G1 Climax makes its first stop in Korakuen Hall
September 29 sees G1 Climax 31 make its first Korakuen Hall stop. It’s B Block action in the hall, as the opening act of the tournament is completed and participants look to be in the best shape possible before entering the difficult middle phase.
Watch EVERY G1 Climax event live and in English on NJPW World!
Main event: Kazuchika Okada (2-0) vs YOSHI-HASHI (0-2)
Singles record: 2-0 Okada G1 record: 1-0 Okada
Tonight’s main event sees CHAOS brethren tied since their respective NJPW debuts face off. Nobuo Yoshihashi and a very much pre-Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada were Young Lion contemporaries back in 2008, and despite YOSHI-HASHI’s seniority in age, Okada’s relative in ring experience edge from Toryumon in Mexico was enough to see Okada to repeated victories.
Both would be sent on excursion at the same time, with YOSHI-HASHI heading to Mexico as Okada competed in the US. On January 4, 2012, both returned to NJPW action inside the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 6, a night that would prove transformatory for Okada after his success. While Okada would be IWGP Heavyweight Champion within two months, the Headhunter would struggle long and hard before finally winning his first career championship eight years later.
YOSHI-HASHI will bring a NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag champion’s pride to Okada along with a lot of respect and a decade of friendship to Korakuen Hall. He’ll also bring the fight of his life against his ‘younger senpai’ Okada; but with the Rainmaker Return in full effect and undefeated thus far, Okada will not be treating his CHAOS mate with any kindness.
4th Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) vs Tama Tonga (1-1)
Singles/G1 record: 1-0 Tonga
Long time NJPW fans have known for a while that Tama tonga is at his most dangerous when he has a chip on his shoulder and he’s highly motivated. This G1 has created a perfect storm for the Good Bad Guy to surpass any and all expectations, as he brought a fast and effective fight to SANADA in his tour opener and stunned with a huge Gunstun out of nowhere to pin Chase Owens in Ota.
His 1-1 record comes off the back of two impressive performances then, but he will have to bring all he has if he’s to defeat the Ace. Hiroshi Tanahashi shares a two point status with Tonga, albeit off the back of an inside cradle against Hirooki Goto. The IWGP US Champion will want to truly assert himself in this tournament with an emphatic win over Tonga, but that is easier said than done.
Tanahashi’s sole meeting with Tonga ended in a victory for the BULLET CLUB member in 2016, a Gunstun surprising the Ace in Fukushima. Could the same result see Tonga instantly recognised as one of the forerunners in the tournament?
3rd Match: Hirooki Goto (0-2) vs Jeff Cobb (2-0)
Singles record: 2-1 Goto G1 record: 1-0 Goto
While Chase Owens and YOSHI-HASHI have both made the Imperial Unit work for his four points, everything is going to plan so far for Jeff Cobb. 2-0 in the tournament so far, Cobb nonetheless has a difficult stretch of opponents to come, and that includes Hirooki Goto.
Cobb is 1-2 against Goto, with a NEVER Openweight Championship defence in 2018, and a G1 victory in 2019 to the Fierce Warrior’s credit. Yet Goto’s G1 is decidedly not going to the plan Cobb holds. The CHAOS member was narrowly beaten first by SANADA and then by Tanahashi in Ota, with a roll-up hold that caught him completely by surprise. Now feeling the pinch in his worst open to a G1 since 2009, Goto badly wants to derail the Cobb train in Korakuen.
2nd Match: SANADA (1-1) vs Chase Owens (0-2)
A first time singles encounter tonight will see Chase Owens look for his first points of the tournament opposite SANADA. While they wear white and black hats respectively for the most part, SANADA and Owens share a classical style that has seen Owens in past tag meetings look for the Paradise Lock with little effect on Cold Skull. Two matches in the hole despite positive performances, and the Crown Jewel would benefit from taking the fight to SANADA rather than trying to beat him at the LIj member’s own game; can he pick up the first G1 points of his career?
1st Match Taichi (2-0) vs EVIL (1-1)
A strong start for Dangerous Tekkers in G1 competition this year saw both Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. shoot to four points, and against tough competition. Taichi’s violent victories over Hirooki Goto and SANADA have not just granted him a shared spot at the top of the table, but given potential tiebreakers against figures who traidtionally factor into the end of the competition conversation.
EVIL is just another of those figures, and will present a difficult test indeed for Taichi. At EVIL’s hard hitting best, he is comfortably a match for the strike and head drop based offense of Taichi. At his rule breaking worst he may be beyond the Holy Emperor even at his most devious. Yet in both regards, Taichi is capable of giving as good as he gets, and whichever path this match goes down, its participants will be evenly matched and equally hungry.