Night two of A Block in Ota-ku
A Block competition in G1 Climax 31 started with some shocking results and some incredible matchups. On September 23, the tournament rolls on to Ota as some look to build on night one success, and some look to get on the board.
Main event: Shingo Takagi (1-0) vs Zack Sabre Jr. (1-0)
Singles record: 1-0 Takagi
For the first time in a New Japan ring, Shingo Takagi meets Zack Sabre Jr. in our main event. Indeed, to many with shorter or less particular memories, this seems like a first time ever matchup, but Shingo and Zack’s memories are long and detailed. Both clearly remember a WxW 16 Carat meeting in 2009, a match that Takagi was not only victorious in, but victorious via submission, going on to win the tournament and achieve a feat that ZSJ took another seven years to claim.
Sabre has carried memories of that loss for over a decade, and now comes to meet Shingo in Ota determined to right that perceived wrong. He does so with a great deal of confidence; his own tournament campaign started with a convincing tapout win, utilizing ‘Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home’ to tie Tetsuya Naito in knots, drawing the submission and creating doubt over Naito’s knees as the tournament progresses. Takagi can come into Ota confident as well, with an opening match win over Tomohiro Ishii and his eighth consecutive singles victory. This match will be a good deal more of a technical affair than Tomohiro Ishii however. Will Takagi maintain his straight ahead smash mouth style? Or might he look to submit Sabre for the second time, 12 years apart?
4th Match: Kota Ibushi (0-1) vs Tomohiro Ishii (0-1)
Singles record: 3-1 Ibushi G1 record 3-0 Ibushi
Rallying from a first night loss will be Kota Ibushi and Tomohiro Ishii in the semi main event. While Ishii’s loss to Shingo Takagi was in a pick ’em of a contest, very few predicted that Ibushi would be taking an L in his first match out at the hands of Yujiro Takahashi. Ibushi’s loss far from means the end of his campaign; he tasted defeat at the hands of KENTA in his first match in 2019 and went on to win the tournament, but it may have rattled Ibushi’s confidence, and a rattled opponent is something that Ishii can take full and easy advantage of.
Ibushi has had a clear edge over Ishii ever since going heavyweight; his only defeat to the Stone Pitbull coming when he challenged the then NEVER Openweight Champion as a junior back in 2014. Can the Golden God extend his three match winning streak over the CHAOS member tonight? Or will he be further behind the eight ball with a second loss?
3rd Match: KENTA (0-1) vs Yujiro Takahashi (1-0)
The G1’s first BULLET CLUB derby will see KENTA go up against a highly confident Yujiro Takahashi. Both KENTA and Yujiro can lay a rare claim to a special achievement; that of defeating Kota Ibushi in the opening match of the G1 Climax. Yujiro’s usage of new move Big Juice to polish off the back to back winner started G1 Climax 31 with a huge shocking upset, and instantly earmarked him as a threat in this tournament. With neither man a stranger to rule bending though, some intriguing questions circle this bout.
While it seems on the surface as if HOUSE OF TORTURE has been accepted by BULLET CLUB at large as an established sub-team, will there be any factional friction? This match might set the tone for future BULLET CLUB interactions throughout the series.
2nd Match: Toru Yano (1-0) vs Great-O-Khan (1-0)
Singles record: 1-0 Yano
Starting off the evening, Great-O-Khan and Toru Yano both battle to be the first to get to four points. As proud a man as the Dominator is, Great-O-Khan has never, in either tag or singles interactions, beaten Yano. In fact, Yano has not only defeated, but belittled O-Khan on grand stages. Their New Japan Cup encounter that saw O-Khan tied to the guardrails via his own hair, necessitating an emergency shearing, while four months later in Hokkaido, O-Khan found himself handcuffed to the ring frame for a countout loss. It isn’t just two points, but revenge on the mind for O-Khan tonight, while Yano will want to show he has the Dominator’s number.
1st Match: Yuji Nagata vs Tanga Loa
As a result of Tetsuya Naito being forced to withdraw from G1 competition with an injury to his left knee, his scheduled opponents will not be getting any time off in the tournament. Tanga Loa may have an automatic two points from his forfeit win, but Yuji Nagata will no doubt be making the Silverback work for them in our opening match of the night. For Loa’s part, his first two career G1 points would have been something he wanted to earn rather than be granted, and he will be looking to pick up a convincing result tonight to show that the W would have gone to him regardless of Naito’s status.