Yota Tsuji’s got another crack at SANADA as the pair face off in the main event of today’s G1 card.
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI pinned Tanga Loa in 12:35 (**½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Gabe Kidd pinned Ren Narita in 10:05 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Great O-Khan submitted El Phantasmo in 12:46 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Chase Owens pinned Hikuleo in 11:09 (*½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Will Ospreay pinned KENTA in 14:02 (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Kaito Kiyomiya and Shota Umino went to a 20:00 time-limit draw (****)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Kazuchika Okada pinned Taichi in 16:20 (****½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: SANADA pinned Yota Tsuji in 18:36 (***¾)
The Ao-re Nagaoka in Niigata is our host today, as Kevin Kelly is once more running solo on English commentary, looking wistfully on at the two other Japanese commentary teams that have guests.
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Tanga Loa vs. YOSHI-HASHI
We’ve one prior meeting here, back at Castle Attack in 2021 where Tanga Loa beat YOSHI-HASHI in a warm-up to a tag title match between the Guerrillas of Destiny and Bishamon the next night.
An early roll-up from YOSHI-HASHI saw him try to win this one early as he instantly focused on Tanga Loa’s knee, before Tanga tried to switch things up by baiting YOSHI-HASHI into a chop battle. Chops and throat-thrusts finally knocked YOSHI-HASHI down, but a neckbreaker quickly turns things back around.
YOSHI-HASHI chops down Tanga as somehow we’re only at the five-minute mark, ahead of an attempted kumagoroshi that Tanga blocked and turned into a jackhammer for a near-fall. We’re back to strikes as YOSHI-HASHI’s running Head Hunter put him back ahead, before an attempt at Karma was blocked.
Tanga Loa resumes back-and-forth strikes, only to get caught with a Dragon suplex and a Western lariat… he popped up from that, returning with a spear before YOSHI-HASHI countered an Apeshit with a sleeperhold. Tanga escaped again, then headed up top to connect with a swandive headbutt that almost got the win. Jado’s yelling for Tanga Loa to finish things, but YOSHI-HASHI countered out into a crucifix bomb for the win. A perfectly fine opener, but one that lacked any kind of juice. **½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Ren Narita vs. Gabe Kidd
We’ve a first-time meeting here, which surprised me as I thought there’d have been some overlap…
Narita was wise to Kidd’s sneak attack, dropping him in the aisle before demanding Kidd start things off in the ring. Which they do. A running front kick from Narita wiped out Kidd, before Gabe began to trade Saito suplexes with Narita. Kidd looks to one-up Narita with the suplex that took both men from the ring to the floor… before he got Irish whipped into the guard rails.
Back in the ring, Kidd goes all Yano by removing a corner pad, but he quickly throws Narita head-first into the exposed buckle. The ref stops Kidd, who got in his face much like a kid who’s never been told no before, before Kidd began to blister Narita with chops. Yeah, I’ve heard those up close, and those are not anything I’d want landing anywhere near me.
Kidd’s taken into the corner for some boot choking from Narita, who then added a spinning heel kick and a half-hatch bridging suplex for a near-fall. Kidd tries to get back in it, but he’s caught with a knee bar, then a Narita Special #3, which ended in the ropes.
Kidd pushes away a Cobra Twist, almost causing a ref bump… Gabe mouths off at Shibata before telegraphing a headbutt as Narita almost won with a German suplex. It’s shrugged off as the pair trade front kicks, then chops before a knee-curb stomp almost got Narita the win. We’re back to the Cobra Twist, but Kidd grabs the referee and hits a low blow to Narita, following with a trapped-leg piledriver for the win. Kidd’s had a desire to fight Shibata for a while now – and him antagonising the “Shibata clone” Narita in this way will only poke the proverbial bear more. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. El Phantasmo
Another first-time meeting – and it’s one both men need to win as they come into this winless…
ELP leaps over O-Khan early on as he looked to close this one out in a hurry with backslides and roll-ups. A tijeras takes O-Khan outside ahead of an eventual tornado DDT off the guard rails.
Back inside, ELP misses a springboard senton bomb, which opened the door for O-Khan to rip off the tape on ELP’s neck, focusing on the neck and shoulders for a spell. O-Khan stayed in control with Mongolian chops as Phantasmo already looked spent thanks to the neck-and-shoulder injury.
Phantasmo goes for O-Khan’s nipples, but he liked it… and ended up biting ELP’s as they headed into the corner. O-Khan tries to sit on Phantasmo in the corner, but gets taken outside for a tope… then flew off the top rope into O-Khan in the crowd. Back inside, ELP pushes on with the Quebrada for a near-fall, before O-Khan fought his way back in with the claw.
O-Khan wraps up ELP with a cobra clutch, but that ends in the ropes as the pair end up trading shot. O-Khan’s claw-assisted sleeper suplex took Phantasmo down, while a lariat saw ELP face-plant into the mat, sending him outside for a dropkick off the apron. A Tenzan Tombstone Driver on the floor adds to it, before an claw-choke-breaker and grounded version of the sheep killer forced ELP to submit. A decent effort from ELP, but that opening night injury looks to have cast the die on his tournament. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Chase Owens vs. Hikuleo
Yep, another first-time match… and there’ll be a few hoping this is kept short.
Chase is left cowering early on, as Hikuleo looked to bully him around, landing a front kick to take Chase to the outside. Owens dives under the ring for safety, but appeared to crack Hikuleo with something as he joined him… the crowd didn’t react, I guess because they didn’t believe Hikuleo’s bones would have made that metallic clang?
Hikuleo has his fingers snapped as he tried to goozle Owens from the floor, and it looks like it’s the right wrist of Hikuleo that’s being targeted as that’s thrown into the post. There’s more attacks to Hikuleo’s right arm back inside, but Hikuleo overpowers him anyway and took down Chase with a clothesline.
A suplex gets Hikuleo a near-fall, but Chase clotheslines him over the top to the outside before a crossface back inside ended with the big man clawing his way into the ropes. Fighting out of a package piledriver, Hikuleo connected with a throat thrust, then a powerslam, before Chase grabbed the rope to avoid a chokeslam. A second escape sees Chase jar his knee, which prompted him to undo his knee brace… and spat at Hikuleo doing so. Hikuleo shoves aside the ref and got cracked with the knee brace for a near-fall, before a C-Trigger mercifully ended this. Grade One Climax, you say? *½
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: KENTA vs. Will Ospreay
Finally, a match with history as Ospreay has a prior match with KENTA… beating him late on in 2019’s G1 Climax tournament.
KENTA jumps Ospreay as he entered the ring, then put on Ospreay’s entrance jacket so he could mock him. If only by retching at the smell of the jacket. Febreze.
Ospreay fires back, but misses a plancha and got chucked into the guard rails for it – and it gets worse for Ospreay as he’s sent into the crowd, then kicked into the bleachers. Back towards ringside, Ospreay’s posted, then met with a neckbreaker back inside as KENTA looked to keep control.
Finally, Ospreay managed to force an opening, landing a springboard forearm for a two-count, only to run into a powerslam moments later. KENTA’s clothesline off the top keeps him in control, leading to a Green Killer DDT to the floor after he’d swivelled Ospreay on the apron.
Ospreay beats the count-out, but he’s swarmed by KENTA… a Go 2 Sleep attempt suddenly turned things up a notch as the pair began to leather each other with strikes, only for KENTA to charge into the corner to avoid a Storm Breaker – causing a ref bump. That’s the cue for some plunder, as he began to wear down Ospreay with a Kendo stick… Ospreay eventually caught the stick, but a low blow stops him from using it.
KENTA smashes his Defy title against Ospreay from there, then dragged the referee back to count a delayed near-fall. A hook kick counters a Go 2 Sleep attempt, but KENTA sidesteps an OsCutter and pulls Ospreay into the Game Over… which was bitten out of. From there, Ospreay deadlifts KENTA into a sit-out powerbomb, but an attempt at a Leap of Faith misses as KENTA came close with a Busaiku knee. A superkick stops another Busaiku knee as Ospreay’s Hidden Blade to the face, then a Storm Breaker put an end to a match that had its moments, but dragged for way too long when KENTA was in control. ***¼
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Shota Umino
Yup… a first-timer, and we’ve got the Shota Walking Simulator taking us through to the back of the upper decks today.
Shota had the Niigata crowd onside for this, and looked to be buoyed somewhat by that as he enjoyed the better of the early going. An exchange of strikes lead to an armdrag from Shota, but Kiyomiya’s quickly in control before Shota’s facedrop and uppercut turned it back around.
Umino’s Fisherman suplex picked up a two-count for him, but Kiyomiya swings right back into it, bouncing Umino with back elbows ahead of a springboard forearm out of the corner. A missile dropkick gets Kiyomiya a two-count, as did a German suplex, before Shota again cuts off Kiyomiya with a dropkick.
We cross the ten-minute mark with Shota missing an Ignition attempt, but he’s able to push back with a pop-up uppercut ahead of the Ignition for a near-fall. Kiyomiya’s back with a knee strike, but Shota ducks a Shining Wizard and catches him in a STF instead, wrenching back as Kiyomiya eventually made it to the ropes.
Kiyomiya’s measured up for a slingshot DDT, which Shota landed before his Death Rider attempt was countered into a Dragon Screw. Another Dragon Screw followed as Shota was caught in the corner, as Kiyomiya began to focus on the right leg and knee of Umino, eventually setting up for a missile dropkick to the grounded Shota.
More Dragon screws lead to a Figure Four on Shota as we hit the 15-minute mark… Shota almost made it to the ropes, but Kiyomiya drags him back into the centre of the ring, wrenching away on the hold as we hit the final three minutes of the limit. Shota’s literally grabbing onto the referee for help, as Kiyomiya eventually relinquished the hold, opting instead to pull up Shota into a Tiger suplex for a near-fall.
Shota’s forced to fight out of a second Tiger suplex, but he’s shoved into the ropes ahead of a high knee, before a half-nelson’d Blue Thunder Bomb almost got the job done. We’re teasing a draw here as the one minute time check’s called for, leading to Shota hitting a guillotine DDT to counter a Shining Wizard. We’re into the final 20 seconds, as Shota crawled over to make the cover, getting a near-fall just as time ran out. We’ve another time limit draw as Shota went from holding on by the skin of his teeth, to almost winning it. ****
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Taichi vs. Kazuchika Okada
We’ve five prior meetings here, but Taichi’s only win came back in Okada’s days as a Young Lion in 2008 – their singles meetings in 2020, 2021 and 2022 all ended with Okada on top. If we’ve a winner, they’ll end the day atop of block B as well…
Okada’s teasing Taichi early on with the mocking clean break, before a spinning tombstone and the spinning shitty Rainmaker looked to lead to a proper one… but Taichi’s fed up of being played with and hit back. Heading outside, Okada planted Taichi with a DDT on the floor… then added a Money Clip when Taichi beat the count.
Taichi remained firmly on the defensive, but was able to sidestep Okada into the corner and connect with a gamengiri in return. A hook kick sinks Okada as Taichi rips off the trousers, then caught Okada with an enziguiri as the former IWGP champion looked to be in trouble. Okada backdrops his way out of a Last Ride attempt as he began a comeback, launching Taichi into the corner with a shotgun dropkick… then down to the floor with another dropkick.
Okada marches Taichi into the aisle for another DDT, before a Money Clip back in the ring had Taichi reaching for the ropes. Letting go of the hold, Okada measured up for an elbow smash to down Taichi again, following up with a slam before Taichi cut off Okada in the corner with another gamengiri. That in turn sets up for an avalanche Dangerous backdrop driver, but Okada fought free before his missile dropkick was deftly turned into a Taichi powerbomb.
A Buzzsaw kick from Taichi wipes out Okada, but Okada’s right back with a dropkick before a Dangerous backdrop driver countered a Rainmaker attempt. Taichi hurls Okada with a second Dangerous backdrop driver… a third one’s blocked as Taichi went for the Baba chops to the head, then an Axe Bomber.
We cross the 15 minute mark after a bridging suplex from Taichi, but Okada counters a Black Mephisto, then missed another dropkick as a Taichi Clutch ALMOST got the win. Where’s the replay?! In the end, the pair trade gamengiri before Okada threw away another Black Mephisto, sitting down on the cover to snatch the win. Bloody hell fire lads, I had a lot of expectations and they blew me away – the nanosecond-close near-fall at the end had me chomping, as Taichi should feel aggrieved at having an a almost-sure win yanked away. ****½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Yota Tsuji vs. SANADA
A rematch from Dominion, where SANADA got a hell of a scare despite successfully retaining the IWGP title.
We’ve a tempered start in SANADA’s home town, as the pair went hold for hold in the opening minutes with wristlocks becoming the order of the day. Tsuji blocks a Shining Wizard attempt, then backed SANADA into the ropes with a tie-up… sneaking in some cheapshots on the break for good measure.
A tijeras takes SANADA outside, but he heads up the aisle to avoid a dive… so Tsuji just gives chase, and ended up having to defend a TKO on the entrance way, before he landed a tiltawhirl backbreaker by the video screens. Tsuji carried SANADA back down the aisle and popped him against the apron before the slam and Mount Tsuji splash drew a two-count.
SANADA sidesteps a Stinger splash in the corner and returned with a back suplex as we passed the ten-minute mark. Heading outside, SANADA lands a plancha… Tsuji one ups him with a tope suicida, before SANADA fought back back inside, landing a Magic Screw in return.
Tsuji’s finally caught with a TKO for a near-fall, but he returned with a backbreaker and a curb stomp, before he caught SANADA in his own Dragon sleeper. Tsuji then apes SANADA by letting go of the hold and hitting a moonsault for a near-fall – one-upping SANADA’s usual stuff there – before SANADA tried it himself. A backflip out of the corner lands in a Skull End on Tsuji, but Tsuji slips out into a suplex/powerbomb for a near-fall.
A reverse ‘rana and a Shining Wizard got SANADA back in control… but Tsuji cartwheels out of a Dead Fall and cracks SANADA with a headbutt, before the push-down stomp almost got the job done. SANADA hits a cutter to counter a spear with two minutes left, following up with a moonsault to keep the two-counts going, before a Dead Fall finally put Tsuji away. Yota’s still waiting for his first singles win back, but he once again made SANADA work for it as the champion closed out with a win to top the group. ***¾
SANADA (3-0 / 6pts)
Kaito Kiyomiya (2-0-1 / 5pts)
Gabe Kidd, Chase Owens (2-1 / 4pts)
Ren Narita, Shota Umino (0-1-2 / 2pts)
Yota Tsuji (0-2-1 / 1pt)
Hikuleo (0-3 / 0pts)
Kazuchika Okada (3-0 / 6pts)
Will Ospreay, Taichi, YOSHI-HASHI (2-1 / 4pts)
KENTA, Tanga Loa, Great O-Khan, (1-2 / 2pts)
El Phantasmo (0-3 / 0pts)
EVIL, David Finlay (2-0 / 4pts)
HENARE, Eddie Kingston, Mikey Nicholls, Tama Tonga (1-1 / 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi (0-2 / 0pts)
Jeff Cobb, Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0 / 4pts)
Hirooki Goto, Shane Haste, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1 / 2pts)
Alex Coughlin, Toru Yano (0-2 / 0pts)
We’re back on Sunday in Nagano at the wonderfully-named Big Hat, with David Finlay and EVIL main eventing from block C. Block A and B return on Tuesday for the first of two back-to-back shows in Korakuen Hall, with SANADA and Kaito Kiyomiya on top.
Much better than the last A/B show, but there’s a definite two-tier system at play here as those you’re expecting to not do well are staying true to form – but if you snip out the first half, you’re left with an absolute peach of a show for those who are cherry picking. As we all probably should be by now!