Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi will meet today in the G1 Climax 31 finals.
Ibushi, the A Block winner, will face B Block winner Okada to determine the winner of G1 and who will carry the right to challenge briefcase for an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom in January.
Okada and Ibushi have each won the tournament twice. Okada's wins came in 2012 and 2014, while Ibushi won the 2019 and 2020 editions of the tournament. Ibushi was also a finalist in 2018, making this his record fourth consecutive finals. Okada has never lost a G1 finals match.
A series of tag matches will fill out the undercard.
Shingo Takagi, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI will face Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma and Tiger Mask will take on KENTA, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens.
Bullet Club's House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi and SHO) will face NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champions Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI in a non-title match, likely setting up a Championship bout on the next tour.
Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan of The United Empire will face Yuji Nagata and Toru Yano in the main card opener.
El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru will take on Ryohei Oiwa and Kosei Fujita in a pre-show match.
Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita (8:40)
This was your standard Young Lion tag. Very similar to last night, only Oiwa sold most of the way and made a hot tag to Fujita.
Desperado and Oiwa traded headlocks. Desperado cut Oiwa off. Kanemaru tagged in and continued working Oiwa over. Oiwa came back with a vertical suplex and made the hot tag.
Fujita got a crab applied to Kanemaru, but Kanemaru forced a break. Desperado held Oiwa at bay while Kanemaru used a crab to submit Fujita.
Yuji Nagata & Toru Yano defeated Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan (8:29)
This was an okay opener with a lot of comedy.
O-Khan and Yano have an on and off blood feud going, so they began here. Yano exposed a buckle. Empire turned it into a brawl around ringside and took control of the bout.
O-Khan and Cobb worked on Yano. Yano used a hair pull on Cobb to break free and tag out. Nagata hit Cobb with some signature offense. Cobb answered with a dropkick and tagged out.
Nagata blocked an iron claw and hit an exploder on O-Khan. Yano tagged back in as they worked towards the finish. Yano and O-Khan traded throws. Cobb and Nagata brawled to the outside.
Yano hit a low blow and cradled O-Khan to steal the pin.
EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO (w/Dick Togo) defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (11:20)
Not good. House of Torture is exactly that.
SHO produced a CHAOS flag and stomped on it. We got a brawling start with all six guys in. Goto ended up cut off and his taped right shoulder was worked on.
Ishii tagged in and did some cool reversal spots with Yujiro and Yujiro kept accidentally hitting EVIL on the apron. Ishii was then cut off.
Ishii made a hot tag to YH. YH got some offense, but then the Dick Togo show began. Togo interfered. Togo jumped in the ring. Togo used his ligature. The ref got bumped.
SHO cracked YH with a chair, EVIL hit Everything is EVIL, the ref was revived and EVIL pinned YH.
KENTA, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens (w/Jado) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Tiger Mask (10:41)
The match was good, all action. The post-match was the story, as KENTA attacked Tanahashi and stole the IWGP US title. KENTA and Owens briefly argued as to who was going to challenge Tanahashi next. Owens relented and said he's going back to America and KENTA can have the first shot.
The babyface side got the early shine, as Makabe and Loa started off. Tonga and Honma tagged in and Honma was cut off until hitting a vertical suplex. Tiger got a tag and ran wild. He hit KENTA with a Tiger driver for a near fall.
Tiger was then cut off. They built to a Tanahashi hot tag. He hit KENTA with a dragon screw and a somersault senton for a near fall. Tana missed with a slingblade and KENTA rolled him up for two. KENTA used a schoolboy for another near fall.
Owens blind-tagged in and hit a lariat on Tana for a two count. Tana blocked a package driver with twist and shout and tagged Honma.
Honma hit kokeshi, but Bullet Club jumped in to cut him off. Owens used a package piledriver to pin Honma.
Zack Sabre Jr. entered after intermission.
Katsuyori Shibata then entered.
A five minute UWF rules exhibition match was announced. Shibata was forced to retire after suffering a subdural hematoma in a match with Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis in April 2017. He has been serving as the head coach at NJPW's LA Dojo since 2018.
UWF rules match: Katsuyori Shibata & Zack Sabre Jr. went to a time limit draw (5:00)
Shibata looked great, but he didn't really take any bumps.
They had a grappling battle. Shibata used a figure four, Sabre reversed it. Sabre got a heel hook, Shibata reversed it. They traded neck ties. Sabre used a side headlock. Shibata reversed into a sleeper.
Sabre had a cobra twist applied. Shibata reversed it and had the hold applied as time expired.
Shibata cut a promo and said that the next time you see him in the ring, it will be in a match.
Shingo Takagi, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato (12:17)
A very good match. Again, this was all action.
Hiromu and Taguchi started off with some comedy. They ran the ropes. Taguchi ran in place while Hiromu blew himself up. Tenzan and Kojima doubled up on Hiromu with tandem offense. Wato tagged in, but LIJ went four-on-one to cut him off.
LIJ took turns in working over Wato. Wato blocked a suplex from SANADA and tagged Kojima. Kojima hit SANADA and Hiromu with machine gun chops. SANADA missed a standing moonsault. They traded strikes. BUSHI tagged in for a missile dropkick and a double down.
Tenzan tagged in and worked on BUSHI to set up the closing stretch. BUSHI was caught in the Anaconda Vice, but Tenzan gave up the hold. BUSHI hit a dropkick and tagged Shingo.
Shingo hit a DVD for a near fall. He teased a Pumping Bomber, but Wato intercepted with a springboard forearm. Everyone jumped in for a big move and fought to the floor, leaving Shingo and Tenzan in the ring.
Shingo hit a superplex and a Pumping Bomber to pin Tenzan.
G1 Climax 31 finals: Kazuchika Okada defeated Kota Ibushi by referee stoppage (injury) (25:37)
They were on their way to having a classic, but Ibushi injured himself missing a phoenix splash. This will be memorable, but unfortunately for the wrong reason.
They started slowly, trading headlocks. They traded tentative strikes. Ibushi hit a standing moonsault off a mid kick.
Business picked up after they brawled to the outside. Ibushi blocked a whip into the barricade and hit a half-and-half suplex on the floor. He threw Okada back inside and hit a springboard dropkick.
Okada sent Ibushi out to the floor with a dropkick, then hit a DDT on the ramp. Okada threw Ibushi back in and hit a shotgun dropkick. Okada used the Money Clip. Okada gave up the hold and hit a picture-perfect dropkick.
Okada went back to the Money Clip. As Ibushi fought to the ropes, Okada hit a backbreaker. He applied the hold again, but Ibushi forced a break. Okada hit a top rope elbow. Ibushi ducked under a Rainmaker. Okada ducked a kick. Ibushi hit a lariat.
They traded strikes. Ibushi hit a snap rana and a top rope Asai moonsault to the ramp. Back in, Ibushi hit a last ride for a near fall. Ibushi went for Kamigoye, but Okada turtled up. Okada used a backslide to set up a Rainmaker, but Ibushi ducked it. Ibushi hit a high kick, a v-trigger and a Kamigoye, but Okada kicked out.
Okada reversed a Kamigoye attempt into a cradle for a near fall. Okada avoided a v-trigger. Ibushi hit a lariat. Ibushi went for a phoenix splash, but Okada rolled out of the way.
Ibushi landed awkwardly on the phoenix splash. Red Shoes checked on Ibushi and called for the stoppage.
They spent several minutes working on Ibushi in the ring as medical staff came in. They appeared to be trying to pop his shoulder back in.
I watched the spot about a dozen times. It appeared that Ibushi landed on his knees, but he had so much force on the landing that even still, his right arm hit the mat and caused the injury.
Okada cut a promo. He put himself over, put over Ibushi and said his focus is on the Tokyo Dome.
Confetti fell and Okada posed with the G1 flag and trophy.