We’re in Aichi as the G1 Climax rolled on with Hirooki Goto and Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event.
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: David Finlay pinned HENARE in 11:54 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Toru Yano pinned Jeff Cobb in 1:49 (*)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Eddie Kingston pinned Mikey Nicholls in 8:33 (***)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Tetsuya Naito pinned Alex Coughlin in 10:07 (**½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: EVIL pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 14:36 (**)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Shane Haste in 13:23 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Shingo Takagi and Tama Tonga went to a 20:00 time-limit draw (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Hirooki Goto in 14:40 (***)
After a few days in Tokyo, the G1 Climax is back on the road as Aichi’s Dolphin’s Arena – the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium – hosts today’s show. We’re back to Kevin Kelly flying solo on English commentary…
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: HENARE vs. David Finlay
Surprisingly, these two have only two prior singles meetings – with Finlay winning both of them back in September 2016 in under 12 minutes combined.
Things quickly broke down as HENARE and Finlay came out swinging, leading to HENARE scoring with a back senton for an early one-count. Finlay hangs up HENARE in the ropes, then took him outside, as HENARE got his head thrown into the guardrails. Elbows follow to the chin and neck of HENARE on the apron as Finlay picked up a two-count, leading to a chinlock and a uranage backbreaker for a near-fall. Finlay mixes up a chinlock with some biting, as he proceeded to take HENARE into the corner with some uppercuts. Eventually, HENARE fought back with a pop-up Samoan drop, adding a Berzerker Bomb off the ropes for a two-count, before Finlay caught a PK… only to get caught with a spinning heel kick.
The PK followed seconds later for a near-fall, but Finlay’s able to DDT his way out of a Rampage spear. HENARE’s sent to the outside after he missed a step-up knee in the corner, following up as he launched HENARE head-first into the ring post ahead of a Blue Thunder bomb back inside for a near-fall. HENARE manages to get back in with a knee strike, but Finlay quickly throws him back into the corner… a headbutt from HENARE decks Finlay, leading to the step-up knee in the corner and the Rampage spear before Finlay countered a Streets of Rage, eventually maneuvering his way for Into Oblivion to get the win. This started a little slow, but picked up nicely by the end – although I’m already fearing this Aichi crowd’s lack of reactions. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Jeff Cobb vs. Toru Yano
Both prior meetings have come in the G1, but Cobb’s won both of them – again with a short combined time of under ten minutes. However, commentary really positioned you to think Cobb’s sleepwalking onto a banana peel…
Yano was doing a spectacularly bad job of hiding tape under his shirt, but the ref doesn’t check it as Yano went to take off the corner pad early on. Cobb pulls up the shirt to reveal tape, beer and snacks, before he pulled down Yano for a Spin Cycle. Cobb has a swig, but his standing moonsault lands in Yano’s knees for a two-count… before Yano scored with a low blow and a backslide for a two-count. Fed-up, Cobb returns with a dropkick as Yano then dove into the corner… he grabs a can of something, sprays Cobb in the eyes with it, then rolled him up for the pin. At least it was short. *
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Mikey Nicholls vs. Eddie Kingston
Our first first-time meeting of the day…
This one started with the pair rolling around the ropes from a collar-and-elbow tie-up, with Nicholls slapping Kingston on the break. Nicholls ducks an early backfist attempt, then sent Kingston outside with a back suplex, following up with a plancha outside and a stalling suplex back inside for just a one-count. Nicholls keeps Kingston on the deck, but a snap DDT turns it around. That’s followed up with a Steiner-ish bulldog off the middle rope, before chops in the corner and a face-washing boot left Nicholls rocked. A swinging Fisherman suplex nearly gets the win for Kingston, but Nicholls fights back with a DDT of his own, then with a spinebuster.
Kingston kicks out at two, only to run into a death valley driver as Nicholls riled him up into throwing almost a punch-drunk chop. Eddie had more luck with some more of those, as he chained up an Exploder, a Saito suplex and a half-and-half suplex, before a sliding elbow almost put Nicholls away… only for a Backfist seconds later to get the job done. ***
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Alex Coughlin vs. Tetsuya Naito
Another first-time meeting… and Coughlin’s quite restrained as Naito took his sweet time disrobing.
Naito rolls outside at the bell as he saw Coughlin heading his way… and there’s a lot of proverbial bear poking in the opening moments. Coughlin gave chase, but got baited into a tijeras back inside before Naito got caught with a fallaway slam. We’re back outside as Naito’s thrown into the barriers as Coughlin choked Naito in the ropes. Coughlin stays on Naito with chops, then faked out as he spat towards Naito. A neckbreaker from Naito buys him some time, as he followed up with an armdrag, a forearm and a low dropkick, before he spat at Coughlin midway through a Combinacion Cabron. Naito stays on Coughlin with a cravat, but a backbreaker and a back suplex breaks it up.
Coughlin blocks a swinging DDT and counters into a powerbomb that nearly won it, before he blocked a Destino and returned with a Black Hole Slam. A lariat dumps Naito for a near-fall, before Naito found his way back with a sorta-Destino… while a regular Destino got the win. This picked up in the second half, but those opening stages were extremely rough going. **½
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii
We’ve a dozen prior singles meetings here – but Ishii has the lion’s share of the wins with 9 wins to EVIL’s three… although he’s not beaten EVIL since the thing happened in 2020. I’ll let you decide which of the “things” I’m referring to…
EVIL attacks at the bell and instantly took Ishii outside… but Ishii reverses an Irish whip as EVIL’s thrown into the barriers as he seemingly tried to take out the English commentary desk. A distraction from Dick Togo allowed EVIL to take control, charging Ishii into the timekeeper’s table, leading to some choking with the mic cable. Togo distracts the referee as EVIL went for the baseball spot with the chairs… it doesn’t work, so Ishii just chucks the chair right at EVIL’s head, before EVIL fixed it and threw him into the post. Back inside, Ishii’s thrown into the exposed corner, but Ishii countered a roll-up and almost stole the win.
Ishii finally fights back with a suplex, but EVIL uses the referee to turn it back around… only for Ishii to dump him with a snap Saito suplex. EVIL grabs the ref as Ishii almost accidentally hit a stacked-up German suplex… as we Keystone Cops our way into a ref bump as Dick Togo hit the ring. Dick’s garotte chokes out Ishii, as EVIL spat on and ripped Ishii’s t-shirt. A Magic Killer dumps Ishii, but it’s not enough as the ref returned to count. An enziguiri from Ishii finally gets him an opening, ahead of a double chicken wing submission that led to Dick Togo popping up with a chair. That distraction has Ishii breaking the hold, but EVIL grabs said chair… and ended up knocking Togo off the apron. Ishii follows up with a lariat, only for EVIL to return the favour, then adding a Darkness Falls that almost won out.
In return, Ishii hits his version of Everything is EVIL, then a sliding lariat for a near-fall, before we had a wonky way into a ref bump. Dick Togo runs in to punt Ishii in the balls, before Everything is EVIL led to the win. I was almost through the crappy interference in the middle, but that finishing stretch brought it back to the forefront. Hard pass. **
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Shane Haste vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
It’s not the first time we’ve had these two meet – but it wasn’t in New Japan as the current TMDK stablemates met in 2012 in Pro Wrestling NOAH, with Haste winning both of them. Kosei Fujita’s playing both sides, accompanying Haste and Sabre to the ring…
Fujita’s doing the Mr. Perfect/SummerSlam 92 “who’s corner is he going to be in?!” deal, but instead opted for a neutral corner as we started with standing switches, armdrags and escapes. Sabre and Haste trade wristlocks from there, but it’s ZSJ who takes control before Haste just punted him in the back. The pair trade front kicks from there, then uppercuts, before it was back to the kicks as Haste lands a dropkick. It’s all Haste from there as he had Sabre on the back foot, knotting up the leg with kicks before Zack pulled him down for a heel hook… only for Haste to kick his way free. Sabre retaliates with a dropkick, then a neck crank, before he followed up with a Falcon arrow as things looked to level up.
Sabre and Haste trade palm strikes as they fought back to their feet… Haste paintbrushes Sabre as things devolve back into a hockey fight, ending with a pair of front kicks. Sabre’s back up for a PK, before Haste’s powerbomb added a near-fall. Another kick from Haste’s caught and turned into a STF by Sabre… the ropes save Haste, who returned with a lariat, then a back suplex, before a second clothesline almost put Sabre away. Haste looks for the Bomb Valley Death, but Sabre countered it into a triangle armbar, before switching it into a Euro Clutch for the win. Technically this was the best thing on the show so far, but played out to near-silence. A lot of these town shows have had the same issue, sadly… ***½
G1 Climax 33 – Block C: Shingo Takagi vs. Tama Tonga
A first-time meeting…
We trade wristlocks to start before Shingo caught a leapfrog… and got charged down as Tama hit a leaping shoulder tackle. A clothesline from Shingo takes Tama outside, as the former tag champion got popped onto the side of the apron. Back inside, a suplex and an elbow drop keeps Shingo ahead, at least until a dropkick from Tama turned it around. Body blows from Tama take Shingo into the corner, while a clothesline cuts off Shingo’s attempted comeback as we crossed the five-minute mark. A Gun Stun from Tama takes Shingo outside, before a snap slam and a snap suplex kept Tama ahead.
Shingo fought back, landing his jab, elbow and DDT combo, before they fought on the turnbuckles as Shingo pulls of a superplex. Tama looked to go for the Veleno leaping DDT, but it’s caught and turned into a powerbomb as Shingo then stretched Tama with a grounded Cobra Twist. Tama’s saved by the ropes as Shingo looked to go for a Last of the Dragon… it’s blocked as a sunset flip sees Tama counter through into a Scorpion Deathlock. After breaking via the ropes, Shingo begins to swing for Tama, who countered back with a SRC and the Supreme Flow for a near-fall, before Shingo blocked a Gun Stun.
Tama ducks a Pumping Bomber, but gets caught seconds later with a driver, before hammer elbows led to a Last of the Dragon attempt. Tama slips out into a Tongan Twist as we’ve crossed the 17-minute mark. A Bloody Sunday DDT’s good for a near-fall as Shingo had to remain on the defensive… landing a pop-up cutter before a Pumping Bomber spun down Tama for a near-fall. We’re into the final minute as Shingo continued to push on, landing clotheslines before Tama resisted a Last of the Dragon… countering it into a Gun Stun as we hit the remaining seconds, but time runs out as we can file this one under “time limit draw that didn’t quite nail the dramatic finish.” ***¼
G1 Climax 33 – Block D: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto
Now, given Hirooki Goto’s had rib issues on this tour, and Tanahashi’s knees are knackered, this is a curious choice of main event. Of course there’s history here dating back to 2004, with their past 16 meetings seeing 12 wins for Tanahashi, three for Goto and one draw.
Goto looked to get the upper hand early on, hiptossing Tanahashi to the mat before an early attempt at a GTR was stopped with an elbow to the ribs. Goto’s back with a shoulder tackle to take Tanahashi outside, only for a switcheroo to see Tanahashi catch Goto in the ropes with a Dragon screw… but Tanahashi doesn’t pounce on any follow-up, instead maneuvering Goto back between the ropes for another Dragon screw. A stomp to the midsection kept Goto down, but he recovers as a misdirection clothesline took Tanahashi down. Goto traps Tanahashi in the corner for a spinning heel kick, then followed with a back suplex out of there for a two-count, before another clothesline took Tanahashi over the top rope and back to the floor.
Rolling Tanahashi back inside, Goto headed up top… and got caught with a body blow as Tanahashi met him in the ropes, trading strikes ahead of Goto teasing a sunset bomb… only for Tanahashi to get knocked down… and bring Goto down off the top with a Dragon screw. Tanahashi adds a Slingblade from there, before a strait-jacket German suplex finally took down Goto for a near-fall. From there, Tanahashi bounces up top for a High Fly Flow, but Goto rolls away and returned with an ushigoroshi. More headbutts keep Tanahashi on the back foot ahead of a GTW, only for Tanahashi to kick out at two, before a Shouten Kai ended with Goto and Tanahashi crumbling awkwardly to the mat. They maneuver into another Slingblade for Tanahashi, who then went back up top, landing an Ace’s High before the High Fly Flow got the win. This was not a good main event, but we knew that’d be the case coming in with both men’s limitations… ***
Everyone’s down to their final two matches, so here’s how things stand:
SANADA (5-0 / 10pts) qualified
Kaito Kiyomiya, Shota Umino (2-1-2 / 6pts)
Gabe Kidd (2-2-1 / 5pts)
Hikuleo, Chase Owens (2-3 / 4pts)
Yota Tsuji (1-3-1 / 3pts)
Ren Narita (0-3-2 / 2pts) eliminated
Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada (4-1 / 8pts)
Taichi (3-2 / 6pts)
KENTA, Tanga Loa, El Phantasmo, YOSHI-HASHI (2-3 / 4pts)
Great O-Khan (1-4 / 2pts) eliminated
EVIL, David Finlay (4-1 / 8pts)
Tama Tonga (3-1-1 / 7pts)
Eddie Kingston (3-2 / 6pts)
Shingo Takagi (2-2-1 / 5pts)
HENARE, Tomohiro Ishii, Mikey Nicholls (1-4 / 2pts) eliminated
Jeff Cobb, Zack Sabre Jr. (4-1 / 8pts)
Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-2 / 6pts)
Hirooki Goto, Shane Haste (2-3 / 4pts)
Alex Coughlin, Toru Yano (1-4 / 2pts) eliminated
The tournament takes Monday off – so we’re back on Tuesday in Kagawa’s Takamatsu City General Gymnasium #1 for a block A and block B card, with Kazuchika Okada taking on KENTA in the main event. We’ve then got a block C and block D card on Wednesday in Hiroshima, with Shingo Takagi and David Finlay on top, before we move to split shows, starting with block A’s final matches on Saturday.
This was a pedestrian, meat-and-potatoes show with precious little for the non-completists. One to skip, unless you absolutely need to see everything in the G1 this year.