having fun at the start until Dangerous Tekkers hit YOSHI-HASHI with the Zack Mephisto, leading to DOUKI pinning one-third of the NEVER Openweight Champions. 

    We don't know who DOUKI will choose to team with him but I think we'll find out the partners during the first Road to Power Struggle show.

    What happens next?

    Can the CHAOS trio retain their Six-Man belts against Dangerous Tekkers and DOUKI?

    Since DOUKI pinned YOSHI-HASHI, that gave him the right to challenge for the NEVER Six-Man tag belts. We will see the title match headline the October 23 Road to Power Struggle show. YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooku Goto will face the Suzuki-Gun trio of IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAICHI) and DOUKI. We'll see if 2020 continues to be a successful year for CHAOS's ultimate underdog. 

    Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi vs. Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru

    Hiromu hits the Time Bomb on Yoshinobu Kanemaru

    The second match was between the team of Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. There's not much to talk about with this preliminary match. Hiromu got the win after hitting the Time Bomb on Kanemaru for the win.

    What happens next?

    Shingo Takagi has an opportunity to regain his NEVER Openweight Championship against Minoru Suzuki.

    We all know Hiromu Takahashi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru will be busy with the Best of The Super Juniors tournament. Since Shingo Takagi pinned Minoru Suzuki on the last day of the A Block finals, The Dragon will be busy fighting The King as they face off in a rematch for the NEVER Openweight Championship. 

    What does WrestleKingdom 15 look like?

    We had a quick intermission while the ring was being disinfected and sanitized. What I wasn't expecting was the announcement of WrestleKingdom 15 as a two-night event at the Tokyo Dome, most probably due to the pandemic. I think the format of the two nights will be similar to the G1 Climax shows where we'll get the main matches with less filler spread throughout two nights of action.  

    Side Note: I just love how the sponsor of the event, Varsan Plus, is a brand of soap and disinfecting products. Perfect for these times. 

    What did you think of this year's G1 Climax tournament? What do you anticipate for next year's WrestleKingdom shows? Share your thoughts below!

    Photos and screenshots from NJPW 1972 & NJPWWorld.com

    Steven Tan works for an e-commerce company by day and operates The Geeky Juans podcast and blog by night. He's a fan of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, comic books, and the Moomin franchise. You can find more of his geeky thoughts on Twitter @steviesaidyup

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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: G1 Climax 30 Fallout Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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