FinJuice explodes into Korakuen Hall as the G1 Climax sees the former tag team champions face-off in the main event.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Chase Owens pinned Great O-Khan in 11:58 (***)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL defeated KENTA via count-out in 10:13 (**¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Lance Archer pinned Tom Lawlor in 11:50 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: David Finlay pinned Juice Robinson in 24:01 (****)
It’s been a while since I wrote up a show from a pretty packed Korakuen Hall… Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton are on commentary here.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Chase Owens vs. Great O-Khan
These two feuded over the IWGP tag titles earlier this year (tagging with Jeff Cobb and Bad Luck Fale), but we’ve had some singles outings too – with Owens winning all three of them, albeit two of them came in 2017 while O-Khan was a Young Lion…
Chase chucks powder at O-Khan before the bell, then scored with a running neckbreaker for a two-count. After raking O-Khan’s eye in the ropes, Owens played around with his foe, scoring with a back rake and a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, before he used O-Khan’s braid to aid with a neckbreaker.
O-Khan’s kept on the defensive as he’s choked in the ropes, ahead of a toe hold as O-Khan finally mustered some offence. He counters a suplex with one of his own for a two-count, before he busted out the Mongolian chops as he took Chase into the corner. That built up as Owens was put into a Tree of Woe for a baseball slide into the corner, before Owens was lifted onto the apron.
Owens boots O-Khan ahead of a slingshot Codebreaker back into the ring, while a clothesline drew a two-count. On the outside, O-Khan throws Owens’ head into the side of the ring before taking things back inside for an Eliminator… but Chase escaped and nearly won with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes.
The ref spots it, then avoided a corner clothesline from O-Khan, who got lifted up top… only to grab Chase’s ear to get free. A sunset bomb from Chase throws O-Khan into the buckles, before O-Khan claw’d Chase’s knee to block a C-Trigger. From there, O-Khan locks in a Sheep Killer, adding a backbreaker for extra effect, before a Tenzan Tombstone Driver almost put Chase away.
Another crack at the Eliminator’s escaped, but Chase gets thrown onto the apron… where he hotshotted O-Khan across the top rope. A C-Trigger followed, before a package piledriver puts O-Khan away. A pretty solid opener for today’s tournament matches, with perhaps an upset on O-Khan – even with the shenanigans at the start. ***
Owens returns on Sunday in Nagoya against Jay White… O-Khan has an even quicker turnaround, back in action on Saturday against SANADA.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL vs. KENTA
It’s the third G1 in four years that these two have met in – and they share a win apiece…
EVIL asks for a handshake, which was a ruse for his Everything is EVIL finish… which KENTA managed to get out of as we’re all about the trickery here. EVIL wants a too sweet, and again has his fingers crossed… but KENTA poked him in the eye and went for a Go 2 Sleep as we’re doing the tit-for-tat thing.
KENTA heads outside and pulls a copy of his autobiography from under the ring for EVIL. EVIL throws it back in his face as things spill outside, with KENTA charging EVIL into the ring post before he got swatted with the written word. KENTA grabs the timekeeper’s mallet, but EVIL grabs the ring bell as a shield before he charged KENTA into the guard rails – and the timekeeper.
Amid the melee, EVIL chokes KENTA with the microphone cable, before they returned to the ring with KENTA getting thrown into a suddenly-exposed corner. It’s good for a two-count, as EVIL then went for a cheating abdominal stretch… but KENTA pulls a switcheroo as Dick Togo ended up stretching EVIL by mistake. Eh, it gave Kevin Kelly a chance to turn the air blue.
KENTA follows up with some kicks, only to have his eyes raked as KENTA was thrown into the ref. In comes Dick Togo for a quick Magic Killer, but KENTA’s up at two as they tease finishes some more ahead of a ref bump and a KENTA DDT. Rolling outside again, KENTA pulls out a crutch… but Dick Togo snatches it, only for KENTA to go down a la Eddie Guerrero when the referee came to.
KENTA tries to score a roll-up as EVIL and Togo argued with the ref, getting a bunch of near-falls in the process. EVIL takes KENTA back to the exposed corner, but a Darkness Scorpion’s countered into KENTA’s Game Over submission… and now the lights go out. Hey, it’s House of Torture bollocks time! The lights come back up with EVIL choking out KENTA with something, but the referee notices it’s getting helped with shirt and breaks it up.
EVIL goes under the ring for chairs, but KENTA stops the baseball spot as the pair joust with chairshots on the floor. KENTA takes control as they brawl into the crowd, before an attempt to beat the count led to KENTA getting counted-out as Dick Togo grabbed hold of KENTA’s legs amid a rush to get back in. It was what it was, but at least the House of Torture bollocks didn’t drag on for too long. **¼
That loss puts KENTA on the 0-2 list alongside Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii, as the House of Torture lads try to get back into KENTA’s good books by plugging his book afterwards.
EVIL main events on Sunday against Tetsuya Naito, while KENTA has a full week off, back on Tuesday August 2 in Hamamatsu against Hirooki Goto.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Lance Archer vs. Tom Lawlor
It’s a first-time singles outing, but Archer does have a win over Lawlor back on New Japan Strong when Suzuki-gun beat Team Filthy as part of last year’s Autumn Attack shows. My God, Tom Lawlor’s Korakuen debut had the crowd nearly eating out of the palm of his hand.
From the opening lock-up, Archer throws Lawlor into the corner before he stuffed a Dragon screw. Lawlor tries a guillotine, then a drop toe hold, but Archer won’t go as the pair instead traded rights. Lawlor throws in some kicks, before he went for the Sweet Meat headlock driver… which Archer pushed out of and POUNCE’D Lawlor away.
Heading outside, Archer whips Lawlor into the barriers, then dumped him into the ring apron with a side suplex. Back inside, Lawlor’s kneed in the midsection as he’s taken into the corner ahead of some running elbows that had the former Strong champion woozy. A drop toe hold took Archer into the buckles ahead of some jabs from Lawlor, but Archer just shoved Lawlor down with a clothesline to stop all that momentum.
Archer rains down blows on Lawlor ahead of a suplex-throw across the ring. Lawlor ducks a ripcord and hits a dropkick in return, then a tornado into a guillotine, which then switched into an armbar attempt that Archer rolled out of. Lawlor fires some elbows to the neck instead, but Archer picks him up, then booted Lawlor down to buy him some time.
Lawlor counters on the mat as he popped up Archer into a cross armbar attempt, eventually breaking the grip before Lawlor changed tactic and came in with forearms and kicks. A full nelson from Archer’s broken before a second POUNCE Is caught as Lawlor rolled him down with a guillotine, but it’s right by the ropes as Archer’s able to wrap his leg around the bottom rope.
Heading to the apron, cravat knees through the ropes keep Lawlor ahead, before he and Royce Isaacs posed… Archer monsters up and chokeslammed Lawlor into his own man on the floor, before a Black Hole Slam back inside nearly won it. Another chokeslam looks to follow, but Lawlor escaped then hit a side suplex for a near-fall, before he set up Archer for the Nasty Knee On The Brain.
Archer throws Lawlor way, but had to deal with a mounted rear naked choke seconds later… he backs into the corner to break it, only for Lawlor to jump back on, with Archer this time splatting back to break it up. Yet again, Lawlor goes for the rear naked choke, only to get thrown off as he then got caught with a step-up knee on the top rope as Archer set up for the Blackout, landing it for the win. An enjoyable match that saw Lawlor come close to taking down the big man – but that one moment of cockiness on the outside ended up being the start of his downfall. ***¼
Archer’s third match is against Jeff Cobb on Sunday, while Lawlor returns on Saturday against JONAH.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Juice Robinson vs. David Finlay
They were former tag team champions, and we’ve got three singles meetings in their history – with Juice winning all three of them in 2016 back when they were opening cards…
The pair go nose-to-nose to start the match, as the pair trade side headlocks before a Finlay armdrag had Juice down. Juice comes back with a headlock takedown, before a Pump Friction was countered with a roll-up and a dropkick from Finlay. Juice spits at Finlay in return, lifting him outside before he dropped an arm over the top rope – targeting Finlay’s historically-injured shoulder.
Following outside, Juice sends Finlay shoulder-first into the ring post, before he booted the arm and shoulder by the guard rails. Juice wants to take a count-out, but Finlay rolls back into the ring as he ended up getting dumped with an arm whip for a one-count. An overhead wristlock keeps the focus on the left arm, then a Divorce Court, as Juice even grabbed the bottom rope for extra leverage on his, erm, one-count.
It’s back to the overhead wristlock as Finlay tries to fight free, but Juice uppercuts the arm some more before he chopped Finlay in the ropes. The arm’s targeted some more before Finlay fought back with right hands and a leaping neckbreaker. A leap off the middle rope goes over Juice, and it’s back to the armbar as Juice stayed on that like a dog with a bone.
Eventually Finlay gets a foot to the rope to break the hold, which Juice claimed also came with a tap out… we’re back outside as Finlay’s whipped by the bad arm into the rails, buying Juice enough time to rip up some of the padding on the floor. A back body drop breaks up a piledriver attempt as Juice hit the floor, before Finlay returned the favours, whipping Juice into the ropes as he begged for mercy.
The count-out starts, with Finlay dumping Juice back into the ring by way of a back suplex onto the apron, returning back inside for an Irish Curse uranage backbreaker that nearly wins it. Finlay starts going for one of Juice’s historical injuries – stomping on the previously-broken left hand of Juice – as the crowd laughed at Finlay brushing off Juice’s feeble attempt at an apology.
Finlay nibbles at Juice’s left hand in the corner, but with the referee pulling him away, Juice was able to remove a corner pad… and throw Finlay shoulder-first into the ring post. A dead weighted Finlay’s dragged up to the top rope for a superplex, but Finlay counters out with a sunset bomb… until his shoulder gave out. Juice capitalises with a Right Hand of God and a Juice Box before a cannonball crushed Finlay in the corner.
Juice tries again for a superplex, this time scoring with it, only for Finlay to bounce right back with a Trash Panda over-the-knee brainbuster. Finlay can’t make the cover as Juice rolled outside. Back inside, a second Trash Panda’s stopped with a Left Hand of God, before Pulp Friction almost put Finlay away – but he gets a shoulder up in the nick of time!
Pulling up Finlay, Juice takes things back to the top rope so he could spit in Finlay’s face again, before an avalanche Pulp Friction was stopped as Finlay escaped with a Prima Nocta. A second one out of the corner almost got the win, but Juice got a foot on the rope in the last possible moment, before another escape from Trash Panda led to Juice getting clotheslined over the top rope to the outside.
Finlay goes for a plancha, but Juice swats him in mid air with a right hand, before the piledriver on the floor drew shrieks from the crowd. So much for no mouth sounds. Juice takes it back into the ring for another Left Hand of God, before the Rockslide was escaped… Juice charges at Finlay in the corner, but only gets the ref with a clothesline. With no ref, Juice goes for the IWGP US title belt, but he misses a belt shot.
Finlay grabbed his shillelagh, but Juice blocks it with a belt shot… the second one finds a way through for a near-fall, before a Trash Panda finally got the win! My word, for all the talk of Finlay’s opener against Yujiro being a let down, this went totally the other way as both Finlay and Juice delivered on top in Korakuen Hall – with Finlay putting a mighty dent in that IWGP US title belt… and Juice’s immediate dreams of winning the block. ****
Juice’s next match is on Sunday against YOSHI-HASHI, while Finlay returns on Saturday against Shingo Takagi as they both have quick turnarounds. As for Finlay, he took that IWGP US title belt and demanded that Will Ospreay face him to take the title (which, it must be noted, is Ospreay’s to begin with!)
Your standings then, with everyone finally having had at least one match…
Block A: Okada (2-0 / 4pts); Archer, Cobb, Fale, Yano (1-1 / 2pts) Lawlor, JONAH (0-1 / 0pts)
Block B: White (2-0 / 4pts); Tonga (1-0 / 2pts); Owens, SANADA, Taichi (1-1 / 2pts); O-Khan (0-1 / 0pts); Ishii (0-2 / 0pts)
Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0 / 4pts); Goto (1-0 / 2pts); EVIL, Henare, Tanahashi (1-1 / 2pts); KENTA, Naito (0-2 / 0pts)
Block D: Ospreay (1-0 / 2pts); Finlay, Phantasmo, Robinson, Takagi, Yujiro (1-1 / 2pts); YOSHI-HASHI (0-1 / 0pts)
We’re back in Korakuen Hall tomorrow, with Tomohiro Ishii and Tama Tonga on top.
Another solid round of G1 matches as a lot of us are waiting for that first grandstand match of the tournament to take place – although that main event, with an audible crowd, would have had a real go!