We’ve got the G1 Climax semis from Budokan today, with Will Ospreay taking on Tetsuya Naito in a first-time outing, while Tama Tonga looks to put one over Kazuchika Okada.
G1 Climax 32 – Semi-Final: Kazuchika Okada pinned Tama Tonga in 19:08 (***¾)
G1 Climax 32 – Semi-Final: Will Ospreay pinned Tetsuya Naito in 20:23 (****¼)
We’re back at Budokan for this, with Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton on commentary…
G1 Climax 32 – Semi-Final: Tama Tonga vs. Kazuchika Okada
Last year, Tama Tonga was the only guy to put a blot in Okada’s G1 record – but it was his only win in what’s been six attempts so far.
Opening with a fist-bump, Okada takes Tama to the ropes for a clean break. Tama tries to charge back, but found a way through with dropkicks before he ran into a flapjack. Okada takes things into the corner, then lands a neckbreaker for a two-count, before a chinlock grounded Tama in the middle of the ring.
Things head outside with Okada landing a DDT on the floor as he looked to take a count-out win… with Tama slipping on his way back in, only to beat the 20-count. Tama tries some gut shots and forearms, but they barely fazed Okada, unlike a clothesline out of the corner, that had Okada down.
Tama keeps going with elbows and slams, before a Stinger splash and a back suplex drew a two-count. Okada’s able to get back in it, but Tama fights out of the neckbreaker slam, before he took Okada back down with a Tongan Twist. They’re back outside again, but Tama’s sent chest-first into the railings before a landslide tombstone from Okada’s countered into another Tongan Twist.
Back inside, Okada failed to block a Veleno DDT as Tama picked up a two-count, before the SRC and a Supreme Flow added another two-count. From there, Okada blocks a Gun Stin and turned it into a neckbreaker… following quickly with a Money Clip, which gets broken via the ropes. Okada hits a slam and a top rope elbow drop, which of course led to the Rainmaker zoom out, before Tama snuck back in with a dropkick.
Okada pushes away a Bloody Sunday DDT and returned with a dropkick, but Tama gets the DDT off anyway after he’d ducked a Rainmaker. It’s good for a near-fall, as Okada’s back with a short-arm clothesline… keeping hold of the wrist as he pulled Tama up for a Rainmaker. A second Rainmaker’s ducked, but Tama runs straight into a dropkick… and tried to shrug it off, only to eat a Landslide tombstone. Another Rainmaker’s countered into a Gun Stun, but Tama can’t get to Okada in time, and only gets a near-fall from that.
From there, Tama goes back to the DSD, but Okada deadweights himself before he sat down on Tama’s sunset flip for another near-fall. Tama hangs onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick, then saw another Gun Stun get blocked as Okada grabbed a wrist… then blocked another Gun Stun before he went to the Money Clip. An inside cradle nearly gets Tama the upset, as a Pele kick lands… before one more blocked Gun Stun led to a Cobra Flowsion and a Rainmaker as Okada booked his spot in the finals. This got good towards the end, but Tama’s in sore need of an A+ finisher in situations like these – with his last few matches and those countless blocked Gun Stuns perhaps underscoring the point. ***¾
G1 Climax 32 – Semi-Final: Tetsuya Naito vs. Will Ospreay
A first-time-ever meeting headlines today’s card… and commentary flagging up that a Naito win would give us Naito vs. Okada for the fourth time this year is a little alarming. Remember when that was a hyper-protected match?
Ospreay’s got his neck and shoulders taped-up going in, and we eventually open with a tie-up as Naito’s backed into the ropes. Naito switches around and goes for Ospreay’s neck, before some headscissors were cartwheeled out of… leading to some exchanges that ended with Ospreay staring at Naito’s tranquilo. Not a euphemism.
Ospreay catches a kick from Naito, then came in with an atomic drop and a chop, leading to a standing shooting star press for an early two-count. We head into the corner as Ospreay lands some chops, before a switcheroo led to Naito hitting a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner, then a hiptoss and a low dropkick, while another neckbreaker ensured that tape was providing a target for Naito’s offence.
Naito’s grounded chinlock keeps it going, while headscissors wrenched on the neck some more. An elbow takes Ospreay into the corner, while a whip into the opposite corner set up for Combinacion Cabron, while a cravat continued to wear down the neck. Eventually, Ospreay got whipped into the ropes, but returned with a handspring enziguiri, then a hotshot into the ropes, then a big boot as Naito was suddenly on the defensive.
A springboard forearm knocks Naito right back down for a near-fall, before Kawada-ish kicks and a chop sank Naito… who fought out of a powerbomb as he went right back to the neck, scoring a neckbreaker and a double leg nelson as Naito looked for the submission. The ropes save Ospreay, who then had to fight out of Gloria, before he scored with a step-up enziguiri and a one-man standing Spanish Fly.
With both men on their knees, they trade elbows, continuing to do so as they got back to their feet… with an Ospreay slap staggering Naito. The favour’s returned, as an Ospreay Hidden Blade was ducked, before he countered a tornado DDT into a brainbuster. Naito ‘rana’s out of another suplex as he added the tornado DDT before some short-range elbows targeted Ospreay’s neck.
A wild elbow dropped Ospreay to the mat, with Naito leaving him in a heap ahead of a Gloria. Ospreay tries to charge back at Naito, who just popped him up into the turnbuckles, before Ospreay was lifted up top for an avalanche reverse ‘rana as Ospreay’s head bounced off the mat for a near-fall.
Ospreay countered Naito’s next ‘rana into a cross-legged tombstone for a near-fall, before a Hidden Blade blasted through Naito. That’s followed with a Storm Breaker… but Naito switched into Destino! He’s made a habit of countering other’s finishers into Destino during the G1, eh?
Naito tries to come back with a Valentia, but a hook kick targets Naito’s eye… only to get shrugged off as a spinebuster followed. Ospreay’s able to avoid any more as he nailed a Chelsea Grin, before the Hidden Blade was ducked and countered with a regular Destino for a near-fall. A second Destino’s thrown aside as Ospreay charged in with a Hidden Blade for a near-fall, before the Storm Breaker spun Naito to the mat… and that… is… it! A fitting semi-final, and one I’d like to see them run back if they ever get back to having audible crowds, but it’s a match that sets up for the final that hasn’t been hammered this year. ****¼
I remember at the start of the tournament, the malaise of an “entitled” Naito that seemed to be sleepwalking through things. That seems to be a thing of the past, but it’s still not enough as Naito crashed out in the semi finals… and we get another go around of Ospreay/Okada, hailing back to Ospreay’s turn two years ago as he looks for only his second singles win over Okada.
So, it’s Okada/Ospreay tomorrow… we’ll be back for a review of the final along with anything noteworthy from the undercard as the G1 wraps up!
The G1’s heading to a rather familiar match for its finale, and its bound to draw criticism. With Okada winning one semi, both options of finals would have been familiar matches, but at least Ospreay/Okada has a little more juice in it these days.