Action continues in Sapporo
Night two of the G1 Climax sees the second afternoon from Sapporo, and the second batch of eight wrestlers looking to explode out of the blocks. With more matches that will doubtless prove crucial by the final night, who will get their first points on the board?
Main event: D Block Shingo Takagi (0-0) vs Juice Robinson (0-0)
Singles record: 1-0 Robinson
After El Phantasmo and Will Ospreay kick off D Blopck on Saturday night, Shingo Takagi and Juice Robinson will meet in the group’s second bout this Sunday. Shingo Takagi earned the 2021 pro-wrestling MVP spot for his work in the second half of the year as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. It was a title Takagi had won when it was vacated by Will Ospreay however, and Ospreay would carry his own version of the title in the US. All the way up to Wrestle Kingdom, the Dragon was frustrated at the lack of clarity in the world title scene, and now the very same issues surround the IWGP United States title.
Juice heads into the tournament in physical possession of a belt that Will Ospreay is the recognised holder of. While Takagi has no skin in that game, he will be fighting to show that he is the top dog of his block, and indeed all of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. If Shingo beating Juice in Sapporo further muddies the title waters, then so be it as far as Shingo’s concerned, but Robinson will be fighting to prove he is a worthy champion.
8th Match: C Block Zack Sabre Jr. (0-0) vs KENTA (0-0)
Singles record: 3-1 KENTA
In terms of G1 competition, Zack Sabre Jr and KENTA have been tied together since the latter’s debut G1 in 2019, but their history goes back well over a decade. It was spring of 2011 that a young Zack Sabre Jr. was tested by KENTA during Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s European tour, during which his performances were strong enough to be brought into Japan. Perhaps without KENTA, ZSJ would never have made the voyage east, nor the jump to New Japan Pro-Wrestling where tag glory has three times been his, and the New Japan Cup has come home twice.
Yet Sabre wants the G1 Climax, and the richest of prizes in the IWGP oeuvre that lays beyond. To reach the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, KENTA is a significant and difficult obstacle to overcome; while ZSJ has been victorious once over the BULLET CLUB once in 2019, KENTA has won their last two. This match will be a must win for both men, and if the form of their prior meetings is anything to go by, night two will see one of, if not the best matches of the entire tournament.
7th Match: A Block Toru Yano (0-0) vs JONAH (0-0)
In a field full of monsters, Toru Yano is going to have to dig deep into the dark corners of his bag of tricks, and will have to do so from day one. Against JONAH, a difficult task indeed, even though Yano has had good dealings with TMDK in the past. Way back when, Yano recruited Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls to face Suzuki-Gun back at Wrestle Kingdom 9, but this will be a distant memory to all concerned. For Yano the key to survival will be to think quick, and try and stop the Top Dog in his tracks- but how?
6th Match:B Block- Tomohiro Ishii (0-0) vs Taichi (0-0)
Singles record:6-1 Ishii
Taichi was on colour commentary when the G1 Climax 32 locks were released, and responded to being in the same block as Tomohiro Ishii for the first time in two years with an audible groan. As much as the fans win out, a series of hot battles between two of NJPW’s ‘black sheep’ unfolding through history, the results have always been painful for the Holy Emperor. The pain is both physical and metaphorical, the hard hits doing their damage while six losses hurting Taichi’s confidence. Yet just as Taichi kicked off a successful 2021 summer that saw him to tag glory after an emphatic win over another rival in Tetsuya Naito on home ground, so there exists a chance that Taichi can leverage a home town crowd to success tonight, and on to the rest of the G1.
5th Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)
With Hirooki Goto set to face Tetsuya Naito Wednesday in Sendai, a six man preview tonight in Sapporo. Meanwhile, with one match already in the books for Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, a lot of intrigue will surround how they step into the ring, and whether they’ll be two points up, or already fighting with backs against the wall.
4th Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Jado & Tama Tonga) vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Chase Owens)
Three members of B Block will all meet in tag action in the fourth match of the evening. With Chase Owens and Tama Tonga set to meet on July 20 in Sendai, that’s the most immediate preview here today, but the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion will undoubtedly be on the mind of Tama. The chance to deal some vengeful blows before facing White on the last night of league action will be irresistible indeed.
3rd Match: United Empire (Aaron Henare, Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (SHO, Dick Togo, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi)
Eight man action will see the United Empire assemble to face HOUSE OF TORTURE. There perhaps is no stronger unified group than the United Empire, and the potential exists for an even greater boost to momentum should Aaron Henare, Will Ospreay and Jeff Cobb get their hands raised on night one. Meanwhile HOUSE OF TORTURE are freshly relieved of their NEVER 6 Man titles; how will they react tonight, with Yujiro facing Ospreay on July 27 in their next block meeting?
2nd Match: Suzuki-Gun (Lance Archer & TAKA Michinoku) vs BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & El Phantasmo)
With Lance Archer and Bad Luck Fale set for a crushing clash of the titans in Sendai Wednesday, a tag team preview will see the two bulls charge at one another, while El Phantasmo and TAKA Michinoku will likely seek to avoid any size disparity. Phantasmo will likely be nursing damage for what will be a spectacular day one clash with Will Ospreay, but might he also be carrying two points and even more confidence than usual to the ring if he’s victorious against Will Ospreay Saturday?
1st Match: David Finlay & YOSHI-HASHI vs Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs)
Kicking off the afternoon, YOSHI-HASHI and David Finlay will take on Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs. With YOSHI-HASHI and Finlay both in D Block, and Tom Lawlor in A, there might be an uneasy alliance here tonight between two future opponents. Team Filthy’s reputation for cohesiveness may make them impossible to deny in this opening tag bout.