B Block action gets underway in Osaka
After A Block gets underway on September 19, we stay in Osaka’s EDION Arena for night two of the tournament, and B Block getting their campaigns started!
Main event: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito
Overall singles record: 7-6-1 Tanahashi G1 record: 4-0-1 Naito
A long, storied rivalry between Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi sees its first new installment in three years in the main event in Osaka. It was against Tanahashi in a series of bouts in 2010 that saw Naito emerge from being a tag team wrestler with Yujiro Takahashi as half of NO LIMIT into the singles role that saw him become first the Stardust Genius, and then El Ingobernable and a double IWGP Champion.
The early stages of their rivalry would see Tanahashi hold the upper hand, scoring the majority of his seven wins over Naito, but that record is completely different when it comes to the G1 Climax. Naito is undefeated against Tanahashi in G1 competition, and three of his victories over the Ace have been part of successful campaigns; in 2011 where he went on to reach the final, in the 2013 final to take his first G1, and in 2017 when victory eventually led to his second trophy.
So, tournament form would put Naito as the favourite, as would recent records; the Ace hasn’t won a singles match since February’s New Beginning USA tour. But in the wake of the temporary dissolution of his team with Kota Ibushi, the Ace has redoubled his commitment to be back in tournament winning form. The elder statesman of B Block as he might be, Tanahashi has subverted expectations time and gain in the greatest of tournaments, and will want to do the same again from the jump.
5th Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs EVIL
Overall singles record: 2-1 EVIL G1 record 1-0 EVIL
Having won the New Japan Cup and IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships thsi summer, EVIL walks into the G1 as a very different competitor. Many will be keeping a close eye, then, on his battle with Zack Sabre Jr. For ZSJ, he might need to keep close eyes not just on his opponent but outside of the ring; BULLET CLUB interference has been a consistent factor for EVIL of late, and will certainly hamper ZSJ’s ability to maintain control on the mat.
Should Sabre navigate a hold on EVIL then he would be in with a chance of levelling his singles record with the King of Darkness in this fourth match against him. His loss to EVIL last year came as part of a frustrating start to his G1 campaign that effectively cost him his final hopes in the first half of the campaign. A win tonight would be the best possible start to G1 Climax 30 for ZSJ.
4th Match: Hirooki Goto vs KENTA
Overall signles record: 1-0 Goto
After his G1 capaign got off to a strong start last year against a bitter BULLET CLUB foe in Jay White, his 2020 campaign starts with another in KENTA. KENTA’s betrayal of Katsuyori Shibata to join BULLET CLUB at the G1 Climax 9 final ignited a feud that saw KENTA preventing Goto from defeating White for the Intercontinental Championship last November. That stopped Goto from entering the Double Gold Dash at Wrestle Kingdom as a result, but instead put him on a path to a NEVER Openweight Championship match with KENTA in the Tokyo Dome instead; a match the fierce warrior won.
Should Goto keep that undefeated record against KENTA, he could potentially stake a claim to KENTA’s US Championship right to challenge at some point down the line. Should KENTA be victorious, and he would be one step of nine closer to adding another right to challenge to his collection.
3rd Match: Toru Yano vs SANADA
Overall singles record: 3-0 SANADA G1 record 1-0 SANADA
Toru Yano’s devious tactics have a tendency to break brackets and ruin campaigns when it comes to tournaments of any kind, but SANADA seems to have the Sulime Master Thief’s number. A perfect 3-0 record for Cold Skull over Yano is a difficult scoreline for the KOPW2020 holder; if Yano were able to invoke KOPW2020 like stipulations for this match, he may well order no countouts. That’s how both his G1 losses were dealt, and Yano will certainly be eager to avoid the Paradise Lock at all costs in Osaka, partcularly if SANADA looks for the hold outside the ring. After a difficult year thus far when it comes to results for SANADA, will this mark the start of a win streak for Cold Skull, or will Yano swipe his first win over the LIJ member?
2nd Match: Juice Robinson vs YOSHI-HASHI
First singles meeting
The B block will kick off with two competitors who embody the importance of heart and pride in the ring more than arguably anybody. After 12 years of trying, YOSHI-HASHI now walks into the G1 as a champion, the NEVER 6-Man tag belt holder entering his first G1 after two years, and the bitter disappointment of summer 2019.
For Juice, whose own championship level pride saw him gut through a hand injury in 2018’s tournament, and was driven with furious anger toward Jon Moxley through last year’s campaign, a clean slate. Back from a leg injury that saw him miss competiton on NJPW STRONG, Robinson wants to prove out the gates how strong a prospect he is in this tournament. Then again YOSHI-HASHI is no tune-up opponent, ad this will be an unpredictable start to B Block.
1st Match: Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji
Singles record: 3-0 Tsuji
Match two in the tournament long Young Lion battle sees LA Dojo’s Gabriel Kidd join the fray against Yota Tsuji. Tsuji and Kidd have been butting heads for weeks whether in the same or opposite corners, and now will face ofe one on one. Tsuji has a strong record against the Brit, but Kidd has spoken of treating this battle as his own Young Lion Cup, and will be determined to make a mark on the tour as soon as possible.