Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay clash in the finals of the G1, as someone looks to book their spot at WrestleKingdom next year.
G1 Climax 32 – Final: Kazuchika Okada pinned Will Ospreay in 33:53 (****¾)
We’re back at Budokan for this, with Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton on commentary…
As part of the pre-show, we had JAM Project back out to sing this year’s G1 Climax theme “Over The Max.” Meanwhile, Zack Sabre Jr. got his hands on Tetsuya Naito after their undercard tag, going after Naito’s previously-injured knee after their match… El Phantasmo got another pin over Shingo Takagi, which makes me think he’s trophy-hunting soon… while KUSHIDA snuck in a roll-up win over Taiji Ishimori as that looks to book him a future IWGP Junior title shot.
Oh yeah, we also had show announcements… New Japan’s returning to New York City on October 28 for Rumble on 44th Street alongside STARDOM – being held at the Palladium in Times Square… while we’re going back to one night of WrestleKingdom in 2023, with WrestleKingdom 17 in Tokyo Dome on January 4th, and New Year Dash returned January 5 in Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
G1 Climax 32 – Final: Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
We’ve had seven prior matches between these two, starting back in October 2015 when Okada beat Ospreay at a Rev Pro show in Reading, England… since then, Okada’s gone on to win six of the seven, with the only loss being in the G1 back in 2020, when the Great O-Khan returned from excursion to help form the United Empire.
Speaking of Rev Pro, Ospreay’s gotten himself a murderous schedule, having worked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the G1… he’ll be hopping on a flight to England to work Rev Pro’s 10th anniversary show on Sunday, before going over to the States with Aussie Open for the AEW trios title tournament match on Dynamite next Wednesday. Air Miles.
Opening with a lock-up, Okada grabbed a side headlock to start… then dropped down to reapply it after Ospreay had pushed his way free. A shoulder tackle has Ospreay down, before we had Rainmaker and OsCutter teases that were pushed apart. From the restart, Ospreay’s taken to the ropes, with Okada launching in with a forearm to the neck on the break, before Ospreay fired back with a ‘rana.
Things head outside, with Okada avoiding a plancha, instead landing a DDT on Ospreay… then a second one as Okada was obviously targeting the taped-up neck and shoulders… doing so back in the ring with a strait-jacket choke that forced Ospreay to the ropes. A shot to the neck buckles Ospreay’s right leg, before Okada took him to the corner… but a DDT out was countered into a suplex.
A handspring enziguiri from Ospreay puts him further ahead, as did a springboard forearm that drew a near-fall. Ospreay lifts Okada up top and dropkicks him to the floor… following outside with a Sky Twister Press off the top rope to the outside. Bloody hell.
Okada deadweights Ospreay, but his playing possum came back to haunt him as an OsCutter off the railings stopped any thoughts of a landslide tombstone on the outside. Great, now both guys have bad necks. Back inside, Ospreay folds up Okada for a two-count, before an elbow to the back of Okada’s neck left him laying in the corner.
A cravat keeps Okada down, but he breaks free to propel Ospreay with a back body drop off the ropes. Nice and lofty. A flapjack’s next, before Okada tried his luck with the Money Clip, tying up Ospreay before he was thrown off… but an Orton-ish backbreaker takes Ospreay back down into the Money Clip. Fifteen minutes already, and this is racing by. Ospreay gets to the ropes, but couldn’t avoid a top rope elbow drop as Okada looked to be heading into the home straight… but Ospreay backs Okada into the corner to break up a Rainmaker attempt. Okada’s right back on him with right hands though, then with an Irish whip that bounced Ospreay hard out of the corner pad.
Toying with Ospreay just fired him up as Kawada-ish kicks and chops saw Ospreay wear down Okada… whose retort of a shotgun dropkick was quickly replied to with a clothesline. Ospreay rolls Okada onto the apron and teases an apron piledriver, but a back body drop sends Ospreay onto the apron instead, before a landslide apron tombstone attempt was countered with a hook kick and an OsCutter off the buckles.
Our count-out tease ends with Okada rolling back in at 19, but into the path of a springboard dropkick that almost won things. A flying forearm off the top rope to the back of Okada’s neck is next, before a third OsCutter drew a near-fall after a slight stutter in going for the cover. Ospreay adds to that with a superkick, before Okada slipped out of a Stormbreaker and hit a short-arm clothesline. A second one followed, dropping Ospreay, as Okada then teased a Rainmaker, but instead wet beach to the back.
Another dropkick shut off Ospreay, then another one to swat away an OsCutter, before a spinning tombstone landed. Ospreay elbowed away a spinning Rainmaker, then added a Chelsea Grin for good measure… before yet another dropkick cut off a Hidden Blade. Ospreay adds his new cross-legged tombstone to keep the close calls coming. Finally, a Hidden Blade waffles Okada, but it’s only good for a near-fall, before Ospreay digs into some other playbooks, hitting a High Fly Flow for a near-fall.
A Styles Clash is next, with similar results, then a V-Trigger… the crowd oohs for a One Winged Angel attempt, but Okada countered into a landslide tombstone, before a Rainmaker was kicked out of. Something tells me this ain’t gonna be Okada’s year… in spite of his attempts to go back to wrist control for another Rainmaker. Ospreay countered out with a standing Spanish Fly.
With both men on their knees, they’re throwing rights at each other, then elbows, as Okada crumpled into a heap. Okada’s back up to fire off some more, but eats a hook kick after he’d turned around from throwing an uppercut.
Ospreay teases a Storm Breaker, but Okada countered into a neckbreaker slam… shrugged off, but an enziguiri lands, before Ospreay fought out of a Cobra Flowsion and hit a pop-up forearm. A Hidden Blade’s countered into the Cobra Flowsion seconds later, before the Rainmaker put Ospreay down for the count as Okada became part of an exclusive club that’s won back-to-back G1s.
I find it really hard to go “full five” on New Japan matches in the clap crowd era, because you’re always left with the question of “how hot could that crowd have been?” So don’t see this as me “having the fear,” because right now, in spite of my self-imposed ceiling, this is right up there on the top of my ballot for the match of the year. ****¾
The G1 Climax ended on a real high between the bells, but a lot of the issues that have plagued New Japan in recent times persist, with a lot of familiar names remaining in similar places on the card – and that’s only something that elevation of the existing roster, coupled with bringing in new faces, can change. Maybe next year will be the year the masses come back, but I remain skeptical over the predictions of an influx of AEW names on a G1, given how many weeks of TV they’d need to be off for… A good, but not great G1 all told.