NJPW G1 Climax 32 Day 4 Review
Bullet Club (Juice Robinson, El Fantazmo and KENTA) vs. David Finley, Hiroyoki Goto and Ryohei Oiwa
We’re in Tokyo, at the Ota City General Gymnasium arena, with 1,919 fans in attendance. The team match we have is a preview of Juice and David meeting in the Korakuen Hall ring on Tuesday, well Goto fighting KENTO later in the tournament. Robinson had already traditionally declared himself the United States Champion before the match, and BC attacked their opponents at the start. In the end, Juice and David did a bit of work on each other, both in and out of the ring, KENTA and Hirooki also got a stretch in which they exchanged a few attacks. At one point, Goto came under the dominance of all of The Club’s representatives, but was able to fight back and send Oiva into the match. Tom got El Fantasmo on, almost immediately got a nice gutrench suplex and a couple of classic attacks. Robinson tried to interfere and got a dropkick from the young lion, but as Ryohei turned around, he was overtaken by a Sudden Death Superkick from Fantazmo, and the WWE won after just over 8 minutes of combat.
Another good, solid, but fairly typical team match, of which we’ve seen enough, and we’ll see more. As expected, the tournament confrontations were solved, and the young lion was retained.
Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs) vs. TMDK (JONA and Bad Dude Tito)
The match lasted just under 9 and a half minutes. The fight was started by JONA and Lawlor. The wrestlers exchanged a few attacks, slowly beginning to prepare for a G1 face-off, and then Royce and Tito took over. Attacks and reverses were exchanged, and Isaacs had a nice vertical suplex to 2. After suffering some dominance from TMDK, Rouse caught JONA with a powerful German suplex, switching with Lawlor. Tito came out to meet him. After a brief exchange, Tom caught his vis-a-vis in an unusual sidekick (St. Andrew’s Cross), and Bede Dude was forced to give up.
Another solid team fight from the undercard, though, in which there was intrigue, for both Isaacs and Tito could have been retained, as neither are in the tournament. Royce continued to show his physical power, and Tom “closed out” his team’s loss at the previous show, which is okay overall.
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi) vs Suzuki-Gun (Lance Archer, Taichi and TAKA Michinoku)
The fight lasted six minutes and ten seconds. Archer and Fale started the fight in the same vein as they have in previous team events they’ve participated in, with fights both in and out of the quadrangle. Taichi worked with Chase Owens, at one point all 6 competitors in the fight got into a big fight in the ring. Fale ended with a TAKE splash in the corner, allowing Yujiro to finish off the great welterweight with the crowning Pimp Juice.
A classic basic 3 on 3 team match, with everyone involved being considered a heel. There was a lot of classic, dirty work and fighting outside the ring, which both the Bullet Club and Suzuki-Gun members are famous for. TAKA was predictably held back, because he was the only team player who didn’t take part in the tournament. Poor TAKA…
United Empire (Great O-Han, Jeff Cobb and Will Osprey) vs. House of Torture (IWIL, SHO and Dick Togo)
Another fight between these factions that lasted just under 8 minutes and was similar to the previous 2 such fights. Dick Togo did a bit of work with Cobb at the start with a couple of comedic episodes, IVIL faced Osprey, and O-Han awarded a suplex to SHO. It wasn’t without some classic HoT dirt, with Togo trying to choke O-Han with a chokehold at the end, but he pulled through. Osprey neutralized the SHO plancha, and Cobb helped Khan by directing Dick right into his partner’s arm, which forced Togo to give up from the Sheep Killer.
Basically, nothing new. Yes, a solid basic teamfight that had everything you’d expect, and the loser predictably turned out to be Dick Togo.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (Jado and Tama Tonga) and Hiroshi Tanahashi
Preview for the fifth day’s main event: Tanahashi vs Naito. Naturally, the teammate noted the interactions between the two in and out of the quadrangle. SANADA and Tama Tonga also showed a couple of nice interactions with each other (they’ll match each other in Block B after all) and with other wrestlers. BUSHI also got a couple of moments in the bout, LIJ showed teamwork, and in the end it was SANADA and Jado in the quadrangle. While Naito held Tane’s sidekick at ringside, Seija forced Jado to surrender from Skull End. After the final gong, Tetsuya and Hiroshi talked some more.
Another rather forgettable, but quite a good-looking fight, which purely technically could have been held by BUSHI, but expectedly lost to Jado, as it hit him less than it did any of the other wrestlers. I can’t say that Tana and Naito did much to fuel the interest in their tournament encounter… but that interest was high enough as it was.
Zach Saber, Jr. vs. Eron Henare – Block C match
The wrestlers met for the first time in a 1 on 1 match. After the initial look for the Initiative, Henare held a showstopper takedown, adding a deadlift suplex. After that, Zach headed outside the ring to take a break. Aaron wanted to follow his opponent, but Sabre caught him in a variation of an octopus hold on the ropes. Back in the quad, the Brit had a few uppercuts, but received an elbow strike and a variation of a disaster kick, allowing Henare to regain control. After receiving several more attacks, mostly with his legs, Zach reversed one of them into a leg kick. This, however, didn’t allow ZSJ to make a cummerbund, and Aaron did a variation of a curb stomp in the style of Super Dragon, adding a couple of punches to it. At one point, Sabre finally had his moment for a snapmare, neck twist and a painful one, which his opponent broke… only to hit a Cobra Twist. After getting over him, Henare went right back into the clinch, thankfully not too far from the ropes, so he was able to get a Rope Break. Rolling out of the ring and getting a few more low kicks, Henare finally had a nasty knee to the body. Zach was launched into a barricade, but the second launch the Suzuki-Gun representative reversed into a guillotine, which Aaron in turn reversed into a suplex. The wrestlers returned to the ring, where Henare held a variation of the Blue Thunder Bomb to 2. Rampage Sabre blocked, fought back, but the UE member stormed off with another hard strikes. Spinning enziguri Zach reversed, spending a stomp to the knees, and then went in for a series of kicks to the chest that the opponent refused to feel. RK from the sprawl seemed to shake the New Zealander, but he was back in the fight with a Rampage just moments later. Up to 2, and Henare held the Senton, but Sabre nearly “stole” the win with a European Clutch. Aaron almost moved him to Ultima, but Zach fought back with an upkick to the arm. Henare met the attempted attack with a hard body kick, but Streets of Rage Sabre converted to a leg kick that was called Sunday Rail Engineering Works Replacement Bus Service. Henare quickly surrendered and Zach picked up his second win of the tournament.
A very, very good 14 minute match to open the tournament portion of the show. Probably expectedly Sabre won here, for he always performs consistently well in tournaments, especially in the opening stretch. Nevertheless, you have to admit, Henare was shown to be very powerful, so that his victory over Tanahashi didn’t look like a fluke. This is gratifying, for in my opinion, Henare needs proper booking.
Shingo Takagi vs. Yoshi-HASHI – Block D match
This is the first time these two have met in a one-on-one match, although, like Zach and Henare, they have met in team battles before. After a lock-up, Sheen pushed his opponent to the ropes where he wanted to do a chop, but HASHI dodged it, after which the wrestlers exchanged showstopper tags. YOSHI delivered a series of forearm punches, sending Takagi to ringside. Dropkick from the quadrangle sent Shingo into the barricade and then into the ringstand before attempting a suplex on his return to the ring. Dragon blocked it, attacked his opponent’s shoulder, and then dodged a HASHI attack so that he fell outside the ring. Here, Takagi continued to work on the shoulder and arm, guided his opponent into the fence, and added a suplex to 2 in the ring. Cobr Twist Shingo reversed into a hip toss before taking his moment to dropkick to the knee. The backbreaker was blocked, but HASHI found a moment for Head Hunter, adding a lariat and a backbreaker to 2. Fisherman suplex the LIJ representative blocked, going in for Shingo Combination. The backbreaker didn’t bring him victory, and Yoshii attempted a cummerbund with chops, but Shingo quickly “subdued” his opponent.
A backdrop drive ensued, but HASHI jumped to his feet. The wrestlers exchanged lariats, YOSHI hit a dragon suplex to which Takagi responded with his sliding lariat. Then Shingo did another superplex. After surviving the lariat in the corner, HASHI dodged another one… for which he got Made in Japan to 2. Walking away from Last of the Dragon, YOSHI-HASHI did a back-stabber, to which Shin responded with a series of punches and the crowning Pumping Bomber to 2. Second attempted Last of the Dragon, but YOSHI reversed it with a DDT! Adding a dropkick, HASHI tried to go for the Karma, but Takagi reversed, and the fighters began trading chops and forearm blows. HASHI came out the winner of this exchange, even held Karma, but was not able to hold right away. When the hold took place, Takagi broke free for a count of 2. The NEVER trio team champion held a series of strikes, a thrust kick, and then a Canadian Destroyer, although it wasn’t his first attempt. Kumagoroshi walked, but that was only a 2. The final Karma, but Takagi reversed into Ground Cobra (crown roll), which gave him the win.
I had pretty high expectations for this match, as Yoshi-HASHI has shown in the last 2 years that he can put up some very good matches, but Takagi and HASHI managed to exceed those high expectations by putting up one of the best fights of the tournament so far. It’s matches like this that I love puro for, and I have to admit that YOSHI was shown to be an extremely dangerous opponent. He was just a little short to win, and Takagi had to “bounce back” with a wrap-up. You know, and that, imho, is the best result. Clearly, Takagi should have beaten HASHI, especially after he stumbled in his fight with Robinson. Yoshii, on the other hand, got more than he could have hoped for two or three years ago. Yes, he was defeated, but he didn’t lose, as they call it.
Toru Yano vs Kazuchika Okada – Block A Match
The last time the wrestlers met was five years ago at the 2017 G1 Climax. And Okada was better then. As well as in two other previous encounters: in 2013 at the NJ Cup and at Climax 2014. Toru Yano came out angry with a bottle of sake and a T-shirt that harkens back to the days of GBH. He attacked Okada before the gong, smothered him with Okada’s own robe, and the referee signaled the start of the match. After surviving the affair, Rainmaker sent his opponent outside the ring, where he tried to launch him into the barricade, but Yano reversed, and it was Okada who felt the steel. Toru attacked his opponent with a chair to the back, but Kazuchika reversed the next launch into the barricade, set up a chair, seated Toru on it… and Yano slammed Okada face first into that very chair. On the count, Yano couldn’t win, Toru stomped on his vis-a-vis for a bit before Kazuchika steered him into the corner, which Toru himself had earlier taken a turnbuckle off of. Okada held the backbreaker, back elbow from the ropes, and DDT to 2. After blocking the backbreaker slam, Jano catapulted his opponent into an unprotected corner, but Kazuchika avoided the powerbomb with a backbreaker slam. Elbow dropped from the third rope, but Rainmaker Okada reversed into a Demon Killer powerbomb to 2. Toru brought a chair into the quadrangle, looking to use it. The referee tried to interfere, but Yano pushed him off… and after avoiding the powerbomb on the piece of furniture, Okada held a DDT on it as well. Okada didn’t want to use the chair next, applying the Money Clip. The Rainmaker spinning didn’t reach its target, and Toru managed to sip his sake and spray it in his foe’s face. Wrap up to 2, and Kazuchika steered his faction mate into an unprotected corner. Back badi dropkick Yano converted to a curl to 2, and then went in for a lowblow…which Okada blocked, then caught him with a dropkick. Rainmaker didn’t go through, Jano almost held his own Rainmaker, and Kazuchika charged backbreaker, again applying Money Clip, from which Toru gave up. After the match, Toru apologized, saying he didn’t know what had gotten into him, and the opponents shook hands. Apparently, from this point on, the classic Toru Yano returns to us.
You know, I don’t know which version of Jano was a bigger threat to Okada: the “good-natured goofball” or this evil GBH-era guy. Either way, there was a slight possibility of upsets here, but Okada still won. And, after 2 wins over probably his most dangerous opponents on the Block (for, with all due respect, I don’t believe that Archer, Bad Luck Phale or Tom Lawlor have a better chance against Rainmaker than Cobb), Kazuchika has made a serious run at getting out of Block A.