Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi renew rivalries in the main event of the latest round of G1 Climax action from Osaka.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: YOSHI-HASHI pinned El Phantasmo in 15:47 (***½)
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Lance Archer pinned Toru Yano in 9:14 (***)
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Hirooki Goto in 15:32 (***¾)
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Jay White pinned Great O-Khan in 18:14 (****)
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Shingo Takagi pinned Will Ospreay in 21:55 (****½)
The Edion Arena in Osaka’s the host for Saturday and Sunday’s cards – Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton reunite on commentary for this.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: El Phantasmo vs. YOSHI-HASHI
A first-time singles meeting starts our grab bag of G1 matches today…
Opening with a tie-up, YOSHI-HASHI backs Phantasmo into the ropes before missing as he swung for a chop. Osaka’s gotta be prodded into responding as a second tie-up saw ELP chop YOSHI-HASHI in the ropes. YOSHI-HASHI quickly fires back with a running Head Hunter, before he chopped Phantasmo down by the ropes. ELP returns with a ‘rana to take YOSHI-HASHI outside, but aborted a follow-up dive and instead nailed a springboard body press to the outside. YOSHI-HASHI grabs ELP to try and block a moonsault, but it’s fought off as the Asai moonsault into the aisle followed anyways. Back inside, ELP tries for a springboard senton bomb, but YOSHI-HASHI got the knees up before he chopped Phantasmo into the corner.
YOSHI-HASHI chains together a whip into the corner and a back body drop out of it, but ELP’s back with right hands and a dropkick. A chop from YOSHI-HASHI misses as ELP manages to nail a springboard crossbody, then a Quebrada for a couple of two-counts, before YOSHI-HASHI cradled his way out of a CR2 for a near-fall. Chops keep ELP at bay, while YOSHI-HASHI avoided a whirlibird neckbreaker… and faceplanted ELP with a low dropkick. YOSHI-HASHI builds up with more chops and a neckbreaker, before another chop sent ELP flying over the top to the floor… and in prime position as YOSHI-HASHI added a flip senton to the outside.
Back inside, a seated dropkick caught ELP by the ropes for a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI’s attempted kumagoroshi’s blocked, but he’s able to return quickly with a clothesline as the pair fought back to their feet. A crucifix from ELP pulls down YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, while a slam set up for the Bret Hart elbow off the middle rope. Sudden Death lays out YOSHI-HASHI, but ELP can’t make the cover straight away. When ELP did get back up, he pulled YOSHI-HASHI up for the UFO, following up with the Thunder Kiss 86 splash… but YOSHI-HASHI kicks out at two! CR2 looks to follow, but YOSHI-HASHI jack-knife cradled Phantasmo for a near-fall, then cracked the Canadian with a superkick before a Western Lariat and a Kumagoroshi almost led to the win. They’re getting closer…
We’re past the fifteen minute mark with YOSHI-HASHI going for Karma, but ELP rolls him up for a near-fall… only to eat a Destroyer as YOSHI-HASHI nailed Karma moments later for the win. A tidy little match that a lot’ll have skipped over, but you could tell both men here were still relatively early in their G1s. ***½
YOSHI-HASHI is next up against Yujiro Takahashi on August 9… El Phantasmo has a really crappy draw, as he’s back tomorrow against Juice Robinson.
G1 Climax 32 – Block A: Lance Archer vs. Toru Yano
We’ve got history in New Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH here – with Archer having won three times. Yano’s sole win came in the G1 almost eleven years ago…
Yano was understandably unwilling to participate, almost in tears as everyone expected his impending doom. When we got going, Yano played keepaway before he headed to the ropes for a break. Before they’d even touched. Yano tries a Manhattan drop on Archer, but Lance is too tall for it to come even close… so he whips Yano into the corner. A follow-up charge misses as Yano rips off a corner pad… only to get charged down by Archer in return. Archer then goes to remove another corner pad before Yano could, only to get bopped on the head as Archer just booted him down.
On the outside, Archer chucks Yano into the rails, before he pulled a roll of tape out of his gear to try and beat Yano at his own game. Yano’s wrist gets taped to the rails, allowing Archer to go in and try and win via count-out… but Yano’s smuggled scissors into his boots, which cut nothing… and the ref needs to slow things down to avoid counting out Yano. Either that or he forgot what came after 17…
Archer and Yano rip off the remaining corner pads back inside… Archer’s bopped in the back with the blue pad, then clotheslined Yano down as he then flung the last pad into the crowd. We’re back outside as Archer cannonballed off the apron, but it’s Yuto Nakashima who cushioned the blow, rather than Yano. Yano’s back to low blow Archer, before he threw Nakashima over the barriers… Archer and Nakashima are taped by the wrists through the railings, but Nakashima’s able to get dragged through the bars, even if it meant perhaps screwing up his injured shoulder some more. The pair make it back inside and hit an inadvertent double clothesline on Yano as Archer finally removed the tape.
Nakashima’s slammed onto Yano after that, then got pulled up and chokeslammed for his woes. The match is still happening, as Yano sidesteps charges with Archer taking all four exposed corners before a spear to the back and a roll-up nearly won it for Yano. From there, Yano turns the referee away as a low blow and roll-up got another near-fall, before a Derailer POUNCE’D Yano. From there, Archer calls for another chokeslam, but got his eyes raked before he cracked Yano with a step-up knee in the corner. The Blackout follows, and that’s it for Toru Yano, who becomes the first man eliminated in this year’s G1. Enjoyable stuff with Archer subverting what everyone expected to happen with Yuto Nakashima, while those scissors not cooperating with Yano nearly messed it all up! ***
Toru Yano last match is on August 13 against Jeff Cobb, while Archer’s next match is up against JONAH on August 9.
G1 Climax 32 – Block C: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hirooki Goto
These two have met five times in the past, with Sabre winning three and Goto two – with all but one in New Japan (that odd-one-out? A Rev Pro show in Brixton in 2018.)
Sabre went to ground early as we open with a lock-up, ending in the ropes before a Sabre side headlock gave way to shoulder tackles as Goto pulled ahead. A hiptoss reversal sends Sabre outside, but Goto rolls him right back inside to pick up a couple of two counts as he looked to end this one in a hurry. Goto’s caught in the ropes as Sabre caught him with a hanging armbar, before a whip into the rails and some kicks continued to target that limb. Back inside, Sabre wrapped Goto’s arm around the bottom rope, before uppercuts knocked Goto down as he was struggling to get into any kind of gear.
Kicks from Sabre rile up Goto, who responded with chops, only to get kicked in the arm again… with a clothesline in return taking Zack down. Goto takes Sabre to the corner for a spinning heel kick into it, and a bulldog out of it for a near-fall. Strikes from Sabre led to him getting sunk with a forearm, but he’s right back with uppercuts before he suckered Goto into an abdominal stretch. A snap German suplex pulls Goto down, but a reverse GTR nullifies things seconds later. Mid kicks from Goto keep Sabre on his knees, only for Zack to snap back with a Dragon suplex that he bridged for a near-fall. Goto blocks a PK in return, but gets slapped silly before he returned with a headbutt. An ushigoroshi gets Goto free of a guillotine, before Sabre’s Euro clutch nearly got him the win out of a GTR.
Sabre’s PK adds just a one-count, as Goto’s clothesline drew a similar result as the pair upped the ante. Another Goto clothesline’s rolled down into a cross armbreaker by Sabre, but they’re too close to the ropes as Goto forced the break. Sabre’s charged into the corner as Goto brings him out with the one-man Shoto, before a GTW added more impact as Goto continued to use his weakened arm. Sabre’s able to kick out at two from that, before he countered a GTR into a triangle armbar. Goto tries to stomp his way free, but Sabre rolled back into a Fujiwara-ish armbar, and that’s enough to force the submission as Sabre went joint top of the block. A cracker of a match with these two gelling well once more, and Goto’s right arm quite possibly now becoming the proverbial Achilles heel for the remainder of his tournament. ***¾
Sabre’s back against EVIL on August 10, while Goto main events against Hiroshi Tanahashi on the same night… and there’s a dig by Sabre afterwards as he continued his appeal for that Bryan Danielson match to happen in Japan. Or maybe Daniel Garcia, if you’re thinking he’s got that mantle after that win on Dynamite?
G1 Climax 32 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. Jay White
Shockingly, we’ve no prior singles meetings between these two, not even from O-Khan’s Young Lion days. Heck, they’ve not even been on opposite sides of the same match before!
O-Khan charges at White at the bell, who scrambled through the ropes to the outside to try and take the sting out of things. O-Khan mocked White for bailing, before he tripped the champion down to the mat, rolling him around in a waistlock before White got to the ropes. Arguing with the ref creates a distraction as White caught O-Khan from behind, only for O-Khan to charge him down before he just sat on White for a near-fall. White tries to scurry away, but O-Khan pulled him back in and into the corner pad so he could take another seat… and too-sweet his arse for good measure. On the outside, White’s thrown into the rails before Gedo got shoved into them too as he tried to hold O-Khan. It worked as White’s able to capitalise on that, throwing O-Khan’s leg against the side of the ring… before O-Khan shoved White into Gedo by the railings.
White shrugs it off and wrapped O-Khan’s leg around the bottom rope, almost like a Calf Slicer. Mudhole stomps keep O-Khan in the corner as White then bemoaned everyone as he proceeded to wrap O-Khan’s legs around the ring post. Again, O-Khan pushes free, sending White through the gate and into the crowd. Back inside, White scores a neckbreaker for a near-fall, before his mockery almost got him rolled down to the mat. White blocked it though and took O-Khan back down with a Dragon screw, only for O-Khan to retaliate with a Judo throw. White’s thrown head-first into the corner pad, but O-Khan couldn’t add to that as the damage to his legs meant he was limited to staggering around the ring. Still, O-Khan could hit a gutwrench suplex for a near-fall…
O-Khan goes for a hold, but White dives into the ropes for a break before O-Khan tried to run him into the ring post on the apron. It backfires though as White scores a Dragon screw through the ropes. An uppercut back inside and a Blade Buster keeps O-Khan on the back foot, while a chop took O-Khan down to a knee. A Complete Shot has O-Khan on the mat, with a deadlift German suplex keeping him there, before a belly-to-belly suplex forced an opening for O-Khan. White goes back to the leg with a Dragon screw, before the Great O-Khan Tap Out (you know, White’s submission move that has more names than John Hennigan) ended quickly in the ropes.
O-Khan responds to White’s mockery with a Mongolian chop, but he’s taken into the corner for some regular chops from White… only to come out with a head claw. White kicks the knee to break it up, but missed a chop block as a throat thrust left White laying. More Mongolian chops follow, despite them causing O-Khan some issues on the landings, before a front kick led to White slipping out of a backbreaker… returning with a sleeper suplex instead. Out of nowhere, O-Khan slaps in a Sheep Killer, then a backbreaker to take White away from the ropes, so the Sheep Killer could be reapplied. White tries to break it by pulling O-Khan’s braid, but instead White got caught with a face claw as well, before an Eliminator was teased. White slips out, but O-Khan grabs the claw again before he just punched out Jay White.
From there, White kicks out the knee to break the face claw, before a Blade Runner out of nowhere scored the win. That result eliminates O-Khan, Ishii and Owens, but Great O-Khan was agonisingly close to the win – and gave Jay White a hell of a scare. This’ll get run back plenty of times, and if they’re as good as this one, I’m there for it! ****
White’s back in action in a week’s time, main eventing against Taichi… O-Khan has Tama Tonga on August 10.
G1 Climax 32 – Block D: Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay
A familiar foe for Ospreay – who’s beaten Shingo Takagi in the finals of the New Japan Cup (2021) and the Best of the Super Juniors (2019)… but Shingo has his lone win over Ospreay in the G1, coming two years ago. Commentary notes that none of Ospreay’s wins have come under thirty-minutes… and with the G1 having a time limit in block matches, that could be an issue.
Shingo wrings the arm to start, but Ospreay gets out of a hammerlock and grabbed a side headlock that he used to drag Shingo down with. Pushing free, Shingo nails a shoulder tackle, before a hiptoss took Ospreay out of the corner and followed up with a chinlock. That’s quickly broken up, so Shingo drives a knee into the back, then some knees to the midsection in the ropes, before a suplex dropped Ospreay for just a one-count. Going to ground, Shingo applies some bodyscissors to Ospreay, but Ospreay manages to roll to the ropes for a break. A chop stings Shingo, who’s taken to the corner for a back elbow, only for Shingo to return the favour and fake out for a DDT… but Ospreay’s right back up and dropkicks Shingo to the outside for a plancha.
A backbreaker back inside gets a two-count as Ospreay began to control the pace. The pair jockey for a suplex, with Shingo teasing one from the ring to the floor, only for Ospreay to get free… and get caught with the elbow/jab/clothesline triumvirate from Shingo. There’s a back body drop off the ropes for Ospreay, who’s then clotheslined over the top rope to the floor… only to get rolled right back inside. Ospreay tries to boot Shingo out of the corner, then took a Twist and Shout-ish neckbreaker for a two-count. A noshigami’s elbowed out of as Ospreay then hit a stunner out of a suplex attempt. Kawada-ish kicks are shrugged off by Shingo, who then blocked an OsCutter, then got his knees up to stop a standing moonsault.
Ospreay turns it up in a heartbeat going for an OsCutter, eventually making do with a handspring enziguiri and a superkick to stop Shingo’s stubbornness. Heading up top, Ospreay teased an avalanche Storm Breaker, but got knocked onto the apron as Shingo then stopped a springboard… and teased an avalanche Last of the Dragon. Ospreay flips down to avoid all that nonsense, then went back up as a Spanish Fly instead took the pair back into the ring for a near-fall. A 450 splash from Ospreay adds another near-fall as he then went for a Storm Breaker… it’s flipped out of, as Shingo then ate a hook kick in return. Shingo blocked a Hidden Blade to the face, countering into a cross armbar as he snapped back on the elbow. Ospreay has trouble throwing elbow strikes after that, so he takes to the air… only to eat a cutter from Shingo, then a pop-up death valley driver and a clothesline as Shingo inched closer to a win.
Ospreay flashed back with his own Made in Japan, before an OsCutter landed for a near-fall… a Hidden Blade looked to follow, but Shingo flops out to avoid it. Kicks from Ospreay led to him punching out Shingo… who returned with a reverse ‘rana… only to get cracked with a short range Hidden Blade. The arm’s bothering Ospreay to the point he can’t do a Storm Breaker as Shingo snuck out of a one-armed version… so hook kicks take Shingo down as we crossed the twenty minute mark. An OsCutter out of the corner’s countered into a backslide as the pair were starting to really swing for the fences… Shingo ducks a Hidden Blade, then clotheslined away a lariat to hit a Dragon suplex on Ospreay. A Pumping Bomber dumps Ospreay to the mat for a near-fall, before a sliding elbow to the face and a Last of the Dragons planted Ospreay for the win. We’ve finally gotten it folks, twelve nights in and our first “notebook” match and it came from the pairing we all expected it to. They threatened to get a little too cute at the end with counters, but working at pace made for a fantastic main event. Get on it, folks! ****½
Ospreay returns on August 13 against YOSHI-HASHI, while Shingo has Yujiro Takahashi on the same night.
Block A: Okada (3-0 / 6pts); JONAH (2-1 / 4pts); Archer, Cobb, Fale (2-2 / 4pts); Lawlor; Yano (1-4 / 2pts)
Block B: White (4-0 / 8pts); Taichi, Tonga (2-1 / 4pts); SANADA (2-2 / 4pts); Ishii, O-Khan, Owens (1-3 / 2pts)
Block C: Zack Sabre Jr., Tanahashi (3-1 / 6pts); Goto, Naito (2-2 / 4pts); KENTA (1-2 / 2pts); EVIL, Henare (1-3 / 2pts)
Block D: Finlay (3-1 / 6pts); YOSHI-HASHI (2-1 / 4pts); Ospreay, Takagi, Yujiro (2-2 / 4pts); Phantasmo (1-2 / 2pts); Robinson (1-3 / 2pts)
We’re back in Osaka tomorrow with JONAH and Kazuchika Okada on top in a match that could take Okada one step closer to the semi-finals… or throw block A into a log-jam.
For my money, we’re finally got something approaching a killer match, as this felt like the best tournament night so far – with everyone clicking to some degree. FINALLY. Now that’s more like what we all wanted to see out of the G1!