Hiroshi Tanahashi looks to keep his chances of winning C-block alive, as he takes on KENTA in the pick of today’s penultimate block matches.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: YOSHI-HASHI pinned David Finlay in 11:14 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Great O-Khan pinned Taichi in 7:06 (***)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Tom Lawlor pinned Jeff Cobb in 14:03 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: KENTA pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 23:46 (****)
We’re at the White Ring in Nagano, with Kevin Kelly alongside JONAH on commentary.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: David Finlay vs. YOSHI-HASHI
These two have split a win apiece in their past, with YOSHI-HASHI winning on a G1 undercard in 2016, while Finlay eliminated YOSHI-HASHI in last year’s New Japan Cup. If you’re all about “project chaos” by the way, you want a Finlay loss here… otherwise a win means he takes the block today.
YOSHI-HASHI’s shoulder is more taped up than it was yesterday, and we start with Finlay going after it in the ropes. YOSHI-HASHI grabbed a side headlock, then came back with a shoulder tackle after he was pushed off… before Finlay got charged down with a back elbow. Finlay’s taken to his knees after some chops, only to flash back with a Divorce Court as he homed in on that shoulder. Heading outside, Finlay crashes into YOSHI-HASHI with a plancha, before some mudhole stomping back in the ring had YOSHI-HASHI in trouble. Retaining control, Finlay looked to pull YOSHI-HASHI into a Fujiwara armbar, but instead YOSHI-HASHI got free and hit a low dropkick to the knee.
YOSHI-HASHI runs in with chops before Finlay elbowed out of a neckbreaker… only to get caught with a Head Hunter. A corner clothesline and a neckbreaker follow for a near-fall, before YOSHI-HASHI tried a Kumagoroshi… but Finlay fought out as the pair trade elbow strikes. Uppercuts from Finlay got countered into a backslide for a near-fall, before he chained together uranage backbreakers, with a hattrick dumping YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI blocks a Trash Panda, kicking Finlay onto the apron… then superkicked Finlay coming back into the ring. Finlay countered another Kumagoroshi attempt into a cutter for a near-fall, but couldn’t quite follow it up with an Acid Drop. A rebound lariat has YOSHI-HASHI on the deck, before the Acid Drop’s countered into a wacky full nelson roll-up, and would you know it, Project Chaos is alive! ***¼
You’re looking for Will Ospreay to lose to Juice Robinson, and El Phantasmo to beat Shingo Takagi on Tuesday to spark that seven-way tie… else it goes down to whoever gets the best result between Ospreay and Shingo, with Shingo holding the lone tie-breaker.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. Taichi
These two have met once before in the past – although Taichi’s singles win in 2018 came against O-Khan as a Young Lion, so there’s a pretty big asterisk there.
We start as O-Khan tries to invite Taichi to ground, but Taichi’d rather sumo. Oh great, we’re getting Ali/Inoki all over again… but Marty Asami stands them up, as he was fed up of them doing bugger all. Taichi comes close to O-Khan, looking for the uwatanage, eventually muscling O-Khan down to the mat. Fortunately, this wasn’t sumo, so the match continues past the five-minute marker… Shoulder tackles follow between the two, leading to a Mongolian chop from O-Khan and an Axe bomber from Taichi. A Hakuho elbow from Taichi’s countered with a Judo throw as a grounded sheep killer had O-Khan in control, before an Eliminator attempt ended with Taichi teasing Black Mephisto.
O-Khan countered back out with a face claw, but Taichi goes for the throat as the pair wore each other down. It’s the claw that won out, but Taichi slips out of an Eliminator and nearly won with a Gedo clutch, before a flash jack-knife roll-up – dubbed a Pancake Hold – saw O-Khan snatch this one out of nowhere. This was different, but ultimately too short to be what many would conventionally call “good.” I enjoyed the heck out of some of those exchanges though. ***
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Jeff Cobb vs. Tom Lawlor
A first-time singles match… in Japan, that is. Lawlor’s got a 4-2 singles record over Cobb, courtesy of wins in MLW, PCW, AIW and QPW, while Cobb’s two wins came in PCW and at GCW’s Bloodsport last year.
We be grappling early on, with Cobb and Lawlor going into the ropes as they went for a body part. Cobb looked to elbow his way free of an underhook, before a fallaway slam just chucked Lawlor across the ring… only for a diving uppercut into the corner to get caught as Lawlor climbed onto Cobb’s back for a rear naked choke. Cobb goes through the ropes to break the hold – sending Lawlor to the floor… rolling Lawlor back inside was a bad idea as Cobb walked into a hanging armbar on the apron… which he broke via an apron powerbomb. Cobb stays on Lawlor with forearms to the lower back as they went around ringside, with Cobb staying on top back inside, surfing on Lawlor’s back for good measure.
A short-arm clothesline from Cobb keeps Lawlor down, but Lawlor popped Cobb into a cross armbar as he turned defence into attack. Problem was, Cobb was able to power out, so Lawlor goes for the ankle instead which gets punched apart by Cobb… who then deadlift Lawlor into a belly-to-belly. Lawlor hits back with a Divorce Court as he went for an omoplata… opting for an ankle lock instead before he slammed Cobb down for a near-fall. Elbows keep Cobb rocked, but Lawlor’s tornado into a guillotine eventually connected… only for Cobb to suplex his way free. The pair trade elbows as they were on their knees, but a gamengiri and a spinning heel kick saw Lawlor push ahead for a near-fall.
Cobb’s tied up as Lawlor peppered him with rapid-fire elbows… but a thrust kick knocked Lawlor back before a palm strike left them both laying. A PK misses as Cobb rolled Lawlor up into some ragdolling rolling German suplexes. Lawlor breaks the roll though with a Kimura, which Cobb tried to pound out of, before Lawlor waffled Cobb with a Kamigoye-like knee for a near-fall. Lawlor manages to pull Cobb down with a Regal-ish plex, before he pulled up Cobb for a NKOTB… which landed flush for the win. Cobb ends the G1 with a 3-3 record, surprising given his record-breaking run last year, while Lawlor also finished with a 0.500 score in what has to be deemed a successful debut tour given the draw he got. ***½
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: KENTA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
We have a LOT of recent history – with the scars on KENTA’s back coming from their last match at the Tokyo Dome. Including that, they’re 3-3 against each other in singles matches…
After both guys played to the crowd, KENTA rolled outside and pulled the frame of a chair out from under the ring. He clearly wanted one with a seat, so stole a chair from the timekeeper’s table, then threw it to Tanahashi… who air guitared with it, allowing KENTA to catch him with a cheapshot. A snapmare out of the corner leads to a kick to the back from KENTA for a two-count, before a side headlock from Tanahashi grounded KENTA. Breaking in the corner, Tanahashi threw some body blows before a crossbody out of the corner had KENTA down once more. From the apron, KENTA hangs up Tanahashi, before the Ace kicked him backwards into the railings.
KENTA’s thrown back into the ring, but he keeps rolling away from Tanahashi as he baited him onto the apron… then kicked him off of it. More trips to the rails follow, while a DDT from KENTA dropped Tanahashi in among the crowd. Breaking the count-out, KENTA followed Tanahashi with some kicks by the rails, then threw him back to the railings before they returned to the ring for a two-count. Tanahashi eats some standing elbow drops and a double stomp, before some grounded body scissors forced Tanahashi into the ropes. A neckbreaker’s next for a two-count, while a Kitchen Sink knee spun Tanahashi down ahead of a double knee drop and more of those body scissors. A counter from Tanahashi forces KENTA to break his own hold in the ropes, before Tanahashi blocked some kicks from KENTA.
Catching a front kick, Tanahashi spins down KENTA with a Dragon screw, following up with forearms, a slam, and a flip senton off the middle rope. KENTA fires back with a powerslam off the ropes, before a tornado Stun Gun and a flying clothesline took down Tanahashi for a near-fall. The pair trade strikes as they got back to their feet, more like a hockey fight before they grabbed each other’s hair. The referee’s shoved aside as he tried to break it up, only to take an errant slap from Tanahashi – the Goto jaw-breaker. KENTA capitalises with a DDT, then rolled outside and pulled out a crutch that he’d stored under the ring. With no referee around to see, KENTA wears down Tanahashi with the crutch, before KENTA threw Tanahashi outside.
Another DDT in the aisle left Tanahashi laying, as KENTA then commandeered the timekeeper’s table, sitting it up by the ring before he placed Tanahashi onto it. KENTA heads up top, but Tanahashi caught him and teased a superplex through the table, only for KENTA to headbutt free. Instead, KENTA drops down and hits a Green Killer draping DDT, then a double stomp off the top for a near-fall as Red Shoes Unno finally came to. Tanahashi’s kick-out knocked KENTA back into the referee, so KENTA decides to make use of the downtime by literally THROWING A TABLE AT TANAHASHI. Back inside, a Go 2 Sleep gets countered into a Twist and Shout, then into a Slingblade, before a regular Slingblade landed for a near-fall. From there, Ace’s High takes down KENTA, before KENTA got his knees up to block a High Fly Flow.
KENTA pulls himself up and measured up for a Busaiku knee, which nearly gets the win, before Tanahashi nearly snatched a win as he cradled out of another Go 2 Sleep. The pair trade palm strikes, with KENTA pushing ahead, leading to a Go 2 Sleep as Tanahashi’s slim G1 chances came to a close. ****
Your standings, with *s marking who’s out of contention…
Block A: Okada (4-1 / 8pts); Archer, JONAH (3-2 / 6pts); Cobb*, Lawlor* (3-3 / 6pts); Fale* (2-3 / 4pts); Yano* (1-5 / 2pts)
Block B: White (5-0 / 10pts); SANADA*, Tonga (4-1 / 8pts); O-Khan*, Owens*, Taichi* (2-4 – 4pts); Ishii* (1-4 / 2pts)
Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. (4-1 / 8pts); Goto, Naito (3-2 / 6pts); KENTA*, Tanahashi* (3-3 / 6pts); EVIL* (2-3 / 4pts); Henare* (1-5 / 2pts)
Block D: Ospreay, Takagi (3-2 / 6pts); Finlay, YOSHI-HASHI, Yujiro (3-3 / 6pts); Phantasmo, Robinson (2-3 / 4pts)
We’ve got a day off before the three-night finals start at Nippon Budokan on Tuesday – with eight block matches on tap as we wrap up the block stages ahead of Wednesday’s semi-finals (and possible play-in matches). As for who’s in the running for the blocks, it’s pretty simple now – block A is likely to fall to the winner of Okada vs. Archer, block B comes down to the White vs. SANADA winner… block C is a little more complex, with Naito vs. ZSJ likely to be the decider, while we still have the tantalising prospect of the 7-way tie in block D.
Sunday set the table excellently for Tuesday’s finals – and while it was a typical-for-the-tour series of matches, things are finely poised for the final run at Budokan.