We’re rolling into Ehime for today’s G1 action, with EVIL looking to stop Hiroshi Tanahashi’s ascent to the top of block C.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Yujiro Takahashi pinned Juice Robinson in 11:36 (**¾)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Taichi pinned Chase Owens in 13:25 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Tetsuya Naito pinned Aaron Henare in 17:31 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: JONAH pinned Jeff Cobb in 14:50 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned EVIL in 19:01 (***)
We’re at the Item Ehime for this round of the G1… Kevin Kelly’s joined on English commentary by Tom Lawlor for the block matches, once they got past the piercing feedback.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Juice Robinson
Juice has a 2-0 record over Yujiro, coming in the first rounds of 2017 and 2018’s New Japan Cup. SHO and Pieter are out with Yujiro, so I’m expecting the usual “will he lay down for me?” bollocks amid Bullet Club.
SHO tries to attack, but Juice sends him outside at the bell as we open with Dusty punches… which earned an eye rake in return from Yujiro. Things head into the corner as Juice gets elbowed, but he caught a front kick… and my word, this Ehime crowd is silent. Every noise in that ring is echoing around that building.
Juice runs Yujiro into the buckles for more Dusty punches and chops, before SHO pulled Yujiro outside to avoid a cannonball. A double clothesline from Juice took care of them for the time being, launching SHO into the railings to try and make doubly sure. Yujiro tastes the railings too, before Juice pulled up the pads.
A piledriver onto the pads is saved by SHO, as Yujiro back body drops Juice onto the floor, before a Fisherman buster back inside nearly got Yujiro the win. The Incolle slam followed as Yujiro remained ahead, only for Juice to grab the referee to block a Miami Shine. An eye rake stops Juice from hitting a Juice Box as Yujiro goes for the knees… but Juice is able to stay in it, taking Yujiro into the corner for a cannonball.
A Juice Box nearly wins it for Juice, who was sneakily trying to play the crowd, before he began to bully the referee over a near-fall. In the meantime, Yujiro removes a corner pad as Juice crashes into an exposed corner, before Yujiro followed up with a DDT. Pimp Juice followed, but it’s not enough, before Juice tried for Pulp Friction.
Juice bites free of a DDT as everyone was doing the other’s stuff, leading to a Right Hand of God from Juice… before SHO popped onto the apron to distract amid Pulp Friction. An O’Connor roll’s good for a near-fall as Juice blocked a wrench shot, then got rolled up for a near-fall. He chucks the wrench at the ref, who then misses a low blow attempt as the crowd clapped Yujiro biting his way free of Juice once more.
Another ref bump allowed Yujiro to sneak in his pimp cane, which finally connects with Juice’s groin… before Big Juice gets the win. After strong start, Juice is all but out of the G1, after a match that was just about okay until all of the Bullet Club bollocks at the end. **¾
Juice’s next match is against El Phantasmo on Sunday, while Yujiro has YOSHI-HASHI on August 9.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Chase Owens vs. Taichi
Chase holds the lone win between these two, coming towards the end of last year’s G1 Climax.
Taichi tries to bait Owens into a sumo battle to start, but Chase cheapshots and earned himself a choke into the corner. Owens retaliates by sending Taichi outside and into the railings, before he punched Taichi in a headlock. The camera cable’s used to choke Taichi next, before they returned to the ring as Owens choked Taichi in full view of the ref.
Kicks from Taichi focus on the leg, but Owens pulls Taichi down and also went for the leg, before a chop to the back led to a Northern lights suplex for a near-fall. An elbow from Chase has Taichi down, as Chase then tried it on with Miho Abe at ringside. No means no, Chase…
A C-Trigger has Taichi down, but Chase pulls up the pin so he could go after Taichi some more. Taichi sidesteps a second C-Trigger, then caught Chase with a gamengiri in the corner before some kicks kept Chase on his knees. Gut shots from Chase led to a rebound lariat, but Taichi’s right back up to hit an Axe Bomber… then a Dangerous backdrop suplex for a near-fall.
Off come the trousers as Taichi measures up for a superkick, but got caught by Chase’s first. See-saw pins end with a Shining Wizard-like knee from Chase for another near-fall, before Chase went up top for an Alabama Jam… he aborts it and gets caught with another jumping high kick from Taichi in return.
Swings and misses led to Taichi going for a uwatenage, but Owens busts out some sumo-like palm strikes as he knocked Taichi back. Taichi runs into another C-Trigger from there, leading to a package piledriver attempt that Taichi countered out of, eventually throwing Owens down with the uwatenage. After shrugging off a back elbow, Taichi waffles Owens with a Hakuto elbow before the Black Mephisto ends up getting the win in a pretty good little match once we got past the unsettling stuff… ***¼
Taichi’s back with Tama Tonga on August 9, while Chase Owens takes on Tomohiro Ishii on Sunday.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Aaron Henare vs. Tetsuya Naito
We’ve a first-time meeting on our hands here… a pretty decent birthday present for Henare.
Henare feints with kicks early on, before things headed to the ropes. Body blows have Naito on the back foot, but Naito returns with an armdrag and a whip into the corner. Naito ducks a springboard enziguiri out of the corner as he then took Henare outside… only to tranquilo into the middle of the ring.
Naito rolls outside as Henare gave chase, only to get sent into the rails… Henare retaliates by choking Naito in the rails, then threw a headbutt before a return to the ring saw Henare fake out a kick as he laid out Naito with a punch. The referee refuses to count the pin, so Henare rains down blows from above as he moved into a heel hook on Naito.
The ropes save Naito as he tried to mount a comeback, eventually catching Henare with a single-leg dropkick. A snapmare and a low dropkick keeps Naito ahead, before kicks in the corner saw him style out of what looked like a missed Combinacion Cabron. A neckbreaker’s next for a near-fall, while a cravat kept the focus on the neck until Henare broke free.
Whips took Naito into the corner for a step-up knee, while kicks have Naito down for a near-fall. Naito ducks another kick and returned with a swinging DDT as we passed the ten-minute mark. More elbows from Naito has Henare down, as he then built up to a top rope ‘rana that sent Henare flying.
Henare snaps back with a Blue Thunder Bomb as he countered a Destino, only to get the taste slapped out of him moments later. A back roundhouse kick provided a response on Naito, as Henare then flipped off the crowd ahead of a back senton off the middle rope for a near-fall.
The Ultima looks to follow, but Naito armdrags free as he cracked Henare with a Koppo kick… but the Ultima’s quickly back in the picture as Henare looked for the stoppage. Henare keeps it on as Naito tried to roll free, only for Naito to eventually wangled his way into the ropes for a break. Henare stays on Naito with some clubbing blows, before a Streets of Rage was escaped.
Naito’s caught with a body blow instantly after that, then countered a Streets of Rage into a Destino for a near-fall. A regular Destino follows, and that’s all folks. An unhappy birthday for Henare, who came close, but ended up getting caught out by Naito at the death. ***½
Henare’s next block match sees him face EVIL on Sunday, while Naito has KENTA on August 9.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Jeff Cobb vs. JONAH
We’ve got some singles history here, albeit outside of New Japan as JONAH has a 2-1 lead here – beating Cobb in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2018, House of Glory earlier this year… while Cobb beat JONAH the day after that HOG show for Warrior Wrestling back in May.
The pair squared off at the bell, locking up as Tom Lawlor quipped that the two could be Russian nesting dolls. The opening lock-ups were thrown aside, so they go for a knuckle lock that saw JONAH pull ahead… only for Cobb to power back as we get the big lads shoulder tackles.
The shoulder tackles continue like it’s some Taichi-inspired sumo, before they ran into each other, sending each other to the outside. Rather than roll back in, the pair meet each other by the aisle with shoulder tackles, with JONAH adding a shoulder tackle off the apron for good measure. Remaining outside, JONAH slams the ringside gate into a floored Cobb… Cobb just about beat the count, but was booted back outside as JONAH stayed on his prey.
JONAH straight up stands on Cobb by the ropes next, before the result of a Kitchen sink knee to the gut rang around the Item Ehime. Echoey. Cobb tries to chop his way back in, before a body attack led to an instant receipt from JONAH, then a clothesline from Cobb that send him flying to the outside.
Back inside, duelling cross bodies left both men down, before the pair traded strikes… Cobb pulls ahead with a Violence Party into the corner, before JONAH’s reversed Irish whip just saw Cobb charge back out of the corner to bulldoze the Aussie. Cobb hauls up JONAH for a pumphandle suplex that he made look easy, which was good for a near-fall.
Cobb called for a Tour of the Islands, but had to make do with a dropkick instead before JONAH spears away a Tour of the Islands for a near-fall. More chops from JONAH take Cobb into the corner, before JONAH rolled his way out of a slam for another near-fall. A lariat keeps Cobb closer to defeat, before JONAH took things up top, looking for a superplex.
Cobb fought free, but JONAH’s right back on him with a second attempt as the Ehime crowd oohed and aahed as Cobb bounced to the mat. JONAH goes right back up and followed with a scream-inducing Torpedo, and that’s enough for the win. I absolutely loved this big lads match – they kept it on a simmer to start, but blew it away at the finish as JONAH had to go all out to get those two points. ***½
Cobb returns against Toru Yano on August 13, while JONAH has his next match on August 9 against Lance Archer.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
A storied main event, with the pair having three wins apiece over the other – with two of them each coming in G1 outings. EVIL’s won the last two though, as this is the fifth year in a row they’ll be facing each other in the block stages of the G1.
We open with the trading of headlocks and hair pulls as Tanahashi took EVIL into the corner, leading to the springboard crossbody as the Ace took an early lead. EVIL heads outside, pulling Tanahashi off the apron and into the timekeeper for the hell of it, as we’ve a sudden turnaround as EVIL then proceeded to choke Tanahashi with the microphone cable.
Back inside, Tanahashi’s forearms are cut-off as EVIL threw him into an exposed corner (thanks, Dick Togo…). Red Shoes Unno refuses to count a pin from that, so EVIL chucks Tanahashi outside… then blocked the referee’s vision as Togo put the boots to him. Back inside, EVIL gets some two-counts as Yuto Nakashima played the role of Yota Tsuji in cheerleading Tanahashi.
Tanahashi does an EVIL, raking the eyes before going for Dick Togo with a baseball slide. A flying forearm has EVIL down, before a slam and a flip senton off the middle rope drew a near-fall. EVIL catches a kick, then threw it to the ref so EVIL could land a thrust kick, before he took Tanahashi into the ring post so he could wrap Tanahashi’s legs around it.
EVIL takes the referee so Dick Togo could jab a chair into the knee too, before a Darkness Scorpion back inside kept Tanahashi in trouble. Tanahashi got to the ropes, but EVIL keeps the hold on for as long as he could, only for Tanahashi to retaliate with a Dragon screw. Catching a front kick by the ropes, Tanahashi pulls EVIL down with another Dragon screw, following up with two more on the mat, as he then set up for a Cloverleaf.
All of a sudden, the bell sounds and Tanahashi’s music started to play – but there was no submission. Dick Togo rang the bell, but who hit the music? In among the confusion, Red Shoes Unno threw Togo out, as the Young Lions had a handful of Dick to take him away. Meanwhile, EVIL chucks a chair at Tanahashi as we restart on level pegging…
Clotheslines from EVIL stagger Tanahashi, leading to a near-fall, before Tanahashi raced back in with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker. Slingblades keep Tanahashi ahead, as a hattrick had EVIL down, leading to a High Fly Flow for a near-fall as SHO had run down to pull out the referee. Oh goodie. SHO stomps away on Tanahashi as I feel me needing to use that asterisk key at the end of this a little less.
A German suplex from SHO lands as Dick Togo marched back to ringside with another referee top count a near-fall. The second referee’s dispatched as Dick Togo hit the ring to help EVIL on a Magic Killer… but two more referees come out. Kenta Sato stops a Magic Killer, only for Marty Asami to accidentally help out as we’re balls deep in bollocks.
SHO fails on a wrench shot, but Dick Togo’s got the garrot wire. Tanahashi low blows those two goofs away, only for EVIL to hit a low blow for a visual pin as the House of Torture had eradicated all referees. Red Shoes is back as EVIL hits Darkness Falls for a near-fall, prompting Kevin Kelly to try and cheerlead on commentary… and it kinda worked as Tanahashi countered Everything is EVIL into a grounded cobra roll-up for the win. Tanahashi snatches another win via roll-up to keep his tournament theme going, but my word, I could have done with about half as much of these shenanigans. Even if Tanahashi low blowed EVIL after the bell for some payback… ***
EVIL’s next up against Aaron Henare on Sunday, while Tanahashi picks up against Hirooki Goto on August 10.
Block A: Okada (3-0 / 6pts); JONAH (2-1 / 4pts); Cobb, Fale (2-2 / 4pts); Archer, Lawlor; Yano (1-3 / 2pts)
Block B: White (3-0 / 6pts); Taichi, Tonga (2-1 / 4pts); SANADA (2-2 / 4pts); O-Khan (1-2 / 2pts); Ishii, Owens (1-3 / 2pts)
Block C: Tanahashi (3-1 / 6pts); Goto, Zack Sabre Jr. (2-1 / 4pts); Naito (2-2 / 4pts); KENTA (1-2 / 2pts); EVIL, Henare (1-3 / 2pts)
Block D: Finlay (3-1 / 6pts); Ospreay (2-1 / 4pts); Yujiro (2-2 / 4pts); Phantasmo, YOSHI-HASHI (1-1 / 2pts); Takagi (1-2 / 2pts); Robinson (1-3 / 2pts)
The G1 heads to Osaka on Saturday for the first of two shows at the Edion Arena, with Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi in the main event.
A somewhat understated show – at least from the G1 portion. We’re still waiting for that one match that would traditionally grab you by the scruff of the neck and make you take notice, but that seems to be the accepted norm for this tournament right now.