Last night of A Block action in Yokohama
The G1 Climax is in its final week in Yokohama and Nippon Budokan. Monday October 18 will see the A Block finalist determined, as remain in the running.
Main event: Kota Ibushi (6-2) vs KENTA (6-2)
Singles record: 1-1, G1 record: 1-0 KENTA
Ibushi must win, and have Zack Sabre Jr. lose
KENTA must win and have Shingo Takagi lose, or for Zack Sabre Jr and Takagi to both win
With Ibushi and KENTA at 12 points, events earlier in the card could well mean that this match will determine who makes the finals Thursday in the Nippon Budokan. It’s appropriate, then, that KENTA’s first ever G1 opponent could see him through to his first G1 final. Back in 2019 in Dallas, the Go2Sleep started an opening four win streak for KENTA who ultimately tumbled down the stretch; now if KENTA can defeat Kota Ibushi, he could stand on the precipice of history.
Ibushi has made plenty of history of his own over his career with an unparalleled list of achievements, and could set another one tonight by becoming the first to ever make four consecutive G1 finals. After a shock upset at the hands of Yujiro Takahashi in his first group match, questions circled around Ibushi’s status, having recovered from aspiration pneumonia in the summer. Yet Yujiro provided the only blemish on Ibushi’s track record, which has gotten increasingly convincing with every passing match. Is the G in G1 golden once again?
Zack Sabre Jr. (6-2) vs Tanga Loa (2-6)
Singles record: 1-0 ZSJ
Zack Sabre Jr. must win, and have Ibushi win
Tanga Loa is mathematically eliminated
It was back on may 3 at Dontaku that Zack Sabre Jr. first faced Tanga Loa in singles competition. Then it was a test for Sabre, and for Dangerous Tekkers to prove themselves worthy of challenging then IWGP tag team Champions the Guerrillas of Destiny. ZSJ won the match, but the relatively singles match inexperienced Loa impressed so with his performance that his spot in the G1 was given credibility. Now Sabre must win again to prove himself worthy of being in the G1 Climax 31 final, albeit needing some help from Kota Ibushi in our main event to boot.
With athleticism matching his pure power, Loa’s point score may not have troubled the tournament’s front runners, but each and every opponent has had to work for their two points against him. Should Loa spoil Sabre tonight, it would be a huge step forward in Loa’s career as a singles wrestler, and may reshape conversation around G1 Climax 32 next year.
3rd Match: Shingo Takagi (6-2) vs Yujiro Takahashi (2-6)
Singles record: 2-0 Takagi G1 record 1-0 Takagi
Shingo Takagi must win and have Sabre and Ibushi both lose
Yujiro Takahashi is mathematically eliminated
The 2-0 in question for Shingo Takagi against Yujiro takahashi in singles matches should be tempered somewhat with an asterisk, being that the second win for the Dragon during the Summer Struggle tour came as a result of a disqualification. As Shingo was on the path to facing EVIL in the MetLife Dome, he had Yujiro comfortable under control before the Tokyo Pimp’s teammates in what would soon become HOUSE OF TORTURE hit the ring and drew a DQ.
That all happened in Monday’s Yokohama venue. A fitting place then for Shingo Takagi to claim revenge and help book his place in the finals… Or a fitting place for Yujiro to get his first victory over Takagi and spoil the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion’s G1? Last year, Yujiro seemed to be on track to lose out entirely in the G1 before he scored a monumental final win over Jeff Cobb. Could Yujiro capture final night lightning in a bottle once again?
2nd Match: Tomohiro Ishii (5-3) vs Toru Yano (4-4)
Singles record: 2-0 Ishii
Both men are mathematically eliminated
The last CHAOS derby of the G1 Climax will see Tomohiro Ishii face Toru Yano. Undefeated against the master producer, Ishii looks to be odds on favourite here tonight, but will Stone Pitbull pride lead to a fall against the devious quick thinker?
1st Match: Great-O-Khan vs Satoshi Kojima
Great-O-Khan’s frustration at an opening four match winning streak turning to elimination despite impressive performances was palpable by the final stages of the tournament.
That frustration would have been eased by gaining a definitive win over Tetsuya Naito in his last group match in Yokohama, but with Naito’s withdrawal after night one, he will now have to make do against Satoshi Kojima. Yet just as he showed against Kota Ibushi last week in Sendai, Kojima is intent on reminding the world that unlike his contemporaries in the Third Generation, he has not formally withdrawn from G1 consideration yet, and is more than deserving of a spot next year. A win over the Dominator would certainly put him in the running.