Zack Sabre Jr. looks to maintain his 100% start to the G1, taking on Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: David Finlay pinned Shingo Takagi in 14:50 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: JONAH pinned Tom Lawlor in 11:32 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: SANADA pinned Great O-Khan in 16:35 (***)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 17:32 (***¾)
It’s the first of two night’s at Aichi’s Dolphin’s Arena… Kevin Kelly is on commentary alongside El Phantasmo for these G1 matches.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Shingo Takagi vs. David Finlay
Unsurprisingly, this is a first-time meeting…
The opening exchanges saw the pair go hold for hold, before the pair traded shoulder tackles… which Shingo won out on. A roll-up gets Finlay a one-count, before his dropkick took Shingo outside for respite. A missed plancha allows Shingo to DDT Finlay on the floor, as he then took issue with Finlay carrying the IWGP US title… raking it into his eyes. Back inside, a slingshot took Finlay into the bottom rope for a one-count, while a follow-up DDT spiked Finlay. Danielson elbows to the neck keep Finlay on the back foot… but a diving uppercut has Shingo down as Finlay was beginning to find a way back in. A low bridge takes Shingo outside for a plancha, while a springboard crossbody back in drew a near-fall.
A neckbreaker and a Blue Thunder bomb’s good for a near-fall, but a lariat puts Shingo back in it ahead of a slam and a falling back elbow… with a folding powerbomb and a STF putting him further ahead. That morphs into a crossface, ending in the ropes before Finlay countered a Made in Japan into a uranage backbreaker. Finlay looked to add a superplex, doing so for another near-fall, before an Acid Drop was just pushed away. Shingo tries a sliding lariat, but a crucifix counters it for a near-fall before Finlay spun out of a Made in Japan for another near-fall. After giving a lariat, Finlay comes close from an Acid Drop, before he tried for a Trash Panda. Instead, Shingo countered into a suplex, adding a noshigami to the mix and a Pumping Bomber… but Finlay kicks out for a near-fall. Made in Japan follows, but still Finlay’s out, before he lost out on a strike exchange and took a sliding lariat.
The ref tries to check Finlay, but Shingo pushed him away… Finlay went for a Prima Nocta, eventually scoring one through the ropes, sending Shingo into the ropes before he stunned the former champion with a roll-up for the win! This was fine, but seemed to meander a little until the flash pin. ***¼
Finlay’s next block match is on Tuesday against Will Ospreay, while Shingo’s back next Saturday, also against Will Ospreay.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Tom Lawlor vs. JONAH
Another first-time singles meeting, with their undercard tag matches earlier in the tour being their only prior matches – which the pair have split wins and losses on.
The ref starts the match before Lawlor’s shown off his under-jeans… throwing them into JONAH’s face as he tried for a dropkick. It connected, but JONAH didn’t budge as Lawlor was having to stick and move early on. Lawlor’s swatted with a right hand, then sent JONAH outside… following up with a lap of honour for a kick to the back. A second go around ends with JONAH POUNCING Lawlor back into the ring from the floor, before he dragged him back out and press slammed Tom off the rails and into the commentary area. Lawlor beats the count-out but JONAH’s literally right on top of hi ahead of an elbow strike.
JONAH sinks Lawlor with a headbutt, jumping in with a reverse waistlock that Lawlor broke up with a stomp to the foot… only to get clubbed down seconds later. Lawlor Bret Harts the turnbuckle on an Irish whip into the corner, before a splash dumped Lawlor once more. A back senton misses as Lawlor rolled away, while JONAH headed to the apron for a reprieve. Lawlor tries to drag JONAH through the ropes with a cravat – some knee strikes follow ahead of some running forearms that ended with a simple clothesline from JONAH. A body attack from JONAH’s countered as Lawlor rolled him into a half crab, switching it into a heel hook as JONAH reached for the rope. Kicks from Lawlor look to knot up JONAH’s legs, while a rolling elbow to the back led to a spinning heel kick that took JONAH to the ropes.
A leaping neckbreaker – almost a Zig Zag – gets Lawlor a near-fall as JONAH powered out of the cover. Think Yokozuna/Macho Man. Lawlor stays on JONAH, who struck back, only for Lawlor to tie up JONAH for some rapid fire elbows and an enziguiri. Going back to the leg led to a Sweet Meat attempt, but JONAH escaped and squashed Lawlor with the body attack. JONAH tries to add a superplex, but Lawlor escapes and hit a uranage off the middle rope for a near-fall. Knee strikes follow to the head, before JONAH took a punt kick… he escaped a tornado guillotine by countering it into a TKO hot shot, then a powerbomb, before going up top for the Torpedo splash for the win. A good little battle this, with Lawlor making a dent against JONAH, only to get literally squashed at the end. ***¼
JONAH returns on Friday against Jeff Cobb, while Lawlor’s back on Tuesday against Toru Yano.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. SANADA
SANADA holds the lone win from their prior meeting, back in January at this year’s WrestleKingdom.
The opening skirmishes see O-Khan stuffed as he went for a takedown, before the pair reset. O-Khan goes for the leg, but ends up rolling SANADA down for a one-count as we had a rather tentative opening spell. A roll holding SANADA’s legs got O-Khan on top ahead of a double wristlock, leading to a side headlock as O-Khan continued to control the pace. A quick takedown sees O-Khan go for SANADA’s heel, but again SANADA grabs the rope to force a break. SANADA escapes from a whip into the corner, returning quickly with a springboard dropkick that took O-Khan outside for a plancha. After absorbing some applause, SANADA takes it back inside for a one-count, before a claw to the gut allowed O-Khan to escape a TKO.
O-Khan tries to go for SANADA’s head with the claw, but found a way through with a kick before he rammed SANADA’s head into the corner pad. SANADA shrugged it off to hit a dropkick, but eats a lariat seconds later for a near-fall. Mongolian chops follow before he offered himself up for some elbows from SANADA. SANADA takes the offer, then offered himself up too for more Mongolian chops… but it ends with SANADA falling down and “inadvertently” booting O-Khan in the balls. That’s happening a lot, hey? SANADA picks up the pace with a near-fall and some elbows afterwards, leading to a TKO for another two-count, before O-Khan got his knees up to block a moonsault.
SANADA tries to head up top, but gets pulled down by O-Khan into a Sheep Killer, going to the eyes to keep the hold on as SANADA tried to get to the ropes for a break. In doing so, he vaults over O-Khan into a Skull End, but SANADA’s eye is his Achille’s heel as O-Khan raked it to get free. O-Khan stays on the eye, then used the ref as a human shield before a right hand to the eye left SANADA laying. A moonsault’s next from O-Khan for a near-fall, before SANADA countered out of an Eliminator and hit a pop-up cutter in return. Now SANADA heads up for the moonsault… landing it… and that’s your lot. This started a little too slow for my tastes, and while it never really hit an upper gear O-Khan did control vast spells – only to kick out just too late at the end. ***
SANADA’s back on Tuesday against Tama Tonga, while O-Khan’s got Tomohiro Ishii on the same night.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Of course there’s history here – nine prior singles matches have taken place between them, with Tanahashi winning five of those as we’re covering ground including a brief Rev Pro title reign for Tanahashi as he bounced the title from and back to Sabre, along with three prior G1 outings.
After Red Shoes Unno’s gotten an eyeful of Tanahashi’s abs, we get going with standing switches as Sabre backed out into the corner. Tanahashi trips Sabre out of a hammerlock, but Sabre’s headscissors counter him out before Tanahashi tied up the legs as they went hold-for-hold.
Sabre wipes his hands on the ref’s shirt as he then went in for a wristlock on Tanahashi, who counters out before commentary suddenly veered into talk of El Phantasmo’s match with ZSJ at the Cockpit in London. I miss that venue, and not just because of the sight lines. Sabre shows off with one-handed wristlocks, before a whip into the corner allowed Tanahashi to hit a back elbow and a springboard crossbody out of it. Tanahashi rips a page from ZSJ’s play book with a neck twist, but Sabre caught the Ace back inside with a Dragon screw in between the ropes. A hanging armbar traps Tanahashi in the ropes too as Sabre followed up with a stomp to the arm and an overhead wristlock as Tanahashi was on the edge of the apron,
Nonchalant kicks back inside from Sabre took Tanahashi to the corner for some choking, before Tanahashi’s fightback just saw him get pulled down into an armbar. Sabre pulls at the other arm too as he switched between holds, only for Tanahashi to roll out for a near-fall before he got to the ropes. More kicks from Sabre just wind up Tanahashi, whose elbow strike earned him an uppercut… he shrugs it off, but runs into a Cobra twist, as the pair counter each other’s counter, hopping around until Tanahashi scored with a Dragon screw. Body blows from Tanahashi took Sabre into the corner as a slam set up for the flip senton off the middle rope, which saw Sabre grab the rope to break the pin.
Tanahashi fakes out a Slingblade, and hits a low dropkick instead, before a second low dropkick allowed Sabre to sidestep and go for a cross armbar. An arm whip took Tanahashi to the corner, where running uppercuts follow ahead of Sabre pulling Tanahashi back down into a cross armbar attempt. The ropes again save Tanahashi, who couldn’t break Sabre’s focus on the arm, eventually doing so with a low dropkick to Sabre’s left leg. A Slingblade’s stopped with a guillotine, but Tanahashi countered out with a couple of Twist and Shout neckbreakers, only for the front chancery to be reapplied. Sabre scoops up Tanahashi, but it’s the Ace who hits the Zack Driver, before a Slingblade drew a near-fall. Heading up top, Tanahashi adds an Ace’s High, but Sabre rolls through as the crowd ate up the snap Euro clutch that nearly won it.
Sabre swings for a PK, but it’s caught… only for Tanahashi to roll out of a cross armbar… before he rolled up Sabre for the pin. A dubious decision as Sabre’s arm was clearly under the rope throughout as we’ve got yet another flash finish – one to make sure you’re on your shoes, but perhaps a finish that makes sure there’s still something in the tank between these two. ***¾
Tanahashi faces EVIL on Friday… Sabre’s back on Saturday against Hirooki Goto.
Your standings then…
Block A: Okada (2-0 / 4pts); Fale (2-1 / 4pts); Archer, JONAH, Cobb (1-1 / 2pts); Yano (1-2 / 2pts); Lawlor (0-2 / 0pts)
Block B: White (2-0 / 4pts); SANADA (2-1 / 4pts); Owens, Taichi, Tonga (1-1 / 2pts); Ishii (1-2 / 2pts); O-Khan (0-2 / 0pts)
Block C: Goto (2-0 / 4pts); Tanahashi, Zack Sabre Jr. (2-1 / 4pts); EVIL (1-1 / 2pts); Henare (1-2 / 2pts); KENTA, Naito (0-2 / 0pts)
Block D: Ospreay (2-0 / 4pts); Finlay (2-1 / 4pts); Phantasmo, Robinson (1-1 / 2pts); Takagi, Yujiro (1-2 / 2pts); YOSHI-HASHI (0-1 / 0pts)
We’re staying in Aichi for Sunday’s card, as we start to move into the nights with five block matches on them… with EVIL looking to put another nail in Tetsuya Naito’s G1 coffin in the night’s main event.
“Solid yet unspectacular” seems to be my tag line these days as the G1’s still get to have that show that grabs you by the scruff of the neck. Still, if you’re watching, at least El Phantasmo’s jabs on commentary punctuated things, particularly the dig at Tom Lawlor for getting the crowd “to do what they’ve been doing for 18 months.”