El Phantasmo looked to be a proverbial banana skin to Kazuchika Okada as they main evented the second set of block A and B matches.
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Kaito Kiyomiya pinned Chase Owens in 8:28 (**)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: KENTA pinned Great O-Khan in 11:40 (½*)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Gabe Kidd pinned Hikuleo in 3:29 (**)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Taichi pinned Tanga Loa in 12:34 (*¾)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Ren Narita and Yota Tsuji went to a 20:00 time-limit draw (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Will Ospreay pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 13:04 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: SANADA pinned Shota Umino in 18:48 (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Kazuchika Okada pinned El Phantasmo in 16:21 (***½)
Well, this is part of how I’m marking my 40th birthday… The Yamagata City General Sports Center – and a lot of empty seats on the long shots – is our host today as Kevin Kelly runs solo on English commentary.
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Chase Owens vs. Kaito Kiyomiya
Surprisingly not a first-time meeting, as Owens had beaten Kiyomiya back in August 2017 in Winnipeg, for that CWE promotion that’s booked a lot of random names in its day.
Owens cheapshots Kiyomiya after a handshake to start, but Kiyomiya’s able to take the upper hand briefly. He’s stretched and whipped into the corner for a two-count as the pace is somewhat slow, with Owens deliberately working around Kiyomiya. Kiyomiya hulks up after a bunch of elbows, but Owens cut him off quickly before he was taken down with an armdrag. Elbows and forearms keep Kiyomiya ahead, as did a missile dropkick, before Owens held onto the ropes to avoid a second dropkick.
A wacky back suplex out of the corner gets Owens a two-count, but a package piledriver’s thwarted ahead of a nice rebound death valley driver off the ropes. A C-Trigger looks to set up a package piledriver, but Kiyomiya ‘rana’s free before he scored with a Dodon-like version of a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall, which then led to the Shining Wizard for the win. This felt like I’d accidentally put the match on half-speed, but no, it really was that pace – and the crowd reflected it. **
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: KENTA vs. Great O-Khan
The acoustics in this venue are awful – if you know what KENTA’s theme sounds like, this absolutely wasn’t it. It felt like a live performance that was just off pace…
Speaking of pace, this match sure didn’t have it in the opening spells, as KENTA opted to go for O-Khan’s eyes… then got charged down, prompting him to bail to the outside. O-Khan followed outside, shoving the ref aside as KENTA then cracked him with his Defy world title belt. O-Khan’s thrown over the guard rails and thrown into some empty floor seating – they had plenty of it to pick from – as there’s eventually an ironic cheer from the crowd as the referee finally starts a count-out. Where’s Inoki-san and a chair when you need him?
Back inside, O-Khan threatens to make this vaguely interesting with a gutwrench suplex, but KENTA takes it back outside as he’s launched into those empty seats. One of them’s put around KENTA as he’s thrown into the back of the room. We’re back in the ring, and somehow they cock up a ref bump. Seriously, I’m expecting Inoki to come out and shout bullshit at this. Another ref bump masks O-Khan punching out KENTA, while a Tenzan Tombstone Driver planted KENTA, even if the camera exposed it. Bloody hell, something happened as KENTA ‘rana’d out of an Eliminator, and grabbed hold of the ropes to snatch the pin, and despite being an O-Khan guy, I for one am glad this is over. New Japan’s giving me a rotten birthday present thus far. ½*
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Hikuleo vs. Gabe Kidd
These two have just the one prior singles meeting – and it came back in September 2019 , the day after the first Royal Quest show in London, when Hikuleo beat Kidd at Rev Pro’s Live at the Cockpit 45.
We’ve got another jump attack from Kidd, whose music I guess they really don’t want us to hear, as he shooed the crowd away with the help of The Office’s Gabe (sorry Oskar), before he marched Hikuleo into a seat. The pair wander around the crowd, leading to Kidd raking the eyes to avoid getting lawn-darted into the crowd. Kidd whacks Hikuleo with a chairshot, then stacked up a pile of seats… and almost got chokeslammed into them. Instead, he takes a back body drop into the chairs, before they finally headed into the ring to start the match proper. Apparently Kidd’s Bull lariat is shades of Nigel McGuinness (if so, why is everyone poking fun at Connor Mills?!), before Kidd spat at Hikuleo. And got slapped down.
Hikuleo’s release German suplex is shook off, as Kidd then got met with Snake Eyes and a lariat for a near-fall. A second Bull lariat’s countered into a powerslam as Gabe got spiked head-first into the mat, before he got wedgied as Hikuleo went for the chokeslam. It’s escaped as Kidd stretched the big man, ending in the ropes as Kidd then went after Jado for… reasons. A low blow from Kidd’s missed as the ref’s tending to Jado, allowing Kidd to get the win with a piledriver. This was solid, if not too short between the bells, as Kidd manages to get his maiden win and keep his cool. Sort-of. **
Post-match, Gabe randomly laid out Oleg Boltin… that’s not wise, Gabe.
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: Tanga Loa vs. Taichi
Taichi’s trying to deal with the summer heat by wearing a neck fan – but he’s got to take it off to wrestle.
Tanga laughs off Taichi’s chops in the early going as the pair traded blows, leading to Taichi getting booted to the outside… where Tanga’s big boot got caught as his leg’s thrown into the ring post. Because of his previously-injured right knee. Taichi worked over the knee back inside, rolling Tanga into a half crab that ended in the ropes. Kawada-ish kicks from Taichi rile up Tanga Loa, whose swinging side slam sorta worked, before Tanga’s elbows and throat thrusts took Taichi into the corner. A German suplex followed, as did a Blue Thunder bomb for a near-fall, before Taichi found a way back in by sneaking in a gamengiri.
Off come the trousers from Taichi, but his buzzsaw kick’s caught as Tanga Loa tried to get back into it… but Taichi beat him to the punch. The pair trade clotheslines from there, but Taichi pulls ahead, at least until an enziguiri and a clothesline from Tanga Loa looked to set up Apeshit… but Taichi goes for the knee, then scored a Gedo clutch for a near-fall. Tanga looked to start afresh with a spear, but Apeshit misses as Taichi went back to his version of the Gedo Clutch, and that’s enough for the win. Not bad, but no great shakes either. If the story of Tanga’s tournament is going to be his knee, then his G1 is going to be a ROUGH watch. *¾
Chase Owens wanders out to join English commentary…
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Yota Tsuji vs. Ren Narita
It’s amazing how we’re getting these “musketeer” matches so early on, eh? This one’s similarly one-sided to the one we had on opening night, with Ren Narita having won all five of his matches against Yota ahead of his excursion…
This one starts off with Tsuji and Narita trading holds, but it’s Tsuji who pulled ahead with a shoulder tackle early… and the pace they’re going is making me suspect something. Tsuji sits down and crosses his arms a la Shibata, which wound up Narita to the point where he fired up and threw Tsuji to the outside. A quick return sees Tsuji hit a tijeras to take Narita outside, but a Kitchen Sink stops Tsuji in his tracks, as did a neckbreaker that took Tsuji onto the apron, where he ended up getting sent to the floor courtesy of a rear naked choke.
A switcheroo leads to Tsuji hitting the ropes for a tope – which sent Narita and himself into the guard rails. Bloody hell, Yota… Narita’s taken into the guard rails from there, before a slam back inside took us past the ten-minute mark. The Mount Tsuji splash gets Yota a two-count, before a spinning heel kick from Narita forced an opening. Narita takes over with a half-hatch suplex for a near-fall, only for Tsuji to return with a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Tsuji rolls Narita into a Boston crab, sitting down on the hold as he then threatened to switch it into a pendulum swing before Narita grabbed the ropes. A Stinger splash and a shoulder tackle from Tsuji sets up for a powerslam, but it’s not enough as we passed the quarter-hour mark.
Tsuji flips out of a back suplex, but couldn’t avoid a bridging German suplex as Narita came close, before a suplex/powerbomb from Tsuji drew a near-fall. They’re not exactly increasing the tempo as we hit the final three minutes, summed up by how long Tsuji took to set up his three point stance, only for a spear to miss. Another exchange ends with Tsuji cracking Narita with a headbutt, but he collapses to the mat before he could make the cover… and the pair head up onto the top rope as we go deep into the final minute, with Tsuji’s superplex fought out as Narita’s hanging choke and cobra twist on the top rope ended up taking us to time in what was a really flat finish. The Cactus clothesline from Tsuji after the bell leaves them both laying on the floor after, but my word, if we’re having the musketeers do draws, at least have a hot closing stretch, because that felt like it just petered out. It did, however, shine a light on Tsuji looking the most evolved of the trio so far… ***¼
Shota Umino and Yota Tsuji is the last of the “musketeer” matches – taking place on August 1 – and save for one match in Rev Pro last year, Tsuji’s got a similar no-win record…
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay’s got the win in their sole singles meeting before this – which came in last year’s G1…
Ospreay controlled YOSHI-HASHI early on, but a Head Hunter took the IWGP US champion down… only for Ospreay to return by low bridging YOSHI-HASHI to the outside for a plancha. Ospreay’s got a bloody chest from the YOSHI-HASHI chops, so he tries to return the favour with chops of his own. A Cobra Twist sees Ospreay stretch YOSHI-HASHI, but YOSHI-HASHI manages to hiptoss his way free and begin a fightback, leading to a neckbreaker that left Ospreay laying. YOSHI-HASHI’s Blockbuster landed for barely a two-count, before a handspring enziguiri forced an opening for Ospreay.
YOSHI-HASHI’s taken down with a springboard forearm, as we then went back to chops, then the Kawada-ish kicks before a rolling elbow decked YOSHI-HASHI in the middle of the ring. An OsCutter plants YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, but the Hidden Blade’s avoided as YOSHI-HASHI ducked out… only to get caught later with a hook kick. A Western lariat from YOSHI-HASHI spins Ospreay down ahead of a Kumagaroshi for a near-fall, while a Destroyer bounced up Ospreay like a Pop Up Pirate for another near-fall. Ospreay elbows away an attempt at Karma, eventually landing a one-man Spanish Fly for a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI gets caught in the corner with a Cheeky Nando’s kick and a spin-out powerbomb… before a bloody-mouthed Ospreay went back up top to hit a new finisher, the Leap of Faith, for the win. That’s a corkscrew moonsault that ends as a back senton, and one that kinda underlines Ospreay going back to his old “Aerial Assassin” nickname. ***½
G1 Climax 33 – Block A: Shota Umino vs. SANADA
I swear, the amount of gimmicks they’re layering onto Shota, he’s turned into a wrestling Buckaroo…
It’s fair to say that neither Umino nor SANADA have won over all their doubters in these roles, and Shota getting the lion’s share of the early cheers can’t be a good thing. Umino enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, scoring with a seated dropkick before he took SANADA over the guard rails with an Irish whip. SANADA keeps them on the outside as he dragged Umino into the crowd where they traded blows… until SANADA got posted. Back inside, Shota remained on top, landing a neckbreaker before a missed charge into the corner opened up Umino to take a back suplex in return. A double leapfrog and dropkick combo took Shota outside for a plancha, before Umino recovered back inside to charge through the champion with a diving uppercut.
Umino comes close on a Fisherman suplex, while a tijeras took SANADA outside for the Liger-esque cannonball off the apron. Returning to the ring, Shota comes close to a win with a missile dropkick, before an exchange of strikes led to SANADA tiltawhirling his way into the Skull End… only for Shota to counter with a couple of Roll the Dices. SANADA retaliates with a Magic Screw, before Shota hit back with an Exploder to keep the back-and-forth going. A slingshot DDT from Shota looked to set up for a Death Rider, but SANADA charges him away… then moonsaulted into a Skull End… which Shota countered into a lifting reverse DDT for a near-fall.
Shota just about spikes SANADA with the Ignition for a two-count, but SANADA comes right back with a Skull End, almost forcing a stoppage until Shota turned it around and spiked SANADA with a guillotine DDT. It’s not enough for the win though, as we hit the final three minutes with the pair upping the tempo, leading to a pop-up uppercut from Shota. Out of nowhere, SANADA goes for an O’Connor roll, but Shota rolls through for a near-fall before he ran into a pop-up cutter. The end comes shortly afterwards when SANADA dives in with a Shining Wizard, then a Shining Wizard, and that’s your lot. Of course New Japan are trying to make Shota a big star for the future, but this “pushing the champion close to the limit” outing didn’t particularly feel like what they were going for – and wouldn’t have done much to silence either guy’s doubters. ***¼
G1 Climax 33 – Block B: El Phantasmo vs. Kazuchika Okada
We close out with a first-time meeting, which started with ELP giving away a shirt… before we had a somewhat terse opening with ELP gauging the crowd’s feeling.
Phantasmo stretched Okada early with a bow-and-arrow, before he went for some cheap chants as he got the crowd to chant the name of the town. Eh, if it works, it works. Problem was, this stuff was just angering Okada, who backed ELP into the ropes as he looked more than fed up with the pandering. ELP fakes out a chop and gives Okada a pair of purple nurples before a tijeras took us back to more traditional fare. Okada’s clotheslined to the outside for a teased dive, but Okada just pulls ELP onto the apron, then DDT’d him on the floor for good measure. Phantasmo beats the count-out tease, but Okada stays on top of him with a chinlock, before a misdirection clothesline took Okada down.
A chop and a slam keeps Okada down ahead of a Bret Hart-esque elbow off the middle rope… before Okada rolled outside to avoid the Sudden Death. ELP rolled out to meet him, but has to vault the guard rails on an Irish whip before he returned with a tornado DDT back into the ringside area. Returning to the ring, Phantasmo’s met with a flapjack, then a shotgun dropkick into the corner. A dropkick from Okada swats away a springboard crossbody attempt as Phantasmo was having trouble getting anything going. Finally, ELP manages to connect with a Quebrada for a near-fall on Okada, before the UFO – without the spinny part – kept Phantasmo just about on top.
Okada backdrops and sits down on ELP to counter the CR2, before a Sudden Death and the CR2 left Okada laying… but Okada barely got a shoulder up in the nick of time. ELP heads up top, so Okada rolled outside, and got booed before ELP’s Orihara moonsault crashed into him. Back inside, ELP tries for the Thunder Kiss… but Okada gets the knees up before he tried to counter a Sudden Death into a Rainmaker. That’s escaped as ELP instead nails a tombstone, before another CR2’s countered into the Emerald Flowsion, setting up for a Rainmaker as Okada put himself joint top of his block after two matches. ***½
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, Daviid Finlay, Eddie Kingston, Mikey Nicholls (1-0 / 2pts)
Aaron Henare, Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, Tama Tonga (0-1 / 0pts)
Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Shane Haste, Zack Sabre Jr. (1-0 / 2pts)
Alex Coughlin, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano (0-1 / 0pts)
The G1 returns on Wednesday in the Xebio Arena in Sendai – Tama Tonga and Tomohiro Ishii is your main event from C-block.
As for today… well, take a flat crowd, add in some truly interminable wrestling, and you’re left with a G1 show that you’d be well served skipping. For the love of God, don’t watch the first half of the show unless you’re a sadist, and while there were some bright spots in the second half, this feels like the first ultra-skippable G1 card in a long while.