The G1 hits Korakuen Hall with SANADA looking to pull ahead at the top of block A against Kaiyo Kiyomiya.
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Will Ospreay pinned Great O-Khan in 11:20 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Shota Umino pinned Gabe Kidd in 13:03 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: KENTA pinned Taichi in 2:11 (*½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Yota Tsuji pinned Chase Owens in 11:42 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: El Phantasmo pinned Tanga Loa in 12:14 (**½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Hikuleo pinned Ren Narita in 11:58 (**½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Kazuchika Okada pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 16:32 (***¾)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: SANADA pinned Kaito Kiyomiya in 19:58 (****¼)
We’re inside a sold-out Korakuen Hall for the first of two back-to-back nights here… and since we’re in Tokyo, Kevin Kelly isn’t flying solo as Chris Charlton is back alongside him.
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Great O-Khan vs. Will Ospreay
A first-time meeting and a battle of the United Empire opens up the show, bizarrely…
Things started with a little one-upmanship as Ospreay and O-Khan traded blows, but a back body drop flings Ospreay skyward ahead of a suplex for an early one-count. O-Khan keeps Ospreay grounded with a chinlock, then a side headlock, before Ospreay burst out and took O-Khan outside.
Back inside, a chop lights up O-Khan, who replied with a Sheep Killer as Ospreay’s lack of urgency caught him out. The Sheep Killer’s turned into a slam as he threw Ospreay from the ring to the floor, then took him into the crowd as he looked to hobble his faction’s leader. A chair’s bounced off of Ospreay’s back for good measure, before we get a ref bump… and now O-Khan’s sprayed mist at Ospreay?!
Pinning attempts ensue, with O-Khan coming close, before he took Ospreay outside for a plancha… back inside, Ospreay flips out of an Eliminator, then returned with a hook kick. A lariat nearly puts Ospreay away, as things continued to go back-and-forth, with an OsCutter nearly getting the win for Ospreay, before the Leap of Faith finally put O-Khan away in a nice, pacey opener that perhaps raises some questions about the fragility of the United Empire? ***½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Shota Umino vs. Gabe Kidd
We’ve another first-time meeting as I’m a little surprised these two didn’t cross paths in Rev Pro. In the match graphic, Gabe looked incensed that Umino’d massively encroached into his half of things. Like partners fighting over a bed sheet…
Umino heads up the famous Korakuen Hall stairwell and through the stands – but Gabe still found a way to cut him off as he sprinted through a side door to attack Shota, taking his jacket and mocking Shota’s entrance. They end up fighting towards ringside, with Shota getting launched into the post, before Kidd demanded the bell sound as he tried to win with a Bull lariat early on.
A brainbuster onto the side of the ring followed as Kidd tried to force a decision, but Umino beats the count as Kidd continued to dominate. Gave nearly starts a riot by snatching a fan’s Shota towel, wiping his arse with it then spitting on it, before an Exploder suplex flung Shota for a near-fall. Umino began to fight back, landing a Fisherman suplex, then a missile dropkick to Kidd’s shoulder ahead of the Trident – a lifting reverse DDT – for a near-fall. We finally cross the ten-minute mark, as Shota just about lands the slingshot DDT… then blocked a desperation low blow from Kidd.
Kidd’s quickly met with the Ignition neckbreaker for a near-fall, before Kidd shoved aside the referee and punched out Shota. A wild Saito suplex is next, but it’s still not enough for Kidd, as Umino hit back with an guillotine’d DDT, then the Death Rider for the win. This dragged a little, but Umino finally getting a win looks to have him in good stead. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: KENTA vs. Taichi
Yet another first-time meeting here… and KENTA trying to duet with Taichi has me dreading whatever shtick is coming. Even more so when they parade their title belts. Taichi’s looked more cushioned, as for some reason they dragged Yoshinobu Kanemaru into the ring to adjudicate. I can hear the U and D keys on my keyboard quivering in expectation of their usage…
Kanemaru declared Taichi the winner, upsetting KENTA who blindsided Taichi… only for a Go To Sleep to be blocked and met with a Dangerous backdrop driver for a near-fall. KENTA pulls off Taichi’s trousers, earning him an Axe Bomber, before KENTA ran the ref into the ropes. It means he can’t count from the Taichi Clutch. KENTA goes for his belt, but Taichi ends up kicking it before a low blow and roll-up got the win. At least they kept this short, but I’d have popped more had KENTA somehow gotten the win straight after pantsing Taichi. *½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Chase Owens vs. Yota Tsuji
These two have met once before – although it was in the days of Tsuji as a Young Lion, so Owens’ win in May 2021 shouldn’t be a shock.
Chase cheapshots Tsuji at the bell, but an early attempt at a Package Piledriver ends with Tsuji powdering to the outside… where he’s run into the guard rails. Tsuji reverses a whip as Owens tasted the blue bars, before he pulled Tsuji off the apron as Yota set up for something. That something ended up being an Orihara moonsault, as Tsuji took to the air.
Tsuji rolls Owens back into the ring, but Chase rolls to the other side… and baited Tsuji into the ropes for a neckbreaker. Owens stays on Tsuji with forearms to the lower back, then a back suplex before Tsuji fired back, only to have his cazadora rolled through into a crossface by Owens. A push-down stomp out of the corner gives Tsuji another opening, following with some flying headscissors to take Owens outside for a tope suicida. Back inside, Chase hit back with a slingshot back suplex out of the corner, before a knee strike almost got the win. So did a death valley driver, before Tsuji sidestepped a C-Trigger… only to have a spear swatted away with a second C-Trigger.
Tsuji tries to fire back, back body dropping a Package Piledriver, before a knee strike of his own waffled Owens. An elbow keeps Chase on the back foot, sending him into the ropes for a headbutt, before the three point stance and spear got him his maiden win. Thank Christ. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: El Phantasmo vs. Tanga Loa
We’re back with another first-time match here, as block B’s bottom two look to stay away from the proverbial drain.
The pair hug at the bell, as Phantasmo eventually got his wish to face a shirtless Tanga Loa. A shoulder tackle from Tanga flips Phantasmo before ELP charged himself and Tanga over the top rope to the outside… where ELP had to vault over the guard rails to avoid taking them. A series of superkicks from ELP had Tanga rocked as ELP headed into the crowd and hit a cannonball back into the ringside area. Returning to the ring, a springboard senton then a Quebrada keeps him ahead… at least until Tanga speared away a springboard crossbody.
Tanga flings ELP with a release German suplex for a two-count as Tanga Loa kept pushing on, landing a Blue Thunder Bomb for another near-fall, then a stalling Jackhammer as ELP barely kicked out. ELP cuts off Tanga Loa on the top rope, but a superplex attempt is stopped with a headbutt… ELP returns with a gamengiri, but his top rope ‘rana’s caught and turned into a Super Powerbomb.
A delayed cover yields a near-fall for Tanga, who slapped the taste out of ELP’s mouth moments later before a crucifix out of a running powerslam stole the win for Phantasmo. The pace of this was a struggle, but ELP finally gets on the board as we develop an unusual logjam at the bottom of the block. **½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Hikuleo vs. Ren Narita
Our penultimate block A match is another first-time outing…
Narita’s thrown aside with ease by Hikuleo early on, as Ren was forced to stick and move… he’s quickly met with a big boot though. A second one’s caught as Narita ends up low bridging Hikuleo to the outside, only to get hauled into the guard rails as Hikuleo easily stuffed an Irish whip attempt.
Back inside, a Biel throw chucks Narita across the ring, but Ren’s trying to get back in it, looking to pull Hikuleo down in a leg lock. It’s fought off though, as a powerslam nearly puts Narita away. Narita counters a suplex by slithering into a rear naked choke, but Hikuleo’s sidewalk slam broke it up ahead of a brainbuster that almost won it. Narita clings onto the ropes to avoid a scoop powerslam, before he looked to go for the arm of Hikuleo… Ren’s shoved into the corner, but fought back with a running neckbreaker. A side Russian legsweep keeps Hikuleo down, and allowed Narita to go for a leg lock, then ultimately the Narita Special #3… but they’re right by the ropes as Hikuleo got the instant break.
Narita looks for a Kanuki suplex, but Hikuleo breaks it away as a rear naked choke followed to take the big man down… Narita’s Cobra twist is easily powered out of as Hikuleo adds a powerslam, before a chokeslam was countered into a cross armbar. Hikuleo powers out, but Narita stayed ahead with a guillotine knee strike, before Narita got paintbrushed and met with the Godsend chokeslam for the win. This wasn’t bad, but save for the historical footnote, it’ll not be notable. Of all the G1 matches today, this was certainly one of them. **½
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kazuchika Okada
Hey! A match with history – although since they met in their return-from-excursions match in 2012, they’ve not had many meetings. Okada’s never lost to YOSHI-HASHI, but their last two matches in the G1 flirted with the current time-limit…
A somewhat tentative start fell apart early when Okada waffled YOSHI-HASHI with an elbow in the ropes – they traded for a while, at least until YOSHI-HASHI scored with a shoulder tackle. Things head outside so Okada could hit a DDT on the floor, before he threw YOSHI-HASHI into the ring post, earning a negative reaction from some of the crowd.
Back inside, a low dropkick earned Okada a derisive cover, as he followed up with a neckbreaker to keep the upperhand. Finally, YOSHI-HASHI began to pull ahead, scoring with a chop to Okada in the corner, then a Head Hunter flip neckbreaker, before he hung up Okada in the ropes… only to dropkick him off the apron. Taking things outside, YOSHI-HASHI draped Okada over the guard rails for a running dropkick to the back, before things headed back into the ring.
Okada looked to catch YOSHI-HASHI in the corner for an avalanche neckbreaker slam, but it’s countered into a sunset bomb for a two-count. Hitting back, Okada lands the neckbreaker slam as we crossed the ten-minute mark – and surely getting close to the mark where Okada ups the pace.
They’re back to trading elbows, but YOSHI-HASHI sneaks in a thrust kick before the pair went for spinning clotheslines. They both land as we’re back to palm strikes, with Okada winning out until he ran into a Western lariat. Okada’s right back up with a shotgun dropkick, before another Western lariat countered a Rainmaker, which then led to a Kumagoroshi for a near-fall. Hell nearly froze.
Karma looks to follow, but Okada puts on the brakes and headed between the ropes… returning, a folding pin nearly puts YOSHI-HASHI away, before Okada wrapped him up in a Money Clip. That’s escaped, but YOSHI-HASHI is met with a landslide tombstone before he sat down on Okada’s roll-through out of Karma and nearly won it! I was biting on that one…
Another landslide attempt is escaped as YOSHI-HASHI nails a superkick, but Okada hits right back with an Emerald Flowsion, then a Rainmaker… and that’s enough to slam the door shut. Weirdly subdued until the home stretch, this was still by far the best thing on the show so far as YOSHI-HASHI’s best shot only brought him close to a win. ***¾
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Kaito Kiyomiya vs. SANADA
Our main main event is another first-time meeting, with English commentary talking up how disastrous for SANADA a loss would be for him here.
Staying at close quarters to start, SANADA and Kiyomiya trade holds until a side headlock was pushed off… leading to the pair going for Shining Wizards. An armbar from Kiyomiya slows things down, forcing SANADA to go for the hair… but he’s forced back with with some back elbows and a springboard forearm out of the corner.
Heading outside, SANADA’s caught with a tope con giro across the corner, before a bridging German back inside drew a near-fall for Kiyomiya. SANADA escapes a Tiger Driver and returned with a low dropkick to the knee as another dropkick sent Kiyomiya outside for a plancha. SANADA stays on Kiyomiya with a Magic Screw off the apron, before a back suplex kept SANADA ahead. A Skull End followed, but Kiyomiya rolls free and landed a dropkick to SANADA’s bum knee. Kiyomiya stayed on SANADA with a missile dropkick to the knee, then a Figure Four as Kiyomiya was pulling out of the Mutoh playbook. That almost pinned SANADA, who eventually rolled the hold… only for Kiyomiya to right the proverbial ship.
We’re already at the 15-minute mark, right as SANADA rolled into the ropes… Kiyomita stays on SANADA, but another Tiger suplex is floated out of. SANADA jars his knee on the landing, as he’s then forced to fight off a Dragon screw and return with a Tiger Driver instead. SANADA kips up after that and hits a TKO for a near-fall, before a swinging Skull End led to SANADA going for a moonsault.
He jams the knee on the landing as Kiyomiya quickly dove in with a Shining Wizard… but can’t go for the cover… prompting loud chants for Kaito. A rolling elbow from Kiyomiya earns him a dropkick as we hit the final two-minutes… where a Tiger suplex nearly took home the win for Kiyomiya… as did a half-nelson spin-out driver.
SANADA strikes back with a Shining Wizard of his own, but a Dead Fall’s countered out of as the final 30-seconds see the pair go for pinning attempts, almost ending with a reversed O’Connor roll for Kiyomiya. A ‘rana from Kiyomiya nearly does it, but SANADA’s able to get in right under the buzzer with a Shining Wizard to get the win. NOW THAT’S HOW YOU TEASE THE DRAW! You’re going to struggle to get much closer than that, with SANADA’s slight stumble at the end almost backfiring as he put away Kiyomiya in the nick of time. ****¼
SANADA (4-0 / 8pts)
Kaito Kiyomiya (2-1-1 / 5pts)
Shota Umino (1-1-2 / 4pts)
Gabe Kidd, Chase Owens (2-2 / 4pts)
Yota Tsuji (1-2-1 / 3pts)
Ren Narita (0-2-2 / 2pts)
Hikuleo (1-3 / 2pts)
Kazuchika Okada (4-0 / 8pts)
Will Ospreay (3-1 / 6pts)
KENTA, Taichi, YOSHI-HASHI (2-2 / 4pts)
Tanga Loa, Great O-Khan, El Phantasmo (1-3 / 2pts)
David Finlay (3-0 / 6pts)
EVIL, Eddie Kingston, Tama Tonga (2-1 / 4pts)
HENARE, Mikey Nicholls, Shingo Takagi (1-2 / 2pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (0-3 / 0pts)
Jeff Cobb, Zack Sabre Jr. (3-0 / 6pts)
Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito (2-1 / 4pts)
Shane Haste, Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-2 / 2pts)
Alex Coughlin, Toru Yano (0-3 / 0pts)
We’re back at Korakuen Hall tomorrow as blocks C and D take over, with Zack Sabre Jr. and Jeff Cobb main eventing to (hopefully) get a single leader at the top of block D. Blocks A and B pick up on Thursday in the Ota City General Gymnasium to wrap up the week in Tokyo, as Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay main event there.
Main event aside, this was a somewhat underwhelming night at Korakuen, and the mostly-rigid formulas being applied here aren’t helping. Yeah, you need ring time and experience, but a lot of matches here could have had a more engaging story told in less time – but with a 32-man field, we were always going to have a lot of padding. At least the crowd made noise today, unlike Nagano…