We’re heading towards the home stretch in this year’s G1, as more names fall from the chasing pack.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: El Phantasmo pinned David Finlay in 14:23 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Tama Tonga pinned Great O-Khan in 14:32 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. pinned EVIL in 0:44 (NR)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Kazuchika Okada pinned Tom Lawlor in 16:16 (****)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Hirooki Goto pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 19:01 (****½)
We’re back at Hiroshima’s Sun Plaza Hall… Kevin Kelly’s back alongside Lance Archer on commentary for the block matches.
Before I get going, apologies for the delay in this and a few other reviews for the next little while. My mum passed away this past Wednesday morning, and while I’m sure there’s plenty who say I shouldn’t be doing this (including myself at times), wrestling has always been something of a coping mechanism in my life. We’re not a particularly religious family, but any thoughts and prayers will be appreciated, or if you are so inclined, we’ve opened a JustGiving page to raise money in my mum’s memory for the Alzheimer’s Society.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: El Phantasmo vs. David Finlay
A first-time singles meeting…
Finlay worked the arm early on as we got the pair switching between hammerlocks… until Finlay went through the ropes and wrapped ELP’s arm around the middle strand. There’s a cheekly kick on the break before a crucifix got Finlay a two-count, as ELP snapped back with some headscissors to get him into things. See-saw pins troll the referee to give us a bunch of near-falls, before Finlay kicked away a handshake and began to trade strikes. ELP’s chop earned him a dropkick, taking him to the outside… but he snuck in to avoid a plancha, as it was the Canadian who took to the air, scoring a tope into the aisle.
An Asai moonsault followed as Phantasmo kept things outside, before a senton back inside saw Finlay kick out just after two. The Bret Hart forearm off the middle rope gets Phantasmo another two-count, but a follow-up powerbomb was ‘rana’d out of as ELP was knocked to the outside for a plancha. Back inside, a running uppercut and an Exploder keeps Finlay ahead for a near-fall, but Phantasmo countered back with a springboard crossbody and quebrada combo for a near-fall as we hit the ten-minute mark. Finlay’s uranage backbreaker and Blue Thunder bomb gets him a two-count as both men were chaining their big moves together at this stage in the game, while an Acid Drop nearly got him the win.
Phantasmo rushed to the corner to crotch Finlay on the top rope, following with a step-up enziguiri as Finlay had fought free… while a top rope ‘rana took Finlay down. The Thunder Kiss 86 splash almost gets the win too, before Finlay’s attempt at a Trash Panda took him to an O’Connor roll, then a jack-knife pin… with the see-sawing ending with ELP trapping Finlay in a crucifix pin for the win. An unlucky loss for Finlay in what was a keenly-fought contest, and so everyone’s dream of a many-way-tie in block D lives on. ***½
Phantasmo’s final match is on August 16 against Shingo Takagi, while David Finlay wraps up a night earlier against YOSHI-HASHI.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. Tama Tonga
Another first-time singles meeting, with most of their prior meetings having come back in O-Khan’s days as a Young Lion.
O-Khan took things to the mat early on, but it’s Tama who controlled proceedings as he worked over O-Khan’s left arm. A hiptoss out of the corner helped O-Khan get free as he threw Tama outside for a trip into the railings… which Tama originally looked to have blocked. Back inside, O-Khan took Tama to the corner for a seat in the ropes. Fighting back, Tama takes down O-Khan with a clothesline, before back elbows and a dropkick knocked O-Khan down once more. A Stinger splash followed into the corner for a two-count, before O-Khan used the face claw to block an atomic drop… then a Tongan Twist as Tama took his time.
Tama’s taken down with a snap suplex, before his head was rammed into the corner pad. Tama’s able to block a lifting throw into the pad, as he then returned the favour, only for Tama to get lifted into the corner moments later. O-Khan’s bicycle kicks earn him an enziguiri before Tama ran into a Judo throw as things got even. The pair trade blows as they fought back to their feet, but it’s O-Khan who pulled ahead with Mongolian chops only to get caught with a rolling death valley driver. Supreme Flow followed off the top for a near-fall, before O-Khan caught a Gun Stun and wrapped in another face claw.
A take on an airplan spin slam has O-Khan further ahead, before the Sheep Killer looked to get a submission… the referee almost stops things, before O-Khan went for an Eliminator, only for Tama to counter into a Gun Stun in mid air… with the delayed cover being enough to get the pin. That was another sudden finish, with Tama’s big move being shown here to be more than enough for the win… and he’s now in a straight shoot-out for the block next time out. ***¼
Tama Tonga’s taking on Jay White in the final block night on August 16, while O-Khan has Taichi in Nagano on August 14 to wrap up his G1.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Both men hold two wins over the other here, with all four of their matches coming in 2019 and 2020…
We’ve shenanigans here! “Zack Sabre Jr.” was rather more concealed than usual for his entrance, wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with “I AM ZSJ” on it. Like he usually does. EVIL and Dick Togo attack “Zack” in the aisle, but he’s quickly unmasked as Kosei Fujita… Dick Togo heads backstage to get the real ZSJ, as commentary suggested that they’d already put a beating to him. Except we’ve a horror-movie like grin from Sabre as he caught Dick through the curtain, before he tried to march both EVIL and Togo to ringside. There’s brawling around ringside, with ZSJ telling the ring announcer to get away so he could shove EVIL into the barriers by him.
They head into the ring as the match officially starts, with EVIL raking the eyes… but he misses a charge into the exposed corner and got rolled up for a near-fall. Dick Togo tries a trip, but Sabre twists his arm off, before he did the same to block a low blow from EVIL… then scored the flash pin with a Euro clutch. Easy as pie, as EVIL’s out of the G1 after getting outsmarted.
EVIL has Hirooki Goto on August 16, while Sabre has Tetsuya Naito on the same night.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Tom Lawlor vs. Kazuchika Okada
I know you’re shocked, but these two have never had a singles match before!
We’ve some early grappling that ended with Lawlor having Okada in some headscissors on the mat, but the ropes force a break before an early Rainmaker attempt was turned into an armbar that also ended in the ropes. Okada heads outside as Lawlor wrapped his jean shorts around Okada’s left arm, throwing it into the post for good measure. Lawlor chopped Okada before taking things back inside, where he’s caught with a flapjack as Okada turned things around. A back elbow off the ropes has Lawlor down, as did a DDT as Okada drew a two-count – and seemed to be on course for victory very early on. Lawlor broke free out of the neckbreaker slam, but misses a charge into the corner as he got lifted up top and dropkicked to the floor seconds later.
Okada throws Lawlor into the guard rails, then booted him over them, before a draping DDT back into the ringside area was blocked as Lawlor wrapped Okada’s arm around the bars and kicked them. Back inside, Lawlor rolled Okada into a cross armbar, changing it into almost a triangle wristlock, before some cravat knees wore Okada down. Lawlor holds the ropes to avoid a dropkick tease, but ran into it at the second attempt before Lawlor pushed out of a Money Clip. A leaping enziguiri to the back earned Lawlor a shotgun dropkick in return, then the neckbreaker slam as Okada again looked to be surging ahead… only for the top rope elbow drop to get caught and turned into another cross armbar attempt.
Okada wriggled to the ropes after Lawlor broke the grip, before some rhythmic forearms from Lawlor timed to the crowd’s claps led to a rolling elbow that took down Okada for a near-fall. It’s turned into a Rings of Saturn-like submission, but Okada’s dragged himself to the ropes for a break before a Landslide from Okada looked to turn it around. Okada goes for the Rainmaker, but his arm gave out after the ripcord, and couldn’t keep hold of Lawlor. Lawlor pushed back with a uranage, before some Kamigoye-like knees looked to lead to the Nasty Knee on the Brain… but Okada blocks it, only to get pulled down into a back suplex. Mocking the Rainmaker pose sees Lawlor tee up for that NKOTB, but Okada slips out for a roll-up for a near-fall… then another… before Lawlor punted away the bad arm.
Lawlor goes for a Key lock… but Okada threw him over his head and sat down on the sunset-flip attempt and snatched the three-count there! Lawlor had this in the bag, but perhaps toyed with Okada too much and lost sight at the crucial moment… which ends his G1. A good debut for Lawlor in spite of the early exit… and I can’t wait for the day comes when they get to run this one back. ****
Lawlor’s G1 wraps up against Jeff Cobb in Nagano on August 14, while Okada wraps up against Lance Archer in Budokan on August 16.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Hirooki Goto vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Finally, a match today with history – these two have had 15 prior singles matches, most recently coming in June when Tanahashi beat Goto to get to the “finals” of the AEW Interim Championship mini-tournament. Historically, Tanahashi has owned Goto – winning 12 and drawing once.
We open with a lock-up as Tanahashi looked to work Goto’s left arm in the early going. Goto reverses the wristlock, but gets caught in a side headlock that Tanahashi eventually lost grip on after he was elbowed… with Goto applying his own seconds later. A push off from Tanahashi led to him taking a hiptoss and a shoulder tackle before a springboard crossbody out of the corner got Tanahashi free. Goto throws Tanahashi over the top rope, then punched him in the gut to prevent him from skinning the cat… back inside, stomps wore down Tanahashi some more, but a low dropkick turned the tables as he stayed on Goto. Tanahashi stays on the legs of Goto, typing them up into a deathlock, but after he was able to get back to his feet, Goto looked to strike back, shrugging off kicks to the knee before a discus lariat took Tanahashi down.
Tanahashi’s met in the corner with a spinning heel kick, then bulldogged out of it for a near-fall, before Goto went for an ushigoroshi… only for a reversed Slingblade from Tanahashi to get him free. Goto kicks away from a Cloverleaf, but couldn’t avoid a myriad of grounded Dragon screws that finally weakened him up for the Cloverleaf. Goto got to the ropes to break the hold, but gets pulled up on the apron as Tanahashi tried for more Dragon screws, this time through the ropes. Breaking free, Goto runs Tanahashi into the corner pad, following with a clothesline from the apron before the pair fought on the top rope… leading to a superplex from Tanahashi.
Recovering quickly, Goto goes after Tanahashi’s arms again, forcing the Ace into the ropes for a break. An ushigoroshi’s next, as Tanahashi bounces off of Goto’s knee, before the pair traded strikes, leading to a headbutt from Goto… which saw Tanahashi fall head-first into Hirooki’s Gotos. A regular Slingblade drops a bloodied Goto for a near-fall, before an Ace’s High landed. Goto rolls away from a High Fly Flow as commentary brought up how Tanahashi’d previously broken Goto’s jaw on the slap that’s now bloodied him up… Tanahashi misses a charge into the corner and gets pulled down to the mat as a roll-up nearly got the win for Goto. Another Tanahashi charge is sent into the corner as a one-man Shoto kept Goto ahead, as he then teed up for some kicks.
Another ushigoroshi’s cradled out of as Tanahashi almost snatched another win… a Twist and Shout followed, then another… before a Shouten Kai from Goto planted Tanahashi in the middle of the ring. Good LORD that blood looks nasty, but Goto powered up as he followed through with a GTR for the win. Stick this on your watchlists, as Goto pushed through for a rare singles win over Tanahashi in a worthy main event. ****½
Tanahashi faces KENTA in Nagano on August 14, while Goto gets his final G1 match on August 16 in Budokan against EVIL.
Block A: Okada (4-1 / 8pts); Archer, JONAH (3-2 / 6pts); Cobb (2-2 / 4pts); Fale, Lawlor (2-3 / 4pts); Yano (1-4 / 2pts)
Block B: White (4-0 / 8pts); SANADA, Tonga (4-1 / 8pts); Taichi (2-2 / 4pts); Owens (2-4 – 4pts) Ishii, O-Khan (1-4 / 2pts)
Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. (4-1 / 8pts); Goto, Naito, Tanahashi (3-2 / 6pts); EVIL (2-3 / 4pts); KENTA (1-3 / 2pts); Henare (1-4 / 2pts)
Block D: Finlay, Yujiro (3-2 / 6pts); Ospreay, Takagi, YOSHI-HASHI (2-2 / 4pts); Phantasmo, Robinson (2-3 / 4pts)
We’ve the rest of the week off as the final week of the G1 kicks off in Tokyo at the Machida Gymnasium on Saturday – Taichi’s looking to hand Jay White his first tournament loss in the main event there.
Easily one of the better nights in the G1 thus far as we’re now into the final few shows – and in a position to really ponder the permutations and possibilities. If you’ve not seen it yet, swing by for the top three matches for some good comedy and bell-to-bell!