The G1 moved to Sendai as blocks C and D looked to try and reclaim some glory after yesterday’s shaky show.
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Toru Yano in 5:37 (**¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: David Finlay pinned Mikey Nicholls in 9:52 (**¾)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Jeff Cobb pinned Alex Coughlin in 9:15 (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: EVIL pinned Eddie Kingston in 15:15 (**½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Shane Haste in 12:04 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: HENARE pinned Shingo Takagi in 19:38 (****)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Tetsuya Naito pinned Hirooki Goto in 17:40 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Tama Tonga pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 15:38 (***½)
We’re coming from the Xebio Arena in Sendai – with Kevin Kelly flying solo on commentary as he later would mention that’d be the case for the majority of the tour.
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Toru Yano vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Yeah, we’ve got shenanigans as Zack’s sent out Kosei Fujita to cosplay as him. Kosei, you need to bleach your hair mate… but everyone seemed to fall for it, as I wondered if I’d skipped an eye test or seven.
Yano attacks Yuto Nakashima and puts his robe on him, since he’s fed up with this tomfoolery… and ended up backing up into ZSJ in the aisle. The bell sounds as Sabre chokes out Yano in the aisle, then ordered Fujita to tape up the corner pads so Yano couldn’t remove them.
Once done, Sabre did a lap of honour but missed a PK in the aisle as Yano tripped him up and began to tape Zack’s feet together. Yano makes it back to the ring as the world’s slowest count-out started, but Sabre rolls back to his years running the sack race as made it back in despite tripping over a rat’s nest of camera cables on the way. Yano instantly cradles Sabre for a two-count, but then Yano goes to undo a taped up corner pad… providing a distraction as Fujita slid in some scissors for Zack to cut himself free.
Eventually Yano wanders into a triangle armbar from Sabre, which morphed into a tight cradle… and that’s enough for the win. Not much to this other than the haha, but at least they kept it short. **¼
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Mikey Nicholls vs. David Finlay
Nicholls tried to use Finlay’s aggression against him early on, catching him with a brainbuster in the opening stages, before things spilled outside as Finlay threw the Aussie into the guard rails.
Finlay looked to go after the cut that HENARE had opened up on Sunday, before opting to batter Nicholls with uppercuts. Clotheslines from Nicholls trap Finlay in the opposite corner ahead of a spinebuster, before a superplex from Nicholls was countered into a sunset bomb by Finlay. In the end, Nicholls looks to snatch the win with a Master Blaster, but Finlay wanted zero part of that, escaping out before putting Nicholls down with Into Oblivion. This was a match, but not one that’d grab you. **¾
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Jeff Cobb vs. Alex Coughlin
Cobb’s coming in off the back of a surprising win over Tetsuya Naito in his first match – and if you were expecting a War Dogs pre-match attack, you’ll be glad to know they were kept on their leash during Cobb’s entrance.
The power game was on show early, but Coughlin’s easily frustrated as he went outside to grab his Strong tag title. That distracts the ref, allowing Coughlin to grab Oleg Boltin and throw him into Cobb, before Cobb proceeded to get hurled into those guard rails. Back inside, a gutwrench suplex dropped Cobb ahead of some stretching, before an impressive press slam had Cobb in unfamiliar territory.
Cobb was able to force a way back in with a Spin Cycle, then a standing moonsault for some two-counts, before Coughlin caught a splash the corner and turned it into an overhead belly-to-belly. A deadlift back suplex keeps Alex on top as Cobb seemed stunned he’d left the ground not on his own volition, and again from a Black Hole Slam that nearly won it… before Cobb managed to put Coughlin away with a Tour of the Islands as he edged out the battle of the big beefy boys here. Run this one back, because this was right up my alley – even if we were dealing with low-energy crowds. ***¼
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: EVIL vs. Eddie Kingston
Well, at least Eddie’s getting this one out of the way early…
Kingston’s brought a Kendo stick with him, so he’s watched his House of Torture tapes. The ref removes the stick, allowing EVIL to attack from behind as Kingston protested. Kingston recovered, but got tripped by Dick Togo at ringside, as things spilled outside with Eddie being taken into the crowd.
Beating the count-out, Kingston remained on the defensive, as he was left swinging wildly after he’d had his eyes raked. He’s able to recover to hit a suplex back inside, before some Machine Gun chops dropped EVIL in the corner… then Dick Togo for good measure. Kingston keeps things going with a face-washing boot for a two-count, before he got low bridged as EVIL took him outside and used Eddie to wipe out the ring announcer.
A Darkness Scorpion on the floor keeps EVIL ahead, as Dick Togo tried (and failed) to keep hold of Eddie to cause a count-out. We’ve more shenanigans after a ref bump as Togo looked to choke out Eddie with the garotte… but EVIL misses a Kendo stick shot and wiped out Togo before Kingston wore out the pair of them with the stick.
EVIL’s flung with an Exploder, but we’re still sans referee… Eddie pulls him back in, then hit a Saito suplex after EVIL’d tried a low blow. It’s not enough, as EVIL then tried his luck with Everything is EVIL… only for Kingston to strike with a Backfist to the Future for a near-fall. We’ve more stuff with the referee as EVIL used him to help on a Magic Killer.
Everyone takes an age to get back up after that, but Kingston’s able to get back in with an enziguiri before he locked in a Dragon Sleeper. EVIL grabs the ref, presumably because Eddie was showing up his old tag partner’s finisher, as we mask a Kendo stick show and a low blow before Everything is EVIL puts an end to this overly-long mess. **½
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Shane Haste vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
The question about Tanahashi’s general condition is his story in this year’s G1 – and after coming out on the wrong end against ZSJ, he’s going to be looking to not start with back-to-back losses.
Haste went for the arm early, but Tanahashi’s able to get free and hit a springboard crossbody out of the corner… before Haste pulled Tanahashi off the ropes as he was going for the flip senton. Tanahashi’s able to recover from Haste’s assault, leading him back to the corner for a slam and a flip senton for a two-count.
Tanahashi’s stopped with a dropkick as he went for the Slingblade, before Haste caught him with a slingshot plancha through the ropes, sending Tanahashi into the railings. Haste kept control back inside, landing a side suplex as Tanahashi threatened to cut him off. Eventually, Tanahashi’s back with a Twist and Shout, then a Slingblade, before he headed up top… and again got cut off by Haste. Eventually Tanahashi manages to land the Ace’s High froggy crossbody, before a High Fly Flow got the three-count – and put Tanahashi on the board. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: HENARE vs. Shingo Takagi
HENARE and Shingo had a really highly-rated match back in the days of Shingo being KOPW champion – but at a match time of over 38 minutes, they’ll need to keep it short if they’re to avoid a draw here.
A steady opening spell picks up steam when a spinning heel kick from HENARE took Shingo outside. Back inside, Shingo fakes out as he caught HENARE with a DDT, and it’s pretty much one-way traffic from there… at least until HENARE managed to score with a pop-up Samoan drop, then take Shingo into the corner for some body blows.
A Berzerker Bomb from HENARE’s good for a two-count, while a back senton off the middle rope kept HENARE ahead… before he countered a counter to the Rampage, responding with an Ultima that’s quickly broken up in the corner. HENARE’s springboard enziguiri out of the corner cracks Shingo, who countered another Rampage attempt into a DDT, as a sliding lariat then left HENARE laying.
Shingo can’t quite get a Last of the Dragon going, but he is able to counter a knee in the corner into a powerbomb before a grounded head-and-arm choke had HENARE in trouble. We pass the ten-minute mark here, as Shingo then ate an elbow to the head as HENARE clattered him with more strikes.
Third time’s the charm with a Rampage for a near-fall, before HENARE dragged Shingo to the mat in an Ultima. The ropes save Shingo, but he’s again cracked in the corner with a step-up knee before he countered a Streets of Rage with a backslide for a near-fall. From the kick-out, HENARE waffles Shingo with another knee, then with a headbutt, before he finally landed a Streets of Rage… but couldn’t make the cover as Shingo eventually rolled into the ropes to save himself.
We cross the 15-minute mark as both men looked spent, but Shingo’s able to sneak in a Made in Japan… only to not be able to make the cover. HENARE kicks out at one from a lariat, before a Pumping Bomber forced a two-count… that led to a Last of the Dragon, but HENARE squirms out and cracked Shingo with another hook kick, then a PK as we entered the final two minutes.
Headbutts back-and-forth have the crowd shrieking, as it’s HENARE in the ascendancy going into the death as Shingo was grabbing onto anything he could to make the time limit draw. In the end though, it’s HENARE who ekes out a win after he finally landed another Streets of Rage, rolling over to make the pin with less than thirty-seconds remaining. I absolutely loved the second half of this, the first not so much – and if we have to have endless time limit draw teases in this tournament, at least the closing stretch was killer here. I just worry that, knowing how New Japan booking likes to establish new things, we’re going to get a lot of attempts that won’t come off anywhere near as good as this. ****
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto
Hey, we’ve got history here, with these two going 5-5 in their past singles matches. Even. This is also the sixth out of the last seven G1s these two have met each other…
Naito’s early horsing around gets him kicked by Hirooki Goto, who was in no mood for any of this stuff as Naito retaliated with a neckbreaker on the outside. Narrowly beating the count, Goto’s caught with a cravat back inside, but he’s able to get free and take down Naito with a Saito suplex, having cracked him with a spinning heel kick into the corner.
Goto’s assault’s curtailed with a swinging DDT from Naito, then a top rope ‘rana, before the grounded headscissors looked to force a stoppage. The ropes save Goto as we cross the ten-minute mark, but Naito stayed ahead with some elbows to Goto, who eventually fought back with a GTW from the ropes.
We pass the 15 minute mark with the pair trading blows, before Goto’s ushigoroshi drew a near-fall. A GTR looked to follow, but Naito countered into a sorta-Destino, before Esperanza drew a near-fall… we’re down to the minute-by-minute cues, and that’s the hint for Naito to hit a Destino to take this one home. Could have done with a few minutes getting cut out, but see what I literally just said about hammering home tropes. ***½
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Tama Tonga vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Tama’s 2-1 in their past history – all of which has happened under the purview of the G1 Climax.
Back-and-forth strikes start this one off before a shoulder tackle sent Tama flying. Chops target Tama’s neck, rather than the padded vest, as Tama’s taken into the corner as Ishii was just bullying Tama in the early stages.
Tama’s able to cut off Ishii with an uppercut, then take him into the corner ahead of a Stinger splash and a powerslam for a two-count. Ishii uses elbow strikes to fight back, knocking Tama into the corner. That prompts another fightback, but a German suplex sends Tama flying, before some misdirection from Ishii looked to backfire as the pair traded suplexes.
Tama’s SRC plants Ishii in the mat, but he misses a Supreme Flow attempt as Ishii retaliated by clobbering him with a clothesline in the corner. A superplex followed for a near-fall, before Tama’s dropkick turned things around, as a Tongan Twist took us to the ten-minute mark. Perhaps telegraphing stuff too much, Tama’s POUNCED away from a Gun Stun, allowing Ishii to hit back with a powerbomb for a near-fall.
Ishii’s sliding lariat misses, but he pushes away a Gun Stun as that lariat eventually connects. The pair trade suplexes as Tama leapt in to catch Ishii with the Veleno leaping DDT to keep the back-and-forth going. Tama’s back with another DDT for a near-fall, before Tama teased a Jay Driller.
Ishii escaped and hit a Gun Stun of his own, for the lols, before a wild lariat crashed into Tama for another near-fall. Tama avoids a sheer-drop brainbuster as more back-and-forth ends with an enziguiri… a Gun Stun’s stopped once more before Tama countered a brainbuster into one… before ultimately getting the win with a Jay Driller. ***½
Everyone’s had two matches, so here’s the standings, with perhaps some surprising names yet to get on the board…
Kaito Kiyomiya, SANADA (2-0 / 4pts)
Gabe Kidd, Chase Owens (1-1 / 2pts)
Ren Narita (0-0-2 / 2pts)
Yota Tsuji, Shota Umino (0-1-1 / 1pt)
Hikuleo (0-2 / 0pts)
Kazuchika Okada, Taichi (2-0 / 4pts)
YOSHI-HASHI, KENTA, Will Ospreay, Tanga Loa (1-1 / 2pts)
Great O-Khan, El Phantasmo (0-2 / 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’ve another day off – with the G1 returning on Friday in Niigata with another block A/B show, featuring SANADA and Yota Tsuji in the main event in a rematch from Dominion.
Thankfully an improvement on yesterday’s abomination of a show, although that’s not saying much! Today’s G1 matches were largely fine, and not even in hindsight, I’d have put HENARE/Shingo on top given their fairly recent history… but I have some major concerns about how these shows are going to look when we get to the midway stretch of the tour.