Night two in Hiroshima as tournament reaches crucial final stage
The second of two nights in Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall on August 10 will see blocks get closer to the wire, as final matches loom in Machida, Nagano and the Budokan.
Main event: C Block- Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-1) vs Hirooki Goto (2-2)
Singles record: 11-3 Tanahashi
Goto must win
Sick of being the nearly man for the last 14 years, Hirooki Goto declared that his annual catchphrase of ‘the G in G1 stands for Goto’ would be set aside for the tournament until he wins the trophy for a second time. Despite hard fought losses to KENTA and Zack Sabre Jr., Goto is very much still in the hunt, with his most significant win being over an old enemy in Tetsuya Naito to start his tournament.
Yet when the terms ‘nearly man’ and ‘old enemy’ are concerned, Hiroshi Tanahashi has to be at the top of the list to be mentioned in either context. From Goto’s first IWGP Heavyweight Championship challenge in 2007 that remains a career favourite of both men, through to most recently in Osaka Jo Hall this year, when Goto faced the Ace in a last minute AEW World Championship Eliminator ahead of Forbidden Door, Tanahashi represents the very immovable mountain that Goto seeks to conquer over the course of this tournament. Should Goto do so, a move to six points with two potentially crucial tiebreakers over Tanahashi and Naito could set him in good stead for the Budokan next week. Yet Tanahashi is also seeking a return to the top of the world before 2022 is up, and with a win all but punching his final four ticket, will not be giving up an inch.
8th Match: A Block- Kazuchika Okada (3-1) vs Tom Lawlor (2-2)
Lawlor must win
An intriguing semi main event sees the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all time face the first and longest reigning NJPW STRONG Champion in Tom Lawlor. Lawlor’s last two league matches have seen him adapt to Japanese competition after two losses to start his campaign, and picking up impressive wins over Toru Yano and Bad Luck Fale.
Kazuchika Okada represents a whole extra level of competition for the Filthy one. After August 7’s incredible main event against JONAH proved that the Rainmaker was not impervious to defeat in this year’s G1, Lawlor is certainly not without hope, and has more than a fighter’s chance against the 2021 G1 winner. Can he come through with the biggest win of his dual combat sports careers?
7th Match: C Block-Zack Sabre Jr. (3-1) vs EVIL (2-2)
Singles record: 2-2*
EVIL must win
The international ‘happy dance’ that will likely occur should EVIL lose his place in the G1 final four has so far been denied NJPW fans. The King of Darkness might have lost two key matches to Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi, but victories over KENTA and Aaron Henare have kept him in the hunt mathematically. In his penultimate match, EVIL must win to stay in the hunt, and a victory would also give him a key tiebreaker advantage against front runner ZSJ. Yet EVIL knows as well as anyone that victory over the Submission master is far from easy.
Four matches between the two have resulted in a 2-2 record, the asterisk in the scoreline coming from a planned King of Pro-Wrestling match in 2018 that was thrown out before action even took place. A no contest here would ensure that EVIL would be out as well, as would a disqualification. After El Phantasmo lost to Juice Robinson in D Block off the back of a DQ, the HOUSE OF TORTURE camp may be more cautious tonight as a result; or their rule breaking could be even tighter and slicker. Sabre has to be prepared for every eventuality, with Hiroshima likely joining the world in full support of the British master.
6th Match: B Block-Tama Tonga (3-1) vs Great-O-Khan (1-3)
O-Khan is mathematically eliminated
By the time August 10 rolls around, Tama Tonga may be the only one with hope in B Block of defeating the dominant Switchblade Jay White. To keep this hope alive, the Good bad Guy needs to come out of a Hiroshima double header of singles matches strong; this being Tama’s penultimate contest, if he ends the night at more than one win off the pace of final opponent White, he will be out of the running. As the Catalyst of Professional Wrestling sits back and hopes the group is decided with two bouts to go for him, then, can Tama come through? Or after his considerable pride has been injured through a string of defeats, will Great-O-Khan spoil Tama and gain considerable traction for himself in the process?
5th Match: D Block- David Finlay (3-1) vs El Phantasmo (1-3)
Phantasmo must win
After David Finlay put together a phenomenal string of three successive wins against juice Robinson, Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay, the Rebel put himself at the top of what has shaped up to be an incredibly competitive pack. His three wins, especially against top contenders, set him in very strong stead indeed for the final run in the Nippon Budokan, but he badly wants to win his last two to help secure his spot.
Based on form through this tournament, El Phantasmo is Finlay’s most winnable match yet. The 1-3 ELP was crushed after losses to YOSHI-HASHI and then Juice Robinson in Osaka, the latter defeat coming via DQ against his own BULLET CLUB teammate. Phantasmo needs a win to keep slim chances of advancement alive; can he put the pieces together tonight?
4th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI) vs BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO)
Eight man tag team action sees BULLET CLUB take on Los Ingobernables De Japon. 24 hours after SANADA and Chase Owens meet in tag team action, will we see an eliminated SANADA looking for revenge? Will the same be true of Naito after his key Tuesday main event?
3rd Match: Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku, Taichi & Lance Archer) vs BULLET CLUB (Juice Robinson, Gedo & KENTA)
Before Taichi faces Jay White in the Switchblade’s penultimate league match Saturday in Machida, a six man preview sees him team up with Lance Archer and TAKA Michinoku against Gedo, KENTA and Juice Robinson. Tensions are running high as time and league matches run low, and the results of that should be clearly seen as Taichi will doubtless want to ensure Gedo isn’t part of the picture Saturday.
2nd Match: CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs TMDK (JONAH & Bad Dude Tito)
Tag team action will see Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano take on JONAH and Bad Dude Tito in Hiroshima. JONAH has been a difficult man to beat during this tournament, but Yano can lay claim to that very feat with a countout victory on night one. Now JONAH seeks revenge on Yano, and a man in Ishii who defeated him some months ago at IMPACT.
1st Match: Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima & YOSHI-HASHI vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay & Aaron Henare)
Six man action will kick off this evening as YOSHI-HASHI leads Young Lions to war against the United Empire. Before the tournament got underway, few expected YOSHI-HASHI to have a career best run, to the point that his Saturday meeting with Ospreay could be absolutely crucial to deciding the block. That is indeed the case though, and while his Young Lion partners make this an experience mismatch, he will be out to show Ospreay all he has before Machida.