Kazuchika Okada’s lead in block A of the G1 Climax looked to continue as he main evented against JONAH in Osaka.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL pinned Aaron Henare in 10:28 (**¾)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Tom Lawlor pinned Bad Luck Fale in 11:05 (**¾)
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Juice Robinson defeated El Phantasmo via disqualification in 16:09 (***¼)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Chase Owens pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 16:50 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: JONAH pinned Kazuchika Okada in 21:53 (****)
We’re back in the Edion Arena in Osaka as Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton return on commentary.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: EVIL vs. Aaron Henare
We start with a first-time singles match… and one that would shut the door on Henare’s G1 if he lost.
EVIL jumped Henare to start, taking him outside before Henare found his way back in for a springboard enziguiri out of the corner. Henare chucks EVIL outside for some kicks, before he chased Dick Togo through the ring… allowing EVIL to sneak in a clothesline. A t-shirt’s used to choke Henare, who’s then chopped into one corner, had his eyes raked, then whipped into a suddenly-exposed one.
Henare avoids a suplex from the apron to the ring, but gets shoved off the apron and into the railings by the time keeper’s table. As everyone tended to that, EVIL and Dick Togo stretched Henare with a cheating abdominal stretch, but Henare overpowered the hold and hiptossed the pair away. Returning the favour, Henare whips EVIL into the railings, as he took it like Bret Hart doing a turnbuckle before flipping over into the other side. Back in the ring, a step-up knee cracks EVIL in the corner, before a Blue Thunder Bomb drew a near-fall. An elbow keeps EVIL down as a back senton off the middle rope added another two-count, before Dick Togo held Henare’s leg in the corner, allowing EVIL to charge in with a Fisherman buster.
Darkness Falls lands for a near-fall after that, before Henare blocked Everything is EVIL… and had his eyes raked. Another whip took Henare into the exposed corner, but he charges back out with a Rampage. Dick Togo’s back up to distract as EVIL was up for a Streets of Rage, but Henare knocked him down before tying EVIL up in the Ultima. EVIL grabs the referee to try and get a break… but the ref instead went to slap EVIL. Who moved. So Henare gets the slap, and Marty Asami’s service will be next week. He’s squashed into the corner by Henare via EVIL, as shenanigans backfire with Dick Togo running in for an UItima to throw him outside, only for EVIL to grab a chair and BOUNCE it off of Henare’s head.
All that’s left is Everything is EVIL, and that’s the win as Henare’s officially out of the G1. They had the shenanigans, but at least they kept the match around it short. **¾
EVIL’s next match sees him take on Zack Sabre Jr. on August 10, while Henare’s final match is against KENTA on August 13.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Tom Lawlor
A first-time-ever meeting, as we don’t even have prior tag matches between these two.
We’ve got Jeremy Marcus refereeing this, so this could almost straight out of New Japan Strong. Lawlor’s clotheslined as he was showboating around his double denim, before an attempted tornado DDT on Fale saw him shoved to the floor. Body blows from Fale led to him chucking Lawlor into the rails, before he threw two sets of railings onto Lawlor. Lawlor manages to get free of those makeshift renovations and beat the 20-count, but he’s still having to defend against the big man. Fale misses a stomp, allowing Lawlor in with some kicks from the bottom before he began to target the quads. A leaping shoulder tackle from Fale ends that comeback though.
Lawlor grabbed an ankle hold, but it ends in the ropes before he slid outside… then crawled under the ring so he could appear on the other side and grab the hold again from the floor. Taking off his outer shorts, Lawlor uses them to choke Fale, looking for a count-out in the process. Fale rolls back in but couldn’t avoid Lawlor’s kicks, nor a spinning heel kick to the back of the head for a two-count. A mounted rear naked choke looked to keep Fale down, switching it into a Japanese stranglehold, only for Fale to counter out into a Samoan drop. Lawlor’s right back up, but has to kick away from a Grenade attempt before he ate a lariat.
An elbow drop followed from Fale for a near-fall, then a Grenade, but again Lawlor kicks out at two. The Bad Luck Fall is next, but Lawlor slips out and into a rear naked choke again, which is broken up in the corner. Smartly, Lawlor repositioned into a DDT out of the corner for another two-count, before he went back to the choke… then kicked Fale’s leg out of his leg. From there, a Bomaye-like knee lands for a near-fall, before Lawlor sized up the big man for the NKOTB, which turned out the lights on Fale as Tom Lawlor picked up his second win in a row. A decent match with Lawlor chipping away at the big man until he got his rewards. **¾
Fale’s last match is up against JONAH on August 16, while Lawlor gets Kazuchika Okada on August 10.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: El Phantasmo vs. Juice Robinson
A very quick turnaround for ELP, less than 24 hours from his loss to YOSHI-HASHI… and we’ve a 1-0 record for Juice here in prior matches, as he beat ELP on New Japan Strong last October.
The story going in is that since Juice hasn’t won since his first night, he’s been making “unforced errors” as he’s panicking over winning his block… which right now feels like a distant prospect. So of course, “are the Bullet Club going to help each other?” or at least have a “good, clean, professional wrestling match?” Juice blows a raspberry as they went for a knuckle lock, then claimed the referee had farted. Pro Wrestling, at its best. Wait, that’s someone else’s tag line. Arm wringers from Juice led to ELP trying to roll free as they worked this akin to an exhibition, poking fun as they “chain wrestled.”
ELP drops down to trip Juice as they’re doing slow-mo stuff ahead of a stand-off. That quickly breaks down as ELP rolled up Juice while propping his feet on the ropes. The ref stops it, then stopped a count as Juice decided to have ELP moon the crowd on his roll-up. Cue the three stooges of what the swear-word, as referee Kenta Sato dropped down and let Juice and ELP crash into each other. ELP says something that’ll get him banned on Twitter as they then went outside for a chair and a table. Well, that escalated in a hurry. We get double entendres as Juice offered up an arm wrestle, but Juice tries to cheat… so ELP uses two hands to win. Then had a chair BOUNCED off of his head.
Juice takes Phantasmo into the aisle for some headbutts and a piledriver, folding ELP in half before he rolled him off the walkway. Frogmarching the ref back to the ring, Juice demanded a count-out, but ELP got back up and eventually got back into the ring, despite “YOSHI-HASHI-ing” himself. Back inside, Juice went for a powerbomb before a high-angle Boston crab looked to lead to a stoppage. Phantasmo got to the ropes, then clotheslined Juice to the outside ahead of a tope that nearly overshot. Staying on the outside, Phantasmo picks up the table and sets it up… bouncing Juice’s head off of it to the point where Juice’s head went through the damn wood.
Juice juices from that, then got put onto the table as ELP scaled the ropes… Juice rolls off the table, only to get cracked with a flip senton as ELP teed up for a rope-walk moonsault. Back inside, a springboard Thunder Kiss 86 gets a near-fall, before ELP countered a counter from CR2 into a Styles Clash for a near-fall. A V-Trigger followed, before Juice slipped out of a One Winged Angel and returned with a Left Hand of God. ELP’s Sudden Death quickly returns things for a near-fall, before CR2 was blocked as Juice hit a rising headbutt that somehow didn’t count as a low blow. Legally I mean. A Left Hand of God and a Pulp Friction has Phantasmo down for a near-fall, before an enraged Juice headed outside for another chair.
Juice teases a piledriver onto the chair, but ELP hits a rising headbutt of his own… Juice tries to claim a foul from that, before ELP just threw the chair at Juice, and that’s enough for the DQ. A few disappointed groans given how loose things are with DQs in New Japan, although the plausibility of “it happened in the ring” just about touches it I guess. As for the match, this started out as gaga but really ramped up until we got Juice’s aggression and underdog fire from ELP. Something tells me both of these men won’t still be in these roles by next year’s G1… ***¼
Phantasmo’s back on August 10 against David Finlay, while Juice’s final block match is against Will Ospreay on August 16.
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Chase Owens vs. Tomohiro Ishii
A dead rubber of a match, this, with Ishii having won their only prior singles meeting in December 2016.
Opening with lockups, Owens took Ishii into the ropes, only to get knocked back. He’s right in with clubbing forearms before he tried to charge down Ishii… only to get charged down instead. Owens got into it with the ref, but Ishii forearms him to the outside… then chopped Chase as he got back inside. After getting tripped, Owens jacked out Ishii’s knee, then began to kick at it as he gained a laser-like focus on that left leg. The ring post’s used as Owens wrapped the leg around it, before Ishii tried to shrug off a knee breaker. He invited more kicks to the leg from Owens, before dropping him with a suplex… following with a back suplex moments later.
Owens snapped back in with a neckbreaker, before a C-Trigger misses… Ishii’s taken outside and dropkicked into the guard rails. Chase follows outside for a stinging chop, but a second one hits the ring post as Owens perhaps took his eye off the ball… then regained sight as he hit a sunset bomb to bounce Ishii’s head into the barriers. Back inside, a C-Trigger lands for a near-fall, before Ishii fought out of a Jewel heist clothesline… and hit a German suplex for good measure. Owens gets taken to the top rope for a stalling superplex, with those beh-beh Ishii elbows softening up Owens some more… only for a leaping knee and a Jewel Heist to take Ishii down.
A half-and-half suplex has Owens on the back foot briefly, as he then superkicked the spit out of Ishii for a near-fall. The package piledriver looks to follow, but Ishii back body drops free, only to get booted down as he ended up cracking Owens with a headbutt. They continue to swing for the fences, with Ishii’s clothesline getting just a one-count, while another gets a two-count, before Owens hit a crucifix to counter a sliding lariat. Owens takes that sliding lariat seconds later for a near-fall, before he countered out of the brainbuster and backslid Ishii for a near-fall. A C-Trigger lands after that, before the package piledriver was wriggled out of… another C-Trigger dumps Ishii, and from there Owens goes right back to the package piledriver. The crowd ooh’d for that, and it’s enough to put Ishii away in a result I didn’t see coming, but probably should. I still think a lot of folks won’t see Owens on Ishii’s level, but they’re trying their damndest to elevate Chase. ***½
Owens is back in action on Tuesday against SANADA, while Ishii picks up on August 16, also against SANADA.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: JONAH vs. Kazuchika Okada
Our main event is another first-time-ever singles meeting…
Okada struggled with a collar and elbow tie up to start, as JONAH backed him into the ropes, before a side headlock restrained Okada. That side headlock’s almost powered out of, but JONAH cranks down on it before Okada stomped on his foot to break free… only to get charged down seconds later. JONAH teases a dive off the apron, but Okada sidestepped as the Aussie hit the railings, then wrapped the big man’s leg around the bars. Okada heads up the aisle as he teased a DDT, then a suplex… but JONAH lifts Okada up first before a body attack splatted the former champion.
JONAH brings Okada back to ringside, but then rolled into and out of the ring to break the count so he could whip Okada into the rails… so hard, it knocked the legs out of the timekeeper’s table. Rinse, wash and repeat, as JONAH then charged Okada into the ring post, before making it back into the ring… where JONAH just stood on him. A grounded waistlock keeps Okada grounded as JONAH was simply dominating proceedings. At least until Okada sidestepped a charge and scored a roll-up… then a diving uppercut as it had taken him to the ten minute mark to really put the brakes on the big man. Boots and a back elbow have JONAH down, while a low dropkick took JONAH to the outside… where Bad Dude Tito tries to distract Okada, only to get charged into.
Okada’s DDT has JONAH down on the outside, as Okada then returned to the ring to hit a tope con giro to take out both JONAH and Tito. Back inside, Okada threatened a bodyslam as he’d been eyeing that up since before the match… but JONAH blocked it before he hit a spear in return. A back senton squashes Okada next for a near-fall, but Okada countered a powerbomb as he back body drops JONAH away. Okada slips in with a Money Clip as he took JONAH down to a knee, before a shotgun dropkick took JONAH into the corner. Somehow, Okada’s able to lift JONAH up top, only for a flying body attack to squash Okada as a short-range lariat almost put him away. A powerbomb’s ‘rana’d out of as Okada came back with a dropkick, before he finally bodyslammed the big guy!
The top rope elbow drop followed from Okada as we got the zoom out… right as JONAH started stirring. Another dropkick from Okada cuts off JONAH, as did a German suplex, but JONAH finds a way in with headbutts before he hit the ropes and swatted Okada down with a clothesline. Somehow, Okada kicks out at two, then fought out of a superplex as JONAH took up top… but then it all goes awry. Okada’s missile dropkick is deftly countered into a powerbomb. Cue shock. A second one followed as Osaka sensed something… which was JONAH heading up top. A Torpedo drew loud gasps, as did the three count as JONAH flattened Okada and came away with the two points. Those final thirty seconds were just a sample of the atmosphere I’ve missed in the last two and a bit years, and shows that it is still possible to get those kind of reactions… making them even more special when they’re not meant to happen. ****
Okada has a quick turnaround, as he’s back on August 10 against Tom Lawlor, while JONAH is back a day earlier, taking on Lance Archer on August 9.
Block A: JONAH, Okada (3-1 / 6pts); Archer, Cobb, Lawlor (2-2 / 4pts); Fale (2-3 / 4pts); Yano (1-4 / 2pts)
Block B: White (4-0 / 8pts); Taichi, Tonga (2-1 / 4pts); SANADA (2-2 / 4pts); Owens (2-3 – 4pts) O-Khan (1-3 / 2pts); Ishii (1-4 / 2pts)
Block C: Zack Sabre Jr., Tanahashi (3-1 / 6pts); EVIL, Goto, Naito (2-2 / 4pts); KENTA (1-2 / 2pts); Henare (1-4 / 2pts)
Block D: Finlay (3-1 / 6pts); YOSHI-HASHI (2-1 / 4pts); Ospreay, Takagi, Yujiro (2-2 / 4pts); Robinson (2-3 / 4pts); Phantasmo (1-3 / 2pts)
The G1 takes a day off… then it’s off to Hiroshima for two nights back to back at the Sun Plaza Hall, with KENTA vs. Tetsuya Naito headlining on Tuesday.
Perhaps not quite at the same sustained level as Saturday’s show, but Osaka’s clearly been the place where the G1 came alive this year. You can keep your high star ratings, in an atmosphere like we’ve got in New Japan right now, those “audible mouth sounds” from the crowd are going to be more memorable… and we absolutely got that in our main event!