Kazuchika Okada has won NJPW’s G1 Climax 31 after Kota Ibushi sustained an injury during tonight’s tournament final.
Ibushi landed awkwardly after missing a Phoenix Splash and referee Red Shoes Unno called a stop to the match, while English commentators Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly speculated Ibushi may have damaged his wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
“The match ended in referee stoppage and injury but all the same I am going to stick out my chest with pride and say I won the G1 Climax,” Okada said post-match. (Translation via Chris Charlton.)
The Rainmaker, now a three-time G1 Climax winner, also expressed a desire to run things back with a healthy Ibushi.
“Kota Ibushi, this is definitely not the end I wanted, so let’s do it again.”
Okada wrestled a near-perfect G1 in the lead-up to tonight’s final in Nippon Budokan. The Rainmaker ended his B Block run with 16 points to his name, having only sustained one loss to Tama Tonga. Naturally, Tonga was quick to confront Okada backstage.
“Rainy season is over, and I’m going to beat you again,” Tonga said, while warning NJPW officials to decorate the customary G1 Climax briefcase in Tama Tonga imagery.
The winner of the G1 Climax has traditionally challenged the IWGP Heavyweight Champion on January 4 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom. But the creation of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship earlier this year has led to some confusion, with Okada seeming to request the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in backstage comments, and offering to wrestle Ibushi for that title.
While one injury overshadowed the G1 Climax 31 main event, tonight will perhaps best be remembered for a return to the ring from another.
Katsuyori Shibata, who was injured during a match in 2017 and not expected to be able to wrestle again, made a shock return to take on Zack Sabre Jr in a five-minute grappling exhibition.
With submission apparently the only way to win, Sabre and Shibata exchanged holds and counter-holds in a riveting five-minute display that was over far too soon for a captivated Nippon Budokan audience.
The biggest shock of the night came after the final bell sounded, with Shibata taking the microphone to declare: “Next time I stand in this ring, it’s going to be in my [ring] gear.”
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) October 21, 2021
NJPW G1 Climax 31 Results:
- El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa
- Toru Yano & Yuji Nagata def. Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb
- EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi def. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
- Chase Owens, KENTA, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
- 5-Minute Grappling Exhibition:
Katsuyori Shibata drew Zack Sabre Jr
- BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & Shingo Takagi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi & Satoshi Kojima
- G1 Climax 31 Final:
Kazuchika Okada def. Kota Ibushi via referee stoppage